Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Monthly Meeting: LGBTQ+ Representation in Kidlit

Date(s) - 06/12/2021
9:30 am - 11:00 am


Zoom link is below.

LGBTQ+ representation in kidlit has a long and varied history. Join us as creators Jason June, Kari Anne Holt, Emma Virjan and Lesléa Newman discuss their own experiences writing and illustrating for the kidlit community, moderated by Rivkah LaFille.


Lesléa NewmanLesléa Newman has created 75 books for readers of all ages including  the novel-in-verse, October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard; the children’s books, Welcoming Elijah: A Passover Tale With A Tail, Gittel’s Journey: An Ellis Island Story, Sparkle Boy A Fire Engine for Ruthie, Donovans Big Day, and Heather Has Two Mommies as well as the double memoir-in-verse, I Carry My Mother and I Wish My Father. She has received poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Artists Foundation, two National Jewish Book Awards, two Association of Jewish Libraries Sydney Taylor Awards, and the Massachusetts Book Award. From 2008 – 2010, she served as the poet laureate of Northampton, MA. Currently she teaches writing for children and young adults at Spalding University’s School of Creative and Professional Writing.



Jason June (it’s a two-name first name, like Mary-Kate without the hyphen or the Olsen twin) is a genderqueer writer mermaid who loves to create picture books that mix the flamboyantly whacky with the slightly dark, and young adult contemporary rom-coms full of love and lust and hijinks. When not writing, JJ zips about Austin, Texas. He loves dinosaurs, unicorns, Pomeranians, and anything magical that takes you to a different world or time. JJ is a tried and true Laura Dern stan, and he is actively looking for an Andalite friend. ​ ​His picture books include WHOBERT WHOVER, OWL DETECTIVE, illustrated by Jess Pauwels, and PORCUPINE CUPID, a queer-inclusive Valentine’s Day story, illustrated by Lori Richmond, both from Margaret K. McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster. For under-the-sea whimsical adventures, check out the MERMICORN ISLAND chapter book series from Scholastic! And get ready for JAY’S GAY AGENDA, Jason June’s debut YA, queer rom-com, coming June 1, 2021 from HarperTeen!



Kari Anne Holt has dedicated her writing career to making sure kids (and adults) understand that anyone can be the main character of a book, and everyone deserves to see themselves reflected on the page. From her award-winning middle grade novels-in-verse, Ben Bee and the Teacher Griefer, Redwood & Ponytail, Knockout, House Arrest, and Rhyme Schemer, to her prose novels From You to Me and Gnome-a-geddon, to her picture book, I Wonder, illustrated by Kenard Pak, KA Holt’s readers will discover main characters that struggle, celebrate, wonder and discover in ways both new and familiar.






Emma Virjan was born in San Antonio, Texas on a Wednesday evening, her Dad’s bowling night. This might explain her attraction to shiny, hardwood floors and crunchy, snack bar French fries. She loves to eat breakfast tacos, draw, tell stories and work in her garden. She often lets her dog sleep on the couch.

She holds a BFA in Communication Arts and has worked in advertising and marketing as a graphic designer, art director and creative director. Her career as a graphic designer and illustrator started when she gave everyone handmade business cards for Christmas when she was eight years old.

Emma is the author-illustrator of the award-winning Pig in a Wig Book Series for early readers – What This Story Needs is a Pig in a Wig, What This Story Needs is a Hush and a Shush, What This Story Needs is a Munch and a Crunch, and What This Story Needs is a Bang and a Clang. She is also the author-illustrator of Nacho the Party Puppy.



Rivkah LaFille (pronounced “lah-fee”) is a children’s illustrator, writer, designer and graphic novelist living in Austin, TX. Her graphic novel series, STEADY BEAT, was nominated by the American Library Association’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens list. She was nominated as a Lulu of the Year by Friends of Lulu for her work in promoting women in comics, and she won the Austin SCBWI Portfolio Showcase Award, presided over by Caldecott winner and New York Times bestselling author, Dan Santat! Currently, she is working on a graphic novel series with FIRST SECOND and making MAGIC.






The meeting will be open at 9:30am for members to connect and share news, then the panel will begin at 10am.

Topic: LGBTQ+ Representation in Kidlit
Time: Jun 12, 2021 09:30 AM Central Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 966 2033 6235
One tap mobile
+13462487799,,96620336235# US (Houston)
+16699006833,,96620336235# US (San Jose)

Dial by your location
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
+1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
+1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC)
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
+1 929 436 2866 US (New York)
Meeting ID: 966 2033 6235
Find your local number:

If you are hearing impaired and need a sign language interpreter for this event, please register then email Regional Advisor Samantha M Clark at with your request. Please note that we will need a week’s notice.

The meeting will be immediately followed by our writer and illustrator critique groups.