Literacy, Culture, and International Education Division
Children’s and young adult literature; teaching of literature; English education; African American education; classroom interaction research
Ebony Elizabeth Thomas studies how people of color are portrayed, or not portrayed, in children’s and young adult literature, and how those portrayals shape our culture. She regularly reviews children’s books featuring diverse heroes and heroines, teens and tweens caught between cultures, and kids from the margins for the Los Angeles Times. She has a particular interest in young adult fantasy literature and fan culture. A former English and language arts teacher, Thomas also explores how teachers handle traumatic historical events, such as slavery, when teaching literature.
Ebony Elizabeth Thomas discussed the casting of a black woman as Ariel in the upcoming “Little Mermaid” remake. “Whether it’s seeing people of color traveling faster than the speed of light, or as superheroes, dragons, or even mermaids, when we see ourselves in these roles, even as kids we believe we can do anything,” she said. “These images shape our minds on a subconscious level.”