Sara L. Schwebel, the current director of the Center for Children’s Books, is a historian and children’s literature scholar whose publicly-engaged research centers on the way books, media, and school instruction shape young people’s conceptualizations of the past. Upon her 2019 arrival at the CCB, she launched a strategic planning process to map out the Center’s future during an era of change in book publishing and librarianship, as well as in iSchools nationwide.
Schwebel earned her BA in history from Yale University in 1998, then taught middle school US History in Northern Virginia before returning to graduate study at Harvard University, earning an AM in history (2002) and PhD in the History of American Civilization (2008). After another stint teaching middle school in Connecticut, she spent a decade teaching children’s literature in the English Department at the University of South Carolina before assuming the directorship of the Center for Children’s Books at the University of Illinois in 2019.
Schwebel is the author of Child-Sized History: Fictions of the Past in U.S. Classrooms (2011), editor of Island of the Blue Dolphins: The Complete Reader’s Edition (2016), The Lone Woman and Last Indians Digital Archive, and, with Channel Islands National Park, the Books-to-Parks subject site on Island of the Blue Dolphins. With Jocelyn Van Tuyl, she is the editor of Dust off the Gold Medal: Rediscovering Children’s Literature at the Newbery Centennial (2022).
Schwebel has served on the National Board of Directors of Girl Scouts of the USA (2005-11) and the Children’s Literature Association (2015-17). She is an inaugural member of the Scholars Council for the University of Florida’s Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature.1