By Marybeth Peluzzo
The 19th Annual KU Children’s Literature Conference was hosted on Saturday, April 1 from 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. in the McFarland Student Union Building. Elementary school students from local and regional school districts visited KU to meet featured authors and illustrators from the conference on March 31.
The Children’s Literature Conference is a collaborative initiative involving committee members including KU’s faculty and staff, as well as local teachers and librarians, all working toward providing current and future educators with the opportunity to experience the work of award-winning authors and illustrators.
Committee member Debbie Eisinger, a retired teacher and librarian from Petway Elementary School in Vineland, N.J., said, “It’s great to be with other people who share love for literature.” She said “Knock Knock” by Brian Collier brought tears to her eyes.
The conference strives to present attendees with new ideas on a variety of topics such as the integration of learning; exploring reading and writing through the personal experiences of students; facilitating childhood literacy through the exploration of different genres and effective use of nonfiction reading materials across all subject areas.
The KU Children’s Literature Conference strives to give attendees access to high quality, award-winning authors. In past years, the conference has hosted featured speakers such as Caldecott winners Tomie DePaola, Steven Kellogg and Jerry Pinkney.
This year, participants had the opportunity to attend presentations by: Caldecott Medal winning illustrator/author Lauren Castillo; Caldecott Honor Book, Coretta Scott King Honor and Ezra Jack Keats Award winning illustrator Bryan Collier; Robert F. Sibert Honor Award and Orbis Pictus Honor Award winning author Deborah Hopkinson; and Max & Ruby series author Rosemary Wells.
Author and illustrator Bryan Collier said “Snowy Day” was his favorite book when he was young. He said he based his book “Uptown” on Snowy Day as they both have a traffic light. Bryan was inspired to illustrate children’s books when he was a young boy. He said he looked a lot like a character in his favorite book.
Author of the Max & Ruby series, Rosemary Wells, said Max and Ruby are based off of her two daughters. She said, “Every fiction book is based on true stories.”
Author, illustrator and KU art professor, Keven McCloskey, also made an appearance at the conference. He showed his love for his book “Something’s Fishy,” by wearing a suit jacket with a bright fish pattern and matching tie.
The authors did not just come to the conference to speak; they came to impact the teachers and librarians that attended. The authors were available for autographs and to discuss the mutual passion for children’s literature. All the authors promoted their books and Collier sold some of his artwork.
Wells said, “Authors write books because that’s what they’re meant to do. Writing is the last of the talents to find.”