NAPIBOWRIWEE 2014: Day One Begins! (May 1)


The next NAPIBOWRIWEE will take place May 1-7, 2014
The next NAPIBOWRIWEE will take place May 1-7, 2014

(NOTE: For this entire week, I will post a new blog every day by 6 AM PST here. So check back daily! Also – I will post fun Tweets live each day! Follow me on Twitter @paulayoo)



I can’t believe I’ve been hosting this event every year since 2009. This year marks our SIXTH YEAR together where we attempt to write 7 picture books in 7 days!

I started NAPIBOWRIWEE as a fun way to promote my own children’s picture books. I’m so proud and thrilled that this event has gone viral and is a favorite annual event for many veteran published authors as well as aspiring novice writers.

I do have a new children’s picture book being published by LEE & LOW BOOKS this year. It’s called TWENTY-TWO CENTS: THE STORY OF MUHAMMAD YUNUS AND THE VILLAGE BANK (about 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus). I’ll be including some autographed copies of this book as part of the prizes given out at the end of our event.

IMPORTANT: All your questions about how to participate, the history of NAPIBOWRIWEE, the technical computer website questions, info about our prize contest etc. are ALL answered here in my FAQs blog listed below…



Also – PLEASE COMMENT on this blog to let me know how your DAY ONE goes. This is a community blog where I encourage participants to post about their writing progress every day on my blog. I look forward to hearing how you do!

(Keep reading after the break for more info on this year’s theme for NaPiBoWriWee and other updates!)

Every year, I try to have some type of theme. In the past, I’ve had my blogs focus on everything from writing craft issues to the current publishing industry trends.

This year, I’m going to focus my blogs on MULTICULTURALISM and DIVERSITY IN CHILDREN’S LITERATURE. This is a theme close to my heart because my three picture books are non-fiction biographies about important Asian Americans as well as one native Bangladeshi who helped change the world through their accomplishments. My first YA novel also features an Asian American main character and deals with racial issues.

I’m also published by LEE & LOW BOOKS, an award-winning independent multicultural children’s book publisher. They’ve been very active in the past few years in promoting more awareness of diversity in the media – not only in children’s books but in other forms of media including social media and Hollywood.

I’ve noticed a lot of blogs recently decrying the lack of diversity in children’s literature. These recent disappointing statistics were compiled by LEE & LOW BOOKS and went viral throughout the media:

Diversity Gap in Children's Literature (1994-2012)
Diversity Gap in Children’s Literature (1994-2012)

These sobering statistics showed that only 10% of children’s books published in the past 18 years contained multicultural content.

Although I’m disappointed by these statistics, I am NOT discouraged.


Because there are SO MANY AMAZING BOOKS out there that DO feature multicultural content and characters. Let’s not forget all the amazing books that HAVE been published in the past 18 years. Look at LEE & LOW BOOKS’ own catalogue! Look at my books and the books my friends have written and published that I have featured on my own blog!

Ultimately, ALL stories are universal. That is the point of multicultural children’s literature – the stories may be told from a different point of view, but it’s still a HUMAN and UNIVERSAL point of view that all children can identify with.

For NAPIBOWRIWEE, I hope you will write from YOUR heart and that you will even write about YOUR own life experiences and interests. I want you to think a bit about how YOUR story can be universal for ALL children. Because that is something I have to think about whenever I sit down to write a story that involves a child of color – how can children of ALL backgrounds relate to my character? What is the universal heart of my story that we can all identify with?

I’m so excited to begin the dialogue. Stay tuned for some interesting statistics, thoughts from my publisher, as well as some fantastic perspectives from my author friends.

And of course, don’t forget, when you sign up to post comments on my blog, you are automatically included in our annual RANDOM PRIZE DRAWING GIVEAWAY CONTEST! (You can also email me at paula at paulayoo dot com to request to have your name included in the contest.) I’ll pick winners at random who will receive fun souvenirs from our NAPIBOWRIWEE STORE as well as autographed books from myself and our guest authors! (More info in our FAQs blog!)


Thanks for reading my DAY ONE blog. Now it’s YOUR turn. Please comment below on how your writing went for Day One. Don’t be scared! You can do it! 🙂 Until tomorrow’s blog, remember… HAPPY WRITING! WRITE LIKE YOU MEAN IT! 🙂


  1. This is just what I needed to dust off a half-notebook full of noodling notions about new manuscript directions. Glad to “be here”, Paula! Many years ago in a college grad. course I had to do a kidlit study based on a common multicultural theme. It was a fascinating experience finding stories that taught “respect” within the context of various cultural backgrounds.

    • Yay Charlotte! Excited to see your notebook become FULL of wonderful first drafts. Good luck! And thanks for your comment on your class. As an author of color, I wanted people to know how we need more diverse books out there.

  2. HOORAY! I am the first commenter. I think. Thanks for getting me going. I have a short list of ideas to choose from for this week, don’t ask me how long the long list is:) I chose a clever take on a Perrault fairy tale. 1st draft finished.

    PS What are the goals of a multicultural picture book?

    • Welcome Patrick! Excited to see what develops from your awesome Idea List. The goals of a multicultural pic book are no different than any other book. It’s just that it features a diverse character, usually a child of color, in a regular universal setting. Not everything a character of color (Asian American, African American, Latino etc.) has to deal with racism. It’s about showing that children of all backgrounds share similar experiences even if some of the cultural traits are unique. In a way, it’s like colorblind casting on TV shows and movies where an actor’s race has nothing to do with his or her role. Sometimes Denzel Washington can just be a cop! He doesn’t always have to be in a movie about civil rights etc. There’s been a huge controversy lately with the lack of diverse books out there in children’s lit, hence why I wanted to focus on it here. You’ll be seeing some really interesting statistics in the next two blogs plus some commentary from picture book authors (of all races, white Black Asian etc.) and their experiences/views on diversity in writing. It’s going to be a thought provoking week! 🙂 PS. May 1-3 is the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement as well on Twitter if you want to check it out. Happy Writing! best, Paula

  3. Thanks for the inspiration, Paula. I’m coming into this week without any outlines or even ideas, but thinking about your theme took me in a direction that got a first draft down on the screen.

    • Rachel, I too am coming in with NOTHING. Been too busy and running this annual event takes a lot out of me, so I’m gonna be like you – going in cold! Let’s BRING. IT. 🙂 And thanks for your comment – glad to see you went in a diverse direction! 🙂

  4. I love this feeling. It’s done. It’s rough…needs lots of work…but it’s on paper!!!!!! Thank you Paula. Seriously—–you rock:)


  5. I was itching to write a draft after I got an idea out of the blue yesterday that just wouldn’t leave me alone. I got a really rough draft out of the way and will need to do some research and polishing before I get it out to my crit group. Great start, now what am I going to do tomorrow!

  6. This is great. I had a sudden spark for a new pb and had to wait til today to write it. Yeah! Book one rough draft down!

  7. I had an idea, sort of, and then read your post–I *think* I’ve got a good first draft here, tapping into my own experiences and applying that emotion to the story.

    Thanks for this multicultural theme, Paula! I have a MG ms with a cast of African American characters and often wonder if I’m hitting/missing the mark. Looking forward to more insights/info!

    • Hi Christine! NO! They do not have to be. Thank you for asking. I want to clarify that I do NOT expect folks to be writing multicultural books for this event. If you want to explore a diverse area outside of your own world or comfort zone, great! But it’s not a requirement. I just wanted to use NAPIBOWRIWEE as a platform to discuss diversity in kid lit because it’s been a HUGE hot button controversial topic this year and I felt writers should be aware of what’s been going on in the publishing world. xo P.

  8. Dear Paula: Thank you for moderating this challenge. I have to say I just inter-library loaned your book, “Shining Star…” yesterday!! I did not know it was yours!! Looking forward to reading it. And YES,every time I woke up last night the challenge was calling me, so i completed my task for this day. One rough draft. Six more to go!

  9. Paula, thanks for hosting this wonderful week long event!
    I really appreciate your theme this year on diversity. I agree that the best children’s stories are universal. Also, children do like to learn about other children and how they are the same and different depending on their culture and where they live.
    More and more families are inter-racial. I don’t think that enough books reflect the diversity within families. That’s something I would like to do – my own family is very diverse through marriage and adoption.

  10. I’m excited to participate this week. If I can’t get an actual draft of a picture book completed each day, I will at least get an idea for a picture book written down in my writer’s notebook each day. Thanks for this challenge!

  11. Done! I finished my first draft earlier this afternoon and then worked on a second one which I finished a few minutes ago.

    Thank you for doing this again, Paula, This is my 5th year and I’m really looking forward to your posts on multiculturalism and diversity in children’s literature. The second story I wrote I’m calling multi-species 🙂

  12. Wahoo! I finished my picture book draft during the kids’ piano lessons. I actually wrote two drafts of the same story: they’re pretty similar, but they end differently. And it’s only 7:30! That means after the kids go to bed, I will have time to decide which ending is stronger and rewrite!!

    This is turning out to be very different from last year’s challenge. Thanks, Paula.

  13. Here I am back for my second year! Thanks for hosting Paula. Finished my first draft. I hope to write one with more diverse characters this week. Although I do have a picture book bio in the works about an African American. Thanks for the challenge.

  14. Six years! Boy, I should be feeling old. But, I’m not. Just a lot wiser. I spent the day mostly meditating on a story. It simmered in the kitchen part of my brain.

    With the help of a friend from Ghana I have a pretty clear picture of where I am going with this one.

    Thanks, as always, for doing this once again, Paula.


  15. Thanks for hosting this event, Paula. This is my first year. I actually got my first draft done today! Now to see if I can get 6 more rough drafts. What a great challenge.

  16. Ugh, had an awful time logging in. I wrote my story a while ago with my son but posting this was another story. Anyway yay, I finished my first story!

  17. Good morning, Yesterday, I posted in the facebook page, but I am still figuring this out.. I am so excited to be here and I got my draft of my first PB done yesterday. It felt really good! Thanks for the motivation!

  18. Yay! Day one is complete! Okay so it’s officially the beginning of day 2, but my first draft is just complete. (and btw I’m stoked about it!!!) Plenty of time left to get going on the second picture book.

  19. I started Pix Book Magic writing course with Susanna Hill so may 1 waas all about finding my character and learning as much as I could about her. I also went through my pile of odeas and pulled out 7 I want to work on this week.

  20. I wrote Book 1 yesterday and am trying to write Book 2 today. Book 1 wasn’t very good and I’m not feeling very inspired today, smile–but the day’s not over yet! Thanks for hosting this, Paula! Also, thanks for emphasizing diversity!

  21. This is my first year to be part of seven stories in seven days and wow, the pressure is on. I am on schedule so far but did not get comments posted til now (day 3). So days 1, 2, and 3 are done. Thanks for sponsoring this and putting my brain into creative overdrive.

  22. Hello to everyone! I am late getting my comments posted due to being gone to NESCBWI since May 1! I did complete draft one on May 1! YAY! Thanks for motivating me to get ‘er done.

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