With Scholarship Support, Rachel Werner Grows Her Passion Project: Expanding Inclusion in Narratives

Dec 27, 2023 | Black Voices, Community Good News, Scholarship Stories

Rachel Werner received a General Scholarship to attend the Getting to Know Your Picture Book in-person retreat in 2018. She says: “The Highlights campus quickly became a ‘happy place’ for me. The writing time, the food and the professional connections were immensely valuable. Plus I was so grateful to then have the opportunity to return the very next year as to help with social media content and as a guest instructor for one retreat week. That was one of the catalysts that then gave me the confidence to pursue more teaching opportunities.”

She continues: “it was a career- & life-transforming experience. As a single parent, the scholarship I received provided me with an extraordinary professional opportunity that I would not have had access to in any other way. In the last 2 and 1/2 years, I have now signed 7 book deals, all of which (except for one) are kidlit or YA.

Rachel is passionate about her work and her writing: “Expanding the inclusion of the overarching American narrative is now a passion project of mine. Much of the creative writing I do is in response to the conscious and subconscious negative assumptions I encounter in regard to being a person of color. As an educated, multiethnic woman, I have forged a successful career in more than one competitive industry. Yet frequently, I am surprised by the false connotations strangers and acquaintances attribute to my and my daughter’s lives.”

“Whereas as an adult, it can be easy (at times) to brush off other people’s misguided remarks, I worry about the impressions these persuasive stereotypes could have on her in addition to other children of color—especially those being raised in “nontraditional” households. No one should ever feel their families or cultures are subpar to the default of whiteness so much of in contemporary American society continues to perpetuate. These kids should also not grow up without knowing there are a plethora of historical trailblazers who have made significant contributions to the arts and sciences with whom they may have much in common with. And they deserve to read stories, plus see visual art, that portray how our lives are filled with PLENTY of JOY (rather than solely trauma-based tales).”

Author Photo: Rachel Werner
Book Cover: Moving & Grooving to Fillmore's Beat
Rachel Werner is the author of the picture books FLOODS (Capstone 2022), MOVING AND GROOVING TO FILLMORE’S BEAT (Capstone 2023), and THE GLAM WORLD TOUR (Capstone 2024) as well as the nonfiction middle grade title GLOW & GROW: A BROWN GIRL’S POSITIVE BODY GUIDE (Free Spirit 2025). She is on faculty for Hugo House in Seattle, Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver, and the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, where she leads curricula to educate writers and content producers in marketing their work. A regular book reviewer for Shelf Awareness, she has contributed print, photography, and video content to We Are Teachers, Highlights Foundation, The Spruce Eats, TheKitchn, and MotherUntitled. She is the founder of the Little Book Project WI, a community arts nonprofit committed to pursuing social justice through narrative. Find Rachel online at: rachelwerner.pressfolios.com/ @therealscript (on IG, TikTok, Threads and LinkedIn) @therealscripts (on Twitter/X)

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