Josh Benjet ’16

On Sunday November 15th Friends’ Central hosted a diverse literature conference. The focus was on books with main characters that are underrepresented in young adult literature. There were two main panels:  Moving Pat “girl” books and “boy Books: Representing the Rainbow and Writing Our World: The Author’s Journey and the Author’ Responsibility.. The keynote speaker was Sonia Manzano, best known for playing Maria on “Sesame Street.”

The first panel talked about visibility in literature of transgender or gender non-conforming characters. Many of the speakers talked about their own stories and experiences in reading books and how some of they never found representations of themselves in literature. The second panel focused on racial and ethnic diversity, and they too said they almost never saw themselves in books growing up. Following both the panels, Sonia Manzano spoke about her own story and how stories shaped her.

Mr. Vernacchio, who attended the conference, said that it was meaningful to see author’s taking seriously  responsibility to an array of readers. His main takeaway from the conference was how powerful stories really are to people. Mr. V also said that he is grateful that there are so many stories where kids can find themselves now.

The conference was a success and the people that went seemed to get a lot out of it. The conference was important in showing that there are more books about diverse characters, and if someone is not represented, there’s a likelihood that will change.

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