Today's Committee comprises more than 40 members, all volunteers from various professions and backgrounds concerned with children and books. Members use their skills and expertise to foster the unique point of view bequeathed to us by our founding organization, namely how books can affect young readers, and what books can do for them.
A retired school librarian, Rita Auerbach currently serves on the Ezra Jack Keats Awards Committee, which honors new authors and illustrators of picture books, the Anne Izard Storytellers’ Choice Award Committee, and ALA’s Coretta Scott King/Virginia Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award Committee. She is a member of the board of ALA’s Association for Library Service to Children. She has also chaired ALA’s Caldecott and Notable Children’s Books Committees and has served on the Newbery, Coretta Scott King, Batchelder, and New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books Committees. She co-founded ALA’s Storytelling Discussion Group and has told stories at the Connecticut Storytelling Festival, the Hans Christian Andersen statue in Central Park, and the American Museum of Natural History, and she has taught storytelling to teachers and librarians throughout the metropolitan area.
Alice Belgray earned a PhD in musicology but changed careers over 25 years ago. She studied children’s literature and worked as a children’s book editor for several major publishing firms. She later joined the Children’s Book Committee, which she chaired from 1997 to 2011.
Beryl Bresgi is the head librarian and director of Holocaust studies at the Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County, New Jersey. This Pre-K through 8th-grade school provides her with many opportunities to field-test the books read by the Book Committee.
Jennifer M. Brown
Jennifer M. Brown began her career editing and marketing children’s books at what was then Harper & Row. She has taught K–3 at the Buckley School in New York and was the children’s reviews editor at Publishers Weekly for nine years. She is now the children’s editor for Shelf Awareness, an e-newsletter to the book trade, and also the director of the Center for Children’s Literature at Bank Street.
Allie Bruce is the Bank Street Library’s interim children’s librarian (a.k.a. library media specialist). As children’s librarian, she guides students into becoming independent library users, responsible researchers, and lifelong lovers of reading. A graduate of the Pratt Institute, with a master’s in library science—library media studies, Allie reviews children’s books for School Library Journal and Shelf Awareness and is a member of ALA’s 2013–2014 Notable Audible Awards Committee. Allie began her career working as a bookseller at Politics and Prose Bookstore in Washington, DC.
Isadora Carreras has worked as a teacher and fundraiser for educational nonprofit organizations focusing on gifted and talented students, bilingual education, and programs designed to decrease the achievement gap in children from low-income communities. Throughout her career, Isadora has incorporated her love for children’s literature into her work, from raising funds to bring books into schools to the development of a memorial book room for students.
Mary Clark is a retired school librarian and technology coordinator, still active on ALSC committees and leading children’s book groups (the Young Critics Clubs) at Perrot Memorial Library in Old Greenwich, CT. In her early career, Mary worked internationally as an AMI certified Montessori teacher.
Linda Colarusso studied children’s book illustration with Natalie Babbitt and spent many years as a fine artist and arts administrator. She now works full time as the assistant to the upper school coordinator at the Bank Street School for Children.
Ayanna Coleman is the librarian and associate manager for events and programs at the Children’s Book Council as well as the founding agent of Quill Shift Literary Agency LLC. Ayanna has a bachelor’s degree in marketing and a master’s in library science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with a concentration in youth services.
Margaret C. Cooper
Margaret C. Cooper has been an elementary school teacher in Alabama (during the Civil Rights struggle) and in New Jersey in grades 1–5 as well as in a junior high reading lab. She worked in children’s book publishing and has published her own middle-grade fiction, including The Riddle of Changewater Pond and Solution: Escape. Her vital interest in world history is reflected in offices held in county and local historical societies and membership in the NY Historical Society.
Nicole Deming is the senior communications manager at the Children’s Book Council—the national nonprofit trade association for children’s book publishers—and Every Child a Reader, a 501(c)(3) literacy nonprofit dedicated to instilling a lifelong love of reading in children. Previously, she worked in publicity/marketing at Candlewick Press and in creative development at FamilyFun Magazine.
Becky Eisenberg has been teaching in independent elementary schools for 10 years, and she currently teaches the 9/10s at the Bank Street School for Children. Becky has a passion for teaching reading and for children’s literature. She received an MSEd in teaching literacy and childhood general education from Bank Street College of Education. Becky’s favorite young reader is her son.
Margery Fisher served as the library media specialist at Coleytown Middle School in Westport, CT, for 25 years. During that time, she guided the automation of the library, assisted with the change from junior high to middle school, served as advisor to the student government and began a service program for students. Since her retirement, she has been a member of the Children’s Book Committee and has been an editor of its annual list.
Amy Fontaine has been an early childhood and elementary school educator and administrator in independent schools in New York City for over 20 years. Currently the co-librarian of the lower school library at St. Ann’s School in Brooklyn, she is also a certified reading specialist.
Alexandra Grannis is a learning disabilities specialist who works with children who have difficulty in learning to read. She is interested in promoting the best children’s literature for all students, but especially for the children she teaches. She is co-director of the Young Reviewers Program.
Linda Greengrass was the director of the Bank Street Library for 11 years. Previously, she was the children’s librarian at Bank Street for over 15 years. She is co-chair of the Children’s Book Committee.
Todd Jackson was a learning specialist in the Bank Street School for Children for 20 years. Upon retirement from the SFC, she joined the Children’s Book Committee, where she is co-director of the Young Reviewers program. She works to enrich the language arts and library program at the Cornelia Connelly Center, a private middle school for low-income girls on the Lower East Side.
Rebecca Johnson has been an elementary school teacher since 2000. She is currently co-librarian of the lower school library at Saint Ann’s School, an independent school in Brooklyn Heights, where she shares books from the Children’s Book Committee with 300 eager readers.
Mollie Welsh Kruger
Mollie Welsh Kruger has been an early childhood and elementary school teacher in New York City for over 20 years. While working on her doctorate, she became engaged in deeper conversations regarding literacy and, thus, children’s literature. Currently, Mollie is on the graduate faculty of Bank Street College of Education in the Reading and Literacy Program and is co-chair of the Children’s Book Committee.
Patricia Lakin, a former elementary school teacher, is a full-time writer of children’s books. She has written over 50 children’s books, one of which is the middle-grade biography Steve Jobs: Thinking Differently. She makes frequent school visits where she shares her writing experience and also gives writing workshops to students and teachers.
Laurent Linn began his career as a puppet designer in Jim Henson’s Muppet Workshop. With the Muppets for 11 years, he became the creative director for Sesame Street, winning an Emmy Award. Currently, Laurent illustrates, serves on children’s book review and awards committees, and is the art director at Simon & Schuster.
Muriel Mandell is the author of a dozen books for children that have been translated into more than a dozen foreign languages. She has taught in New York City from kindergarten to graduate school, and, as assistant to the director of communications arts of the NYC Board of Education, she wrote manuals for the teaching of both writing and reading. Earlier, she worked as a reporter and magazine editor and served as a Washington correspondent for an overseas news agency. She now writes and adapts stories for an app for young children. She has been on the Children’s Book Committee since 1984 and has been an editor of its annual list.
Roberta S. Mitchell, EdD
Roberta S. Mitchell, EdD, has taught elementary grades and special classes in a gifted program. At Barnard College, she was a lecturer in education and served as a student teaching supervisor. She has also taught classes at Hunter College, Pace University, and Marymount Manhattan.
Michele Morales is an early childhood and childhood general education program director at Bank Street College. In addition, she teaches early childhood curriculum courses and children’s literature courses at Bank Street. Michele taught for 11 years in the public school system and has provided professional development for both public and independent schools throughout the city and beyond.
Melanie Okadigwe is a Bank Street alumna and children’s literature enthusiast. She is a reading specialist at Greene Hill School in Brooklyn. She began her career as an editor, working for many years at Scholastic in the school market book clubs. She transitioned into teaching with a focus on literacy. She has lived and worked for five years in Tortola, British Virgin Islands, where she worked first in early childhood at Cedar International School and then as a reading specialist.
Hannah O’Neill earned a master’s degree in library studies and shortly afterward began working as a bookseller in the Bank Street Bookstore. After four years, she was promoted to assistant manager, and joined the Bank Street Children’s Book Committee in the summer of 2013.
Karina Otoya-Knapp has been a member of the graduate faculty at Bank Street College since 2000. She has been a classroom teacher, an after-school teacher, and a mentor in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City public schools since 1990. She holds a PhD in urban education and has three young children whom she reads to voraciously.
Kathryn L. Payne
Kathryn L. Payne holds a PhD in Germanic languages and literatures with a specialty in World War II children’s literature. She has been a classroom teacher in the NYC public schools, working with challenged and at risk students, as well as teaching German and research skills at the college level. Now semiretired, she still works as a researcher and is writing a YA novel and a comprehensive bibliography of World War II children’s literature.
Susan Pine retired from the New York Public Library after a career as a branch children’s librarian and materials specialist in the Office of Children’s Services, where she was responsible for book selection, assisted in staff training, and edited the yearly publication Children’s Books—100 Titles for Reading and Sharing. She also edited The Black Experience in Children’s Books, New York City summer reading lists, and brochures for New York State Parent-Child Grants. Susan is a member of ALSC, where she has served on the Caldecott, Sibert, and Batchelder committees. She currently reviews for Kirkus Reviews.
Jaïra Placide worked in children’s book publishing for many years and is the author of the young adult novel Fresh Girl, which was awarded the Golden Kite Award. She has led creative writing workshops and taught composition and literature at the college level.
An art director and designer, Martha Rago is currently the associate creative director at HarperCollins Children’s Books. Formerly the art director at Farrar Straus and Giroux and then creative director at Henry Holt, Martha has worked with many award-winning artists and authors in her publishing career.
Michael Ramirez is a published children’s book author and playwright. She was an artist-in-residence at the 92nd Street Y, served as a writing juror for Scholastic’s Art & Writing Awards for Best Teen Writing, and has taught children’s book writing and publishing courses throughout New York. Michael has explored over 42 countries and has set foot on all seven continents. A social worker with an MPA, she works with injection-drug-using, foster care, and homeless HIV+ street kids in New York City.
Ellen Rappaport is a science librarian as well as a certified school library media specialist. She has worked as a librarian for pharmaceutical companies as well as for public educational systems that provided library services to disadvantaged and gifted youngsters. She has presented at a variety of literacy conferences and writes for electronic educational newsletters. She serves on the board of literacy and social emotional learning development groups.
Martha Rosen was a library media specialist at the Edgewood School in Scarsdale, NY, for 23 years and continues as a part-time children’s librarian at the Scarsdale Public Library.
Elizabeth Segal earned a master’s degree in early childhood and elementary education from Bank Street College of Education and is currently a freelance proofreader, copy editor, and fact-checker.
Charissa Sgouros holds master’s degrees in elementary education and in reading and literacy. She has been involved in elementary education for a number of years, teaching (and learning from) children, teachers, and teachers-to-be. Charissa is the author of the picture book A Pillow for My Mom and is currently a learning specialist at LREI.
Nan Shipley has been a Bank Street School for Children parent since 1998. She is a literary scout in the movie industry, finding books to adapt for film.
Susan Stires was an instructor/advisor in the Reading and Literacy Program at Bank Street College of Education Graduate School, where she taught courses in language acquisition, literacy development, and children’s literature. She also taught at Teachers College, Columbia University, and was a literacy staff developer in New York City public schools. She taught for 30 years in public and private elementary schools in Boston and midcoast Maine.
Hadassah Tannor is a psychologist/learning disabilities specialist with an MA in school psychology. She is a founder and director of the Children’s Learning Improvement Center, specializing in the diagnosis and remediation of learning disabilities.
Jane Thompson was a NYC public school teacher in East Harlem for 30 years. She helped develop the Title III program for her district and ran literature and writing after-school programs. She has developed a literature curriculum and taught teachers about approaches to literature for New York State. She has also worked with arts programs such as the Lincoln Center Institute and the Metropolitan Opera school program for many years. In addition she has studied and lived in the Philippines, Mexico, and Guatemala and has traveled extensively.
Lisa Von Drasek
Lisa Von Drasek is the curator of the Children’s Literature Research Collections of the University of Minnesota at the Elmer L. Andersen Library. She blogs at EarlyWord.com and reviews for Shelf Awareness. She was previously the director of the Center for Children’s Literature at Bank Street College of Education as well as the children’s librarian there. She wrote a monthly column for Teaching K–8 about children’s books and one for Knowledge Quest about teacher/librarian issues such as collection development and curriculum. She has reviewed for many publications, including the New York Times and School Library Journal. She was named a 2007 Mover and Shaker by Library Journal as a leader in the field of librarianship. She has served as a juror for the annual New York Times Best Illustrated Books, on the Newbery Committee, and on the American Library Association’s Notable Children’s Book Committee.
Leslie Wagner began her career as a criminal defense attorney specializing in juvenile court matters. She is now a part-time immigration lawyer and a full-time parent.
Dr. Scyatta Wallace
Dr. Scyatta Wallace is a psychologist/teen expert with a PhD in developmental psychology. She is a CEO/founder of Janisaw Company, a curriculum design firm specializing in leadership development and life skills programs/curriculum for teen girls/young women. She is widely published and writes a weekly blog for teen girls/young women. She is also an associate professor of psychology at St. John’s University, where she teaches and mentors students.
Rivka Widerman, lawyer, teacher, storyteller, and artist, has been a member of the Children’s Book Committee since 1997.
Becca Zerkin taught in public schools in New York City and Maryland for over 10 years, first as classroom teacher and later as a staff developer in both math and literacy. She has written many children’s book reviews for the New York Times. Now she is a paper engineer in Matthew Reinhart’s studio, helping to make gravity-defying children’s pop-up books. She teaches pop-up workshops for children and adults, integrating math, engineering, art, and writing.