Header image is a detail of This is Harlem by Jacob Lawrence. Courtesy of Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. © 2021 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. For more information, click here.
TIE Podcast Spring Semester: Discussing Diverse Representation in Children’s Books with Author Kaija Langley
Recorded on 04/15/2022
Posted in TIE Podcasts
For the final episode of TIE’s spring semester series, Kaija Langley, author of children’s book When Langston Dances, joins Toward Inclusive Excellence editor in chief Alexia Hudson-Ward to discuss diversity in children’s literature. In the episode, Kaija describes her journey to becoming an NAACP Image Award–nominated author, including the mentorship, inspiration, and kismet she encountered along the way. In addition, Kaija and Alexia look back at the books available to Black children, noting the lack of options and variation in subject matter. Though Kaija notes the strides children’s publishing has made over the decades, she highlights the need for children’s books to celebrate and showcase Black humanity—kids just being kids—and not restrict options to historical or one-dimensional texts. Finally, Kaija offers advice for aspiring children’s literature authors: know your audience (including the adults!), join the KidLit community, and tap into your inner child.
About the guest:
Kaija Langley was born and raised in Northern New Jersey and currently resides in Cambridge, MA. An only child and social introvert, Kaija was raised on a healthy diet of library books, Broadway shows, and other artistic performances. Writing for young readers is a natural outgrowth of her own love for books as a child.
She is a proud alumna of Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland and has received an MFA in Fiction from St. Mary’s College of California. Her debut picture book, When Langston Dances, received two starred reviews (Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly) and has been nominated for a 53rd NAACP Image Award in the Outstanding Literary Work for Children category. Her debut middle grade novel in verse, The Order of Things, is forthcoming from Nancy Paulsen Books in May 2023.
When she isn’t writing books for young readers and raising money for causes that make the world a better place, she enjoys singing, dancing, and taking road trips with her Beloved.