image of El and text "Meet El" and "children's lit & programs".
disability in publishing | INCLUDAS Team | interviews

Meet El

El joined the INCLUDAS team in June 2021 and is the Children’s Literature and Programs Superhero. We are so excited to have them with us!

Tell us about yourself.

I’m very enthusiastic about everything, and I love putting that high energy into everything I do. And growing up as someone with a disability, I think the value in being around people of all different brains and bodies has had a significant impact on me.

What makes you proud of yourself, and what are your aspirations?

I moved to Boston from Pennsylvania in 2019, barely knowing anyone, so I’m proud of building a community with others around me in a new environment and being a positive influence on my relationships with others and their lives. I would love to be able to publish a book one day and get my words out into the world. I also hope to have a well-rounded career in kids’ books.

Why are you interested in working in publishing?

Books power the world! It’s the quintessential storytelling tool, and it can teach so many people about the world on a massive scale. That means that as I go into publishing, I can work for social justice in a way where I can maintain and contribute to a positive impact on the world through books.

Why is disability diversity in stories important to you?

I have cerebral palsy, and because of my experience at camp, I got to know people with all kinds of disabilities, whether they walk and talk differently…whether it’s physical or mental. Using perspectives like mine and listening to all these voices can provide us with ways to solve a lot of problems.

I think we really need more characters with physical and intellectual disabilities, specifically in stories where the characters with disabilities aren’t always getting bullied. We need stories where it’s just someone who happens to have a disability and isn’t mocked or mimicked all the time. We are human with very diverse lives, and that should be reflected in our stories.

What’s the most fulfilling part of being a superhero at INCLUDAS?

I haven’t been here long, but I love the idea of getting involved in every step of the process of making a book.

Any advice for those wanting to work in the publishing industry?

Getting hands-on experience is valuable because then you can develop skills that will help you get an entry-level position at a publishing house. Hands-on experience will help you better understand what you want to do in publishing, no matter where you are. I went to a liberal arts college for undergrad, which definitely taught me a lot, but I would tell this advice to my 18 or 19-year-old self. It’s also important to have a team that is welcome and open to learning about people with disabilities like me.

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