. . . Q-R-S . . . S is for Stonewall Award Committee member Ingrid Conley-Abrams!

Do you know the librarians who work at your local school or public library? If not, you should. Librarians are Magical Creatures, you see. Spend a few minutes talking to them, and they’ll be able to find you the book that you never knew existed, but is PERFECT for you. Ingrid Conley-Abrams is one of those Amazing Magical Librarian Creatures. She’s a former American Library Association Rainbow List committee member, and she’s currently serving as a member of the Stonewall Book Awards committee. She blogs, tweets, and Facebooks as “The Magpie Librarian.” And she’s unabashedly feminist in everything she does.

 

 

I asked Ingrid, “What does feminism mean to you?” This is what she had to say:

As a school librarian, feminism is a cornerstone of an inclusive curriculum. For me, it means making sure that I’m presenting my students with a well-rounded view of woman-hood, girl-hood, and childhood as a whole.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “The Danger of a Single Story” is shown at nearly every “diversity” or “inclusion” training I attend, so much to the fact that I can nearly recite the whole TED talk at this point. However, in its near-consistent repetition, I have not forgotten its important message: I am doing a disservice to my students if I’m showing them one side of any story. That means that peppering my shelves with the pink, glittery, princess books is still important. Pink glitter is not the enemy. Stereotypically girly things are valid and important and can be fun for all kids. In fact, I want the fairy princess narrative to be a viable option for students of all genders, so I make sure that Morris Mickelwhite and the Tangerine Dress, Jacob’s New Dress, and This Day in June have a home in my library. I want a child of any gender to take home an “Elsa from Frozen” book without judgement from me or any student.

The Pink Princess is just one tiny slice of what girlhood can look like, so it’s imperative that students see themselves, their classmates, and their communities reflected in the books we offer. Young readers today certainly have more options than I did when I was a child (though I, fortunately, had great literary friendships with Claudia Kishi and Marcy Lewis), but I still feel frustration at the lack of inclusive, multi-faceted offerings. I do feel lucky to be able to share titles like Kate Beaton’s The Princess and the Pony. I sometimes wonder if students notice that Princess Pinecone is multiracial or even that she’s an atypical princes. I think they’re having too much fun laughing at me saying the word “fart” and watching massive, epic battles play out. I make sure that the Lumberjanes series sits face-out on the shelf as much as humanly possible. I take joy in showing students that our copy of George was signed by Alex Gino in purple, glittery ink. I get chills every time I read Not Every Princess in class, which reminds readers that ballerinas can be strong and skateboarders can be kind. I am grateful for titles like My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay, Worm Loves Worm, I am Jazz, Bayou Magic, and Drum Dream Girl, which each add yet another necessary perspective on growing up as a girl.

The school library is just one access point for how students see themselves and their peers represented in the world. To me, feminism is making sure that children know that there’s no “right way” to be who they are. With every picture book or comic or chapter book, the library’s aim should be, at least in part, to show the students that they are fine as they are, and that they are not alone in their experience. Representation is powerful validation.

Bet you didn’t think you’d come out of this blog post with a reading list and a TED talk, huh? That’s one of the many reasons I love librarians so much.

Thanks, Ingrid!

 

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Ingrid Conley-Abrams is a new-ish school librarian and a veteran public librarian. She is a current Stonewall Book Award committee member and a former Rainbow List committee member. She has spoken about LGBTQ+ books for kids and teens (and sometimes, but rarely, other topics) for the New Jersey Library Association, Book Riot, the Ontario Library Association, School Library Journal, and others. Ingrid is an ALA Emerging Leader who has been featured in two books: This is What a Librarian Looks Like by Kyle Cassidy and Birds of Paradise by Lee O’Connor.

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. . . Q-R-S . . . Q is for QUEER THERE AND EVERYWHERE author Sarah Prager!

I met Sarah Prager this past summer at OutWrite!, an LGBTQ+ literary festival sponsored by the DC Center for the LGBT Community.  Sarah is the author of Queer There and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World. You DEFINITELY need to check this one out!

 

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Sarah and I did a panel presentation at OutWrite! called “Hidden Histories,” where we talked about how we share our collective queer histories through our writing. I talked about the research I did to gather information for my picture book biography of Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin, When You Look Out the Window.

Here’s a photo of us, proudly showing off our books.

 

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Those big smiles on our faces? Part of that is the afterglow of just having seen – and touched – a necklace and a shawl owned by José Sarria. Sarah and I fangirled HARD over this. It was a bonding moment, let me tell you.

 

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I asked Sarah, “What does feminism mean to you?” This is what she said:

Equity! We should all have equal opportunities and rights regardless of gender. I say equity instead of equality because different genders sometimes have different needs so getting equal opportunities and rights may not look exactly the same for everyone. For example, a person who can get pregnant needs certain benefits and protections that a person who can’t get pregnant doesn’t need. These aren’t “special rights” – they are what are needed for equity. If you are of a privileged gender (male, cisgender), please speak up for those less privileged. Feminism needs everyone!

Yes, feminism needs everyone! Thank you, Sarah!

 

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Sarah Prager is the author of Queer, There, and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World, a young adult book published by HarperCollins in May 2017 that tells the true stories of queer people from history from the 200s to the 2000s. The book has received three starred reviews (including the Kirkus Star), a nomination for a New England Book Award, and is an official selection of the Junior Library Guild. Sarah is also the creator of the Quist mobile app which shows its thousands of users what happened on this day in LGBTQ+ history. An activist and writer who has spoken on queer history across four countries, Sarah lives in Connecticut with her wife and daughter. More information at www.sarahprager.com.

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. . . L-M-N-O-P . . . O is for OUCH! MOMENTS author Michael Genhart!

Michael Genhart is another Magination Press author whose books frequently address social justice issues. OUCH! MOMENTS , for example, educates children and adults about the harmful effects of microaggressions (subtle insults, hostilities, and negatives, both intentional and unintentional, against members of a marginalized group). His upcoming book, I SEE YOU, is a wordless picture book that depicts the all-too-frequent invisibility of  people who are experiencing homelessness.

 

Given that sexism intersects with so many other forms of marginalization, I wondered what Michael might have to say on the subject of feminism. When I asked him, “What does feminism mean to you?” here’s what he said:

Many -ism words are those you’d not want associated with who you are (e.g., racism, sexism, classism). Feminism is also a word that for some people you might get a strong reaction upon hearing, “I believe in feminism.” It can conjure up ideas of radical politics and divisiveness held by left-leaning women and their supporters.

To me, at the core of feminism, when you remove any negative associations to the word, is a belief that women and men should share equality across all areas of life – socially, economically, politically, etc. And anyone can be a feminist: men and women alike can hold such beliefs. Because it’s a about fighting for equal rights for all people – where no one is a second-class citizen.

So many people associate the word “feminism” with something bad or negative – even though feminism is really about equity, fairness, and humanity. This is a point I expand on in the chapter titled “R is for RADICAL.” But Michael’s right – feminism is all about enjoying social, economic, and political power. All of us should have access to that!

Thanks, Michael, for your response!

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Michael Genhart, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in San Francisco and Mill Valley, California. He lives with his family in Marin County.
He received his BA in psychology from the University of California, San Diego and his PhD in clinical and community psychology from the University of Maryland, College Park. He is the author of several picture books including: Ouch! Moments: When Words Are Used in Hurtful Ways (2016), Peanut Butter & Jellyous (2017), Mac & Geeeez! (2017), Cake & I Scream! (2017), So Many Smarts! (2017), and I See You (2017), all from Magination Press, as well as Love Is Love (Little Pickle Press/Sourcebooks, 2018). You can read more about these books at: http://www.michaelgenhart.com.

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. . . L-M-N-O-P . . . M is for A MAP FOR WRECKED GIRLS author Jessica Taylor!

I met Jessica Taylor a few years ago at a local SCBWI event, where she was a workshop presenter. I’m sure her presentation was chock-full of good information. But I took away only one thing from her workshop – the fact that she completed a law degree, then walked away from a potential law career to write full time.

WOW.

A MAP FOR WRECKED GIRLS is Jessica’s second novel. See what happens when you follow your dreams?

 

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Here’s how Jessica responded to the question, “What does feminism mean to you?”

As a twelve-year-old girl, after a boy was sexually aggressive toward me, I first became aware of the concept that men would feel they had a right to my body—that my body wasn’t my own—simply because I was female. More than anything in the world, I wanted this not to be so, even if I couldn’t find a word to describe that feeling. Later in life, the word feminism became a word to hang my hope upon.

The more distance I got from my oppressive and conservative hometown—both emotionally and physically—I could more clearly see the ways different kinds of discrimination overlap and combine. It was at that point that my feminism became what I considered to be intersectional, a diverse group coming together to strive for equality. That ideal may feel farther out of reach than ever, but feminism is once again a word brimming with what we all need most in these dark times—hope.

Thank you, Jessica!

 

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Jessica Taylor adores atmospheric settings, dangerous girls, and characters whosneak out late at night. She started her first novel-length writing attempt in the middle of finals during her second year of law school, and over those three weeks managed to finish it. That first embarrassing effort is now locked away, just like her grades from that semester. Throughout college, she worked as a cosmetic artist and through law school as a certified legal intern for the Sacramento District Attorney’s office. Desperately she tried to tuck away her creative side and embrace something more sensible, but even when she wasn’t committing words to paper, she still found herself writing—in the car, the shower, and even the courtroom. After stumbling upon a few real-life tales of people becoming castaways not too far from civilization, her latest novel, A Map for Wrecked Girls, came to life. Jessica now lives in Northern California, not far from San Francisco, withalawdegreeshe isn’t using, one dog, and many teetering towers of books.

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. . . L-M-N-O-P . . . M is for MORRIS MICKLEWHITE AND THE TANGERINE DRESS author Christine Baldacchino!

I met Christine Baldacchino at the 2015 American Library Association Stonewall Award ceremony in San Francisco. Her picture book, Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress, was honored the same year This Day in June won the Stonewall award. When she got up to accept her award, the first thing she said was, “I’m so nervous I could pee my pants!” And I thought, This woman is my soul sister. We’ve been friends ever since.

 

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Here’s what Christine had to say in response to the question, “What does feminism mean to me?”

For me, feminism means working towards a place where I don’t have to wonder whether things would be different if I wasn’t the person I am. It’s about honoring those who worked to get us, as a larger group, just a little closer to that place, and educating ourselves so that we have the tools to pick up where our predecessors left off. It’s about celebrating achievements along the way, but never resting on our laurels. It’s about not slowing our forward momentum until all of us arrive at that place – each and every one of us.

Thanks so much, Christine! And I promise, one day I’ll come visit you in Canada.

 

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Christine Baldacchino is a former early childhood educator, and the author of the widely-acclaimed Stonewall Honour book Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress. As a champion of both self-expression and anti-bullying, Christine believes that kids should be given the leeway and encouragement to discover who they are, whether it be in denim overalls or a taffeta dress. She currently lives in Toronto, Ontario with her husband and three cats, and likes popsicles, Prince, and writing her author bios in the third person.

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