Debrief: ALA Midwinter Virtual 2021

Since the ALA Youth Media Award announcement on Monday, January 25, I’ve seen Michaela Goade’s name and her beautiful, defiant cover art for We Are Water Protectors (written by Carole Lindstrom) everywhere. Each time, it fills me with joy. Goade—the first Indigenous (Tlingit) woman and BIPOC woman to win—deserves every bit of this moment. I’m proud to have been part of the 2021 Caldecott committee that chose her book. I also acknowledge there’s still work to be done, since it took a committee 84 years to award a BIPOC woman its highest honor.

I really only got to spend Friday exploring the ALA Midwinter Virtual conference and basically watched as many on-demand sessions as I could. One panel I wanted to highlight is “A Seat at the Table: The Power of BIPOC Women Illustrators” (available to non-attendees through YouTube). Moderated by Alia Jones, the panel explores some of the challenges BIPOC women face in the industry. I’d encourage everyone to give it a watch. One win (or, in the whole scope of Caldecott 2021, one win and three honors) doesn’t fix the system. But it is a start.

I’m still organizing my thoughts on my experience of serving on Caldecott and will probably write more soon. Mostly, I’m taking an opportunity to rest and read whatever I want. I just finished King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender (it’s exquisite). Next on my list is On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong, which is a book for adults.

More links about Michaela Goade and the buzz around her historic win:

American Indians in Children’s Literature: “Carole Lindstrom and Michaela Goade—Two Tribally Enrolled Women—Made History Today, for WE ARE WATER PROTECTORS”

Indian Country Today: “The first Indigenous Caldecott Medal winner”

School Library Journal: “A Grateful Michaela Goade Makes Caldecott History”

School Library Journal: “Children’s Publishing World Reacts to Michaela Goade’s History-Making Caldecott Medal, Rest of the YMA Winners”

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