CCBC Friends Fall 2016 Newsletter
(2016 no. 1)

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CCBC Friends Spring 2016 Newsletter
  • From the President
  • From the Director
  • Spring Event Recaps
  • CCBC Swag!
  • Featured Friend
and more...

Letter From the President

Hello Friends!
With summer underway and my own term as President coming to a close, I’ve been reflecting on the great events, activities, and accomplishments the Friends achieved so far this year. We supported another publication of CCBC Choices, and happily received the very first print copies at Choices Day. I think every recipient of Choices 2016 would agree that we now have much longer to-read lists! On April 9, the Charlotte Zolotow Award was presented to Margarita Engle for her excellent work in Drum Dream Girl, and several honor books gave us more titles to add to our sharing-with- kids lists. We also saw another successful book sale, this time with the brand-new CCBC tote bags, which will be available for sale at future Friends events.
The accomplishments of the Friends don’t just reside in the activities and events we host every year. When I think of the Friends, I think of a supportive, enthusiastic community of people who love children’s literature, and love sharing it with kids of all ages. I think of librarians, educators, and literature enthusiasts who will happily discuss the great books they’ve been reading. I think of people that understand the critical importance of the CCBC’s role in promoting books that are both mirrors and windows for the diverse populations in Wisconsin and across the country. I think of a group I’ll always feel proud to support.
I have truly enjoyed my time on the board, and I want to offer sincere thanks to all of you for letting me serve as your President, and for your support of the Friends. I hope you enjoy the lovely summer to come, and look forward to seeing you at future Friends events!

Kelsey Johnson-Kaiser
President, Friends of the CCBC

Letter From the Director

The CCBC is well known nationally for the statistics we keep on children’s books by and about people of color. We get frequent calls and emails from the press and from university researchers about these statistics, and hardly a week goes by these days when we don’t see them quoted somewhere.  We have the statistics on our web site but when reporters and researchers contact us, they always want more. They want to go beyond the numbers. They ask about the kinds of books we’re seeing. How many contemporary? How many are about girls? How many have animal characters?

So this year we decided to be proactive, to drill down a bit with our data. For 2016 we are launching a pilot project to do a more in-depth analysis of the year’s picture books (excluding non-fiction titles, such as picture-book biographies). We’re keeping track of the things people want to know. Just how many picture books have animal, rather than human, characters? How many books about African American characters are historical? How many feature LGBTQ families? Or Muslims? Or people with disabilities? We’ll be able to tell you in early 2017. 

But for now, with about a quarter of the picture books that we’ve received to-date analyzed so far, we can tell you that:
  • 45% of main characters are human beings, 43% are animals, and 15% are something else (such as a zucchini, a fairy or a cupcake)
  • main characters are ten times more likely to be an animal than an African American person
  • African American main characters have a two in three chance the character will be an athlete
  • a main character that is an animal is three times more likely to be male than female
  • a main character is more likely to be a spoon, a screw or a shape than Asian Pacific, First/Native Nations, Latino/a, or a person with a disability
Will this change with more data?  Stay tuned!

KT Horning
Director, CCBC

Spring Friends Events in Review

Choices Day and Friends of the CCBC Annual Meeting
(Photos: J. Matzner) 
Many thanks to Friends member Beth Hennes for sharing her experience attending Choices Day for the first time.
Though I had seen some of the behind-the-scenes work on Choices during my time as a student worker at the CCBC, this was my first Choices Day. I was greeted on the morning of March 5 by the friendly faces of school and library friends I’ve met over the years and a nice little continental breakfast. I was pleased to have the chance to catch up with people a little (and have our picture taken a few times) before we got down to “business.” However, the business of Choices Day is actually a mix of business, pleasure and book love.
For me, the highlights of the Friends business meeting included hearing about the unexpected amount of money the Friends made from Zolotow seals--one of the major publishers ordered Zolotow seals for all their books. The Friends have also begun selling these great tote bags with the AC/DC-style CCBC logo.
But what you really come to Choices Day for is to hear the CCBC librarians book-talk some of their favorites from this year’s Choices. KT, Megan, Merri and Emily have this way of making you feel like you know a book that you haven’t had time to read, or even better, making you feel like you needed to read the book as soon as possible, like yesterday! As a school librarian, I love hearing their book-talks because I can use that knowledge immediately when I try to pitch books to my young readers. As I left with my pretty robin’s-egg-blue copy of Choices 2016, I definitely felt like I had a full but satisfying morning.
2016 Charlotte Zolotow Award Ceremony

Many thanks to Friends member Crystal Brunelle for the following write-up.

On April 9, 2016, the CCBC and the Friends of the CCBC hosted a reception for the Charlotte Zolotow Award. The event highlighted five Honor Books and ten Highly Commended titles alongside the winner: Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music, written by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Rafael López.

The book is a gorgeous look into the life of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a Chinese-African-Cuban girl who broke Cuba’s traditional taboo against female drumming. For a complete list of the honored books, please visit the CCBC Zolotow Award page.

Two authors whose books were on the Highly Commended list were in attendance. Kevin Henkes (Waiting) and Miranda Paul (Water Is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle), were present to sign books following the presentation. Several other authors sent written or video messages of thanks and appreciation. Sean Taylor, author of Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise, sent a particularly amusing personal video quoting Alan Garner: “Awards are an irrelevant impertinence, a distorting imposition on a book, and I want every one I can get.”

We were fortunate to hear Margarita Engle in person. This was her first visit to the CCBC, and she called it a highlight of her life. Pointing to the work the CCBC is doing regarding diversity in publishing, she said she had imagined armies instead of a small, hard-working crew, expressing her admiration of them.

Margarita Engle wrote Drum Dream Girl because she was inspired by the perseverance and independent spirit of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga.  She didn’t want to oversimplify the taboo against female drumming, but explained that because of Zaldarriaga, most drums are now available to women in Cuba. Although the book has a social justice theme, it is also about courage and perseverance. The book is in free verse, which was a deliberate choice to match the shifting and unpredictable nature of Cuba’s music.

K.T. Horning concluded the event with thanks to the authors and to the Charlotte Zolotow Award committee.

Spectacular Spring Friends Book Sale

We had another successful spring book sale on Saturday, April 23. It’s a joy to see both familiar and new faces at the sale. We especially love seeing those faces light up at a great find!

This time around, we noticed that flipping through so many books is a great way to get a sense of the latest trends in children’s book publishing. Apparently, yetis are a hot trend for picture books these days.

As always, we’d like to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who volunteered their time to make sure the sale went smoothly. Special thanks to the volunteers who keep coming back year after year. Your assistance and advice are invaluable and very much appreciated.

See you in the fall!
Maria Parrott-Ryan, Book Sale Coordinator

CCBC Swag!

Want to represent the CCBC while you’re out and about? What better way than by sporting the brand new CCBC Friends Tote Bag!

These totes are fair trade, organic, and made in the state of Oregon. We have zippered and non-zippered options. They will be available at all of our CCBC Friends events in 2016! 

The bags are $20 for non-zipper and $25 for zipper, with a $5 discount for anyone who joins or renews. The cost of the bag is a donation to the Friends. Get ‘em while they’re hot!

Featured Friend

Founding Friend Margaret Jensen

Margaret Jensen’s search for inspiring literature for young readers led her to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) in the late 1960s. Jensen was a primary school teacher looking for books to motivate her beginning readers when she first went to the CCBC. “I was studying reading and I was told the statistically significant factor in reader success is motivation to read.”

               Photo of Margaret Jensen: KT Horning

So Jensen went to the CCBC to learn more about books being published for children. Jensen recalls in the early 1970s there was not a lot of literature available specifically for her beginning readers, children in first and second grades.

“I hung around the CCBC to see what was new.” Soon Jensen found being in contact with beautiful books for young readers rekindled her personal interest in children’s literature.

Eventually one of the CCBC founders, librarian Elizabeth Burr, and Dr. Gertrude Herman of the School and Library & Information Studies at UW-Madison, a CCBC user and collaborator, approached Jensen about starting a Friends group to support the Center. Jensen felt very honored by the opportunity to start an organization with these women.

“This was around 1978. I remember meeting with a lawyer to complete the paperwork for incorporation.”
“Our driving goal was to educate the public on children’s literature. We also wanted to financially support the CCBC.”

At the 1978 Friends annual meeting, members of the Friends board including Margaret Jensen (second from left) pose with guest and author Ellen Raskin (in dark glasses).

Jensen remembers the inception of Choices Day in the early 1980s, which is the annual event for launching the year’s edition of the Choices bibliography. In the past, the event lasted an entire day, with half of the day promoting the best books for younger readers and the other half of the day focusing on talks about books for older and young adult readers.

“After Choices Day I would drive straight to the book store and buy books. I was so inspired.”

The Friends' events also served as networking opportunities. Colleagues from all over the state of Wisconsin were joined together by the Friends. Jensen recalls the book discussions, weekly programs, and coffee hours before author visits. The organization moved away from hosting regular author visits because the board felt centralizing the visits in Madison was not meeting a commitment to serving the statewide constituency.

Jensen believes the early impact of the Friends was obvious based on data. People from all over the nation began requesting CCBC materials and publications pertaining to multicultural materials. The annual multicultural literature statistics came out in each year's edition of CCBC Choices (costs to create the annual Choices publication have been underwritten by the Friends from the start). And more people were citing the CCBC’s data related to multicultural publications. People outside of Wisconsin also began requesting copies of Choices. The CCBC’s librarians were also invited to participate on more awards committees.  All of this added to the CCBC's growing national reputation as an authority on children’s publishing.

Meanwhile, Jensen went on to teach children's literature courses for education students at Edgewood College while continuing her work as an elementary school classroom teacher for the Madison schools.

And, over her more than 30 years of teaching, Jensen feels she passed along the inspiration to read to her students.

Several of Jensen’s former students have gone on to become librarians, educators, and editors.

“One of my former students now works as an editor for National Geographic.”

What about Jensen’s hopes for the future of the Friends of the CCBC?

“I hope the organization continues. The organization supports the CCBC’s mission to help educators find the right books. I don’t think life is worth living without books.”

She also believes the Cooperative Children’s Book Center is poised to help educators face today’s complicated issues surrounding literacy. Furthermore, Jensen says the CCBC will continue to help push for more books written by authors from diverse backgrounds. The Friends organization will continue to provide the necessary support so the CCBC can do this and other work.

 “Anything the CCBC can do to impact issues of diversity in schools through literature” will make a difference, Jensen said.

Mark Your Calendars!

Save the Date: 2016 Charlotte Zolotow Lecture
The 2016 Charlotte Zolotow Lecture will be delivered by Jacqueline Woodson on Thursday, October 20, at Varsity Hall, Union South. Jacqueline Woodson is the author of numerous award-winning books for children and young adults, including Miracle's Boys, which won the Coretta Scott King Award in 2001 and Brown Girl Dreaming, which won a Newbery honor and National Book Award for Young People's Literature in 2015. We are honored to have her as our speaker for the 2016 Charlotte Zolotow Lecture. You won’t want to miss her lecture, so be sure to save the date!
Volunteering Opportunities
Interested in volunteering for the Friends, but concerned about time commitment? Consider writing a newsletter article! The Board is always looking for Friends to write articles about CCBC events, and we want to hear from you! If you are planning to attend an event and would like to write an article about the experience, or simply want to be on our list of writers, please contact the Friends president at

CCBC Friends Board

Board of Directors 2015-2016

President: Kelsey Johnson-Kaiser 
Vice President: Erin Anthony
Treasurer: Erin Augspurger
Recording Director: Shannon Furman
Membership Director: Marianne Siess
Director-at-Large: Mary Morgan
Director-at-Large: Minetta Lippert
Ex Officio: KT Horning, CCBC director 

Interested in Joining the Board?

The nominating committee will be meeting soon to develop a roster of candidates for the coming year. 
Please contact the Friends President at
Newsletter compiled by Katrina Dombrowsky, Communications Chair
Copyright © 2016  Friends of the CCBC, All rights reserved.

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