The Lerner Podcast

Hidden History: Pulling Back the Curtain on Marginalized Groups of the Past and Present | A Webinar Rebroadcast

January 09, 2023
The Lerner Podcast
Hidden History: Pulling Back the Curtain on Marginalized Groups of the Past and Present | A Webinar Rebroadcast
Show Notes Transcript

Are you looking for books that cover topics that have historically been hidden, covered up, or outright denied? Join creators Lee Wind, Paula Yoo, Don Tate, Natasha Donovan and Annette Bay Pimentel as they discuss recent publications covering LGBTQ history, violence against Asian Americans, how Black History Month came to be, lesser-known African American and Native American heroes, and disability rights activists. From picture books to young adult titles, more and more books are pulling back the curtain and bringing these stories to light.
 This powerhouse panel covers:
 1. How to find hidden history to present to young readers
 2. How to help readers understand that history is broader than what textbooks and popular media portray
 3. Great examples of books for kids that bring hidden history to life, including a crowd-source booklist from our esteemed panelists and webinar attendees
 4. How to evaluate your collection to make sure you have these books available

You can access the resources referenced in the webinar at our website

we are so very excited to hear from these amazing creators and all of the great books that we're going to talk about today our webinar is being recorded and we will send out the link in follow-up email we'll also be sending a list of all the books that are discussed here today so don't worry about trying to frantically write down all the great titles we do have auto-generated closed captioning enabled if you would prefer not to see the closed captioning you can click the button called live transcripts to turn that off if you have questions for our panelists please use the q a button below we have a staff member keeping an eye on that and we'll try to get to the questions at the end of the webinar if we don't get to your particular question we'll try to answer it by email afterwards if you have any book recommendations about hidden history that you'd like to share with the entire group please feel free to use the chat to do so again we'll collect the details both from our panelists the registrations as well as the chat and put that into a big book list spreadsheet that we can send out after the fact please note that abuse of any kind will not be tolerated and anyone violating this policy will be summarily banned from the webinar i'm sure we don't have to worry about that with this group here if you're live tweeting along we'll be using the hashtag hiddenhistorybooks so please feel free to join the conversation on twitter as well as here in the chat and with that said we'll jump into our discussion first i'll introduce our guests thank you uh to all of you for participating and to their publishers for creating such fantastic books paulie you is a book author screenwriter and musician her latest why a non-fiction book from a whisper to a rallying cry the killing of vincent chin and the trial that galvanized the asian american movement from norton young readers is a junior library guild gold standard selection and has received five star reviews lee wind is the founding blogger and publisher of i'm here i'm queer what the hell do i read an award-winning website about books culture and empowerment for lesbian gay bi trans questioning and queer youth and their allies he is the author of no way they were gay hidden lives and secret loves a junior library guild gold standard selection lee also works for ibpa and scbwi dante is an award-winning author and the illustrator of numerous critically acclaimed books for children he is one of the founding hosts of the blog the brown bookshelf a blog designed to push awareness of the myriad of african american voices writing for young readers with book reviews author and illustrator interviews don frequently speaks at schools public libraries and writing conferences natasha donovan is the illustrator of the award-winning mothers of zan series written by brett husen she also illustrated the graphic novel surviving the city written by tasha spillit which won the manitoba book award and received an american indian youth literature award honor natasha is meti and spent her early life in vancouver british columbia although she moved to the united states to marry a mathematician she prefers to keep her own calculations to the world of color and line annette bay pimentel writes non-fiction books for kids about the people and ideas that have shaped our world annette's picture book biography all the way to the top how one girl's fight for americans with disabilities changed everything written in cooperation with jennifer keelan cheffins won a schneider family book honor from the american library association and both it and girl running were junior library guild selections thank you all so much for being here today our first question how do you find hidden stories or hidden aspects of familiar stories in history to share with young readers lee let's start with you thank you thanks rachel um so yeah when i was in school history was really presented as medicine like it was names and dates to memorize and it never included anybody like me a boy who like liked other boys and was deeply closeted and i just felt like it was um it it excluded me and then in my 20s i went to a talk that was about the letters abraham lincoln wrote joshua fry speed and the speaker was saying that he believed that abraham was in love with joshua and i was completely flabbergasted and i was like wait how is that possible and then i went to the library and i got the letters and i sort of um started i i just had this epiphany this this goosebump moment where abraham lincoln was describing how he felt was exactly how i had felt um you know judging dating girls the right thing but i didn't feel what i was supposed to feel and it was so it was this moment of seeing myself reflected in history someone like me uh a guy that like liked other guys and it was so uh powerful that i just started collecting the stories of mental of men and women who loved women and people who loved without regard to gender and people who lived outside gender boundaries um and then my challenge was like how do i take all these stories and present it not as medicine but as chocolate like really empowering chocolate so that's what i really tried to do with with no way they were gay paula how about you um well growing up uh just as lee said didn't really see a lot of people who looked like me or you know anything that looked like me and it's funny because when you look at my old i was at my mom's house a few years ago and when i looked through the drawings i did when i was five years old you know you saw me at first with black hair you know and it's obvious i identify as who i am korean american but the more i read you start to see as you go through my my sketchbook pictures of me with blonde hair you know and blue eyes and so that that is something i wanted to bring up as to that's an actual traumatic result of when you don't see your own story your own voice in children's literature and in you know young adult books and things like that so likely i'm a little bit self-taught because asian-american pacific islander history is not taught in depth and in fact right now uh illinois was the first state to uh to issue a mandate saying you have to teach asian american history in depth at high schools and uh there's a state senator new york who's doing that and one of the the beyond just drawing pictures of yourself where you don't look like yourself and you lose your sense of identity you now have the statistic that came out that said because of the coveted coronavirus pandemic and the rise in anti-asian uh racism one out of four asian american pacific islander teenagers have reported being either physically or verbally harassed and bullied because of the pandemic and that's why i write these books because i don't want today's kids to have to learn on their own and you know go to the tiny asian bookshelf at your bookstore at the library and just figure it out on your own in your 20s that's ridiculous and if this stuff is taught in schools today uh in more depth not just a paragraph about the inter you know the uh japanese americans being illegally imprisoned during world war ii and things like that we can have more than just a chapter or a couple of paragraphs maybe that statistic would be zero out of four and just talk very quickly i accidentally discovered my first book uh samuel uh 16 years and 16 seconds which was about the first asian american man to win a uh korean-american man to win a gold medal at the olympics even though he was not allowed to swim in his pool he wasn't white found it by accident on the internet and and and i remember thinking to myself how how come no one's ever written about this that's not how you should find your stories you know you shouldn't just find it by accident and i think that's why we're here to discuss that and i'll discuss more later about how i found out about vincent chin but i don't want to take up too much more time so thank you vaughn how do you find your stories to talk about uh you know i get the question a lot and i i wish that i had a more profound answer you know something like my great great grandfather was married to the cousin of the brother of william steele and the diary got passed down through the family until it got to me and i wrote the story it just simply didn't happen that way for me um the truth is most of the subjects that i've written about were suggested to me by writer colleagues i wrote my very first book it just happened when bill trailer started to draw when a writer called colleague diana aston who's a wonderful author and she could have written that story herself she felt like you know this is the story of an african american man this is not my story to tell and so she shared the story with me i was inspired by it and so i wrote the story the same with my book poet the remarkable story of george moses horton was a story that was passed along to me by my friend chris barton chris barton had heard the story of a dorm house in north carolina at the university of chapel hill who was going to name this dorm house after a man who had once been enslaved and worked there george moses horton chris at first was going to write that story but he felt like that was simply not his story to tell and i might make for a better author to tell that story so again i wrote that story what i learned is that these hidden stories are actually everywhere but they're hidden for many reasons some stories simply weren't recorded some stories are fully out there they're not hidden but simply haven't reached you know the right contemporary storyteller to write up that manuscript and bring it to today's readers but oftentimes these stories have been hidden because tellers of history they didn't want them to be told american history isn't always pretty and just like some of the things that are happening today where politicians and legislators are working hard to erase history they deem undesirable or divisive some here history gets hidden intentionally you know i think about these conversations of critical race theory and these discussions about race and the origins of our country as it relates to the enslavement of african-americans and state by state by state these histories are quickly getting legisl so how do i go about finding these stories i keep my ears open i listen and when i come across a subject however i come across it the subject has to speak to me sometimes the subject inspires me sometimes the subject enrages me sometimes it makes me see the world in a whole new way but it it has to be a subject where i simply cannot let that subject go on being hidden for one more day thank you annette how do you find stories to write about yeah so what all the other panelists said really resonates with me sometimes um finding it by chance but i think that the one common denominator and i suspect it's with all of us because we're all non-fiction writers is being willing to really dig into the sources um it's lazy writing to just um to repeat the stories and the assumptions that we come into a project or at least that i come into a project with you know for example um my most recent book is about the americans with disabilities act and i had certain um things that i knew about it like about a senator who really championed it i knew like about the big famous players and i could have written it that way but once i dug into the sources and started reading primary sources and trying to follow those links it leads to other people that aren't the easy and obvious um stories linked to that topic so i think that um sources are ultimately where the best hidden history comes out that's a great point i want to come back to that in just a moment natasha is an illustrator um how do you find these stories to to bring to visual life um wonderful authors bring them to me it's basically my answer um i'm i'm i've just been lucky enough to um have slowly gotten connected to a community of authors who are doing all of this work that that everyone else here is is talking about and um it's a it's a privilege to um have the opportunity to to help bring those to life wonderful i i'd like to follow up a little bit on what annette was describing and can you all talk a little bit about how do you research your topic how did you find primary sources how did you decide what to highlight and i'd like to talk about this both from the author's perspective as well as the illustrator's perspective from natasha and don uh paula would you start us off for that one sure and actually give me two seconds because i have a show and tell uh because i realized i should have had this prepared i'm off to the side just to show you uh two things i want to talk about with reporting for my book uh from a whisper to a rallying cry the killing of vincent chin in the trial that galvanized the asian american movement it's a very famous case it is the first federal civil rights case for an asian american he was killed in 1982 um and his killers got away with three years probation and a three thousand dollar fine each which then led to a federal indictment for uh allegedly um violating his civil rights so when i did it i used to be a journalist used to write for the seattle times the detroit news which is why i knew about the vincent chin story because it happened in michigan and people magazine and one thing i learned was primary resources you know these are i have like 20 binders of every single court transcript you know that i went to the national i went to all the archives did all that i did what is known as as a former reporter boots on the ground reporting i ran i walked down woodward avenue from the nightclub where vincent had met his killers to where he ran to escape them to the mcdonald's down the street and i walked down that street to see what it was like to take notes and to understand what would it be like to run down that street in the middle of the night in 1982 but then the biggest thing i wanted to say was in terms of primary sources not only did i interview people you know at their homes and things like that but i happened to find a source who turned out to be the son of vincent chin's fiance vincent chin's fiance and his family they didn't go to his wedding he was killed on the night of his bachelor party they went to his funeral instead of the wedding and i happened to find uh through another source who said oh you should interview jared lou he is a family member and when you're in detroit you can hire him to be a freelance photographer he's a you know up-and-coming photographer so i met jared and he took some pictures that are in my book and i said corki lee who is a famous uh chinese-american photographer who sadly died uh from covet earlier this year uh he told me uh that you're also a family member would love to interview you and jared looked at me and he said my mom is vicki wong the fiance and it was record scratch okay throwing out everything that i did i gotta start from page one because you are my news you are my book and so he became kind of the guide for the teenager the teenage reader reading this because vincent chin's story alone is a fascinating compelling and amazing story it's like a law and order episode it's it's it's it's an incredible story but it took place in the 80s with you know there were no cell phones people actually printed out flyers um you know uh there were there was no tick tock or social media back then and uh jared as a millennial kind of is the river guide for the teenagers on this story and just going back to the theme very quickly i'll wrap up by saying we're talking about hidden history one of the most moving things about interviewing jared was that he didn't know his mom was engaged to be married to vincent chen he found out 30 years later this was a family secret and so the book has two story lines and one is about jared's journey gathering the courage to tell his mom i know you were traumatized i know that you were triggered by this but we cannot let people forget who vincent chin is this is a this is important for our community so i just i wanted to give you that anecdote to show you that as you report these books are living documents the reporting constantly changes on a dime and what you think is your story may not be your story as long as you keep digging and digging the the deeper you go with primary sources uh the more blessed you'll be with a new direction sometimes i think i hope everybody on twitter is retweeting that these books are living documents i think that's that's so interesting and important and such a strong uh motivation to get it right especially um uh natasha can you talk a little bit about how you did your research particularly for um classified the secret career of mary goldarross cherokee aerospace engineer how do you how do you portray something visually yeah um this was a really interesting one for me because it was um i've done non-fiction picture books before uh but um particularly for the um the mothers series which focuses on keystone species uh but that was all based and and continues to be based in british columbia which is an area that i'm very familiar with um but luckily uh tracy the author um actually went on a little trip to um i believe she went with maybe danielle or carol um to mary's hometown uh the place where she went to school um so they they had they gave me this whole folder full of like uh hundreds of photos of um at mary's hometown um the the school grounds um and then they also went and they they gave me another folder full of pictures from mary's notebooks and she kept really meticulous notes as she was going through school and then starting to work as an engineer so i use those notes to there are some like mathematical formulas that are incorporated into the imagery and i also like read through those notes to find out what were the specific planes that she she worked on what what kinds of contributions can i find in here that could be uh visually portrayed um and then the the most difficult thing as an illustrator for that book was that there was she worked on a lot of secret stuff that there was no photographic evidence and very little written evidence so i had to do a lot of my own research just trying to piece together like you know i knew that this skunk works um where she where she worked with lockheed um that they were actually working in a circus tent but i was trying to find out like does this really look like a circus stance and then eventually yeah like it was a like a stripy circus tent um so yeah and then the question of what to highlight out of all of that it just for me involves finding a balance between direct literal illustration of the text and choosing other imagery that will add to the story without distracting from it don can you tackle this as both an author and an illustrator yeah and um you know every book presents um very unique challenges um you know in regards to research with it just happened the story of outsider artist bill traylor known as one of our country's most important outsider artists bill traylor was born enslaved he was emancipated when he was 10 years old he lived out um you know the remainder of his life on his ex enslavers property working as a sharecropper by the time he was in his eighties he decided to move away from the farm and he moved to the nearby city of montgomery and he became homeless and to recall his past he started drawing pictures on the back of trash now i did not have photos to work from they didn't have iphone cameras back then um i did not have bill trailer writings that i could depend on um because he could not even read or write still i was able to use a very important primary source um which was the hundreds and hundreds of pieces of artwork that he created over the four years that he was a homeless street artist his artwork told the story of his life while he was enslaved his art served as a visual journal now skipping ahead to william steele and his freedom stories the father of the underground railroad william steele was a black abolitionist who helped hundreds of enslaved people who were running away from slavery he created copious detailed notes about each and every person as they pass through his office he recorded their stories whether they were a man or a woman a boy or girl their ages who had enslaved them and where were they trying to go thankfully at least one of those journals and it was called the journal sea of the underground railroad um which still preserved by hiding it in a cemetery vault had been preserved by the historical society of pennsylvania um and so you know when i when it came to illustrating this story you know one of the things about an illustrator is that you know we don't have and especially on the topic of slavery we don't necessarily know what an individual person was wearing on a particular day so i'm just going to like flip through any any page here this is a page where william still is at the pennsylvania anti-slavery society office i don't have a photograph of what that would have looked like but i can study books of the time period i can study artwork and you know of the time period i can um oftentimes i'll look at movies that have been made of that time period um during the time that i was researching this book harriet um was showing at all of the the the the theaters and i remember one of the interesting things about that is that william still asked portrayed in the movie was a sharp dressing man and my wife left the movie theater and she says william still he sure dressed sharp and i said you know what though i don't think that they quite got that right because william still was not paid very well at the anti-slavery society office so he probably wasn't wearing all those fancy suits that we saw in the movies um but you know i do my research um it is also so important that you know um that you find that being that diary that autobiography letters poems artwork um you know again and the challenge is for the illustrator is that we don't necessarily know what a person you know was wearing or what things looked like or what an office looked like but we can do our research and we can make that educated guess thank you annette can you expand a little bit on what you said previously about how you find your sources and i think the um the particular situation with all the way to the top is really interesting because you worked with the primary source which is not always possible yeah yeah i'd love to do that yeah so my my book all the way to the top is very based on interviews um in a slightly different way than paula was talking about because paula was interviewing a range of people to try to piece together the details of what happened my book is written from the point of view of jennifer's experience and what happened is as i was um digging into the sources to i knew that i wanted to write about the americans with disabilities act because i've seen it transform our country in ways that i didn't think kids would really understand had happened and so i started digging into the sources and i discovered accounts of the capitol crawl where disability rights activists came together and those who were mobility impaired climbed up the steps of the capitol to demonstrate just how inaccessible government buildings were um and i discovered that one of those activists was an eight-year-old girl and her story really galvanized the press was fascinated by her and um she was on the front page of newspapers she was on tv and all of the publicity about that event was part of what pressured and spurred congress to pass the americans with disabilities act so i am not a person currently with disabilities um and so i faced that issue that i thought this was a story that really should be told but not my story and so i contacted jennifer and we discussed like how could this story come to children and we eventually decided that we would partner together in that through interviews that i would tell the story from her point of view um one other source that i've used both in all the way to the top in my others but other books is photographs and it was interesting to hear natasha and dawn talk about how they used images in their art but photographs are also really valuable for people when you're writing about events and people that you know weren't the front page story because you can look at the photographs and start to discover things about the other people that were involved in the event and about the context and situation and i found that really valuable i love finding stashes of photographs related to my topic that's that's super interesting and lee i know you've got some photos in no way they were gay as well as lots of other primary sources can you talk a little bit about your research process absolutely yeah and it's interesting because when we talk about history being hidden um to riff off of what annette was saying um a lot of times photos are mislabeled so there was an amazing photo of eleanor roosevelt who's one of the people featured in my book because of her love affair with lorena hickok there is a photo on ap of eleanor and lorena um but they mislabeled it and they say eleanor dining with her secretary and lorena was never eleanor's secretary um so it's fascinating to see those sort of to find those moments and um to sort of recognize that we really do need to dig deeper so like finding the stories one of the funny things about controversy is that it gets attention so um joseph lovelyveld is this pulitzer prize-winning biographer and he um wrote a book on gandhi that got banned in india and there was a new york times article on it so i read the article and i was like wait what is this book and it turns out that it was banned because it mentioned that the love of her of um mahatma gandhi's life was actually not his wife casterba who he married at age 13. so child weddings aside um you know the love of his life the soul mate of his life was actually this german jewish architect this guy herman collinbach and so i was so intrigued so i got the book and it's this incredibly massive you know 400 page book for adults um and i there was a two pages where he talked about indeed the soul mate of of his life was was herman and then i was like okay so then i went to the back and i looked at the the sources and i was like okay i need to find the letters and it turns out that all of gandhi's letters are in the public domain and available online to download and this is my printout and in fact it's amazing because when you set aside the hundreds of years of historians that have sort of denied it and you go right to it and you read you know this is an april 17 1914 letter that um gandhi wrote khalenbach and it says if i can lie on a stone bed and you cannot you shall certainly have a mattress underneath and though you may lift a 10-stone weight i shall certainly not attempt to do any such thing myself and still not feel ashamed to be your companion i shall put up with you and love you just the same non-withstanding what you may call your limitations even as you have to do likewise to me we can therefore but go forward as far as our legs can carry us and no farther and still be together one soul and two bodies so those those are the moments i wanted to include in the book and i wanted to make my book as much as possible here are the primary sources let's look at them set aside everything that you've been hearing i'll share my interpretation and i don't i think also about like we don't have to convince people that i feel like i don't have to convince everyone that i'm right about history and they're wrong about history i just want to shine a light on what i discovered because it's so exciting and for me those moments of surprise um you know like no way they were gay and no way they were gay like i just i kept saying it and finally i was like you know that's like probably a really good title for the book well that leads really well into the next question you know what what do you all hope that readers the both the adults maybe who are reading um books everyone that's represented here does right for children but many of them um can skew a little bit older even in into the adults what what do you hope that readers take away from your stories um don can you start us off for that one i want my readers to know the truth um and you're exactly right about you know to the victors belong the spoils this idea of african-american and native american and people of color you know their stories being hijacked or hidden or buried or lied about this is not something new retelling history i imagine has happened all throughout history um and i wanted to talk a little bit about carter reads the newspaper which is the story of carter g woodson known as father of black history month he knew that when he founded the association for the study of african-american life in history he conducted ground-breaking research and worked tirelessly tirelessly to fight against the idea that african americans had no history he believed in raising the high standard of the truth he believed in teaching the whole truth would help in the direction of a real democracy he too believed in supporting diverse books way before all of this talk about diverse books he said of books by african americans ask repeatedly for such books and show that there is a demand for them so i hope that what readers will take away is the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth um and i even have a problem with authors oftentimes who likes take history and fictionalize it and i know that's a whole genre but i have a huge problem with that mini series that's on tv now about the underground railroad um i understand the authors being creative but it worries me that a whole generation of people are going to watch that underground railroad mini series and think that the underground railroad is a real train that happened during the civil war um so again i'm just i'm all about the truth you're here annette what do you hope readers take away from your stories yeah so i'm interested but i totally agree with dawn and with you that often it's the victors who write history but i have kind of a sub a specialty of writing about laws that have passed and so in a way i'm writing about the victors but there are people who were involved in that who have totally been forgotten so often whatever was the face of a social movement people assume that that's what the history is and i think that we lose a ton of nuance and a ton of appreciation for how diversity strengthens our country so i'll just give you the couple examples so my first book which actually won the carter g woodson awards um so i love don's book um with mountain chef and it's about an asian american uh trail chef who helped lobby for the national park service act and things that had been written about it before were about the white male who us who had the idea but he did not do that by himself there were many many people many who are still unknown and probably will never be known who helped to get us national parks and he was just one of them and similarly all the way to the top it's about a lot that did pass so it's about um you know victoria's history but there are it wasn't just the senator who introduced the bill who who brought these changes that make our communities more accessible and inclusive and so what i hope people what i hope children will realize is that they are they have the ability to nudge the world in new directions that it's not just famous people rich people white people men that that there are many people who come together to work on social issues and that their what their contributions are meaningful and valuable lee you touched on this a little bit um what are you hoping that readers take away yeah absolutely i just i want to say after annette yeah yes exactly uh you know it's not it's not just the famous people but sometimes it's also the famous people whose stories have been hidden um and so for me i what i'm really hoping is that we have been we have been sold a bill of goods and it is not a good bill you know history has been sanitized for the protection of the people in power we we are presented in schools students are presented with this false facade of history that says that basically history is the story of rich white straight cisgendered able-bodied men from europe um and that is just patently untrue um it is it is ridiculous to think that the only important things in history happened were happened because of the that small group of people who were the people in power so when you start to look into these stories and you start to discover that there were men who loved men and women who loved women and people who loved without regard to gender and people who lived outside gender boundaries like abraham lincoln and the letters to joshua fry speed like eleanor roosevelt loving lorena hickok like the pharaoh had chepset who changed their gender over the course of 22 years in terms of how they presented um from from that of presenting as a woman to presenting as sort of an in-between gender to presenting completely as a man um while ruling egypt when you start to look at the that those cracks in the facade when we when we tear down the facade when if it's when the sod crumbles it not only lets the light of history shine on on the queer history but it lets us have access to recognize that that facade has kept us from seeing the stories of women and the stories of disabled people and the stories of asian people and black people and indigenous people and all people of color and everybody right like when we take down that false facade it empowers us all and i have a great quote from byrd rustin who became my total hero he was openly gay black man in the civil rights movement he's the gentleman that taught martin luther king jr about the principles of non-violent protest he's chapter four in my book and he said um be i he was asked by uh what advice would he have for another gay black activist and he said the most important thing i have to say is that they should try to build coalitions of people for the elimination of all injustice because if we want to do away with the injustice to gays it will not be done because we get rid of the injustice to gaze it will be done because we are forwarding the effort for the elimination of injustice to all and we will win the rights for gays or blacks or hispanics or women within the context of whether we are fighting for all i love that yeah we all have to we all we're all in this together right right paula what are uh what are you hoping that readers take away from your books okay um before i get into that question i have been noticing some things in the chat and wanted to bring up something that don brought up earlier um there is an apple tv series called for all mankind you know one of a friend of mine is an actress in it great show it's about we lost the space race it's alternative history you know the underground railroad i'm a huge colson whitehead fan uh you know it's these alternative histories and historical fiction and i'm seeing in the comments a lot of but you know sometimes that can lead students to being curious and finding out what's the real story and yes i completely understand that but i just want to bring up a comparison um we know we won the space race because we have been taught that that has been crammed down her throats every day from k through 12 we know about the landing on the moon right so when when you're a teenager and you see for all mankind you know it's historical fiction you know it's an alternate universe because our histories are hidden and nobody knows about us we're not on a level playing field yet so for and i'm all for historical fiction of marginalized what you know we we have every right to do our version of that as well but we need to also focus and level the playing field so kids know both they know the truth before they actually see the fictional retelling of it that that is the distinction you know that's why we're having this panel and uh to talk a little bit more about your question um i also saw on the chat that people sometimes say well picture books when you write children's books those aren't taken as seriously and they should because one of the reasons why i wrote the sammy lee book and the anime wong book and my book on muhammad yunus who won the 2006 uh nobel peace prize is because i write about emotionally what happened to them when they were marginalized when they were treated badly and how that affected them how did they their resilience their strength the fact that sammy lee couldn't use the town pool in 1932 in pasadena pasadena california because he wasn't white i just thought on a hot it gets it's hot right it's going to be 90 degrees in california today it gets hot especially in pasadena being a 12 year old kid behind the bars all the other kids are swimming and you can't what is your that that emotion is truth and that's why picture book biographies and non-fiction picture books are just as vital in terms of academic research on history and should be taught because that emotion is what inspires those kids to become the people that they are today the how they overcome you know these obstacles to be the heroes that they are today um and i do want to talk a little bit very quickly about my vincent chin book in my vincent chin book uh vincent chin who was adopted his great-great-grandfather was a chinese laborer on the railroads in the 1800s so throughout my book i also drop in easter eggs about asian american pacific islander history that relates to vincent shin because that way teachers and students can go oh i want to now learn more about the railroads and to give you an example in the 1800s the chinese laborers were told to carry the dynamite because dynamite was very volatile back then it would explode if you'd be just a tiny stumble you could blow up into a million bits and the reason why they had the chinese laborers carry the dynamite was they were expendable they were cheap labor the white laborers were more valuable so in 1896 when the continental railroad from the east coast and the west coast met in the middle that famous photo where everyone's standing there with the golden spike to put it in if you look at that photo look it up not a single chinese laborers in there they estimate tens to thousands of chinese laborers died making this railroad and vin shin's great great grandfather was one of them i mean he didn't die he ended up going back to china but he was one of the people that risked his lives so corki lee who i mentioned earlier corki lee uh was a famous chinese-american photographer who is known as the unofficial asian american photo laureate because he has been documenting contemporary asian american history events for the past 50 years and he recreated that photo about four or five years ago there's a documentary about it and he got all the grandchildren and the sons and the daughters and the relatives of all those chinese laborers to recreate the photo so we had to reclaim our own history our own asian american history this was like five six years ago that's ridiculous kids should know about this stuff and uh to just and i mentioned before um corky died of cobit 19 in january and and he shouldn't have and that should and uh with i'm getting emotional just just the fact that we're having to correct and fix this now it's 2021 i'm a gen xer i thought by now i wouldn't have to write these books it's a no it's it's it's it angers me it really angers me and um you know and so i i just wanted to show that and also the last thing i'll say about uh vincent shin is that there's been a lot of awareness of asian american pacific islanders especially because of the coronavirus i myself and my family have been victims i've been coughed at i've been blamed for this virus um i um have experienced racism my whole life um and uh when atlanta happened and i don't want to start crying but when those eight innocent beautiful people were killed six of whom were asian american women uh four american and we were told just like vincent chin oh this isn't a racist hate crime it's a crime of misogyny and sexism that angered me so much right now the prosecutor is pursuing racist hate crimes which is good but on the day that it happened i could not breathe because i have never experienced sexism and uh misogyny as an asian-american woman it's always rooted in racism and the fact that 2021 we still don't know that and that mirrored what happened in the vincent chin case because the vincent chin case happened in the 1980s when there was a lot of anti-asian sentiment because of nissan and datsun and honda and the japanese import cars kind of decimating the american auto industry and instead of the american auto industry saying hey we just had two oil crisis we had a second oil crisis you know there's a recession maybe we shouldn't be making big giant gas guzzlers maybe we should do what the japanese and the europeans are doing with their import making smaller more fuel-efficient cars instead of being accountable they blame japan and then that led to anti-asian bashing uh there was a politician in my book who claimed who called honda the little yellow people he later apologized for it he never should have said it in the first place and that is so hauntingly similar to what's happening today with us and coronavirus and the pandemic and atlanta and and all of this so to me this isn't history this is still happening and everyone's like oh asian americans you're finally fighting back my book shows we've been fighting back for centuries one of the first strikes one of the biggest labor strikes was the railroad workers in the 1800s and the miners the other thing that happened was there are pictures of asian american activists fighting with marching arm-in-arm with black panthers in the 1960s you know in the 1980s nationwide protests for vincent chin we've been here this whole time for centuries we've been fighting we've been speaking but because our voices have been erased no one has been listening and that's why i'm so grateful that we're having this hidden history panel because we're not hiding anymore and i really do think that we've hit another seminal point in all of our histories where there's no turning back so thank you i think that's such excellent context for you know the the dangers of this fictionalized history and really really speaks to the need to introduce these topics for children for all the way you know picture books and up um so natasha can you talk a little bit about what you're hoping readers take away especially from the visual elements that you bring into tracy's book classified um yeah i i i think that we do kids an enormous disservice when we assume that we have to simplify history and present it as um you know just one one perspective one objective truth um i want books like like uh classified to offer some respect to children i think that they have an enormous capacity for um critical thought and compassion and uh understanding of this you know huge variety of of stories that exist in the world um so i i think that that we owe that to kids um uh yeah i hope that's what we offer yeah i think going back to what you said earlier that you know you include really complicated mathematical equations in the illustrations just again respecting children's uh capability of understanding how complex what it was that she was doing by showing it not just saying it um sort of uh dovetailing off of that how would you encourage librarians teachers parents to avoid erasure unintentional or otherwise in their classrooms libraries and curriculums how do you how do you help you know hope that they will find these books and natasha will start with you this time um yeah i was thinking a lot about this question um over the past few weeks there's been this i don't know what the american awareness of this story is but there's been the story unfolding in canada where these um basically mass graves are are being uncovered in various residential schools um properties residential schools which by the way were in operation of until 1996 um and i was thinking about but these the these missing children were were general knowledge to indigenous peoples in canada but they it's come as a shock to a lot of non-indigenous populations in canada um i was thinking a lot about about how i learned about residential schools as a kid and it wasn't through through my school um it wasn't through that happening upon these books and in the library or through my teachers so what i would love would be for educators and and librarians and parents to keep up with um the perspectives that are being put out there i think it's a it's really easy to follow a bunch of uh small indie publishers and creators on twitter and uh you can learn a lot about what's what's being what stories are being told that you might not otherwise know about and for those to just be prominently displayed somewhere that would be such a huge difference from from what i grew up with um uh yeah that's great there's some commentary in the chat for uh from vegelina i'm sorry if i mispronounced that um making as an education librarian making sure that the collection is more diverse so that pre-service teachers just get used to seeing this kind of diverse library as a straight expectation for going forward and then they will in turn help expose the next generation of readers to that um don how about you any recommendations for teachers or librarians or parents to find untold stories you know what this is i'm totally at a loss on this on this particular one i don't feel like i have an answer for this because this is not my specialty my specialty is writing and illustrating illustrating the books um uh the subject is like way above my pay grade uh but one idea that i do have is that teachers librarians refuse to lie the young people about u.s history uh and current events even though although our politicians and our legislators are trying to get you to do that don't lie to children um there was an interesting article in school library journal this week that speaks to the topic and i have it over here it's called as more states consider legislation to restrict teaching about racism educators are fighting back by christina joseph and i encourage you to take a look at that article it has some some answers that are that i certainly couldn't come up with myself i think this is a good chance probably to plug all of our authors here follow them on social media follow their newsletters check out their websites um they would certainly be able to tell you about their own books that are coming out and we've established that they're all five working um to fix this uh this area where there um has not been as much stories being told uh lee any suggestions from you and we're also fans of each other's work so um yeah so i have two two things the first is to really be thoughtful about language so um being gay i really feel like the word homosexual is not helpful to the queer community because it makes everyone focus on sex uh and and that that's what makes peop queer people different um and i think if instead we focused on love if the word was homolovial uh and we were talking about homolovial history i think we would be having very different conversations homolovial rights and so i think that because we buy into this thing of homosexuality anybody thinks that you know a book for kids that includes queer characters or themes is suddenly talking to kids about sex and that's not really what it is it's you know talking about love and talking about identity those are things you can talk to kids you know from from birth right like there should be board books and there are uh some and that's what i've been blogging about for the last 13 years that i'm here i'm clear what the hell do i read so i think that if we can shift that focus then we can recognize that talking about love talking about identity um is completely appropriate for kids and for the youngest kids and you know you look at countries like russia that have made it illegal to talk about um gay people in a positive light in fact tennessee has tried a few times to pass a very similar law um and it's it there are echoes of the same patterns of ways that our culture tries to put down um people of color ways that they try to keep down women ways they try to keep down uh queer people there are similar tactics being used and that's why we all need to stand up together the other thing i wanted to share is that i think you should consider that um there are books that are lighthouses and there are books that sort of carry lanterns within them so my book which is festooned with a gay pride rainbow flag and has the word gay on the cover is a lighthouse and just having this on a shelf in the library on display um that is a message to all those kids that oh this is a safe space or oh the librarian is a safe person um and that can make a huge difference but there are also books like i'm thinking of kathleen krull um who recently passed away um in her lives of the artists series the lives of series and she has won lives of the artist and in it she talks about michelangelo being a man that loved another man um and that's great that it got this one sentence message mentioned in that book but it's like there's a lantern inside that book right and there are some librarians from really conservative areas and they've asked me you know like how do i how do i incorporate this um in my library when i'm i i'm feeling so under the microscope so that's why it's really important for books like these to get but you know um trade book reviews um which mine has uh you know but but like also just just sort of librarians sometimes need you know cover right they so so look to the books that include both fiction and non-fiction books that include marginalized characters books that include history and then also look for the lighthouses because you need to have some lighthouses there for for the kids not just about queer history but about all of our histories that is such a great framework to to think about books in that way um annette do you have any uh great ways for teachers and librarians to find these books well this is not the ultimate solution but i think checklists are really really powerful and can help you find your own blind spots so checklist about what books to buy for your collection what books to display and make sure that you are being uh being broadly diverse both we need to first look in books and lean low have really helpful checklists that's a great idea and i i think all of the book suggestions that we're gathering from the panelists and the attendees will serve as a wonderful checklist for this particular area uh paula how about you any any great sources you can point us to uh everyone's already brought up stuff that i wanted to bring up so thank you and just beautiful uh language here with the lighthouse and the lantern i have one word and a couple more my one word is vote let's take a step back and look at let's look at the bigger picture here don talked earlier about that important article we should be reading critical race theory is becoming a big flashpoint uh controversial debate happening in our country what's disturbing to me what is incredibly disturbing to me is our education is becoming politicized the truth is being politicized which means it's no longer the truth and we have young lives in our hands so find out who your local representatives are not just where i'm president biden you know like whoever the president is yes vote there but vote your city council your town council i i don't care if you come from a town of 13 people vote for that one mayor you know the kid mayor running for your small town vote uh find out where your politicians stand on education you know this this we're at a crucial point it's it's no joking around we are at a crucial point with education and um so i just think that all of these suggestions are great but you have to vote and the other thing i wanted to say was if you vote also find out which politicians which state senators which congress people uh who whoever your local politicians are find out what their stance is on paying teachers and librarians more i can't tell you how many times i go to the american the ala or or the ir the radius of the teaching i go to all these events and i've seen librarians and teachers they go by the lean low booth or the norton booth or the harper and they go oh my god these books are so great can't buy anything right now because you know i have to buy it it's just my money you know i i make x amount of money a year i can only afford 50 bucks worth but we should be paying teachers and librarians more so they can be more empowered and they can set up how they want to tell the truth if they aren't even given the resources how can you and i want to say i'm a half glass full person i will always be a half glass full person um lately it's been getting a little iffy for me and i think it's not that i'm becoming a half glass half empty you know i'm always half full but lately i've been like where's the water how can i fill my glass if i don't even have access to water so sorry i'm getting all this this panel's just empowering me everyone vote pay teachers and librarians more that's how we get the truth out there i can hear the entire audience is cheering and screaming along with this and i think that's a great point because they're local you know we hear so much about what's going on at the national level which is all which is important and it's important to be aware of that but the the local and the state level governments is really what's making a difference in terms of policy in terms of funding and in terms of um you know access to these books within the school system you know that kind of education is really local um and all the way up to the state government so those are really great points i see people in the chat just going crazy over all of this so thank you for that um i'm going to try and keep us roughly on time so i'm going to skip to a couple of audience questions that i thought were really interesting um one of them is how do you keep from being overwhelmed by all of the information that you uncover and then narrowing it down to fit into a book for kids um anyone want to take that to start annette you start out being overwhelmed yeah and then and then you have to find uh you have to i think of it as the golden thread that i'm always looking for that you know i know that there are multiple stories that could be told about all of these people but what's the golden thread that that i ca i connect to and you know i've written a couple of books about people not in my ethnic group which um sold a long time ago and which i wouldn't do anymore but there are connections that i have for example um mountain chef i'm a westerner this is about western lands i have a book coming out that sold many years ago but coming out this fall about puerto bell prey and how she started bilingual story time so my my book that golden thread in there is what bilingual story times are they were really important to my family but yeah so i think that um finding the golden thread is really important and you start out being overwhelmed lee i i can add to that a little bit um i kept telling myself i'm not writing an encyclopedia um what i was hoping to do is to have the reader mirror my own experience of being fascinated and excited and sort of like it's an introduction to not just the stories of mental of men and women who love women and people who loved without regard to gender and people who lived outside your gender boundaries but it's an it's an introduction to this whole world of the history beyond the facade right like it's and and i viewing it that way kind of took the pressure off and i actually had an opportunity to have i used to have 15 chapters and now it has 12 but that was because i didn't want that i didn't want to remove the heart of the book which was really the primary sources and we were limited to a certain page count so it ended up being 12 chapters because those could be packed with the stuff i didn't want it to just be shakespeare wrote 126 love sonnets to another guy here's one there are like four of them in there and we really go into it and we analyze them and so for me that was really important um the other thing for me in terms of overwhelm was recognizing that because it's a book written for young kids um well really ages 11 and up um the challenge was that some of them wouldn't have a base understanding um but some would right like some people would know what lgbtqia2plus meant and some wouldn't and i just was wrestling with this so much and then i realized um the book is a funny structure it has two introductory chapters one is the regular introduction which sort of talks about how history of queer people have been you know hidden and destroyed and coded and then the other introductory chapter is called good stuff to know before you dive in and it's a chapter that you can kind of skip if you if you know it all but it does have those things about like let's talk about the difference between gender and affective orientation and you know what are all those letters of the acronym mean um and it's been interesting because in the reviews i i've gotten a lot of really positive feedback for that sort of level setting that like here's a really you know loving way to introduce people to the basics and then you can go on from there so for me that was sort of the two-part thing like i didn't have to say everything and let me help get everyone up to a certain level of understanding great point does anybody else want to talk about how do you how do you filter all of the information that you get we have timing and net use annette used the word golden thread and i i i um i use the word big idea um so as i research i find all of these interesting things about the person and i'm and my first inclination is to put all that stuff into the story and oftentimes in those first few drafts i do put all that stuff into the story and then i stand up and i i i read my manuscript out loud as though i'm reading to a group of six-year-olds and i realize that i'm not going to hold their attention with all this stuff in the story so once i figure out what the main message what is the big idea behind this story if a piece of research that i found fits into that big idea it goes into the story and if it doesn't it's just going to drag my story down maybe it goes into the back matter maybe it goes into a teaching guide that i make available as a free download on my website or maybe it just goes just completely kicked out of the story because the main thing is that i want to introduce my younger readers to a topic and then they can do their own research and discover more information about that person leave everybody wanting a little bit more uh natasha or paula anything to add to that um oh go ahead oh um okay well i'll just say uh agree with all of this i think it's also for me it's always about emotion because i use uh i write novels and i'm also a tv writer that's my that's my day job uh so i do a lot of screenplays for hollywood and it's always about emotion at the end of the day you know it's never about superman it's about clark kent you know just small small you know small town young man trying to make it big in the city says superman that we care more about clark kent than and his emotional journey and the secret he carries than we do superman actually so i always look at that with narrative nonfiction at least of who are my main characters even though this is the truth how they start out one way there's an obstacle how they overcome that obstacle or even if they don't that journey how are they changed forever and what they did how did that change history forever by what they tried to do we lost the vincent chin case they ultimately the guilty verdict was reversed we lost it but yet vincent chin his name and legacy live on you know so in other words you know it's about emotion for me every single and even for explanatory type books too which are very very important too because not all kids can read or prefer learning through narratives some sometimes they want a non-narrative book and it's very important still within those books there's a beginning middle and end of emotion you know there's you know the cicada and how after 17 years it pops out you know what's the you know oh i've been sleeping for 17 years i'm awake so i mean it's it's i think that i think especially for children and for teenagers they're just one giant vat of emotion that's you know that's how you reach them so that's always that's kind of the colander where i have all the stuff and everything that falls through the holes what remains is always the heart that's a great way to put it natasha um yeah i mean i don't have a lot to add but i guess um i'm autistic so i spend a lot of time um a lot of my life is spent feeling overwhelmed and trying to filter through all of the overwhelm into the stuff that makes sense um so over time that has just become this intuitive i think like paula very emotional practice that i take into my work fabulous thanks i'm gonna pull up um for our panelists or for our attendees here is how you can connect with all of our panelists i really encourage you follow them on social media find their websites many of them have newsletters to sign up for um they are great and well connected within the kidlit community um i just want to say thank you so much to all of our panelists this has been such a wonderful discussion we so appreciate all of the great suggestions that have come in um i also encourage everyone to visit our landing page which is hidden history um we also have links to everybody um on there and we will post in a day or two the book list of all the recommendations that have come in um and you can sign up for a newsletter to get invited to future webinars we want to keep hosting more conversations like this because they are so important and we will send out the book list and um a link to the recording in a couple of days um so you can share it with anyone who wasn't able to attend live um so i'll just give everybody put us back on video we'll have a chance to say thank you so much for participating thank you to all of you for sharing your stories this has just been really really wonderful and i so appreciate all the work that you're putting out in the world thank you everyone rachel wonderful thank you so much and get get the other panelists books like i do get all the books they'll be in book list thank you