Two hundred teachers and librarians attended the 31st annual Children’s Literature Conference (CLC), “Words and Pictures: The Art of the Matter,” which delved into visual literacy and strategies for bringing the arts to students through children’s literature.
While the week-long conference, held in late June, was based at Shenandoah, it also offered highly popular community events – 400 people turned out for a concert by “Pete the Cat” series author Eric Litwin at Daniel Morgan Middle School in Winchester, Virginia, and 250 attended a “Rockin’ the Library” with Jarrett Krosoczka (author of the “Lunch Lady,” “Punk Farm,” and “Platypus Police Squad” series) at Handley Library, also in Winchester. Fourteen authors and illustrators shared insights about their lives and work at the conference. Litwin and Krosoczka participated, as did Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson, the author and illustrator, respectively, of the 2016 Newbery Medal book, “Last Stop on Market Street.”
Children’s Literature Conference faculty member and Professor of Curriculum and Instruction Karen Huff, Ed.D. said the CLC plans to offer public events again next year. “We think it is important to work with the public library to increase summer reading among the children in our area. I believe meeting the authors increases a child’s motivation to read the books written by that author.”
“I’ve got so many great new books to share with our students,” said Tracie Lane, librarian at Powhatan School in Boyce, Virginia, as the conference was near its conclusion. Hearing from the authors and illustrators makes the conversations she has with students about books more personal, and it takes some of the mysticism out of the writing process. “You get to see where the story is coming from,” when the authors speak, she said. Lane began attending the conference shortly before she began working at Powhatan (she’s been there four years) and it (particularly an appearance by author Phil Bildner) inspired her to create writers’ workshops where professional authors (including de la Peña) work with young writers.