ALA Annual 2019

The Urgency of History: How Librarians Prepare Kids for Their Times.

Please join us in Washington, D.C. at the ALSC panel The Urgency of History: How Librarians Prepare Kids for Their Times. The panel includes Gennifer Choldenko, Varian Johnson, Marissa Moss, Sharon Robinson, and Elizabeth Partridge. Check out the details below.

Our acclaimed authors have been debating many difficult questions. Today we want to focus on just one. How is something in one of your books about the past relevant today?

Head shot of Gennifer Choldenko
Photo provided by author

Gennifer Choldenko responds:

Right now, we are in the middle of a measles epidemic, caused by people who are terrified to vaccinate their children. In 2019, the science behind the effectiveness of the measles vaccine is irrefutable.  But politics, fear, and misinformation has caused this measles crisis.  Chasing Secrets is historical fiction which looks at a real-life plague outbreak in San Francisco in 1900.  In 1900, the case for vaccination was less compelling than it is now, but the way in which politics, fear, misinformation, racism, and greed interfered with the eradication of the plague in San Francisco has haunting echoes today.

Gennifer Choldenko is best known for the Newbery Honor Book Al Capone Does My Shirts and “the Tales from Alcatraz” series which have sold more than 2 million copies and the Focal-award winning Chasing Secrets. You can find her on the web at www.gennifercholdenko.com.

Head shot of Sharon Robinson
Photo provided by Scholastic

Sharon Robinson responds:

On May 2, 1963, one thousand children walked out of their schools and marched peacefully toward downtown Birmingham protesting racial segregation. Six hundred children were arrested that first day of the Children’s Crusade.

In Child of the Dream: A Memoir of 1963, I tell the story of how, one thousand miles away, I watched the news with my parents, horrified that the Birmingham police used dogs and powerful fire hoses against the children.  My parents and I talked a lot about those children and what they were doing—and the difference it made. They inspired me to figure out how I could get involved and helped me find my voice.

I am proud of the children today who studied history and found inspiration in the 1963 Children’s Crusade. I joined some of the survivors of the Parkland shooting for a local march and later cheered on the young people who participated in the massive demonstration in Washington, D.C.

Across the country, young people are speaking up and sharing what matters to them. It is my hope that Child of the Dream will inspire children to recognize the power they can have, give them the courage to find their voice, and help them understand the importance of fighting for justice and equality.

Sharon Robinson, daughter of baseball legend and civil rights icon Jackie Robinson, is an acclaimed author as well as an educational consultant for Major League Baseball. You can find her on the web at www.sharonrobinsonink.com.

Would you like to weigh in?

We would love to see you at our panel, The Urgency of History: How Librarians Prepare Kids for Their Times.

When: Saturday, June 22, 9am—10am

Where: Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Room 150B

What: Details here.

See you there!


Our guest blogger today is Susan Faust, Moderator/Reviewer/Librarian. Susan writes a monthly column of children’s book reviews in the San Francisco Chronicle. Active in the Association of Library Service to Children, she has served on numerous book award committees, including Batchelder, Caldecott, Newbery, and Sibert, plus on Notable Books for Children. Most recently, she served on the 2018 Children’s Literature Legacy Award committee. She was the Lower School Librarian at Katherine Delmar Burke School in San Francisco for thirty-three years.


This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies: Professionalism and Professional Development.

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