Thursday, March 31, 2016

Books for Our Favorite #StoryGirls - Children's Literature & YA Books for Women's History Month 2016

March 2016 is behind us, and spring has sprung! This week, I had the pleasure of being a guest speaker at both Michigan State University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Today, I spent time at the University of Wisconsin's Cooperative Children's Book Center for the very first time. What an outstanding resource for the children's literature community! Director K.T. Horning was a wonderful host, as were the Center's librarians and graduate students. I hope to visit again soon.

As we conclude another Women's History Month, the SuperFriends and I are pleased to share our picks that feature amazing #StoryGirls. Every day, on our @HealingFictions Twitter account, we have shared our recommendations. Here is the full March 2016 list (with thanks to our wonderful moderator Amy Brown):

March 1. Wangari Maathai, Seeds of Change: Planting a Path to Peace by Jen Cullerton Johnson, illus. Sonia Lynn Sadler
March 2. Millo, Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle, illus. Rafael López
March 3. Fannie Lou Hamer, Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement by Carole Boston Weatherford, illus. Ekua Holmes
March 4. Malala Yousafzai, I am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World by Malala Yousafzai
March 5. Mo'ne Davis, Mo’ne Davis: Remember My Name by Mo'ne Davis
March 6. Jazz Jennings, I am Jazz by Jessica Herthel & Jazz Jennings, illus. McNicholas
March 7. Nasreen, Nasreen’s Secret School by Jeanette Winter
March 8. Frida Kahlo, Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales
March 9. CeCe, El Deafo by CeCe Bell
March 10. Naomi, Becoming Naomi Leon by Pamela Munoz Ryan
March 11. Marisol, Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match by Monica Brown, illus. Sarah Palacios
March 12. Margie, Dancing Home by Alma Flor Ada & Gabriel Zubizarreta
March 13. Melody, Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
March 14. Kira, Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry
March 15. Caitlin, Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine
March 16. Joyce, Blue Tights by Rita Williams-Garcia
March 17. Junie, Junie B. Jones is a Party Animal by Barbara Parks
March 18. Rubina, Big Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Khan, illus. Sophie Blackall
March 19. Aya, Aya by Marguerite Abouet
March 20. Zita, Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke
March 21. Chloe, Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson
March 22. Willimena, Willimena Rules series by Valerie Eilson Wesley
March 23. Alexandria and friends, Sugar Plum Ballerinas by Whoopi Goldberg
March 24. Grace, Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio, illus. LeUyen Pham
March 25. Evelyn, The Revolution of Evelyn by Sonia Manzano 
March 26. Annemarie, Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
March 27. Jazmin, The Rain Stomper by Addie Boswell, illus. Eric Velasquez
March 28. Delphine, Vonetta, & Fern, P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia
March 29. Gloria, Between Sisters by Adwoa Badoe
March 30. Kamala, Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson
March 31. Anna, Migrant by Maxine Trottier 

Lifting as we climb -- always!

Ebony and the SuperFriends 

(P.S. Look for our AARI 2016 interviews with Julius Lester & Arnold Adoff very soon... still transcribing!)

Monday, February 29, 2016

An #AARI16 Booklist: Making the African American Read-In Last All Year Long

The SuperFriends and I have had an amazingly busy February! We greatly enjoyed participating in the National African American Read-In with ninth and tenth graders at Philly's U School on Friday, February 19, and at the Penn Bookstore on Saturday, February 20... as well as on our @HealingFictions Twitter account! We had a great time discussing our #AARI16 book selections, and can't wait to share our picks for Women's History Month under my #StoryGirls hashtag tomorrow.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Full #Kidlit4Justice Booklist, January 2016

What role does children's literature play in the fight for social justice? Is there room for advocacy and activism in the imaginative worlds that stories provide -- or does that mean that the author and/or illustrator is being "too preachy?" Can children's literature help the next generation learn to dream of a better world?

During the aftermath of the extrajudicial murder of young Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, several of us chatted on Twitter about resources that we might provide for our youngest readers, including Kids Like Us Books, Sarah Hamburg, Angie Manfredi, and others. As Dr. Marcia Chatelain's #FergusonSyllabus was being created, #Kidlit4Justice was born.

Our SuperFriends team and I chose social justice as our January theme, in honor of the King holiday celebrating a legendary champion for justice, and because we think it's a great way to begin 2016. Thus, below the cut, please find our full list of selections.

For a better, peaceful & more just world,

Ebony & the SuperFriends

Creating #Kidlit4Justice: An Interview With Zetta Elliott

Thank you for signal boosting our daily January 2016 #Kidlit4Justice picks on @HealingFictions! We hope that as you began the New Year, these reads helped inspire you to share with our youngest readers the many ways that they can change the world.

To wrap up our January 2016 #Kidlit4Justice hashtag, this month's featured blog post is an interview with award-winning author and activist, Zetta Elliott. Born and raised in Canada, Zetta has lived in the United States for more than 20 years. She earned her PhD in American Studies from NYU in 2003, and has written numerous poetry, plays, essays, articles, op-eds, novels, and stories for children.

Zetta’s debut picturebook, Bird, won the Honor Award in Lee & Low Books’ New Voices Contest and the Paterson Prize for Books for Young Readers. Her young adult fantasy novel, Ship of Souls, was named a Booklist Top Ten Sci-fi/Fantasy Title for Youth and was a finalist for the Phillis Wheatley Book Award. Her essay, "The Trouble with Magic: Conjuring the Past in New York City Parks," published in Jeunesse, won the 2014 Children’s Literature Association Article Award. An advocate for greater diversity and equity in the publishing industry, Zetta has also self-published many illustrated books for younger readers under her own imprint, Rosetta Press. She currently lives in her beloved Brooklyn, which provides the backdrop for many of her magical stories. 

Zetta is a supernova. We first met through mutual colleagues in the children’s literature world several years ago, narrowly missed each other at NCTE/ALAN 2010 in Orlando, and became fast friends when I moved from Detroit to Philadelphia in 2012. Without Zetta, I could not have written The Dark Fantastic. Her 2010 Horn Book essay, "Decolonizing the Imagination," helped me theorize the imagination gap in youth media. Her clarion call -- that we can't wait for decades for our kids to see themselves in stories -- gave me the courage to advocate for the emancipatory tales that our children need. While her fiction, her essays, and her voice could have fit many other themes, I couldn’t imagine another person more suited to wrap up this month's theme of social justice in children’s literature, inspired in part by the King holiday. I am so grateful for Zetta's presence in the children's literature world, and quite proud to call her my friend.

Earlier this month, Zetta was gracious enough to answer questions posed by two of our SuperFriends, Penn GSE Reading/Writing/Literacy doctoral students Sherea Mosley and Josh Coleman, via email.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Dark Fantastic Returns! What to Expect From This Blog in 2016

It's been a long 10 months since my last post! Rather than regale you with excuses, I'll share with you where I've been over the past year, then tell you where we're going in 2016... and why you need to bookmark The Dark Fantastic blog again, along with my SuperFriends' incredible Twitter book rec account, @Healing Fictions!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

#StoryGirls Run This World: Complete March 2015 Booklist Celebrating Diverse Girlhoods

It's been an amazing month for celebrating #StoryGirls over on Twitter! Just in case you missed any of my daily Tweets from @Ebonyteach, here's the complete list:

Monday, March 2, 2015

Unstoppable #StoryGirls: A Women's History Month Interview with Sharon G. Flake

Thank you for signal boosting my February 2015 #AARI15 picks! I hope that many of you were able to participate in NCTE's 25th anniversary Read-Ins, and spent the month savoring the wonderful world of African American children's and young adult literature for Black History Month.

To launch my March 2015 #StoryGirls hashtag, this month's featured blog post is an interview with award-winning author Sharon G. Flake. Her 2014 middle grades novel, Unstoppable Octobia May, was my first daily Twitter recommendation for March 1, and leads a month of #StoryGirls from all backgrounds and walks of life. I first met Sharon at NCTE 2004, which was the very first national educational conference I attended. It has been more than a decade since then, but I have been consistently impressed by Sharon's talent for capturing authentic voices of young people, as well as her sincerity and commitment to authentically representing their lives.

Sharon G. Flake exploded onto the literary scene with her novel The Skin I'm In in 1998, and was named a Publishers Weekly Flying Start. Since then she has become a multiple Coretta Scott King Author Honor Award winner and has been hailed as the voice of middle-grade youth as well as a Rising Star by The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books. Many of Sharon’s novels have received ALA Notable and Best Books for Young Adults citations from the American Library Association. Her writing has been applauded for its on-point narrative that explores issues affecting teens from all walks of life. She currently lives in Pittsburgh. Please visit Sharon’s website:

Sharon is a phenomenal woman, and her accomplishments tell the tale. From Maleeka in The Skin I'm In, to all the many different portraits of girls' lives in the anthology Who Am I Without Him?, and on to Autumn in Pinned and Octobia May in The Unstoppable Octobia May, Sharon has a long bibliography of girls who rock. Late last month, she was gracious enough to respond to a few interview questions.