Globally Yours

I had the privilege - and apparent good sense - to attend an amazing one-day children's literature conference recently. The 10th annual International Children's and Young Adult Celebration was held, as it has been for all its existence, in Madison WI - my home state. This is only the second one I've attended and I can't help asking myself, "Where the deuce have I been?!?!"
Sponsored by our university and technical college departments of international studies, this was one of the best days I've spent in a long time thinking about and exploring global literature for youth. The sessions were thoughtful and thought-provoking. We started off with a trip around the world with K.T. Horning booktalking 80 international books for youth we should know. Man, if we don't have some, after this exploration, I want them all in the collection.

I was charmed by the remembrances and storytelling of Anne Pellowski but I was even more thunderstruck by her dedication to helping create children's books in minority languages around the globe. She brought samples of the cloth books created and they are miraculous.  Her passion for putting books into the hands of children everywhere was inspiring.

Atinuke, author of the Anna Hibiscus books and the new No. 1 Car Spotter title (both set in "amazing Africa" and perfect for kids making the leap to chapter books) talked about growing up between two cultures - Nigerian and English - and how the expectations of people in each culture about people from the other were often quite off base.  She is also a powerful storyteller and shared a spellbinding tale at the end of her speech.Her books fill a huge gap in most library collections and I was so pleased to see her in our country and reading from her works.

Miltali Perkins, author of numerous teen and tween books - most recently, Bamboo People, further explored the theme of living between two cultures.  Using an autobiographical theme, she wove issues about race, expectations and societal pressures that support bias "under the waterline" into her brilliant talk. Her honesty and humor brought a fitting ending to the day.

Some of the talks and handouts of the conference will be posted here in the near future. It's also a great spot to get information on former speakers and to experience some of their presentations and handouts. Be inspired!

This funding future for the federally sponsored literature conference (US State Dept and US Dept of Education) is in limbo right now so it is uncertain if there will be a conference next year.  That would be a shame.  Just in case it does happen though, it is always held the Saturday before Thanksgiving.  Maybe mark your calendar now and if it happens, you will be in for a rare treat - oh and a gratis copy of one of the speaker's books.You can't do better than all of that!

mage: 'Blue Marble Animation'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/24662369@N07/4401845574

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