Follett-Butler Lecture 2021

The School of Information Studies and Butler Children’s Literature Center are fortunate to welcome Dr. Ebony Elizabeth Thomas and Renée Watson for the upcoming Follett-Butler Lecture—Fantastic Black Girlhoods: A Conversation with Ebony Elizabeth Thomas and Renée Watson.

When: Monday, March 29, 2021 at 6 p.m.
Where: Presented online
How do I join? Attendance is free with registration.

Join us in conversation with children’s literature scholar and critic Dr. Ebony Elizabeth Thomas and award-winning author Renée Watson as they discuss the current moment in literature for black youth and how it fits into the larger body of youth literature. Topics explored include the adultification of black youth, representations of black joy, and diversity within diversity. They will also share their hopes and recommendations for the teachers and librarians sharing books with, and building collections for, all young people.

If you’re too excited to wait for the lecture, dive into some of their work in preparation!

Ebony Elizabeth Thomas
For more information and links to her work,
visit her website here.


The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to The Hunger Games (NYU Press, 2019)

Reading African American Experiences in the Obama Era: Theory, Advocacy, Activism (Peter Lang, 2012)

Articles and Interviews:

Thomas, E. E. (2015). “We always talk about race!”: Navigating race talk dilemmas in the teaching of literature. Research in the Teaching of English, 50(2), 154-175. PDF available from Researchgate

Thomas, E. E., & Stornaiuolo, A. (2016). Restorying the self: Bending toward textual justice. Harvard Educational Review, 86(3), 313-338. PDF available from Researchgate

Thomas, E. E. (2016). Stories still matter: Rethinking the role of diverse children’s literature today. Language Arts, 94(2), 112. PDF available from

From NBC Think: From ‘Harry Potter’ to ‘Hunger Games,’ here’s why fantasy struggles to include black girls.

From Penn Today: Children’s literature as ‘seed work’


Renée Watson
For more information and links to her work,
visit her website here.

YA Books:

Love is a Revolution (Bloomsbury, February 2021)
Watch Us Rise (Bloomsbury, 2020)
Piecing Me Together (Bloomsbury, 2018) 2018 Newbery Honor Book, Coretta Scott King Author Award
This Side of Home (Bloomsbury, 2017)
What Momma Left Me (Bloomsbury, 2019)

Middle Grade Books:

Ways to Make Sunshine (Bloomsbury, 2020) Golden Kite Winner
Ways To Grow Love (coming April 2021)
Some Places More Than Others (Bloomsbury, 2019)

Picture Books:

Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills (Random House, 2012)
A Place Where Hurricanes Happen (Dragon Fly Books, 2014)

Articles and Interviews:

From School Library Journal: Finding the Vision for Some Places | A Conversation Between Renée Watson & Shadra Strickland

From BookPage: Renée Watson: Sorting through the good and bad

From CBS: Arts collective in Langston Hughes’ home carries on writer’s legacy

From NPR: ‘Piecing Me Together’ Novelist Says She Writes To Help Kids Feel Seen

From the International Literacy Association: Renée Watson on Literacy Connecting Readers

From The Horn Book: Profile of 2018 CSK Author Award winner Renée Watson