We Need Diverse Books Campaign for “Drum Dream Girl” Aims to Effect Change

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From November 28 (Small Business Saturday) through January 1, the We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) team is challenging booksellers to shine the spotlight on the picture book Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafael López (HMH Books for Young Readers). Drum Dream Girl, both a tribute to the musical arts and a noteworthy contribution to the gender equality movement, was inspired by the childhood of the world-famous Chinese-African-Cuban musician Millo Castro Zaldarriaga.

“What we want to do as a campaign is to show that we can move the needle,” said I.W. Gregorio, vice president of development for We Need Diverse Books. “We want to show that a concerted effort to support an outstanding book can really effect change.” 

The WNDB initiative is based on the success of author Kate Messner’s #GreatGreeneChallenge, which brought booksellers from all over the country together last spring in a competition to hand-sell Varian Johnson’s The Great Greene Heist (Arthur A. Levine Books).

Through the holiday season, WNDB is inviting booksellers to participate in a competition to highlight Drum Dream Girl in their stores, online, and in promotional materials. The top-selling store (determined on a sliding scale) will receive a prize package including a certificate from WNDB, a print signed by illustrator Rafael López, and other goodies.

The initiative is launching in conjunction with Indies First celebrations on Small Business Saturday, when author members and supporters of We Need Diverse Books will be visiting their local bookstores as guest booksellers. WNDB members who will be putting an extra focus on hand-selling Drum Dream Girl for Indies First are Ellen Oh at Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C.; Alex Gino at Mrs. Dalloway’s in Berkeley, California; and Miranda Paul at The Reader’s Loft in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

“The timing makes a lot of sense because so many of us are already going to be in bookstores, and we want to talk about the power of the hand-sell. Word of mouth goes such a long way, as we saw with The Great Greene Heist,” said Gregorio, who will be guest bookselling at Chester County Book Company in West Chester, Pennsylvania, for Indies First.

Booksellers can find full details about how to participate here and follow the campaign on Twitter at #DrumItUp.

Watch next week's BTW for a related story on two regional initiatives that also aim to highlight diverse books during the holiday season.