June 20, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

With Books, You Can Change the World—and Future Politicians Who Tweet, Says Angie Thomas at SLJ Day of Dialog

In a talk that ranged from her Mississippi roots to her personal influences, including a casually racist comment made by a teacher and a certain young reader who inspires her today, author Angie Thomas delivered a forceful keynote at School Library Journal’s Day of Dialog.

The author of The Hate U Give and the upcoming novel On the Come Up (Balzer + Bray, 2019) Thomas addressed the current political climate directly, but from a literacy perspective. Books foster empathy, “and empathy is way more powerful than sympathy,” she told the audience of librarians at the annual SLJ event, held during BookExpo, at NYU’s Kimmel Center this afternoon.

“If some of our current political leaders read books about black people as children, we wouldn’t have to say ‘black lives matter.’ If they read books about Latino children, there wouldn’t be talk of building walls, but building bridges,” said Thomas. “If they read books about LGBTQIA youth, we wouldn’t have to talk about or fight for rights. If they read books on Muslim children, we wouldn’t have to fight against bans.

So yeah, I believe that books play a huge role in all of that. Now do you see how important your job is?”

Here’s a clip:

Kathy Ishizuka About Kathy Ishizuka

Kathy Ishizuka (kishizuka@mediasourceinc.com@kishizuka on Twitter) is the Executive Editor of  School Library Journal.



  1. “Books create empathy” I love this! Everything she said speaks to my heart. I accept your challenge Angie Thomas!

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