Excellence in Children's Literature: The Ohio State University Newbery Award Symposium
This symposium will highlight five celebrated Black authors, who have won the prestigious John Newbery Award, widely considered the top prize for children’s literature in the United States. First given in 1922, the Newbery Award is sponsored by the Association for Library Service to Children of the American Library Association and is presented annually to authors who make the most distinguished contribution to children's literature. This daylong symposium will include three keynotes by authors, a panel discussion with all five authors moderated by Professor Jonda C. McNair, breakout sessions and autographing sessions. The children’s literature program in the College of Education and Human Ecology, the first of its kind in the United States to offer master’s and doctoral degrees, is considered one of the strongest in the nation, largely due to the work of Charlotte S. Huck. With the strong tradition of African American children’s literature in the college, due to the scholarship of Rudine Sims Bishop, The Ohio State University is well suited to host this groundbreaking event that celebrates Black excellence in writing for youth.
When: Friday, Nov. 15, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Ohio Union, The Ohio State University
Cost: $240 general admission, $125 for students
Three continuing-education-unit contact hours available
View nearby hotels if you need a place to stay.
Kwame Alexander is a poet, educator, producer, and #1 New York Times bestselling author of 40 books including The Crossover (a 2015 Newbery Medal winner and 2015 Charlotte Huck Award Honor title) and The Undefeated (a 2020 Newbery Honor title and 2020 Caldecott Medal-winning picturebook illustrated by Kadir Nelson). Kwame is the executive producer, showrunner, and Emmy-winning writer of The Crossover TV series, based on his Newbery-Medal winning novel of the same name, which premiered on Disney+ in April 2023. The series was produced in partnership with LeBron James’s SpringHill Company and Big Sea Entertainment, Kwame's production company that is dedicated to creating innovative, highly original children’s and family entertainment. Kwame’s mission is to change the world, one word at a time.
Derrick Barnes is the author of the critically acclaimed picturebook Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut (a 2018 Newbery Honor and 2018 Coretta Scott King Author Honor title). He is also a coauthor of Stand. Victory! Raising My Fist for Justice, a 2023 Coretta Scott Author Honor title and a finalist for the 2022 National Book Awards. Several of his books, including The King of Kindergarten and The Queen of Kindergarten, are New York Times bestsellers. He is a graduate of Jackson State University and was the first African American male creative copywriter hired by Hallmark Cards. Derrick is a native of Kansas City, Missouri, and currently resides in Charlotte, North Carolina, with his wife and four sons.
Amina Luqman-Dawson loves using writing to tell stories and to build an understanding of race, culture, and community. Freewater, her debut novel, is a New York Times bestseller and has received critical acclaim, including the 2023 John Newbery Medal and the 2023 Coretta School King Author Award. Her other published writings include op-eds in newspapers, magazine articles, travel writing, and book reviews. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Vassar College and a Master of Public Policy from UC-Berkeley. Amina is the proud mother of a 14-year-old son. She, her husband, and son reside in Arlington, Virginia.
Jason Reynolds is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award finalist who writes novels and poetry for middle-grade and young adult audiences. Born in Washington, D.C., and raised in Maryland, Reynolds first found inspiration in rap and began writing poetry when he was nine years old. He went on to publish several poetry collections before publishing his first novel, When I Was the Greatest, which won the 2015 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent. He has since written numerous award-winning books, including The Boy in the Black Suit, a 2016 Coretta Scott King Author Honor title and Long Way Down a novel in verse which was named a 2018 Newbery Honor book, a 2018 Printz Honor Book and a 2018 Coretta Scott King Author Honor book. Reynolds currently lives and writes in Washington, D.C., and recently finished serving his third term as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.
The daughter of a printer, Carole Boston Weatherford, was practically born with ink in her blood. She began writing at age 6 and soon after saw her poems in print. She has authored 70-plus books that have garnered multiple awards including a 2021 Newbery Honor for Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom, a 2016 Robert F. Sibert Informational Honor Award for Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, a 2022 Coretta Scott King Author Award for Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre, and 4 Caldecott Honors. Her career achievements have been recognized with the North Carolina Award for Literature and the Children’s Book Guild Nonfiction Award for a significant contribution to nonfiction for children. Carole writes for children and young adults. Some of her topics are diverse, anti-racist nonfiction, biographies, poetry, historical fiction on African American heritage, culture, and social justice.