President's Message

As the end of February nears, I want to note that registration is open for the June 2020 Children’s Literature Association conference, “Sustainability Through Story: Eco-Justice, Children’s Literature, and Childhood.” I hope that you can join me in Bellevue, June 18-20. I understand from the conference organizers Michelle Martin and Liz Mills that Bellevue is a beautiful mid-sized city within easy access of Seattle.

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ChLA Panels at MLA 2021

ChLA is sponsoring three sessions at MLA 2021 in Toronto, Canada, January 7-10; all three sessions are currently inviting abstract submissions. “Questioning the Canon: Rethinking the Golden Age of Children’s Literature” invites submissions that interrogate and seek alternatives to canonical Golden Age children’s literature, asking how non-canonical Golden Age works and/or contemporary revisions amplify marginalized voices. “The Ethical Turn in Children’s Literature and Childhood Studies,” reflects on the shift in the field away from critique and toward ethical questions and stakes for real children. “The Other in Narratives of Rival Nations” seeks papers that examine the representation of the ethnic Other in literatures of rival nations or ethnic groups in twentieth and twenty-first century children’s and young adult fiction from around the world.

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2022 MLA ChLA-Sponsored Session Call for Papers—January 6-9, Washington, D.C.

2022 MLA ChLA-Sponsored Session Call for Papers—January 6-9, Washington, D.C.

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Peter Hunt Named the 2020 Anne Devereaux Jordan Award Recipient

The author or editor of three dozen books, hundreds of articles, reviews, and editorials, and frequent guest lecturer at universities and conferences, Peter Hunt has had an exceptional influence on the profession. His work on narrative theory’s intersection with children’s literature was important in the 1980s, and since then he has done a great deal to theorize, challenge, and expand the academic study of children’s literature. He coined the term “childist criticism,” arguing the need to appreciate, understand, and value the perspectives of children. His books have been translated into nine languages, including Greek, Arabic, and Chinese, and he has served the field through his editorial work, including editing and annotating several classic works of children’s literature. His scholarship and service have already been honored with the Distinguished Scholarship Award from the International Society for the Fantastic in the Arts (in 1995) and the Brothers Grimm Award for services to children’s literature, from the International Institute for Children’s Literature in Osaka (in 2003).

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Giving Tuesday 2019

ChLA would like to thank everyone who gave to the Children’s Literature Association on Giving Tuesday.  Because of your support, our organization is able to continue the work that means so much to those committed to scholarship, research, criticism, and teaching in the field of children’s literature.  This year we raised almost $2500, which will help us advance initiatives that you care about, including student grants, diversity grants, faculty research grants, international sponsorship grants, and the overall work of the organization.

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2020 ChLA Francelia Butler Lecturer - Dr. Althea Tait

Althea Tait ( M.A., The University of Tulsa; Ph.D., Morgan State University)is an Assistant Professor of African American Literature at SUNY, the College at Brockport.  Her teaching and research interests revolve around Black Women’s Literature, African American Children’s and YA literature, Black poetry and poetics, Black Women and Girls Studies, and Popular Culture at undergraduate and graduate levels. In the spirit of activism these fields inherently espouse, she has taken her research and scholarship to diverse groups such as incarcerated women concluding their debts to society, to women and children in addiction centers, and to children thriving through studies and the creation of poetry in spaces such as the former Black Wall Street--the location of the Tulsa Race Riots. She has delivered presentations on Black Literature and Culture across the nation ranging from Margaret Walker’s legacy at Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi to Toni Morrison’s import to an asset-based approach to understanding Black culture and literature at Harvard University. She has published works focusing on Black poetry, Toni Morrison studies, and the ways black women writers move from their usual focus on adult fiction into the field of African American children’s literature. Her most recent publications include “Empathy: ‘The [Probing] Problem We all Live With’” to be released in The Lion and the Unicorn,and “Sound is the DNA: Teaching Anthems of the Harlem Renaissance and Hip Hop” in the MLA Approaches to Teaching the Harlem Renaissance collection. Recently she co-edited the collection of critical articles and creative scholarship in the forthcoming anthology from the University Press of Mississippi, I Die Daily: Police Brutality, Black Bodies, and the Force of Children’s Literature. She is currently completing a monograph on intergenerational longing and resilience in Black culture and literature. Her narrative approach to scholarship reflects her passion for sound and catching sound in song or playing her acoustic guitar with what has been described as the soul of a piece: “three chords and the truth.”

Giving Tuesday 2019

In 2018 ChLA raised over $2,400 on Giving Tuesday. These donations help to support diversity initiatives, international initiatives, graduate students, and research. The generosity of our supporters does make a difference!

Visit the our website for more information regarding Giving Tuesday.

2020 ChLA Conference

Theme: Sustainability Through Story: Eco-Justice, Children's Literature, and Childhood

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2019 Francelia Butler Lecture Now Available!

Did you miss the 2019 ChLA annual conference, or want to rewatch Michelle Martin's Butler lecture?  It is now available online!

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ChLA Sponsorship Opportunities

ChLA is looking for sponsors who are seeking to reach an international organization of children’s literature scholars and teachers with more than 1000 members. Our mission is to encourage high standards of criticism, scholarship, research, and teaching in children's literature.  We hope that you might consider purchasing an exhibit table, sponsoring an item, or donating to ChLA.

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President's Message - O Autumn! Autumn!

Fall’s arrival in my longtime home of Louisville, Kentucky makes me think of my beloved childhood trips out West, which as a native St. Louisan, meant car travel to Oklahoma City, where my mother grew up. It brings thoughts of my childhood desire to venture even farther West—to meet her cousins who’d moved from Oklahoma to California and to replicate my St. Louis grandmother’s visit to Colorado. These thoughts resonated with my responses to children’s book author and civil rights activist Mildred Pitt Walter’s interview for the Library of Congress, in which she details her move from small-town Louisiana to Los Angeles. As one of many African Americans who were part of the Great Migration, Walter speaks movingly about how she carved out a place for herself in her new home city and, as a teacher and activist, worked to empower the students at her largely African American public school and to make businesses and institutions responsive to the city’s growing African American population.

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ChLA-Sponsored Sessions at the 2020 MLA Annual Convention

ChLA-Sponsored Sessions at the MLA 2020 Convention

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ChLA Awards and Grants - Nominations and Applications Opening December 15, 2019

ChLA will begin accepting online nominations and applications for our awards and grants beginning December 15, 2019 and continuing through February 1, 2020.  If you know someone whose undergraduate or graduate work deserves to be recognized by ChLA, please consider nominating them for the Carol Gay Award or the Graduate Student Essay Award.  Is there someone within ChLA that has contributed in significant ways to enhance others’ scholarship and/or professional careers within the field of children’s literature?  Nominate them for the Mentoring Award!

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2020 Phoenix Picture Book Award Recipients

2020 Phoenix Picture Book Award Winner:

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Judith Plotz Emerging Scholar Award

The Judith Plotz Emerging Scholar Award Committee is pleased to recognize Elizabeth Hoiem as the 2019 Judith Plotz Emerging Scholar for her article entitled, “Radical Cross-Writing for Working Children: Toward a Bottom-up History of Children’s Literature,” published in The Lion and the Unicorn. In this beautifully written piece, Hoiem challenges the accepted historical narrative of children’s literature’s emergence as a middle-class genre. In the movements to reform child labor and factory conditions in 1830s England, Hoiem finds a tradition of cross-writing, as radical working-class writers addressed children together with adults in unexpected ways. Moving deftly between localized political contexts and broader historical claims about child empowerment and social class, Hoiem expands the boundaries of the children’s literature archive to include texts used by working-class children. Political handbills, for example, gave working children agency as they documented capitalist injustices inherent in child labor and the factory system. By bringing attention to texts used by children but not usually considered children’s literature, Hoiem contributes to growing interests in childhood studies in the nineteenth century and beyond.

2020 Anne Devereaux Jordan Award Call for Nominations

The Anne Devereaux Jordan Award is intended to honor the lifetime achievement of an individual whose scholarship and/or service have had a significant impact on the field of children’s literature scholarship. The award is not restricted to ChLA members or to those whose work has benefited the Association specifically. The award may be given posthumously. To nominate someone for the Anne Devereaux Jordan Award, send a letter that explains the person’s accomplishments and contributions to children’s literature scholarship to [email protected]. If possible, include the nominee’s current vita with the nomination letter. Nominations must be received no later than October 1, 2019. Although nominees are considered annually, there may be years in which no award is given.

Congratulations to our Article Award Winners

ChLA’s Article Award Committee happily announced this year’s winners at the annual conference in Indianapolis.

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President's Message

Among the many notes from Michelle Martin’s amazing Francelia Butler Lecture at this June’s ChLA Conference that have stayed with me is her closing suggestion that we “think about what our counter-stories are.” As individuals, as readers, critics of, and advocates for children’s literature, and particularly as members of the Children’s Literature Association, what are our counter-stories? How have we fit our experiences into long-standing cultural narratives about personal, academic and professional achievement, and how have we complicated and rewritten stories to express ourselves? How have we conveyed these alternative stories and what effects have they engendered?  How can ChLA be a space in or through which we can share our counter-stories?
Next summer’s ChLA’s annual conference will provide opportunities for us to think and talk about the cultural significance of stories for children, especially those that explore sustainability. As I prepared to write this letter, I thought of environmental activists Greta Thunberg and Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez and many other young persons who have raised their voices to demand sustainable, equitable, and just social practices. I also thought of literature for young readers that promotes critical thinking about our complicated relationship to the environment, including DyAnne DiSalvo’s City Green, recent Ruth Lilly-winner Marilyn Nelson’s Carver, and Sy Montgomery’s many books. Please come to Bellevue, Washington in June 2020 to participate in ChLA’s discussion of sustainability, environmental justice and other important topics in children’s literature, culture, childhood studies, and related areas. We are now planning the conference, which will take place June 18th to 20th, and we are excited to receive your proposals and to organize the conference in ways that will be productive for your scholarship. Check out the call for papers on our website: https://www.childlitassn.org/2020. The deadline is October 15, 2019.
The ChLA Board is also processing the feedback about the most recent conference, and the comments gleaned from its Listening Tables. We are considering how to sustain cherished traditions, such as the conference and our literature prizes, in light of ecological, economic, and professional pressures and challenges. This paperless newsletter is one response to environmental concerns and to feedback from last year’s survey calling for enhanced communication throughout the year. Long a bi-annual publication, it will now appear quarterly. And we are working to implement additional ways for the organization to stay connected and to be attuned to ChLA members.
In her Francelia Butler Lecture, Michelle demonstrated the power of counter-storytelling by using what traditionally has been an academic, intellectual space to share a complicated story of selfhood that she presented as a children’s story, with song. Her story emphasized her relationship to other people, including her family, and to children’s literature. The story encouraged audience members to participate, to lend our voices to her song, and thus spoke to the inspirational power of collaborating and doing things differently. Her lecture demonstrated the power of acknowledging but also overcoming boundaries that separate (e.g. presenter from audience, art from scholarship). As she joined her creative energies with her scholarly perspective, Michelle inspired her audience by modeling one way of being one’s full and complicated self in ChLA.  We are scholars, teachers, creative writers, librarians, and readers, and ChLA allows us to consider these intersecting identities as appropriate and invigorating lenses of critique and bases for community. Thank you for your continued membership and involvement in ChLA. I look forward to seeing you in June 2020.
Best wishes,
ChLA President, 2019-2020

ChLA 2020 International Committee Focus Panel on Korea

The International Committee of the Children’s Literature Association is planning a special focus panel on Korean children’s literature, to be presented at the 47th Children’s Literature Association Conference. This conference will be held in Bellevue, Washington from June 18 through 20, 2020 and hosted by the University of Washington.

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Phoenix Award Roundtable CFP for 2020 ChLA Conference

The Phoenix Award Committee and the Phoenix Picture Book Award Committee of the Children's Literature Association are planning a joint session at the 47th Children's Literature Association Conference, held in Bellevue from June 18-20, 2020 and hosted by the University of Washington. The Phoenix Awards recognize exceptional books published twenty years previously that did not win a major award at the time, but that the committees have determined to be of lasting value.

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