Author Archives: Jacqueline Houtman

CCBC Choices Winner

The winner of a stack of CCBC Choices (5 issues: 2011-2015) is:

Deborah L. Sebree

Congratulations, Deborah!

Reply to the message in your email inbox so I can send them to you.

The Cooperative Children’s Book Center

When you read an article like this about diversity in children’s literature, you are likely to see statistics cited. Those statistics often come from the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, or CCBC, which has been tracking trends in children’s literature, with a special emphasis on diversity, for decades.

Multicultural Stats Graphic 2002-2014 (1)

The CCBC is a research library on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus devoted to books for children and young adults. For over fifty years, the CCBC has been serving the University community as well as teachers, librarians, and book lovers statewide.

If you are in Madison, you can visit the CCBC and wander aimlessly through the stacks or you can have one of the very helpful librarians help you find what you are looking for.  You can attend book discussions and presentations by the very helpful librarians, and lectures by famous writers and illustrators. For example, the Charlotte Zolotow Lecture  is held every fall. Past lecturers included Judy Blume, Lois Lowry, and Rita Williams-Garcia. Some of the lectures have been archived on video. This year’s lecture will be presented by Yuyi Morales.

The CCBC has recently moved to a larger space. They took their old friend Paul Bunyan with them.

Paul Bunyan closeup

He’s been in the CCBC, wherever it’s been located, since 1963.

There’s a new feature in the new space, a mural based on Lois Ehlert’s Planting a Rainbow. (Since it’s on window instead of a wall, should it be called a fenestral?)

CCBC flower wall

If you find yourself in Madison, check out the CCBC, but there’s one thing you can’t do at this library—check out books.

Even if you can’t get there in person, you can still use many of the resources at the CCBC. One of the most unique is the online exhibit of drafts of Ellen Raskin’s Newbery-award-winning book The Westing Game, along with notes, galleys, and an audio recording of Raskin talking about the manuscript.  It provides a wonderful insight into the writing and book design process.

One of the most popular resources is CHOICES, the annual best-of-the-year book published by the CCBC. Each issue of CHOICES includes an essay on that year’s publishing trends, a description of each book (there are 259 in this year’s issue), and author/title/illustrator and subject indexes. You can get the list of this year’s books here.  If you want to get your hands on the book itself, go here (or enter the giveaway at the end of this post).

choices 2015

 

The Charlotte Zolotow Award is presented by the CCBC every year and recognizes outstanding writing in picture books for children.

On the website, you will find pages full of information about Harry Potter and graphic novels. There are videos highlighting great new bookspodcastswebcasts, and interviews. The carefully curated bibliographies and booklists cover a wide range of topics from poetry to bullying to food. And don’t miss the CCBlogC for the latest news and books.

The CCBC provides services to Wisconsin librarians and teachers who are facing book challenges.  There are also resources for anyone dealing with intellectual freedom issues.

Many of the activities of the CCBC are supported by the Friends of the CCBC. The Friends help out with the publication of CHOICES, the events and awards, and with outreach by the librarians.  And the book sale. Oh, the book sale! The CCBC receives thousands of books each year. Even in the new, bigger space, they can’t keep them all.  Twice a year, the Friends sell the extra books to raise funds for their activities.  A couple of weeks ago, I scored a grocery bag full of some great books at the spring sale. I also picked up five issues of CHOICES (2011-2015) to send to one lucky winner. Enter here:

A RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY

Jacqueline Houtman has used the collection at the CCBC to study books with autistic characters while she was working on The Reinvention of Edison Thomas, and to study biographies for young people while she was working on Bayard Rustin: The Invisible Activist.  She served on the Board of Directors of the Friends of the CCBC  for three years. 

Let your Mouse do the Walking

While working on my latest book, I spent many hours wandering around the Library of Congress. Well, not literally, but I did spend a lot of time here.

Maybe I’m showing my age with that old Yellow Pages slogan “Let your fingers do the walking,” but the concept is the same. Nothing beats in-person research, but it may not be possible, depending on your work or family responsibilities, financial situation, or another reason.

Research is important, and it’s easy to do it from your home, with the help of the Internet. Whether you are writing nonfiction or fiction, you need to do your research for a thorough knowledge of your subject matter, to get the details right, or even for inspiration.

Who can look at this photograph taken by Dorothea Lange and not be moved?
Lange

Digital archives lets you travel back in time

wright brothers

Digital archives take you to places you’ve never been.

grand canyon

Sometimes digital archives collect the photos and documents you need and put them into a special collection. Sometimes, they assemble primary sources into lesson plans for teachers.

Bus suggestions

As more and more states, communities, and organizations digitize their collections, it is becoming easier and easier to lose yourself in them. Luckily, many are searchable, and handwritten documents are being transcribed by volunteers so they will be more easily searched.

I urge you to check out the archives associated with the place or time you are studying, teaching, or writing  about. Some of my favorite archives (aside from the Library of Congress) include The Smithsonian Institution and the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission, which collected information on outside agitators activists in Mississippi during the Civil Rights Movement.

Other sources I like to use for research include Open Culture, a collection of public domain books, movies, classes, and more; Project Gutenberg, a collection of public domain ebooks that are searchable (useful when you need to find a particular passage from Uncle Tom’s Cabin or Doctor Dolittle or Alice in Wonderland);  and of course Google Maps, whose street view feature lets you walk through any town in the world. For example, here’s an image of the apartment building where my husband and I lived in France. It’s not exactly like visiting there in person, but it’s a lot cheaper.

Villeurbanne

Then there are the archives that are a little more esoteric.

Restaurant menus

UFO sightings

Historic children’s literature

Mormon missionary diaries

Postcards from North Carolina

All things medical

Historic advertisements

Radio Shack catalogs going back to 1939

Historic European newspapers

Broadway Playbills

This site describes some fascinating digital library collections.

To get started, here is a listing of hundreds of digital archives, organized by state, as well as directories to help you get lost in find even more.

What are your favorite digital sources and how do you use them? Share in the comments.

 

Jacqueline Houtman is the author of the award-winning middle-grade novel The Reinvention of Edison Thomas (Boyds Mills Press 2010) and coauthor of Bayard Rustin: The Invisible Activist, a biography for young (and not so young) readers (Quaker Press 2014).