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Leah Henderson
July 24, 2021

The magic in Leah Henderson’s message

This children's book author is hitting her stride with three books publishing this year
by Nancy Hitchcock

Leah Henderson ’94 has a message to share.

“You have possibilities in the world,” she says. “It is at the cornerstone of everything that folds into your life. You need to always and continuously be open and searching for them.”

This ideology weaves itself throughout Henderson’s books. And the children’s book author is hitting her stride in publishing right now—she has published three books in the past year and five more are in the queue.

In Together We March (Atheneum/Simon & Schuster, January 2021), Henderson highlights 25 protest move­ments—and the stories of the courageous people be­hind them—that have helped foster equality and justice. The Magic in Changing Your Stars (Sterling Publishing Co., 2020) was inspired by Henderson’s viewing of a statue of Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, a well-known Black American tap dancer from the early 20th century.

An avid book lov­er from a young age, Henderson rarely read anything that had main characters of color. Her parents, aware of this lack of diversity in litera­ture for youth, frequently traveled with their chil­dren to historical sites and areas that highlight­ed Black culture and op­portunities. Henderson, who is currently on the faculty of Spalding University’s School of Creative and Professional Writing, recalls one trip in particular—when the family drove to visit a Black cowboy museum in Colorado.

“I grew up with parents who wanted to make sure I saw all aspects of what it was like to be Black in America and in the world,” she says, “so it’s very important for me to high­light stories about Black joy and creativity.”

Henderson’s first book, One Shadow on the Wall, was in­spired by a young boy she met while traveling in Senegal. The book was her way of reaching out to the boy, and others like him, to share hope and possibilities. She still keeps a photo of him on her desk.

“I want to depict the world I see and hope for, while en­couraging others to do the same,” she says. “At one moment or another, we all need to be reminded to seek out our possi­bilities. And that’s what I hope my stories do.”

Categories: Alumni, Magazine, Magazine Online

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