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In Memoriam: Remembering Julius Lester

When I contacted Julius Lester (1939–2018) in 2014 to ask if he would join us at my gallery to accept the seventh annual Reader to Reader Norton Juster Award for Devotion to Literacy, he said he was pleased to be celebrated and would get back to me after checking the football schedule. I wasn’t surprised. […]

“To Be Great, Heroic or Beautiful”: The Enduring Legacy of The Brownies’ Book

Heretofore the education of the Negro child has been too much in terms of white people. All through school life his text-books contain much about white people and little or nothing about his own race. All the pictures he sees are of white people. Most of the books he reads are by white authors, and […]

From The Guide: Be an Everyday Un-Hero

Sometimes it feels like the average person can’t make much of an impact on the world. But in her Writer’s Page column, “The Un-Hero’s Journey”, Kekla Magoon says, “The key to making a difference is to be someone who participates, someone who tries hard to do the right thing. It is about effort, not magic. […]

“The Book That Changed My Life” series roundup

For the May/June 2018 Horn Book Magazine: Special Issue: Making a Difference (gorgeous cover at right by Yuyi Morales), we asked fifteen-plus children’s book creators to write about the book that changed their lives. The answers were heartfelt, touching, sometimes humorous, always thoughtful — and a welcome reminder about the enduring power of books and […]

The Book That Changed My Life: Write What’s Missing

It started in seventh grade, the day my best friend brought a beat-up paperback to school and asked me to hold it for her. Garla’s mom was very religious, so at times I found myself keeping stuff for her at my house, things her mother wouldn’t approve of, like her DeBarge and Prince records. That […]

Reach Out and Read: A Life-Changing Idea

Nearly thirty years ago, an idea came to me that changed my life and my profession. I was a young pediatrician working at Boston City Hospital (now Boston Medical Center), training to be a specialist in child development. The idea was that picture books are important in the lives of children, and can be an […]

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

My 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 come out and I was eager to get some experience in front of an audience. The library had a regular group […]

The Book That Changed My Life: A Lifelong Journey

When I was a sophomore in college, I read the book that changed my life. I was considering a major in religious studies, and took the required foundation course. On our syllabus were books and articles looking at many different religions from various points of view: theological, psychological, historical, sociological, anthropological. One book caught my […]

The Book That Changed My Life: A Galloping Good Story

Dear Mrs. Henry: You probably don’t remember me. It’s been a long time — forty-five years, can you believe it? — since I last wrote you. I was in fourth grade then, and my teacher Mrs. Rouse (I’m pretty sure I wrote you about her last time) assigned the class your book Misty of Chincoteague. […]

The Book That Changed My Life: Why Do I Like This Story So Much?

It was spring of my freshman year of high school. While working crew for the spring musical I’d made a new friend, a sophomore named Sarah. (She would become a lifelong friend, my only daughter’s cherished godmother.) Sarah loved books the way I do and was shocked that I’d never read anything by her favorite […]