Refugee Writing Workshop, Bill of Rights Day, & Book Highlight #3 JACBA Newsletter 17Dec2015

Refugee Crisis Writing Workshop Guide

Check out Debby Levy’s new Writing Workshop Guide for my book, The Year of Goodbyes. Created for educators and

book people, Levy’s workshop detailed the ways they use her “The Year of Goodbyes” as part of their efforts to

get young people thinking and writing about the human beings behind every refugee “crisis.”

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We Shall Overcome: The Story of a Song written by Debbie Levy and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton 2014 Awardee


New Documentary Project Inspired By Popular 1930’s Travel Guide Series For African Americans

Co-produced by Calvin A. Ramsey, author of the award winning book Ruth and the Green Book, and Becky Wible Searles Director and Professor of Animation at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) Atlanta, Ga, The Green Book Chronicles is currently in production as a one hour documentary. The live interviews, motion media, and animation segments in the film explores a range of personal experiences while traveling throughout both the United States and abroad before the Civil Rights Act became law in 1964. Victor Green is celebrated for transforming and enriching the lives of African Americans through travel.

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Belle, the Last Mule at Gee’s Bend written by Calvin Alexander Ramsey and Bettye Stroud, illustrated by John Holyfield, 2012 Awardee

Ruth and the Green Book by Calvin Alexander Ramsey with Gwen Strauss and illustrated by Floyd Cooper 2011 Awardee


Best graphic novels, children’s and young adult books of 2015

“Mixed Me!” by Taye Diggs and Shane W. Evans (Feiwel & Friends). An introduction to the conversation about multicultural identity for kids and parents, “Mixed Me!” is a must-have.

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We March written and illustrated by Shane W. Evans 2013 Awardee


Dec. 15 is Bill of Rights Day

“A Kid’s Guide to America’s Bill of Rights,” by Kathleen Krull.
Newly revised and updated, packed with anecdotes, sidebars, case studies, suggestions for further reading, and humorous illustrations, Kathleen Krull’s introduction to the Bill of Rights brings an important topic vividly to life for young readers.

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Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez, written by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Yuyi Morales 2004 Awardee

Wilma Unlimited written by Kathleen Krull 1997 Awardee


The Year in Black Art: January 2015

“Draw What You See: The Life and Art of Benny Andrews” a children’s book about Benny Andrews, the rural Georgia-born artist who spent his career in New York painting and standing up for the rights of artists of color, is published on Jan. 6.

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Delivering Justice: W. W. Law and the Fight for Civil Rights, written by Jim Haskins, illustrated by Benny Andrews 2006 Awardee


We Need Diverse Books: Tim Tingle

As an elementary-aged student, I had no concept that most Americans believed that all Indians were savages. I did not understand why my grandmother made all forty-two of her grandchildren promise never to tell even our closest friends that we were Indian. I never associated this with her fear that we would be considered savage, or that we might be punished for being American Indian. As I grew older, I heard stories of how she had suffered severe punishment at Goodland Academy, an Indian Boarding school, for speaking the Choctaw language.

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Crossing Bok Chitto:told in written form by Tim Tingle, illustrated by Jeanne Rorex Bridges 2007 Awardee


Special Feature

Book Highlight: Part 3

The third installment of our eight part series on the 2015 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Ceremony features the introduction given by Susan Freiss for The Girl From the Tar Paper School: Barbara Rose Johns and the Advent of the Civil Rights Movement, written by Teri Kanefield and published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, named the winner in the Books for Older Readers category.

Introduction by Susan Freiss, Jane Addams Children’s Book Awards Committee member

As a part of this year’s award ceremony on October 16 at UN Plaza, New York City, I had the opportunity to introduce Teri Kanefield author of The Girl From the Tar Paper School: Barbara Rose Johns and the Advent of the Civil Rights Movement and to present her with the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award for the 2015 winning book for older readers. We were deeply honored to have Barbara Rose’s sister, Joan, and her daughter, Terry, with us for the event as well. Teri conveyed, with Joan and Terry’s heartfelt agreement, how glad Barbara, a school librarian herself, would have been to know that her story was the winner of a children’s book award on the themes of peace and social justice. We are grateful to Teri for bringing forward Barbara’s little known story so engagingly and accessibly for middle grade and older children—really for all of us.

Barbara Rose Johns was a 15 year old black high schooler in rural Virginia in 1950 when attending class in tar paper leaky roofed “temporary” schools, while white students went to their well appointed brick school, felt just plain unfair. Barbara was blessed with a favorite teacher who received Barbara’s complaints and asked her what she, Barbara, could do about it? She had been exposed to wide reading and forthright family members who aided in her seeing with clarity the injustice of white supremacy. And Barbara was a girl who could freely imagine and deeply pray. Still, all these factors accounted for, Barbara was an extraordinary young woman in her own right…extraordinary in her vision, her leadership, and her firm resolve. Barbara conceived of and organized a peaceful boycott of the whole black student body. This action lead ultimately to the NAACP taking the case to the Supreme Court, asking for not better and equal facilities but for full integration as a part of Brown vs Board of Education in 1954.

Yes, 15 year old Barbara’s actions contributed directly to the historic end of segregation in US schools,and had terrible repercussions for Barbara, her family, and her community as the white community struck back in an effort to maintain the status quo—effort that included cross burning, intimidation, threats, likely arson, and ultimately closing all public schools in the county for 5 years in defiance of the Supreme Court’s order to integrate.

Teri Kanefield has brought forward an extraordinary and important young black woman leader’s story, someone even Civil Rights historians had largely ignored, someone whose story longed to be told. She began researching Barbara’s life 14 years ago and, with persistence, saw the story to publication. Through photos capturing the time and place and carefully considered writing about Barbara and her family’s background, events leading up to and including the walkout, and the repercussions of the action, Teri brings us Barbara Rose Johns’ quiet boldness, a boldness that so clearly invites and challenges young people today —in fact, all of us— to imagine and follow through with the question “what can I do?” For this we are immensely grateful.

Teri Kanefield’s Acceptance Speech

I’d like to begin by thanking the Jane Addams Peace Association and the members of the
awards committee for this honor.

I also have a special thanks to give today to Barbara’s sister, Joan, and her daughter
Terry, who are here in the audience.

Thank you for trusting me to tell your family’s story.

In the year 2000, I stumbled on the story of Barbara Johns while reading the history of
Brown v. Board of Education, the case that desegregated schools in America.

I thought, this is amazing. A sixteen-year-old girl basically started the American civil
rights movement. Four years before Rosa Parks caught the attention of the nation, this
young girl led a walkout of her high school. It was the first time in American history that
nonviolent protest had been used to bring about racial equality.

To my amazement, nobody I knew had ever heard of Barbara Johns. I talked to a
professor who taught African American history at a local community college. She had
never heard of Barbara Johns. I talked to a law school classmate who considered himself
an expert in civil rights, and he had never heard of Barbara Johns.

A lot has happened in the past fifteen years. The Moton Museum in Farmville opened its
doors and began working to get the word out. There is a monument on the capitol
grounds in Richmond honoring Barbara and her classmates.

You’re probably thinking, “She started writing this book fifteen years ago? What is she,
in the slow group?”

I’ll say this about the fifteen years it took to get to this moment: I’ve never had writer’s
block. I have, however, had a lot of publisher’s block. After many years, my manuscript
finally hit the desk of Howard Reeves at Abrams—whose name you already heard a few
times today. He was the editor who didn’t say no. The format of this book, the
photographs and layout, was his creative vision.

Now the year is 2015, and people have heard of Barbara Johns. In the spring I was
approached by the Travel Channel. They were covering the story of the monument
honoring Barbara Johns and they wanted to interview me for their program.

A few weeks ago, I received an email from the Smithsonian Museum, asking if I could
help them track down some photographs of Barbara for a new exhibit.

So Barbara Johns made it to the Smithsonian.

I’d like to conclude by mentioning that Barbara was a civil rights leader, a lover of books,
and later in life, she became a school librarian.

I think if Barbara could speak to us now, she’d say if there is any award she’d most like to
have associated with her story, it would be a children’s book award in the name of Jane
Addams for a book that promotes peace and social justice.

A Merry and Peaceful Holiday season to all! We will be taking a break, and shall return the first week of January 2016.

Since 1953, the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award annually acknowledges books published in the U.S. during the previous year. Books commended by the Award address themes of topics that engage children in thinking about peace, justice, world community and/or equality of the sexes and all races. The books also must meet conventional standards of literacy and artistic excellence.


A national committee chooses winners and honor books for younger and older children.

Click here to read more about the 2015 Awards. http://www.janeaddamspeace.org/jacba/2015ceremony.shtml

This concludes our second installment of the eight part series of the 2015 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Winners and Honorees.

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