This spring, I had the opportunity to hear Newbery Honor winner, Grace Lin , and her longtime friend and editor, Alvina Ling , talk about their friendship, careers, and their work. They share lots in common: friendship, professional work, and interests. Both sets of parents are Taiwanese. They were even roommates at one point.
Both women are also readers. Because of books and their importance of them to her, Alvina became an editor (who has worked with an impressive list of authors and illustrators). Grace became an author and illustrator. Both sought to broaden literature for young readers.
Similar but not identical. The books that Alvina edits and those that Grace writes and illustrate connect with readers of all backgrounds. There’s universality to the books these women create. They may be set in one place or within one culture, but they convey something that is different but the same.
A broad range of diverse literature for young readers is needed. Many stories, many voices, many perspectives. We know not all are equally good, but let’s read them to find out. What makes one story fly, be remembered, resonate with readers while others simply thud? Since everyone responds differently to the same story, let’s get more out there and into the hands of readers.
Teachers, parents, librarians, publishers are powerful. They connect young people to books and stories that open worlds, validate individuals, help develop empathy, and build friendships that extend beyond one time, person, or place.
Let’s celebrate the many stories that make us so remarkable.