Past Webinar Series

Spring 2022 Webinar Series

February 3, 2022
Children’s Africana Book Awards
Idia of the Benin Kingdom, authored by Ekiuwa Aire & illustrated by Alina Shabelnyk, introduces the life of Queen Idia of the ancient kingdom of Benin (located in present-day Nigeria). Queen Idia played an important role during the reign of her son who ruled Benin from 1504-1550. This story tells of a young Idia who pursued her dreams, believed in herself, and became the first Queen Mother of Benin.  Ekiuwa Aire was born and raised in Benin City, Edo, Nigeria. She moved to England when she was nine and it was here, away from all she had grown up with, that she discovered her passion for writing. Ekiuwa co-wrote her first book while finishing high school and continued developing her craft while earning a Bachelor of Economics and a Master of Business Administration. She is passionate about African history and incorporates the richness of many cultures into her books. When she encountered difficulty finding a publisher for Idia she self-published.  The picture book is a  2021 CABA Best Book.

March 222022
South Asia Book Award
A Thousand Questions by Saadia Faruqi (Quill Tree Books, 2020). Mimi is spending the summer in Karachi and learns about the city and the culture through the eyes of Sakina, who works at Mimi’s grandparents’ house. Sakina wants to attend a school and needs to improve her English, and helps Mimi find her dad.  A heartfelt and delightful book about two girls from different worlds, of friendships and families. View Recording here.

April 13, 2022
Américas Award
Family separation and childhood resilience is at the center of Efrén’s story. Ernesto Cisneros’ debut book Efrén Divided (2021 Américas Award Commended Title) follows a boy whose life changes from day to night when his mom is deported back to Mexico. Efrén’s amá is his soperwoman, an endearing term inspired by the delicious sopes (fried masa with topics) that she often makes for Efrén and his younger siblings, twins Max and Mia. Efrén is very conscious of the sacrifices his parents make to provide for their family, seeing his apá and amá work all day to make ends meet. Living through 4 ICE raids in his immigrant community, Efrén cannot help but fear what would eventually come true, being separated from one of his parents. Cisneros visits a harsh reality for many kids in the US, the fear of separation followed by the uncertainty of ever returning to a united family. Efrén faces his difficult situation with the hope that he can work for something greater that would benefit his community and inspired by his mom, become “soperboy.” (Grades 3-7). View recording below.

May 18, 2022
Freeman Book Award
Join us as we explore the book, While I was Away by Waka T. Brown (2021 Honorable Mention Freeman Book Award). When twelve-year-old Waka’s parents suspect she can’t understand the basic Japanese they speak to her, they make a drastic decision to send her to Tokyo to live for several months with her strict grandmother. Forced to say goodbye to her friends and what would have been her summer vacation, Waka is plucked from her straight-A-student life in rural Kansas and flown across the globe, where she faces the culture shock of a lifetime. In Japan, Waka struggles with reading and writing in kanji, doesn’t quite mesh with her complicated and distant Obaasama, and gets made fun of by the students in her Japanese public-school classes. Even though this is the country her parents came from, Waka has never felt more like an outsider. If she’s always been the “smart Japanese girl” in America but is now the “dumb foreigner” in Japan, where is home…and who will Waka be when she finds it? View the recording by clicking here.

June 16
Middle East Outreach Book Award
Join us to explore The Library Bus by Bahram Rahman. Author Bahram Rahman grew up in Afghanistan during years of civil war and the restrictive Taliban regime of 1996-2001. He wrote The Library Bus to tell new generations about the struggles of women who, like his own sister, were forbidden to learn. Award-winning illustrator Gabrielle Grimard’s pensive and captivating art transports the reader to Afghanistan in the time after the Taliban’s first regime. Her rich landscapes and compelling characters celebrate literacy, ingenuity, and the strength of women and girls demanding a future for themselves. View recording below.


Spring 2021

January 12
Américas Award

Aida Salazar sets a new standard for the coming of age novel with this expertly crafted debut novel that reflects many of the realities that young people of color face today.Written in verse, this novel is artfully done and accessible; a must read for all gender identities. By fore fronting menstruation, Salazar helps to normalize what is still considered taboo in the 21st century while reminding us that we are a small part of something much greater. Join us and hear Salazar share her book2019 book, The Moon Within (Grades 4 and up). View the recording here.

February 3
Africana Book Award

This book can serve as a pertinent tool for adults discussing global history and race relations with children. Its graphic novel style and mixed media art portray the vibrancy and grit of Hector’s daily life and untimely death. Heartbreaking yet relevant, this powerful story gives voice to an ordinary boy and sheds light on events that helped lead to the end of apartheid. View the recording here.

March 11
Middle East Book Award

2020 Picture Book Award Winner: SALMA THE SYRIAN CHEF by Danny Ramadan, illustrated by Anna Bron (Annick Press, 2020). Salma and her mother have recently arrived in Vancouver and all Salma wants to do is make her mama smile again.  Between English classes, job interviews, and missing Papa back in Syria, Mama always seems busy or sad.  A homemade Syrian meal might cheer her up!  The staff and other newcomers at the Welcome Center are happy to help out. Syrian culture is beautifully represented through the meal Salma prepares and the diverse cast of characters speaks to the power of cultivating community in challenging circumstances. In this webinar, Danny Ramadan will first speak about his book, followed by a conversation on Syrian food and culture. Accessible for readers ages 4-7/ Pre-K-2nd grade. View the recording here.

April 8, 2021
Freeman Book Award

Join us for a discussion of The Silence of Bones. 1800, Joseon (Korea). Homesick and orphaned sixteen-year-old Seol is living out the ancient curse: “May you live in interesting times.” Indentured to the police bureau, she’s been tasked with assisting a well-respected young inspector with the investigation into the politically charged murder of a noblewoman

As they delve deeper into the dead woman’s secrets, Seol forms an unlikely bond of friendship with the inspector. But her loyalty is tested when he becomes the prime suspect, and Seol may be the only one capable of discovering what truly happened on the night of the murder

But in a land where silence and obedience are valued above all else, curiosity can be deadly.

May 13
South Asia Book Award

Twelve-year old Nisha is forced to escape her home in 1947 with her Hindu family during the partition of India. Trying to make sense of the world during this treacherous moment in history, she writes letters to her Muslim mother in her journal, who died in childbirth. (Grades 5-8) Check out the recording here.

Spring 2020 Webinar Series

February 26, 2020Africana Book Award – Africa Access
Check out the recorded webinar here.
This month’s book award is sponsored by the Africana Book Award. Three time CABA winner Elizabeth Zunon will discuss her award-winning CABA books and her career. Her 2019 book, Grandpa Cacao, A Tale of Chocolate from Farm to Family combines her talents as illustrator and author. The picture book connects past and present as a girl bakes a chocolate cake with her father and learns how her grandfather harvested cacao beans in Ivory Coast, West Africa. This is a picture book appropriate for PreK – 2nd grade.

March 18 2020Middle East Outreach Council
Check out the recorded webinar here.
This webinar will explore the book, Darius the Great is Not OKAY by by Adib Khorram (Dial Books, 2018), winner of the 2019 Middle East Book Award for Youth Literature. Darius Kellner knows a lot about tea, Tolkien, and taroffing, one of many Iranian customs Adib Khorram shares with the reader of this revelatory middle school-level novel. When a family trip brings socially awkward Darius to Iran for the first time from Portland, Oregon, he discovers his first true friend and a place that begins to feel like home. The Iran of this novel is as multidimensional as the diverse characters who inhabit it. Co-sponsored by the Middle East Outreach Council and the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University. Recommended grade level 7 – 9.

April 14 2020South Asia Book Award and South Asia National Outreach Council present Barb Rosenstock and her book The Secret Kingdom: Nek Chand, a Changing India, and a Hidden World of Art. In 1947, Nek Chand began building a Rock Garden in Chandigarh, India, using natural and discarded manmade materials, including broken glass, porcelain from chipped sinks, old bicycles and rusty pipes.  Readers will learn of Chand’s marvelous creations in this picture book biography with detailed illustrations and a gatefold photograph. (Grades 2-5)
Check out the recorded webinar here.

May 11 2020Américas Award
Francie Latour’s 2019 Américas Award Honor Book, Auntie Luce’s Talking Paintings tells the story of Ti Chou (tee-SHOO), a Haitian-American girl who travels to visit her beloved and convention-defying aunt, a painter who lives in Haiti. Rich with history, heroes, and cultural pride, the book traces Ti Chou’s journey to a distant ancestral home, and the powerful family connection that bridges the physical, cultural, and generational divides of her hyphenated identity. Sponsored by the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs with additional support from  Florida International University, Stanford University, The Ohio State University, UNC-Duke Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, University of Florida, University of New Mexico, University of Texas at Austin, University of Utah, and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. CHECK OUT THE RECORDED VIDEO HERE.

June 23, 2020Freeman Book Award – The National Consortium for Teaching about Asia. This webinar will focus on the book, Girl of the Southern Sea by Michelle Kadarusman (Pajama Press). TO ATTEND THIS WEBINAR, PLEASE REGISTER HERE.

From the time she was a little girl, Nia has dreamed up adventures about the Javanese mythical princess, Dewi Kadita. Now fourteen, Nia would love nothing more than to continue her education and become a writer. But high school costs too much. Her father sells banana fritters at the train station, but too much of his earnings go toward his drinking habit. Too often Nia is left alone to take over the food cart as well as care for her brother and their home in the Jakarta slums. But Nia is determined to find a way to earn her school fees. After she survives a minibus accident unharmed and the locals say she is blessed with ‘good luck magic,’ Nia exploits the notion for all its worth by charging double for her fried bananas. Selling superstitions can be dangerous, and when the tide turns it becomes clear that Nia’s future is being mapped without her consent. If Nia is to write a new story for herself, she must overcome more obstacles than she could ever have conceived of for her mythical princess, and summon courage she isn’t sure she has.


January 22, 2019 
Middle East Book Award
The first webinar of the series is co-sponsored by the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University and the Middle East Outreach Council. The webinar will explore the book, The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar, winner of the 2018 Middle East Book Award for Youth Literature. The Map of Salt and Stars is part cartography, part poetry, and part call to action. The gripping narrative interweaves the journeys of two strong and intelligent female protagonists: Nour, a Syrian-American girl escaping the violence of the civil war, and Rawiya, a 12th-century girl who dresses as a boy to become apprentice to the famous mapmaker al-Idrisi. Beautifully written descriptions of Nour’s synesthesia help us understand her experiences in new ways. Check out Zeybnab’s instagram where she has worked with schools creating a map of Nour and Rawiya’s travels. You can follow her on twitter or read more about her work on her site. CHECK OUT THE WEBINAR:

February 15, 2019 
Africana Book Award – Africa Access
This month’s book award is sponsored by the Africana Book Award. Please join us in learning more about the book, When Morning Comes by Arushi Raina. This fictionalized account of a student uprising that began in Soweto, South Africa, on June 16, 1976, unfolds through the first-person narratives of four young adults from different backgrounds whose lives intersect. An African student, Zanele, secretly organizes the protest against the Afrikaans Medium Decree Act, which required the use of English and Afrikaans (“the language of the oppressors”) in schools. Her apolitical friend Thabo heads a local gang, extorting money from an Indian store owner, whose daughter Meena, is sympathetic to the students. Meanwhile, Jack, a white Afrikaner, meets, befriends, and comes to love Zanele. 

March 20, 2019 : Américas Book Award
Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs
We explored the book, Lucky, Broken Girl by Ruth Behar a 2018 Honorable Mention Américas Book and winner of the 2018 Pura Belpré award. In this unforgettable multicultural coming-of-age novel – based on the author’s childhood in the 1960s – a young Cuban-Jewish immigrant girl is adjusting to her new life in New York City when her American dream is suddenly derailed. Ruthie’s plight will intrigue readers and her powerful story of strength and resilience, full of color, light, and poignancy, will stay with them for a long time.
Additional support generously provided by Florida International University, Tulane University, University of Florida, University of Texas at Austin, the University of Utah, and Vanderbilt University.

April 11, 2019Freeman Book Award – East and Southeast Asia
National Consortium for Teaching about Asia
Author Alan Gratz and his book, Grenade. It’s 1945, and the world is in the grip of war. Hideki lives on Okinawa, an island near Japan. When he is drafted to fight for the Japanese army, he is handed a grenade and told: Don’t come back until you’ve killed an American soldier. Ray, a young American Marine, has just landed on Okinawa. This is Ray’s first-ever battle and all he knows is that the enemy is everywhere. Hideki and Ray each fight their way across the island, surviving heart-pounding clashes and dangerous attacks. But when the two of them collide in the middle of the battle, the choices they make in that single instant will change everything. Click here for the Archived Webinar.

May 8, 2019:
South Asia Book Award
South Asia National Outreach Council
The South Asia Book Award highlights the work of Mitali Perkins with her work, You Bring the Distant Near. Five girls. Three generations. One great American love story. Ranee, worried that her children are losing their Indian culture; Sonia, wrapped up in a forbidden biracial love affair; Tara, seeking the limelight to hide her true self; Shanti, desperately trying to make peace in the family; Anna, fighting to preserve her Bengali identity. Perkins Discusses her book and its use in the K-12 Classroom.

2018 Webinar Series

FEBRUARY 8, 2018
The Américas Award 
explored the diversity of Latin America by focusing on Cuba with award winning author, Margarita Engle. Engle, the national Young People’s Poet Laureate discussed her book Lion Island and shared teaching and discussion ideas to explore the story of Antonio Chuffat, a young man of African, Chinese, and Cuban descent who becomes a champion for civil rights. We discussed the historical context and learned more with the author and Associate Director of the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee’s Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies and founder of the Américas Award, Julie Kline. This webinar was sponsored by the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs with additional support from Tulane University’s Stone Center for Latin American StudiesFlorida International University and The University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies. Download the lesson plan by Sylvia Vardell for Lion Island.


MARCH 12, 2018
The South Asia Book Award 
held a conversation  with  Padma Venkatraman, author of Island’s End. Island’s End explores issues of cultural identity and activism in the Andaman Islands. Venkatraman discussed her inspiration to tackle issues such as gender equity, leadership, and environmental stewardship. We explored ways of incorporating these themes in the classroom and wider community. VIEW THE RECORDED WEBINAR BELOW.

APRIL 26, 2018

The Middle East Book Award is pleased to present during National Arab American Heritage month a conversation with award-winning author, Ibtisam Barakat on her book Balcony on the Moon: Coming of Age in Palestine, an enlightening look at the not often depicted daily life in a politically tumultuous area. Barakat will discuss a life full of challenges that inspired defiance and creative ways of finding solutions. Join us as we discuss human rights, gender equality, and the power of words to take us and our thoughts to faraway places.

Qatar Foundation International (QFI), in partnership with the Middle East Outreach Council (MEOC), is pleased to offer its Educator Book Program which will provide K-12 educators with the opportunity to obtain up to three classroom sets of books recognized by the Middle East Book Awards, including “TASTING THE SKY, A Palestinian Childhood” and “BALCONY ON THE MOON, Coming of Age in Palestine” by Ibtisam Barakat, as well as other MEOC winning books. Click here for more information.

MAY 17, 2018
The Children’s Africana Book Award explores the nature and brutality of British colonialism in Kenya with Meja Mwangi, author of CABA winner Mzungu Boy. “The novel is set in the early 1950s as the MauMau movement was gathering strength in the “White” Highlands. When the boy Kariuki meets “mzungu” (white guy), the grandson of the plantation owner, the story takes off. As the boys become closer friends, their surrounding world becomes more fearful and violent. Still, the two boys try to have fun together and understand each other’s strange ways. Readers will learn much about the nature and brutality of colonialism from this novel and its effect on ordinary people” (Barbara Brown). “Mwangi’s work won the prestigious Deutscher Jugendliteraturepreis by winning the hearts and minds of both youth and adult jury members, no small accomplishment.” (Lori Walker).  Sponsored by the African Studies Outreach Council.


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