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Fay B. Kaigler Children's Book Festival

Celebrating excellence in children’s and young adult literature

Welcome!  We hope you will join us for the 2021 Virtual Fay B. Kaigler Children's Book Festival, scheduled for April 12-16, 2021.  We are honored to celebrate Andrea Davis Pinkney as this year's 2021 Southern Miss Medallion winner!  We have lots of other incredible keynote and workshop offerings as well, with all sessions featuring live captioning.

*Although this year's Kaigler Festival is offered free of charge, we recommend preregistering via eventbrite to receive 2021 Festival updates and daily reminders with links to the sessions during the week of the Festival.*

Check out our keynotes, breakout sessions, and the tentative schedule, all listed below. 

We are thrilled to announce the 2021 Kaigler keynote lineup including 2021 Southern Miss Medallion winner Andrea Davis Pinkney at this year's Festival. 

Andrea Davis Pinkney2021 Southern Miss Medallion winner Andrea Davis Pinkney

Andrea Davis Pinkney has had an illustrious thirty-year career in various facets of the publishing industry. Ms. Pinkney is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of numerous books for children and young adults. Her work has garnered multiple Coretta Scott King Book Awards, the Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor, and the Parenting Publications gold medal, among other citations. She is a four-time NAACP Image Award nominee, recipient of both the Regina Medal and the Arbuthnot Honor Award, for her singular body of work and distinguished contribution to the field of literature. Additionally, Ms. Pinkney has been inducted into the New York State Writers Hall of Fame. 

Ms. Pinkney is the librettist for the Houston Grand Opera’s The Snowy Day, an opera for all ages, based on the beloved bestselling children’s picture book classic The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. She has served on the creative teams for several theatrical and audio productions based on works for young people, including those drawn from her acclaimed books, Martin Rising: Requiem for a King, The Red Pencil, and Rhythm Ride: A Trip through the Motown Sound

Ms. Pinkney has been named one of “The 25 Most Influential People in Our Children’s Lives” by Children’s Health magazine, and is among the Network Journal’s “25 Most Influential Black Women in Business.” She is included in the “50 Over 50 Extraordinary Women” and “Women Who Light Up the Arts Scene” noted by Good Housekeeping and Woman’s Day magazines. She has served in leadership and executive roles at the Walt Disney Company, Houghton Mifflin Company, Essence magazine, the CBS Magazines Group, and Simon & Schuster. Ms. Pinkney is currently Vice President, Executive Editor at Scholastic, where she has served since 2005.  

During the course of her career, Ms. Pinkney has launched and developed many high-profile properties.  She has been the chief architect and strategic visionary for Disney Publishing Worldwide’s Jump at the Sun publishing imprint, creator of The Cheetah Girls mega-series. She has served as the driving editorial force for the successful rebranding and expansion of The Polar Express movie tie-in book program. Ms. Pinkney has also been the primary editor for books such as Toni Morrison’s Remember: The Journey to School Integration and Serving from the Hip by world-class tennis pros Venus and Serena Williams. At Scholastic, she has acquired and edited a robust list of authors and books, including the Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Honor book Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis, Sonia Manzano’s Pura Belpré Honor winner, The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano, and Hurricane Child by Kacen Callender, winner of the Stonewall Book Award and Lambda Literary Award.

Ms. Pinkney is a graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband, two-time Caldecott Honor recipient and New York Times bestselling author and illustrator, Brian Pinkney. The Pinkneys have two children, a daughter and a son.

Sharon M. Draperde Grummond Children's Literature Lecturer Sharon M. Draper

Sharon M. Draper is a professional educator, as well as an accomplished writer of over thirty award-winning books for adolescents and teachers, including Copper Sun, winner of the Coretta Scott King Award, the highly acclaimed Jericho and Hazelwood trilogies, and Out of my Mind, which appeared on the New York Times bestseller list.  She served as the National Teacher of the Year, has been honored at the White House six times, and was selected by the US State Department to be a literary ambassador to the children of Africa and China.   In 2015 she was honored by the American Library Association as the recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime literary achievement.  Her newest novel, Blended, is also a New York Times bestseller.

Elizabeth EllisColeen Salley Storytelling Award winner Elizabeth Ellis

Elizabeth Ellis grew up in the Appalachian Mountains in a family of storytellers. Her grandfather, a circuit riding preacher, told stories he had collected in his travels through the mountains. He also shared tales he created to delight his grandchildren. Her aunt was a keeper of the old fairy tales that she had learned from her Irish immigrant grandmother. When Elizabeth was a child, her closest friends were imaginary. On some levels that is still true today. 

She is a repeat favorite at the National Storytelling Festival and has been a Storyteller-in-Residence at the International Storytelling Center.

The first recipient of the John Henry Faulk Award from the Tejas Storytelling Association, Elizabeth has served three terms as its president. She has mentored and coached storytellers in Texas and around the nation for forty years. The National Storytelling Network honored her in 1997 with the Circle of Excellence Award which is “given to those recognized nationally by their peers to be master storytellers.”

Meg MedinaEzra Jack Keats Lecturer Meg Medina

Meg Medina is a Newbery award-winning and New York Times bestselling author who writes picture books, as well as middle grade and young adult fiction. Her works have been called “heartbreaking,” “lyrical” and “must haves for every collection.” Her titles include Evelyn del Rey is Moving Away / Evelyn del Rey se muda, 2020 Jumpstart Read for the Record Selection; Merci Suárez Changes Gears,  2019 John Newbery Medal winner, and 2019 Charlotte Huck Honor Book; Burn Baby Burn, long-listed for the 2016 National Book Award,  short-listed for the Kirkus Prize, and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, winner of the 2014 Pura Belpré Author Award; The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind, a 2012 Bank Street College Best Children’s Book of the Year; Mango, Abuela, and Me, a 2016 Pura Belpré Author Honor Book; and Tía Isa Wants a Car, winner of the 2012 Ezra Jack Keats Writer Award.

When she’s not writing, Meg works on community projects that support girls, Latinx youth, and/or literacy. She serves on the National Board of Advisors for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and is a faculty member of Hamline University’s Masters of Fine Arts in Children’s Literature. She lives with her family in Richmond, Virginia.

Mitali Perkins

Mitali Perkins has written many books for young readers, including Between Us and Abuela (winner of the Américas Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature), Forward Me Back To You (SLJ and Kirkus Best YA Books of the Year), You Bring the Distant Near (nominated for a National Book Award, six starred reviews), and Rickshaw Girl (adapted into a film by Sleeperwave Productions), all of which explore crossing different kinds of borders. Mitali's fiction explores poverty, immigration, child soldiers, microcredit, and human trafficking, thanks to living overseas for many years and studying political science at Stanford and public policy at U.C. Berkeley. Her goal is to make readers laugh or cry, preferably both, as long as their hearts are widening. She lives and writes in the East Bay.

Dan Santat

Dan Santat is a graduate of the Art Center College of Design and has published over one hundred books for children. His most notable titles include The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, which won the Randolph Caldecott Medal in 2015, the #1 New York Times bestselling road trip/time travel adventure Are We There Yet?, and the New York Times bestselling book After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again), which was named best book of the year on numerous publications including NPR and the New York Public Library. His artwork is also featured in numerous picture books, chapter books, and middle-grade novels, including Dav Pilkey’s Ricky Ricotta series.

Dan lives in Southern California with his wife, two kids, and many, many pets.

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Tuesday, April 13: EJK Award Day 

12:30-2 p.m. CT - 35th Ezra Jack Keats Award Ceremony
It is a great honor to host the 35th Annual EJK Award Ceremony. This year's winners and honorees will be announced on March 9th. Meet these early career authors and illustrators, hear about their work, their artistic processes, and who influenced and encouraged them to pursue their artistic dreams. The ceremony will include remarks by Southern Miss President Rodney Bennett, and a celebratory video from kidlit stars, and EJK Award winners and honorees.

3-4 p.m. CT - The Snowy Day's Legacy: 35 Years of the Ezra Jack Keats Award Webinar 
Tune in to this webinar featuring three of the Ezra Jack Keats Award winners--author-illustrators Oge Mora (Thank You, Omu!) and Phoebe Wahl (Sonya’s Chickens) and author Chieri Uegaki (Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin) as they discuss the books and teachers that influenced them and how they created their award-winning works. In this session, Ramona Caponegro and Jacqueline LaRose also introduce the online toolkits that are part of the EJK Award’s 35th anniversary resources, including book discussion guides, read-aloud tips, and fun facts about many of the winning authors and illustrators. (Originally presented to NCTE and newly released for the Kaigler Festival) 

6:30-7:30 p.m. CT / Auction ends at 7:45 pm - 35th EJK Silent Auction Co-Hosted by the R. Michelson Galleries, with special guest commentary.
To cap off EJK Award Day, this evening soiree will feature some of the top stars in the world of children's literature. Live and recorded segments will feature Rich Michelson (R. Michelson Galleries, MA) in conversation with many of the nearly 30 artists who have donated their original works of art (including Bryan Collier, Melissa Sweet, Sophie Blackall, Don Tate, Rowboat Watkins and Jessixa Bagley) and commentary by the renowned Pat Cummings, Chieri Uegaki and Paul O. Zelinsky. The auction will open on March 30th and close shortly after the event. All proceeds will be used to increase the cash award for the EJK Award winners and for a new cash award instituted in celebration of the 35th anniversary for honorees.

Thursday, April 15: 10-11:30 a.m. CT Mock EJK Award Panel, CEU credits available in Mississippi (or check with your local accrediting organization)
Librarians and teachers will share practical lessons taken from experiences during the 2020-21 world of virtual education. The panel will feature Caroline Ward, Library Consultant; Frances Morrissey, Diana White, Andy Hanes, and John Scott: Teachers and the School Librarian from Friends School of Baltimore, and Ramona Caponegro, Director of Educational Programming & Content, EJK Award 35th Anniversary; and Associate Professor of Children’s Literature, Eastern Michigan University. 

Highlights include a discussion of the interactive remote classes panelists held between their college and lower school students, their unique recommendations regarding future hybrid teaching models, and employing critical analysis of new and diverse literature using criteria designed for school-aged children based on the actual EJK Award criteria. 

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Download a PDF of the Breakout Session Descriptions

Breakout Session Descriptions:

Kids, History and War: Children’s Voices Amidst the Injustices of War
Kate Albus, Alda P. Dobbs, Amanda McCrina, and Carolyn Tara O’Neil
PreRecorded
Four authors present unique takes on how the hopes and promises of a better life influenced their characters amidst a war and how the landscape, culture, and history shaped their stories. They will also share ideas for incorporating these books, as well as historic and current events, into lessons on teaching social inequities, gender inequalities, prejudice, and migration.
Booktalks/Best New Books, Common Core

Amplifying Voices and Visions: Border and Immigrant Perspectives In Children's Literature
Daniel Aleman, Maria E. Andreu, Alda P. Dobbs, Payal Doshi, and Margarita Longoria
PreRecorded
Five authors share stories aimed to expand and enrich young readers' views of the world and of themselves while creating empathy and showing how similar we all are in spite of our origins, our histories, and our cultural backgrounds. They will also share ideas for incorporating these books into lessons on teaching immigration, life near the United States-Mexico border, and cultures outside the United States.
Booktalks/Best New Books, Common Core

We Are Family: Inclusive Representations of Family in Books and Curricula to Promote Equity
Kelly J. Baptist, Kelly Carey, Susan Kusel, Rajani LaRocca, NoNieqa Ramos, and Candy Wellins
Live: Friday, April 16, 2-3:30 p.m. CT
How do we represent family in our literature and curricula in an antiracist and equitable society? Educators and authors will discuss how to disrupt the depiction of cisgender, heterosexual, white families as the default and expand it to be inclusive, diverse, and celebratory of all families. These depictions include found families, single-parent families, bicultural families, and extended families. Our panel will address the need for BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and Jewish family representation that is not monolithic but encompasses rich and varied cultural and spiritual traditions. We will make recommendations of literature that celebrates the beauty of diverse families.
School Libraries, Public Libraries

Exploring the Magnolia Book Awards, Mississippi's Children's Choice Award
Lindsey Beck and Bethany Carlisle
PreRecorded
The Magnolia Book Awards provide the children and youth of Mississippi the opportunity to nominate, read, and vote for their favorite books. Please join us to learn more about the Magnolia Award and participate in discussion to explore integrating the Magnolia Award into school and public library settings. The Magnolia Award has four voting categories: Pre-kindergarten-2nd grade, 3rd-5th grade, 6th-8th grade, and 9th- 12th grade. Learn about the process and help us advocate for the Magnolia Awards as we continue to offer children and youth in Mississippi opportunities to develop a lifelong love of reading.
School Libraries, Public Libraries

Breaking into Publishing After Age 50
Valerie Bolling, Kelly Carey, Wendy Greenley, Vivian Kirkfield, Tootie Nienow, Colleen Paeff, and Molly Ruttan
PreRecorded
You don’t need to be young to write books for young children. Seven children’s book creators share their experiences breaking into publishing after 50, offering tips to help older writers stay current, create community, and draw (literally) on life experiences while avoiding the “teaching” book trap. Other topics will include the importance of NOT acting your age, how to access your authentic childlike voice, why representation matters, and the joys of funneling both lifelong passions and passing fancies onto the page. Attendees, regardless of age, will gain the tools and inspiration needed to put their publishing dreams into action.
How to Get Published

Play is Equity!: The Role Picture Books Play in Creating a Just Society for Our Most Vulnerable Readers
Valerie Bolling, Abi Cushman, Darshana Khiani, Rajani LaRocca, NoNieqa Ramos, and Munevver Mindy Yuksel
PreRecorded
The depiction of play in children’s literature and school curricula plays a key role in creating an antiracist and equitable classroom, school, and society for our most vulnerable readers. For all children, and in particular BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ children, the representation of play can nurture social and emotional development and support mental health or reinforce sexist, racist, and homophobic attitudes and behaviors. In this panel, we will examine how to disrupt antiquated and problematic representations of play and share literature that empowers children through play and entitles them to validation and joy.
School Libraries, Public Libraries

Show Me Myself: Representation Matters
Valerie Bolling and Malcolm Mitchell
PreRecorded
To build a community of readers, children need to see themselves in the books they read. It’s true that some children love to read and will read any book they can grab. Others, however, feel disconnected from reading because they don’t see, between the pages of books, people who look like them or enjoy their activities or share their cultural traditions. If we want to build a literate society of diverse readers, writers, and thinkers, we must put into their hands books that excite them: books where they can see themselves and learn about the experiences of others.
School Libraries, Public Libraries

KidLit in Color: Writing and Modeling Anti-Racism for Young Readers
Valerie Bolling, Susan Muaddi Darraj, Kirstie Myvett, and Zeena Pliska
Live: Monday, April 12, 10-11:30 a.m. CT
Picture books, chapter books, young adult novels—these categories all get lumped into the category of “kidlit,” and they are often separated from the more lauded category of “literature.” However, one of the most important ways that anti-racism work can be accomplished is through literature for young readers. In this session, children’s writers will read short excerpts from their works and discuss how a dedication to diversity and anti-racism influences their writing.
Booktalks/Best New Books, Storytelling

Reaching the Reluctant Reader
Fleur Bradley
Live: Friday, April 16, 10-11:30 a.m. CT
Getting fidgeting, distracted, or uninterested kids to pick up a book is a challenge, but there are ways to reach these reluctant readers. Presenter and young adult/middle grade author Fleur Bradley will briefly discuss statistics and studies to understand why kids may present as reluctant readers before exploring reading stepping stones, using graphic novels, illustrated books, and audio books to bridge reading gaps. This session includes open dialogue: attendees share techniques, success stories, and favorite books. Attendees will leave with practical solutions to use in their library.
School Libraries, Public Libraries

I Got the Music in Me!
Mac Buntin
PreRecorded
Music can introduce concepts, like Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) in a non-threatening manner. It can positively affect our emotions, and it allows for ideas to be received that otherwise might be ignored. As a language, music can be utilized to strengthen and promote societal mores with subtlety. The session will feature popular music that can be used to promote positive behaviors and understanding in children and adults if used in an all-ages setting.
Public Libraries, School Libraries

Mock EJK Award Panel
Ramona Caponegro, Andy Haynes, Frances Morrissey, John Scott, Caroline Ward, and Diana White
Live: Thursday, April 15, 10-11:30 a.m. CT
Librarians and teachers will share practical lessons taken from experiences during the 2020-21 world of virtual education. The panel will feature Caroline Ward, Library Consultant; Frances Morrissey, Diana White, Andy Hanes, and John Scott: Teachers and the School Librarian from Friends School of Baltimore, and Ramona Caponegro, Director of Educational Programming & Content, EJK Award 35th Anniversary; and Associate Professor of Children’s Literature, Eastern Michigan University. Highlights include a discussion of the interactive remote classes panelists held between their college and lower school students, their unique recommendations regarding future hybrid teaching models, and employing critical analysis of new and diverse literature using criteria designed for school-aged children based on the actual EJK Award criteria. 

The Snowy Day's Legacy: 35 Years of the Ezra Jack Keats Award 
Ramona Caponegro, Jacqueline LaRose, Oge Mora, Chieri Uegaki, and Phoebe Wahl
Live: Tuesday, April 13, 3-4 p.m. CT
Tune in to this webinar featuring three of the Ezra Jack Keats Award winners—author-illustrators Oge Mora (Thank You, Omu!) and Phoebe Wahl (Sonya’s Chickens) and author Chieri Uegaki (Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin) as they discuss the books and teachers that influenced them and how they created their award-winning works. In this session, Ramona Caponegro and Jacqueline LaRose also introduce the online toolkits that are part of the EJK Award’s 35th anniversary resources, including book discussion guides, read-aloud tips, and fun facts about many of the winning authors and illustrators. (Originally presented to the National Council of Teachers of English and newly released for the Kaigler Festival) 

From Passion to Published
Abi Cushman, Vicky Fang, Carrie Finison, Isabella Kung, Susan Kusel, Rajani LaRocca, Jen Malia, and Julie Rowan-Zoch
PreRecorded
Have you been wondering how to get that picture book idea out of your head, onto the page, into an editor’s hands, and onto bookstore and library shelves? Join a diverse panel of picture book writers whose first books debuted in 2020 and 2021 as they talk about the ins and outs of writing, submitting, and publishing your first picture book with a traditional publisher. Whether you want to write fiction or nonfiction, write or illustrate–or both!–these book creators have tips and inspiration that will help you along your path to getting published.
How to Get Published

No Voice Too Small: #DisruptTexts and Empower Youth Through Powerful Protagonists in Diverse Picture Books
Keila Dawson, Carrie Finison, Lindsay H. Metcalf, Saira Mir, NoNieqa Ramos, and Debra Kempf Shumaker
PreRecorded
How do we as authors, educators, and writers combat the cisgender, heteronormative, white narrative that still dominates education? Part of the solution is promoting texts that disrupt hegemony and represent diversity and inclusivity. Six authors will discuss how picture books that depict role-model protagonists taking charge of their destinies empower our children and students to do the same. When we provide children with an inclusive curriculum in a supportive classroom and library community, encourage their spirited and creative responses, and champion their activism, we protect their mental health and teach them how to rise above challenges and triumph.
School Libraries, Public Libraries

The Kidlit Novel in Verse
Meg Eden
PreRecorded
The novel-in-verse is a unique form that merges elements of poetry and fiction and is gaining popularity in the kidlit community as a powerful storytelling form. In this workshop, we’ll discuss the craft and thematic elements that make for a strong novel in verse, explore some examples of effective novels in verse, and engage in exercises to start investigating this form for our own narratives.
Storytelling, Common Core

Using Puppets to Help Children of All Ages Actively Engage In Storytelling
Laura Anne Ewald
PreRecorded
Kids love to hear stories, and kids love role-playing games. Puppets can help facilitate both, because kids of all ages respond positively to puppets, which can be made simply and inexpensively out of common materials. Kids already like to play by taking “parts” from fictional stories, and puppets allow them to connect directly to favorite literary characters for active playtime.
Programming, Storytelling

Chasing Creativity
Laura Anne Ewald and Mary Beth Magee
Live: Thursday, April 15, 2-3:30 p.m. CT
We're all born with creativity but sometimes lose track of it through the years. How can we nurture it in ourselves and our students? Learn tips to encourage the innate creativity we possess and engage the senses to enhance the process. The session includes reference materials and tools to aid your quest.
Storytelling, Programming

Alphabet Soup: An A to Z Recipe for Spicing Up Your Programming
Melinda Falgoust
Live: Wednesday, April 14, 2-3:30 p.m. CT
Every good cook knows that the best recipes have a “secret” ingredient. But, step back, Emeril Lagasse, because this workshop offers twenty-six ways to kick your programming up a notch! From author visits to zany ideas, educators and librarians are sure to find the perfect recipe for programming success with our out-of-the-box ideas. It’s as easy as A-B-C!
Programming

From Yippee Ki Yay to Happy Trail...ers: Creating Blockbuster Trailers to Promote Books
Melinda Falgoust
PreRecorded
Teachers and librarians will learn how to create tantalizing book trailers to build student interest in books and encourage them to read specific titles. Tools and technology will be discussed and demonstrated, as well as multiple examples offered.
School Libraries, Public Libraries

STEAM-ing Up Kidlit
Vicky Fang, Carrie Finison, Rajani LaRocca, Kirsten W. Larson, Jen Malia, Lindsay H. Metcalf, Colleen Paeff, and Candy Wellins
PreRecorded
How can schools and libraries use picture books to model and facilitate hands-on learning in science and engineering? Eight authors of STEAM books for elementary schoolers will discuss how their books can serve as a launching point for activities, exploration, and engagement, both in schools, public libraries, and homes. This panel will include practical resources and activity ideas for use in all three spaces. A list of similar book titles will be provided for collection development.
Booktalks/Best New Books, School Libraries

Global Literature in Libraries Initiative (GLLI) Translated YA Book Prize
Annette Y. Goldsmith and David Jacobson 
Live: Wednesday, April 14, 2-3:30 p.m. CT
Learn about an important new prize for young adult books from around the world that have been translated into English. The 2020 award chair Annette Y. Goldsmith and the 2021 award chair David Jacobson will introduce you to the award, the organization behind it, and shortlisted titles from the first three years of the prize. There will also be special interviews with the translators of each of the winning titles, from New York, Takamatsu, Japan, and London.

Back to Basics: Suggested Family Activities and Children's Activity Packets
Dee Hare and Leigh Hood
Live: Wednesday, April 14, 10-11:30 a.m. CT
This session will describe our two-part response to children’s services during the COVID-19 pandemic: suggested family activities and children’s packets. Originally conceived as services during SLP 20, these projects proved so popular with children and their families that the Northeast Regional Library has made them a permanent part of their library services. Suggested family activities are short, daily ideas that are posted on the region’s website and printed out weekly to be handed out via curbside pick-up. The children’s packets are switched out monthly and contain seasonal coloring sheets, activity sheets, suggested book lists, supplies for craft projects, and more.
Public Libraries, Programming

Teaching With Picture Books
Shannan L. Hicks
Live: Wednesday, April 14, 10-11:30 a.m. CT
Love picture books but want to know how to teach with them? Want to see what the last year has given us in terms of amazing literature? This workshop gives an overview of the best picture books of the last year and tips on how to teach with them. This will be a great place to just talk books, so join us!
Booktalks/Best New Books, Programming

As Far As Birds Can Fly: How an Author Writes to the Beat of a Different Drummer
Linda Oatman High
PreRecorded
Linda Oatman High, author of more than 25 books for children and teens, presents a workshop about how she gleans writing ideas from real life. Linda will read an excerpt from her newest middle-grade novel, As Far As Birds Can Fly, a story set in Mississippi.
Storytelling, How to Get Published

It’s Alive! Bring History to Life with Primary Sources from the Library of Congress
Soline Holmes and Alicia Schwarzenbach
Live- Monday, April 12, 2-3:30 p.m. CT
Calling all history detectives! Teaching and programming with primary sources can be used for every age and grade level and for every subject. These "raw materials" of history are also great tools to teach visual literacy and critical thinking skills. Learn best practices for using primary sources (including photographs, maps, music, newspapers, personal journals, letters, and videos) in your library or classroom to help bring history to life.
Programming, School Libraries 

Practicing Perseverance with Picture Book Biographies
Angela Kunkel, Kirsten W. Larson, Lindsay H. Metcalf, Saira Mir, and Candy Wellins
PreRecorded
How can we empower students to accept struggle and even failure, exhibit growth mindset, and persevere? Five nonfiction picture book authors discuss their recent works, which touch on the themes of passion and perseverance of everyday people, many of whom are little-known, even today. They’ll discuss how teachers, librarians, and parents can use these biographies to inspire all students to never give up. A reading list of similar titles will be shared for collection development.
Booktalks/Best New Books, School Libraries

Developing an LGBTQ+ Friendly Collection for Young and Curious Minds
Lynne Lambdin
Live: Thursday, April 15, 2-3:30 p.m. CT
A wonderful key to acceptance is establishing an early understanding that we are not all the same. And that is perfectly okay! This session focuses on stories with child-friendly LGBTQ+ themes. The stories to be showcased are appropriate, educational, and entertaining. The discussion will further break down some tips and tricks for developing an LGBTQ+ children's collection. This presentation aims to shed light on some avenues that make the development process easy, fun, and comfortable. Overall, the goal is to offer insight into positive and impactful LGBTQ+ youth literature and nurturing a collection that is inclusive.
Booktalks/Best New Books, Public Libraries

Word-Joy: Experience the Transformative Power of Poetry
Irene Latham, Vikram Madan, and Laura Purdie Salas
Live: Friday, April 16, 10-11:30 a.m. CT
What better time than National Poetry Month to experience the joy of writing poetry? Join three poets and experience a diverse sampler of simple, fun, and inspiring poetry writing activities to bring out the poet in YOU—and that you can easily turn around and use with writers of all ages.
School Libraries, Programming

Finding Gobi: The True Story of One Little Dog's Big Journey
Dion Leonard
PreRecorded
Dion’s presentation brings the Finding Gobi story to life (includes videos/photos and stories to entertain) while also covering everything from hardship, friendship, teamwork, drive to succeed, inner belief, failure, love and kindness to others, and making the most of life from whatever situation you are in. Dion has spoken to audiences at children’s book festivals, libraries, conferences, and schools in the United Kingdom, Europe, and the United States, and he really loves bringing the story to life for kids and adults alike to enjoy.
School Libraries, Public Libraries

Overlooked: Books Worth a Second Chance
Teri Lesesne and Karin Perry
Live: Monday, April 12, 2-3:30 p.m. CT
This session will feature books worthy of our attention but not appearing on award lists. With the number of books published, many fine titles may be overlooked. A discussion of the excellent features will be included in the book talks given by the presenters.
Booktalks/Best New Books, School Libraries

All the World’s a Stage: Incorporating Theatre into Your Library
Melanie Lewis, Lonna Vines, and Becca Worthington
Live: Monday, April 12, 10-11:30 a.m. CT
Join the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library’s Theatrical Training Team for a facts-and-fun session full of drama games and theatre activities to do in your library, hands-on puppetry manipulation, and learn about training ideas for staff members who might want to beef up their performance skills. From solo puppet shows on Zoom to readers’ theater, library programmers all benefit from dramatic and theatrical training. We encourage attendees to bring a puppet to our workshop.
Programming, Public Libraries

Let’s Get Creative: Visual Journaling as Pedagogy and Reflection
Jennifer Luetkemeyer
Live: Wednesday, April 14, 2-3:30 p.m. CT
This session will cover visual journaling as a pedagogical and reflective tool to be applied to both professional and personal practice. Participants will learn how the presenter collaborated with a fifth grade teacher to enhance reading instruction during a graphic novel study through visual journaling and how the presenter uses visual journaling in her own professional practice for research and personal practice for self-care. A portion of the session will be devoted to creating either a physical or digital visual journaling piece, and participants will be able to work with whatever materials they already have on hand.
School Libraries, Programming

Navigating Tough Topics: Books that Will Help Children Better Understand Life’s Challenges
Jamie Campbell Naidoo and Kaitlyn Lynch
PreRecorded
Throughout childhood and adolescence, children and tweens face numerous difficult situations such as illness, death, bullying, racism, and more. Caring librarians and educators know that the right book used at the right time can spark conversations to help children understand and process life’s challenges. This presentation provides attendees with recommendations of the best books that address tough topics along with related resources to help children navigate them.
Booktalks/Best New Books, Public Libraries

The Story and the Student
Mary Beth Magee
PreRecorded
Storytelling and learning share an unbreakable bond. Beyond offering entertainment, storytelling teaches, and teachers use stories to illustrate lessons. Learn more about this historic oral tradition and its modern application. In this session, attendees will learn to apply storytelling techniques both to teach and to verify understanding of material.
Storytelling, Programming

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Download the Breakout Session Presenter Bios (PDF)

Kate Albus’s upcoming middle grade historical novel, A Place To Hang the Moon, is about three orphaned siblings who hope the World War II evacuation of London will be their chance at a forever home. In this story, set against the backdrop of an actual event experienced by a million children, Kate weaves a tale about the dire importance of family and the ways stories can sustain us. Kate grew up in New York and now lives with her family in rural Maryland. She enjoys getting to know new characters, both by writing and reading about them.

Daniel Aleman is the debut author of the upcoming young adult novel, Indivisible. He was born and raised in Mexico City and is a graduate of McGill University. Daniel is passionate about books, coffee, and Mexican food. After spending time in Montreal and the New York City area, he now lives in Toronto.

Maria E. Andreu is the author of the forthcoming Love in English (Balzer + Bray 2021), a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection and recipient of a starred review from School Library Journal. Her debut young adult novel, The Secret Side of Empty, is a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection, a National Indie Excellence Book Award winner, and an International Latino Book Awards Finalist.

Kelly J. Baptist is the author of the middle grade novel, Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero, and the upcoming picture book, The Electric Slide and Kai.

Lindsey Beck serves as President of the Magnolia Book Awards Executive Board. She holds degrees in Education and Library Science, as well as certificates and training in family literacy and youth programming. Lindsey works as the school librarian for New Hope High School in Lowndes County. Lindsey’s background includes serving as a former youth services coordinator for the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library and working as a school librarian at the PK-5 level.

Valerie Bolling has been an educator for 28 years, and her debut picture book, Let’s Dance!, was published in March 2020. She has two books scheduled for release in 2022 and two more slated for 2023. Valerie and her husband live in Stamford and enjoy traveling, hiking, reading, going to the theater, and dancing. Learn more about her at valeriebolling.com or on Twitter (@Valerie_Bolling) and Instagram (@valeriebollingauthor).

Fleur Bradley is the author of many middle-grade books aimed at reluctant readers, including her most recent (spooky) mystery, Midnight at the Barclay Hotel. Fleur is passionate about two things: mysteries and getting kids to read, and she regularly speaks at librarian and educator conferences on reaching reluctant readers. Originally from the Netherlands, Fleur now lives in Colorado Springs with her husband, two daughters, and entirely too many cats. For more information on Fleur and her books, visit www.ftbradley.com, and on Twitter @FTBradleyAuthor.

Mac Buntin is an employee at the Mississippi Library Commission where he is a library consultant. His major professional interests are trustee training and library law, with a dash of statistics for spice. He is an advocate for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) in all facets of librarianship and library services as a social justice issue. Mac has accepted a two-year appointment to the American Library Association’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Assembly, and he is the founder of the Mississippi Library Association’s Social Justice Roundtable.

Ramona Caponegro is an associate professor of children’s literature at Eastern Michigan University and the Director of Educational Programming and Content for the Ezra Jack Keats Award’s 35th Anniversary Leadership Team. She conducted a Mock EJK Award program with her college students and 2nd-5th graders in an after-school program. 

Kelly Carey is an award-winning children’s author from New England. She has been publishing magazine fiction stories for over a decade and her debut picture book, How Long Is Forever? (Charlesbridge, April 2020), received a glowing review from Kirkus. She is a graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature, an active member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), and the co-founder of 24 Carrot Writing (www.24carrotwriting.com). Learn more about her at www.kcareywrites.com and on Twitter and Instagram @KCareyWrites. 

Bethany Carlisle serves as Vice President of the Magnolia Book Awards Executive Board. Bethany is the youth services coordinator for the Jackson-George Regional Library System, a position she has held for eleven years. Prior to taking the youth services coordinator position, she worked at the Vancleave Public Library, where she found great joy in being the community "library lady." Bethany loves living in coastal Mississippi and feels privileged to promote libraries and literacy in Jackson and George Counties.

Abi Cushman is the author-illustrator of Soaked! (Viking), which was a Kids' Indie Next Top Ten Pick for Summer 2020, and Animals go Vroom! (Viking), which rolls onto shelves in Summer 2021. She has also worked as a web designer for over 15 years and runs two popular websites of her own: MyHouseRabbit.com, a pet rabbit care resource, and AnimalFactGuide.com, which was named a Great Website for Kids by the American Library Association. In her spare time, Abi enjoys running, playing tennis, and eating nachos. (Yes, at the same time.) She lives on the Connecticut shoreline with her family. www.AbiCushman.com 

Susan Muaddi Darraj’s short story collection, A Curious Land: Stories from Home, was named the winner of the AWP Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction, judged by Jaime Manrique. It also won the 2016 Arab American Book Award, a 2016 American Book Award, and was shortlisted for a Palestine Book Award. Her previous short story collection, The Inheritance of Exile, was published in 2007 by University of Notre Dame Press. In 2018, she was named a Ford Fellow by USA Artists. Susan also is a two-time recipient of an Individual Artist Award from the Maryland State Arts Council. She has also been awarded a Ruby’s Artist Grant from the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance and a grant from the Sustainable Arts Foundation.

Keila V. Dawson is a former community organizer, teacher, and advocate for children with special needs turned children’s book author. Her books include Opening the Road: Victor Hugo Green and His Green Book (2021), No Voice Too Small: Fourteen Young Americans Making History (2020), The King Cake Baby (2015), and the forthcoming No World Too Big: Young People Fighting Climate Change (2023). Dawson is a New Orleans native and has lived and worked in the Philippines, Japan, and Egypt. She lives in Cincinnati. Learn more about her at www.keiladawson.com, on Twitter @keila_dawson or Instagram @keilavdawson.

Alda P. Dobbs’s upcoming middle grade novel, Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna, was inspired by her great-grandmother's experience during the Mexican Revolution in 1913. Alda was born in a small town in northern Mexico and moved to San Antonio, Texas, as a child. She studied physics and engineering before pursuing her passion of storytelling. She’s as passionate about connecting children to their pasts, their communities, different cultures, science, and nature as she is about writing. She lives with her family outside Houston, Texas.

Payal Doshi has a Master’s in Creative Writing from The New School, New York. Having lived in India, the United Kingdom, and the United States, she noticed a lack of Indian protagonists in global children’s fiction and one day wrote the opening paragraph to what would become Rea and the Blood of the Nectar, her debut middle grade novel. Payal lives with her family in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and can be found daydreaming about fantasy realms to send her characters off into.

Meg Eden is a 2020 Pitch Wars mentee, and her work is published or forthcoming in magazines including Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, Crab Orchard Review, RHINO, and CV2. She teaches creative writing at Anne Arundel Community College. She is the author of five poetry chapbooks, the novel Post-High School Reality Quest (2017), and the poetry collection Drowning in the Floating World (2020). She runs the Magfest MAGES Library blog, which posts accessible academic articles about video games (https://super.magfest.org/mages-blog). Find her online at www.megedenbooks.com or on Twitter at @ConfusedNarwhal.

Laura Anne Ewald is a former librarian turned freelance writer, editor, public speaker, and puppeteer. An eclectic scholar with degrees in classical studies, drama, library science, and organizational communication, she has become an avid storyteller, writing novels, short stories, and puppet plays for both adults and children. Founder and puppeteer of the Everyman Puppet Theatre, she is committed to bringing this fun and incredibly diverse theatrical art to children of all ages through both puppetry workshops and performances.

Melinda Falgoust is an internationally award-winning author whose writing has appeared in Reader’s Digest, AHMM, and other places. Most recently, she was recognized as a finalist in the Clive Cussler Adventure Writer’s Competition. She has presented on craft worldwide, most recently at the Japan Writer's Conference, with the Plaquemines Parish Library Summer Reading Program, the Killer Nashville Writers' Conference, the Picayune Writers' Symposium, the Deep Valley Book Festival: Virtual Cabin Fever Edition, and the Pages Promotion Virtual Book Festival. Also a veteran actor of stage and screen, she often reaches into her actor’s bag-of-tricks to introduce quirky characters that bring her presentations alive!

Vicky Fang is the author of Layla & the Bots; Invent-A-Pet; I Can Code; and Friendbots.  

Carrie Finison writes picture books with humor and heart, including Dozens of Doughnuts (2020), Don’t Hug Doug (2021), and the forthcoming Hurry, Little Tortoise: Time for School, and Lulu & Zoey: A Sister Story (2022). She lives outside of Boston with her husband, son, and daughter, and two cats who allow her to work in their cozy attic office. Visit her online at www.carriefinison.com, or follow her on Twitter or Instagram @CarrieFinison. 

Annette Y. Goldsmith is the co-editor, along with Theo Heras and Susan Corapi, of Reading the World’s Stories: An Annotated Bibliography of International Youth Literature (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016). She is the librarian for the Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel in Los Angeles and teaches online graduate classes in children’s literature and librarianship for the Kent State School of Information.

Wendy Greenley used her M.S. in microbiology and her law degree before pursuing her dream of writing books for children. She is the author of several stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul and the picture book, Lola Shapes the Sky (2019). Learn more about her at www.wendygreenley.com and on Facebook and Twitter @wendygreenley.

The team from Friends School of Baltimore— Andy Hanes, Frances Morrissey, John Scott, and Diana White—is now in their third year of holding a Mock EJK Award program with early elementary students (PreK-Pre1st). Collaboratively, they developed their version of the Mock EJK Award criteria and short list with refinements every year. They have found the power in the Mock EJK Award program lies in developing critical thinking skills while celebrating the diverse offering of children’s literature that heralds the EJK Award.

Dee Hare is the director of the Northeast Regional Library system. She holds a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Southern Mississippi with a certificate in Youth Services and Literature and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Education from Delta State University.  She has over twenty years of experience working in public library services.  

Shannan L. Hicks is the library services director at the William F. Laman Public Library in North Little Rock, Arkansas. In this position, she manages programming and acquisitions for children’s, teen and adult departments. Prior to that, she was an elementary school librarian in Shreveport, Louisiana.  Shannan has expertise and interest in book selection and served on the 2021 Randolph Caldecott Committee. A graduate of the School of Library and Information Science at Louisiana State University, she has been a volunteer at the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival for many years.

Linda Oatman High is an author/playwright/poet/journalist who holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College. Her books have won many awards and honors, and Linda has been teaching creative writing for the past 25 years. Information on the author and her work may be found on www.lindaoatmanhigh.com.

Soline Holmes is a school librarian in New Orleans. She serves on the Louisiana Young Readers Choice Award committee and has presented at local and national conferences. She co-authored an article for Children and Libraries and was interviewed, with Alicia Schwarzenbach, for Book Links about using graphic novels in the classroom.  

Leigh Hood is the administrative assistant and branch services coordinator for the Northeast Regional Library system. She has over 14 years of experience working in public library services.

David Jacobson is the author of Are You an Echo?: The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko (Chin Music Press, 2016).  He is also a veteran journalist and Japanese translator. His current projects are biographies of Jella Lepman and Beate Sirota Gordon, two women who played an outsized role in reshaping the world after World War II.  

Darshana Khiani is an Indian American who grew up in rural Pennsylvania and now resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family. She is an author, engineer, and a South Asian kidlit blogger. Her debut picture book How to Wear a Sari releases June 2021. Her next book I’m an American is slated for Summer 2023. When she isn’t working or writing she can be found hiking, solving jigsaw puzzles, or traveling. Visit her online at www.darshanakhiani.com or on Twitter and Instagram at @darshanakhiani. 

Vivian Kirkfeld constantly takes leaps of faith, jumping out of a perfectly good airplane when she was 64 years old and jumping into writing books for children the very next year. A former kindergarten teacher, her narrative nonfiction biographies bring history alive for young readers and include Sweet Dreams, Sarah (2019); Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe (2020); and From Here to There: Inventions That Changed the Way the World Moves (2021). Connect with Vivian at www.viviankirkfield.com and on Twitter and Instagram @viviankirkfield. 

Isabella Kung is the author and illustrator of No Fuzzball! (Scholastic, 2020), a picture book about a fuzzy feline despot who rules the house with an iron paw. Continuing her feline obsession, she also illustrated over 120 cats for the board books 123 Cats and ABC Cats by Lesléa Newman (Candlewick, 2021). Her illustrations have received accolades from institutions such as the Society of Illustrators, Spectrum Fantasy Art, 3x3, Creative Quarterly, and SCBWI. Outside the world of publishing, Isabella teaches illustration and watercolor classes at Storyteller Academy and Etchr Lab. She is also the current Illustrator coordinator of the SCBWI SF/South region. Isabella resides in San Francisco with her husband and two adorable – you guessed it – cats! She is represented by Jennifer Laughran at Andrea Brown Literary.

Angela Kunkel is a school librarian and the author of Digging for Words: José Alberto Gutiérrez and the Library He Built and Penguin Journey

Susan Kusel’s debut picture book, The Passover Guest, illustrated by Sean Rubin, earned a Kirkus star. 

Lynne Lambdin is the Electronic Resources Librarian at Delta State University. In addition to working as a librarian, she teaches the English-Speaking Language online to Chinese children. She has one article published to date. She is a Michigan native enjoying the mild southern winters.  

Rajani LaRocca was born in India, raised in Kentucky, and now lives in the Boston area, where she practices medicine and writes award-winning novels and picture books, including Midsummer’s Mayhem (2019), Seven Golden Rings (2020), Red, White, and Whole (2021), Bracelets for Bina’s Brothers (2021), Much Ado About Baseball (2021), and more. She’s always been an omnivorous reader, and now she is an omnivorous writer of fiction and nonfiction, novels and picture books, prose and poetry. She finds inspiration in her family, her childhood, the natural world, math, science, and just about everywhere she looks. To connect with Rajani and learn more about her and her books visit her at www.RajaniLaRocca.com

Jacqueline LaRose is a professor of education at Eastern Michigan University, where she primarily teaches courses in curriculum and literacy methods. Prior to working in higher education, she was a public school educator in New York state for nearly twenty years. 

Kirsten W. Larson used to work with rocket scientists at NASA. Now she writes books for curious kids. She’s the author of Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents an Airplane, illustrated by Tracy Subisak (Calkins Creek, 2020), A True Wonder: The Comic Book Hero Who Changed Everything, illustrated by Katy Wu (Clarion, 2021), The Fire of Stars, illustrated by Katherine Roy (Chronicle, Fall 2022), along with 25 other nonfiction books for kids. Find her at kirsten-w-larson.com or on Twitter/Instagram @KirstenWLarson.

Irene Latham is the author of many books for children, including novels, poetry, and picture books. Winner of the 2016 ILA Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award, she writes poetry inspired by nature, art, and the experience of being human. Together with Charles Waters, she's written Dictionary for a Better World and Can I Touch Your Hair?: Poems of Race, Mistakes and Friendship, which was named a Charlotte Huck Honor Book and a Kirkus Best Book of 2018. Irene lives on a lake in Alabama where she does her best to "live her poem" every single day by laughing, playing the cello, and birdwatching.

Dion Leonard is an Australian/British New York Times bestselling author, motivational speaker and ultra runner. In 2016, while running a 155-mile race across the Gobi Desert in China, a little stray dog joined Dion and ran 80 miles with him. The story of Finding Gobi became an international bestseller in 21 languages and is currently a Hollywood film in production. Dion has since gone on to write a young readers’ edition and children’s picture book of their story. In 2020, Dion released his fourth book, Lara the Runaway Cat, which tells the fictional story of his real cat Lara and her runaway adventure around the world to find herself. 

Teri Lesesne (rhymes with insane) is a distinguished professor in library science at Sam Houston State University in Texas. She teaches classes in literature for children and young adults. Teri is also the author of 3 professional books, numerous book chapters, and articles.

Melanie Lewis has been writing and performing puppet shows for libraries for over seven years. She holds a Bachelor of Science in family and child development from Virginia Tech, a Master’s in Library and Information Science from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and a Master’s in Education from North Carolina State University. Melanie has made it a priority to partner with local schools not only to bring books to life through theatre, but to bring the students’ stories to life. She is passionate about empowering children’s services specialists to explore dramatic play in day-to-day programming, as she has lead workshops on one-person puppetry and puppetry basics. 

Margarita Longoria is the author of the upcoming young adult anthology, Living Beyond Borders. She’s a lifelong bookworm, book blogger, and high school librarian in South Texas where she founded Border Book Bash: Celebrating Teens and Tweens of the Rio Grande Valley. Margarita grew up on the Texas/Mexico border known as the Rio Grande Valley and lives with her family in Texas.

Jennifer Luetkemeyer is an assistant professor of library science at Appalachian State University. She is interested in the ways that students access information and knowledge, in what resources and information they have access to, and in how information and knowledge are presented to them. The fundamental principle that all students deserve, and should be provided with, equal access to information, knowledge, and resources guides her work.

Kaitlyn Lynch is a graduate student in the University of Alabama Masters of Library and Information Studies Program. She currently works as a youth librarian at Tuscaloosa Public Library in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and has published on the topic of library services to LGBTQ+ youth.

Vikram Madan grew up in India where he really wanted to be a cartoonist but ended up an engineer. After many years of working in the tech industry, he finally came to his senses and followed his heart into the visual and literary arts, creating work that can be humorous, quirky, fun, lighthearted, philosophical, thought-provoking, and, sometimes, all of these at the same time. When not painting and making public art, Vikram writes and illustrates humorous poetry. His poetry books include A Hatful of Dragons and the Moonbeam Book Award winners, The Bubble Collector and Lord of the Bubbles.

Mary Beth Magee is an author, journalist, publisher, and trainer. She writes in several genres, including nonfiction and children’s books. She leads sessions on aspects of writing, creativity, and publishing for writers of all levels and she is a member of The Poplarville Storytellers Guild. Her degree in psychology focuses on learning.

Jen Malia is an associate professor and the author of Too Sticky!: Sensory Issues with Autism

Lindsay H. Metcalf is a journalist and author of nonfiction picture books: Beatrix Potter, Scientist, a Mighty Girl Best Book of 2020; Farmers Unite! Planting a Protest for Fair Prices, a Junior Library Guild selection and NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book; and No Voice Too Small: Fourteen Young Americans Making History, a Kirkus and Chicago Public Library Best Book, Notable Social Studies Trade Book, and NCTE Notable Poetry Book. Lindsay lives in Kansas with her husband, two sons, and a variety of pets. Reach her at lindsayhmetcalf.com and @lindsayhmetcalf on Twitter, Instagram, and Clubhouse.

Amanda McCrina was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of West Georgia with a Bachelor’s degree in history and political science. After three years of teaching secondary English and history at an international school outside Madrid, Spain, she now lives in Franklin, Tennessee, where she works as a bookseller. Her areas of interest include the World Wars and Soviet/post-Soviet Eastern Europe, particularly Poland and Ukraine. Her upcoming novel, The Silent Unseen, looks at the use of children as forced laborers by the Nazi and Soviet regimes and the weaponization of ethnic identities on the eastern front of World War II.

Saira Mir is a physician and author of the award-winning picture book Muslim Girls Rise (2019). This biographic anthology was born out of the need to fill her daughter’s heart and mind with amazing Muslim women like her. Saira loves teaching in the hospital and classroom. She’s a newbie homeschooler in the DC area and learned you have to hide the permanent markers. You can follow news of her upcoming books at sairamir.com or social media @sairamirbooks.  

Malcolm Mitchell is the rookie who helped the New England Patriots win Super Bowl LI and is the author of The Magician’s Hat and My Very Favorite Book in the Whole Wide World

Oge Mora received the 2019 Ezra Jack Keats Illustrator Award for Thank you, Omu!, which also received a Caldecott Honor and the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award. 

Kirstie Myvett received a Bachelor's degree from Columbia College and works in higher education. She is passionate about philanthropy and has worked and volunteered in the nonprofit arena extensively. Kirstie is co-founder of KidLit in Color, a group of traditionally published BIPOC creatives who nurture, amplify diverse voices, and advocate for equitable representation in the industry. Kirstie's work has appeared in Country Roads Magazine and on Black New Orleans Mom Blog. Her debut picture book, Praline Lady, was released in November 2020.

Jamie Campbell Naidoo is the Foster-EBSCO professor at the University of Alabama School of Library & Information Studies. A former school librarian and children's librarian, he regularly teaches on the topic of diversity in children's literature and library services to diverse populations. He has published numerous professional books and articles related to connecting children with books offering mirror, window, and sliding door experiences.

Tootie Nienow is the author of There Goes Patti McGee: The Story of the First Women’s National Skateboard Champion (Farrar Straus & Giroux 2021). Tootie is a school librarian who, after reading hundreds of books to an enraptured audience, decided to write her own. Mining her childhood experiences in southern California, she crafts stories about skateboarding, surfing, hiking, and California’s unique weather. You can follow her on Instagram (@author2t) or check out her website (tootienienow.com).

Carolyn Tara O’Neil grew up in a tiny New York City apartment filled with thousands of books. Carolyn has lived in France, Spain, and Japan and has dedicated her career to the education and rights of young people. She loves to travel, study languages, and spend endless hours discussing TV, books, great hiking trails, and how we can work together to build a more equal society. Her debut novel, Daughters of a Dead Empire, is set during the Russian Revolution and will be published in Fall 2021.

Colleen Paeff is the author of The Great Stink: How Joseph Bazalgette Solved London’s Poop Pollution Problem (Margaret K. McElderry Books/S&S 2021) and Rainbow Truck (Chronicle Books 2023). A former preschool teacher and bookseller, her passion for picture books is rivaled only by her love of research, especially when primary sources are involved. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @ColleenPaeff and online at www.colleenpaeff.com.

Karin Perry is an associate professor of library science at Sam Houston State University in Texas. She teaches a wide variety of library science classes, including literature for children and young adults. She is the author of Sci Fi on the Fly and co-author of Sketchnoting in the Schools.

Zeena Pliska is the author of Hello, Little One: A Monarch Butterfly Story. She is a progressive, child-centered educator who strives to create a culture of listening to children in her classroom. She lives in Los Angeles, California.

NoNieqa Ramos wrote The Disturbed Girl's Dictionary, a 2019 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Selection and a 2019 In the Margins Top Ten pick. Versify will publish her debut picture book Your Mama, which received a School Library Journal starred review, April 6th, 2021. Her second picture book Hair Story releases from Lerner September 6th, 2022.  NoNieqa is a proud member of Las Musas, The Soaring 20s, and PB Debut Troupe 21 collectives. Visit her at www.nonieqaramos.com

Julie Rowan-Zoch is the illustrator of Louis and the author/illustrator of I’m a Hare, So There!.

Molly Ruttan is the author/illustrator of The Stray, (Nancy Paulsen Books 2020) and Something Wild (Nancy Paulsen Books 2022) and is the illustrator of I am a Thief! by Abigail Rayner (NorthSouth Books, 2019). She has two additional forthcoming titles. Molly holds a BFA from the Cooper Union School of Art and has raised three talented kids. She is a drummer, loves metaphysics and delights in the night sky. Find her online at www.mollyruttan.com.  

Former teacher Laura Purdie Salas believes reading small picture books and poems can have a huge impact on your life. This Minnesota author has written more than 130 books for kids, including Lion of the Sky (Kirkus Best Books and Parents Magazine Best Books of the Year), the Can Be… series (Bank Street Best Books, IRA Teachers’ Choice), and BookSpeak! (Minnesota Book Award, NCTE Notable). Laura shares inspiration and practical tips with educators about poetry, nonfiction, and more. Visit Laura at laurasalas.com.

Debra Kempf Shumaker started reading at the age of four and hasn’t stopped since. She grew up on a small dairy farm in Wisconsin but now writes picture books from her home in the suburbs of Northern Virginia. She is the author of Freaky, Funky Fish (May 4, 2021) and Tell Someone (October 1, 2021).

Alicia Schwarzenbach is a New Orleans native with twenty-five years of experience in libraries. Alicia has presented at conferences including the Louisiana Library Association (LLA), Conference for Young Adult Literature Louisiana (CYALL), and LOUIS Users Conference (LUC) and has published in ALSC’s Children and Libraries and Book Links.

Chieri Uegaki received the 2015 Ezra Jack Keats Writer Award for Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin, which also won the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature in the Picture Book Category.

Lonna Vines is currently the children’s librarian at the Hickory Grove branch of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. She serves on the systemwide theatrical training team and is the team lead for the Frontline Puppeteers. She has her Master’s in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois, has worked in libraries for over 10 years, and loves incorporating music, puppetry, and performance into every aspect of her job. 

Phoebe Wahl received the 2016 Ezra Jack Keats Illustrator Award for Sonya’s Chickens. Her most recent picture book, The Blue House, was honored with the 2021 Robin Smith Picture Book Prize.

Caroline Ward is a youth literature consultant with over 40 years of experience in public libraries. She has served on the Ezra Jack Keats Award committee, including three terms as chair, and has conducted Mock EJK Awards with 3rd graders in Stamford, Connecticut. 

Candy Wellins’s debut picture book, Saturdays are for Stella, was named a Kirkus Best Picture Book of 2020. She is also an educator and the author of The Stars Beckoned

Since receiving her undergraduate degree in playwriting in 2002, Becca Worthington has had twelve of her plays performed in four states, two countries, and in three languages. While serving in the Peace Corps (2006-2008), she started the first library in her village and served as the theatre specialist for the Republic of Moldova to create social interactive theatre at orphanages throughout the country. Upon her return to America, she ran library marketing events on behalf of the Association of American Publishers and served as literary manager and playwriting instructor of award-winning off-Broadway theatre company, The Barrow Group. After receiving her Master’s in Library Science from Queens University, she moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, for the delightful and magical experience of serving as children’s librarian at ImaginOn, the only hybrid children’s theatre/children’s library in the country.

Munevver Mindy Yuksel, writing under the pen name M.O. Yuksel, is a multicultural children's book author with a passion for research and writing stories about diverse historical figures, whimsical characters, and fascinating cultures. Her debut book, In My Mosque (HarperCollins, 2021), is a lyrical picture book celebrating the traditions and joys found in mosques around the world. She is also the author of One Wish (HarperCollins, 2022) a picture book biography about Fatima al-Fihri, a 9th-century woman who pioneered the oldest university in the world in Fez, Morocco. Visit her online at www.moyuksel.com

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Tentative Daily Schedules

Download the full 2021 Tentative Schedule (PDF)

(Zoom links forthcoming) 

10-11:30 a.m. CT Concurrent Sessions 

1. KidLit in Color: Writing and Modeling Anti-Racism for Young Readers
Valerie Bolling, Susan Muaddi Darraj, Kirstie Myvett, and Zeena Pliska
Booktalks/Best New Books, Storytelling

2. All the World’s a Stage: Incorporating Theatre into Your Library
Melanie Lewis, Lonna Vines, and Becca Worthington
Programming, Public Libraries

11:30 a.m. CT Welcome Session
Announcements and Awards

Kaigler-Lamont Award
Magnolia Award

Noon-1:30 p.m. CT Keynote Session
Coleen Salley Storytelling
Elizabeth Ellis

2-3:30 p.m. CT Concurrent Sessions

1. Overlooked: Books Worth a Second Chance
Teri Lesesne and Karin Perry
Booktalks/Best New Books, School Libraries

2. It’s Alive! Bring History to Life with Primary Sources from the Library of Congress
Soline Holmes and Alicia Schwarzenbach
Programming, School Libraries

7-8:30 p.m. CT Keynote Session
Ezra Jack Keats Lecture
Meg Medina

12:30-2 p.m. CT Keynote Session
35th Ezra Jack Keats Award Ceremony

3-4 p.m. CT Keynote Session
The Snowy Day Legacy: 35 Years of the Ezra Jack Keats Award

6:30-7:30 p.m. CT Keynote Session
35th Ezra Jack Keats Award Silent Auction Co-Hosted by the R. Michelson Galleries with Special Guest Commentary

10-11:30 a.m. CT Concurrent Sessions

1. Teaching with Picture Books
Shannan L. Hicks
Booktalks/Best New Books, Programming

2. Back to Basics: Suggested Family Activities and Children’s Activity Packets
Dee Hare and Leigh Hood
Public Libraries, Programming

Noon-1:30 p.m. CT Keynote Session
Southern Miss Medallion Award Ceremony
Andrea Davis Pinkney

2-3:30 p.m. CT Concurrent Sessions

1. Alphabet Soup: An A to Z Recipe for Spicing Up Your Programming
Melinda Taliancich Falgoust
Programming

2. Let’s Get Creative: Visual Journaling as Pedagogy and Reflection
Jennifer Luetkemeyer
School Libraries, Programming

3. Global Literature in Libraries Initiative (GLLI) Translated YA Book Prize
Annette Y. Goldsmith and David Jacobson
Programming/Awards

7-8:30 p.m. CT Keynote Session
Southern Miss Storytelling Pajama Party
Mitali Perkins

10-11:30 a.m. CT Keynote Session
Mock Ezra Jack Keats Award
Ramona Caponegro, Andy Haynes, Frances Morrissey, John Scott, Caroline Ward, and Diana White

Noon-1:30 p.m. CT Keynote Session
de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection Lecture
Sharon M. Draper

2-3:30 p.m. CT Concurrent Sessions

1. Chasing Creativity
Laura Anne Ewald and Mary Beth Magee
Storytelling, Programming

2. Developing an LGBTQ+ Friendly Collection for Young and Curious Minds
Lynne Lambdin
Booktalks/Best New Books, Public Libraries

 

10-11:30 a.m. CT Concurrent Sessions

1. Word-Joy: Experience the Transformative Power of Poetry
Irene Latham, Vikram Madan, and Laura Purdie Salas
School Libraries, Programming

2. Reaching the Reluctant Reader
Fleur Bradley
School Libraries, Public Libraries

Noon-1:30 p.m. CT Keynote Session
Dan Santat

2-3:30 p.m. CT Concurrent Sessions

1. We Are Family: Inclusive Representations of Family to Promote Equity
Kelly J. Baptist, Kelly Carey, Susan Kusel, Rajani LaRocca, and Candy Wellins
School Libraries, Public Libraries

Download the Full 2021 Tentative Schedule (PDF)

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Contact Us

Fay B. Kaigler Children's Book Festival

Cook Library
118 College Dr. #5146
Hattiesburg, MS 30406

Hattiesburg Campus

Campus Map

Email
Karen.rowellFREEMississippi

Phone
601.266.4228

 

The Festival began in 1968.

Over 300 teachers and librarians attend each year.

CEUs are available to Mississippi educators.