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Family Reading: A place for ALL families

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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

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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 […]

On “Who Can Tell My Story”

Photo: Marty Umans

Last Thursday at a panel on diversity in children’s and YA publishing hosted by Emerson College’s Writing, Literature, and Publishing program, Kirkus editor Vicky Smith referenced the current #OwnVoices movement in support of books featuring diverse characters created by authors and illustrators from the same diverse group. For those in the audience unfamiliar with #OwnVoices, Vicky […]

Decolonizing Nostalgia: When Historical Fiction Betrays Readers of Color

The Birchbark House

If I look back at my childhood in the nineties, I can tie my preferences for types of play very closely to the types of books I liked to read. Beyond swimming and riding my bicycle, I was an indoor kid who, though I had plenty of friends, was happiest playing with paper dolls, Kitchen […]

Orlando

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We walk in, by ones or twos, flash IDs and smiles. If you are lucky, the dance floor is already crowded and you can simply slip between the sounds, into the movement. There are colored lights spinning over skin, over carefully chosen outfits, over movements practiced in home mirrors, over moments of joy and sweat […]

Board Book Roundup: Spring 2016 Edition

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This column is part of a series of recommended board book roundups, formerly published twice a year, now published every season. You can find the previous installments here. Don’t miss Viki Ash’s primer “What Makes a Good Board Book?” from the March/April 2010 Horn Book Magazine. We need diverse board books, too! Start your child’s […]

HBook Podcast 1.13 – Special Guest Vicky Smith

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Podcast the thirteenth in which Siân and Roger chat with Vicky Smith, Children’s and Teen Editor at Kirkus Reviews, about Unmaking the White Default, ALA awards, and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Books we talk about Kenneth Oppel and Jon Klassen, The Nest John Bellairs, The House with the Clock in Its Walls Steve […]

Hbook Podcast 1.7 – Special Guest Hannah Gómez

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Podcast the seventh, in which Siân and Roger talk with Hannah Gómez–Horn Book reviewer, member of the WNDB staff, and all around awesome person–about racial coding in books and identifying race in book reviews. Also, cats. We also talk about cats. And dogs. Those too. Books we talk about Joshua Khan, Shadow Magic Virginia Euwer Wolff, Make Lemonade Toni Morrison, […]

Zetta Elliott at Harvard

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Last night I had the pleasure of finally meeting Zetta Elliott (whose “Decolonizing the Imagination,” from the March/April 2010 Horn Book Magazine, is a thought-provoking Writer’s Page article and one of the pieces featured in The Horn Book’s Black History Month 2016 series). She was speaking at the Harvard College Women’s Center right in Hahvahd […]

A Fine Bookshelf

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I once taught a rites-of-passage class to a group of African American and Caribbean American teenage girls. The workshops included lessons in history, self-care, and literacy. These classes weren’t supposed to be like school. I was there to help deepen their understanding of their world and their place in it. I created a lesson called […]