I made it downtown just in time to catch the end of R. Gregory Christie‘s presentation at the Reach Out & Read conference hosted by Scholastic. Greg shared a story about one of his books that featured primarily black children; when he diversified a scene in the book by adding a white child, trouble ensued. “What’s that child doing in a black neighborhood?” his editor wanted to know. Is that one child just a token? It’s always interesting to hear how things play out behind the scenes! Selina Alko talked about the influence her Turkish father (also a painter) had on her, and shared an image by The Group of Seven—famous Canadian painters whose work fills my mother’s house. Selina also talked about how her interracial marriage impacted her art; she makes sure her books reflect the world we live in, with children of many races, ethnicities, skin tones, and different abilities. Her upcoming B Is for Brooklyn book looks fantastic! Pat Cummings finished up by discussing her childhood as a “military brat” living in Germany and Japan, and her early understanding as a child that she could sell her works of art (esp. those with glitter!). Pat talked about the future of digital books, and the audience supported her in the idea that *nothing* will ever replace the intimacy of a parent reading a book to a child. I ducked out once the panel ended and did this quick interview with Greg (I cut out the parts about the government, the banks, and landmines…but loved Greg’s suggestion that a return to craft-making would reinvigorate our lives and the economy):
Of course, there was also a Reach Out & Read goody bag filled with useful resources for those involved with early literacy—if that’s your field and you’re in NY, leave me a comment and I’ll send it along to you. Also, thanks to Qiana for posting this link on Facebook: 10 Things Marketers Can Learn from a Multicultural Muppet. If you haven’t already seen the Sesame Street skit “I Love My Hair,” definitely scroll down and watch the video first.