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2015 CSK Illustrator Award Acceptance

I’ve just about given up on the world. A friend of mine, a book-wise, hanger-thin Jamaican, whose spider fingers dance across endless stories, whose easy smile softens the formality of his dress, sent me an essay he wrote, about how much safer he felt as a child in the gangster-riddled streets of 1980s Kingston than […]

Mind the Gaps: Books for ALL Young Readers

When Roger invited me to deliver the keynote for today’s program, I was a bit intimidated. He told me that the idea for the “Mind the Gaps” theme was inspired by Christopher Myers’s essay “Young Dreamers,” published in The Horn Book last November. Christopher’s essay grew from the ongoing question: where are the people of […]

Rita Williams-Garcia’s 2014 CSK Author Award Acceptance

Good morning, family. I am honored to stand before you all: Coretta Scott King Book Awards Committee Chair Kim Patton and the committee; most distinguished fellow honorees; and all of us joined through our love of books, tolerance, and peace. A certain type of ignorance is truly bliss. I’d been writing for young people over […]

Do Great Work and the Rest Will Follow

Growing up in the heart of the South, I saw firsthand how people were excluded based on skin color. I was taught that the rules weren’t the same for blacks and whites, but I also witnessed game-changers such as John Lewis and Coretta Scott King, who rose in spite of that fact. I never thought […]

Young dreamers

I had wanted to write something funny. I thought I had something to add to recent discussions about the diversity and lack thereof in children’s literature — a unique perspective, perhaps. I was raised in the midst of these conversations about cultural diversity in children’s media. My father, Walter Dean Myers, has been on the […]

Coretta Scott King Author Award Acceptance

This morning, I would like to talk to you about black men. Let’s 
face it: as an African American woman, it is perhaps unlikely that 
I have authored a book and am speaking on behalf of black men. 
But here I am. So, to begin, I’d like to share the story of a man whose […]

Beyond The Friends

In 1973 Rosa Guy’s YA novel The Friends [read the original Horn Book review here] electrified the world 
of African American children’s books. The Friends was one of the 
first novels for teens to tell a distinctly African American story, 
highlighting issues of race, class, and identity that black children deal with on a daily […]

Following in Their Fathers’ Paths

When you follow in the path of your father, you learn to walk like him. — Ashanti proverb (from In Daddy’s Arms I Am Tall) In the late 1960s, modern African-American literature for children was just coming into its own. For some of us, the 1967 publication of Virginia Hamilton’s Zeely was a turning point, […]

The Writer’s Page: Decolonizing the Imagination

The door is a place, real, imaginary and imagined. As islands and dark continents are. It is a place which exists or existed. The door out of which Africans were captured, loaded onto ships heading for the New World. It was the door of a million exits multiplied. It is a door many of us […]

On the Cover: Creating Dance

By Susan Kuklin Aracella, a special-ed high school student whom once I interviewed for a YA book, said this: “You know what happened to me? There was a teacher at my school who left me back in kindergarten. Now I ask myself, “What could I flunk in kindergarten?” She wanted us to draw a tree. […]