This page features news in the area of children’s literature, events from around the blogging community, and announcements about KidLitosphere happenings. Primarily focused on literary news, special events, useful articles, and interesting posts from other blogs, it does not include reviews, interviews, or opinions.

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Entries in KidLitCon (46)


Early Bird Rate for KidLitCon Registration Extended to 9/20

Due to exciting early registration numbers and a few generous sponsorships from publishers and bookstores, we are pleased to extend the KidLitCon Early Bird registration rate of $125 until September 20!

On September 21st, conference registration will increase to $150.

KidLitCon 2015 will be held October 9 & 10 at the Hyatt Place Harbor East in Baltimore, Maryland. Registration is now open. The conferrence program is here

Please help by spreading the word! You can also be a fan on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, subscribe to our KidLitCon email list, and/or follow the KidLitCon Tumblr


Announcing the KidLitCon 2015 Program!

We’ve planned a KidLitCon program jam packed with interesting panels, authors and events. There should be something for everyone, but don’t worry, we’ve left time for socializing and networking, too. If you can stay an extra day, we’ve even planned a tour of Baltimore for Sunday. Early bird registration price ends September 20th, so register now before the price goes up.


Friday, October 9th

Setup and registration
Welcoming remarks from KidLitCon organizers, Sheila Ruth and Paula Willey

Concurrent Sessions:

Keeping Things Interesting for You and Your Readers

Blogging is rewarding, but it can be hard and lonely work. This session offers a variety of ideas for both new and the experienced blogger on how to keep yourself interested in the craft of posting about books, and how this can make your blog one readers will keep coming back to. Topics to be discussed will include reviewing critically, to finding what gives you joy in reading and writing, to developing a passionate focus (or giving yourself freedom to deviate from your norms), to playing with the voices you use in chronicling your journey as a reader and a writer and the platforms you use on which to share them.


Exploring STEM through Gripping Stories

STEM topics (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) aren’t just confined to dry fact-filled non-fiction books! This panel explores how fiction, narrative non-fiction, and graphic novels can make STEM topics part of gripping stories for young readers. This panel explores what makes STEM friendly to a young audience, and how STEM content can be balanced with entertaining narrative.

Moderator: Jennifer Schultz (The Kiddosphere)



Concurrent Sessions:

Middle Grade Horror

Middle School can be a scary place, and there are scary books aplenty for readers 9-12. But what is too much for one reader is just right for another. If you are in the business of recommending horror books to kids, this is a panel for you! The panelists will talk about the unease that some people feel about books written for middle grade kids that are actually scary, and how reviewers can communicate levels of scariness to gate-keepers; the ways that horror can get at some of the anxieties of kids beginning to learn about themselves and the world; and the sensitivities and empathy often found in horror fiction, buried beneath the fanged weirdness.

Moderator: Karen Yingling (Ms. Yingling Reads)


The Power of Teamwork

Authors from will talk about the benefits of a group web presence can help not just authors, but bloggers. They’ll discuss organizing, marketing, and managing a group in which the power of a whole team can help the individual team members to build their own brands and find new fans.



Concurrent Sessions:

Visual Storytelling

A panel of bloggers, illustrators, and a former Caldecott committee member discuss the choices an artist makes and how they affect the tone or content of a story. Attendees will come away with improved understanding of media and techniques and better vocabulary for discussing and evaluating illustrations in children’s literature.

Moderator: Susan Kusel (Wizards Wireless, former Caldecott committee member)


CYBILS: Nonfiction Roundtable

Publishers Weekly just suggested that in 2015, children’s non-fiction is “having its moment.” At the Cybils Awards, it’s always had just as much of a moment as any other other genre. This round-table will discuss how non-fiction books are evaluated in the Cybils Award process, how to discuss them on your blog, and how to connect with other bloggers and reviews about great nonfiction books. Also included will be some salient pointers for those new to CYBILS or looking to become involved in the future.

Moderator: Ellen Zschunke (On The Shelf 4 Kids


Keynote — Carrie Mesrobian

Carrie Mesrobian is an instructor at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. Her debut novel, Sex & Violence was a finalist for the American Library Association’s William C. Morris Award and the winner of the 2014 Minnesota Book Award. Her second novel, Perfectly Good White Boy received starred reviews from Kirkus & Publishers Weekly and was a Tayshas Reading List Pick. Her third novel, Cut Both Ways, received starred reviews from Booklist and Kirkus. With author Christa Desir, she produces The Oral History Podcast, which features discussions on sex and young adult literature. Visit Carrie online


Whole room session

And the Winner is… 
A Panel Discussion with Literary Award Judges

Literary awards work a certain magic on books, often transforming titles about to be relegated to the backlist into a must-have for libraries, classrooms, and private TBR piles. A book with a shiny sticker on its cover gets better placement on bookstore shelves, and often goes on to clinch a spot in the literary canon. So what’s it like to be one of the people who holds an author’s fate in one’s hands? What goes into the thought process of choosing a winner? Do judges follow trends or create them? Our panel pulls together judges from a variety of awards for children’s and teen literature, who’ll demystify the adjudication process for us and discuss the influence of these awards on kids and adults alike.

Moderator: Anne Levy (The Temple of Doubt)


  • Susan Kusel (Wizard’s Wireless) (Caldecott, Cybils, Maryland Blue Crab Award, Sydney Taylor Award)
  • Alysa Stewart (Everread) (Cybils)
  • Jennie Rothschild (Biblio File) (Cybils, YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction, YALSA/ARCL Outstanding Books for the College Bound (chair), Maryland Library Association Blue Crab Award)
  • Francisca Goldsmith (California Young Reader Medal, Odyssey Award, Printz Award, Eisner Awards, Audie Awards, and Alex Awards)
  • John Scott (Newbery - currently serving, Caldecott)
  • Elizabeth Burns (A Chair, a Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy) (Printz, Schneider Family, Cybils, YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction, Edwards - currently serving)
Author mix & mingle (books will be available for purchase and signing)
Cybils birthday party, dinner, and bowling


Setup and registration
Keynote — Tracy Baptiste

Tracey Baptiste was born in Trinidad, where she grew up on jumbie stories and fairy tales, and decided to be a writer at the wise old age of three. Her debut, a young adult novel titled Angel’s Grace, was named one of the 100 best books for reading and sharing by New York City librarians. Tracey is a former teacher, textbook editor, ballerina, and amateur librarian who once started up a library in her house in the hope that everyone would bring their books back late and she would be rich! You know, like other librarians. She is now a wife and mom and lives in New Jersey, where she writes and edits books for kids from a very cozy office in her house that is filled with more toys than she can count. The Jumbies is her second novel.


Whole room session

How Graphic Novels Work

Amazing things are made possible brain-wise when readers look at drawings and words together. Plus there’s a kind of “Hey, look at this! I’ll give it to you when I’m done” sharing that happens with comic book reading. This panel of cartoonists for teens and kids have produced, variously, heroic fantasy with a scientific bent; wistful summer camp memoir; gangbusters adventures kids can’t put down - all feature strong female protagonists facing unlikely odds. These cartoonists’ styles, subject matter, personal backgrounds and approaches to cartooning are wildly divergent. So what do the panelists think about this whole images and text doing storytelling together thing? What do they know about kids as comic book readers. How does what drew them in as young readers translate to what they make today? Keep in mind that children have literally wrestled over who gets to read these books first. Try not to do that at this session.

Moderator: Miriam DesHarnais (librarian and graphic novel expert)

Graphic novels are engaging readers of all ages and enabling some exceptional visual storytelling. Join a panel of best-selling graphic novelists for a discussion of why graphic novels work, how stories are developed in the graphic novel format, and why graphic novels are the optimal reading choice for millions of readers. Long gone are the days of hiding your comic books from your teachers and parents. Gain firsthand insight into the sophistication, art, and humor of graphic novels from some of today’s best known names in graphic novels for children and teens.


Whole room session

Intersectionality: The Next Step in Diverse Books

The need for diversity in books has never been clearer as readers clamor for stories about underrepresented characters. But diversity can’t be understood through a single lens. Nor can different types of underrepresented experiences be considered independently from each other. This panel will discuss the need for intersectionality in books, and how it can take the diverse books movement to the next level.



Concurrent Sessions:

Going Wide: Beyond Your Blog

What’s the difference between writing for yourself and writing for pay? Two bloggers, a journalist and an editor will share tips, horror stories, and best practices for making connections, honing your writing, and finding a wider audience.

  • Mahnaz Dar, editor, School Library Journal
  • Marjorie Ingall, columnist, Tablet magazine; contributor, The New York Times
  • Charlotte Taylor, Charlotte’s Library; B&N Reads
  • Paula Willey,; columnist, The Baltimore Sun; contributor, School Library Journal; reviewer, Booklist
Authentic Voices

The importance of diverse representation in children’s fiction and nonfiction is becoming more widely recognized in the children’s book community. But as important as it is to have diverse books, it’s just as important that they be authentic. As bloggers, how can we do our part? Evaluating diverse representations can be difficult if we don’t have any direct experience or knowledge of the represented group. This panel will look at the issues of authentic representation in children’s literature and important considerations for bloggers, with a particular focus on books featuring LGBTQA+ and differently-abled people.



Concurrent Sessions:

Middle Grade Madness

Sponsored by Brightly ( - a resource to help parents raise lifelong readers.

This panel talks about writing and recommending books for 9-13 year olds, the age range for “middle grade” readers. What makes a good middle grade book that will appeal to at least part of that age bracket, and which part? In the minds of authors and gatekeepers, are there really boy books vs girl books? And what distinguishes middle grade from YA?

Moderator: Sam Musher (Parenthetical)


Kidlit Podcasting

Matthew Winner (The Busy Librarian)

The way we consume and share information is changing. Podcasts are giving voice to industry professionals, children’s lit advocates, and virtually anyone with a story to tell. Join Matthew Winner, host of the Let’s Get Busy podcast, for a discussion of some of the best kidlit podcasts being created today and the skills and tools necessary for starting your own podcast in minutes.


Concurrent Sessions:

Who Is the Reader? (and Why That Matters When I’m Blogging About Books…)

When young people discover their own “reading superhero” personality, they can search for books that they’ll love and will keep reading — and book bloggers can help them find “good books” way beyond the award-winners and bestsellers. We’ll look at reader types, books as windows and as mirrors for readers, reviewing for the reader vs. reviewing for selectors, and see how Ranganathan’s Library Laws can keep our book blogging and reviewing locked on target. (We’re librarians first, book recommenders always, and deep-dyed kidlit book lovers forever!)


Connecting with Debut Authors

Learn about the ins and outs of the debut author experience, connecting with debut author groups, and how bloggers can get in on the ground floor with exciting new authors.As a 2016 debut YA author and founder of the Sweet Sixteens, a debut group of middle grade and young adult debut authors, Kathy MacMillan has worked with over 100 debut authors and has developed an understanding of the wide varieties of debut author experiences. She’s joined by a Kidlit blogger who will talk about connecting with authors from that perspective.



Tour Baltimore in a private tour bus with local guides. Possible tour stops include:

You must register separately for the Sunday tour; the cost of the tour is $35, which includes the tour bus and an all-day Inner Harbor Water Taxi pass.

Register Now

Here’s the registration link. Don’t forget: early bird pricing ends September 20.


A Note to Publishers on KidLitCon 2015

2015 is just around the corner, and the 2015 KidLitCon Planning Committee is hard at work planning our ninth annual conference for children’s literature bloggers, readers, and allies. KidLitCon is a gathering of people who blog about children’s and young adult books, including librarians, authors, teachers, parents, booksellers, publishers, and readers. Attendees share a love of children’s books, as well as a determination to promote diversity in literature, foster a love of books, and to get the right books into young readers’ hands. People attend KidLitCon to discuss issues like the publisher/blogger relationship, to dish about the buzz on the next big series, to debate the benefits and pitfalls of writing critical reviews, and explore ways to overcome blogger burnout. People also attend KidLitCon for the chance to spend time face to face with kindred spirits, other readers who care passionately for children’s and YA literature. 

This year, KidLitCon will be in Baltimore, Maryland, and although a date is still to be determined, it will most likely be between late September and early November. 

There will be abundant opportunities available at our Baltimore Con for publishers and authors to participate. In the past, there have been book signings, editor-led panels, and publisher-sponsored author talks and luncheons. While we’re not yet sure what the shape of the 2015 KidLitCon will ultimately be, we wanted to be sure to get on your radar before the end of the year so that you can include us in your 2015 budget. We really hope you’ll join us!  Some of the options you might want to consider are:

  • Sponsorships. Underwrite a meal, happy hour, snacks, door prizes, or the printed program. If you can set aside as little as $250, we’ll work with you to craft a solid sponsorship plan that will benefit attendees as well as provide good publicity value for you.
  • Suggest a keynote speaker, other speaker or session proposal. 
  • As a small volunteer organization, we cannot pay travel expenses for speakers, so you might consider assisting any authors interested in attending with travel expenses. It would also be a great opportunity for you to encourage your authors who are within driving distance of Baltimore.
  • Provide ARCs for attendees.
  • Provide publishing house promotional swag, such as screen-printed T-shirts and bags linked with specific book campaigns, bookplates and bookmarks, stationery, etc.,

KidLitCon generally attracts between 50 and 150 attendees, many of whom are influential bloggers in the children’s literature community. Many KidLitCon attendees have also been Cybils Awards judges. We’re a small but dedicated group with a loud voice. 

You’re invited to be in on the ground floor of the planning and participating in this year’s con. We will be in touch early in 2015 as we have more information, but if you are interested in any of the opportunities above, please contact us so that we can begin to work out the details with you.

Sheila Ruth, Conference Co-Organizer
for KidLitCon 2015 


What Do We Mean When We Talk About "Diversity" ...

…and How Can YOU Contribute to the Conversation?

It’s the current trend; everyone’s talking about diversity. You know it’s hip, since CNN has reported on it, and celebrated actors and actresses have weighed in. Walter Dean Myers and Christopher Myers even took it to the pages of the New York Times. From The Atlantic to NPR to School Library Journal to The Guardian, diversity and children’s literature has become the theme of the day – as well as the theme of the 8th Annual Kidlitosphere Conference

Sure, we’ve talked. And blogged. And tweeted. But, truthfully, some of us are probably still wondering what it is we’re all talking about, when we say “diversity.” 

It’s easier to talk blogging in general terms. Do you have tips about building community and finding your tribe, about working with ebook suppliers like Edelweiss and iBook, or turning a blog post into a publishable essay? GREAT. Your content is welcome at our Con. Maybe you want to talk about finding the best of indies and self-published books, have a clever PowerPoint about the evolution of your blog, or want to share with others the best coming of age books. That’s fine, too. Are you a former blogger who now podcasts or vlogs, or can you share something about how you’ve dealt successfully with internet trolls? Wonderful! All of this varied, unique  - dare we say DIVERSE - content is what make us, as bloggers, worth reading.

Difference. Unlikeness. Variety. Multiformity. Diversity. It’s not even really easy to define terms. When one person says “diverse” another person nervously hears race, or ethnicity, or gender. But diversity in children’s lit can be – and should be – all of those things, and more. 

Human beings are clearly diverse creatures – we’re from different socioeconomic groups, different cultures, and different faiths (or none at all). We are different ages, have different physical abilities, different family structures, and differing countries and languages. Every child or young adult should be able to use literature as both a window, to see how other people live – and a mirror, to identify themselves and say, “Yep, that’s me.” Despite the number of people who insist that they “don’t see color,” and wish everyone would just stop talking about race, we understand that not only seeing but acknowledging our diversity is vital to seeing the whole person.

So, what do we mean when we talk about blogging diversity in children’s literature? 

How about you tell us?  Do you think that bloggers can affect change in regard to diversity? Do you feel that tween lit is inundated by pink covers – and that there’s really no good reading for boys? Do you podcast children’s science books and hope to let queer kids know that science rocks? Are you drawn to reading and blogging books about a specific population? Have you turned blogging about children’s books containing older adults into a publishable article, and want to share how? Do you feel uncomfortable or awkward when talking about diversity, or confident in blogging diverse books, and feel like you can help others?

It’s easy to sit in the audience and nod when people talk about diversity. It’s easy to sign up to be a part of the crowd… but it takes trusting ourselves and trusting each other to set aside our preconceptions to speak up – and be prepared to listen and learn.

We blog, because blogging gives us a voice. We blog about diversity, because we’ve all got different voices. Use yours. Sign up to join a panel or a session or to pitch an idea for this year’s KidLitCon. You can be a part of a game-changing conversation.

This article was written by Tanita Davis, KidLitCon14 co-organizer. 


Saturday Presentations at KidLitCon Austin

While it’s always possible for something to go arwy, this is the plan for Saturday. Stay tuned for details about Friday, and don’t forget to register

Saturday, November 9, 2013:

Keynote Address

Cynthia Leitich Smith 


Breakout #1

Ctrl+Z: 3 Things Every Illustrator and Author Needs To Know About Digital Art

presented by Laura Jennings of The Highsong Project: Whether writing, illustrating, or self-publishing, understanding digital art is vital knowledge in the book world. Learn to recognize the important differences in web viewing versus print. We’ll tackle image formatting and how it relates to getting quality print reproductions and maximizing web viewing, as well as an introduction to the digital art programs that lend themselves to ebooks, apps, and motion graphics.

Blogger Burnout: Suggestions for Getting Your Groove Back

presented by Jen Robinson and Sarah Stevenson of Jen Robinson’s Book Page & Finding Wonderland: Anyone who has been blogging for a while has experienced occasional bouts of blogger burnout. Many of us put in an inordinate amount of time on our blogs, for which we are largely unpaid. And sometimes, we lose focus, or start to question what we’re doing. In this presentation, we’ll share our own recent experience with blog burnout, and the suggestions that other bloggers made to help us to get our respective grooves back. We’ll also seek other suggestions from the audience. 

Lunch (included!)

Breakout #2

Diversity in Kid Lit: Nurture More, Blog More, Get More 

presented by Lee Wind of I’m Here. I’m Queer. What the Hell Do I Read?: Blogger Lee Wind, M.Ed. highlights how we’re all so diverse – as individuals, as a community of bloggers, and as humans on our Earth. But books for kids and teens have a long way to go to match that diversity. How can we be allies and UPstanders for those different than ourselves? How can we harness the power of books as both mirrors and windows? Find out how we, as bloggers, can claim our power to nurture more diversity, blog more diversity, and ultimately get more diversity in children’s and teen literature. 

Soft Sell Marketing 

presented by Molly Blaisdell of Seize the Day: Develop a sales technique in your comfort zone. Is in-your-face marketing with flashing pics, blog games, and complicated hop not your style? Many authors use soft sell marketing techinques to reach readers.  Learn about what works and what doesn’t, develop a concrete plan to implement immediately, and gain practical resources to help you explore soft sell marketing. 

Breakout Session #3

Critical Reviews & Why They Matter

presented by Kelly Jensen and Kimberly Francisco of STACKED: Critical reviews; do they differ from negative reviews? Do they add value in the blogosphere? If so, what is it? How and why do people decide to review critically? Do those who review critically experience burnout or change their minds on their review style over the course of their blogging career? This program will discuss the merits of critical reviews in the kidlitosphere, how and where assessing material critically helps you as a blogger and a reader, and it will delve into who is doing some of the best critical reviewing in the blogosphere today. 

 Beyond the Blog for Authors and Illustrators

presented by Pam Coughlin of MotherReader: Learn how to get involved, noticed and recognized in the online community of children’s and young adult literature with an overview of the KidLitosphere, Cybils, social media, and awards. 


Breakout Session #4

Don’t fear the code: spice up your blog with HTML and CSS 

presented by Sheila Ruth of Wands and Worlds: Every blog and website uses HTML and CSS for formatting under the covers. With just a little bit of knowledge of these technologies, you can go beyond the capabilities of your blog’s WYSIWYG editor and enhance your blog posts with advanced formatting. This fun hands-on workshop will use a recipe-based format to give you a few tricks that you can use right away in your blog posts, and give you the confidence to explore more on your own. Attendees must bring a laptop or tablet to participate.

Blogging the Middle Grade Books

presented by Charlotte Taylor of Charlotte’s Library: Join Charlotte along with Melissa Fox and Katy Manck for this forum workshop hybrid to discuss the particular challenges of blogging middle grade titles. How do you evaluate illustrations in MG books? Who is the audience? How we can keep our blogs growing, extending their reach and their depth, or simply keep the work of blogging interesting and fun?


Kidlit Blogging Roundtable: Our Past, Present, and Future

moderated by Sarah Stevenson of Finding Wonderland: On this panel, Jen Bigheart, Lee Wind, and others will discuss how blogging has changed over the years in the Kidlitosphere as a whole—different approaches to blogging, varying participation levels, etc.; what this might mean for the future of the community; and how bloggers and authors/illustrators and others in the kidlit community can best continue to leverage blogging for the benefit of all, and keep it relevant and fun. 

Dinner (offsite)