Author, teacher, librarian and literacy advocate, Esme Raji Codell will be the featured speaker at The Big Read Kick Off which will be held on Thursday, April 2, 2009 from 6-8pm at Film Row Cinema, 1104 S. Wabash, 8th Floor.
First famous for her bestselling tell-all diary of her first year of teaching in a Chicago Public School, Educating Esme, and her landmark resource guide, How to Get Your Child to Love Reading, Esme turned her talents to writing multicultural books for intermediate readers. Her novel Sahara Special has received starred reviews from Kirkus and Publisher's Weekly, was a # 1 Booksense 76 pick and won the International Reading Association Children's Book Award for Intermediate Fiction.
She is the author of several other books for children that have earned praise and a strong and lively fan base: her childhood memoir Sing a Song of Tuna Fish is a perennial favorite for teaching children to journal, Diary of a Fairy Godmother is a fairy-tale tell-all that leads readers to make their own wishes come true, and Hanukkah Shmanukkah gives Dickens' classic a fresh twist. The anticipated companion novel to Sahara Special, titled Vive la Paris, was the first novel featuring an African-American protagonist to win a Sydney Taylor honor.
The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment of the Arts in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Arts Midwest. This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.