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Lights in the Darkness: Adventures in Learning with Grace Lin

Children's picture books are one of our greatest treasures! Grace Lin won the American Library Association's Legacy Award this year and has been a persistent advocate for diversity and representation on children's book shelves, in libraries and classrooms, and even in museum exhibits. Her beautiful books draw on her Asian American heritage to reweave myths and folk literature, to share stories of families engaged in every day life, and to lift and inspire children and adults everywhere. Join us as we talk about the importance of diverse picture books, Grace's Legacy Award speech, fighting book banning, the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, and the joy of creating and building connections. It is an honor to welcome Grace Lin to Episode 13 of the Adventures in Learning podcast.

What follows are excerpts from our full conversation, with some annotations and stories as well. Join me as we get to know children's book author and illustrator (and entertaining and insightful podcast host) -- and all around interesting and gracious human, Grace Lin.

How I Met Grace --
And How Incredibly Fortunate We Are to Welcome Her To This Space

I was fortunate enough to meet Grace Lin at the Shenandoah University Children's Literature Conference in 2017. I was presenting a workshop in the afternoon and she was the keynote speaker. I was fortunate enough to be seated next to her at lunch, and have seldom enjoyed an hour of someone's company more. During that hour I was struck by Grace's genuine concern for ensuring that all children have opportunities to see themselves reflected in the books they are reading. It would not be an understatement to say that our conversation forever reshaped the approach I take in centering diverse books in my college classes, workshops, and programs. Since that time, I have incorporated Grace's Ted Talks, speeches, and various picture books and novels into the work I share with librarians, teachers, and students. Most recently, I have followed her podcasts with great interest, and was thrilled when she was recognized for her body of work with the ALA Legacy Award. It was a joy when she agreed to be interviewed for this podcast and blog. I hope you enjoy the conversation that follows -- and that it gives you food for thought and a reason to act to ensure that diverse books are accessible and available for all children.

Windows, Mirrors, and Sliding Glass Doors (Thank You, Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop) and How Children's Literature Can Change Our Lens

We began our conversation by focusing in on the work of Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop and the power that children's literature can have to provide mirrors in which children see their own experiences and cultures reflected, windows in which they are able to experience and empathize with someone else's experiences, and sliding glass doors in which the book/character/situation has the power to provide a transformative experience for the reader. In 2016, Grace delivered a powerful TEDx Talk: The Windows and Mirrors of Your Child's Bookshelf, which has generated nearly 250,000 views. I asked Grace to share why windows and mirrors are so important.

[00:56] Grace: In that TEDx Talk, I recounted how it felt to grow up to never see yourself reflected in a book, because that's how I grew up. I grew up never seeing another Asian person in the media around me, not on TV, not in magazines, not in movies, and not in the books that I loved. And that was a really disheartening thing for me as a child. As somebody who loved books, I loved all kinds of books. You know I love the Chronicles of Narnia. I loved these fantasy books by Natalie Babbitt. And when you think about it, all these books, they would feature things like mermaids and fauns that were like half human, half animal. You would see all these kind of characters in the books that I was reading and loving, but I wouldn't ever see anyone that looked like me.

And so even in worlds where the impossible could happen, I did not exist. And that was something that left a really strong impression on me very negatively in my youth and something that I feel that we all have the power now to change. -- Grace Lin

[02:41] Dr. Diane: And I know hearing you say that, it got me thinking about the way that I teach my classes because I do STEM and STEAM trainings for teachers, I have the opportunity to connect STEM for kids, and I'm also teaching college students. And so it really got me thinking about what books are my kids seeing, who's being centered in the narrative? And so I've really tried hard to make sure that we're centering authors of color in everything that I'm doing. And I had to share with you that this past week, my college students were looking at folk literature, and we wound up doing a March Madness type of bracket where they had to take two books, sort of book battle it out. And in the end, it came down to two books. And the two books were The Seven Chinese Sisters (illustrated by Grace) and Little Red and The Very Hungry Lion. And in the final, The Seven Chinese Sisters edged out The Very Hungry Lion by a hair because I have an Asian American student in my class and she stood up, and this is a very quiet student who doesn't say a lot, and she stood up and she looked at everybody and she said, “When I looked at this book, I started to cry.” She said, “I've never seen myself represented in a book before.” And she said, “These sisters are amazing. They're not stereotypical. Each one of them is an individual.” And I thought, that's really powerful stuff. When you're able to see yourself on the pages of a book, whether you're 4 years old or 18 years old or 50 something years old, that's amazing.

[04:17] Grace Lin: I'm so happy that she felt that way about that book....All you can do is just put your best out there and hope that people see what you are trying to share with them. And sometimes you don't need a million people. Sometimes all you need is one. Like that student you're talking about. All you need is one to say, yes, I see what you're trying to do. Yes, this means something to me too. And that's when you know it was all worth it.

Past Person, Present Person, Or Future Person? What Inspires Writing?

Grace has written and illustrated a variety of books across genres in the picture book and children's literature arena, including transitional readers like the Ling and Ting series, board books like What Will Fit?, nonfiction like She Persisted: Maya Lin and Our Seasons, picture books like The Ugly Vegetables and A Big Mooncake for Little Star, fantasy like Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, and realistic fiction like the The Year of the Dog. I wanted to know if there is a particular genre that she loves the most, or whether she writes according to what's inspiring her at the moment.

[06:58] Grace Lin: I used to say all the time that I usually just let the idea tell me which way that the book would go, like if it was going to be a middle grade, if it was going to go be an early reader, if it was going to be all these things. So in general, yes, it's usually the idea that tells me what the book is going to be. But recently I had a conversation, actually on the podcast with Alvina on our podcast Book Friends Forever with Lesa Cline Ransome, and she was talking about being a past person, a present person, or a future person. And through talking to her, I realized why I have so few books that are set in the contemporary world because I'm not a present person. So I think that if there's something that I probably lean towards, I guess if you could say favorite, it would probably be things that are set in the past. That's why I love things that are like folk tales and myths and things like that. But I think sometimes ideas come to you, regardless if they're from the past or the present or the future.

Coming in 2023: Chinese Menu

[08:16] Dr. Diane: Speaking of myths, don't you have an exciting book coming out in the next couple of months?

[08:21] Grace Lin: I do. I have a really exciting book coming out in the fall of 2023 that I'm working feverishly on right now. It's called Chinese Menu, and it is the myths, legends, and histories behind all your favorite Chinese American food. So it tells you the origin story of moo shu pork or the origin story of spring rolls. And the origin legends, I shouldn't say the origin story, they’re the legends. And many of them are really mythical and wonderful and legends with dragons and emperors and all these wonderful things. So I'm really in my element, speaking as a past person.

[09:10] Dr. Diane: That sounds so exciting, and you're making me hungry.

[09:13] Grace Lin: But, you know, even with this book, Chinese Menu, that's very much set in the past, I do think it's important here in the present.

I wanted to talk about all these legends of this Chinese American food so that we can appreciate Chinese American food in the present. Because I think that in general, Chinese American food has gotten kind of a bad rap. Like, you often hear people say, like, oh, that's not really Chinese, or things like that. Or it kind of has a bit of a stereotype of being kind of like cheap food. But this food is actually food that has a rich and wonderful history and culture and deserves respect and is really a part of our American history. So it's kind of like showing the history so that we, the present, can respect it. -- Grace Lin on her upcoming book, Chinese Menu
Drawing on Myths for the creation of Fantasy -- Revisiting Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

[10:25] Dr. Diane: I've been rereading Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. I'm actually reading it out loud to my college class right now. I'm going old school, and every week the last ten minutes, we're reading a couple of chapters.

[10:36] Grace Lin: Oh, I love that. I think that's so magical. Like reading aloud, nothing really ever replaces that.

[10:42] Dr. Diane: And it's been really fun for me because it's reminding me of all of the wonderful stories that you embedded within this beautiful book. And I think I recall reading that you had gone back and revisited your own heritage in order to write this. Is that correct?

[10:57] Grace Lin: There's many different origin stories of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, but the one that I most often share with kids, because I think they relate to it the most, is how when I was a child, I completely rejected my Asian heritage. And so whenever my mom tried to teach me anything about our Asian heritage, I'd be like, I'm not going to listen to that. I don't want to learn any Chinese. I don't want to wear Chinese clothes. And that made her really sad, and she realized that if I was ever going to learn anything about our Asian heritage, that she would have to sneak it in. So the way she snuck it in for me was she got about six to twelve Chinese fairy tale books. Because, as I said, I loved books as a child. And she put them on the bookshelf in the living room. And she didn't give them to me because she knew if she gave them to me. I'd say. Oh. You just want me to read them because they're Chinese, forget it. And I wouldn't have touched them. But she left them on the bookshelf in the living room. And because I could not fight the lure of a new book, I did end up reading every single one of them. And it was reading those books, those stories, those fairy tales and folktales, and the food that we ate at dinner were probably my only roots to my age and culture when I was a child. And they're very tenuous routes. So when I grew older and I was trying to make those routes stronger, I went to China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. And when I was there visiting, all of those stories that I read when I was younger started coming back to me. But of course, it had been a long time since I'd read those stories, so I kind of mixed up the stories and added my own details and created my own characters. And that's what became Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.

[12:54] Dr. Diane: It's such a beautiful book, and I know that kids really respond to the stories within it. And it's almost got a Wizard of Oz like quality to it, too, in terms of the journey and the friends that she meets along the way.

[13:06] Grace Lin: I know a lot of people say that to me, and I'm always surprised that I never picked up on it because I love The Wizard of Oz, too, and I have such an affinity with that story. But it's actually based on an old Chinese folktale called Olive Lake, which came before The Wizard of Oz. So I’ve always been little bit curious. I mean, there's actually no evidence at all, but I'm always curious if maybe Frank Baum had somehow heard the story of Olive Lake and used that for his story.

[13:36] Dr. Diane: Well, and that's entirely possible. I mean, that's one of the things with folk literature, is because it's an oral tradition, so many times we're borrowing from each other and it's like making stew. You're picking the best bits from somebody's story and throwing it into yours and embellishing it. It would not surprise me if he had heard it at some point.

[13:55] Grace Lin: And that's what I love about stories and folktales and fairy tales in particular. There's a sequel to Where the Mountain Meets the Moon called When the Sea Turned to Silver and Starry River of the Sky, two other books, and I can't remember which one I wrote the author’s note in, but I talked about how I was so apprehensive about sharing these books because I kind of rewrote these old fairy tales, these old folk tales, and put my own kind of Asian American lens on them. And it was something that I was really nervous about.

I thought people would be mad at me because I was desecrating these old stories. But the more and more I thought about it, the more I realized, no, these stories, they change generation to generation. That's how these stories stay alive. They were shared orally, first of all. And all traditions have to be allowed to adapt for their time period in order to stay alive. I think in the author's note, I talk about how in Chinese custom, one thing that people do is they burn paper, they burn ghost money, they call ghost money for their ancestors and supposedly with the idea that they burn this money and this is the money that their ancestors can use in the after world, right? And that's been the tradition for generations, since ancient times. But nowadays, people still burn things for their ancestors. But they don't just burn paper money now. They burn things like paper iPads and paper computers because they're like, oh, my mom loves Coca Cola. And so they burn like a paper replicas of Coca Cola. I love it. So it's this idea that we have changed our customs to adapt for the time. And I think the stories are the same way. -- Grace Lin

"We are the lights that the world needs when everything has gone dark." Grace Lin and the American Library Association's 2022 Legacy Award

Grace won the 2022 ALA Children’s Literature Legacy Award honoring an author or illustrator whose books have made a significant and lasting contribution to literature for children. As part of the honor, she gave a speech in Washington DC in June, which has been reprinted in Publisher's Weekly and has generated a lot of interest among educators, librarians, authors/illustrators, and readers. NOTE: Here is a link to the Book Friends Forever episode that focused on the ALA Legacy Speech. Grace shares key elements from her speech in the following section.

[20:03] Grace Lin: In my speech, I said I decided I would share some of the things that bother me. Actually, I began the speech talking about a story that my mother shared with me a long time ago about how she was when they first moved to the United States as immigrants, they were plagued by bugs in their cheap apartment. And I felt like the imposter syndrome that plagued me was much like the bugs that plagued them as they moved from apartment to apartment in New York City. And so I told the audience that I would share with them some of the bugs that bothered me, that I suspected that the people in the audience may also share.

I addressed the creators, the children's creators in the room. And I think one of the biggest bugs that we face as creators is that maybe our work is not important. And I feel that our work is quite important because I think that children's books are actually one of humanity's greatest treasures. And that is not really realized enough.

Then I talked to Asian Americans, fellow Asian Americans, and I recounted some of the experiences that we have all had that make us feel like foreigners in our own country. And I reiterated how no one, Asian or non-Asian, needs to prove that they are good enough to exist.

And lastly, I address the educators in the room and I told them how much we appreciate all they are doing because in terms of humanity, everything that is good in humanity, that is what they're fostering in our children. In my speech, I say you foster the humane part of humanity and that is the most beautiful part of humanity. And we need that in our children to keep the good things of humanity alive.

And then I finished the speech. I finished the speech by explaining to all of us, everyone in the room, and to probably everybody listening to this podcast now, how all of us who believe in children's literature, all of us who believe that children's literature can make a difference in this world and create a generation of kids that can really change the world for the better. We are the lights that the world needs when everything has gone dark. I do not sugarcoat how tough things are right now. Things are tough, but I think we need to keep our lights on. So that's kind of the whole speech, kind of in a nutshell, but it was much better written than that.

Keeping the Lights On Amidst a Climate of Book Banning

In this next portion of the conversation, we delve deeper into ways educators, librarians, and concerned citizens need to work hard to keep the lights on in the face of more and more book challenges and attempts to ban books. Two of Grace's picture books, A Big Mooncake for Little Star and Dim Sum for Everyone! have recently been challenged.

[24:02] Dr. Diane: I was thinking about just the sheer number of book bannings that are going on right now, and the idea that A Big Mooncake for Little Star would have been on that list still makes me shake my head.

[24:15] Grace Lin: Yeah. Recently, Dim Sum for Everyone! was on the list of being banned, which also makes me like, what? It's just an Asian family eating at a restaurant.

[24:33] Dr. Diane: It's like the most innocuous thing. There’s nothing controversial about either book. And it gets me questioning, are we knee jerk reacting and taking a look at a list of books and saying, oh, because these are diverse books, we're not going to bother reading them, we're simply going to ban them? And how do we support authors and teachers and librarians as they are defending the right to read for everybody?

[24:55] Grace Lin: This is a tough question and one that I think a lot of us are wrestling with. Because in the past, when these kind of bans came up, I don't want to say they were laughable, but they seemed kind of like a minority, that it seemed almost better to ignore than to say anything...So in the past, it was always like, don't feed the trolls. And I think it's only been fairly recently that we realized, oh, this is not a don't feed the troll situation, because by not feeding them, they're actually just getting stronger and stronger because there's no resistance. And I think that kind of caught most people who are against book banning a little bit by surprise, especially authors and illustrators, because in the past, we've always just been like, if someone says something bad about your book, keep your mouth shut.

[26:01] Dr. Diane: Right.

[26:05] Grace Lin: This is something I've been talking about with Pen America. They had a couple of town halls where this has been discussed, and it seems to be that the most effective way to help teachers is to focus more on the process, to say, this is not due process. You don't go in and just grab a book off the shelf and you don't go in and just one person says, I don't like this book. You have to have a due process. And what is un-American is not this book, but the way that you are trying to get this book {banned} so that nobody else can read it.

It's kind of like instead of trying to fight the actual content of the book, which unfortunately, we probably will never win, and just kind of makes the other side happy because that's what they want to talk about, is to talk more about the due process of it all. And a lot of them, for example, the ban that A Big Mooncake for Little Star was on and Dim Sum for Everyone!, they try to say like, oh, it's not banned. It's just on a list that's being reviewed. Well, that review was happening for like a year and a half. In effect, they're being banned because there's no process for review.

We have to start saying we demand a process for review. There must be a realistic process for review and all these things. So that seems to be the method that we were talking about at the Pen America town halls. I am no expert, but I feel like that made sense.

As we continued the conversation about book challenges and book banning, we broke it into two categories -- responses in forums like school board meetings to address those who are aggressively seeking to ban books for all and responses for people in our own circles (family, friends, acquaintances) who are responding to headlines and may be open to a more meaningful conversation.

[30:10] Dr. Diane: I think so much of it is fear driven as well. And so, as you were just saying, depending on your audience, being able to talk content with the folks who are willing to listen yeah, that's where you can talk about the importance of every child being able to not only see themselves, but also to have a window to understand other people. Because I think when you can break it down and talk about empathy and compassion, it's hard to argue that you want children who are compassionate and empathetic.

[30:41] Grace Lin: Strangely enough, that doesn't seem to be a winning argument in some circles.

[30:46] Dr. Diane: And that's only in certain circles where there is some room for that. But, yeah, you're right. In others, you've got to step up and talk about the due process. Talk about what ALA recommends.

[30:59] Grace Lin: For those, I would suggest everybody go to the school board meetings, and, in general, to focus on due process. But in one on one conversations with friends, with one on one conversations in small groups, to talk about the content and the empathy and those types of things. Because I think it's the personal connection that you can get your point across, but in kind of like a big public form where it's kind of like a speech, it's better to talk about just due process.

Taking Action Through Art

[32:47] Dr. Diane: You just recently painted a beautiful poster about the Newbery Awards for the last 100 years. And I know that you were donating a certain percentage of your proceeds to help support an organization that's working with banned books. Can you talk about that for a moment?

[33:21] Grace Lin: I created the hundredth Newbery Centennial cover for the Horn Book. And for the Horn Book cover, it was a picture of a girl reading in a window, a round shaped window, which emulated the Newbery Award. And around her were a bunch of bookshelves. And the bookshelves had all 100 award winners on them. And it took me a long time to do this, and I put them in order and I'm pretty sure they are all first edition hardcover spines that I copied for each one. And it took me such a long time to do this and I'm extremely proud that I did it. So after the cover was out, I was like, I want to use this for something else. It's great that it's the cover of the Horn Book, but I want to use it for something else. And not only that, honestly, when the cover came out, I just received so much positive feedback for it. I know that one of the reasons why librarians love it so much is that they can see every different spine. I kind of feel like that's not really my art. The art is the work of all the authors and this poster kind of encapsulates the work of 100 Newbery winners. So I felt like the proceeds of this should go to support libraries.

And originally I was just going to have it go to ALA, but then all this book banning started happening and it was so disturbing to me. And I love ALA, don't get me wrong. And I was going to do it for the Banned Book Weeks section, but I was thinking more and more and I was trying to figure out how to help and popped up and they are the first political action group that are there to support libraries and I was kind of like, yeah, that's what we need. We need a group that's politically active. That's their main and only purpose. And so I decided that that would be the group that I would donate the proceeds of the posters for. So 100% of my proceeds go to

For a chance to win an autographed poster of Grace Lin's One Hundred Years of the Newbery Award print, click the button at the end of the blog and send an email to Dr. Diane. Be sure to include your name and your favorite part of the interview. All entries must be received by November 9, 2022.

[36:40] Grace Lin: And if you do not win it, they are still available at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art...Rest assured that a good portion of what you're paying for will be going to

And speaking of the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art...

[37:01] Dr. Diane: I know that you're very actively involved with the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. I have to share a fun story with you. We used to live up in Millbrook, New York, and my daughter is the same age as the museum. She just turned 20 this year, and when she was three or four, we went to the museum. And it was back in the time when Eric Carle would actually walk the halls. And he was walking the halls, and it must have been right around the time she was reading Ten Little Rubber Ducks or Mister Seahorse and his picture’s in the back, the author picture. And little three year old Ella sees him, recognizes him, goes running towards him with her preschool arms extended. He picks her up, she throws her arms around him, and she licks him. And bless him, he looks at her and he kind of gently puts her back down. And then he did draw a butterfly in her Hungry Caterpillar book later. But I asked her, why on earth would you lick Eric Carle? And she said, I wanted to know if his beard tasted like ice cream.

[38:10] Grace Lin: Did you tell him that was why?

[38:15] Dr. Diane: I did tell him that during the book signing. But it's just such a beautiful museum, and they're so lucky to have you working with them. What are some of the things that you're doing with them right now?

[38:23] Grace Lin: Well, it is a really lovely, lovely museum. It's about 30 minutes away from me, and it's one of the few museums, I want to say it's the only museum in the United States that is completely dedicated to the art of picture books, and I'm pretty sure that's true. I think it is like, as I said earlier, I truly believe that children's books are one of humanity's greatest treasures. And so I feel like having a museum like this is so important. So I have had the good fortune of getting to curate a couple of shows with them in the past. The last show that I curated with them was called Asians, Everyday. And this was around, this is around the height, it’s still happening, the height of the anti-Asian violence that was going on in the United States. Like I said, it's still going on. And to me, I really wanted to have a show that showcased Asians not in Asia. I mean, I love folk tales and things, so I don't have anything against that at all because obviously a lot of my books feature Asians in Asia, but I really wanted to show Asian Americans with Asians as part of the mainstream. And so we had a show called Asians, Everyday, and we featured Asian American picture books and art from Asian American picture books that showed Asians living their everyday lives here in North America. And I think I was really proud of that exhibit. It was not perfect. I even said so in my author’s, no curator’s note. Nothing is perfect, but I was really proud that we were able to put that together. And it's still online, so I hope it's still a resource for people.

What are Grace's Next Adventures?


41:09] Dr. Diane: So one last question for you. What are the next adventures coming up for you? What are the books that we can expect? What are you working on?

[41:19] Grace Lin: Oh, great. That's always nice to ask. So I talked about Chinese Menu that comes out in fall of 2023, but before that, I actually have another book coming out. It's a picture book. It's this one right here. I just got my first copy of it. It's called Once Upon a Book. It was co written with Kate Messner and my first picture book for, I think, four years now, or maybe five. Gosh, I feel like I took a big break during the pandemic. Not on purpose, a pandemic break. This book is kind of what I was talking about in terms of Asians, Everyday, which mixes my love of maybe not so much being in the past, but my love of magic and myth and everyday life. So it's about a girl who basically falls into a book and the adventures that she has in there and how she finally returns home. There's kind of a slight Asian flavor to it. But I'll just say, both in Eastern culture and Western culture, the White Rabbit is a really big deal there. In the west, here we talk about the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. And in the east, there's the White Rabbit of the Moon. And I've always been fascinated about how this White Rabbit is something that is found in both cultures. And so that White Rabbit kind of has a cameo and their own story in this book.

[43:28] Dr. Diane: Excellent. So are there any other things you're working on right now?

[43:38] Grace Lin: I'm working on having A Tween Daughter, which has been a big adjustment for me, that stage when they go from being a kid to their own person, and that's been a real adjustment. So a tween daughter and many books.

And for a great listen, follow Grace's podcasts...

[44:17] Grace Lin: So I think if you are an adult interested in children's literature, you could listen to the podcast with me and my good friend Alvina Ling, who is also my editor. And our podcast is called Book Friends Forever.

If you are a child, I have another podcast called Kids Ask Authors, and on that podcast, a guest author and I answer one kid question a week, always about writing and illustrating and books in general. And so that's a really fun way for kids to learn more about me and other authors and more diverse books. So those are two great places they can go to to hear me, or they can just go to my instagram, which is @pacylin.

[45:18] Dr. Diane: So I have to ask, when do you sleep?

[45:24] Grace Lin: I get up early, and I have a lot of help.

For a chance to win an autographed poster of Grace Lin's One Hundred Years of the Newbery Award print, click the button and send an email to Dr. Diane. Be sure to include your name and your favorite part of the interview. All entries must be received by November 9, 2022.

Before Grace Lin was an award-winning and NY Times bestselling author/illustrator of picturebooks, early readers and middle grade novels, she was the only Asian girl (except for her sisters) going to her elementary school in Upstate NY. That experience, good and bad, has influenced her books—including her Newbery Honor WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON, her Geisel Honor LING & TING, her National Book Finalist WHEN THE SEA TURNED TO SILVER and her Caldecott Honor A BIG MOONCAKE FOR LITTLE STAR. But, it also causes Grace to persevere for diversity as an occasional New England Public Radio commentator and when she gave her TEDx talk “The Windows and Mirrors of Your Child’s Bookshelf,” as well as her PBSNewHour video essay “What to do when you realize classic books from your childhood are racist?.” She continued this mission with a hundred episodes of the podcast kidlitwomen* and now currently hosts two other podcasts: Book Friends Forever and Kids Ask Authors. In 2016, Grace’s art was displayed at the White House and Grace, herself, was recognized by President Obama’s office as a Champion of Change for Asian American and Pacific Islander Art and Storytelling. In 2022, Grace was awarded the Children’s Literature Legacy Award from the American Library Association. For more information, visit her website

Note: photos included in this blog post (except the one of the two of us together and the photos of my children at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art) were furnished by the author or retrieved from her websites.

Note: As an affiliate for, I may receive a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

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