Now some real black authors have banded together to create The Brown Bookshelf, an online community dedicated to promoting children’s fiction by African-American authors and illustrators. The group, which launched November 1, is the brainchild of authors Paula Chase Hyman (the Del Rio Bay Clique series, Kensington) and Varian Johnson (Red Polka Dot in a World Full of Plaid, Genesis Press). They believe that consumers aren’t always aware of the broad range of fiction available.
Paula told PW that “she first started writing, in part, because she didn’t see a lot of popular fiction for young black readers. “There has always been a lot of literary fiction, historical fiction or what I call inspirational stories—perhaps a problem novel or [a book] where they’re trying to give a lesson,” she says. “I didn’t see anything more lighthearted.”
PW also reports “The group’s first project is a February promotion called 28 Days Later… Each day during the month, a different African-American children’s book author or illustrator will be profiled on the website. The group is accepting nominations of potential authors and illustrators to profile through December 1, after which the Brown Bookshelf members will decide who to feature. “We will have novels, middle grade and picture books,” says Johnson. “Some are heavy, some are light—maybe some science fiction too. [We want books] people might not have been aware of.””