So a sullen student stalks to the circ desk, slams his selection down, and says, "Check me out ’cause my teacher says I hafta read and some guy said this author Walter Dean Myers was okay." I live for these moments. I casually slide a full-color print out of this picture, place it near the student’s book and say, "Hm. I chatted with this author this weekend and he seemed pretty cool. His son is just back from Iraq and I was able to share that mine leaves for Afghanistan Monday. He seems to know what he’s writing about."
The student pauses and looks between book and photo. "So that’s the author? And you met him? Do you think, like maybe, he wrote this book Sunrise Over Fallujah with some real information, like with realistic stuff?" Then as he cheerfully struts toward the door he turns and says, "Ms Chen, you sure make that man look tall." If he only knew how great an author Walter Dean Myers is! (Be sure to click the next blog post to read more of the speeches)
I had the great pleasure of traveling with two librarians Tracy and Hope to Clinton, Tennessee just north of Knoxville on Saturday in anticipation of hearing Walter Dean Myers. I have been a big fan of Walter Dean Myers since I first booktalked Fallen Angels to middle schoolers in Iowa City, Iowa under Denise Rehmke’s tutelage. He is the award winning author of fiction, nonfiction, picture books, poetry and admitted he’d even written some romance novels in his earlier days.
The Children’s Defense Fund and the Langston Hughes Library hosted the 2009 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture on the Alex Haley Farm with the support of The University of Tennessee – Knoxville, and the Knox County Public Library.
I’d never been to the location, but was very curious about visiting and seeing the Maya Lin architecture.
Children’s Defense Fund Founder and President Marian Wright Edelman spoke earlier in the program. She was worth the three hour trip by herself. I am now motivated to work harder with student advocates.
The Langston Hughes Library of the Children’s Defense Fund, a national nonprofit organization that advocates for the welfare of all children, is a special library housed in a traditional cantilever barn redesigned by Lin. Since the Langston Hughes Library is celebrating its 10th anniversary this spring 2009, many board members were on hand to hear the Arbuthnot Lecture including Karen Lemmon (pictured on the right with Nancy Dickinson). The Haley Farm and Langston Hughes Library art collection includes original artwork by Bryan Collier, Tom Feelings, Tyrone Geter and Jacob Lawrence. Many of these works were on display in the library and in the chapel area. The library is a dream and worth a visit. The farm is open for events and for weekend retreats if you need to experience the feeling of "getting away" when you aren’t far from the city (Knoxville).
What is the Arbuthnot Lecture and who was this Arbuthnot person? May Hill Arbuthnot (1884-1969) was born in Mason City, IA (hello home state!). With William Scott Gray, she created the "Dick and Jane" series which taught my fellow students to read in the 70s and which I used to teach ESL students in Taiwan during the mid-80s.
More importantly Arbuthnot wrote Children and Books, the first edition of which was published in 1947. Her other works include The Arbuthnot Anthology of Children’s Literature and Children’s Books Too Good to Miss. During my college education, I still used all of these. Her name was so BIG I didn’t realize she had died when I was a toddler. My professors spoke so reverently of her work I was sure she was alive and prepared to swoop down and correct my childish reviews. The Arbuthnot committee comes from ALA’s Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC). I’ve been aware of this lecture, but never took the simple step of going. What a shame?! You shouldn’t miss this.
According to the ALA site the Arbuthnot lecturer is announced annually at the ALA Midwinter Meeting and "may be an author, critic, librarian, historian, or teacher of children’s literature, of any country, who shall prepare a paper considered to be a significant contribution to the field of children’s literature."
After the lecturer is named, institutions wanting to host the lecture may apply. Thanks to Theresa Venable, the Langston Hughes Library won this year! The lecture is given every April then published in Children & Libraries, the journal of the Association for Library Service to Children. ALSC established the lecture series in 1969 with sponsorship from Scott, Foresman and Company. The lectureship is now funded by the ALSC May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Endowment, and administered by ALSC.
Kathleen T. Horning, director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC), will deliver the 2010 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture. I’m excited about attending and cannot wait for the announcement of the location. Take a look at the list of past lecturers and their locations. Where do YOU think the next Arbuthnot lecture will be held and will YOU be there?
CHRONOLOGY OF ARBUTHNOT HONOR LECTURES
YEAR LECTURER SITE
2010 Kathleen T. Horning (U.S.A.) it could be you
2009 Walter Dean Myers (U.S.A.) Clinton, Tennessee
2008 David Macaulay (U.S.A.) Madison, Wisconsin
2007 Kevin Henkes (U.S.A.) Lexington, KY
2006 Russell Freedman (U.S.A.) Williamsburg, VA
2005 Richard Jackson (U.S.A) Philadelphia, PA
2004 Ursula K. LeGuin (U.S.A.) Phoenix, AZ
2003 Maurice Sendak (U.S.A.) Cambridge, Massachusetts
2002 Philip Pullman (England) Queens, New York
2001 Susan Cooper (U.S.A.) Portland, Oregon
2000 Hazel Rochman (U.S.A.) Storrs, Connecticut
1999 Lillian N. Gerhardt (U.S.A.) San Jose, California
1998 Susan Hirschman (U.S.A.) Columbia, South Carolina
1997 Katherine Paterson (U.S.A.) Aberdeen, South Dakota
1996 Zena Sutherland (U.S.A.) Dallas, Texas
1995 Leonard Everett Fisher (U.S.A.) Milwaukee, Wisconsin
1994 Margaret K. McElderry (U.S.A.) Coronado, California
1993 Virginia Hamilton (U.S.A.) Richmond, Virginia
1992 Charlotte Huck (U.S.A.) Bozeman, Montana
1991 Iona Opie (England) Washington, D.C.
1990 Ashley Bryan (U.S.A.) New Orleans, Louisiana
1989 Margaret Mahy (New Zealand) Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
1988 John Bierhorst (U.S.A.) Norman, Oklahoma
1987 James Houston (Canada) DeKalb, Illinois
1986 Aidan Chambers (England) Little Rock, Arkansas
1985 Patricia Wrightson (Australia) Bloomington, Indiana
1984 Fritz Eichenberg (U.S.A.) Minneapolis, Minnesota
1983 Leland B. Jacobs (U.S.A.) Athens, Georgia
1982 Dorothy Butler (New Zealand) Orlando, Florida
1981 Virginia Betancourt (Venezuela) Denton, Texas
1980 Horst J. Kunze (Germany) Milwaukee, Wisconsin
1979 Sheila Egoff (Canada) Columbia, South Carolina
1978 Uriel Ofek (Israel) Boston, Massachusetts
1977 Shigeo Watanabe (Japan) Boise, Idaho
1976 Jean Fritz (U.S.A.) Los Angeles, California
1975 Mollie Hunter (Scotland) Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1974 Ivan Southall (Australia) Seattle, Washington
1973 Betinna Hurlimann (Switzerland) Kansas City, Missouri
1972 Mary Ørvig (Sweden) Chicago, Illinois
1971 John Rowe Townsend (England) Atlanta, Georgia
1970 Margery Fisher (England) Cleveland, Ohio