Teri Lesesne's family announced her passing August 31, 2021: "Teri succumbed to cancer, after a fight for life that she won for many years, at her home surrounded by her sisters, her granddaughters, and her husband. We loved her fiercely and will miss her daily."
Cynthia Leitich Smith, speaker at the 2019 IBBY Regional in Austin, said, “Teri’s commitment to new YA voices made a significant contribution to the conversation of books and to the careers of countless authors like me. I had the pleasure of speaking at her conference at Sam Houston State, and it was a delight. What I remember most, though, are my more informal chats with Teri’s students. I could feel how her love and dedication radiating through them. Her impact on YA literature cannot be overstated. That said, when I close my eyes and think of Teri, I remember her arms open wide to hug me, year after year, on the exhibition floor of the Texas Library Association. As a new Native author in the early 2000s, I felt especially young and out of place. Awkward and sometimes overwhelmed. Teri welcomed me home to the world of books. She reassured me—and so many others—that she believed in us, that we belonged.”
Lesesne, a Distinguished Professor at Sam Houston State University, was a former Executive Director of the NCTE's Assembly for LIterature for Adolescents (ALAN). A former USBBY Board member, she generously designated funds in memory of her parents, to be held in an endowment that now funds The Bridge to Understanding Award. Lesesne served as a member of the committee restructuring the award, as it seeks to acknowledges the work of individuals and organizations who create programs that use children’s and young adult books to foster cross-cultural understanding.
Lesesne's thoughtfulness and sensitivity will be much missed by the children's literature community.
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The United States Board on Books for Young People
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Building Bridges Through Children's and Young Adult Books
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