Leading the Walk of Discovery – Ellen Oh

Thursday’s 12:00 lunch speaker – Invigorating to say the least when opening the pages of a storyteller. Ellen Oh, the CEO of We need Diverse Books, was one of the best candidates to speak on the challenges facing all schools and librarians of their time today.

If you look closely at the Board of Directors, you will also see Zoraida Cordova, who was one of our amazing invited guest authors at the Authors Among Us event at the American School Foundation in Mexico City – APRIL 25, 2016! (Scroll down to see this amazing menu of authors – LOVED seeing Ms. Zoraida as a part of this as well -amazing!)

I do not recall the reference Ms. Oh made to the Grand Army Plaza Library, but in looking at this library it reminded me of the Public Library in Los Angeles, and from Susan Orlean’s book, The Library Book. when I visited there for the Humanities Conference, wow, I realized how much power the written word, and libraries have, even more than I knew already. An interesting connection to someone from that book is also found HERE.

I loved this illustration from 2012 that Ms. Oh presented to demonstrate why, indeed, we need diverse books amid swirls of controversy against them.

Illustrated by Tina Kugler.

Her mention of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center of School of Education – from the University of Wisconsin-Madison was an awesome insight to what centers of opportunity- representing all libraries can be for many patrons.

In looking at 2018– you see some growth but also stagnant growth in some may categories:

In looking at a closer look at the threats to information all over the U.S. –

and there are many great resources to recognizing bias. Especially with Delaware’s State Bill 195. it is vital to have the proper licensed librarians trained to be able to clear up doubts of what is true, accurate, and how to siphon the imposters of information from all media outlets that are merely imposters of the truth. The Ad Fontes chart is one of the most famous in showing this.

In addressing the value of pushing back against censorship and banning, Ms. Oh often told of comments made to her about being told to return to her own country, often directed to China, and she proved the very point of being informed- she mentioned she was Korean, not Chinese!”

Her request to always have inclusion was no truer than when she stated how today children’s books are political where they never used to be at all. She as well offered a nod about how similar to Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four compared to today’s society’s norms, all has become.

Ms. Oh went on to tell a possible story titled, “Never Trust Billionaires” that could occur, which was HYSTERICAL and involved an image of Ex Lax causing havoc on the world. Her reference to the evils of money which equals power, and how power makes the law, it was no secret how her disdain of millionaires control the story of equity in the world. Her statement, “There are alot of jokes about rich people, but none of them work!” made her point about the realizations about how money can control the narrative. Knowing and realizing helps begin to understand how to make positive changes.

Lisa Oh began to delve into her familial backstory from Korea, was heartbreaking and can’t be replicated here, but had the attention of every single person in the room, you couldn’t hear a pin drop. Her inspiration for Finding Junie Kim obviously stemmed from this amazing bio of her family’s experience, breaking down democracy and communism.

This is only half of the power of Ellen Oh’s talk and the second half will be appearing in the next post in order to capture the importance of this amazing opportunity with Ellen Oh.


About Harry Brake

Employee of Woodbridge High School, Library Media Specialist, Media crazy! :)
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