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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Press Release Fun: Creating an Authentic Cultural Voice

The Highlights Foundation has these “Founders Workshops” which, in spite of their mildly intimidating name (founders . . . booga booga) tend to sound pretty darn cool. This one is no exception.  Observe:

Putting imagination, experience, empathy, and research to work for you

Children’s literature celebrates both our shared history and our unique cultures. Join Donna Jo Napoli (Bound) and Mitali Perkins (Bamboo People) as they help us understand the power of writing with a strong cultural voice. Through impeccable research, imagination, empathy, and experience, a true cultural voice can be achieved. Our goal is to gather a community of open-minded children’s book authors who wish to think deeply about:

  • Who has the right to write multiculturally?
  • How do we bring humility to our research?
  • What audience are we writing for?
  • Does the term “multicultural literature” match the needs of today’s book market?
  • How is authentic cultural voice achieved?

This workshop also includes one-on-one manuscript critiques and author-guided writing exercises.

Then I got a little additional background info from Jo Lloyd the Program Assistant:

We are excited to bring this new class to our 2012 lineup, and the dates will be April 26-29. I know many librarians and other educators like to write for children, and am hoping some of them might be interested in attending.

Mitali will join us this spring for Creating an Authentic Cultural Voice. She will be joined by Donna Jo Napoli, and special guests Alvina Ling and Kathryn Erskine. Together they will help you explore the boundaries of writing culturally through personal experience, imagination, empathy, and research.

“When to cross a border of race, culture, or power in creating fiction?  If a particular community is processing a shared experience of suffering through the healing power of story, maybe it’s time for our ‘outsider’ version to wait. When we have more power in society than our protagonist, it’s always good to ask whether to speak on his or her behalf. If we still feel compelled by the story, we must lean heavily on research, imagination, and empathy. Always, love deeply within that community and listen well. Someone once said that to cross a border of power to tell a story, a writer better live there first, shut up, and hold a bunch of babies.” —Mitali Perkins on writing with an authentic cultural voice.

For more information, or to get a workshop application, contact Jo Lloyd, toll free, at (877) 512-8365 or e-mail

Please feel free to share this e-mail with others who might have an interest or to include the information in blog posts or through other social networking forums.
The Highlights Foundation is a public, not-for-profit 501©3 organization.

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.