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An Interview with Kishonna L. Gray

We need diverse books…and diverse games and diverse media. Game studies and comparative media studies expert Dr. Kishonna L. Gray, assistant professor in the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Arizona State University, spoke with Horn Book executive editor Elissa Gershowitz and elementary school librarian Liz Phipps Soeiro about representation and diversity in electronic […]

The Writer’s Page: Fighting the Lost Cause

In 2004, when I took my first journey through the Deep South since growing up in Lexington, Virginia, I couldn’t stop noticing all the Confederate statues. My childhood schoolbooks had led me to believe I’d grown up in a uniquely historic community that had been justifiably filled with monuments. But, decades later, I discovered that […]

“Nazis. I hate these guys.”

Preaching to the choir here (Trump voters notwithstanding), but we are disgusted, enraged, and horrified by the violence and hate perpetrated by White Supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, and also by what they stand for. If you need to nourish your soul with stories of people doing good in the world, start with The Horn Book’s […]

Diversifying Barbie & Mortal Kombat: 20 Years Later Celebration at MIT

On April 6, the Women’s & Gender Studies and Comparative Media Studies departments at MIT sponsored the daylong conference “Diversifying Barbie & Mortal Kombat: 20 Years Later Celebration” — spearheaded by the amazing and indefatigable Dr. Kishonna L. Gray and with “opening reflections” by Dr. T.L. Taylor — to explore race, gender, sexuality, representation, and […]

Don’t Read These Books to Your Children! (Without a Heck of a Lot of Context)

Talking to kids about race can be intimidating for parents—particularly for white parents in the U.S., who tend to delay the conversation almost ten years after black and Latino families broach the subject. But white parents need to talk to their kids about race: it’s one of those necessary evils involved in raising kids who […]

On Zetta Elliott’s “Decolonizing the Imagination” (from 2010)

Author and teacher Zetta Elliott contributed “Decolonizing the Imagination” to the Writer’s Page column in the Magazine‘s March/April 2010 issue. As a child and young adult, Zetta loved classic British novels; she notes, however, that she “learned early on that only white children had wonderful adventures in distant lands; only white children were magically transported […]

Reading Race and Power in Fantasy

When my daughter was three or four, we would play a computer game together where she would have to choose an avatar to represent herself. To the game’s credit, there were at least twelve options for girls, with all different skin colors and hair colors and styles. Inevitably, my very pale daughter would select a […]

On Ibi Zoboi’s “A Fine Bookshelf” (from March/April 2016)

“I’ve never been able to think about literacy for black children without thinking about the historical effects of slavery. Black children were not allowed to read for far longer than there have been books that feature them.” In “A Fine Bookshelf,” published in the March/April 2016 Horn Book Magazine, author, mother, and Haitian immigrant Ibi […]

Family Reading: A place for ALL families

This has been a rough week for a lot of us. We’ve read in the news and heard firsthand stories of uncertainty and fear from our children and their classmates and from neighbors and friends. The presidential election’s hateful rhetoric has prompted kids to worry about what is to come under the incoming administration: “Will […]

Books in the Home: “Mommy, Do I Have White Skin?”: Skin Color, Family, and Picture Books

When my son was five, he was watching TV when a commercial came on that showed a woman slathering her peach-colored arms with lotion. He glanced down at his own brown arm. After poking it with a finger, he asked: “Mommy, do I have white skin?” It was a moment that seemed straight out of […]