Deborah Stevenson, PhD

Deborah Stevenson brought the Bulletin and the Center for Children’s Books to its 75th anniversary. During her decades-long career, the book market for children’s and young adult books rapidly expanded, diversified, and in the post-Harry Potter era, attracted increasing numbers of adult readers. 

Stevenson received a BA (1984) from Wesleyan University and went on to earn her PhD (1999) in English from the University of Chicago.1 Her relationship to the CCB and Bulletin began in 1989, when she was a doctoral student. Serving first as assistant and then as associate editor, her first years at the journal were marked by dynamic collaborations with Betsy Hearne and Roger Sutton. Ultimately, her career with the Bulletin spanned a staggering three decades, from 1989-2021 (editor 2001-2021), during which time she wrote more than 6,243 book reviews and examined close to 85,000 books. As editor, Stevenson continued predecessor Betsy Hearne’s model of cooperative reviewing, and she mentored new groups of students as regular book review writers. 

Under Stevenson’s leadership, the Bulletin began publishing in print and online simultaneously. Starting in 2005, subscribers could access the Bulletin through the Project Muse digital humanities package, a product of John Hopkins University. In 2020 and 2021, as the world grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic, Stevenson adjusted the Bulletin’s production processes to accommodate new realities for publishers and readers alike. Work shifted to a virtual platform and the Bulletin promoted a “pandemic-blind” approach to reviewing, acknowledging titles that positively “brought pieces of the world to their readers” beyond the realities of the 2020-21 year.2

Stevenson has taught courses in children’s literature at Indiana University Northwest, Simmons College, and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She is a senior editor of the Oxford University Encyclopedia of Children’s Literature and has published in the Horn Book Magazine, The Lion and the Unicorn, and Children’s Literature Association Quarterly; with Betsy Hearne, she co-authored Choosing Books for Children: A Commonsense Guide, 3rd ed. (1999).3