Thursday, January 29, 2015

Wade Hudson to Facilitate ALA Mid-Winter Session: "Show Me the Diversity"

Show Me the Diversity!
How can we increase diversity in literature that’s available to children?
Author, publisher, speaker Wade Hudson will facilitate a breakout session for Show Me the Diversity, an interactive ALA Mid-Winter session that’s tackling this critical issue. Show Me the Diversity brings together librarians, educators, publishers, book creators, and literacy/non-profit organizations to share perspectives on publishing books and building collections representative of diverse populations.  The breakout session includes four groups, each of which will strategize viable ways to increase diversity in print and digital materials for children. The session is part of ALSC & CBC’s Day of Diversity at ALA Mid-Winter.

Wade Hudson is president and CEO of Just Us Books, Inc. and author of over 25 books for young people. Joining him for the first breakout session are co-facilitators Leslea Newman, author and LGBT activist; and Sarah Park Dahlen, assistant professor of Library and Information Science at St. Catherine University.

"Show Me the Diversity"
Breakout session 1
Jan. 30, 2015
10:25 AM – 11:15 AM

Other participants and speakers for the day include Sharon Draper, Lee Byrd, Jenna Nemec-Loise, CeCe Bell, Marina Tristan, Tina Taylor Dyches, Jason Wells, Tim Tingle, Anita Merina.

For more information, visit the ALA website.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Let "Selma" Be a Spark

Let Selma be a Spark 

by Wade Hudson

The movie Selma brings up close and personal, the tremendous dedication, commitment, perseverance and hard work and sacrifice of Dr. Martin Luther King to confront the evils of segregation and Jim Crow laws. But it also allows us to see that Dr. King didn’t fight the battle alone. Many stepped up in the struggle for freedom and justice.  Most are unsung heroes.

The movement in Selma was an important event in the freedom struggle.  Its landmark status, finally recognized, is deserved. But the fight to end slavery and its successor, legal segregation, with all the evil that accompanied it, has been long. We are thankful for Selma, the movie. We embrace it! We encourage as many people as possible to see it and discuss it in family gatherings, classrooms and churches.  

I am hopeful, however, that the interest now piqued doesn’t end with Selma.  Let Selma be a spark to ignite a desire to know more about the many other battles in the struggle for freedom and the people who waged them. Richard Allen. Denmark Vessey. Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman. Sojourner Truth. Ida B. Wells-Barnett. WEB Dubois. The list goes on and on.

Just Us Books was established, among other reasons, to present these heroes and others and the history of the Black struggle for freedom and justice in books written specific for children and young adults.  In the tradition of Sankofa, our youngsters need to reach back to the past, take from it what is good and bring it to the present as they prepare to make positive progress in the future.

Wade Hudson is an author, speaker, and president/co-founder with his wife Cheryl of Just Us Books, independent publisher of books for young people that celebrate the diversity of Black history and culture. You can connect with him on Facebook and at

Monday, January 5, 2015

10 Reasons Multicultural Literature is Good for ALL Children

by Cheryl Willis Hudson
The concept of "multicultural literature" can present challenges to parents who want to raise well-rounded children prepared to thrive in our global society. How does a well-intentioned parent find and select good books for his/her children? What kinds of stories affirm that child's place on the planet? Folk tales? Fairy Tales? Nonfiction? Biography? What kinds of picture books prepare children for the complex world in which they live? What kinds of stories open a window of possibilities for that child's future? What kinds of books help children to dream of a better world for all peoples? Can books help us to make new friends and know our current neighbors? Must other races and creeds be represented for a book to be truly multicultural? What specific titles should form the core of a child's personal library?

Publishers, librarians, booksellers, educators, and parents (in particular) of all philosophies, budgets and ethnicities play important roles in this conversation. Since books provide a conduit of exposure to people, places and worlds both similar and different from our own, it makes sense to expose our children to books that embrace a diversity of cultures, interests, values, nationalities, and hues, right?

When I was a child growing up in segregated schools in Virginia, none of my school books contained "colored children" who looked or acted like me. The main public library in our town was not open to "Negroes" as we referred to ourselves at that time, and all of the "good" books--meaning new ones--were there. The "colored" library was a tiny cramped space that contained mostly used and discarded books. Why then would any child want to read them?

When I became a parent I was determined that my children have a collection of wonderful books. And yes, like many parents I believe that seeing and experiencing diversity in children's literature is a good thing. But how can a parent know what is good? What is fair? What is authentic? What is stereotypical? What is to be avoided?

This space is dedicated to exploring how children's literature can inform our world--how effective presentation of the written word and visual images can help us as parents to guide our children toward empowerment and discovery of their inner selves and their ultimate possibilities. This space is dedicated to exploring diversity in children's literature and to finding ways to get good books in the hands of children for their information and their joy.

Why is multicultural literature important? Here's my top ten list:

1. Multicultural literature confirms that we live in a global village and that the world is pluralistic and made up of many different kinds of people.

2. It helps to develop self esteem in all children through inclusion rather than exclusion.

3. It provides knowledge and information about people from all parts of the world.

4. It can change the way students look at their own particular society and the world by offering varying perspectives or different ways of viewing the same situations.

5. It can promote/develop an appreciation for diversity.

6. It can help children think critically and ask questions.

7. Like all literature, it can provide enjoyment and appreciation for unity and variety in the human experience.

8. It can reflect the cultural diversity within the classroom and community

9. It can provide positive role models.

10. It can create a bridge between student's real-life experiences and intellectual learning.

Why is multicultural literature important to you and the children in your life?
Cheryl Willis Hudson is a children's book author, speaker and publisher of Just Us Books. Her books are available at and retailers across the nation. Follow her on Twitter at @diversitymom_ch.

Illustration reproduced from Annie's Gifts by Angela Shelf Medearis, illustration copyright by Anna Rich, published by Just Us Books.