(Video) MacLeod Lecture: Advocating for Books, Children and Imagination in a Time of Division: a Conversation with Meg Medina

Logan Delavan-Hoover - March 15, 2024

Newberry winner speaks on children’s literature

Meg Medina & Allister Chang

Newberry-winning children’s author Meg Medina, with DC Board of Education member Allister Chang, gave a talk on Feb. 27, as this year’s MacLeod Lecture, which is devoted to introducing scholarly issues associated with children’s literature to a broad audience. Medina is the current National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature at the Library of Congress. She is also the author of the Newbery Medal-winning book Merci Suárez Changes Gears, as well as several more award-winning children’s books. Chang is the current Ward 2 member of the DC Board of Education, an advisory board member of the Library of Congress Literacy Awards, and the previous executive director of Libraries without Borders. 

They spoke about authentic voices in children’s books and reading outside of one’s own experiences. The conversation ranged from literacy efforts and the experience of young immigrants to book banning, exposing children to a wide range of experiences through books, and engaging children of all ages with reading. 

“There’s a lot of pushback into anything that has to do with girls, sexuality, culture—increasingly, any kind of cultural content, the whole anti-American thing—but nothing is quite under fire as much as LGBTQ,” Medina said. “The National Council Against Censorship has a really good website and materials for kids to be able to advocate on their own behalf at school board meetings and in their schools.” 

“Deep down, we do not naturally learn to read. It’s not something we have evolved as a skill, necessarily,” Chang said. “It’s not built into the way that our ancestors have evolved oral language. For all of us, it is an exercise in how to build those pathways to be able to read, so how we go about building those skills is quite different because it is not something that is so clearly drawn out as a path, neurologically.” 

Watch the full video here.