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Scholar to lecture on African-American children's literature

Andrea Lynn, Humanities Editor


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. —-- The second annual Gryphon Lecture will be given by a pioneer in children's literature, Rudine Sims Bishop.

Bishop's talk, which is free and open to the public, begins at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 23 (Thursday) in Room 126 of the Library and Information Science Building, 501 E. Daniel St., Champaign.

Her topic is "Stony the Road We Trod: African American Children's Literature, Stories of a People's Journey.”

Bishop, professor emeritus in the School of Teaching and Learning at Ohio State University, was one of the first researchers to produce scholarly criticism about the way African-American lives are represented in children's books and the impact that representation has on children's lives.

Her book "Shadow and Substance: Afro-American Experience in Contemporary Children's Literature” was "a touchstone study that is still used today," said Betsy Hearne, the director of Illinois' Center for Children's Books, one of the event sponsors.

"The fact that Dr. Bishop has been respected across disciplines, is sought out as a speaker by educators and library organizations, and continues to shape new research on multicultural literature establishes her singular leadership," Hearne said.

Continuing Professional Development Unit credits will be available to teachers and school librarians who attend the talk, which also is sponsored by the Youth Literature Interest Group.

The group consists of faculty and graduate students from Eastern Illinois University, Illinois State University and the U. of I. Four disciplines at Illinois –– American Indian studies, Education, English and Library and Information Science –– are represented.

The Youth Literature Interest Group meets monthly to discuss texts and issues relevant to literature for children and young adults. It also hosts a research showcase every fall led by rotating members of the group, and the annual lecture by a leading scholar in the field.

Among the issues that the group studies are the impact of children’s literature on literacy, the epistemology of children’s literature, the role of children's books for librarians, teachers and academics, and the necessity of considering multicultural issues and the impact of literature on children's lives.

The Youth Literature Interest Group is an outgrowth of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Illinois. The Center for Children’s Books is a unit of the library graduate school.

Other U. of I. sponsors of the event are the Center for Advanced Study, the College of Education, the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities and the Trowbridge Office for American Literature, Culture and Society.