by Sara Conway ’21
The children’s literature community spoke up and took action when needed most. This past June when the Trump administration declared a “Zero Tolerance” immigration policy that literally tore families apart. About 2,000 children were separated from their parents and detained at the U.S./Mexico border, some being kept in cages surrounded by metal fencing. Children’s literature, or “Kid Lit,” authors responded immediately to the policy, sparking the creation of “Kid Lit Says No Kids in Cages.”
Their mission statement details, “We believe that innocent children should not be separated from their parents. We believe the “Zero Tolerance” directive issued by Attorney General Jeff Sessions is cruel, immoral, and outrageous. We believe the Department of Justice is engaging in practices that should be restricted to the pages of dystopian novels.”
Twenty powerhouse authors in children’s literature signed the initial statement, including Ransom Riggs, Tahereh Mafi, Marie Lu, Jenny Han, Adam Silvera, and Nicola Yoon. Other familiar names signed the mission statement following the announcement of the campaign such as Rick Riordan, Victoria (V.E.) Schwab, Tomi Adeyemi, Becky Albertalli, Leigh Bardugo, Roshani Chokshi, and Angie Thomas.
A declaration closes the passionate mission statement in bold, red letters: “We demand and expect better, and call on our readers to do the same.” Featured in the Los Angeles Times and Publishers Weekly, the articles highlighted the bold campaign of the Kid Lit community and their power as a rallying force.
Not only does the campaign urge the audience to sign the statement, it also encourages readers to help in any way that they can. “Kid Lit Says No Kids in Cages” calls for donations that are then split between six organizations: Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), The Florence Project, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Women’s Refugee Commission, Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), and Al Otro Lado.
The campaign initially set a goal of $42,000, which was met in under 24 hours. Two weeks later, the donations amounted to over $200,000 with 5,000 signatures on the statement. Their next goal was to reach $275,000. Now, over $240,000 has been raised.
Kid Lit also compiled resources including posters, graphics, and other information to enable their readers to spread the word and raise their voices against the separation of families. The Kid Lit community also urges readers to call their representatives and to register to vote, citing it as the “best way to hold your government accountable.”