Authors Kate Messner, Traci Sorrell Host "Rethinking Thanksgiving" Webinar | News Bites

Messner and Sorell contextualize the "first Thanksgiving" myth; Hachette announces new BIPOC imprint; Linda Sue Park creates Korean and Korean diaspora author and illustrator resource; results of the K-12 Scholastic Student Vote.

Authors Kate Messner and Traci Sorell want to bring their titles to the classroom in a virtual presentation to help educators and students rethink the traditional Thanksgiving narrative, Hachette announces new BIPOC imprint, Linda Sue Park creates Korean and Korean diaspora author and illustrator resource, and kids K-12 have their say in the Scholastic Student Vote in this edition of News Bites.

Rethinking Thanksgiving Webinar

Authors Kate Messner and Traci Sorell are offering a Zoom webinar based on their books about the real history of the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag people, the myth of the "First Thanksgiving," and modern-day Native traditions of gratitude.

Messner will go behind the scenes of her book History Smashers: The Mayflower and "challenge readers to some fun history quizzes, including a 'What's Wrong With This Picture?' investigation of a famous 'First Thanksgiving' painting." Sorell is the author of We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga and other children's books that celebrate Indigenous cultures. She will discuss Native perspectives on Thanksgiving, using a scene from Indian No More, which she finished for friend Charlene Willing McManis, who died before completing the novel, based on McManis's childhood. Sorell will also read from We Are Grateful and share her Cherokee tribe's views on gratitude.  A Q&A with both authors will follow.

The event is Thursday, November 12 at 1:30 p.m. EST. It costs $15 and is geared toward students in grades 3-7 and open to professional educators, as well as caregivers guiding at-home learning. The webinar will be recorded and available for anyone who registers but can't attend live. 

Hachette Book Group announces new BIPOC imprint, Legacy Lit

Hachette Book Group announced the launch of Legacy Lit, an imprint dedicated to books for and by people of color. Legacy Lit will publish narrative nonfiction, memoir, investigative, women’s interest, current events, social justice, cultural, and empowerment titles, along with select fiction and will aim to give voice to issues, authors, and communities that have been "marginalized, underserved, and overlooked." The imprint is scheduled to launch its first titles in January 2022.

Authors Faith Jenkins, Tamera Mowry-Housley, Van Lathan, Marisa Renee Lee, David Ambroz, Baynard Woods, Shanita Hubbard, D. Watkins, Daniela Pierre-Bravo, Devin Allen, and V. Maia Thomas are among those who will be published by Legacy Lit, as the imprint looks to put a spotlight on stories for and by BIPOC writers, and create awareness, and expand visibility of BIPOC voices, industry professionals, booksellers, influencers, and press.

Linda Sue Park creates Korean creators resource page

Author Linda Sue Park has created KiBooka, a new page on her website that provides a resource of children's books by Korean Americans and Korean diaspora authors and illustrators.

"This KiBooka page is a source of great happiness for me," Park wrote. "When my career began more than 20 years ago, there were very few creators of Korean ancestry publishing in the U.S.—it would have been a forlorn page indeed! I’m excited about the talented writers and artists whose books are now available, and hope you will enjoy learning about them and their work."

The KiBooka listings, which span pictures books to YA and include Anna Kim, Tina Cho, Jenny Han, Yangsook Choi, Jane Bahk, Angela Ahn, Tae Keller, Jessica Kim, Ellen Oh, David Yoon, Robin Ha, are self-selected," said Park.

"Traditionally published creators were invited to participate; the page comprises those who responded. The creators themselves chose the content of their listing."

K–12 Students take part in 2020 Scholastic Student Vote

They are too young to vote officially, but can still practice exercising their civic duty. Students K–12 in all 50 states and the District of Columbia participated in the Scholastic Student Vote, a mock election and long-time tradition that kids have done nationwide since 1940. This year, virtual ballots were cast from August 24 through October 27.

With more than 168,000 votes were cast. Democratic presidential candidate and former vice president Joe Biden won with 61 percent of the vote. Republican president Donald Trump received 39 percent of the vote. 

In 2016, Democratic candidate and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton won the Scholastic student vote. It was one of only three elections (along with Harry S. Truman in 1948 and John F. Kennedy in 1960) that the student vote did not mirror the election results.

Students and educators can visit Scholastic's election page of videos about the democratic process, quizzes, activities, and "rigorously fact-checked articles" through Inauguration Day in January.

Voyager Sopris Learning launches Reading Rangers

Voyager Sopris Learning  launched Reading Rangers, a web-based reading program "designed to strengthen K-5 students’ foundational skills with the help of engaging experiences and fun adventures. It can be used by students who are learning in-person, remotely, or in a hybrid.

According to Voyager, Reading Rangers can be used:

  • independently for reading practice;
  • with any core reading or literacy intervention program; and
  • with students who require a bit more practice or those who struggle.

In Reading Rangers adventures, students rescue animals and go on journeys filled with challenges, puzzles, and activities. Along the route, they answer questions and learn vocabulary. The program can be purchased separately but is included with Voyager Passport . A 30-day free trial of Reading Rangers is available for schools or classrooms.

Picture book writing contest accepting submissions

The Astra International Picture Book Writing Contest is open to published and unpublished writers. The purpose of this contest is to "encourage, discover and honor talented writers of texts for picture books from all over the world; to foster literary excellence in books for young children; and to promote international cooperation and understanding through picture books."

Winners will have the opportunity to sign publishing contracts with the sponsors to publish the manuscripts in different languages. In addition, gold prize winner receives $10,000; three silver prize winners will get $5,000; and 20 finalists receive $1,000.


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