Maya Marlette ’16 Lands her Dream Summer Internship (and Dream Job) at Scholastic

August 24, 2016

Maya Marlette ’16 used to get into trouble at school for reading during class. As a teenager, she decided she wanted to edit books for children someday. This summer, she took a major step toward that goal by interning at Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic, in New York City, thanks to a grant from We Need Diverse Books, an organization that supports diversity in children’s literature.

Marlette, who majored in English and minored in astronomy, spent two months surrounded by stacks of manuscripts for picture books, chapter books, and young adult novels. As she read through the submissions, she looked for compelling stories featuring characters from a variety of backgrounds.

“It’s important for kids to see stories that both reflect and expand on their experience,” Marlette said. “When publishing is mainly white, it’s mainly white kids who get to see themselves in those roles. But when you diversify, everyone benefits.”

Diversity isn’t just limited to race, she said. We Need Diverse Books, like Wellesley, emphasizes diversity of class, ability, and religious and cultural affiliation.

During her internship, Marlette found several promising stories that she passed along to senior editors for further consideration. “What I did was so satisfying because the younger kids are when they start reading, the longer they’ll be able to reap the benefits of literacy,” she said. “A kid who reads does better in school, is more resilient, and ends up with more opportunities in life.”

At times the work could be a bit tedious, she admitted, especially when she read through the large “slush pile” of unsolicited manuscripts. “But that’s what it takes to discover a diamond in the rough. I knew that if I found an amazing submission that became an amazing book, that would open up a whole new world for a bunch of kids,” said Marlette, who began writing novels for teens when she took the Writing for Children class taught by Susan Lynn Meyer, professor of English and an award-winning children’s author, during her sophomore year at Wellesley.

At the end of her internship, Scholastic offered Marlette a full-time job as an editorial assistant. Meyer, who had recommended Marlette for the internship, was very pleased to hear that news.

“The competition for editorial jobs is fierce,” said Meyer. “Maya is a gifted young adult writer herself, and she is very well-versed in young adult literature. She is also happy and confident, with a playful spirit that will serve her really well in evaluating and appreciating literature for children and teens.”

In her new position, which began in early August, Marlette will continue to read manuscripts as well as work with editors and authors at various points in the editorial process. “Thanks to the support of Professor Meyer and others in the Wellesley community who helped build my confidence, I know I’ll be able to achieve my dream of inspiring and encouraging young readers,” she said.