What role does children's literature play in the fight for social justice? Is there room for advocacy and activism in the imaginative worlds that stories provide -- or does that mean that the author and/or illustrator is being "too preachy?" Can children's literature help the next generation learn to dream of a better world?
During the aftermath of the extrajudicial murder of young Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, several of us chatted on Twitter about resources that we might provide for our youngest readers, including Kids Like Us Books, Sarah Hamburg, Angie Manfredi, and others. As Dr. Marcia Chatelain's #FergusonSyllabus was being created, #Kidlit4Justice was born.
Our SuperFriends team and I chose social justice as our January theme, in honor of the King holiday celebrating a legendary champion for justice, and because we think it's a great way to begin 2016. Thus, below the cut, please find our full list of selections.
For a better, peaceful & more just world,
Ebony & the SuperFriends
Sunday, January 31, 2016
Thank you for signal boosting our daily January 2016 #Kidlit4Justice picks on @HealingFictions! We hope that as you began the New Year, these reads helped inspire you to share with our youngest readers the many ways that they can change the world.
To wrap up our January 2016 #Kidlit4Justice hashtag, this month's featured blog post is an interview with award-winning author and activist, Zetta Elliott. Born and raised in Canada, Zetta has lived in the United States for more than 20 years. She earned her PhD in American Studies from NYU in 2003, and has written numerous poetry, plays, essays, articles, op-eds, novels, and stories for children.
Zetta’s debut picturebook, Bird, won the Honor Award in Lee & Low Books’ New Voices Contest and the Paterson Prize for Books for Young Readers. Her young adult fantasy novel, Ship of Souls, was named a Booklist Top Ten Sci-fi/Fantasy Title for Youth and was a finalist for the Phillis Wheatley Book Award. Her essay, "The Trouble with Magic: Conjuring the Past in New York City Parks," published in Jeunesse, won the 2014 Children’s Literature Association Article Award. An advocate for greater diversity and equity in the publishing industry, Zetta has also self-published many illustrated books for younger readers under her own imprint, Rosetta Press. She currently lives in her beloved Brooklyn, which provides the backdrop for many of her magical stories.
Zetta is a supernova. We first met through mutual colleagues in the children’s literature world several years ago, narrowly missed each other at NCTE/ALAN 2010 in Orlando, and became fast friends when I moved from Detroit to Philadelphia in 2012. Without Zetta, I could not have written The Dark Fantastic. Her 2010 Horn Book essay, "Decolonizing the Imagination," helped me theorize the imagination gap in youth media. Her clarion call -- that we can't wait for decades for our kids to see themselves in stories -- gave me the courage to advocate for the emancipatory tales that our children need. While her fiction, her essays, and her voice could have fit many other themes, I couldn’t imagine another person more suited to wrap up this month's theme of social justice in children’s literature, inspired in part by the King holiday. I am so grateful for Zetta's presence in the children's literature world, and quite proud to call her my friend.
Earlier this month, Zetta was gracious enough to answer questions posed by two of our SuperFriends, Penn GSE Reading/Writing/Literacy doctoral students Sherea Mosley and Josh Coleman, via email.
Posted by Ebony Elizabeth at 9:00 AM
Saturday, January 30, 2016
It's been a long 10 months since my last post! Rather than regale you with excuses, I'll share with you where I've been over the past year, then tell you where we're going in 2016... and why you need to bookmark The Dark Fantastic blog again, along with my SuperFriends' incredible Twitter book rec account, @Healing Fictions!
Posted by Ebony Elizabeth at 2:07 PM