Monthly, we will profile current ALSC Board members. We hope to offer information about the people who work to guide the organization so that you can feel more comfortable in reaching out to them with your concerns, questions, or comments. This month, we invite you to meet ALSC Vice President/President-Elect, Dr. Jonda C. McNair.
How did you first get involved with ALSC?
I joined ALSC in 2005 after recently having earned a doctoral degree with a specialization in children’s literature from The Ohio State University (OSU). I was familiar with major children’s literature awards and the fact that ALSC oversaw many of them. I had paid attention to the work of my OSU children’s literature professors, such as Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop, who had served on the award selection committees for both the Randolph Caldecott Medal and John Newbery Medal. I joined ALSC in the hope of one day serving on a prominent book award committee.
How has participation in ALSC affected your career?
As a professor, I am expected to perform service related to my area of expertise in professional organizations, so serving on book award committees is important and relevant work for a scholar of children’s literature. It certainly did not hurt that during the time I was interviewing and being considered for the Charlotte S. Huck Endowed Professor position, I was chairing the Newbery Award Selection Committee. Dr. Donald Pope-Davis, my dean in the College of Education and Human Ecology here at The Ohio State University, was familiar with the Newbery Medal although his background is in counselor education. Even folks who are outside of the library and literacy worlds know the Newbery Medal is a big deal. Meeting various individuals (e.g., authors, illustrators, editors, publishers, art directors) over the years through my ALSC work has impacted my growth and that of my students. Imagine having people like Tae Keller, Oge Mora, Juana Martinez-Neal, and Steve Jenkins speak to your classes! That being said, performing service for ALSC has certainly supported and elevated my career.
What excites you about serving on the ALSC Board?
I think what excites me most about serving as ALSC Vice President/President-Elect is that I will soon have the privilege of overseeing the committee appointments process for the children’s book awards and offering members opportunities that years ago I could only dream of having. (e.g., “Would you be interested on serving on the 2025 Randolph Caldecott Award Selection Committee?”) I am also excited about having culturally diverse award committees because I believe they will influence the book selection process and ensure that the chosen ALSC titles will function as mirrors and windows for many children.
What is something you have done as a member of ALSC that you’re particularly proud of?
I am most proud of having chaired the 2021 John Newbery Award Selection Committee during the pandemic and of the sense of community created by those of us who served on it. We still keep in touch with one another and have plans to sit together at the upcoming Newbery-Caldecott-Legacy Banquet.
What advice would you give to an ALSC member interested in exploring more leadership or governance roles?
I encourage those who are interested in having leadership positions to work hard when asked to serve, attend ALSC events and meetings, and most importantly, submit volunteer committee forms so you can begin networking and getting to know ALSC members. I have a feeling that people who worked with me on committees either put my name forward or talked about me to those who could put my name forward.
What is your favorite ALSC memory?
Actually, I have two! My top two favorite ALSC memories are of Tae Keller giving me a major shout-out during her acceptance speech for the 2021 Newbery Medal and the 2021 Newbery Award Selection Committee members all sitting together at the 2022 Newbery-Caldecott-Legacy Banquet wearing our fascinators. (We had missed out on the chance to be together in 2021 due to the pandemic.) One of our committee members, Joanna Fabicon, even wore a specially designed fascinator that honored Keller’s medal-winning When You Trap a Tiger!
Dr. Jonda C. McNair, ALSC Vice President/President-Elect for 2022–2023, is the Charlotte S. Huck Endowed Professor of Children’s Literature at The Ohio State University.
Interested in standing for election to the ALSC Board? Find out more on the ALSC election information