Yesterday was amazing. A hashtag that began with one tweet grew into something that, according to this wonderful PW article, “went viral.” I actually wasn’t paying attention. I’d promised every author that I would respond and amplify their signals and at one point it started coming in really fast, then my ig wouldn’t refresh or keep up so I sort of left ig hoping my friends, like Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich , Leslie Connor , Stacey, Victoria and Alison who are better at it would keep that going, and I concentrated on twitter. Then Stacey Lee wrote an email, followed by Victoria Coe, to say – hey – look, respond to this request from PW!
I am so grateful for the article, as well as for this other incredible article in the ProJo but before I say anymore I want to reiterate 2 things. This idea, this hashtag, would be nowhere if it weren’t for the simple idea that was Aida Salazar‘s brainwave, help from the group that grew and grew (including, in addition to those mentioned, Sarah Aronson, Alison Green Myers, Chris Tebbetts, Elly Swartz, Megan Hoyt, Laura Shovan, Miranda Paul, Lyn Miller Lachmann, Kristin Russo) and many who spontaneously rallied around the cause (like Aliana Lavoie, Caroline Richmond, Kathi Appelt and Susan Ross), and if you want me to add you to this list, please tell me, after a while I lost track of who was RTng), and wonderful support from the wonderful WNDB organization which encouraged diverse authors to participate and focused clearly on the steps to 1) Write a thoughtful message on a piece of paper or post it-note, for young people, and about social distancing 2) Take a selfie and post this on twitter with the hashtag #AuthorsTakeAction. Finally, this wouldn’t have happened if the kind, giving, caring kid lit community hadn’t come together. I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude.
If you didn’t get in on the action and would like to keep it going, please do. I just ask that you remember to take time to compose the message with care, keeping in mind your audience kids/teens/youngadults (or teachers or librarians who connect with kids). While reading is certainly important, and some of the post-its even above were about reading, as in this tweet, I really prefer, as I say here, if future messages focus on continuing to maintain social distance, acting responsibly, and getting information from reliable places. As I said in this message on twitter, speaking directly to readers, authors write about heroes, in one way or another and sometimes – like right now – we need small acts of heroism.
So many people had wonderful messages. I was so very deeply honored that Jacqueline Woodson mentioned it on fb live. Ibi Zoboi wrote 2 tweets that were from the heart and addressed one of the issues we discussed as a group and I believe mentioned on the final version of the letter we sent (and I wanted to update my blog but at that point it wouldn’t allow me to do that anymore). This is something to be sensitive to, as this moves forward. Home isn’t always a safe place for everyone or a joyful place for everyone. Not everyone has a home. The Bridge Home features homeless kids.
Easily the most creative (okay, so my favorite message) came from Mihn Le (sorry I spent 10 mins and couldn’t figure out how to put the accent on the e) created an incredible, thoughtful, creative, and ever-so practical video showing what 6 ft is. Kate Messner‘s tweet also directly addressed readers, which was just what I hoped for and was thoughtful. My author-brother (we have the same marvelous editor, Nancy Paulsen) Torrey Maldonado, Grace Lin, Linda Sue Park, Traci Sorrell, Nikki Grimes, Margarita Engle, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Meg Medina, Jarrett Krozowska, Jarrett Lerner and so many other authors I love chimed in. So did educators I deeply admire, such as Donalyn Miller, Matthew Winner, Julia Erin Torres, Pernille Ripp, Colby Sharp, Jarrett Amato and John Schu. I am deeply grateful for all their support.
For those who wonder why #AuthorsTakeAction is important, why what we did together as a community of kid lit authors matters, I refer you to this important and informative tweet threads by awesome authors and medical doctors Illene Wong and Ismee Williams . I hope I can do something featuring them soon, although I am sure they are way too busy for interviews. Some way to thank those authors who are also on the frontlines.
Yesterday, with all that happened, at one point my browser wasn’t refreshing fast enough. If I didn’t reply, I wasn’t trying to ignore you – it got really super-fast. And it’s not like this is over. As a scientist, I can assure you that there is the possibility of catastrophic loss before the curve flattens if we don’t take action and it means a lot when a group makes a concerted effort to send a clear message. So please continue to add your messages and tag #AuthorsTakeAction. It was launched yesterday, but I would love for it to keep going.
The only thing I beg is that you use your platform (we’re using our books because we’re not celebs who are recognized by our faces, our “platform” is our books) to center the message. Please remember this is about reaching readers with a specific message to help those on the frontlines by keeping new infections down. I don’t want this to become a way to push our books on kids. That’s not what this is about.
I know there’s a lot of concern right now in the writing community about lost “gigs.” I am not sure if any of my engagements will actually happen, and that means a huge loss of income. Yes, that’s tough. Truly hard. But this virus is bigger than all of us, and all of our books. #AuthorsTakeAction is not, and I never want it to be, about selling anything. Here, books should only be a means to connect a message to an author, an author who truly wishes to send an important message about social distancing to readers with all their heart.
In the future, I’m hoping this will become an annual event. Perhaps every April – maybe earlier or later in spring so it doesn’t happen right around Easter/Passover/Hindu New Year’s Day, we the kid lit community could come together to rally around and support a specific humanitarian message. We might give ourselves more time to prepare so we can create really special and thoughtful messsages geared toward our readers. I’d love to partner more closely with WNDB and LatinX in kidlit and Las Musas. I’d love to ensure the effort actively invites, includes and involves diverse authors and reaches underserved populations.
More on that, next week. For now, just thanks to all of you who participated in the spirit of sending a message and your overwhelming and humbling collective positive energy.
If you’d like to see the final version of the letter with details on how to write a sensitive message, here it is:
We’re launching a hashtag campaign #AuthorsTakeAction this Thursday, April 9th, to show our readers that we stand together by being apart.
Why? Because if we don’t act together, soon, the toll taken by COVID19 will only increase. A parent recently mentioned that teens and children are having difficulty understanding the need to take social distancing seriously. Our readers are frustrated and looking for guidance from people they trust: celebrities, athletes, teachers, authors. Let’s use our platform to reach them with an important message (especially given the misinformation that continues to spread): Take social distancing seriously. Save lives. Our emergency personnel need our support.
What do you need to do? Take a copy of one of your books and put a sticky note on it with hashtag #AuthorsTakeAction. Snap a selfie with the book and post-it. Provide a short message that might read/say: “Stay in place. Read Books. Stay Safe.” Or “Hold books in your hands. Hold people in your hearts.” Or “Show Your Love, Keep Your Distance.” Or “Get close to book characters. Stay 6 ft away from strangers.” Or something from your own heart to encourage our readers to maintain physical distancing and stay healthy.
Other hashtags to conside: #socialdistancing #thankyoufirstresponders #thankyouhealthcareheroes #thankyouessentialworkers #socialdistancingnow.
On Thursday, April 9th, to help us boost your signal, here are our social media handles if you wish to
follow us on Twitter:
@padmatv (Padma Venkatraman), @sarah_aronson (Sarah Aronson), @MimaWrites (Aida Salazar), @StaceyLeeAuthor (Stacey Lee), @Olugbemisola (Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich), @
and on IG:
@venkatraman.padma (Padma Venkatraman), @alisongreenmyer
We’d also love for you to spread the word by forwarding this email to other friends and tagging them on Thursday. Here is a detailed post from Padma on her blog giving even more information: https://
Won’t you take two minutes to help spread this important message?
If you’re truly able to do more and can honestly commit time and devote some serious energy to helping us spread the word and boost other people’s messages on Thursday, you are welcome to add your social media handles and names to the email – and let me know please and I will update my letter and blog accordingly (though probably not immediately). This project would be nowhere without the help of the first friends who were so enthusiastic – and this is about embracing and being inclusive and this effort belongs to everyone who is willing to put in time and energy.
Just please remember, this isn’t about selling books, it’s about using the platform we have to send a message. It’s about solidarity and showing the world we’re taking the physical distancing suggestions seriously. It’s about coming together as individuals and a caring community to spread a message that we must take this seriously and behave in a caring and responsible manner.
Thanks, stay safe, stay well.