Though not an official #alaac22 event, the Walter Dean Myers Awards & Symposium held at the DC Public Library yesterday was a wonderful celebration of this year’s award-winning and honor titles. This is the seventh annual Walter Award named for the children’s and young adult author Walter Dean Myers who championed diversity in books.
The positive energy was palpable as Minh Lê introduced author-illustrator Grace Lin to lead the event. Lin’s story of how books provide us the “lens” to see the world more clearly, just as glasses did for her at age 13 was thought-provoking. This comparison also challenged us to not only “see” every person in the world, but also to “see” the challenges that we face – the bans and challenges to many We Need Diverse Books titles.
Honor recipient Kekla Magoon participated in a discussion about her Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party’s Promise to the People that ended with Q&A from the local students attending the symposium. Walter Award winners Angeline Boulley and Rajani LaRocca each shared compelling stories of wanting to see their cultures (Ojibwe and Indian respectively) in stories for youth. LaRocca spoke to the advice received from a creative writer teacher in her youth that opened her eyes to the fact that she did not have to be only one thing – and she has followed that advice to become both a doctor and an author. Boulley also shared the impact of a mentor – in fact the mentor program of We Need Diverse Books – who helped her grow stronger in her writing. These stories of writing representation into stories and how impactful mentors were for these award-winning authors inspired all of the attendees, youth and adults alike.
Conference guest contributor Melinda Sandkam (she/her/hers) is a recent graduate of the University of Tennessee Knoxville School of Information. She is actively searching for a position in public libraries as her passion is to serve the community. She was a guest blogger for #PLA2022 virtually and is excited to be attending her first live ALA conference since Midwinter 2020 in Philadelphia. She is looking forward to meeting other ALSC members at the Friday event. Her favorite snack is anything with dark chocolate including hot chocolate!
Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.