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This past Saturday, on April 25, we announced the winners and honors for the Jane Addams Children’s Book Awards. These awards

are given annually to the children’s books published the preceding year that effectively promote the cause of peace, social justice, world community, and the equality of the sexes and all races as well as meeting conventional standards for excellence.

For the third consecutive year, the announcement ceremony took place at the Hull House, the settlement house where Jane Addams did much of her activist work. I had attended the first time we had such an announcement ceremony in 2007, but missed last year, and was very happy to return this year, and also very happy to see that the size of the audience had grown considerably. The winners are:

 Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai. By Claiore A. Nivola.  Published by  Frances Foster Books/Farrar, Straus and Giroux. (Younger)



 The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom. By Margarita Engle.  Henry Holt. (Older)





Our honor books are:


 The Storyteller’s Candle/La velita de los cuentos. Story by Lucia Gonzalez.  Illustrations by Lulu Delacre. Published by Children’s Book Press. (Younger)



 Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad. By James Rumford. Neal Published by Porter  Book/Roaring Brook Press. (Younger)



 The Shepherd’s Granddaughter by Anne Laurel Carter. Groundwood Books/House  of Anansi Press. (Older)




 Ain’t Nothing But a Man: My Quest to Find the Real John Henry. By Scott  Reynolds Nelson with Marc Aronson. National Geographic. (Older)



I also took some photos and videos at the event: 

Lisa Junkin welcomes us to the Hull-House

Lisa Junkin welcomes us to the Hull-House





Susan Griffith announces each book

Susan Griffith announces each book














Margaret Jensen, Sarah Park, and Susan Griffith

Margaret Jensen, Sarah Park, and Susan Griffith














Videos of Susan announcing and describing some of the books:

We also had the opportunity to hear from two school teachers how they use JACBA books in the classroom. They created a chart based on the JACBA criteria along one axis, and put the books along the other axis. Their students were then asked to fill in the boxes in the chart on how the books fulfilled JACBA criteria. The teachers also showed us videos of the children discussing the books and growing in consciousness of the book’s characteristics, appropriate age levels, and so on. Making these activities an important part of the curriculum turns young people into lifelong readers and learners and peace-seekers. It was powerful.

Frightening Nightmare 

“We chose you,” my mommy always says to me. To me that means from a store, because when you go to the store you look at the rows of dolls and you choose. A thought comes to me now, a frightening thought that makes sense as I sit alone: I could also be returned to the store. I could be exchanged for a better girl, someone who thinks better and doesn’t say hurtful things. No, I don’t want to be returned. I want to stay here, because I love my family, and because if two mothers gave me away, certainly no one would ever, ever want me again. Then I would have to live in the store forever. (from The Language of Blood, by Jane Jeong Trenka, p 23)

Brilliant Fantasy

Once I remember Mom talking how lucky she and Dad had been in getting us, because there were a few couples ahead of them in line to adopt. In some brilliant fantasy, I saw all these couples standing in a row while I looked them over, picking from their number who I would adopt as my parents. (from “Bulgogi,” by Ellwyn Kauffman, in Seeds from a Silent Tree, p49)

In my brilliant fantasy, I wonder what adoption-related children’s books would look like if the majority of the authors, illustrators, agents, editors, and publishers were adopted persons themselves. I wonder what the world would look like if non-white mothers were valued and respected and supported in decisions to keep their children, if fathers were held accountable, if governments had more oversight and compassion and vision, if potential parents in the west did not so desire children from the east.

And yet the frightening nightmare continues, persists, haunts, as the majority of children sent away from Korea for adoption are from single mothers,  as birth fathers still do not suffer the shame and stigma that birth mothers do, as the government works at a snail’s pace to institute change, as potential parents in the west feed the demand for children from the east.



I love PhDcomics! It often does amaze me that I can read a bunch of books, think about them, write about them, and then get a Ph.D., and not because the behavioral sciences and social sciences use “real data” whereas mine is “just based on children’s books” or because I’m “making stuff up,” but because I can do what I love and be valued and respected for it. Gerard is right- “humanities is the study of the human condition through literary analysis and criticism.” Literature reflects what we believe about the world, and they project the images and ideologies we want others to also believe. Children’s literature is a potent medium through which to spread particular ideologies, whether they be of heteronormativity or what constitutes a nuclear family or what types of jobs and behaviors and religions are valued and respected. People who think children’s literature is free from politics are fooling themselves; they only think so because they want children’s literature to reflect their politics, and feel threatened when other ideologies are presented. But the truth is, we need to see a diversity of experiences, viewpoints, perspectives, behaviors, in children’s literature so that we could learn to understand, respect, appreciate, and value all that the world has to offer. As I step off my soapbox, I leave you with a favorite quote:
You must not refuse to lend a book, even to an enemy, for the cause of learning will suffer” Rabbi Yehuda of Regensburg, Germany 1200 C.E.

Today I defended my dissertation!!

Many, many, many thanks to my amazing committee members and friends and colleagues in the audience. Your guidance, support and encouragement have meant so much to me.

I’m a doctor! ^.^

Oppression and marginalization really aren’t funny but… I couldn’t help but laugh:

CONGRATULATIONS, YOU HAVE PRIVILEGE! Just follow this step-by-step guide to Conversing with Marginalised People™ and in no time at all you will have a fool-proof method of derailing every challenging conversation you may get into, thus reaping the full benefits of every privilege that you have.

The best part is, you don’t even have to be a white, heterosexual, cisgendered, cissexual, upper-class male to enjoy the full benefits of derailing conversation! Nope, you can utilise the lesser-recognised tactic of Horizontal Hostility to make sure that, despite being a member of a Marginalised Group™ yourself, you can exercise a privilege another Marginalised Group™ doesn’t have in order not to heed their experience!

Read on, and learn, and remember… you don’t have to use these in any particular order! In fact, mixing them up can really keep those Marginalised People™ on their toes! After all, they are pretty much used to hearing this stuff, so you don’t want to get too predictable or they’ll get lazy!  

Some of the common responses to thinking critically about marginalization are:

  • You’re Being Hostile
  • But That Happens To Me Too!
  • You’re Being Overemotional
  • You’re Taking Things Too Personally
  • You’re Not Being Intellectual Enough/You’re Being Overly Intellectual
  • Your Experience Is Not Representative Of Everyone
  • I Don’t Think You’re As Marginalised As You Claim
  • Well I Know Another Person From Your Group Who Disagrees!
  • You Are Damaging Your Cause By Being Angry

Read how the author breaks down the above so that one can continue to Other people @ Derailing for Dummies

*Please keep in mind this is tongue-in-cheek.

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