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The Writer's Page: "Why Don't You Write About White People?"

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While I was an active writer in the 1970s and 1980s, I was invited to speak to children in many elementary schools around the country. Most of the students, in the third to sixth grades, were white. The children were interested in my work and the images that were all...

The Writer's Page: Imagining Our Way to the Other Side: Children's Literature and Radical Imagination

In a 2020 essay called “The Pandemic Is a Portal,” novelist and ­activist Arundhati Roy wrote, Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can...

The Writer's Page: Hello Again

Writing sequels or companion books to my novels has never been tempting to me, probably because I like to think each book accomplished all I’d intended to say. After completing When Zachary ­Beaver Came to Town (1999), I felt satisfied that I’d finished the story of Toby, Cal, and Zachary....

The Writer's Page: Navigating the N-Word

The mere mention of the n-word is usually cause for conversation and consternation, to put it mildly. Whenever used in a song lyric or a piece of literature, dialogue and debate are quick to follow. Even so, the n-word is a brick wall I occasionally crash into, on purpose, whenever...

The Writer's Page: "At the Mercy or Whim of Others": Policing Protest in Children's Publishing

“I will not write another lament.” That’s the first line of my poem “Room to Breathe,” which I wrote on May 29, 2020, the day a White Minneapolis police officer was charged with the murder of George Floyd. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, I turned to poetry, since I couldn’t...

The Writer's Page: Compassion, as Well as Correctness

As a writer who is identifiable as “diverse” (I’m a South Asian Indian woman) and who has fought for diversity in our industry for over a decade, I’m often asked to offer an opinion about whether a specific book got a diversity-related issue “right.” While it’s easy for me to...

The Writer’s Page: "Speak with Us, Not for Us”

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KidLitWomen* was co-founded by Grace Lin and Karen Blumenthal in March 2018, with the mission of “calling attention to the gender inequities of our industry, uplifting the women who have not received their due, and finding solutions to reach equality.” The following article expands on a KidLitWomen* social media post...

The Writer's Page: The Un-Hero's Journey

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Kekla Magoon at the Allen County Public Library's Pontiac Branch in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Photo: Benita BrowningMy very first author presentation was in a library branch in my hometown, the Allen County Public Library’s Pontiac Branch in Fort Wayne, Indiana. My first book, The Rock and the River, had just...

The Writer’s Page: On Home, Empathy, and Voice

I write, much of the time, from the perspective of a person who is not quite sure where home is. I am interested in figuring out how to make one.Home is a deceptively simple word. When those of us who work with children say it, we often assume it has...
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