“It’s simple, Susan. Just pick one. Which would you rather be?”
It was my first day of first grade at a
new school, and we were playing a getting-to-know-you game that doubled as a
class-demographics survey. We had divided ourselves into groups based on
favorite ice cream flavor, age, favorite animal, and zip code, laughing over
Then came a question on race. I thought
seriously for a moment as the other kids sorted themselves into groups. But I
quickly found my answer and carefully chose my spot—halfway between the group
of students who identified as white and the group who identified as Asian. I
was proud of my creativity, and excited to share my answer.
So I was shocked when my teacher
disciplined me in front of the class, first asking why I hadn’t chosen a group,
and then, when I explained that I had chosen a group—half one, and half
the other—chastising me for choosing two groups when her survey allowed her to
tick only one box.
Which is when she demanded that I choose
between the two.
Last summer, I traveled to Tanzania to take
photographs. In February, I followed my
camera to Toronto. This was my first visit to Canada. It was a wonderful
experience dotted with several visits to Tim Hortons.
When I traveled to Tanzania, I took photographs for stories
that had not been written. There was no way the authors I work with could know
what stories I would find. This time, I had stories that were already written,
so I had specific photos that I needed to take. One of the authors I work with
had spent two weeks last July at the Toronto Summer Institute. This international annual event focuses on
the inclusion of individuals with disabilities. While she was at the institute
she discovered two wonderful stories.
Books That Changed My Life: The Sun is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon
Contributed by Ashley Woodfolk, Marketing
Manager, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group
I have been a lover of reading for my entire
life. I started reading before I was five, and I never stopped. And yet, I have
never written a letter to an author besides once, when I was ten, for a school
For generations, March 3 has been a
special day in Japan, when families pray for good health and happiness for
their daughters. It’s called Girl’s Day or Hinamatsuri (Doll Festival). The
dolls, handed down from mother to eldest daughter, represent the imperial court
and are thought to bring good luck.
As a child, born and raised in
California, Girl’s Day meant special time with my mom and little sister. Following
tradition, our mother would set up the ceramic dolls dressed in silk with
miniature accessories on a platform. We’d eat mochi (sweet rice cakes) and take
pictures with the doll display. Sometimes Mom would dress us in kimonos. When I
grew older, we expanded the tradition: I invited my girlfriends from elementary
school to celebrate with us. We ate cake and played games, much like a birthday
party. When I got married, Mom gave me her dolls.