Leadership and Action Series - National Council of Teachers of English

The weekly events (to be held every Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. ET) will feature prominent authors in conversation with leading educators on important and pressing topics facing educators today, such as how to employ antiracist teaching methods to engaging students in a distance learning environment, and more.

RESCHEDULED – Wednesday, August 12 | 8:00 p.m. ET


Thirty diverse, award-winning authors and illustrators–including Renee Watson (Piecing Me Together), Grace Lin (Where the Mountain Meets the Moon), Meg Medina (Merci Suarez Changes Gears), and Adam Gidwitz (The Inquisitor’s Tale)–engage young people in frank discussions about racism, identity and self-esteem. Featuring stories and images filled with love, acceptance, truth, peace, and an assurance that there can be hope for a better tomorrow, The Talk is an inspiring anthology and must-have resource published in partnership with Just Us Books, a black-owned children’s publishing company that’s been in operation for over 30 years. Just Us Books continues its mission grounded in the same belief that helped launch the company: Good books make a difference.

So, let’s talk.


About the Authors


Cheryl Willis Hudson is an author, an editor, and a publisher. She is the cofounder and editorial director of Just Us Books, Inc., an independent company that focuses on Black interest books for young people. Cheryl has written over two dozen books, including Bright Eyes, Brown Skin (with Bernette G. Ford), AFRO-BETS ABC Book, From Where I Stand, Hands Can, Construction Zone, My Friend Maya Loves to Dance, and Brave. Black. First., published in collaboration with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Cheryl is also coeditor with her partner, Wade Hudson, of the middle-grade anthology We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices, which was an International Latino Book Award winner and a Jane Addams Peace Association Honor Book. As a member of the Children’s and Young Adult Committee of PEN America, Cheryl serves as diversity consultant to a number of educational publishers. www.cherylwillishudson.com

Wade Hudson is an author, a publisher, and the president and CEO of Just Us Books, Inc., an independent publisher of books for children and young adults. He has published over thirty books, including We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices, an anthology coedited with his wife. In addition, Wade has completed the poetry collection Journey: Poems and is currently working on a coming-of-age memoir. Wade has received a New Jersey Stephen Crane Literary Award, the Ida B. Wells Institutional Leadership Award, and the Madame C. J. Walker Legacy Award and has been inducted into the International Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent. He also speaks to students and professional groups around the country about his life’s journey, writing and publishing, and the importance of diversity and inclusion. Born and raised in Mansfield, Louisiana, Wade lives in East Orange, New Jersey, with his wife, Cheryl. www.wadehudson-authorpublisher.com

New York City’s current and former chancellors have praised Torrey Maldonado as a top teacher and author, and he has been recognized as a Top 10 Latino Author to Read and Watch. He has taught for over twenty years in his childhood hometown of Brooklyn. His middle-grade titles include Tight, which won a Christopher Award and was named a Washington Post and NPR Best Book of the Year, What Lane?, and Secret Saturdays. Growing up, Torrey hated books because “they were boring or seemed to hate or dismiss people where I’m from.” Culturally responsive books and educators inspired him to teach and write. He was voted aTop Latino Author and best Middle Grade and Young Adult Novelist for African Americans, and his work reflects his and his students’ experiences and is praised for its current feel, realness, and universal themes. www.torreymaldonado.com

Sharon Dennis Wyeth has written over fifty books for children of all ages: picture books, middle grade, young adult, and across genres, including historical fiction and romance. Akin to the tradition of “family literature,” Sharon’s books are meant to be shared and discussed. Her stories grapple  with difficult and complex issues, such as poverty, racism, and separation from family members, yet her writing is also characterized by optimism and hope. Her award-winning titles include Something Beautiful, The Granddaughter Necklace, Once on This River, Always My Dad, Corey’s Underground Railroad Diaries and the Pen Pals series, and others. A graduate of Harvard University with an MFA from Hunter  College,  Sharon is a Cave Canem Poetry fellow and a visiting associate professor at Hollins University. www.sharondenniswyeth.com



Tuesday, August 11 | 4:00 p.m. ET

Omar and his younger brother, Hassan, have spent most of their lives in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya. Life is hard there: never enough food, achingly dull, and without access to the medical care Omar knows his nonverbal brother needs. So when Omar has the opportunity to go to school, he knows it might be a chance to change their future . . . but it would also mean leaving his brother, the only family member he has left, every day.

Heartbreak, hope, and gentle humor exist together in this graphic novel about a childhood spent waiting, and a young man who is able to create a sense of family and home in the most difficult of settings. It’s an intimate, important, unforgettable look at the day-to-day life of a refugee, as told to New York Times Bestselling author/artist Victoria Jamieson by Omar Mohamed, the Somali man who lived the story.


About the Authors


Victoria Jamieson is the creator of the graphic novels All’s Faire in Middle School and Newbery Honor winner Roller Girl. She received her BFA in Illustration from the Rhode Island School of Design and worked as a children’s book designer before becoming a full-time illustrator. She has also worked as a portrait artist aboard a cruise ship, and has lived in Australia, Italy, and Canada. She now lives with her family in Pennsylvania.


Omar Mohamed spent his childhood at the Dadaab camp, after his father was killed and he was separated from his mother in Somalia. He devoted everything to taking care of his younger brother, Hassan, and to pursuing his education. He now lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, with his wife and five children, and works at a center to help resettle other refugees. He is the founder of Refugee Strong, a non-profit organization that empowers students living in refugee camps.


Tuesday, August 18 | 4:00 p.m. ET


When his first book tour ended, Brad Montague missed hearing other people’s stories so much that he launched what he dubbed a Listening Tour. First visiting elementary schools and later also nursing homes and retirement communities, he hoped to glean new wisdom as to how he might become a better grownup. Now, in this playful and buoyant book, he shares those insights with rest of us –timeless, often surprising lessons that bypass the head we’re always stuck in, and go straight to the heart we sometimes forget.

Each of the book’s three sections begins with the illustrated story of “The Incredible Floating Girl.” Brad weaves this story together with lessons of success, fear, regret, gratitude, love, happiness, and dreams to reveal the true reason we are here: to fly, and to help others fly.

Beautifully designed and featuring Montague’s own whimsical 4-color illustrations that appeal to the kid in all of us, Becoming Better Grownups shares the purpose and meaning we can all discover merely by listening, and reveals that–in a world that seems increasingly childish–the secret to joy is in fact to become more childlike.


About the Author


Brad Montague is the creator of the web series Kid President and the author of the New York Times bestseller Kid President’s Guide to Being Awesome. As an illustrator, Montague has his work spread across the Internet daily and can regularly be seen in Joanna Gaines’s The Magnolia Journal.


Tuesday, August 25 | 4:00 p.m. ET

Now more than ever, kids need to feel empowered as they work through anxiety and low self-esteem. With its helpful, hands-on suggestions and tips, SUPERPOWERED will be embraced by every kid with insecurities, worries, and anxious thoughts.

Renee Jain (founder of GoZen!) and Dr. Shefali Tsabary (New York Times bestelling author and Oprah contributor) make readers the superheroes of their own stories. They introduce a toolkit of easy-to-understand methods for recognizing anxious behaviors, identifying the root causes of worried thinking, and realizing that strength can be found in reclaiming one’s inner superpowers.

With the help of humorous artwork and interactive elements, readers find their P.O.W.E.R. (an acronym that inspires mindfulness and resilience practices) and gain lasting mental strength.


About the Authors


Renee Jain, MAPP is the founder of child-psychology start-up GoZen! and is recognized as a pioneer in the fields of technology and social and emotional learning. Through her writing, product invention and development, masterclasses for parents, and advocacy for children, she works to build the emotional intelligence of kids. She holds a masters in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania and has two children. Find Renee on Facebook and Instagram @gozenlove, and online at www.gozen.com.


Dr. Shefali Tsabary is a New York Times bestselling author and world-renowned clinical psychologist who received her doctorate from Columbia University. She specializes in the integration of Eastern philosophy and Western psychology, making her an expert in her field. She is a frequent keynote speaker who presents at conferences, workshops, and educational and transformational centers around the world. Dr. Shefali is also the author of The Awakened Family: How to Raise Empowered, Resilient, and Conscious Children; Out of Control: Why Disciplining Your Child Doesn’t Work and What Will; and The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children. She is raising a teenage daughter. Find Dr. Shefali on Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook @DrShefali, and online at www.drshefali.com.