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Ohio schools, libraries win 50 sets of culturally diverse, humorous children’s books

Janet Kiplinger Ciccone
October 14, 2021

National Council of Teachers of English honored professor who chose raffle books

Jo Osborne, a children’s librarian at Worthington Public Library, Ohio, for many years, was passionate about bringing children and humorous books together. In memory of her work, family members and friends gave to The Jo Osborne Fund for Humor in Children's Literature in the College of Education and Human Ecology.

Created by Alan Reid Osborne, professor emeritus of mathematics education, the fund honors the memory of his wife, Jo Osborne, and her ability to breathe life into books during children’s storytime at the library.

Through this fund, Jonda C. McNair, the Charlotte S. Huck Endowed Professor of Children’s Literature, curated 50 sets of humorous and culturally diverse titles across various genres that have been raffled to Ohio teachers and librarians who serve children in grades K-5.

McNair has more than 20 years of experience as a reviewer of children’s literature and a leader of national children’s book award committees.

“I am grateful to Jo Osborne's family and friends for their generosity,” McNair said. “I am especially delighted that 50 sets of high-quality, culturally diverse books are now being made available to teachers and librarians in our state. I believe these books will motivate children to view reading as something that is worthwhile, pleasurable and at times humorous too.”

On Fri., Nov. 19, McNair announced the following raffle winners.

Raffle Winners for Books Appropriate for Grades K-2

  1. Akane Tsuji Vongchucherd, Hopewell Elementary, Dublin City Schools
  2. Allison Ellis, Alton Darby Creek Campus, Hilliard City Schools
  3. Amy Laudick, Deer Run Elementary, Dublin City Schools
  4. Bethanie Rhodes, Columbus Montessori Education Center, Columbus City Schools
  5. Brooke Kurz, West Franklin Elementary School, South-Western City Schools
  6. Cathy Johnson, South-Western City School District
  7. Chris Abke, Botkins Elementary School, Botkins Local Schools
  8. Cindy Hayman, Tarhe Trails Elementary, Lancaster City Schools
  9. Colleen Kochensparger, Slate Hill Elementary, Worthington City Schools
  10. Dani Hogan, Hopewell Elementary, Dublin City Schools
  11. Dann Christian, Godman Guild Association, Columbus City Schools
  12. Dawn Davis, Warner Girl's Leadership Academy, Cleveland Metropolitan School District
  13. Dawn Lauridsen, West Franklin Elementary School, South-Western City Schools
  14. Heather McCreary, Hopewell Elementary School, Dublin City Schools
  15. Jamie Gottesman, Columbus Montessori Education Center
  16. Jessica Pugh, Ohio State University Childcare Program
  17. John Mere, Hopewell Elementary School, Dublin City Schools
  18. Kathy L. Davies, Columbiana Joshua Dixon Elementary, Columbiana Exempted Village School District
  19. Kelly Baker, St. Peter's Elementary, Toledo Diocese
  20. Lydia Mendenhall, Van Wert City Schools Early Childhood Center, Van Wert City Schools
  21. Megan Flaherty, Hopewell Elementary, Dublin City Schools
  22. Michelle Morris, Deer Run Elementary, Dublin City Schools
  23. Nicole Smith, Maple Dale Elementary, Sycamore Community Schools
  24. Terra Gardner, Mary Evans Child Development Center, Columbus
  25. Tyler McClain, Hopewell Elementary School, Dublin City Schools

Raffle Winners for Books Appropriate for Grades 3-5

  1. Allison J. Coho, Deer Run Elementary School, Dublin City Schools
  2. Amelia Smith, Tremont Elementary, Upper Arlington City Schools
  3. Amy Grittani, Highland Park Elementary, South-Western City Schools
  4. Amy Henderly, Tarhe Trails Elementary, Lancaster City Schools
  5. Andrea Smith, Hopewell Elementary School, Dublin City Schools
  6. Annie Reagan, Our Lady of the Elms LS Library, Our Lady of the Elms, Akron
  7. Brooke Weimer, West Franklin Elementary, South-Western City Schools
  8. Danielle Whims, Tallmadge Elementary, Lancaster City Schools
  9. Elizabeth A Leonard, Newark City Schools
  10. Erica Knowles, Tuscarawas Valley Middle School, Tuscarawas Valley
  11. James Dean Parker, Riverdale Local Schools
  12. Kate Reing, Hopewell Elementary School, Dublin City Schools
  13. Katie Papesh, Hopewell Elementary School, Dublin City Schools
  14. Kelsey Dotson, Riverdale Elementary School, Riverdale Local Schools
  15. Kim Fuller, Weinland Park Elementary, Columbus City Schools
  16. Korina Bennett, Blanchester Intermediate, Blanchester Local Schools
  17. Laura Duncan, Daniel Wright Elementary, Dublin City Schools
  18. Mallory Pamphilis, Mt. Pleasant Elementary School, Lancaster City Schools
  19. Rachel Jones, Fairbanks Elementary School, Fairbanks Local S.D.
  20. Rebecca Sanders, Washington Elementary School, Hilliard City Schools
  21. Robyn Appino, Sands Montessori, Cincinnati Public Schools
  22. Sarah Hanson, Lincoln Elementary School, Gahanna Jefferson Schools
  23. Sarah Peddicord, Lincoln Elementary School, Gahanna Jefferson Schools
  24. Susan Shaw, West Franklin Elementary, South-Western City Schools
  25. Tiffinie Kelly, Cleveland Arts & Social Science Academy, Accel Schools

Each set of books contains 12 titles, as well as “people colors” crayons, drawing paper, scented bookmarks, writing notepads and an “I Love Reading” bookbag.

Some titles include Jo Jo Makoons: The Used-to-Be Best Friend, The Wall in the Middle of the Book, Niño Wrestles the World, Thunder Rose, The Crossover,Pink Is for Blobfish: Discovering the World’s Perfectly Pink Animals, The Great Wall of Lucy Wu, and Arithme-tickle: An Even Number of Odd Riddle-Rhymes.

Winners can arrange to pick up their books from McNair at the Ohio State Columbus Campus on a date that she will set in early December. For winners more distant from the Columbus Campus, arrangements can be made to mail book sets. 

Jo Osborne, a longtime children's librarian at Worthington Public Library, performs Humbug Witch during the Oct. 29, 1993, Pumpkin Parade Storytime. Photo courtesy of Worthington Public Library.

The person who chose your books: Children’s book award leader, national awardee

Jonda C. McNair, ’03 PhD, has spent her career building expertise in children’s literature with an emphasis on books written by and about African Americans. From her start as an elementary school teacher, through her PhD program in the college under Professor Emerita Rudine Sims Bishop, through 17 years as a Clemson University professor, McNair has built a reputation for excellence in the field.

Most recently, she served as chair of the 2021 John Newbery Award Committee, leading the selection of this year’s medal winner. The committee chose When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller, a heart-rending tale, rich with Korean folktales and magic, featuring a young protagonist who struggles to accept her beloved grandmother’s impending death.

McNair previously gained recognition by chairing the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Committee, and after that, she was a member of the 2019 Randolph Caldecott Award Selection Committee.

In autumn 2020, McNair came full circle by returning to her alma mater to be the endowed professor named for Charlotte S. Huck, one of the early faculty who helped the college become renowned for its program studying children’s literature.

Most recently, the National Council of Teachers of English announced that it will present McNair with its Advancement of People of Color Leadership Award at a ceremony on October 21. The award is bestowed only when the committee decides a nomination warrants presentation.

The council’s award committee said McNair stands out from other nominees by mentoring and supporting classroom teachers, children and families and university colleagues.

In her nomination of McNair for the award, Professor Emerita Violet J. Harris, University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign, highlighted McNair’s numerous servant leader actions, including developing a research project while at Clemson University that introduced families to African-American children’s literature.

Harris wrote, “She worked with families to increase their knowledge, develop literacy activities that would enhance family literacy efforts, and ultimately, encourage participants to work with their local schools and libraries to support inclusion of African-American literature. She was able to garner support for a community literacy event at a local library, featuring James Ransome,” a prominent children’s book illustrator, and provide at least 25 books to each study family.

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