A Sign of the Times: Agency & Voice in Middle Grade Literature

A Sign of the Times: Agency & Voice in Middle Grade Literature

Tuesday, August 16th, 2:00pm CDT

Join New York Times bestselling authors Jewell Parker Rhodes (Ghost Boys, Paradise on Fire) and John Cho (Troublemaker) for a riveting conversation with educator Sarah Park Dahlen on middle grade literature. They will discuss writing exciting, emotionally rich fiction that features young people navigating the challenges of their families and neighborhoods, while exploring some of America’s most urgent social movements.

A Certificate of Attendance will be issued to those who attend this webinar. A recording will be posted to Mackin.com for those who cannot participate in the live session.

Watch the Recording


John Cho

Author & Actor

John Cho is known as Harold from the Harold & Kumar films, Hikaru Sulu from the 2009 film Star Trek, and as the star of the highly anticipated live-action Netflix series, Cowboy Bebop, based on the worldwide cult anime phenomenon (news of which “broke the Internet,” to quote Vanity Fair). Cho is also a former English teacher who grew up as a Korean immigrant in Texas and East L.A. He is also a proud father, with his Japanese American wife Kerri, of two beautiful children: a 9-year-old daughter and a 13-year-old son who both love to read. Troublemaker, which follows the events of the 1992 L.A. Riots through the eyes of Korean American 12-year-old Jordan, is his first novel.

Jewell Parker Rhodes


Jewell Parker Rhodes is the author of Ninth Ward, winner of a Coretta Scott King Honor; Sugar, winner of the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award; and the New York Times bestselling Ghost Boys; as well as Bayou Magic; Towers Falling; Black Brother, Black Brother; and Paradise on Fire. She has written many award-winning novels for adults, including Magic City, a novel about the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Rhodes is the Virginia G. Piper Endowed Chair of Creative Writing at Arizona State University.

Sarah Park Dahlen


Sarah Park Dahlen is an associate professor in the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she is also affiliate faculty in the Department of Asian American Studies and the Center for East Asian & Pacific Studies. A graduate of UCLA’s Asian American Studies Department, she earned her Ph.D. and M.S. in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She co-edits Research on Diversity in Youth Literature with Sonia Alejandra Rodríguez; co-edited Diversity in Youth Literature with Jamie Campbell Naidoo; and co-edited the Children’s Literature Association Quarterly Special Issue on Orphanhood and Adoption in Children’s Literature with Lies Wesseling. Her next books address Asian American youth literature with Paul Lai, and race in the world of Harry Potter with Ebony Elizabeth Thomas. She is represented by Trish Lawrence of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency, and can be contacted at sarahpark.com and @readingspark.

Kia Heise, Ph.D. – Host

Mackin Learning

Kia Heise holds a doctorate in Sociology and taught in Los Angeles and the Twin Cities for several years before joining Mackin Learning. Her approach is informed by thousands of hours learning how to navigate discussions of social inequality with diverse groups of young people. She is also the author of the Little Sock picture books.

Kia Heise