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A Is For Anansi: Literature for Children of African Descent


A Is For Anansi: Literature for Children of African Descent

October 8-9th 2010

presented by

Institute of African American Affairs – New York University


Location for all programs: Kimmel Center-NYU,

60 Washington Square South Rm. 914-Silver

Please RSVP at (212) 998-IAAA (4222)

A Is For Anansi will cover the history, criticism and theory of contemporary books for and about children of African descent, as told by its most influential critics, scholars, teachers and producers. The need for more in-depth analysis and for more information, critical evaluation, and publications on this topic still remain. The conference will look at these and consider other questions and issues as well.


                   Friday, October 8th, 2010 – Opening Reception


6:00 - 6:30 pm

● Opening KEYNOTE

Andrea Davis Pinkney—Vice President, Executive Editor, Scholastic


Bernette Ford—Editor and Founder of Color-Bridge Books



Nancy D. Tolson—Associate Professor, Early Childhood Education Department, Mitchell College



6:30-8:00 pm

History/Significance/Meaning of Writing/Publishing/Selling Literature for and about Children of African Descent (importance of bookstores; going beyond the obvious that it’s good for other people to learn about other people)



Moderator: Cheryl Willis Hudson—Vice President & Editorial Director, Just Us Books; Author, My Friend Maya Loves to Dance


Regina Brooks—Founder and President of Serendipity Literary Agency


Kathleen T. Horning— Director, Cooperative Children's Book Center of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison


Joe Monti—Agent, Barry Goldblatt Literary; former children's fiction buyer at Barnes & Noble


Hannah Ehrlich— Marketing & Publicity Associate, Lee & Low Books


Colin Bootman—Illustrator/Author, The Steel Pan Man of Harlem,

The Music in Derrick’s Heart

Saturday, October 9th, 2010


9:00 -9:30 am   Breakfast and Welcome


9:30 – 11:00 am


Issues of Identity & Representation (historical overview, phenotype-illustrating the books, role of language, look beyond books: cinema, advertisement, TV)


Moderator: Zetta Elliott—Author, Bird, A Wish After Midnight


George Ford—Illustrator, The Story Of Ruby Bridges, Ray Charles


Nicole Tadgell—Illustrator, Lucky Beans, No Mush Today

Myisha Priest—Assistant Professor, Gallatin, New York University

Khafilah McCurdy—Editor, The Journal of African American Children’s Literature


Nnedi Okorafor —Author, The Shadow Speaker, Zahrah the Windseeker


Respondent: Fabienne Doucet Fabienne DoucetNew York UniversitySteinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human DevelopmentAssistant Professor of Education, New York University


11:00 – 12:30 pm


Let the Children Speak (roundtable of kids discussing children’s books, “books that have had a profound effect on me and why” video games vs. reading, why don’t I read, use of social media like Twitter, Facebook, blogs, video blogs and more, audience can include children, parents, teachers)


Moderator: Clairesa Clay—Teacher/Filmmaker


12:30 – 1:30 pm  Lunch


12:00 – 2:00 pm  Rare Books Display from the collections of Fern Gillespie

        and Rashidah Ismaili, Room 910



1:30 – 3:00 pm


Critiquing & Evaluating the Books/Content (stereotypes, censorship, violence, raw images in picture books, depictions of the black family, political correctness in writing for children in terms of its ability to stimulate imagination as well as enhance cognitive and cultural development)


Moderator: Laura AtkinsLecturer, National Centre for Research in Children’s Literature in London, England


Wanda M. Brooks—Associate Professor of Literacy Education in the College of Education, Temple University


Andrew P. Jackson —Executive Director, Queens Library’s Langston Hughes Community Library and Cultural Center


Oralia Garza de Cortes —Latino Children's Literature Consultant


John Sellers—Children’s Reviews Editor, Publishers Weekly


Respondent: Summer Edward—Founder and Managing Editor of Anansesem-Caribbean children’s literature ezine.


3:00 – 4:30 pm


                        Literacy & Education for/of the Black Male


Moderator: Clairesa Clay—Teacher/Filmmaker


Katie Sciurba—Lecturer, University of San Diego


C. Jama Adams—Chairperson and Associate Professor, Department of African American Studies, John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY)


Tony Medina— Poet/Associate Professor of Creative Writing, Howard University


4:30 – 5:00 pm  Closure/Round Up/Survey


5:00 – 6:00 pm  Rare Books Display from the collections of Fern Gillespie

      and Rashidah Ismaili, Room 910


5:00 pm



Tribute to Virginia Hamilton, Tom Feelings, and Leo and Diane Dillon


Moderator: Esther Cooper Jackson—Editor, Freedomways Reader and Social Activist


Leo and Diane Dillon—Illustrators, Why Mosquitoes Buzz In People's Ears


Arnold Adoff—Poet and Anthologist, Roots and Blues: A Celebration


Rashidah Ismaili—Poet/Educator


Kamili Feelings—Writer/Teacher


Michael Patrick Hearn—Author,  Myth, Magic, and Mystery: One Hundred Years of American Children's Book Illustration