A Standing Ovation from Me — and Everyone at Children’s Institute

Elizabeth Bluemle - May 5, 2015

Jewell Parker Rhodes delivers her closing keynote to booksellers at Children’s Institute 3. Photo by Judith Rosen.

I was so sad that I wasn’t able to attend the ABC Children’s Institute this year, especially because it featured several panels and discussions about diversity in the children’s book world. And I’m monumentally sad that I missed hearing live and in person the beautiful, powerful closing keynote that author Jewell Parker Rhodes delivered on the true meaning of diversity in our field, the change we need to be striving for wholeheartedly and with purpose. But I am thrilled that PW reproduced the speech in its entirety for all of us to read. I was moved to tears by it, as were the audience members, who also showed their appreciation with a standing ovation.
Here is the link to Jewell Parker Rhodes’ Children’s Institute keynote speech. (I will also include the spelled-out link here: http://pwne.ws/1bHkkQE. Debbie Reese alerted me to the fact that vision-impaired folks listening to articles cannot access links that aren’t spelled out. This is obvious but hadn’t ever occurred to me, so thanks, Debbie!)
Ms. Rhodes is an exceptional storyteller, which enables her to tackle a topic that can almost lose its urgency under a burden of ‘isms’ and ‘shoulds’ and make it personal, universal, funny, heartwrenching, and heartwarming.  I’m SO tempted to quote from it here, but that would cheat the experience of letting it unfold for you the way she told it.
Thank you, Jewell Parker Rhodes! Even though I wasn’t there to hear your warm, passionate words, I give you a standing ovation from my chair, too.
ShelfTalker readers, if you read the speech, please consider sharing your thoughts and/or appreciation (just a line or two is fine) in the comments here. I’d love for Ms. Rhodes to see how far the impact of her words travels!

6 thoughts on “A Standing Ovation from Me — and Everyone at Children’s Institute

  1. Sara

    I think we’ll all be talking about this speech for years to come. It is, by far, one of the most amazing and powerful talks I have ever heard!

  2. Summer Laurie

    It’s a good thing that Jewell was the last event of the Institute because NOTHING could have followed her. Rousing, inspiring, heart-warming. She spoke our truth.

  3. Linda Mowry

    This speech brought me to tears. I am dismayed that my local libraries do not have her books. I guess I know what is next on my “to do” list–forward the speech to the librarians and see how many patrons I can get to request Rhodes’ books.

  4. Carol

    Not only powerful, passionate and cogent, but delivered with such joy! She was the “Jewell” of the institute.

  5. Fran

    Thank you very much for sharing your narrative. I quite agree that diversity is the next civil rights issue. We, as a nation and a world, need to move past tolerance. We need to embrace each other and acknowledge each other’s humanity.

  6. Stacy

    Jewell Parker Rhodes told her story, and her family’s story, so well we feel like we know them. Thanks to her for inviting us in–and showing us why it’s important to see diverse characters: we know and love them too.


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