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21st Century Storytelling: W.A.R. Person of the Year (More Nominees)

“But books can free me of my snobbery. And not just books for a certain kind of reader either. Literary, commercial, and just plain fun books about people of various backgrounds who in a real life I might have felt “better” or “lesser” than have, at times, helped me reawaken to the truth that, in the end, we’re all just folks.   I’d like to think that if books can do that for me, they can do it for anybody.”  M. LaVora Perry (

“In thinking about my own journey, I remember certain works of literature that played a huge role in transforming the way I saw myself. But most of the books that changed my life were written for much older children or for adults, meaning that I didn’t read them until I was twelve or thirteen years old. The books available to me as a very young child tended to reinforce my negative view of myself as a brown-skinned person. I wanted to write a literary work for very young children that would captivate their sensibilities and engage their imaginations with images evoking the amazing beauty of the color brown.” –Malathi Michelle Iyengar

“The first way that literature can combat the effects of racism and promote tolerance is from the various stories that deal with the experiences of peoples of color. I think that when children are exposed to the stories of characters from various cultures they not only learn about those cultures and histories, but are able to connect to the similarities to their own experience. In this regard, literature not only humanizes, but brings people closer together to show the commonalities we have, as humans trying to understand ourselves and our place in the world. I think that more books need to be published that explore the rich variety of world cultures, stories and traditions we are fortunate to have.” -Tony Medina