The spotlight will shine on their contributions to the national pastime at this year's American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference (www.ala.org) being held at McCormick Place this weekend.
"Pride and Passion: The African American Baseball Experience" features a distinguished panel of speakers, including author Sharon Robinson, daughter of Jackie Robinson; Lawrence R. Hogan, author of "Shades of Glory: The Negro Leagues and the Story of African-American Baseball", and Coretta Scott King Book Award winner Kadir Nelson, author and illustrator of "We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball." The program is open to librarians attending the national convention.
Author Sharon Robinson (www.sharonrobinsonink.com) has captivated readers with her memoir Stealing Home (HarperCollins Publishers, 1996) and her recounting of growing up in the public eye. Jackie's Nine (Scholastic, 2001) is her book for young readers about the nine heartfelt, hard-won values that helped her father, Jackie Robinson, achieve his goals. Her photographic biography for children, Promises to Keep: How Jackie Robinson Changed America (Scholastic, February 2004) received rave reviews. Safe At Home, her first fiction novel for young readers, was published in June 2006. The sequel, Slam Dunk! was published in September 2007. Those two novels are geared toward "reluctant readers" and Sharon has traveled all around the country talking to children, teachers, and librarians to motivate youngsters to read. Her work was inspired in part by her only son, Jesse, himself a reluctant reader. Her first picture book, Testing the Ice: A True Story About Jackie Robinson, is illustrated by Kadir Nelson and will be published in October 2009.
Ms. Robinson is an educational consultant for Major League Baseball, overseeing school and community-based educational programs. She works with children through a program she founded for MLB called "Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life" www.mlb.com/breakingbarriers . The multi-cultural character-education program is designed to empower students with strategies to help them face obstacles in their lives. The message is delivered by examining the values demonstrated in the lives of Jackie Robinson and many of today's baseball stars. Since its inception in 1997, the program has reached over 16 million children across the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada.
Immediately after attending the ALA Convention in Chicago, Sharon will be flying to St. Louis to meet kids who participated in the Breaking Barriers program to attend Major League Baseball's All-Star Game, next Tuesday, July 14. President Obama will be throwing out the first pitch. To find out more about Sharon's work with Breaking Barriers, go to www.mlb.com/breakingbarriers.
Prior to joining Major League Baseball, Ms. Robinson taught at such prestigious universities as Yale, Columbia, Howard and Georgetown. In addition, she directed the PUSH for Excellence program founded by Rev. Jesse L. Jackson from 1985 to 1990 and was a fund-raiser for The United Negro College Fund and A Better Chance. Ms. Robinson currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Jackie Robinson Foundation and the Roberto Clemente Sports City Complex in Carolina, Puerto Rico.
Sharon Robinson received her Bachelor's degree from Howard University in 1973 and her Master's degree from Columbia University in 1976. She went on to receive a post-Master's Certificate in Teaching from the School of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1998, Ms. Robinson received her Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, from Medaille College.
She has a son, Jesse, and divides her time between New York and Florida.
To find out more about Sharon Robinson visitwww.sharonrobinsonink.com.
About "Safe At Home"
The story, Safe at Home is based on Sharon Robinson's research and interviews with kids from the Harlem RBI program, is about a boy named Elijah Breeze, aka "Jumper," whose father recently died and who must move from the suburbs to his mother's childhood neighborhood in Harlem. Until he reluctantly attends a free baseball camp, a.k.a. Harlem RBI, he is isolated, angry, and knows little about baseball. Ultimately, he finds new friends, a coach who believes in him, and empowering experiences on and off the field. The story is a fictional fusion of the real experiences and true spirit of the children Sharon Robinson interviewed in East Harlem.
About "Slam Dunk!"
Sharon Robinson delivers an action-packed sequel to her novel Safe at Home. Readers will identify as Jumper struggles to balance sports and academics, and new and old friendships, all in his first year of middle-school. In Slam Dunk, Jumper settles into his new life in Harlem and enters a new school. His plans include hitting the books and hitting the court for some serious basketball. But first, he and his best friend, Kelvin, have to help their coach get the gym fixed so there can even be a basketball team. Next comes word that Jumper's rival, Marcus, is transferring to his school. Plus he's got to jump-start his campaign to win a spot on the student council, where he's facing a fierce opponent: his good friend, Nia. Middle school is going to be a tough game!
About "Testing the Ice: A True Story About Jackie Robinson"
Jackie Robinson's legacy is unmistakable. His courage--on and off the baseball field--has inspired generations. In Testing the Ice: A Story About Jackie Robinson, his only daughter, Sharon Robinson shares a heartwarming childhood memory in her first picture book. The book is illustrated by two-time Caldecott Honor artist Kadir Nelson. When Jackie Robinson retires from baseball and moves his family to Connecticut, the beautiful lake on their property is the center of everyone's fun. But oddly, Jackie never goes near the water. That first winter, Jackie must test the ice on the lake to make sure it's safe for ice-skating. As he is about to pronounce it safe, a terrible noise roars from below--BOOM! It is only then that Sharon realizes why she's never seen her father in the water. In a dramatic episode, Sharon comes to understand Jackie's fears--and to experience what an amazing hero he is. With a new appreciation of her father, she watches as he bravely taps his way to the middle of the lake and declares it safe. In a stunning metaphor for Jackie Robinson's legendary breaking of the color barrier in Major League Baseball, Sharon Robinson honors her extraordinary father's memory with her warm graceful storytelling.
If you love baseball, Sharon Robinson challenges you to "Step Up to the Plate." It's a baseball trivia contest that teams up two American classics - baseball and libraries - to promote the importance of information literacy skills and increase awareness of the library as an essential information resource. People of all ages are encouraged to visit their library and answer a series of trivia questions inspired by this history and diversity of our national pastime. Trivia questions, developed by the library staff at the Hall of Fame, focus on multiculturalism in baseball and baseball around the world.
Trivia questions are now available to library users on the program's Web site.