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2016 #KidLitCon Program Released

With many thanks to Program Coordinator Charlotte Taylor, here is the program for the 2016 Kidlitosphere Conference (KidLitCon), to be held in Wichita, KS on October 14-15.


Friday October 14
7:00 - 9:00am
Setup and registration

Welcoming remarks from this year’s KidLitCon organizer Melissa Fox 

9:15 - 10:10
Whole Room Session 

The Honorable Gatekeeper

Jen Swann Downey (author of the Ninja Lybrarians series)

The word “censorship” often conjures up images of flaming books, or thickly blacked-out lines of type in a government communique. However, the availability (or lack thereof) of a rich variety of perspectives often depends upon a much less dramatic, but perhaps in the end, more powerful act: Gate-keeping. Whether in media outlets, school history curriculum authors, or on our own book blogs, gatekeepers have a profound effect on which perspectives and viewpoints/stories make it out into the marketplace of ideas. We accept, reject, and amend perspectives as we navigate our reading and reviewing lives.   

So what does it mean to gate-keep “well” and with honor? Understanding that “With great power, comes great responsibility.”, what principles might be helpful for the pursuit of honorable gate-keeping? What are the forces that can keep people silent, and what strategies might we use to engage with those forces? And how can we give young readers tools to help them move beyond the gatekeepers to shape their own reading destinies?

The lybrarians with a “y” have a few ideas to share…

10:30 - 11:20
Concurrent Sessions: 

Book Talks for and by Kids

Kari Riedel Mayor of Bookopolis

I can’t find a good book” is the #1 reason kids give for NOT reading (according to a 2105 Scholastic Kids & Family Reading report) and Kid Choice is critical in the book discovery process. This session will discuss resources that are created by and for kids (not just those created for teachers and parents.) I will share tools that I have created at, other tools that students in my book clubs use, and gather input from session participants. Participants are encouraged to share ways they help kids find books they’re exited to read—what works, and what doesn’t? Participants will leave with a list of tools and practice using them.

What is YA?

Rachel Neumeir (author—The Mountain of Kept Memory and more), Debra Dockter (author—Deadly Design), Sarah Stevenson (Finding Wonderland; author-The Truth Against the World )

This panel talks all things YA. What makes a book “YA”? What makes a book “good” YA? Do we judge YA books by a distinct set of standards because of the age of its readers? Teens are becoming their own gatekeepers, especially at the top of the YA age limit, so what role(s) should us “grown-ups” play in being gatekeepers?

11:30 - 12:20
Concurrent Sessions: 

Successful Author Visits: The Direct Connection between Authors, Gatekeepers, and Kids

Beverley Olson Buller (A Prarie Peter Pan and more) and Lisa Harkrader (The Adventures of Beanboy)

School visits create an opportunity for authors and gatekeepers—teachers, librarians, and often parents—to join forces to promote literacy. We will discuss ways school visits can get kids excited about books and reading, support the instruction teachers and librarians provide for their students, and engage the entire school, and what authors can do to make these things happen. Teachers, librarians, and parent groups often invite authors whose books appear on their state’s children’s choice award lists, and we’ll talk about how those lists can be a part of promoting literacy and celebrating literature. 

Kidlit Blogging Salon, Part 1

Hosted by Charlotte Taylor (Charlotte’s Library)

Talking to other bloggers is the best part of Kidlitcon, and talking about blogging is what we are here for!  This year we’re trying out an informal salon, where we can share questions we have about the particulars of our own blogs, share cool tips and tricks, and ask for (constructive) criticism about our own blogs! It’s a chance to let the ideas inspired by our panelists spark discussion!

12:30 - 2:00
Lunch (included in registration) 

2:00 - 3:00

Keynote 1

Amy King  (author of seven young adult novels and myriad short stories for adults; PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ was named a 2011 Michael L. Printz Honor book, and ASK THE PASSENGERS won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for young adult literature in 2012. 

3:00 - 3:50
Whole Room Session

The Disinvitation Epidemic

Paula Willey (Unadulterated), Amy KingPhil Bildner (author—Rookie of the Year and many more), Jonah Winter (author—Lillian’s Right to Vote and many more), and C. Alexander London (author-Tides of War and many more)

Censorship has many forms, and one that we’re seeing with seemingly greater and greater frequency is happening now in schools. Authors who have been invited for school visits are either “disinvited” by teachers or administration, or asked to modify their planned presentation to not include books or material that the school finds objectionable. We’ll talk to author Phil Bildner about his experience with this phenomenon, the consequences of limiting children’s exposure to authors for perceived reasons of controversy, and discuss what we as critics and reviewers can do to raise consciousness of those repercussions. Educators and authors might be the best hope for insuring that the increasingly polarized political atmosphere does not continue into the next generation.

4:00 – 6:00 Author mix & mingle (books will be available for purchase and signing)

6:00 - 12:00

Dinner at Monarch (pay for your own)

Saturday, October 15

7:00 - 9:00am
Setup and registration 

9:00 - 10:00

Keynote 2

Clare Vanderpool (Her first novel, MOON OVER MANIFEST, won the 2011 Newbery Medal. She was the first debut author to win the Newbery Medal in thirty years. NAVIGATING EARLY was named a 2014 Michael L. Printz Honor book) 

10:00 - 10:50

Blogging the Middle Grade

Charlotte Taylor (Charlotte’s Library), Casie Hermansson (author-Parental Guidance Ratings  and numerous books for educational publisher Heinemann) and Katy Kramp (alibrarymama)

Being a gatekeeper for Middle Grade books is especially challenging—there’s a big difference between a 9 year old and a 12 year old. How do you identify the audience for a particular MG book? How do you subvert the dominant paradigms of book marketing? How do you go beyond boy book/girl book? How do you evaluate illustrations in MG books? What tips and takeaways are there from the Middle Grade education market? And more. 

Big Issues in YA books

Pam Margolis (An Unconventional Librarian) and Rita Arens (Surrender, Dorothy; author—The Obvious Game)

Many young readers are looking for mirrors that will help them make sense of their own lives. How do we serve as effective gatekeepers for kids dealing with the heavy issues of mental illness, depression, drug use, suicide, and sexual assault?

11:00 - 11:50

Promoting Diversity in Literature

Kristi Bernard (Kristi’s Book Nook)

Blogging diversity in literature is important to the growth of any child. My program will discuss how to promote diversity in literature and discuss what events are happening online to perpetuate this movement.

After Kristi’s talk, the floor will be turned over to participants for a lively discussion.

Writing about Art for Non-Artists

Paula Willey (Unadulterated)

Even people who are experienced in analyzing plot, character and theme can find themselves at sea when it comes to describing and evaluating illustrated work. This session offers a crash course in looking at the elements of book illustration, using examples from well-known (and well-illustrated) picture books. We’ll talk about style, technique, color, and composition, and give examples of how to use language to describe image. 

11:50 - 1:00
Lunch (included in registration)

1:00 - 1:50
Concurrent Sessions 

A Chat about Series Fiction

C. Alexander London (The Wild Ones and more), Jen Swann Downey (Ninja Lybrarians), and Lisa Harkrader (The Adventures of Beanboy), moderated by Charlotte Taylor

Join three writers of series fiction to discuss all things series—writing it, reviewing it, and selling it to kids.  What makes a good series? What makes a good review of a middle book?   What do you do about categorizing it when the characters start getting older?

Caretakers of Creativity, Champions of Literacy: Bringing Books to Life with the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival

James Kennedy (author-The Order of Odd-Fish), Eti Berland (librarian and social media coordinator for the film festival)

90-Second Newbery Film Festival programs provide opportunities to develop and showcase young people’s creativity, teamwork, perseverance, and innovation, to act as facilitators and empower young readers to explore their own passions. Join our session to watch exceptional 90-Second Newbery films and learn techniques, strategies, and best practices to create your own successful 90-Second Newbery or filmmaking program. Festival creator and curator James Kennedy will also share his experiences sharing and blogging about notable films, providing an authentic platform for student films to be shared with the wider world. We will also discuss how to leverage the power of social media to make connections between filmmakers, creators, and bloggers. 

2:00 - 2:50
Concurrent Sessions 

Down the Rabbit Hole, the World’s First Explorastorium

Pete Cowdin 

The Rabbit Hole is building the world’s first Explorastorium. Co-Founder Pete Cowdin will talk about its mission and how it might position itself within the publishing industry as a 501(c)3. Being a bookseller and proto-blogger from way back in the 20th century, he’ll also share his perspective from the 90’s, when marketing started eclipsing the editorial side of publishing and how the resulting feedback loop began homogenizing children’s literature, and how Gatekeepers (and people with Explorastoriums) might start reshaping that trend.

Beyond 140 Characters: Leveraging Social Media to Support Your Blog

Sarah Stevenson (Finding Wonderland; author-The Truth Against the World ) and Sheila Ruth (Wands and Words)

Social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ can be used not only to simply drive blog traffic, but to start an engaged and deeper discussion that reaches a wide-ranging audience. “Blowing up the Internet”might create a short blast of attention when it comes to kidlit issues such as diversity or the writing craft—and the jury’s still out on what, if anything, can truly be resolved in the midst of the chaos. But while a Twitterstorm isn’t a substitute for a real, productive back-and-forth, it CAN be used for good, not evil. You can use those instances of talkback to bring new voices to the conversation, attract a wider subset of blog
readers, and encourage everyone to think more deeply and read more broadly. Discussion and comments from the audience will be encouraged!

3:30 - 4:30

Bloggers as Gatekeepers—a group discussion led by Charlotte Taylor (Charlotte’s Library)

As bloggers, we are gatekeepers. Even though it might at times feel that we are speaking inside an echo chamber, that chamber includes plenty of folks who are directly responsible for getting books into the hands of kids. Our recommendations matter. At this closing session of Kidlitcon 2016, we’ll discusses ways to be the best gatekeepers possible, including gate checking our own assumptions and privileges, reviewing critically, and seeking out under the radar books. We’ll share ideas sparked by the two days of Kidlitcon, and leave with renewed enthusiasm for our important work as advocates for books and reading.

Close of Conference 

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