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Building Community (Part III of Black Voices: Pushing for Change in Children’s Book Publishing) 

The third part of the series, Black Voices: Pushing for Change in Children’s Book Publishing, focuses on how creators, the publishing industry and book loving-community can disrupt racism and make a difference. We received more than a hundred questions over the past two webinars. We devote this session to answering as many as we can and continuing the conversation: How can we center Black creators and create change that endures?


Kwame Alexander is the Innovator-in-Residence at the American School of London, and the New York Times Bestselling author of 37 books, including Caldecott-Medal and Newbery-Honor winning picture book The Undefeated, How to Read a Book, Swing, Rebound, which was shortlisted for prestigious Carnegie Medal, and, his Newbery medal-winning middle grade novel, The Crossover. As the host of the new kid’s television program, WordPlay, and Founding Editor of Versify, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, he aims to Change the World One Word at a Time.

Judy Allen Dodson is a librarian and archivist who has extensive experience working with special collections and local history research. As a children’s book writer, Judy is the recipient of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ On-the-Verge Emerging Voices Award for her manuscript Fast Friends. Her mission is to help foster a growing community of North Carolina writers. She holds a B.A. in communications from Western Michigan University and an M.L.S. from North Carolina Central University.

Troy Johnson is the founder and webmaster of (African American Literature Book Club). Started in 1997, AALBC is the oldest, largest, and most frequently visited website dedicated to books by, or about, people of African descent. Johnson holds graduate degrees in business and engineering, and he lives in Tampa, Florida.

Torrey Maldonado is the author of three critically acclaimed middle grade books whose popularity stretches into younger and high school grades. His recent book, What Lane?, has won three stars and the Oprah magazine, the NY Times, and more have listed it as an essential antiracist book to discuss daily racism and allyship. He has taught for over twenty years in Brooklyn, New York where he was born and raised and you can meet him through on Twitter, and Instagram.

Dr. Kimberly N. Parker currently prepares preservice teachers as the Assistant Director of the Teacher Training Center at the Shady Hill School in Cambridge, MA. Kim taught in public schools, universities, and graduate schools for 18 years and served on several committees for the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and the New England Association of Teachers of English (NEATE). As a Heinemann Fellow (2016-2018), Kim documented her successful work de-tracking her ELA classroom for students of color. Her continuing scholarship is focused on the literacy lives of Black youth, particularly those of Black boys.  She is the 2020 recipient of the NCTE Outstanding Elementary Educator Award and is a co-founder of #DisruptTexts and #31DaysIBPOC. Twitter: @TchKimpossible

Kelly Starling Lyons is an award-winning children’s book author, teaching artist, and founding member of The Brown Bookshelf. Her latest titles are Tiara’s Hat ParadeDream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip FreelonSing a Song: How “Lift Every Voice & Sing” Inspired Generations, and Going Down Home with Daddy. Her mission is to create books that center Black heroes; celebrate family, friendship, and heritage; and show all children the storyteller they hold inside.

Moderated by Cheryl Davis.