Reporting for Star Shepherd Duty

The Star ShepherdI’ve got my goggles and I’m ready for star gazing. At least I would be if it weren’t so cloudy in Chicago this week (I’ll spare you the pics of me wearing the goggles!). Instead, I set my sights on lunch with fellow book lovers and the team responsible for The Star Shepherd, Dan Haring and MarcyKate Connolly.

In their upcoming middle-grade fantasy, Kyro dreams of becoming a star shepherd like his father and rescuing stars that have fallen to earth. But when the stars start falling en masse, their village turns against them, and his father disappears Kyro is suddenly thrust into the job. With the help of friends new and old, big and small, he will journey to save the stars and his father.

Fortunately for us, the stars aligned to bring Dan Haring and MarcyKate Connelly together on this project. Haring initially created the story as an animated short, which his agent suggested would be a perfect novel for middle-grade readers. And Connelly’s agent knew just the star-loving writer to help develop the story into a novel format. The two collaborated through the cosmos (ok, mostly through email) to develop the story that we’ll see this fall.

Many thanks to Sourcebooks for the opportunity to meet the creative team behind the book and learn more about their partnership. You can stop by the Butler Children’s Literature Center for a sneak peek at the ARC and keep your eyes open (and goggles on) for publication in September.


The Hoot: News from the Butler Children’s Literature Center, April 2019

Hello friends, it’s been a while! We’ve had a busy winter in the Butler Center and its rolled right into spring in the blink of an eye. So before the spring flowers fade and summer vacations beckon, let’s take a peek back at what we’ve been up to and a look ahead at what’s next.

Rainbow books band

Spring Semester Happenings–

Professional Development

Serving Bilingual Teens in the Library 

In February, we were thrilled to host SOIS alumna Elizabeth Lynch (Addison Public Library) and Kelly MacGregor (Berwyn Public Library) for Sort of Bilingual: Serving Youth and Young Adults from Spanish-Speaking Homes, an in-depth look at how they worked to improve service for the teens at their library and a discussion of how other libraries can implement similar programming. Our discussion focused on their process for collecting useful community data and how to use that information to better serve the bilingual kids in the library.

Butler Lecture

Carmen deedy 3In March we were honored to welcome acclaimed author and storyteller Carmen Agra Deedy for the 7th Annual Butler Lecture. In her address, The End of the Story, she shared personal stories of her childhood and family that were at once humorous, hear-warming, and deeply profound. Thanks to all that joined us for the lecture and reception with the delightful Ms. Deedy!


Illinois Youth Services Instituteballoon alien

After a long, but lovely lecture evening I headed to Bloomington-Normal for the Illinois Youth Services Institute. BCLC was honored to again be a sponsor of the event, giving me a chance to chat with SOIS alumni and potential students about all things youth services. Next time around I’ll be sure to include more time to attend some of the impressive programming offered at the conference. But I did get the chance to make an out-of-this-world new friend!

Bologna Children’s Book Fair

bologna group 1And then I jumped right on a flight to Italy (at least that’s how it felt) to join a group of SOIS students on their trip to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. We spent a week visiting churches, archives, libraries, the BCBF, and as many gelato shops as one can reasonably (ok, maybe not so reasonably) fit into a 6-day trip. The students were curious, thoughtful, and engaged, the food was spectacular, and the fair was a delight. If you ever get the chance to attend I would highly recommend it. In one lovely day, I had the chance to hear Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop speak about CSK books, observe amazingly talented illustrators at work, and watch a gentleman at a lunch counter hand make tortellini for a line of hungry book-lovers.


Expanded Greene Storytelling Collection

In her final bequests, author and storyteller Ellin Greene again generously donated from her extensive personal collection to the Butler Center. Her magnanimous gifts of books, research, and realia are currently being currently sorted and cataloged for addition to the BCLC folk and fairytale collection that bears her name. Never visited the Ellin Greene research collection? Contact us for an appointment.

What’s Up Next–

Butler Youth Services Scholarship

The Butler Children’s Literature Center is proud to announce the creation of a new scholarship to support diversity in library service to young people. This $15,000 scholarship will be awarded to a student seeking to earn an MLIS with a planned focus on service to children and young adults. Preference for the Butler Youth Services Scholarship will be given to graduates of a Dominican University undergraduate program who are from a background underrepresented in the field of library science. The scholarship will be administered by the BCLC, with the generous support of the Butler Family Foundation. For full eligibility and application requirements visit

Wellness in the Library

On May 11th, from 1 pm-3 pm, we’ll host SOIS alumna Regina Townsend (Forest Park Public Library) for Finding Balance: Self-care for You and Your Team. Regina will discuss compassion fatigueself-care strategies for individuals and organizations, and ways you can create a culture of mental health in your library. Care to join us? RSVP to to reserve your seat.

Open Hours

The Butler Center welcomes teachers, librarians, booksellers, parents, grandparents, caregivers and anyone interested in literature for young people. Spring open hours are held Monday-Thursday from 1pm-6pm or by appointment with the curator; contact to make an appointment. Summer hours coming soon.

The Center is a non-lending library, but our staff is here to assist you in locating books that address specific themes, age groups, or reading levels.

The Butler Center is located in the Rebecca Crown Library, room 214, on Dominican’s main campus at 7900 W. Division Street in River Forest, Illinois. Directions and a campus map are available here. The Butler Center is administered by Dominican’s School of Information Studies and is generously supported by the Butler Family Foundation. We hope you’ll want to visit us, or join us for an event, and stay tuned for our news and upcoming events. Please contact me with any questions you have. I look forward to seeing you soon!

Jen Clemons

Curator, Butler Children’s Literature Center
Dominican University SOIS

More on Diverse Literature: Resources for Readers Looking for Multicultural Children’s Literature

Diversity in children’s literature is an important topic within the library field. With the desire to make all children feel represented in the books they read and expose youth to new cultures, many are searching for books that celebrate diverse themes and characters. While the Butler Center and your local library are great places to start, there are many other incredible resources available online to help in the search for diverse books. Today, we are excited to share with you a few sources, from booklists to blogs, that discuss the importance of multicultural children books.

Lee and Low BooksLee & Low Books

Lee & Low Books is the largest multicultural children’s book publisher in the country and one of the few publishing companies that is minority-owned in the United States. Lee & Low is dedicated to working with unpublished authors and illustrators of color and publishing stories from voices we do not hear from enough in children’s literature. Lee & Low works to create books that better reflect what the world we live in looks like.

Lee & Low also partners closely with educators and librarians to help build libraries and classrooms with books that are reflective of their students. Their website provides in-depth teaching guides for more than 500 of the books published by Lee & Low in the past 25 years. On their site, you can find booklists built around themes and cultures for young readers ranging from Pre-k to 12th grade. Be sure to check out their lists and their blog, where they explore current topics within diverse books.


We Need Diverse BooksWe Need Diverse Books

We Need Diverse Books is a grassroots organization that is advocating for changes in the publishing industry. They are working to increase the number of diverse children’s books and books created by diverse authors and illustrators that are making it onto shelves. They are doing this by offering grants for minority writers and illustrators, publishing anthologies that showcase short stories written by diverse authors, and by offering mentorship programs that connect up-and-coming writers with experienced authors and illustrators.

We Need Diverse Books also provides numerous resources on their website for those interested in learning more about diversity in the world of literature. They moderate panels across the country discussing the importance of diverse children’s books and share videos of their panels online. They also curate a list of sites that provide diverse booklists, and, for those passionate about the lack of diverse books in children’s literature, they created a “Booktalking Kit” to help teachers and librarians talk up lesser-known books featuring diverse characters and topics to their students and patrons. Explore their site to learn more about their mission and how you can get involved in the pursuit of more diverse books.


Multicultural Childrens Book Day Multicultural Children’s Book Day

When bloggers, advocates, and children’s book enthusiasts Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen recognized a lack of diversity in children’s books, they created National Multicultural Children’s Book Day to raise awareness. The event, which first occurred on January 27th of 2014, works to celebrate great examples of diverse literature in the hopes of increasing the number of diverse books in libraries and schools around the country by raising money to donate books to classrooms in need.

While National Multicultural Children’s Book Day only happens once a year, their site provides resources to teach about multiculturalism 365 days a year. They provide booklists for young readers and kits for teachers that outline lessons teaching kids about showing empathy and kindness to one another. They also provide free books to educators and book reviewers to spread the word about literature featuring diverse themes and characters.

Reading While WhiteReading While White

The blog Reading While White was founded by a group of white librarians who organized to help confront racism in the field of children’s literature. The contributors to the blog hope to use their privilege to give a platform to minority authors, illustrators, librarians, and readers as well as educate themselves and others on the issues a mainly white world in children’s literature can create.

Through this blog, they have created a list of sources and videos discussing diversity in literature alongside their op-ed style blog posts discussing what they have witnessed within the library field. The blog also invites people of color who are authors or work in the library field to share their insight and educate the public on the problems people of color face today within children’s literature.

Today’s guest poster is Abby Sauer, a senior in studying Corporate Communications at Dominican University. Abby utilized the BCLC collections and resources for her Capstone project on diversity in picture books. Today’s post is the third and final in her series of Butler’s Pantry posts on the topic. Thanks, Abby!

Own Story Narratives: African American and Multiracial Authors Give Their Perspectives in 2019 Children’s Literature

In 2019, we hope to see an increase of stories told by diverse authors that offer their perspectives and speak to their experiences. From our current collection, here are four children’s books written and illustrated by African American and multiracial authors. These stories tell the tale of a mother’s love, recognize the persistence, bravery, and excellence of African American heroes, show the journey of finding your identity and your color in the world, and inspire readers with the story of a brave and talented African American women who blazed trails for others.


mommy medicineMy Mommy Medicine
Written by Edwidge Danticat
Illustrated by Shannon Wright
Macmillan, 2019

When our narrator, a young African American girl, wakes up feeling sick, gloomy, or sad, her mother gives her a good dose of “mommy medicine” to make her feel better. This medicine is always different from day to day. Sometimes, it’s a kiss on the cheek and a tight hug, or it’s her favorite squash soup, or a big, delicious mug of hot chocolate. Through fun games, a little magic and imagination, and lots of quality time with mom, our narrator starts to feel better. Mommy medicine can make her feel great even on the worst days!

Edwidge Danticat, the mother of two daughters, tells a beautiful tale of how love and comfort can heal. She speaks from her own experience taking care of her daughters, nieces, and nephews. While the story is about a mother and daughter, Edwidge feels that mommy medicine can come from anyone trying to make someone they love feel better.


undefeatedThe Undefeated
Written by Kwame Alexander
Illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019

In Kwame Alexander’s powerful poem turned children’s book, readers hear the stories of many African Americans who have done unbelievable things. They have overcome hurdles and stood strong in the face of unspeakable tragedy, coming out undefeated. Featuring athletes like Jesse Owens, Serena Williams, and Muhammad Ali, musicians such as Ella Fitzgerald and Thelonious Monk, the activists of the civil rights movements, and many more, Alexander shines a light on many heroes that are too often left out of our history books. Recognizing the bravery of the slaves who fought for freedom and those who continue to fight for black lives today, Alexander writes a moving tribute to African Americans who remain undefeated.

Kwame Alexander is a New York Times best-selling author that often tells the stories of African Americans. He has won both a Newberry Medal and a Coretta Scott King Book Award for his own story narratives. Alexander began writing the poem that inspired The Undefeated as a tribute to his daughters and as a response to the election of President Obama—he wanted to show the world how African American heroes paved the way to that historic moment.


honeysmokeHoneysmoke: A Story of Finding Your Color
Written by Monique Fields
Illustrated by Yesenia Moises
Imprint Publishing, 2019

Simone, a multiracial child, wants to know what her color is. When she asks her mama if she is black or white, she says that color is just a word. But Simone wants her own word. When she asks her daddy, he says she’s a little bit of both. But Simone wants a color to call her own. In the world around her, Simone cannot find a color that matches her and reflects who she is inside and out. When thinking about colors, Simone notices that her mama reminds her of golden honey, and her daddy reminds her of white smoke. This makes her honeysmoke, a color all her own! Simone now sees her color in the world around her every day and is proud of her own skin.

Monique Fields, author, journalist, and mother of two daughters, is dedicated to helping multiracial children feel seen in the world of children’s literature. She is the founder of, a site with resources for parents raising multiracial children. She hopes that all children will see the beauty in their own color as Simone did!


brave ballerinaBrave Ballerina: The Story of Janet Collins
Written by Michelle Meadows
Illustrated by Ebony Glenn
Henry Holt, 2019

This is the story of Janet Collins, an African American dancer full of grace, who dreamed of becoming a ballerina during segregation in the 1930s and 1940s. Collins worked hard and persisted, taking private lessons when dance classes would not accept her, and refusing to lighten her skin to blend in with other ballerinas, giving up her chance to dance with a ballet company. Janet never gave up on her dream. Her talent, grace, and bravery finally paid off when Janet got the chance to shine on stage as a Prima Ballerina in 1951.

Michelle Meadows, a childhood ballerina who fell in love with dance again in adulthood, crafts a lyrical tribute to Janet’s journey. Beautifully written and illustrated, Meadows and Glenn’s work sets out to inspire the next generation of persistent prima ballerinas and brave trailblazers.

Today’s guest poster is Abby Sauer, a senior in studying Corporate Communications at Dominican University. Abby utilized the BCLC collections and resources for her Capstone project on diversity in picture books. Keep an eye out for the rest of her series of Butler’s Pantry posts on the topic. Thanks, Abby!

Flashback Friday: Recognizing Diverse Children’s Literature of the Past Few Years

The shelves in the Butler Children’s Literature Center are quickly filling up with our 2019 collection, and there are many wonderful stories ready to be read. With all our new books finding their home on our shelves, we wanted to take the time to recognize some noteworthy tales from the recent past. Today, we are throwing it back a few years to 2017 to highlight three books that tell great multicultural stories. All three, which have been featured on Booklist’s Top 10 Diverse Picture Books from 2017, feature diverse characters and cultural themes, empowering children to learn more about other cultures and to be proud of their own.

estabanEsteban De Luna, Baby Rescuer! Or Esteban de Luna, ¡Rescatador de Bebẻs!
By Larissa M. Mercado-López
Illustrated by Alex Pardo DeLange
Piñata Books, 2017

Dreaming of being a superhero, Esteban, a young Latino boy, wears his favorite green cape every day. There’s only one problem—his cape can’t do anything! Since Esteban’s cape does not give him any superpowers, he wants to give up both his cape and his dream. Until one day, when Esteban finds a lost baby doll in the park! Just as it’s begins to rain, Esteban scoops up the doll in his cape, protecting her from the storm. Esteban realizes that he does not need a power to be a hero, he is one all on his own!

Written in Spanish, with English translations on each page, Mercado-López tells an adorable story of bravery and confidence. Esteban’s character allows all children, particularly Latino kids like him, to feel like they can save the day and be a hero too!


nina simone

Nina: Jazz Legend and Civil Rights Activist Nina Simone
Written by Alice Briẻre-Haquet
Illustrated by Bruno Liance
Charlesbridge, 2017

Narrated by jazz musician and activist Nina Simone herself, this book tells the story of Simone’s childhood, her love of music, and her work with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Nina Simone dreams of a world where people of all races can dance together, like the notes made by the black and white keys on a piano come together to make beautiful music. She talks about how her dream and Dr. King’s dream have to be taken care of and how we must accept one another.

Beautifully written and accompanied by stunning black and white illustrations, Briẻre-Haquet teaches young readers about the incredible Nina Simone’s work at the piano and in the civil rights movement. This book teaches children about the past and helps them be accepting enough to create a kinder future.


halmoniWhere’s Halmoni?
Written and illustrated by Julie Kim
Little Bigfoot/Sasquatch, 2017

Siblings Noona and Joon cannot seem to find their Halmoni, or grandmother, anywhere! When searching for her, they find a door to a mysterious world. Their search takes them on an incredible journey where they encounter hungry rabbits, clever trolls, a wily fox, and a cheating tiger (oh my!). Through teamwork, and a little help from their new friends, Noona and Joon are able to outsmart the tricky tiger and return home safe and sound to find Halmoni waiting for them.

Kim calls on her Korean culture in her debut book, using characters from Korean folk tales to inspire the group of magical friends Noona and Joon meet on their journey. Through these tales and the use of many Korean phrases that children can learn how to write and say in the tutorial provided at the end, young readers can learn more about a new culture or see their own cultural tales told with a new twist.

All three of these books are great examples of diverse children’s literature. They teach about different cultures and about history while representing and empowering children from different cultural backgrounds. They, and many more multicultural stories, will always have a place in our hearts and on our shelves.


Today’s guest poster is Abby Sauer, a senior in Dominican University’s Communication Studies program. Abby utilized the BCLC collections and resources for her Capstone project on diversity in picture books. Keep an eye out for the rest of her series of Butler’s Pantry posts on the topic. Thanks, Abby!

Butler Youth Services Scholarship

book shelves Pexels

Are you interested in becoming part of a diverse and engaged youth-services-focused library community?

This $15,000 scholarship will be awarded
to a student seeking to earn an MLIS with a planned focus on
service to children and young adults.

The Butler Children’s Literature Center is proud to announce the creation of a new scholarship to support diversity in library service to young people.

Preference for the Butler Youth Services Scholarship will be given to graduates of a Dominican University undergraduate program who are from a background underrepresented in the field of library science. This competitive award will consider need, merit, academic excellence, and leadership qualities as part of the applicant selection process.

Butler Scholars Will:

  • complete the master’s degree in library and information science from Dominican University’s SOIS program within two calendar years of continuing enrollment
  • work closely with academic advisors on course selections with the goal of completing a Certificate in Youth Services or school library licensure as part of their degree
  • participate in a variety of Butler Center activities including the annual Butler Lecture, Book Sale, and continuing education events
  • produce a relevant project or complete an independent study using BCLC resources to be presented at a BCLC event and/or a state or national professional conference

For full eligibility and application requirements visit
Contact Jen Clemons, Curator, Butler Children’s Literature Center | 708-524-6861