Category Archives: Children’s authors
I had an opportunity to chat with one of my favorite children’s authors, Jan Wahl, from Toledo, Ohio. He was born on April Fool’s Day, sometime during the 1930s.
As is my tradition, while chatting with Jan, I was actually interviewing him because I wanted to know him better. He has written over 100 children’s books, many are already out of print. Jan lived in Mexico and Denmark. He collects Mickey Mouse objects, and wears a Mickey Mouse watch. He is sometimes referred to as Dr. Mouse, apparently a name given to him by a child. He attended the University of Michigan.
I first met Jan Wahl when our no longer in existence organization, Cambios, brought him to read to children in a couple of our Lenawee County public schools. We purchased about 100 copies of his book The Candy Shop, a book that dealt with “racism” and how children find ways to deal with it. The book was donated to every elementary in the county, and the public libraries. A few years ago, Alexander Elementary school brought Jan to read to students, at my recommendation.
I asked Jan to tell me which was his favority book (of the over 100 he had written). He thought for about a second and responded How the Children won the War! He added that he still believes that children may have the solutions to our problems. Jan gave me a copy of this book several years ago and I plan to pass it on to my great neice, Madeline, because I too think that the children will find the solutions.
I look forward to reading his new publication The Long Tall Journey, to be released in the fall.
This is a link with a book list http://www.paperbackswap.com/Jan-Wahl/author/
Cheryl Hudson compiled this list of over 500 children’s multicultural books. Fantastic for teachers!
The Diversity Within A Firm Foundation of Children’s and Adolescent Literature
Author Evelyn Coleman has written numerous books for children. Her book, To be a Drum, can be found on http://www.storylineonline.net/ and is read by Actor James Earl Jones. White Socks Only, a wonderfully written book is also found on http://www.storylineonline.net White Socks is a story that deals with discrimination. Ms. Coleman was kind enough to respond to written interview questions:
1. What inspired you to write White Socks Only? Is this in part something that happened to you or someone in your family?
It took me years to write this story …. I decided to write it after a student asked me if I had been a slave…I realized then that “time” was a complex idea for children and I wanted them to understand that the Civil Rights movement had happened in my lifetime not hundreds of years before. I had this idea running in my head for a long time regarding institutional racism and also witnessing children discriminating based on not just color of skin, but the way someone looked, or the type clothes they wore or even hairstyles or economic situations. Putting these ideas together with my own first experience of reading a Whites Only Sign where I thought it meant I should have on all white clothing the story finally came together in my mind.
2. What is the lesson you want children to learn from reading the story?
That it is not a good idea to discriminate against another human being for any reason. And that racism was and still is a hurtful experience that requires fighting against it by speaking up when you see it. Most of all I want children to understand that you should always speak up to defend the rights of others.
3. What do you want teachers to learn from the story?
That subliminal discrimination or racism is not acceptable no matter who is involved. Hopefully teachers will pay more attention to their own prejudices after reading White Socks Only.
4. What other books for children have you written?
To Be a Drum, Albert Whitman Books; Cecile’s Cameo Necklace, American Girl’s latest historical doll; Shadows on Society Hill, American Girl’s doll Addy’s first mystery; Circle of Fire and Mystery of the Dark Tower, American Girl History Mysteries; Born in Sin, Atheneum; The Riches of Oseola McCarty, Albert Whitman Books; Freedom Train, Simon & Schuster
5. Do you have any advice for young readers?
Yes, read as much as possible, pay attention to your own feelings and learn how to relay them to others either verbally or on paper, observe your surroundings, learn to conjugate verbs and understand what you feel passionate about and why.
Respectfully submitted by Idali Feliciano
The Screen Actors Guild sponsors the Storyline on line books read by some of the best known actors/actresses. If you are looking for multicultural books this site will have them. For example, White Socks Only, written by Evelyn Coleman is featured, as is her book To Be A Drum, read by James Earl Jones. This site is highly recommended. Check it out: http://www.storylineonline.net
This site is great for teachers, parents and children.