Want to get a FREE pair of rainbow sunglasses? Read on …
Listening Library, an imprint of Penguin Random House, provides audiobooks for children and young adults. It has two initiatives to promote the inclusion of a range of viewpoints in the audiobook world: Hear Diversity and Read Proud Listen Proud. Cheryl Herman, the marketing director for BOT (Books on Tape) and Listening Library, shares each initiative’s strategies for underlining the importance of adding audiobooks with diverse stories (and by diverse authors) to libraries’ collections.
Hear Diversity offers videos and interviews with authors and educators (the current featured video is an interview with When I Was the Greatest author Jason Reynolds), links to articles and resources, the option to request a free CD sampler of a collection of Hear Diversity’s audiobooks, and lists of recommended titles for different age groups.
Getting Started: “Encouraging diversity within the children’s book industry has been a hot topic over the last two years, with calls from many readers, authors, bloggers, parents, teachers, librarians, and publishers to offer more books by diverse authors about diverse experiences,” says Herman.
Intended Audience: “It’s primarily a resource for parents, teachers and librarians. Audiobooks have a critical role to play in our shared commitment to diverse literature. They offer authentic representations of language and dialogue, and they provide a bridge to literacy—helping build vocabulary and increasing comprehension.”
Spreading the Message: “We have had great success promoting the initiative at teacher and librarian conventions through interactive programming with authors, narrators, and experts in the field of children’s literature. We’ve also been attending teen book festivals, which is one of the most exciting trends in publishing—there we can get the message directly to the source—the teen listener—and promote audiobooks that reflect and honor the lives of all young people.”
Read Proud Listen Proud
Read Proud Listen Proud’s tagline is, “Share powerful LGBTQ stories, encourage understanding and celebrate everyone for who they are.” Its website is designed to help children, parents, and educators find books and audiobooks about LGBTQ+ experiences. It provides stories and interviews, recommended titles by age group, a list of resources such as contact information for the GLBT National Help Center, and discussion guides.
Getting Started: “Read Proud Listen Proud is an LGBTQ awareness campaign [that was] developed by Listening Library and Penguin Books for Young Readers to celebrate diversity and acceptance in literature. Recently Random House Children’s Books joined the site—providing their extensive LGBTQ offering,” says Herman.
Intended Audience: “Our online resource encourages understanding through storytelling with the intent to spark discussion in the classroom and at home. Research states that less than 1% of young adult novels have LGBTQ characters, which showcases an enormous gap that needs to be filled for LGBTQ children and teens that need to see themselves reflected in the stories.”
Spreading the Message: “The site has gained momentum through bloggers, teachers, and librarians showing their support. Teen transgender rights advocate Jazz Jennings was recently named the second Read Proud Listen Proud Author Ambassador. Jennings follows Stonewall author Ann Bausum and narrator Tim Federle, who kicked off the LGBTQ literature awareness campaign last year. Through these amazing role models, social media, and our famous rainbow-colored sunglasses, we’re able to regularly bring unique visitors to this site.”
Check out the Read Proud Listen Proud team in their rainbow sunglasses. If you’d like to get your own pair for free, email Herman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cheryl Herman began her career in book publishing at the literacy agency Curtis Brown shortly after graduating from Williams College. For more than 18 years, she has been managing marketing campaigns directed at public libraries and schools; first at Simon & Schuster, then by changing media and joining the audiobook industry in 2001 with a move to Random House. She has seen many positive changes in the audio industry, including massive improvements in production quality and an upswing in market growth—recently fueled by the accessibility of downloadable audio and extensive media coverage. In 2009, she launched the Guys Listen initiative with Jon Scieszka, former National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, which helps motivate guys to become lifelong fans of listening and reading. She recently spearheaded Hear Diversity and Read Proud Listen Proud.