Talking to publishers to increase diversity in our collections
Each year, Hexagramm Books renews and expands its collections. When looking for new releases, we search for outstanding titles of course. We also seek to continue to infuse diversity into our selections. This fulfills our mission to represent all children in our collections. How do we find diverse titles? It starts with our customers, who give us ideas to bring back to publishers.
In 2020, we received requests for more Black representation. We created several collections: Black Joy, Black Adventures and Black History Month in Spanish; Leveled Diversity for grades Kindergarten - 2nd and 3rd - 6th in French, and Diversity Read Alouds in French; and an English Social Emotional Learning set that included lots of Black characters. Check out our 2022 Spanish Diversity catalog!
We’re very thankful to our loyal customer base for giving us ideas. Last fall, a teacher friend told us that they were struggling to find books on kids with LGBTQ+ parents. They wanted regular stories (friendship, siblings, first experiences…) featuring children whose parents happen to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community. This isn’t the focus of the book. However, the homoparental model would provide context for the story and visibility to a minority group. They were also looking for books featuring transgender students. Again, not informational books about being transgender, but books about kids who are transgender, and have normal experiences. We listened to these ideas and brought them back to dozens of publishers.
While these requests may sound ultra-specific, we take them very seriously and discuss them with publishers. You might be surprised at how many editors take copious notes. It’s an exchange of information; they tell us about their newest releases, we tell them what customers are requesting. Over the years, we have seen how more and more publishers seek out and value this exchange. In fact, it’s thanks to these nuggets of information that publishers make editorial decisions that can change a market.
Years ago, our goal was to explain our customers’ wishes to start a conversation about our audience. Today, it’s a way for publishers to hear grassroots stories that they wouldn’t get anywhere else. We can’t say that we’re influencing the publishing industry, but our nudging has definitely aligned with newer releases.
Lately, as we looked for more LGBTQ+ characters and family models, we came across On ne compte pas pour du beurre, a tiny publishing house in France who aims to give voices to homoparental families. We discovered some inspiring titles that will be available for purchase later this year. We also spoke with Talents Hauts, an independent publisher who has been working to fight discrimination and promote strong female characters.
Loyal customers, keep telling us what you are looking for! Qui ne demande rien n’a rien. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Let’s keep asking. What do we have to lose? We value the work of editorial teams, and the trust they place in us to find the right audience for their books. Thank you to all of the publishers for the many hours they spend scouring their collections for us!
Discover our Diversity Collections:
Sofi Rice and Marie Bouteillon, Curators at Hexagramm Books
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