Seen and Heard: The Power of Books



Test . [Captioner caption test] >> Attention. We're going
to be starting in about five minutes. Apologies. We have an author in transit.
We'll be starting in just a minute. >> Good morning. Any time I
have the opportunity to kick off one of these events I always
feel like I should apologize
for interrupting the party. Welcome to the Library of
Congress. I'm Leanne Potter. I direct educational outreach
here. I'm thrilled to welcome you here, to
the Symposium on Diversity in Children's Literature and, of
course, window We Need Diverse Books.
If you want to clap, feel free. [Applause]
This program is being live streamed. I want to give a
shout- shout-out to all who are at a
distance, especially those in time
zones other than ours. You know, it's 9:00 here. The folks
in Chicago are watching. The folks in in other places watching. I
want to thank them for watching. And finally, my colleagues
making that happen. Live streams
and lights and so forth don't happen by themselves. Thanks to Mike and my colleagues for
making that. Here, we have three buildings
named for our founding fathers. The building we're in this
morning is the James Madison building
building. For those of you who came in
downstairs on the first floor, if you looked over to
your left you would have seen a statue of James mod son Madison.
If you walked into the rooms you could
have seen some of this quotes on the walls. They're engraveed
down there. There's one that speaks to the Library of
Congress and to culture cultureal
institutions like the library. I'm going to
paraphrase it. It reads learned institutions
ought to be favorite objects with every free
people. They throw light over
the public mind. I love that. They throw light over the public
mind. Even as Kathie and Ellen and I
were first discussing this program last summer, I had a
lunch this would be a light- — I had a
hunch this will be a light http://upload.youtube.com/closedcaption?cid=pk87-p4dr-fpke-emzp
light-throwing event. You all need to know when I
describe the library to people who do not know much about it, I
often talk it about being a place that sparks ideas. The
primary sources in the collections collections, my colleagues, the architecture of the Thomas
Jefferson building all inspire creativity and imagine and help
us have possibilities. A minute ago we were talking
about throwing light. And I just mentioned sparks. When Kathie asked me if I would
introduce our moderator, I did a little research about her. Immediately, I thought, wow,
serendipity. This author is perfect. Her website has a fabulous URL.
This morning's moderator is Linda Sue Parker.
L.S. Park. If you go to her website you'll
find the URL, L. LSPARK. Huh?
Magic. Linda was born in urbanna,
Illinois. She grew up in Chicago and earned her bachelor's degree
at Stanford University. She has authored numerous novels and
picture books for children. She. Often uses innovative forms to
expand young reader's sense of possibility. Her poetry collection, Tap
Dancing on the Roof utilizes a Korean Sylabbic verse form. Her novels for teenage readers include a Single Shard, When My
Name Was KYOKO, and a Long Walk to Water, based on a true story. Her picture books include Fire Keeper'S Son, and Bee BIM Bop.
She lives with her family in Rochester, New York. I have a
feeling she's just who we need to start throwing some light on
our program this morning. Please join me in welcomeing
Linda Sue Parker. [Applause]
>> LINDA: Good morning. I am already having so much fun. I'd like to thank the Library of Congress and, the Walter Award
Award's judging panel and including all of you online. I serve on the adviseory board
of We Need Diverse Books. I'm so thrilled to be the moderator
of today's symposium. We have the power of books. I'm
guessing if you're in this room you have a story or two
about the power of books. A couple of quick ones of minute
— of mine. My daughter is named after a character in one of
Charlotte's books. Several years ago I moved to Brooklyn because
of: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. [Laughter]
Perhaps most important I survived a childhood of being
different, in part because of the strength books gave me.
This morning, I am delighted to introduce the three winners
of of The Walter honor awards whose
work turn the power of words into a juggernaut. Margarita Engle is the national
young people's laure a at, e and the first Latina to receive
that honor. She She has a previous Walter honor for enchanted heir,
and many other awards. I decided I couldn't keep listing
the rest of them. http://upload.youtube.com/closedcaption?cid=pk87-p4dr-fpke-emzp
[Laughter] She is the U.S. nominee for the 2018 ester Lingraan award
award. She has the 2018 Walter title
for young readers. Margarita Engle. [Applause] Mitali — Mitali Perkins was born in
India and has lived in Bangladesh, India, England,
Thailand, Mexico, and Ghana. She is
a lectureer at Saint Mary's college of California. She's
the author of You Bring the Distant
Near, a 2018 Walter honor book for older readers.
Where's Mitali? There she is.
[Laughter] [Applause] Francisco X. Stork is a — is author of
Disappeared. She's also the author of the Last
Summer of the Death Warriors, and winner of the Amelia Elizabeth
Walden award. He lives outside Boston and he is the author of Disappeared, a 2018 Walter honor
book for older readers. [Applause] Okay. We're going to start with the
panelists as reader pass pass. So my first . First, I'd like to ask you to
think back to your childhoods and where did your
book comes from? Were you school
library attendees? Your school? Your parents? How do you have
access to books when you were young?
>> For me, it was the public library, in north east Los
Angeles, and I would go every Saturday and get a stack. But I have to say that I read more
adult books than children's books.
That's because I wanted international books. I wanted
books about other countries. And at
that time, there weren't books about other countries for
children. So I would go in in in the adult
travel section, which was illegal. The librarians would chase
me away. [Laughter]
They thought I was supposed to stay in the children's
section, but I would get anything about geography and
travel and other countries that I could
find. >> Wonderful. Mitali?
>> Mitali: Yes, definitely the public library in Flushing
Queens. Yeah, Flushing. Yeah. We immigrated there when I was
seven. I come from a family that's
immigrant and refugee. My family left everything in the
war, left Bangladesh. When we came to the United States, we
had very little, so we had no books in the home, but me and my
two sisters, me all speak Ben Bengali, we walked ten blocks to
the Flushing branch. When we walked in she said, you can take
seven books home. I thought, is this Alibabb's cave?
[Laughter] So that's when I started
reading. >> I grew up in Mexico. My
mother was a single mother so we lived in my grandfather's house. There was one book in his
http://upload.youtube.com/closedcaption?cid=pk87-p4dr-fpke-emzp bedroom in this old glass thing.
I knew where the key was hid hiding. He had 20 volumes of a book of
like treasures for youth youth. It was a compileation of fiction
and stories, science, you could learn a language if
you learned those stories careful
carefully. That's how I went through those books. I don't think I saw my library, a
library, until we moved to Texas when
I was nine years old. >> You think about that. I
think about all the places in the world, even in our own
country where young people don't have
access to a library. How do they live? You know? I mean — —
[laughter] It's really interesting. Could you talk about the first
teem — the first time, it may not have been from your
childhood, but the first time you felt
seen or heard in a book? >> Francisco: I grew up with
this identity of being Mexican for a long time. I didn't become an American
citizen until I was 26. So it was really — it was
really the authors from Latin America that I just kind
of grew up with and it was only when I was — it was only when I
was in college and I had — I realized now I had lived 15
years in the United States and I had
gone through learning a a new language and getting paddleed
for speaking Spanish in the
playground and getting rejected by the
beautiful Becky because I was Mexican.
[Laughter] There were certain things that
were a little bit different than Mexicans and I think it was
a little bit like where I kind of saw, you know, this
possibility of this — this kind of looks
a little more like me. >> Mitali?
>> Mitali: Yeah, I wanted books because I didn't like
being seen. I moved to California in
7th grade and I was the only kid of color in the whole school
and the only kid not born in the USA in the whole school. Books was a way for me to see
another life. I was doing that code switching at school. I used the curling iron to try to transform myself into Farrah Fac
Farrah Facett every morning. [Laughter]
I tried to look like everybody else and I never did.
I feel books is a way to see and
imagine other lives, which I feel is a
huge advantage we get when we have to cross borders to read.
I was learning how to be fluent in
imagineing other lives. I think that's how books serveed me
well. >> I was the only Cuban
American growing up in a Mexican American neighborhood, and as
much as I loved the poetry of Mexico, my mother introduced me
to Kosi Marte and I love all the — poets of Latin America and
from Spain, especially those who were resisting the —
oppression. So poetry was very influential. But I have to say
as far as being seen in a book, I was 50 something when I read
memoir under the row palms. That
http://upload.youtube.com/closedcaption?cid=pk87-p4dr-fpke-emzp would be the first time I read
something written specifically about Cuba. So we're here to
make sure no child ever has to wait that long again. Right?
Yeah. When I was growing up I have a
clear memory of the first Asians I ever saw in a book
which was that Five Chinese Brothers
Book. Okay. Right. Let's move on.
All right. [Laughter]
Okay. Do you have either a book or books or an author or
authors who are your greatest influence and your greatest
inspiration and why is that? Is it because of their craft?
Subject matter? Theme? Do you have authors that you just sort
of hold up as your light? Mitali, we'll start with you
this time. >> I just finished my annual
reread of Little Women again. I love Jo March so much because
she was living in 19th certainlyiry concurred conquered
conquered Massachusetts, but I was living very differently, but she chose to
write not to make money, but despite all the pressures, and
any of you from South Asian backgrounds know we basically
have three options, engineer, doctor, and engineer. Those are
our three options vocationally. [Laughter]
So she pushed those boundaries. She loved her
sisters and loved her writing. For her, writing was something
she was never going to give up on. That's how
I felt about my writing. A refined Bengali woman in that time did
want — did not write for money, we wrote for beauty. She said, no, I'm going to
write for money and I'm going to be independent. I still love her for that.
>> I think it's more her life. She only wrote two novels
and two short stories, but she was a person of faith. And her works are infused with that
faith, but you'd never know it if
you read her work. In fact, in many cases you'd think the opposite, just because they're
so undidactic and so powerful. So you read her books and you
put it down andlike — like, what
the hell just happened? And a little while later you
begin to notice things you didn't notice
before. I think the ability to see things differently is that
power that she gave me and that I would hope to emulate in my
writing. >> That's why I'm a Franciso Stork fan. That's
exactly how I would describe your work. >> I would say Marilyn Carveer would
inspire my work. It was the first time I read a verse
biography about someone who has been neglected by history.
That's something I've really striveed
to do, is to write about people who have been forgotten and left
out of the history books. And Carveer has not been left
out as much as some of the people I've
felt inspired to write about, but it was such a beautiful
thing she did writing a biography in
verse instead of the kind of formal nonfiction with footnotes
http://upload.youtube.com/closedcaption?cid=pk87-p4dr-fpke-emzp that a child might not feel
invited and welcomed to open the pages and go, "Ah, this is
written for me." . Have you ever told Marilyn that?
>> No, I haven't. I have >> I have a special —
affection for this book. It's incrediblely complex and
difficult to write. It ends with an
across an — a acrostic. It will blow your
mind. >> It comes across very simple
to understand for a child's reading.
>> It's an amazing book. Now we're going to move on to
our panel as writeers. It was very interesting to receive
these books and go through them and read them in preparation for
this — symposium. All three of them chose to use
more than one viewpoint. We have alternating chapters or
sections in all three books. I thought that was an interesting
thing to have in common. I'd like you to tell us about your
multiple characters and why you chose them to be the ones to be
seen and heard in your book. Margarita? >> Well, Forest World is about wilderness and in Cuba. It's
set in 2015 when President Obama had
initiated the peace-making process between U.S. and Cuba.
And the only way I felt like I could show this peace-making
process was by two children, siblings, who had never met each
other before, and that is very common where one grows up in
Miami and one in Cuba. And so even
though I have heard people say they don't like readings, I just
say take a minute to read one very short poem in the sister's
voice. She's grown up in a rural area
in Cuba. The reason I did multiple voices was to show
the difference between the U.S. and Cuba. Now, the American brother who
grew up in Miami, of course, lives on his phone. Everything
is about WiFi. And video games. And the girl who has grown up in
Cuba, of course, doesn't have access to WiFi. In rural Cuba, the fuel shortage
is to severe that most people depend on
horse-drawn vehicles or hitchhiking. And nightfall, the clip clap of
horse hooves. Rhythmic flashes from dancing fire flies. Around each curve the rising
moon. Of long folktales, stories of glow in the dark
dogs, and magical horses. My brother's fingers switch as
if he's longing to send phone messages back to
his real home. What was mama thinking forcing him to spend
time here, sharing our quiet
isolation? >> Thank you. Who says people
don't like readings? [Laughter]
I love them. I love hearing the author read.
Right? Okay. Mitali. So >> You Bring the Distant Near . The person who comes to Flushing Queens from Ben
Bangladesh. Gee, I wonder where I got that
idea? [Laughter]
http://upload.youtube.com/closedcaption?cid=pk87-p4dr-fpke-emzp The heroic generation is the
first thing, those who come here seeking, that bear the
sacrifice, the loss and the cost. The
narrative article really does mostly belong to that first
generation, even though she's in the first-person voice.
Then there are two girls who are the second generation, which
is mine, the code switches. They know about village Bengali
life and American life. And they're gaining more agency
in this culture than their parents had.
That's my generation. And then the third generation is
my son's. And how Bengali
are really are they? And how important is that? People will often identify as
Indian, my sons. But there are 22 major cultures and languages
in India. So for them, their Be Bengali identity really is —
it's getting lost. So there's a loss on both of those
generations. It's that middle generation
that straddles that. So I wanted to see all of those
generations and how immigration affects that.
>> Disappeared has two main characters, shareia share —
Sarah is a young journalist in Mexico. We're
exploring so many women in a certain period of time, their
disappearance. The brother is a real go-getter,
track star and football star star, I should say, and has this
little business of a craft business, and the reason I had
two voices is because they were kind of like two journeys. One
of them is the physical journey of Sarah and trying to stay
alive as she begins to uncover some
of the causes for the disappearing girls and her life
is threatened. And the other is more a moral
journey and thetism the — the
temptations that happen when you're poor, to try to make
money through drugs. So there was both a physical
journey and kind of a moral journey. I think I needed two
voices. And sometimes I think like the two characters are just
part my myself. Miliana is who I am and Sarah is who I
would like to be. [Laughter] >> Nice. I'm hoping for
honesty with this next one, when I ask you to describe a typical
writing day. For my honesty will be email, e bay, Tetris. Open a
document. Tetris. Okay. Right.
[Laughter] What is your typical writing
session for you? Mitali, we'll start with you.
>> I'm motivated by shame. [Laughter] So recently, I have a strong
suspicion that my editor editor and
agent have discovered that about me. Grace is here, my editor.
Without a deadline, I just — I do the same. I have the same
schedule as you. [Laughter]
So I work best under a deadline. If I don't make it,
there's http://upload.youtube.com/closedcaption?cid=pk87-p4dr-fpke-emzp
the horror of being ashamed. Right? And I work in coffee
shops because I like that buzz. So
there's an app that you can download now called coffee shop
buzz that you can actually have that on your phone.
[Laughter] >> You're kidding. Oh, my God.
[Laughter] >> I'm one of those annoying
people in the Bay area. I shift coffee shops so I don't
get that look like, "Get an office
office." That look. I take up that space near the
plug. That's me. [Laughter]
>> Francisco? >> I shouldn't say this because Arturo Levine, my editor
is in the office. I sit in front of the computer and I say
I'm going to do this for two hours
and see what happens. I don't do
quotas. I just show up. Sometimes I make it a sentence
or two and sometimes it's a page and a
half. I work in the mornings and afternoons are for naps and
to-do lists for my wife. >> Nice. >> Who is the wower — writeer
who said I spend all morning putting a comma in?
>> Just take everything Mitali said and reverse it. I
need peace, quiet, solitude. I write with a pen by hand,
preferably outdoors. And daydreaming is the essence
of my process. >> Oh, interesting.
>> Wow. >> Because I'm sort of all over
over the map, I write my novels on the computer, but I do poetry
and pictures. >> I do, too.
>> Okay. Now, the third section, which is
the panelists as authors, which is different from
being writeers. Right? Okay. I'd like you all to share a
favorite story about one of your young readers that
illustrates our theme of the power of
books. I'm going to start on this one.
My favorite letter I've ever gotten from a young reader.
Dear Ms. Park. I was absent the day we picked our author to
write to, and you were the only one
left. [Laughter] So my question for you is do you
know Gary Paulson? [Laughter]
But I was delighted that he had a favorite author, right?
It doesn't have to be me. But they
have to have a favorite author. Margarita, one of your young
readers? >> I have received letters from
people asking me to pass messages along to other authors,
also. But for me the most powerful moments have been when
I read a poem that's very personal, especially when I read
from from my memoir Enchanted here.
Very often a student will stand up out of the crowd and read
their own poem to me, in front of their classmates. This has
http://upload.youtube.com/closedcaption?cid=pk87-p4dr-fpke-emzp happened to me on Skype. It's
happened in person. The most powerful moments have been when
was a student who the teacher said, later, told me privately,
"I didn't know that boy could read. " And he was writing his own
poetry. And then also a young girl who
came up to me and recited a poem about being a homesick
refugee. And she was from Syria. And had just recently come to
the U.S. So these kids that we are
speaking to and reading to, they're
writing. And we don't know that unless we open up to them and
read our own work to them. And share it very personally.
>> She felt so seen, that girl. Right. >> I just Skyped with an
intergenerational book club in Upstate New York. So the librarian had arranged a
visit. The senior center had read my book
and teenagers had read my book. They were discussing it together
and they were going to have an Indian dance thing and a whole
day. This is the first day this has happened. I gave my best
Skype, I thought. And then they started talking and they forgot
I was there. [Laughter]
I was just this head on the wall. One of them started sharing, one of the Indian women
there started sharing her story of her arranged marriage. She
started talking and all the teens
were just focused on her story. That was exciting to see that
connection. The other part — I love this
digital age and I'm a huge social media geek. When you go
to schools, and do you want a spoiller about the book? Are
you okay? One of the characters dies in the book. And I was — every book, every
father in every book I write, is based on
my dad. So we had just lost my dad right before the book
launch. So I had to go on — on tour
and visit all these schools and I thought, oh, gosh, how am I
going to make it through? You try to be professional. I went to this school incal Kalamazoo
Michigan. The electty — electricity was out so everyone
was shivering in coats. This was a school with lots of
immigrants and lots of refugees. I shared my story and a
14-year-old boy's hand goes up. I was
really trying to hide my grief and I thought I'd done a great
job. He asked, in a cracky
14-year-old voice, I have a question
question. He said, I loved that dad. Why
did that dad have to die? I thought, oh, gosh. That
was hard. I thought, thanks for getting me choked up.
>> Yeah, really. >> We're a very crying culture.
Feel free to jump in. I started writing — crying in
front of all those 14-year-olds. The best part of that, I want to share
with you, is that every single face in that room had so much
compassion, because I had lost my
dad. >> Why do you do this to me?
[Laughter] >> This is a gift, my immigrant
gift to Americans. http://upload.youtube.com/closedcaption?cid=pk87-p4dr-fpke-emzp
[Laughter] >> We cry.
>> Make him cry. >> Make him cry. >> I think probably I wrote
this book about a young girl who is recovering from depression,
day after a suicide attempt. I really wanted to make sure that
book — I tried very hard through various drafts to make
sure I got it right. Approximate — if it
ended up in the hands of somebody who was wondering what
to do about life, that it would point
them in the right direction. The emails I get sometimes from
kids that thank me for the book, it makes it all worthwhile.
>> Yeah. Thank you. Thank you all. [Holding back tears.]
[Laughter] This question has choice for
you. Tell us about the next book that's coming up for you or
what you're working on now? Francisco?
>> This is the first time I'm trying to do a follow-up to
the previous book in Disappeared the kids kind of get to the —
>> Yeah. I'm so excited. >> They get to the border
and then so the next book is their
lives, Their undocumented lives in the United States.
>> Oh. Wow. Can't wait. How far along are you?
[Laughter] >> I'm on — my editor is over
there so I can't say. [Laughter]
>> It's due this summer. I just asked him to define "summer
"summer" for me. [Laughter]
>> Summer in the Southern hemisphere.
[Laughter] >> Okay. Margarita? >> Margarita: My next first
novel is Jawza, the novel of the Jutsut riots. Their misnamed. They should be called the sailor
riots. It's about the sailors attacking the Mexican youth. They're enrageed enrageed about interracial dancing, that
happened in my home neighbor. It comes out in
May. And then next year, Soar
Soaring Earth which is a sequel to my childhood memoir Enchanted
Heir. It's about the protests in the
1960s. And it's really embarrassing. I will go into
hiding when it comes out. [Laughter]
>> Can't wait for that one. Okay.
>> I have my first picture book comes out next year. It's called Gifts for Abuela. It's a
California story. It's about a wall on the border and how —
it's about a little girl who wants to get a gift to her abuelita
across that wall. That's my next
book. Then I'm working on Boy Wonder
and Cat Girl which is multiple narrators. I'm trying to get into the
Bollywood super hero vibe. It's about two teens
from Boston who go to Calcutta.
They just confront some of the trafficking that happens in the
http://upload.youtube.com/closedcaption?cid=pk87-p4dr-fpke-emzp city of my birth.
>> I'll get on this. Next spring I have a picture
book coming up. There are dragons in Eastern
mythology and there's dragons in Western mythology.
There are similarities but there are also differences. This is a little girl who has a
mother from the East and a father from
the West. It's my little mixed-
mixed-race dragon book. [Laughter] >> I want to give a shout-out
to Linda Sue Parker's parents who are here, too.
[Laughter] >> My parents are here.
[Applause] >> My father got some love a
few months ago on twitter. He was asking for a good book to
read and I gave him Angie Thomas
Thomas' the Gift You Give. He kept a list of things he didn't
understand and he asked me, first, "what is this hose?"
So that was a fun conversation.
[Laughter] We're going to move now to a
lightening round. The questions thus far I did give the
panelists so they could think about it a
little bit. These they had not seen. They start easy and
they're going to get a little harder. All right? IPhone or Android.?
>> EyeIPhone. I'm an Apple girl.
>> A iPhone. >> Twitter or Facebook? >> Twitter.
>> Twitter. >> Facebook.
>> PROFESSOR: Okay. R2D2 or —
>> That's a terrible question. How can you choose?
>> I like living organisms. [Laughter]
>> R2D2 I think. >> Okay. Chachala or Kilmunger.
>> I have no idea. >> Pass.
>> Then just pass. >> Pass.
>> What is the question? [Laughter] >> Go see Black Panther.
>> Oh, man. I feel terrible.
>> Kilmuger. All right. [Laughter] >> Your Hogwarts house?
>> I read Harry Potter, but that was a long time ago. I
don't remember. >> Ravenclaw, I think bit.
http://upload.youtube.com/closedcaption?cid=pk87-p4dr-fpke-emzp >> Is Mytherine is term?
>> Slytherine. [Laughter] >> The three of us are going to
to a matinee of Black —
Panther. >> That was a joke.
>> What do you think I am? >> A raveen claw.
>> I am a raveen claw. Desert island or pop recording
artist. >> Desert island, whatever that
is. [Laughter]
>> This is a complicated question. >> In other words, what
recording artist would you more —
>> Oh, I see. [Laughter]
>> You got to help me out, Jason.
>> That's my fault. It was unclear. The greatest love song of all all time: Let's stay
together by the reverend Al Green.
>> Anybody else have one? A song? Recording artist, album? >> Benny Moray.
>> Okay. >> Let it be.
>> Oh, wow, very nice. >> Last request meal?
>> That's so easy. I'll go first. My mom's cauliflower and
potato kurry. >> Ice cream. >> Rice and beans and hot
chocolate. >> Shayshek. [Laughter]
Okay. Maybe you kind of already answered this. I'll ask
it again. An author or book you
wish everyone in the room would read.
>> Hmm. I'll start with with the Book
Thief is one of my favorite books.
>> I'm judging a national book awards this year so I have
to be really silent. I can't say
anything. I did love both of their books, though. I have to
put a plug in. These are both
excellent books. >> Hold on a second. [Laughter] >> I have a special love for
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson because I
think it's one of the most important books of the century,
but also she was writing it at the same time that I was writing Enchanted heir and I didn't
know and I'm sure she didn't know that we were doing verse
memoirs at the same time. So I feel like that says that at this
point in time people from marginalizeed communities are
writing in poetry because I can't speak
for her but I believe that the
http://upload.youtube.com/closedcaption?cid=pk87-p4dr-fpke-emzp harshness of history requires a
beautiful language and a soften softening of the blow that comes
with poetry. I think that maybe we're facing things that
couldn't be faced in prose. >> Oh. Interesting. Wow. I
guess if I were answering I would just say in honor of this
event, anything by Walter Dean Myers. Absolutely.
[Applause] And this is the last lightening
round question. It's a good one. What's on your head
headstone? [Laughter] >> It's easy because it's my
twitter bio-and my Facebook bio. It's just going to say: Beloveed
like you. >> Oh, that's so nice.
>> Peace. >> He tried to be human.
>> Wow. Great. Great words.
>> But did he succeed? >> I need your help for that.
[Laughter] >> Okay. We're almost finished
and ready to hand on to the next exciting part of our
morning, but I'll just ask you to finish by keeping in mind our
theme of the power of books. You
have an audience here of readers and especially teachers and
librarians who work with young people. What one thing would
you like to tell them to take home
to the young people about your work on your particular book?
Margarita? >> Just that verse novels are
interactive. The white space on the page is not empty. It contains my emotions and the
read reader's emotions. And you can invite students to
write their own poems in response. They can jump in at any point on
any page and write their own poems.
They can write the missing voices, because I certainly
can't do it all. There's the old addage that a poem is never
finished; it's just abandoned. The
same is true of a poetry book. It's not finished. There's room for them to come in and write.
>> Do you want to go ahead? >> No. You should be last.
I think it's not about my books but I think the action item I
would say is just to try to mentor a young person in your life,
just listen to their works and word
words, help them along as best you can. You don't have to be a
writing coach. But just one young person that you find.
>> Jacqueline Woodson says she's trying to change the world
one reader at a time. >> Yeah, that's great. I say play around with
mirrorrors. I found unexpected mirrors in
books and so will the kids you serve. I say let kids roam freely.
Don't limit them to be just an ethnic mirror. They're going
to find that. I say play around with your collections and
displays. I read from many in my career, we just don't have an
Indian reading population, Mitali, so that's why. I don't
hear that anymore. Our books http://upload.youtube.com/closedcaption?cid=pk87-p4dr-fpke-emzp
are for all readers. Really — [Applause] >> I am so thankful to WNDB —
We Need Diverse Books. We've been writing for years and years
and years. Because I don't hear that anymore. Let your readers roam freely.
Find the mirrors. And just offer them diversity in
books. >> I'm giving you the perfect
ending because most of us use that windows and mirrors
metaphor, which has been so incrediblely
useful. And here with us today we have the originator of that phrase, Dr. Bishop. [Applause] He was doing this work before
most of us knew it was work. So I guess a break now before
our actual Walter Award sir money starts. I hope you had a great time, and
I think we did, too.
>> When Linda Sue Parker said she wasn't going to do the basic cookie cutter panel, and
we were in for a good ride, that was true. You have taken us on a journey,
all of you, and you made us laugh and cry, and I'm
glad none of you became the doctor or engineer you might
have been. [Laughter] I wanted to say speaking on
behalf of We Need Diverse Books it's been a pleasure to
cosponsor this symposium with the
Library of Congress. We especially appreciate Leanne
Potter with the Library of Congress.
We're going to take a 15-minute break. — coffee and tea in
the back. We've also set up book sales,
and please go ahead and purchase those. We will be — the authors will
very nicely be signing during the reception
that will follow. We want to make
sure that they have time to — we're celebrating them during
the reception. We don't want to
make them work the whole time. So no personalizing.
And also, no photos for this signing.
And then we're going to try to do that efficiently and then
let them enjoy and mingle with all of you.
So see you back here in about 15 minutes. And thank you.
And thank you. Let's give one more hand for these
wonderful panelists. [Applause] [Break taken] >> If everyone would please
take their seats. Thank you. >> Hello. And welcome. There's nothing like an unruly crowd of librarians, teachers,
educators, and publishers. Networking is really great and
we're going to do it afterwards at the reception to thank you
very much for your patience. I'm Kathy Weinberg and I'm the
co director of the We Need
Diverse Books Walter Awards. We welcome you to the third
Walter Dean Myers award for outstanding
children's literature. It's fitting to start with an
often heard quote from Walter Dean Myers, whose legacy we
honor with this award: Reading is
not optional. http://upload.youtube.com/closedcaption?cid=pk87-p4dr-fpke-emzp This award says that children
finding and seeing themselves in books is also not optional. We need diverse books founded
with with the hashtag, with 21
people and now it has grown to a global presence. We know how global it is because one of our
founders and the head of We Need Diverse Books, Ellen Hong, is out of town at a
book festival. I hope she's watching on the live
stream. Everyone say hi to Ellen.
So We Need Diverse Books has brought positive change to the
publishing world and the books being published. And We Need Diverse Books
started the Walter Award three years ago we had for your first
year under 40 books considered for consideration. For The Walter 2017 we had 76
commissions for The Walter. And for Walter 2018, while we
did add the category of younger reader, our submissions were
over 180 books. So that's the beginning of
progress. We have a lot of thank yous to
hand out today. First, to the Library of Congress for their
hospitality, especially Dr. Carla Hayden, Lee Ann Potter, Clay
Penchak, Sarah and Sasha. We could not do this without the We
Need Diverse Books staff and volunteers. A big thanks to Carolyn Richman , Judy Striker, and
Christine. We also couldn't do it without
Karen Brown. And we want We Need Diverse
Books volunteers to please stand up. All We Need Diverse Books
volunteers, please stand up so we
can thank you. [Applause]
Thank you. We want to take a moment to
honor the memory of of of of the legacy of
Walter Dean Myers and thanks his family and friends for the
continued support of the award. Of course, the award would
not be possible without our most talented and slight slight
slight slightly bleary-eyed judges who
have read some wonderful books today. Maria Salvador is over there,
the codirector. And other members of the judges
are here. Would you please stand up so we can
thank you? [Applause] And one we're on a thank you
role, I want to say a big thanks to the publishers, many of whom
are in your audience today. Thank you to listening We Need
Diverse Books and for supporting the need of diversity in
children's literature. One last things to our audience,
educators, and readers, and librarians. We could not spread
the We Need Diverse Books word and put diverse authors and
characters in the hands of children
without your help. Thank you. We have a wonderfully full
program and to start it out I would like to introduce Mark
Sweeney. While we miss Dr. Hayden, we're very appreciatetive of his
time and interest in the ceremony
ceremony. Es works He works with the
Library of Congress and, plus, serves as the director of
preservation. Welcome, Mr. Sweeney.
http://upload.youtube.com/closedcaption?cid=pk87-p4dr-fpke-emzp >> Well, good morning,
everyone here. The energy in the room is really infectious. I'm pleased to add my voice to
the corps chorus of choice voices
welcomeing welcomeing you here today.
We are here with We Need Diverse Books to highlight
diversity in children's literature. Just
four years ago, We Need Diverse Books began as a simple hashtag on twitter.
Today, it's a 501(c)3 with writeers and people
who span the globe. The We Need Diverse Books team seeks to
create a world in which every child
can see themselves in the pages of a book.
The Library of Congress shares this goal. We are proud
to have hosted this morning's
symposium on diversity and children's literature and also to be
hosting this ceremony. Both events highlight and
promote books that broaden our notions of diversity and engages
in meaningful conversations about them. To honor exemplary diverse
books, We Need Diverse Books published The Walter the Walter
Dean Myers award for outstanding
children's — literature, The Walters. He was a recipient of the corps Coretta Scott King award winner
— and every child a reader in
2012. We're delighted the emcee for
this ceremony is a current national ambassador
National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, Jacqueline
Woodson. And I'm delighted to introduce her. Jacqueline is a four-time Newbery honor
Medalist. Corps — her platform, reading equals hope and change, what's your
equation, encourages young people
to think about and beyond the moment that they're living in.
The power they possess and the impact reading can have in
showing them ways in which they can create the hope and change they want to see in our world.
Please join me in welcomeing Jacqueline Woodson to the
podium. Thank you. [Enthusiastic applause] >> Good morning. What an
honor. Okay. I would be remiss to not do this for my personal
panelists. You'll all get it after this
afternoon's viewing. [Laughter] Oh, man. That was the best symposium
ever. Ever. I didn't
space out once. [Laughter]
It really was the best. So thank you. Thank you. What an
honor to be in the room. And what an honor to be back at
the Library of Congress. There's so much love in the
room. This is a place that as a young person I never came to. I never thought it was for me. And to Carla Hayden's staff
here, the energy is amazing now. And to look around this room and
to see how diverse it is, to be in this moment of We Need
Diverse Books is everything. It is a
dream. And beyond. So I just want to say to the
young people in the room, hold fast to dreams, because this is
what they become. And yall are amazing. Amazing. I am still high on on the march
http://upload.youtube.com/closedcaption?cid=pk87-p4dr-fpke-emzp on the national walkout and all
the work the young people are doing to change the world. And
all the work my fellow writeers are doing to keep us here. So what an absolute honor. I have a speech written because
I don't get nervous unless they tell me that it's being
televised. Suddenly, the intimas is the the intimac
intimacy is gone. But all the folks out there. I see you.
[Applause] We present our first book
selller of the year award. So this
is going a little longer. It is a true universally — see,
this is what happens. [Laughter] And for the Newbery, for thecal
da the Caldecott, ask the and the
award being given this year, Laura Engles
Wilder you have to write a speech a couple months beforehand so
they can record it. I guess you're not supposed to mess up
on it like I'm messing up right now. Just the idea of writing
something long before you get in the room with the people you're
going to say it to. You don't know how the world is going to
change. It's changing to quickly
quickly. What you write two months before a speech could be
not so relevant anymore.
But this is all very relevant. I do digress. That was all to cover up. It's a very New York thing to
kind of knock you off track for a
minute. [Laughter]
It's truly universally acknowledged that every diverse
book is in need of a book selller to
sell it. Book selllers might be one of the most important as
people who both curate collections
and get books into the hands of readers who will purchase them.
They have the power to create best selllers, but more vitally
they have the power to represent. Meaning that
children can go to their stores and either
search in vain for books that reflect their world or smile when they
see themselves on the shelves. Today, the first book selller
of the year award, a prize created because our organization
wanted to recognize the role that book selllers have as
driveers of the publishing industry.
No one can read or buy a book they've never heard of.
This is our thank you to the independent book selllers of our country for championing and, I
might be mispronouncing that, because that's not a word I
wrote. I usually write words I pronounce a lot.
[Laughter] But it means being champions of.
[Laughter] The cause and diverse books and
showing that they can, in fact, sell. We do buy books. [Laughter] The winner of the first annual
We Need Diverse Books selller of the year award is Sarah of
carriage books and more in Atlanta
Atlanta. I love this bookstore. I don't have enough time to
talk about how much I love Carris books. One of the early
http://upload.youtube.com/closedcaption?cid=pk87-p4dr-fpke-emzp bookstores I visited and the
community that happens there. I'm
very proud to present this award. As the oldest feminist bookstore
in the country, it's an institution that's proud and
open about its mission to reflect the wide spectrum of
experiences, lives, and familyies.
Their excellence in the support of diverse books is
evident in the types of events that it
programs, in the antiracist resistance and LGBT book list,
in its community outreach to librarians and schools and
teach-in's, and, of course, in its
collection which honors all types of diversity. We Need Diverse Books is honored to present
Sarah and Carris books with two awards, one for them to keep,
and one for them to keep at Carris
books until the next book selller is nominated and then
you have to give it back. Sorry. Thank you, Sarah, and Carris
books. [Applause]
No speech. >> I think you have to stand
here and let me take a picture with you.
>> Sorry. We didn't practice that part. Sorry.
[Laughter] >> Thank you.
>> Thank you. [Applause] >> You might want to check your
luggage. I've been stopped for these.
And now we move on to the Walter Awards. Right? Am I —
okay. [Laughter]
>> Any way you like. >> Thank you.
[Laughter] So now we move on to the Walter
Awards and we start with my brother from another mother,
Jason Reynolds. [Enthusiastic applause]. >> Who is here with his
fabulous mother. Jason Reynolds is
a New York times bestselling author, a Newbery honor — a Newbery honor — a Newbery award
honoree. You know what, I'm just drop the honoree. Make it
easy. Jason is a Newbery award winner.
[Laughter] A prince award nominee, a
national book award nominee, a — a two-time Walter Dean Myers award
winner, and the recipient of multiple Coretta Scott King
honors. I think there was one year
you got two at the same ceremony, right? Yeah. He's
not messing around, yall. If you're
going to half step it, don't step at all.
[Laughter] He was the 2017 spokesperson for
Indies first. And he's brilliant and also not so hard
too to look at. http://upload.youtube.com/closedcaption?cid=pk87-p4dr-fpke-emzp
[Laughter] And will serve as the national spokesperson for the 2018 celebration of school library
month, sponsored by the American
association of school librarians. We see you AASL. He has a number of books,
including: As brave as you for everyone.
I don't know that one. >> It's not out yet.
>> Oh, okay. It's not out yet.
[Laughter] And also long way down, which received both a a new a Newbery
and a Prince honor. So I have a 10-year-old son who
reads differently. He listen listens to audio books nonstop.
And every time I ask him, what's in his ear? Jason
Reynolds. Jason Reynolds. But you
listened to that all right." I'm listening to it again." Jason
Reynolds. But he loves this writeer, as do
so many of us. Congrats,
Jason. [Enthusiastic applause.]
>> Thank you. Hi, everybody. It's a whole lot
of yall in here this year.
[Laughter] So I have a few minutes to say a
few words. Thank you to the Library of Congress and to We
Need Diverse Books. I'm forever grateful for the work you've
done. Thank you judging panel and
committee. It is never lost on me how
fortunate I am any time anything like this happens. I
am truly grateful. Thank you to my mama. [Enthusiastic applause]
>> I like to always tell people it's important to make
sure everybody who knows me knows
her. It's important to do that, at
the end of the day. All of us are — our lives are
sort of fleeting. At the end of the
day, when she's out of here, when
I'm out of here, I want her legacy to be as solid and
perpetual as my own. It's important.
Shout out to my mom. Thank you to everybody who has been up here,
all the honorees, autopsy the winners, this is so cool to be
around such important and interesting people.
And of course, the great Jacqueline Woodson, these the
only person I know who is so deck
decorated, everything, has all the award awards, and yet still somehow
seems to not take herself so seriously. It's good to
understand what we're doing but the
awards don't necessarily change our character, or shouldn't, at
least. Who we are is who we are. I'm thankful to you of
being a big sister to my in in my
literary world. Also my agent is here and my
editor both of whom are responsible for all the work
that I do. Because you goet to go go to do
that, right? Because somebody will be like,
"You didn't even thank the committee."
http://upload.youtube.com/closedcaption?cid=pk87-p4dr-fpke-emzp All that is over.
[Laughter] So I've been working on a new
book. I can't talk about it. [Laughter]
But I have all this stuff happening in my brain and it's
moving around and I'm trying to figure out what to do with it.
I've been really working on this — we all know the adage if a
tree falls in the forest and it doesn't make — and nobody is there to
hear it, does it make a sound? I've done
some research on it and I think it's fascinating. I've been
digging around to figure out what
does that mean for my life or work? What exactly are they
talking about? Turns Turns out, though it is a
philosophical statement, it's actually a
scientific statement. Scientists are saying if a a tree falls in in
the forest, there's a vibration from
that impact and that vibration travels to — yall need to make
an announcement? Exactly.
The tree falls, hits the ground, there's a vibration.
That vibration travels to the eardrum
and when it hits the eardrum, it makes the sound. If the vibration — does not hit
the eardrum, technically, a sound is
not made. So the scientists are saying,
technically, then it doesn't make a sound if it doesn't hit a
eardrum. For me, it makes sense sort of,
except somehow in that argument it sort ophidiasis
qualifies of — disqualifies the idea of the
sound being made in the first place.
So if a tree is a growing thing, once it hits in the
ground, there's a vibration made.
Whether someone heard it or not is of
less importance than the fact the vibration was made. So say
it doesn't, then it disqualifies
the life of the said tree. Right?
[Applause] Now, from a philosophical
standpoint, which is other argument argument, which is is the
colloquial argument most of us make when
we say this, we look at it as a philosophical statement. From a
philosophical standpoint I think that perhaps we're not
necessarily asking the right questions. Right? It's like
that seems like such a limited and
simplified question to be asking about a tree that falls in the
forest with no one around to hear
it. Because there are other questions, extenuating questions
we should be asking ourselves to
better understand the context in which a tree is falling in the
forest with no one around to hear
it. For instance, is the wind
blowing? For instance, was the tree struck by lightning? For
instance, is there something eating at the base of the tree
which makes it less strong? For instance, are their termites
eating the tree from the inside out
out? All of this would help us better understand whether or not it matters if a sound is made or
not if a tree falls in a forest with no one there to hear it. Now, let's transpose tree for
child. Right? http://upload.youtube.com/closedcaption?cid=pk87-p4dr-fpke-emzp
>> Bring it home. >> From a scientific standpoint
if a child falls, and no one is there to hear it, does it
make a sound? According to the scientist, the child does not.
According to what I'm arguing, though, if we say a child does
not make a sound or the child's impact on that ground does not
create a vibration, then we disqualify the life of said
child. Now, from a philosophical
standpoint, if a child falls, does
it make a sound, again, I think we need to ask more questions.
Number one, was there wind blowing? Was there something
there pushing the child? Was there something, a force, an
unseen force forcing the child down?
Was there something eating at the
child's base? Something there that maybe we don't know eating
at the child? Were there termites involved eating from
the child inside out? Was lightening striking anywhere
in the vicinity? Was anything on fire?
Was the ground weakened by anything? And lastly, lastly, why aren't
anyone — like, where are the
people? Right? If a tree falls in the forest and no one is
around, does it make a sound? The question is why is no one
around? Where are the people? Where is everyone? Right?
Because that's the question that we should be asking. That is what Long Way Down is
actually about. Everyone is saying, oh
oh, it's about a kid in Ghana — no, no, no. This is about the kid that we judge every single
day, it's best we ask about them.
This book is not about any child; this book is about you.
You read the book. Whatever you
think happens to this kid at the end of this book has more to say
about you than that child. Do your work to make sure our
babies have a fair shot. That's all
I ask for. I also want to say quickly to Margarita, am I friend, at the
end of the day she could probably explain the power of
verse and novels far better than I could.
I think the job she holds is very important and I think she
understands the power of poetry and the power of verse and the
force in the way that I hope to mature to some day. It's
important that she know that, as well.
I appreciate you all. Thank you all, very, very much. Have a
good day. [Applause] note Ghana >> I know. You can't just
drop mics that are attached to a podium.
[Laughter] >> Thank you, Jason. I think it's a good moment to
just bring the the ancestors into
the room. I do this as often as I can.
When you hear the powerful words spoken by our
writeers, I think it's important for
us all to remember the people who came before us and how
important they were to who we are now, to being able to stand
here. And the people who have left this world but still walk
http://upload.youtube.com/closedcaption?cid=pk87-p4dr-fpke-emzp with us. So if we could just
take two minutes and just shout out a name of someone who you
want to bring back into the room or who is already in the room
with us, I think that would be fitting in this moment of
remembering Walter Dean Myers. That's the name I'll say. >> Virginia Hamilton . [Multiple names away from microphone]
>> John A Williams. >> Mary Anne Woodson. >> Robin Smith. >> Thank you. Welcome home.
Carole Boston Weatherford. [Applause] >> I just appreciate your
power in the room. So I just have loved your work forever and I'm
so grateful to be in the room with us. Carole Boston
Weatherford is a New York times bestselling author and poet. Her numerous books for children include Becoming Billie Holiday and Voice of Freedom
spirit of the civil rights movement,
illustrated by Ikwa Holmes. Such an
amazing both. Among others. And Carole Boston Weatherford
lives in Fayetteville North Carolina and has been writing
and changing the world for many, many years and I so appreciate
you. [Applause] >> Thank you, Jacqueline. Why'd you make me follow the
philosopher? After I heard Jason's speech, I
asked Eric, you want to go next?
[Laughter] >> I'm going to start with an epithet. epitaph. 1938. If this proverb, a book is a gardeen
carried in a pocket is true, then
Schomburg had a green thumb and a harvest of pride. There was
no field of human endeavor he did not till with his determined hand, that he did not sew with
seeds of curiosity. Or that he did not water with a growing
sense of African awareness and heritage. If a book is a garden carried in
a pocket, then Schomburg yielded a bumper crop, blanketed mount kill la minute jaro with African violated violets. If I had African violets I would
certainly give them to We Need Diverse Books, to my agent and publisher and my family and
friends and to librarians who have used my books and teachers who
have used my books. And also my collaborator Eric Velasquez, who
pitched this book to me. Schomburg brings my work full
circle, just as does this award
ceremony. His teacher in fifth grade told
him his African American ancestors had no history worth
noting. I was told something similar by an 8th grade teacher. I went to an exclusive quake
quaker school in Baltimore and I was the only one who had
transferred from public school. I got my paper back and the teacher gave me a B, and offered
only one comment: Did you write this?
http://upload.youtube.com/closedcaption?cid=pk87-p4dr-fpke-emzp Obviously, he had expected
less of me. Ever since, I have striveed to use my pen to affirm
my heritage and culture. When I was an inspiring children's book
writeer, before I had anything published by adult poetry, I
studied the work of Walter Dean Myers. Among the mentor texts I
turned to were Brown Baby —
I'm sorry. Brown Angels, Harlem to Harlem,
and One More Rivet
Across. Many years later, 20 years to be exact, I did research at
Howard University. And to the Library of Congress prints and
photographs department, in this very building.
I was looking for images to accompany my poems. Instead, I
found pictures that begged for words. Some were of historic
figures. Others were of everyday people whose names had
been lost. I wrote poems to give
them voices. I began right then and there collecting images and
stories. I'm going to close with a poem
from that book. That first led me to the Schomburg center.
Remember the bridge. Remember the bridge that your
ancestors crossed, the sweat that was
spillled and the lives that were lost
lost. Remember the slaves who raised corn and cotton. Keep singing their songs so they
won't be forgotten. The under ground railroad that passed
through at night. The signs and conductors that guided slaves'
flight. Remember the soldiers who fought though they knew they
might not be free when the battle was through. Remember the old souls who
handed down tale tales, the bold men and women
who blazed their own trails from the south to the north, from
farm to big city, with satchels of
dreams and new use for pity. Remember the boot blocks blacks,
the industryious laborers, remember
the housemaids who scrubbed dirty
floors, the readers who spoke out. Remember the hard way the
answer cess stores came, snatched from the mother land,
bound in chains. Remember the voyage, the
capture, the chase, young warriors who vanished without
even a trace. Long shadows on shorelines and foot prints in
sand. Forget not to temples of Africa's past . Ebony statues and — hands
reach across water. Hearts sing a new song. Thank
you. [Applause] >> Posing for the picture
thing is the most awkward part. Right? Thank you so much for
that, Carol. That poem was lovely
lovely. Oh, man. Eric Velasquez. One cool thing is the children's
book writing community is small. So we all know each other. A
lot of us know each other. A lot of us go way way back. And
when we get together we have a lot of catching up to do. So it was so great to be reunited last
night and to be able to gossip about all that stuff we didn't
get a chance to talk about, and to catch up. And I want to make a point about
the importance of picture books. I feel like when I read
Schomburg I learned so much that I didn't know. And I think
sometimes we think picture books are
http://upload.youtube.com/closedcaption?cid=pk87-p4dr-fpke-emzp for young people. They really are for everyone. [Applause] And they're a great way to teach
about the narrative arc. There's a great way to teach
poetry. So many of the forms are so poetic poetic, so get these
books into the hands of writeers of all
ages. They're ground breaking and important and world
changing. Eric Velasquez is the
illustrateor of numerous books for children, including several
previous collections with Carole Boston Weatherford. He won the illustrator award for
his illustrations of the Piano Man
if you haven't seen and read it, you must. Written by Debbie Chocolate. He
also is the illustrateor of the award
winning Grandma'S Gift people born in Harlem are so the real thing to
me. I was always so jealous of black people born in Harlem. [Laughter] His work is mind blowing and he
is mind blowing and I'm so glad to share this stage with
him and present him with his award
award. [Applause] >> Wow. There is a lot of
you in here. [Laughter]
>> Okay. Well, I have my speech. Okay. So I wanted to
start with those that didn't see the video that I recorded for the We Need Diverse Books
organization, that my wish and my wish is that in my lifetime we'll
replace this word "diversity," especially in books, with the
word" normal." That's a simple concept.
[Laughter] Diversity in my house didn't
really exist. I grew up in a Spanish speaking household but
we went to the movies to see American films that spoke
English. Watched Spanish speaking
television. Listened to salsa music but also
listened to the Temptations. It's like, wow,
wait, diversity is like everything
everything? But that's my life. But that's my wish for all of
you, that lots of normal. Okay. So now to my thank yous.
So I want to thank the We Need Diverse Books organization. As well as the Walter Dean
Myers judging committee. Which is named after my friend
Walter Dean Myers. Thank you to Reuben my agent for
helping this project find a home. I would also like to thank our
editor, art directors
for their hard work and dedication to this project. And to the public relations team
for their tireless efforts. To master author Carole Boston
Weatherford, thank you for writing a glorious manuscript.
You truly outdid yourself with this one, our fifth
collaboration. I want to thank the love of my
life, Elizabeth Rosario, not only for posing as Elizabeth and Philis Whitley, but also for the love, support, reassurance,
and strength. You are my rock. [Applause]
http://upload.youtube.com/closedcaption?cid=pk87-p4dr-fpke-emzp Okay. I first became aware of Arturo
Schomburg in the third grade. My teacher, Ms. Holmes, kept a poster of him on
her classroom room, along with
Martin Luther King junior and Malcolm X and Marcus Garvey, where he
has the uniform. Yeah. But what a gift the day she said
to me that Arturo Schomburg and I shared something in
common. That we both had roots in
Puerto Rico. Has she continued with a brief
talk on Arturo Schomburg for the first time in
my life I found a hero that looked like me and that I can
identify with. I could not wait to get home and
ask my grandma if she knew this great man responsible for
the library on 135th street in Harlem. I asked her, thinking I would
throw her off with the name. [
[Speaking Spanish] Of course, that man was a
genius, she said. [Spanish] The name place we come from.
However, aside from Schomburg's collection of books
and artifacts, she didn't know much
more about the man. 37 years later, while at the
Schomburg Center attending a performance of the last poets
with Elizabeth and her good friend Sheena, Sheena turns to me and
says, you know, there are no children's books on Arturo
Schomburg. You know, you ought to
think about doing that book. [Laughter] Suddenly, I realized that this
was the hand handsome man in that poster that I would stare at day
after day in the third grade. That genius that my grandmother
talked about. I contacted Carol immediately
and asked her to write me a
manuscript on Schomburg. That was 2006. We submitted the
project to several publishing houses and we were rejected
everywhere. This is just the story about a
man who collected books? So boring. Can't you jazz him up a
little bit? You know? Well, it didn't happen then. In 2014, our now agent Ruben
Sepher decided to give it a
another try. After a lot of work, a new
manuscript and sketches, Schomburg: The Man Who Built a
Library found a home at Candle
Candlewick Press. What a journey. However, through Carol's word I
truly discovered Schomburg's genius
and a true gift to all of us. This project changed my life
in so many ways. I even ended up in the hospital, didn't I? I even met Dean Schomburg,
Arturo Schomburg's grandson, who is now
a man in his 70s. I met his daughter and her son Miles. So
that's Schomburg's great great grandson. So I conclude with Arturo
Schomburg, I say, gracias…[
gracias… [Spanish]. [Applause] http://upload.youtube.com/closedcaption?
cid=pk87-p4dr-fpke-emzp >> Oh. Okay. Awesome. na-na-na-na-na to the
publishers who said no. [Laughter] I bet you you'll look quite hard
at the next book that comes across.
[Laughter] So now it is my great pleasure
to present the honor awards. I don't have any bio-s for them.
We're just going to roll with this for the authors. Oh,
Caroline. [Laughter]
Okay. No, no, no. I know you all are tired of sitting.
I'm going to present them. Margarita, Mitali, and Francisco
have done amazing things in
literature. I want to first present Margarita who is our young
people's poet laureate. She's the first Latino — why does it say
Latino? Isn't it Latina and Lat
Lati in-X? We're only talking about a woman? >> In Spanish, it includes
both. >> Okay. Okay.
>> So okay. Margarita is amazing and I'm very happy —
[Laughter] — to present her with this
award. [Applause] >> Thank you. >> I just want to say again
how fabulous you all were on the panel. And how eye-opening it was. For
those of you who missed it, that revolution is going to
be televised, right? Hopefully you'll get to watch it. She has written for– Mitali, we
know where she lives. We got her bio- when she
was doing the panel. I was beyond honored to present Mitali
with this award. She is the author of several
books, including You Bring the Distant Near. [Applause] >> And Francisco, who is just amazing . He has won awards. I didn't know about this
particular book until my 16-year-old
daughter came to me and said, you need to read this book. I
was mad she knew something I didn't.
So lovely and world changing and I'm so honored that you're
here. >> Thank you. [Applause] >> So thanks, all, for being
here. And we're going to conclude, but don't get up off
your seats, yet. But thank you. Thank you, authors, for changing
the world. Thank you, committee, for changing the
world. Thank you We Need Diverse
Books for being born. And thank you teachers,
librarians, write writers, readers, for supporting
the work we're doing. [Applause] >> Thank you. Jacqueline
just did the unimagineable. She finished an award ceremony
early. We're sending her over to the
capitol. Okay? Yeah? Things will be running better.
[Laughter] http://upload.youtube.com/closedcaption?cid=pk87-p4dr-fpke-emzp
But fortunately, we're ready to start the reception. We'll
start. We'll have more time for
mingleing and getting able to talk to the authors. They're
going to go over to the book signing table, after they go
over with the judges and have a photo with the judges. So Walter honor or award winner being,, if you go over there and
get a picture with the judges, that
would be nice. We'll do that first. Then they'll go over and
they'll be signing. Strict orders, they'll just be signing,
and no photos. I'm sorry about that, but we want them to have
time to enjoy themselves because they certainly earned it.
So thank you, all. You've been a wonderful audience. And
thank you very much to the Library of Congress. Thank you. [Applause]

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