Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Diversity Day: Writing Outside Your Lane

Date(s) - 09/12/2020
10:00 am - 3:30 pm


No Categories

Join us for a unique opportunity of learning about how to ensure authentic diversity in your work

This online conference is open to everyone anywhere in the world.

Our gratitude to the wonderful faculty and sign language interpretors, Jennifer Kamin and Brian Truitt, for helping to make this an incredible event! Thanks, too, to the attendees for your enthusiasm and engagement!


Because the world is a beautifully diverse place filled with people of different abilities, orientations, and cultural histories, children’s literature should also reflect this variety. But how do you write about characters who are not a part of your own ability/orientation/culture? Newberry-winning author Linda Sue Park, Lee and Low editor Kandace Coston, book expert and editor Kim Childress, and author Natalie Davis Miller will show you how in this thoughtful and eye-opening online conference.

Please note that the keynote for this event will now encompass its original premise of Writing Outside Your Lane with the addition of Mindful Revisions. See the full description below. We look forward to seeing you on Sept. 12!



Saturday, September 12, 2020; 10:00 a.m. EDT to 3:30 p.m. EDT

A recording of the event will be made available to participants for a 30-day period afterwards.

SCBWI Members: $55
SCBWI Student Members: $30

Non-Members: $80
Student Non-Members: $55




Keynote speaker – Linda Sue Park

Linda Sue Park is the author of many books for young readers, including the 2002 Newbery Medal winner A Single Shard and the New York Times bestseller A Long Walk to Water. Her most recent title is Prairie Lotus, a historical fiction middle-grade novel. When she’s not writing, speaking, teaching, or caregiving for her two grandchildren, she spends most of her time on equity/inclusion work for We Need Diverse Books and the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators. She is also on the advisory board of the Rabbit hOle national children’s literature museum project.





Kandace Coston

Kandace Coston is the assistant editor at Lee & Low Books, an independent, multicultural children’s book publisher in New York City. She grew up in the Bronx, New York, where she spent weekends at the library reading stories and writing her own. After graduating from Barnard College Columbia University, she won an internship grant from We Need Diverse Books and joined the Lee & Low team. Kandace enjoys working with new authors and illustrators and helping their projects grow into published picture books. Professionally and personally, Kandace loves books that feature strong female protagonists as well as any story that can make her laugh.






Kim Childress

Book reviewer for Girls’ Life magazine since its debut in 1994, Kim Childress is an author, award-winning editor, former middle grade editor for HarperCollins, and now Product Developer in Children’s Publishing at Childress Ink LLC, helping with all stages of book production, from conceptualization, editing, bookshelf and beyond. With 30 years in publishing, Kim is also a former bookseller at Kids’ Ink Children’s Bookstore in Indianapolis, and middle grade editor at HarperCollins Christian Publishing (Zondervan)—all while raising a personal focus group of four children. Author of Finding Your Future in Art (Cherry Lake/Sleeping Bear), share the adventures at



Natalie Davis Miller

Author of Swimming with Faith – the Missy Franklin Story, Reaching New Heights – The Kelly Clark Story, and Speed to Glory, The Cullen Jones Story, Natalie is also the Managing Editor of NDWorks, a campus news source for the University of Notre Dame. In addition, Natalie is currently the IN-SCBWI Diversity Coordinator volunteer.







September 12, 2020; all times are EDT

10:00 – 10:15    Welcome and brief introductions

10:15: – 11:55    Linda Sue Park keynote – Writing outside your lane + Mindful Revisions*

12:00 – 12:35     Time off for lunch

12:40 – 1:40      Kandace Coston, Editor at Lee and Low Books – Life is Messy: Tackling Tough Subject Matter in Picture-Book Biographies 

1:45 – 2:15        Kim Childress – Publishing Trends

2:15 – 2:25        Break

2:30 – 3:15        Panel – Attendees: please submit any questions you have for the panel to Diane Bradley-Kantor, by September 5th

3:15 – 3:30      Wrap up


* Mindful Writing and Revision
In this two-part session, we’ll explore first how to write ‘outside your lane’ with respect and care. Then we’ll examine how language at the sentence level helps create a convincing character in a compelling story. Linda Sue will introduce strategies and techniques to help you establish a genuine relationship to the content of your stories, as well as expanding your ability to use language with a critical eye, check for unconsciously-biased choices, and strengthen voice in service of the story.
NOTE: For the second half of the session, participants should bring their WIP as a digital file on a laptop. Some of the techniques can be done by hand on hard copy, but please note that they were designed for keyboarding.

Scholarship Opportunity:

Four scholarship spots* to the Diversity Day conference are available for writers and illustrators from marginalized communities, including but not limited to BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and people with disabilities. To apply, please send an email to Diane Bradley-Kantor at with the subject line, Diversity Day Scholarship. 
In the body of the email include the following information:
1) your name, email, and contact phone number.
2) whether you are an SCBWI member (need not be to enter)
3) whether you are a writer, illustrator, writer-illustrator, and how long you have been creating kid lit
4) your circumstances or how you qualify for this scholarship

Apply by August 1, 2020 

*These scholarships have been provided via a donation from keynote speaker, Linda Sue Park.


EXTRA! Critiques available:

Editor Kandace Coston and freelance editor Kim Childress are both offering critiques at $45 each. There are limited spots available – 7 for Kandace Coston and 10 for Kim Childress. If you would like to purchase a critique, you need to do so with your registration, though you don’t have to send it right away.

Please send the following as attachments to Diane Bradley-Kantor, in an email by August 12, 2020:

1) A cover/query letter including a brief author bio.

2) For picture book submissions, a PDF of the entire text and/or dummy.

3) For longer works (novel/poetry collection/nonfiction that is not a PB), include a chapter summary and the first ten pages as a PDF.

The critiques will be completed by the end of September, and Diane will email the feedback to you.

Submission opportunity:

All attendees will have an opportunity to submit to Kandace Coston at Lee & Low Books (which is currently closed to submissions). The specific submission information will be emailed to attendees post-conference.

LEE & LOW BOOKS is an independent children’s and young adult book publisher that focuses on multicultural themes. Everyone, not just people of color, can submit to them if their stories touch on diversity in authentic ways. See their website for guidelines and helpful info.



Be sure to check out Black-owned bookstores to buy the books written, edited, and recommended by our faculty:

Special shout-out to Brain Lair Books in South Bend, IN!


Cancellation Policy & Trouble-Shooting

Since this is an online event with a recording available for one month afterwards to watch at your own pace, there will not be any refunds issued.

Please add to your email contact list. Webinar invites and recordings are sent through the SCBWI email system. Sometimes they are blocked by filters. Send us an email if you do not receive your links by the dates below.

* Your link to join the live webinar will be sent the evening of Friday, September 11, 2020.

* The recording will be sent to all registered participants on Tuesday, September 15, 2020 and will be available for re-watching for 30 days.

If you encounter any problems during your registration process for this event or have any other questions, contact Diane Bradley-Kantor, or Teresa Robeson, and we will be happy to assist you.