Tonya Cherie Hegamin is an Assistant Professor at the City University of New York, Medgar Evers College where she teaches Fiction Writing, Children’s Literature and Composition. Her NYPL 2010 Ezra Jack Keats award winning picture book, Most Loved in All the World also won the Christopher award and her young adult novels, M+O 4EVR and Pemba’s Song have also won national awards. Her historical young adult novel, Willow, is published by Candlewick Press (Feb 2014). Ms. Hegamin has written creative text for the national after-school program, Rocket Learning, focusing on conveying moral values and promoting educational equity for young readers. She has worked with thousands of young people as a crisis counselor, creative expression group leader, rights advocate and sexual health educator since 1998. Her academic research interests include how artist educators influence innovative learning techniques and effective methods of teaching holistically through literature.
My childhood diary is a testament to my need to interpret human nature through writing. Mostly I wanted to remind my adult self how difficult it was to be a kid, but also I often felt like an outsider, and turned to books when I needed to connect with someone, to feel included. After all these years, I have realized that the closest thing we might ever get to “mind melding” like in Star Trek is through reading. I like the phrase “Translating the Imagination”– stories that make meaningful connection between writer and reader imaginations, ultimately cultivating compassionate understanding.