Although editors, copyeditors, and proofreaders are expected to flag problematic portrayals and instances of biased language, they, like the author, can’t know what they don’t know. Publishers hire sensitivity readers who share lived experience with certain characters or situations to ensure the portrayal is accurate and presented in an unbiased way.
Sleeping in My Jeans by Connie Kind Leonard is a powerful book that highlights the struggles of homelessness through the journey of sixteen-year-old Mattie that she, her mother, and her sister are forced to face after a domestic abuse dispute. While carrying the question of where she will sleep at night, Mattie also has to juggle the pressures and tribulations of high school, boys and sisterhood. After the disappearance of their mother, Mattie is pushed to fight against the threat of starvation and ultimately, the threats to young women who appear homeless.
We need to be setting an example for future publishers—to strive for imperative community-building values that promote action and advocacy. If we’re not giving back to the communities that allow us to thrive, exciting children about books, helping provide them with the resources they need, promoting literacy, and, more importantly, giving them characters they can connect to on a deep and personal level and live their lives by—then what are we doing?
A whole generation of children is learning to read from a screen rather than a book. What could this mean for the future of the publishing industry? For one, it means we can no longer ignore the influence of ereaders, audiobooks, interactive reading apps, and video games on future and current readers.
I’ve only ever applied to two colleges in my life. Which, if you know me at all, will seem like a drastic deviance from my general personality. You might say, based on this knowledge, that I’ve “always known what I want to do” or that I’m “really good at making decisions.” The first one less than the second but really, neither apply.
Books come in all shapes and sizes, from picture books for children to 1000-page, text-only novels. No matter the book or who it’s for, design matters. The design can set the tone and expectations for a book. A reader expects something much different in the design of a horror novel compared to a romance. Good design is invisible, especially with text-heavy books. It is the lack of distraction that makes the design good. While image-heavy books can—and should—focus on aesthetics, how they are put together and designed should not distract from the content.