Opening Remarks: “Jane Addams and Children”
by Harriet Hyman Alonso
Professor of History, The City College of New York, CUNY
We are here today not only to celebrate books and authors who reflect the great humanitarian spirit of Jane Addams, but also to celebrate Addams herself.
Most people know her largely for her creation and leadership of the Hull-House settlement house in 1889 and her receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931 for her work with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. But Jane Addams also had a great love for children—not just those nieces and nephews she took special care of—but all children.
As she said in her 1909 book, The Spirit of Youth and the City Streets (a book she claimed to be her favorite), “We may either smother the divine fire of youth or we may feed it.” And, indeed, she fed it.
Hull-House itself was a hotbed of activities to improve the lives of children. There were day nurseries; kindergartens; classes in infant care (including how to sterilize milk, for instance); boys clubs; girls clubs; a boarding house for young single women; efforts to end child labor; intervention on the part of child offenders which led to a campaign to establish juvenile delinquency laws; places for teenagers to hang out to keep them off the streets and away from alcohol, drugs, and prostitution; the establishment of Chicago’s first public play ground; the hiring of gym teachers and coaches for sports teams; the sponsoring of dances and music lessons, and campaigns for good public education and for special education—to name just a few efforts. We can thank Hull-House for giving Benny Goodman (the clarinetist and big band leader) and Paul Muni (the actor) their first exposure to the arts. Who knows how many other children went on to great things because of their initial exposure to culture at Hull-House?
These local efforts led to broader programs, ranging from the creation of sanitation laws all the way to the support of the World Court and League of Nations.
|We can easily see how much Jane Addams would have loved the six books being honored today and how she would have embraced their authors. Her underlying belief that human rights begins at birth with the basic needs of a home and an education are echoed by Jeanette Winter, George Ella Lyon, and Stephanie Anderson. Her belief that children be able to express themselves freely while adults protect that right are echoed by Elizabeth Partridge and Phillip Hoose. And her expectation that adults will lead the way in providing a free and just world for future generations are echoed by Andrea Davis Pinkney, Brian Pinkney, and Tanya Lee Stone.|
As Addams put it, “. . . youth is so vivid an element in life that unless it is cherished, all the rest is spoiled. The most praiseworthy journey grows dull and leaden unless companioned by youth’s iridescent dreams. Not only that, but the mature of each generation run a grave risk of putting their efforts in a futile direction, in a blind alley as it were, unless they can keep in touch with the youth of their own day and know at least the trend in which eager dreams are driving them—those dreams that fairly buffet our faces as we walk the city streets.” The authors and their books being honored this year would certainly have pleased Jane Addams.
- Jane Addams, The Spirit of Youth and the City Streets (1909; reprint ed., Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1972), p. 161.
- Ibid., pp. 140-141.
Winner of Books for Younger Children
Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan, written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter and published by Beach Lane Books, an imprint of Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, is a Global Fund for Children book and the winner in the Books for Younger Children category.
You know Jeanette Winter as an acclaimed author and illustrator of many life-changing picture books, including Bibloburro, The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq; Mama: A True Story in which a Baby Hippo Loses his Mama During a Tsunami, but Finds a New Home, and a New Mama; and Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa. Her signature style somehow distills enormous concepts into spare sentences and deceptively simple bordered acrylic paintings. Winter, perhaps an individual activist herself, offers another powerful story of an individual activist whose singular courage brings about social change.
Beginning with Winter’s note to the reader, we learn of the drastic changes that occurred when the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan in 1996, particularly of the oppression to women, and we find that young Nasreen’s parents are gone. Her father is taken one night by soldiers, her mother lost on her search to find him. Now living with only her grandmother, Nasreen stays inside herself, silent with trauma. Whispers of a forbidden school reach her grandmother who, with stealth and bravery and hope, brings Nasreen to the secret place hidden in the home of an equally-brave woman, a teacher of girls. The rich and vibrant palate celebrates Herat’s rich cultural, Islamic history, even in evidencing the harrowing realities of Taliban rule and reflects the literal and symbolic path of Nasreen’s healing. Through the heartfelt narration of her grandmother, we feel Nasreen’s everyday terror but also the expansive joy she finds in learning that cannot be taken away.
|As Horn Book contributors write and true to all Jane Addams stood for,
“Winter celebrates the importance of education, and the reminder to Western children that it is a privilege worth fighting for it is a powerful one.”
I am so pleased to present this 2010 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award to Jeanette Winter.
— Marianne Baker
Acceptance Remarks by Jeanette Winter, the author and illustrator of Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan…
In the Author’s note for Nasreen’s Secret School I wrote—
“Even now, after the fall of the Taliban in 2001, danger remains.
Still, schools are bombed, set on fire, and closed down.
Still, there are death threats to teachers.
Still, girls are attacked or threatened if they go to school.
And still, the girls, their families, and their teachers
defy the tyranny by keeping the schools open.
Their courage has never wavered.”
I wish I could say today that the story of Nasreen, and girls like her is of the past—the way things used to be. Tragically, we all know it’s not so. But because of organizations like the Jane Addams Peace Association, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, the Global Fund for Children, and others throughout the world—hopefully the tide will turn. Good WILL overcome evil, because of the good works of good people everywhere.
I want to thank the Jane Addams Peace Association and Linda Belle for honoring my book today. The award is especially meaningful in a personal way, as I grew up in Chicago, and learned about Jane Addams and Hull House from a very early age. Little could I have imagined then, that I’d be here today.
Happy Birthday, Jane Addams.
And thank you to Susan Griffith and all the members of the Children’s Book Awards Committee for responding to Nasreen’s story. Thanks also to Maya Ajmera, Cynthia Pon, and the Global Fund for Children for initiating this project. They put me in touch with Sakeena Yacoobi, the courageous founder of the Afghan Institute Of Learning, and her associate, Toc Dunlap, who told me the story of Nasreen.
To all of you, I’m most grateful.
The patience, determination, and diplomacy of Susan Cohen, my agent, were indispensable to the publication of this book. Thank you, Susan.
And to Allyn Johnston, my editor, thank you for staying with the book, through thick and thin. And for nudging me through all the many revisions with—‘It’s not quite there yet, Jeanette’—words I’d just as soon not hear, but I’m glad they were said.
Finally, thanks to my husband Roger—who listened and listened and listened during the long process of the birth of this book. If he charged an hourly rate, I’d be broke.
— Posted with permission of Jeanette Winter
Winner of Books for Older Children
Marching for Freedom: Walk Together, Children, and Don’t You Grow Weary by Elizabeth Partridge, published by Viking, Penguin Young Readers Group, is the winner of the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award in the Books for Older Children Category.
This is a breathtaking tribute to the courageous and passionate African-American children who demanded voting rights through nonviolent action during the tense and tragic winter leading up to March 1965–when they and other committed activists crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge and made the historic Civil Rights March from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.
Riveting chronology, stunning photographs, and telling details from oral history interviews
recreate the children’s anger, terror, solidarity and purpose. Moment-by-moment, we witness the bravery of these young people who remained steadfast and nonviolent when they were beaten, when they were tear-gassed, when they were poked and cattle-prodded, and when they were jailed—over and over again.
Vital and forceful, this is a testament to the power of youth and collective nonviolent action. It inspires activism. By delving deeply into the heart of a pivotal moment in the history of youth and Civil Rights in the United States, Walk Together, Children, and Don’t You Grow Weary pushes its readers to become part of what Selma’s child activist Joanne Blackmon Bland called the future—that is, a “people movement” working together “until injustice is stamped out in any form.”
For creating a book that inspires and challenges young people to become part of that people movement, it is my great pleasure to present the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award in the Books for Older Children Category to Elizabeth Partridge.
–Susan C. Griffith
Acceptance Remarks by Elizabeth Partridge, the author of Marching for Freedom: Walk Together, Children, and Don’t You Grow Weary…
Thank you to the members of Jane Addams Peace Association, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and the Addams committee members. I am incredibly, deeply honored to be given this award.
Marching for Freedom: Walk Together, Children, and Don’t You Grow Weary is not a solo achievement. I work with the most amazing group at Viking: my editor, Catherine Frank, publisher Regina Hayes, copyeditor Janet Pascal, and designer Jim Hoover. My thanks to all of them for their encouragement and hard work.
Several years ago I was browsing around on line and bumped into photographs of the 1965 Selma to Montgomery civil rights march by photographer Matt Herron. I wanted them. This is what I call photo lust, and when it strikes me, it strikes hard. I immediately emailed Matt to ask if he wanted to do a book with me, after warning him, of course, that children’s books are love projects, not huge income earners. To my delight, he was interested. He turned out to live about half an hour away from me, and gave me full access to his archive. Which was a dusty room crammed full of old filing cabinets. Not exactly a white cotton glove, hushed-voice kind of place, which was fine by me.
I also found online the work of John Phillips, in Toronto. He’s another of these scratchy, cranky, delightful, dedicated civil rights photographers. He ended up scanning in all his proof sheets for me to look through. As I looked through all the photos, I realized there were lots of kids and young adults in the protests, which puzzled me at first. Then I read a few archived articles in the New York Times and the New Yorker, where the reporters had interviewed and quoted kids, by name.
Lightening struck. I realized I could probably find a couple of these people and interview them. I love primary source interviews as much as I love photographs. With the internet, phone and a lot of perseverance, I found five or six people who’d been involved in the protests. In November 2008, I flew to Selma.
The people I interviewed – now in their late fifties and early sixties — remembered events with crystal clarity. Their stories were terrifying, and inspiring. They were too young to vote. But they had the courage to stand up for what they believed in, for what they knew was right, despite being humiliated, beaten, and repeatedly jailed.
Bobby Simmons – the young man on the cover with VOTE written across his forehead – was among the first group of marchers to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge on what became known as Bloody Sunday. State troopers attacked with tear gas and billy clubs. He told me how he ran forward and dodged through the troopers, and was caught in a cloud of tear gas in front of several small businesses.
“People were laying out, bleeding, coughing, crying,” he said. “We were pure defenseless.” That’s one of the most eloquent, descriptive phrases in the world. “Pure defenseless.”
By chance, my visit to Selma included Election Night, when we had no idea how the election was going to turn out. After dark, I joined a silent memorial candlelight vigil across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. There was just the shushing sound of our feet, and the murmuring water far below. Hand-held candles bobbed gently in the darkness as we walked over the bridge to the site of Bloody Sunday. 96 year old Amelia Boynton, who’d been badly beaten there, moved to the center of the crowd. Her voice was soft, and as she spoke, we drew in closer and closer to hear her.
It was hushed, reverential. All around me, faces glowed in the candlelight. Suddenly somebody called out, “Obama’s taken Pennsylvania,” and then we knew he would win the election. People burst out cheering and yelling and crying.
As I finished my research and worked on rough drafts, Obama became president. I was excited, and thought civil rights would be moved further along. What I – like so many others — didn’t anticipate, was the counterslam that came in like a tidal wave. By the time Marching for Freedom came out, it was apparent that a frightening backlash had been galvanized by having an African American president.
Since Obama’s election, there has been a steady rise in hate crimes, and memberships in hate groups are now at record levels.
While Marching for Freedom is clearly a book about civil rights, it’s fundamentally about democracy, with its cornerstone of the right to vote. And in our robust, paradoxically fragile, perpetually-challenged democracy, it’s never been more clear that we need to look out for one another, and protect those who are vulnerable.
This is a tough world. How do we keep our hearts from breaking in a way we fear we can never mend? How do we acknowledge the terrifying darkness in the world and yet not give in to despair and grief? How do we honor people who have stood up against tremendous odds, against belief systems, against contradiction and confusion?
I do it by writing books. Books about courageous people. People who dare to believe change is possible, and are willing to work hard to make it happen.
And I’m heartened. We have a record-breaking number of kids and young adults across the United States putting their passion and time into a wide range of volunteer activities and community service. While I write about the past and how it’s made us who we are today, it’s the future we can change, and these young people are doing it. They fill me with hope.
On behalf of the young people in Selma, Alabama who dared to march and the photographers who recorded their commitment, I thank you for the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award.
— Posted with permission of Elizabeth Partridge
Honors for Books for Younger Children
Sojourner Truth’s Step-Stomp Stride, by Andrea Davis Pinkney & Brian Pinkney, published by Disney-Jump at the Sun Books, has been named an Honor Book for Younger Children. Born a slave in upstate New York, Sojourner Truth, an iconic figure in the abolitionist and woman’s suffrage movements, was “Meant for speaking. Meant for preaching. Meant for teaching about freedom.” Told with punch and vigor, this energetic picture book biography marches along with Truth as she frees herself from bondage and ultimately delivers her legendary women’s rights speech to a church filled with white men in 1851.
Short storyteller-style sentences punctuated with exclamation points and meaningful capitalizations evoke Truth’s spirit and force. Illustrations in a palette of yellows alive with whirling lines keep the momentum, energy, sorrow, seriousness and fervor of Sojourner Truth’s unwavering quest for social justice front and center in an original rendering of this remarkable woman’s life.
Andrea & Brian Pinkney
You and Me and Home Sweet Home, written by George Ella Lyon, illustrated by Stephanie Anderson is a a Richard Jackson Book, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Simon and Schuster.
My mama and me, we’ve been living in the back room of Aunt Janey’s apartment since Christmas before last…Mama says we’re between a rock and a hard place. Where are we going to go?
With tender, water color and pastel pencil illustrations – close ups of faces so real and expressive that even our youngest “read-to-me” children can understand the story – this books records a community coming together to build a home for one small homeless family.
Our leader, Diane, says we’ll work this house like a puzzle. “Do you mean me?” I ask. “Can I build too?” “Kids aren’t allowed to work construction”, Diane says, “But since it’s your house, you can drive the first nail.”
|It’s a multi-racial, multi-age team of women and men, under Carpenter Diane’s leadership who give of themselves to build the home. And when it is done, they gather together to celebrate, join hands and pray, “God our maker, bless this food and work. Use our hands to build a better world.”
When I read this book to a group of four and five-year-olds, Pilar, the child of migrant workers said, with wonder in her voice, “They got a real home! And people helped!!”
Stephanie Anderson & George Ella Lyon
Thank you, George Ella Lyon and Stephanie Anderson, for this exquisite book. It is privilege to present the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Honor Citation to you both.
— Julie Olsen Edwards
Honors for Books for Older Children
Almost Astronauts by Tanya Lee Stone, published by Candlewick Press, is a gripping narrative featuring strong-willed characters working determinedly to overcome insurmountable hurtles that exist simply because of their gender. What makes the story even more amazing is that it is true.
In, 1960, Thirteen women passed, with flying colors the battery of tests for becoming astronauts– often surpassing their male counterparts. And, yet, each was denied the right to enter space due to pervasive institutionalized sexism. With impressive research and absorbing prose, Tanya Lee Stone makes it clear that by denying capable candidates the chance to prove themselves, the space program not only dashed the dreams of incredibly competent and courageous women, but missed the opportunity to use the very best candidates, regardless of who they might be.
Change does not happen on its own, but must be worked for, as we see these women, these “almost astronauts” struggling to do Skillfully framed by the modern story of the first female shuttle commander, the grossly unfair, yet sadly unsurprising experiences of these women show young readers that the fight for equal rights for all people is an ongoing struggle, one which needs to be actively fought on a daily basis. .
For opening an ignored segment of history to young readers, for highlighting the injustice of inequality and for recreating the brave work of women fighting to overcome artificial boundaries, the Committee awards Tanya Lee Stone’s Almost Astronauts a Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Honor Citation in the Category of Books for Older Readers.
— Ann Carpenter
Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose, was published by Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux. This remarkable work was a collaborative effort between Phillip and Claudette.
In a recent speech about the book, he explained that someone had to tell the story about a person about to disappear under the rug of history. This book means that Claudette will not disappear. Through their discussions, newspaper articles, photos, and documents such as NAACP ledgers, we find a narrative of someone who did what Rosa parks did : a year earlier.
At 15, Claudette lived in a world where opposing the injustice that ruled Montgomery, Alabama, in the early 50’s was still a dream. Here is a gripping chronicle of a teenager’s willingness to take steps toward justice — TWICE. First, before the mood of the community shifted toward defiance of Jim Crow laws, she refused to give up her bus seat to a white woman (there were empty seats all around), was dragged from the bus, and, in spite of her nonviolent behavior, was found guilty of disturbing the peace, assaulting a police officer, and violating segregation laws. Now with a criminal record, she found herself almost shunned by her high school friends, who feared that she put them all at risk.
Her second step toward justice came a year later when she acted as plaintiff in a Federal suit challenging the bus segregation laws. The city’s lawyer subjected Claudette to a scathing cross-examination. Throughout, she was a model of composure. One of the lawyers for the plaintiffs later said, “If there were a star witness in the boycott case, it had to be Claudette Colvin.”
The book draws in young — and older — readers as we learn through Claudette’s words how it FELT to be a young woman undergoing this ordeal, and how it FELT to struggle to accept the realistic leaders’ choice of the mature NAACP official, Rosa Parks, as the face of this movement toward change.
Of the many good books we’ve read through the years, I know of no other which meet so many of our selection guidelines. Two examples: Together, Phillip and Claudette show how young people can participate in creative solutions to problems of injustice, and depict courageous and non-violent behavior.
In recognition of the excellence of this work and its strong embodiment of the ideals of the Jane Addams Peace Association, I am pleased to present a Jane Addams Children’s Book Award honor citation to the author.
— Pat Wiser