Suzanne Walker works at the Indiana State Library and runs the Indiana Young Reader’s Center and the Indiana Center for the Book, using literature and the humanities to inspire one young Hoosier at a time.
The Indiana Center for the Book, an affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, was established 25 years ago to promote “interest in reading, writing, literacy, libraries, and Indiana’s literary heritage.” As the Center’s director, Walker oversees all its programs, including the Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award. For this award, a committee nominates five picture books by Indiana authors, then children ages zero through five have the chance to read them with a parent or guardian and vote on their favorite.
Through programs like the Firefly Award, Walker connects the next generations with the universe of books. Her passion for children’s literature stems from being a voracious reader as a child and her parents giving her unfettered access to the local public library.
Another expression of her passion for the written word is a program called Letters About Literature. Students in grades 4-12 write to an author, living or deceased, to express how their work has made an impact on how they view the world. One hundred letter entries are selected from across the state of Indiana then published in a book arranged by topic. The book is then distributed to the student, their teacher and their local public library.
Walker interviews Indiana authors with her sidekick Sammy, a toucan puppet, on Youtube and facilitates the Circulating Book Club Kit Program. Her influence even extends nationally, as she represents Indiana every year at the National Book Festival in Washington D.C.
When asked about the favorite part of her job, Walker replied, “I get to show how children’s books can be useful to all ages, immerse myself in the children’s books, and learn how public librarians are using them in schools.”
Indiana Humanities is happy to celebrate Suzanne Walker and all the contributions she has made to the Hoosier community as a Humanities Hero.