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Events honor award-winning children's author

Posted November 4, 2015

Eleanora E. Tate, children's author

Wake County Public Libraries and the N.C. Museum of History will host a series of events this month honoring award-winning children's author and Triangle resident Eleanora E. Tate.

Tate is celebrating the milestone anniversaries of two of her acclaimed middle-grade novels: "Thank You, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." turned 25 and "Just an Overnight Guest," which also was made into a TV movie of the same name, turned 35.

Kelly Starling Lyons, another acclaimed children's writer from the Triangle, shared the details about the upcoming events with me and pointed out the need for diversity and equity in children's literature. The #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, for instance, is highlighting the need for more books that feature diverse characters and stories.

The campaign's website quotes Rudine Sims Bishop in a 1990 article titled "Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Doors" as writing, "When children cannot find themselves reflected in the books they read, or when the images they see are distorted, negative, or laughable, they learn a powerful lesson about how they are devalued in the society of which they are a part.”

It's important for all of us to read about diverse cultures and people as those stories can open our eyes to the rest of the world beyond our little corner. Lyons shared this quote with me from Tate: "I write books and short stories so that everyone of every ethnic group can read about the proud history and culture of African Americans. I share what I have seen and experienced, and what other folks have told me, to create a good read."

Tate has been a newspaper reporter, a folklorist, a business owner, a creative writing teacher, and an author in schools, libraries, on university campuses and at literature conferences around the country and in Canada and Bermuda for nearly 50 years. She is the author of 11 children’s and young adult books. She taught children’s literature at North Carolina Central University and has been an instructor with the Institute of Children’s Literature at West Redding, Conn. She recently retired from the master's degree seeking program “Writing for Children and Young Adults” at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn.

Programs begin this weekend and continue through Dec. 6 and include discussions about several of Tate's children's books, along with a screening, Dec. 6, of "Just an Overnight Guest." Wake County's library website has the details.

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