KU students and alumni gather with various high school students
By Molly Kutz
KU’s Teen Library Day took place on Friday, April 14 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in Schaeffer Auditorium, where KU students, alums and various high school students gathered to hear author Candice Iloh talk about their life, books and writing process.
In the past, teens have had a complicated history with libraries. People believed that teens weren’t interested in libraries and that if they were, they would only be disruptive. This misconception led to a nationwide effort in the middle of the 20th century to spread the message that teens and libraries go together.
Iloh shared how Poetry Slam was their introduction to poetry this year, but they eventually moved away from the competitive scene to writing words on a page.
In the past, during this effort, KU created Teen Library Day to show that “teens need libraries and libraries need teens,” Dr. Roseanne Perkins, this year’s coordinator, said when asked about the importance of KU’s Teen Library Day.
Attendees heard Iloh read excerpts from their books “Every Body Looking” and “Break This House.” Iloh also shared their personal experience and “idea of family as a Black queer person” and how their life experience has impacted the books’ topics and themes.
Iloh was upfront about their non-traditional way of getting a book published, as they had a connection through a friend instead of finding an agent by themself and having the agent pitch their book to various publishers.
Iloh left the audience with the following statement: “If you have something to say, use it. Write and create a solution to a problem you wish you had.” Iloh does this when they write by creating solutions they wish they had when they were a kid.
“People tend to see writing as a magical process, and authors have a genius gift,.” Dr. Perkins said when asked why everyone should participate in Teen Library Day.
She thinks it’s essential for teens and students to hear from the people who create books and see them as real people facing real struggles who had to overcome and persevere with getting a book published, which is not easy.
In the past, Teen Library Day has held other memorable authors, including A.S. King, Jonathan Auxier and Jordan Sonnenblick. Alumni who have participated in past Teen Library Days often bring their high school students back to hear from and meet an author.
This is one of many reasons Dr. Perkins loves Teen Library Day, as the high school students end up loving Kutztown and have a positive experience of the KU campus and the event.