Interview with Jane Addams
Rocco Staino interviews Jan Lisa Huttner as “Jane Addams” at the 2013 Book Award Ceremony
The Jane Addams Children’s Book Award: Honoring Children’s Literature for Peace and Social Justice since 1953, written by Susan C. Griffith, published by Scarecrow Press, is the first book to examine the award as well as its winners and honor books.
Introduction by Marianne Baker,
Chair of the Jane Addams Children’s
Book Awards Selection Committee
Susan Griffith has had a keen eye on the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award since the 1970s because it embodies two of her passions: children’s literature and social justice. Her passions have been fueled throughout her leadership on this committee by her endless reading and by her research. But she has known all along that this important award is not as well known as it should be so she wrote a book about it. It’s just been published by Scarecrow Press in September. Susan will say it’s the first book published on the award. Today, we honor and celebrate Susan Griffith.
Winner of Books for Younger Children
Each Kindness, written by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis and published by Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin, is the winner in the Books for Younger Children Category.
Introduction by Sonja Cherry-Paul.
Jacqueline Woodson uses clear understated language to capture the subtle ways in which cruelty and bullying appear in classrooms, schools, and in the lives of children. Each Kindness is a beautiful and poignant story that shines a light on what happens when children reject, rather than embrace, difference.
Maya is new to the school and when she is brought to her new classroom, Chloe and her friends stare at her. They shun her in class and at recess. They nickname her “Never New” and mock her clothes and shoes that appear old and worn. Whenever Maya attempts to play with them, they say no. And so, at recess Maya stands by the fence or jumps rope alone. Soon Chloe and her peers notice that Maya’s seat in the classroom is empty and after several days, they discover that Maya would not be returning to class. Chloe’s shame is palpable to readers. “That afternoon, I walked home alone. When I reached the pond, my throat filled with all the things I wished I would have said to Maya. Each kindness I had never shown.” Embedded in this emotional story are the missed opportunities to form friendships and the lasting effects of regret when indifference is chosen over kindness.
The serene elegance and beauty of the text and paintings in Each Kindness is juxtaposed with an intense message: Our actions matter and kindness makes a difference in the world. This message resonates long after Ms. Albert says, “This is what kindness does. Each little thing we do goes out, like a ripple, into the world;”long after Chloe watches “the water ripple as the sun set through the maples and the chance of a kindness with Maya became more and more forever gone;” long after readers turn the final page of this book.
It is my great pleasure to present the winner of the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award in the category of Books for Younger Children to Jacqueline Woodson for Each Kindness, illustrated by E.B. Lewis and published by Nancy Paulsen Books a division of Penguin Books Young Readers Group.
Winner of Books for Older Children
We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March, written by Cynthia Levinson and published by Peachtree Publishers, is the winner in the Books for Older Children category.
JACBA Member Lani Gerson’s introduction of Ms. Levinson
Adults are always telling young people that they can grow up to make a difference; that they should prepare themselves for an uncertain future by getting smarter, more skilled and better prepared to become accomplished agents for change. Cynthia Levinson has written a wonderful book that tells the stories of how young people in Birmingham, Alabama during the crucial months of 1963 become their own heroes right then and there.
While adults in the civil rights movement struggled to find the way forward in their efforts to bring about freedom and integration in Birmingham, young people, children really, stepped into the worrisome void and made history.
In this time of many significant anniversaries, the complex and inspiring actions of Birmingham’s black youngsters, culminating in the Children’s March, marks its 50th, and today we honor that history, the history makers and the history writers of that time period.
You know a book of history is successful when people like Audrey, Wash, James and Arnetta, the guides chosen to tell this story, breathe. You know a book of history is worthy of the events it describes when they come alive again and remain relevant for today. You know you have a winner of a book when tears flow from the eyes of the reader.
Thank you, Cynthia Levinson, for writing such a fine book, We’ve Got A Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March, published by Peachtree Publishers in Atlanta. Ms. Levinson, you are a thorough researcher, a compelling writer, and, I dare say, an empathetic interviewer. It is my honor and pleasure to introduce you as the winning author of this year’s Jane Addams Children’s Book Award for older children.
Acceptance remarks by Cynthia Levinson
Receiving the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award is not only an extraordinary honor in itself but it feels like an honor thousands of times over. I’d like to tell you why.
I gratefully accept this on behalf of myself and my publisher, Margaret Quinlin, and my editor, Kathy Landwehr, who is here, and their team at Peachtree. I also want to acknowledge the four people who gave me the honor of letting me interview them at exhaustive length—Audrey Faye Hendricks, James W. Stewart, Arnetta Streeter Gary, and Washington Booker III.
As we sat together in her living room, Audrey Faye Hendricks said to me, “I went and told my mother I had decided I was going to march. ’I want to go to jail.’ And, she just said, ‘OK.’” Audrey was nine when she marched, was arrested, and spent a week in jail.
Arnetta Streeter belonged to a service club called The Peace Ponies. The girls decided that their project that year would be to get training in non-violent protest and then to picket segregated stores. Two weeks later, her parents watched as water from firemen’s massive monitor-gun hoses swept Arnetta down the street.
James W. Stewart told me that, before he led 800 young marchers out of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, Dr. King asked him if he had any weapons. James handed over a file. After being arrested, he spent three frightening days and nights in a suffocating jail cell.
What’s a story without a foil? Unlike the others, Washington Booker III did fight back. Over pancakes, 45 years later, he said that he thought at the time, “it was the craziest thing in the world for them to turn themselves over to the police.” Eventually, though, he redeemed himself by marching and going to jail, too.
These four are representative of the other thousands of black school children who equally deserve to be honored.
Those children shared a vision of a totally new world and took action to create it. Then, they made the rest of the world see it, too, and, ultimately, inhabit it. They showed grown-ups what was in their collective minds—a town where they could play ball in the same parks as white children; crack open brand new books at the beginning of the school year; eat ice cream while sitting at the counter. Although some adults were unconscionably slow to do so, they eventually re-aligned Birmingham in accord with what the children had envisioned.
Furthermore, the children accomplished all of this without fighting. Well, actually, they fought—fear and heat and cold and starvation under inhumane jail conditions. But, they didn’t get into fights, either with each other or with what must have seemed like the super-powers who were in charge of those jails. They fought, instead, by marching, singing, banding together, and praying. They hewed to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “10 Commandments of Nonviolence.”
These heroes, whether they were four or 4,000, taught me—and, I hope, they, in turn, will teach young readers—about the super-powerfulness of nonviolence. May all of us, as the children of Birmingham pledged, “Refrain from the violence of fist, tongue, or heart.” May reading help all children envision, establish and inhabit worlds without violence.
Attendees from Walt Whitman Middle School
Students pose by library Jane Addams three-fold display board in school’s library.
Honors for Books for Younger Children
Dolores Huerta: A Hero to Migrant Workers, written by Sarah Warren and illustrated by Robert Casilla, published by Marshall Cavendish Children, has been named an Honor Book for Younger Children. In California in the 1950s, teacher Dolores Huerta was concerned for her students. Learning the conditions of the migrant families, Dolores became a determined activist who fought for labor rights through her words and actions.
Introduction by JACBA Committee Member Julie Olsen Edwards.
Dolores is a friend. Dolores is a mother. Dolores is a storyteller. Dolores is a detective, a warrior, an organizer, a peacemaker.
In simple words and powerful images, this young children’s book portrays Dolores Huerta, one of the most important American leaders of our times, as intelligent, courageous, and persistently effective in her work to organize farm workers.
The workers, mainly Mexican American immigrants, are portrayed as hard working, caring deeply for their children and willing to struggle to have a union that makes possible a living wage, safe working conditions, fairness and justice. All this is done in a few short pages – with art work that matches the power and simplicity of the text – artwork showing Dolores aging – demonstrating how struggles for justice take time to succeed.
“Dolores is a teacher. She Teaches people how to work as a team. She teaches people how to take care of each other. This is Dolores”.
And this remarkable book is a 2013 Honor Book for younger children.
We March, written and illustrated by Shane W. Evans, and published by Roaring Brook Press, a Neal Porter imprint of Macmillan, has been named an Honor Book for Younger Children. Simple and powerful illustrations capture the excitement and hope for even the youngest reader of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The colorful crowd of 250,000 demonstrates their strength and unity in marching to Martin Luther King’s historical speech for racial equality.
Introduction Remarks by Ann Carpenter,
Selection committee member.
Waking early in the morning children and their families prepare for their day – a momentous task as this is the day they will “follow their leaders” to make a difference in their world by taking part in the March on Washington. Throughout a day marked by community support the family participates in the historic protest. An afterward by the author provides more information for interested readers.
One of the many strengths of this short but powerful book is its ability to be read on many levels. Preschoolers identify with the need to work together and to stand up for what you believe in. Older children absorb the powerful message of our ability to create change by protesting injustice. Young people with the background knowledge to understand the historical and cultural context of the March on Washington build on their appreciation of a landmark Civil Rights event.
For its ability to be understood and appreciated by our youngest readers and listeners, to spark discussions about history, culture, and the power of group protest, and to inspire us to take action, the Jane Addams Book Award Committee is proud to name We March by Shane Evans as an Honor book in the Younger Reader category.
Honors for Books for Older Children
Marching to the Mountaintop: How Poverty, Labor Fights and Civil Rights Set the Stage for Martin Luther King Jr’s Final Hours, written by Ann Bausum and published by National Geographic, is named an Honor Book for Older Children. A long sanitation worker strike began in 1968 following the deaths of two sanitation workers on the job sanitation workers in Tennessee. The strike became part of the larger civil rights movement and brought Martin Luther King, Jr. to Nashville to support the workers in their fight for for integration, safety, better pay and union protection.
Introduction Remarks by Tracy Randolph,
Selection committee member.
Marching to the Mountaintop by Ann Bausum thoroughly explains the relationship between the Sanitation Workers Strike of 1968 in Memphis and Dr. Martin Luther King’s Poor People’s Campaign. Her impressive narrative is enhanced with dozens of striking photographs from these two events and chronicles Dr. King’s final push for justice and equality for all people.
Tracy Randolph, Jane Addams Book Awards Committee Member
Middle School Sponsor
Seventh grade Humanities teacher
Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World by Sy Montgomery, published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, is named an Honor Book for Older Children. This biography with much first person input from Ms. Grandin herself explains how her autistic mind works, how her peers and family perceive her, and her relentless efforts as an activist.
Introduction Remarks by Susan Freiss, Selection committee member.
This biography, written with much first person input from Temple herself, explores her perspective and experience growing up and living with autism. We see Temple overcoming obstacles and prejudice put in her way as a woman and as a differently able person. Temple combined her love of animals and her unique insights to create cruelty free animal facilities that are now used around the world.
The children who read this book in my class had a very positive and energetic response. Temple’s story facilitates a shift in heart and mind, illustrating not someone with a disability but someone with amazing abilities. This is a powerful book for children who feel different or wonder about those around them who seem different. Temple found her idiosyncratic self-confidence and strength and will be whole-heartedly admired by the young readers of this engaging biography.