Today's Committee comprises some 35 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 chairs the Ezra Jack Keats Awards Committee which honors new authors and illustrators of picture books. 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 Museum of Natural History, and she has taught storytelling to teachers and librarians throughout the metropolitan area.
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, of which she has been a member for about 20 years.
Allie Bruce is the Bank Street Library’s new 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 life-long lovers of reading. A graduate of The Pratt Institute (Masters in Library Science - Library Media Studies), Allie reviews children's books for School Library Journal and Shelf Awareness and will be a member of ALA's Notable Audible Awards Committee 2013-2014. Allie began her career working as a bookseller at Politics and Prose Bookstore in Washington, DC.
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.
Linda Greengrass recently retired as the director of the Bank Street Library, a position she held for eleven years. Previously, she was the Children's Librarian at Bank Street for over 15 years. She has served on the Committee for more than 30 years. She is co- chair of the Children’s Book Committee.
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 has been a member of the Book Committee for twelve years. She 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.
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. She had written 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 the American Library Association's Notable Children's Book.
Authors, Editors, and Reviewers
Alice Belgray earned a Ph.D. 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.
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 9 years. She is now the children’s editor for Shelf Awareness, an e-newsletter to the book trade and also the interim director of the Bank Street Center for Children’s Literature.
Margaret C. Cooper
Margaret C. Cooper has been an elementary school teacher in Alabama (during the Civil Rights struggle) and New Jersey in grades 1-5, plus in a Jr. 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.
Patricia Lakin taught for eleven years before enrolling in a course in writing for children. She now has written more than 40 children’s books as well as a publication for the New York Philharmonic Young People’s Concerts. She makes frequent school visits where she shares her writing experience and gives writing workshops.
Muriel Mandell is the author of a dozen books for children that have been translated into more than a dozen foreign languages. She's 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, 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.
Kathryn L. Payne, Ph.D.
Kathryn L. Payne holds a PhD in Germanic Languages and Literatures with a specialty in World War II children’s literature. She has also 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 semi-retired, she still works as a researcher and is writing a YA novel and a comprehensive bibliography of World War II children’s literature.
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.
Michael Ramirez is a published children's book author and playwright. She was an Artist-In-Residence at the 92nd Street Y, she 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 thirty 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.
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.
Nan Shipley has been a Bank Street Parent since 1998. She is a literary scout in the movie industry, finding books to adapt for film.
Leslie Wagner began her career as a criminal defense attorney specializing in juvenile court matters. She is now a part-time legal editor and a full-time parent.
Teachers and Specialists
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 M.S.Ed. in Teaching Literacy and Childhood General Education from Bank Street College of Education. Becky's favorite young reader is her son.
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.
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 is also the secretary of Long Island’s Amagansett Free Library board of directors.
P. Rebecca Johnson
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 twenty 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.
Roberta S. Mitchell, Ed. D.,
Roberta S. Mitchell, Ed. D., has taught elementary grades and special classes in a gifted program. At Barnard College, she has served as Lecturer in Education and Student Teaching Supervisor. She has also taught classes at Hunter College, Pace University and Marymount Manhattan.
Karina Otoya-Knapp, Ph.D.
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 mentor in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York City public schools since 1990. She holds a Ph.D. in Urban Education and has 3 young children that she reads to voraciously.
Charissa Sgouros holds a master’s degree in elementary education and one 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 Little Red School House and Elizabeth Irwin High School (LREI).
Susan Stires is an instructor/advisor in the Reading and Literacy program at Bank Street College of Education Graduate School, where she teaches courses in language acquisition, literacy development, and children's literature. She taught a similar set of courses at Teachers College, Columbia University and was a literacy staff developer in New York City public schools. Prior to that, she taught for thirty years in public and private elementary schools in Boston and mid-coast Maine.
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. She has been a committee member for 20 years.
Hadassah Tannor is a psychologist/learning disabilities specialist with an M.A. 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.
Dr. Scyatta Wallace
Dr. Scyatta Wallace is a psychologist/teen expert with a Ph.D. 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. Dr. Wallace 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.
Illustrators, Designers, and Fundraisers
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 the raising of funds to bring books into schools to the development of a memorial book room for students.
Linda Colarusso studied children’s book illustration with Natalie Babbitt and spent
many years as a fine artist before becoming a gallery director and (many years later)
a shoe/handbag designer. She now works full time as the Assistant to the Upper School Coordinator at the Bank Street School for Children.
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.
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.