As a member of the Ezra Jack Keats Award committee, I’d like to use this month’s post to share a newly released documentary produced by the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation. The 30-minute film highlights the importance of children seeing images of themselves in books and celebrates some of the champions who have advanced and enhanced diversity in picture books — Ezra Jack Keats, W.E.B. DuBois, Augusta Baker, Pura Belpre, Andrea Davis Pinkney and more. Click here to view: https://www.ezra-jack-keats.org/tell-me-another-story/
As a young reader, I happily devoured Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, The Bobbsey Twins, Cherry Ames, Trixie Belden and Elsie Dinsmore. Although some of these contained embarrassing stereotypes, which I simply skimmed over, I loved these series. But one book captured me in a way these did not. Bright April by Marguerite De Angeli gave me a character with whom I could truly identify.
April was me. She looked like me, she was a Girl Scout like me, she had the same feelings as me, her father was a mailman, like my grandfather, she even had the same mother as me — kind and wise. April didn’t ruin Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden or those other books for me, but she gave me a personal feeling of pride that previous books never had. De Angeli’s gentle tale entered my heart and stayed.
As an adult who had little black history growing up, I have been playing catch up, working to educate myself about my history and culture. As a writer, first and foremost, I want to tell good stories, but I also hope to capture young readers the way De Angeli captured me.
A happy note: I just received the new Horn Book Magazine (November/December 2021) and was thrilled to see diverse books here, there and everywhere!