Minh Lê ’01 is the author of Let Me Finish!, a picture book that was recently named in NPR's Guide to 2016's Great Reads. He is a federal early childhood policy expert and has worked in education at all levels—both inside and outside the classroom. You can learn more about Minh at Minh Lê Books.
Was there a course or professor at Dartmouth that sparked your interest in childhood policy and education?
I majored in psychology, but the most memorable class that I took was a children's literature course offered through the education department and taught by Professor Randy Testa. I had always been drawn to picture books, but this course was the first time I had a chance to study them from an academic perspective. It really helped me see the greater potential of the medium and I still think about that class—and even reference the reading material—when I'm working on a book project or writing a review.
Is there one issue in early childhood policy that you think is vitally important, but less well known than it ought it to be?
This is a bit of a departure from my day-to-day policy work, but over the summer I got to hear Professor Walter Gilliam and his team from Yale present their findings on implicit bias in preschool settings. Implicit bias is such a complicated issue to grapple with in any setting, but seeing that it manifests itself in early childhood classrooms shows just how necessary it is to do the work.
This holiday season, what should parents consider when they’re out shopping for picture books for their children?
While I understand the natural inclination to revisit the classics from your childhood, I urge parents to take a look at some of the newer titles on the shelves—no offense to Dartmouth's beloved Dr. Seuss! I'm on the record saying that we are in a golden age of children's literature and that's probably only a tiny bit of hyperbole.
If you want to check out some of my recent favorites, try: The Sound of Silence by Katrina Goldsaito and Julia Kuo, Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie and Yuyi Morales, Herman and Rosie by Gus Gordon, and The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat.