ALSC, BCALA leadership to join national Netflix conversation on race, identity, and social justice in children's literature

For Immediate Release
Thu, 09/17/2020


Communications and Marketing Office

ALA Media Relations


CHICAGO — On Tuesday, September 22 at 5 p.m. CT | 3 p.m. PT, Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) President Kirby McCurtis and Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA) Vice-President Nichelle M. Hayes will join other prominent African American leaders in a panel discussion on race, identity, and social justice in children's literature. The conversation will stream live at and supports the library community's continued commitment to showcasing diverse books and authors to empower libraries to reflect both the communities they serve and the larger global community.  

This national discussion comes on the heels of an ALSC and BCALA partnership with Netflix to support the creation of Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices, a collection of 12 episodes featuring prominent Black celebrities and artists reading children's books from Black authors.

Library staff and advocates are working to identify diverse books and resources that mirror the needs of all served in libraries. Demographic trends indicate that the United States will become a majority-minority country within the next decade, yet the level of published children’s books about or by authors of color continues to remain at dismal levels. 

According to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC), the number of children’s books featuring BIPOC protagonists published in the U.S. in 2019, lags far behind the number of books with white main characters. Only 452 of the 3,716 books received by the CCBC were about African Americans, and only 212 received were produced by Black artists. 

The event will feature such award-winning authors and illustrators as Andrea Pinkney, author, “Pretty Brown Face,” Brian Pinkney, illustrator, “Pretty Brown Face,” Derrick Barnes, author, “Crown: An Ode to The Fresh Cut,” and Children’s Literature Scholar Edith Campbell. 

As part of the Bookmarks project, ALSC also shared its #LooktoLibraries resources to encourage families to explore the power of connecting with children’s library professionals. Look to Libraries materials were created to help families navigate life during the pandemic and include tip sheets for families on how to use books to explore such issues as equity, diversity, and inclusion. 

Bookmark episodes and links to additional resources are available at Episodes are also available for free without subscription on the Netflix Jr. YouTube page at

About ALSC
The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) is driven by more than 4,000 members dedicated to the support and enrichment of library service to children. Our members include youth librarians, literature experts, publishers, and educational faculty. ALSC supports its members in engaging communities to build healthy, successful, futures for all children. To learn more about ALSC and how to join, please visit our website at

About BCALA 
BCALA serves as an advocate for the development, promotion, and improvement of library services and resources to the nation’s African American community; and provides leadership for the recruitment and professional development of African American librarians. 

About ALA 
The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice for academic, public, school, government, and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit