This week I had the fortune of being able to attend a symposium at the Library of Congress, paneled by the fabulous Meg Medina, which focused on Immigration and Children’s Literature: The Role of Heritage in Storytelling. Among the panel were Rene Colato Lainez (author of “Vamanos! Let’s Go”, “Mama the Alien”, “Loteria”, and more); Aisha Saeed (author of “Written in the Stars”, “Love Inshallah”, and “Faithfully Feminist”), Wendy Shang (author of “The Great Wall of Lucy Wu” and “The Way Home Looks Now”), and Elizabeth Zunon (illustrator of “One Plastic Bag”, “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind”, “The Legendary Miss Lena Horne”, and others).
The authors discussed the importance of using children’s literature in school to promote an acceptance of people from other cultures, both for the students entering our schools and also for the benefit of the students who may have never met someone from a foreign culture before. For students to be able to see themselves represented in a book in their school library is a powerful thing. It goes a long way towards promoting acceptance, diversity, and empowerment.