Talking about race, in a way that truly impacts the psychological well-being of future generations in America, entails first examining ourselves, and digging into the many layers of our personal and familial journeys that contribute to the vast melting pot in which we live.
My reading had taught me that I could render feminist characters long before I learned that there was a word to describe girls who bucked narrow gender roles. However, I also had internalized the belief that to be a legitimate author, my characters had to be white.
Children of color need to be able to see themselves in the books they read. Just as importantly, all children need to be exposed to a wide range of books that reflect the true diversity of our nation and world as they really are.
We know how challenging it can be for parents of children of color to find books in which characters of their ethnicity are represented -- and not limited to tired stereotypes or only relegated to minor characters.
I'm thrilled to share this special event with you in which Jon Scieszka, Katherine Paterson, Walter Dean Myers and I talk about literacy, reading for kids, slime, and ... Snooki (and, funnily enough, that was not a dig at Snooki. Or slime).
As explained in "Too Important to Fail," the way we look at black boys is "America's litmus test." Smiley approaches the challenges facing black males with the good sense and good will of our nation's archetypical "Everyman." The result is a jewel of a documentary.