Message from SCBWI's Executive Director

Dear SCBWI members,

Many of us are watching, horrified by the ongoing war and humanitarian crisis impacting Palestinians and Israelis. The death of innocent children in this conflict is unbearable and unacceptable as a price of war.

Right now, there is an open letter circulating on social media urging SCBWI to take action steps and make a collective statement about Palestine and Gaza. There are extremely important points conveyed, along with inaccuracies and insensitivities in the letter that make it difficult to engage. But what's most pressing, and what SCBWI leadership agrees on, is that children are being displaced from their homes, are being held hostage, and are dying in terrifying numbers, and it is right for artists and storytellers to use their voices in the face of this ongoing tragedy. 

The open letter urges SCBWI to issue a collective call for a ceasefire. SCBWI is a grassroots membership organization, but it is not a collective, and the organization's role is to support your voices as children's book creators, not to speak for you, without your consent. SCBWI does not have the consent of its 20,000 members to call for a ceasefire on your behalf.

 That said, I see strong potential for the ideas in the open letter that align with SCBWI’s mission. We can do more to showcase the work of Palestinian creators. We can establish scholarships to offer Palestinian creators opportunities, as we do for other underrepresented groups and individuals. When people join SCBWI, they join the organization as a whole. They may participate in their home region, and also choose to follow other regional chapters where they have an interest. We welcome the establishment of a chapter in Palestine, and we will provide guidance and support to those members in Palestine who are interested. 

 We are happy to spearhead all of these activities, at any time, and need only an email proposal from an SCBWI member to begin. We are also happy to discuss opportunities for other underrepresented groups at any time as well. Some of SCBWI’s best programs have stemmed from members collaborating with volunteers and leadership. We also encourage our members to work with trusted humanitarian aid organizations who work on behalf of children in war-torn parts of the world.  

For all the above reasons, we have not issued a statement about Gaza, or about October 7th, or any other world events. Over the last two years, SCBWI developed a policy of taking action on issues through programming, member benefits, and resources, as opposed to making statements. For SCBWI, we’ve found that issuing statements can have unintended, divisive, and even dangerous consequences, but programming can make a real difference. We welcome all of your stories and encourage dialogue.

I care deeply about everyone’s concerns and welcome communication with SCBWI through the normal channels. We will only respond to comments and concerns brought to our attention in those formats. You can click on the green Help button on any page of our website, or email or our individual email addresses. Our staff and I are very easy to reach, and we are always ready to collaborate in good faith with SCBWI members and industry professionals. 

SCBWI is a community of children's book creators from around the world who share a common belief—that children everywhere should have the abundance of quality books they need and deserve. Right now, far too many young people do not have access to their books, to the freedom and joy of reading, to the right to live and be safe. Let's come together and turn heartfelt sentiments into real, helpful actions. 

My email address is Please write to me and tell me your ideas and how you want to be involved. 

In community,

Sarah Baker