In Denver last week, the American Library Association awarded the prestigious Caldecott Award and Newbury Medal, among other awards for children's and young adult literature. Assistant professor of library science, Sarah Park Dahlen, was in the audience and many reasons to be excited about this year's winners. Among them was the Caldecott winner, "A Different Pond." The book, written by Minneapolis poet Bao Phi and illustrated by Thi Bui, was the first book illustrated by a Vietnamese woman to be so honored, and one of the few books both written and illustrated by immigrants.
When “A Different Pond” was announced, “I screamed so hard the people around me were giving me funny looks,” said Park Dahlen.
While diversity in youth literature has been expanding in recent years, this year's ALA awards took a giant leap forward. All four Newbery Honors went to authors of color, and the lifetime achievement award went to Jacqueline Woodson, an African-American writer.
Park Dahlen was interviewed for a Star Tribune story published on February 17, "The Newbery and Caldecott – as well as the other ALA awards – are bringing recognition to diverse books." She has served as an expert on diversity in children's literature, and in 2017 she co-founded and will co-edit Research on Diversity in Youth Literature, a new open access, peer reviewed journal.