The Children’s Literature Council of Southern California’s 2016 Fall Gala

In September, 2016, I was honored once again to be asked to write the feature article for the CLCSC’s annual gala. It was, as always, a wonderful event, a literature lover’s heaven. Below is my article. The article with event photographs can be found on  CLCSC’s homepage.

October 8, 2016

The 2016 Fall Gala: Connect, Support, and Celebrate
by Rita Zobayan

Something about being in a room packed full of book lovers speaks to my heart. Maybe it’s the like-mindedness, the understanding that books are important not only in education but also in life. Perhaps it’s the knowledge that whether your favorite genre is picture books, middle grade, or young adult, your appreciation of children’s literature provides a common ground. So it was with a happy heart that I attended the Children’s Literature Council of Southern California’s 2016 Fall Gala held in the Luminarias Restaurant.

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President Laurie Reese welcomed the attendees–librarians, educators, authors, illustrators, book reviewers, and literature lovers. She recognized the Board and presented the organization’s mantra of “Connect, Support, and Celebrate.”

Katherine Loeser, Co-First Vice President, then introduced the keynote speaker, the venerable Sharon M. Draper, explaining how Out of My Mind “changed me as a person. These are real people. Thank you for introducing me to histories and stories I didn’t know.” Ms. Draper, an author with a multitude of honors to her credit, began by describing her appreciation for the connection between books and learning. She spoke about the power of a story, the power of words and how words “make us whole. We have the privilege of reading, writing, and sharing them. If you know how to tell a good story, you can do anything.” Ms. Draper’s exposure to the power of words began at age three, when her mother took her to a library. The gleaming floors, sunlight dancing through windows, smell of books, and the card catalogues written in perfect cursive mesmerized Ms. Draper, and she knew she’d found a place for herself. By age ten, she’d read all the books for elementary students, and was given a card for the adult section. Ms. Draper explained, “I learned a lot at the library.” She never noticed as a child that there were no books with children that looked like her. No one questioned it because that was the world they knew. At age 12, Ms. Draper read Forbidden City, which was her first venture into a culture outside of the USA. She recalls that the book “stayed with me,” and she later became the State Department’s Literary Ambassador to the children in China. She read chapter one of her book, Out of My Mind, and explained, “I knew I had to give voice to someone who was voiceless. The books come to me.” A very touching story was Ms. Draper’s recollection of her father’s request to write a story about his mother, who had to quit school at age 10 to work. She kept journals and would write on her porch, and one of the journals was passed down to Ms. Draper. Stella by Starlight is the product. Ms. Drapers’ grandmother’s words aren’t in the book, but the premise of Stella writing a journal on the porch is.  Ms. Draper concluded her speech with “There is a book for a child. Just one book can make an impact.”

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Maxine Lucas then presented the award for Outstanding Work of Fiction, which was awarded to Pam Munoz Ryan for Echo. Ms. Munoz Ryan was on tour and sent her thanks for the honor.

The Outstanding Picture Book Award was presented by Meredith Kent McGowan to Antoinette Portis for Wait. Ms. Portis recalled her journey to becoming an author/illustrator from writing and drawing in sixth grade to working in advertising and for Disney to taking classes at UCLA Extension and the Art Center.

Katherine Adams presented the winner for the Excellence in Illustration Award, Vincent X. Kirsch for Gingerbread for Liberty. Mr. Kirsch recounted his work as a designer of gingerbread cookies for Dean and DeLuca. He stated, “I had so much fun with this book. It was a game for me. I am in the business of ‘wild imaginings’ and they can turn into anything. Pursue your wildest imaginings because you never know…they could become a book one day.”

The Peggy Miller Award for Young Adult Literature was presented by Rachel Lizotte to Noelle Stevenson for Nimona. Ms. Stevens was unable to attend but sent her thanks.

Laurie Reese took the stage once more to present the Dorothy C. McKenzie Award for Distinguished Contributions to the Field of Children’s Literature to Marjorie Arnett. Ms. Arnett is a former educator and one of the three individuals who helped found the annual Charlotte S. Huck Children’s Literature Festival. A major influence on Ms. Arnett was her parents’ examples of hard work and community service. Her father read a lot of Little Golden Books to her, and by age four, Ms. Arnett was reading to her younger siblings. Her parents advised her to “follow whatever path made you happy,” and that lead to education. Her siblings and she were the grandchildren of sharecroppers, and all of them went to college. Ms. Arnett’s mission has been to bring children and books together through “mirrors and windows”: having children see themselves portrayed in literature.  Whatever she has been involved in, she has pursued with the lesson she learned from her family: “to attack life with a passion.”

The event ended with the joy of feeling connected, supported, and celebrated.

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Food Trucks!

My review for Good Reads with Ronna, where you can find the latest and greatest in children’s literature.

Food Trucks! written and illustrated by Mark Todd

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The food truck phenomenon has its roots in Los Angeles, and local writer-illustrator Mark Todd pays homage to food on wheels in Food Trucks! The thirty pages feature a variety of edibles highlighted in the fourteen trucks. Short rhymes mixed with food facts provide an amusing and informative read.

Amigo (Taco Truck)

What’s up?/Surf’s up!/Hang ten and then/Head on over to the taco truck!

Carne asada and empanadas/With rice and beans/Seem to really hit the spot!

Holy moly, guacamole!/How about a hot tamale?/Bean burrito or quesadilla?/We’ve got the whole enchilada.

Dare to add the habanero/If you like it REALLY hot!

Better Burger Builder Bus (Hamburger Truck)

The world’s largest burger weighed 2,014 pounds and was ten feet in diameter. Before it was topped with sixty pounds of bacon and forty pounds of cheese, it took a crane to flip the patty! Americans eat an average of three hamburgers a week, which amounts to nearly fifty billion burgers per year!

Each food truck has a distinct personality. Bubba Q, the barbecue truck, sports long horns and a nose ring. The grilled cheese truck, Cheddar Chuck, has a grater ornament atop the roof and side mirrors in the shape of cheese wedges. Curry in a Hurry, the Indian food truck, is adorned with tassels, beads, and brightly colored lights. These extra touches on the details, such as the broccoli hood ornament on Mr. Cobb the salad truck and Sprinkles the cupcake truck’s license plate, SWTOOTH, make for entertaining viewing.

Whether your child is a foodie or a picky eater, s/he will find something to enjoy in this tribute to movable culinary delights.

Read Across America

Reading is a cornerstone life skill that is the basis of classroom success. The abilities to learn about new subjects, to find information on topics, and to conduct research depend on reading. On Monday, March 2, schools, libraries, and bookstores throughout the USA will celebrate the memory of Dr. Seuss. For many children, Dr. Seuss is their first introduction to reading. Let’s help children develop the life-long joy of reading on what would have been Dr. Seuss’ 111th birthday.  Check with your local schools, libraries, and bookstores for events that promote this celebration.

At home, model an example and read with your family throughout March. Research shows that when children read outside of the classroom, they do better in schools. Worried about reading to your child? Don’t be. Use different voices for characters, hand gestures, and movement. For emerging readers, point to easy sight words (for ex., I, he, she, am, in, on) and have them read. Ask your children what they think will happen next in the story.

Make it fun, not stressful. You can find more ideas at the National Education Association site. Most of all, kids will love the attention and the time they spend with you.  Reading is a skill, and one that can bring joy and fulfillment throughout life. Give your voice and your time and read.

(Some content was adapted from Councilman Mike Gatto’s Read Across America notification.)

Woo-hoo, We Did It!

Thank you so much to everyone who helped raise money to help stem illiteracy in the US and around the world. World Education has been able to raise almost $22,000 to fight illiteracy through their #pages4progress campaign. Here’s the good news!

Reading Rocks!

Reading Rocks!

 That’s the good news, but the fight isn’t over! According to UNESCO EFA Global Monitoring Report Policy Paper, June 2014, 58 million children ages 6-11 won’t be returning to school. And, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development,  in the US, over 30 million adults don’t have a high school diploma and 20% of US adults with a high school diploma have only beginning literacy skills. There’s more work to be done, but, importantly, it can be done.

Please join World Education and sign a public letter (via Change.org) to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the United Nations Global Education First Initiative Steering Committee calling for increased attention and resources worldwide to achieve universal access to primary education. 

On September 24, take to social media and create a thunderclap in honor of the second anniversary of Secretary Ban Ki-moon’s Global Education First Initiative.

Education is a huge part in erasing poverty, most especially for women and children in developing countries. To be able to read is to be able to start the path out of poverty. If you care, please share. 

 

 

Help End Illiteracy

Do you love to read? Of course, you do! After all, you’re checking out my site.

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Well, put your summer reading to even better use. Help World Education fight illiteracy. Join their #pages4progress campaign, and for every page that you read and log, World Education will receive $1 to fight illiteracy.

According to WorldEd, children in the US who can’t read at grade level by the fourth grade are 400% more likely to drop out of high school. By the end of fifth grade, disadvantaged youth in the US are nearly three grade equivalents behind their more affluent peers in reading.

Around the world, two-thirds of illiterate adults are women.
775 million adults cannot read this sentence.

You love to read. Help others learn. Go to pages4progress to get started.

Thank you.