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Who Are You to Say? Children’s Literature and the Censorship Conversation

April 20, 2016

Bank Street College of Education’s April 16th conference, “Who Are You to Say? Children’s Literature and the Censorship Conversation,” hosted some of the most thoughtful minds in children’s literature. The discussions were fascinating and intellectually stimulating with wonderful audience input. This event is one that students and academicians will be referencing for years to come!

Director of the Center for Children’s Literature and conference organizer, Cynthia Weill, opened with a few remarks.

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Children’s book scholar Leonard Marcus gave a brief introduction to the “Historic Roots of Censorship in the United States.”

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The first panel, “Developing Challenged Children’s Books: Authors and Their Editors,” was also moderated by Leonard Marcus. He lead authors Robie Harris, It’s Perfectly Normal, Susan Kuklin, Beyond Magenta and their editor from Candlewick, Hilary Van Dusen, along with Pete Parnell and Justin Richardson, authors of And Tango Makes Three and their editor, David Gale of Simon and Schuster in a fascinating discussion on creating books around controversial topics.

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Pulitzer Prize winner, David Shipler, The Working Poor: Invisible in America (Vintage Press) led a second panel “Why Are Young Adult Books Challenged?” Panelists emily m. danforth, The Miseducation of Cameron Post (Harper Collins), Shelley Diaz, Young Adult Reviewer at School Library Journal, Coe Booth, Tyrell (Scholastic), and Meg Medina, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass (Candlewick) talked about their personal experiences of being challenged and banned.

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The third panel, “Context and Controversy: Banned, Censored and Contested Books for Young People Today,” was led by author Elizabeth Levy. Panelists included: Allie Jane Bruce, Children’s Librarian, Bank Street College of Education; Fatima Shaik, Children’s/Young Adult Books Committee, PEN American Center; Andy Laties, Manager, Bank Street Book Store; Kiera Parrot, Reviews Director, School Library Journal; and Cheryl Willis Hudson, Editorial Director, Just Us Books, Inc. Each participant offered their differing opinions on recently challenged books.

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Joan Bertin, Director of National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), gave a brilliant closing keynote speech on children’s book censorship.

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At the end of the day, authors signed books and authors, panelists, and participants mingled for more conversation.

Don’t forget to join us for BookFest on Saturday, October 22, 2016!

-Cindy Weill

Photo courtesy Rebecca Migdal

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