A Is For Anansi will cover the history, criticism and theory of contemporary books for and about children of African descent, as told by its most influential critics, scholars, teachers and producers. The need for more in-depth analysis and for more information, critical evaluation, and publications on this topic still remain. The conference will look at these and consider other questions and issues as well.





Friday, October 8th, 2010 – Opening Reception

6:00 – 6:30 pm

● Opening KEYNOTE

Andrea Davis Pinkney—Vice President, Executive Editor, Scholastic

● Bernette Ford—Editor and Founder of Color-Bridge Books


Nancy D. Tolson—Associate Professor, Early Childhood Education Department, Mitchell College

6:30-8:00 pm

● History/Significance/Meaning of Writing/Publishing/Selling Literature for and about Children of African Descent (importance of bookstores; going beyond the obvious that it’s good for other people to learn about other people)

Moderator: Cheryl Willis Hudson—Vice President & Editorial Director, Just Us Books; Author, My Friend Maya Loves to Dance
Regna Brooks—Founder and President of Serendipity Literary Agency

Kathleen T. Horning— Director, Cooperative Children’s Book Center of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Joe Monti—Agent, Barry Goldblatt Literary; former children’s fiction buyer at Barnes & Noble
Hannah Ehrlich— Marketing & Publicity Associate, Lee & Low Books
Colin Bootman—Illustrator/Author, The Steel Pan Man of Harlem,
The Music in Derrick’s Heart
Saturday, October 9th, 2010

9:00 -9:30 am Breakfast and Welcome

9:30 – 11:00 am

● Issues of Identity & Representation (historical overview, phenotype-illustrating the books, role of language, look beyond books: cinema, advertisement, TV)

Moderator: Zetta Elliott—Author, Bird, A Wish After Midnight

George Ford—Illustrator, The Story Of Ruby Bridges, Ray Charles

Nicole Tadgell—Illustrator, Lucky Beans, No Mush Today

Myisha Priest—Assistant Professor, Gallatin, New York University

Khafilah McCurdy—Editor, The Journal of African American Children’s Literature

Nnedi Okorafor —Author, The Shadow Speaker, Zahrah the Windseeker
Respondent: Fabienne Doucet—Assistant Professor of Education, New York University

11:00 – 12:30 pm

● Let the Children Speak (roundtable of kids discussing children’s books, “books that have had a profound effect on me and why” video games vs. reading, why don’t I read, use of social media like Twitter, Facebook, blogs, video blogs and more, audience can include children, parents, teachers)

Moderator: Clairesa Clay—Teacher/Filmmaker

12:30 – 1:30 pm ● Lunch

12:00 – 2:00 pm ● Rare Books Display from the collections of Fern Gillespie

and Rashidah Ismaili, Room 910
1:30 – 3:00 pm
● Critiquing & Evaluating the Books/Content (stereotypes, censorship, violence, raw images in picture books, depictions of the black family, political correctness in writing for children in terms of its ability to stimulate imagination as well as enhance cognitive and cultural development)

Moderator: Laura Atkins —Lecturer, National Centre for Research in Children’s Literature in London, England

Wanda M. Brooks—Associate Professor of Literacy Education in the College of Education, Temple University

Andrew P. Jackson —Executive Director, Queens Library’s Langston Hughes Community Library and Cultural Center

Oralia Garza de Cortes —Latino Children’s Literature Consultant

John Sellers—Children’s Reviews Editor, Publishers Weekly

Respondent: Summer Edward—Founder and Managing Editor of Anansesem-Caribbean children’s literature ezine.

3:00 – 4:30 pm
● Literacy & Education for/of the Black Male

Moderator: Clairesa Clay—Teacher/Filmmaker

Katie Sciurba—Lecturer, University of San Diego

C. Jama Adams—Chairperson and Associate Professor, Department of African American Studies, John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY)

Tony Medina— Poet/Associate Professor of Creative Writing, Howard University

4:30 – 5:00 pm ● Closure/Round Up/Survey

5:00 – 6:00 pm ● Rare Books Display from the collections of Fern Gillespie

and Rashidah Ismaili, Room 910

5:00 pm


● Tribute to Virginia Hamilton, Tom Feelings, and Leo and Diane Dillon
Moderator: Esther Cooper Jackson—Editor, Freedomways Reader and Social Activist
Leo and Diane Dillon—Illustrators, Why Mosquitoes Buzz In People’s Ears
Arnold Adoff—Poet and Anthologist, Roots and Blues: A Celebratio
Rashidah Ismaili—Poet/Educator
Kamili Feelings—Writer/Teacher

Michael Patrick Hearn—Author, Myth, Magic, and Mystery: One Hundred Years of American Children’s Book Illustration