I love it when children’s books do well in the world. I was excited to join Katherine Paterson at the film premier of Bridge to Terabithia, a couple of years ago, and can’t wait for The Great Gilly Hopkins to hit the big screen. I’m all a‑tingle just thinking about the wide release of Lois Lowry’s, The Giver. I thoroughly enjoyed The Fault In Our Stars, and the growing number of other Hollywood treatments based on children’s and young adult books. But—there is a but.
Where, oh where are the films based on children’s and YA titles written by authors of color? Why is no one optioning some of the worthy titles by these authors?
My question is as much to black filmmakers and black movers and shakers (and Latino, and Asian, and—well you get my drift) as it is to anyone else. There may not be as many moneyed POC in Hollywood as there are whites, but there are certainly a number of heavy hitters I could name. Why aren’t they stepping up to the proverbial plate? I know they have production companies of their own, so why aren’t they making moves to acquire the rights to works by Walter Dean Myers, or Joseph Bruchac, or Angela Johnson, or Grace Lin, or Sharon Draper, or Christopher Paul Curtis, or Matt de la Pena, or Jacqueline Woodson, or—well, we’ve got a decent list of our own. (We may be small, but we are mighty!) And mind you, I’m talking about award-winners, and bestsellers, so the book-to-film audience is there, in case anyone asks. I just wish our affluent counterparts in the film industry would rise up to the dollars and sense to be made by developing our books for the big, or small, screen.
Oprah Winfrey, Will & Jada Smith, Spike Lee, are you listening? BET, what about it? Tyler Perry, what do you think?
What’s it going to take, huh? Look, I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. (Is anything important ever?) I’m just saying it’s going to be worth it.