Jane Addams Awards

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.

Brilliant Fantasy

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.

“Making Stuff Up”



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.

Derailing for Dummies

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.

Passport to Korea

Upcoming events! Passport to Korea at the Mall of America:

Discover Korea without a passport or getting on a plane. Experience the timeless mix of rich traditional and modern culture. See Korean dancers perform dances that has originated three thousand years ago from ancient Shamanistic rituals. Be delighted with the vibrant colors as models walk the runway in Hanboks, traditional Korean dresses which were worn as semi-formal or formal wear during the festivals and celebrations. In addition, there will be performance of Gayageum strings (traditional string instrument of Korea), demonstration of Taekwondo and high energy break dancing by the world famous B-boys.

This event is sponsored by the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourismand the Network of Professional Adopted Koreans, a Minneapolis, MN based nonprofit organization.

Thursday, April 23
6 p.m.- 8p.m.

Friday, April 24-Sunday, April 26
12 p.m.- 6 p.m.

Best Buy® Rotunda 

See the website here.

Dissertation Abstract

Representations of Transracial Korean Adoption in Children’s Literature 
by Sarah Park

Dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Library and Information Science in the Graduate College of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2009.

Abstract: This dissertation examines and analyzes representations of transracial Korean adoption in American children’s literature published from 1955 to 2007.  Since the 1950s, more than 200,000 Korean children have been sent from South Korea to North America and Europe to be adopted into previously all-white families.  Over 110,000 were adopted into the United States.  Representations of transnationally and transracially adopted Koreans have appeared in over fifty American children’s books since 1955.  Early titles depicted orphaned Korean children in need of homes in order to promote the new phenomenon of transracial/transnational adoption.  More recent titles depict adopted Koreans’ experiences in the United States.

Based on my analyses of fifty-one children’s books, autobiographical writings by transracially adopted Koreans, and my observations during an international adoptee conference, it is clear that this literature does not holistically mirror the experiences of transracially adopted Koreans.  Most of the stories were written with the implicitly didactic purpose of describing and explaining adoption, often at the expense of engaging readers in an aesthetic reading experience.  Picture books uniquely tell stories through both text and illustrations or photographs, but there are often contradictions between text and image in depicting this experience.  In the more spacious format of the novel, authors idealize and validate adoptive mothers while de-maternalizing and invalidating the person of the birth mother.  Text and illustrations depict adopted Korean children as Other by the circumstances of when they are told about their adoption, the ways in which they are named, and their isolation from other adopted Koreans. My research provides a categorical framework for critically thinking about the types of adoption literature produced for children and gives insight into the characteristics and uses of ethnic and adoptive children’s literature.

Doctoral Committee:
Associate Professor Christine A. Jenkins, Chair
Professor Emerita Elizabeth G. Hearne, Director of Research
Associate Professor Moon-Kie Jung
Assistant Professor Eleana J. Kim, University of Rochester

Dissertation defense:
April 16 @ 3pm (LIS 131)