Gryphon Lecture

The Gryphon Lecture series is hosted every spring semester by the Center for Children’s Books and features a leading scholar in the field of youth and literature, media, and culture. Gryphon Lectures are free and open to students and the public. A reception to discuss issues raised, network across departments, and meet with the speaker follows each lecture. Illinois educators are eligible to receive CPDU recognition for participation.


2017 Gryphon Lecture | Kafi Kumasi

On Friday, April 28th at 7 pm in Room 126, Dr. Kafi Kumasi, associate professor of library and information science (LIS) at Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, presented the 2017 Gryphon Lecture, “Check the Rhyme: Harnessing Hip Hop’s Enduring Literacies with Youth in Libraries”.

Hip Hop has become a worldwide cultural and commercial phenomenon that significantly shapes the way young people view and interact in the world. At a time when Black and Latino male youth are being hyper-criminalized and incarcerated at high rates in the U.S., it is important to remember the gifts that young Black and Latinos have given the world by founding Hip Hop on the streets of New York in the 1970’s and 80s. Using Paulo Friere’s concept of literacy as transformative thinking and problem solving, Dr. Kumasi outlines some of the enduring literacies of Hip Hop that can teachers and librarians can use to honor students’  knowledge and social justice concerns in the learning process.

Kumasi publications include book chapters, and journal articles in (among others) Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, The Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults, School Libraries Worldwide, School Library Media Research, and Urban Library Journal. Her research interests include issues of literacy, equity and diversity, particularly in urban educational environments spanning K12 and graduate school contexts.

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Past Gryphon Lectures

2017: “Check the Rhyme: Harnessing Hip Hop’s Enduring Literacies with Youth in Libraries”
Presented by Dr. Kafi Kumasi, Associate Professor of library and information science (LIS) at Wayne State University.

2016: “The True Story of Teens and Social Media: Using Teen-Centered Research to Break Down Pervasive Stereotypes”
Presented by Dr. Denise Agosto, Professor of Information Science at Drexel University.

2015: “Research on Children, Youth and Media: Applications for LIS Education and Practice” 
Presented by Dr. Rebekah Willett, Assistant Professor of Library and Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

2014: “Augusta Baker and the Art of Storytelling: Gateway to Children’s Literacy and Literature”
Presented by Dr. Michelle Martin, the inaugural Augusta Baker Endowed Chair of Children’s Literacy at the School of Library and Information Science at the University of South Carolina.

2013: “Paradoxically Speaking: Just One of the Ways Children’s Folktales Engage Listeners”
Presented by Dr. Brian Sturm, Associate Professor at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

2012: “Grounding Our Perspectives in Children’s Literature”
Presented by Dr. Margaret Mackey, Professor of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alberta.

2011: “Books Build Better Brains: Wanderings at the Intersection of Children’s Literature and Early Brain Development”
Presented by Dr. Dipesh Navsaria, pediatrician at Madison’s American Family Children’s Hospital and the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin’s School of Medicine and Public Health.

2010: “Children’s Search Experiences in the Age of Google, Today and Tomorrow”
Presented by Dr. Allison Druin, Director of the Human-Computer Interaction Lab (HCIL) and an Associate Professor in the University of Maryland’s College of Information Studies.

2009: “What’s So Funny About Children’s Literature?”
Presented by Dr. Karen Coats, Director of English Education at Illinois State University and current reviewer for the Bulletin.

2008: “‘Because really they only have a few books I like…’ Why Reading Teens Don’t Use Libraries
Presented by Dr. Lynne McKechnie, Beverly Cleary Professor in Services and Literature for Youth at the Information School at the University of Washington and Professor at the Faculty for Information & Media Studies, University of Western Ontario.

2007: “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore”
Presented by Roger Sutton, Editor-in-Chief of The Horn Book Magazine, former Editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books.

2006: “Stony the Road We Trod : African American Children’s Literature, Stories of a People’s Journey”
Presented by Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop, Faculty Emeritus, School of Teaching and Learning, Ohio State University.

2005: “Becoming What You Eat: Identifying with Food in Children’s Picture Books”
Presented by Perry Nodelman, Professor of English at the University of Winnipeg. No audio available.

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