Seeing Clearly

Friday, March 27

Registration and Set-Up – 9-9:30 am

9:30-9:45 – Opening remarks
with KidLitCon organizers Katy Kramp and Nakenya Yarbrough

9:45-10:30 – Morning Keynote with Dawn Quigley

Dawn Quigley, PhD, enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe, speaks about celebrating Native youth literature and curriculum in ways that honor Indigenous representations in blogs, libraries and schools. Quigley shares her life long connections with reading and writing – both uplifting and painful memories that fan her flame to continue to create Native KidLit. She also shares her journey of how her own writing and research of Native American literature began at her local library in Mankato, Minnesota.

Session Block 1 – 10:45-11:30 am

Session 1A – Empowering Engagement through Picture Books

Whether silly or serious, picture books can give the youngest of readers the tools they need to engage with the world. Join picture book authors Debbie A. Taylor (Over in Motown) and Nancy Shaw (Sheep in a Jeep), and Deb Pilutti (Old Rock (is not Boring)) as they discuss the different ways picture books can inspire. Moderated by youth librarian Lauren Baker.

Session 1B – YA Lit: Who Is Our Audience?

If 55% of YA readers are adults, and adults are the critics and the bloggers and the teachers and librarians… the gatekeepers, how how do authors make sure they understand who the gatekeepers are, while at the same time, keeping their focus on teens? With Patrick Flores-Scott (American Road Trip), Erin Hahn (You’d Be Mine), Jessica Pennington (Love Songs & Other Lies), Sarah Stevenson (The Latte Rebellion), and Steven Harper (The Importance of Being Kevin). Moderated by Sarah Zettel (Palace of Spies.)

Session Block 2 – 11:45 am-12:30 pm

Session 2A – Using Genre to See the World More Clearly

Authors have the unique ability to help readers imagine and truly see different realities — to grow our worldview, world consciousness, and care for people, places, and perceptions leading to positive change. This panel will discuss how we can, through story and craft, provide the mirrors, windows, and doors that let children see possibilities and hope for today — and for the future. With Leslie Helakoski (Are Your Stars Like My Stars?), Buffy Silverman (On a Snow-Melting Day: Seeking Signs of Spring), Supriya Kelkar (Ahimsa) and Erin Brown. Moderated by Jay Whistler.

Session 2B – What Makes a Good Review?

It’s easy to tell if a review is positive, but what makes a book review “good?” This discussion will unpack what makes a childrens or YA book review a valuable resource not just for general readers, but for the gatekeepers (parents, librarians, teachers, etc.) who pick books to offer young readers. For instance, what elements of a book should reviewers highlight or call into question? How can reviewers evaluate things that they have no personal experience with? How do different target audiences change what a book review should include? Led by Charlotte Taylor, of Charlotte’s Library.

Lunch Break – 12:30-1:30 pm

Lunch provided courtesy of the Ann Arbor District Library. Vegetarian and gluten-free options available.

Optional discussion during lunch: Books that Change My Life/Books I Needed as a Child with Katy Kramp

Session Block 3 – 1:30-2:15

Session 3A – Historical Fiction for Today’s Kids

Historical fiction authors Jean Alicia Elster (The Colored Car), Michael Spradlin (Prisoner of War), Ruth Behar (Lucky Broken Girl), and Supriya Kelkar (Ahimsa) will discuss their books and how they make history exciting and relevant to young readers today. Moderated by Debi Khasnabis, University of Michigan School of Education Professor of Multicultural Education.

Session 3B – Picture Books, Poetry, and Social Justice: Creating and using picture books to address social justice and encourage civic engagement

This panel explores how poetry and picture books can be powerful tools to engage young people in real-life issues of social justice and civic engagement. Picture book authors Keila Dawson and Christy Mihaly join with Shawntai Brown, a poet and the school coordinator of InsideOut Literary Arts, a Detroit-based literacy nonprofit that uses poetry in its creative in-school programming. They will discuss recent fiction and nonfiction picture books that use poems to address social justice and teach about civics, and the ways that these books can be used most effectively in schools. And they’ll address how writing their own poems allows kids to give voice to the issues facing them as individuals and us as a society. Moderated by Allia McCoy.

Session Block 4 – 2:30-3:15 pm

Session 4A – Science Meets Story: STEM in fiction

STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) may be all the rage, but stories also fill a deep human need. These authors have written books to combine story and STEM for an engaging mix. With Kim Long (Lexi Magill and the Teleportation Tournament), Rajani LaRocca (Seven Golden Rings), Vicky Fang (Layla and the Bots), and Jen Camiccia (The Memory Keeper). Moderated by STEAM librarian Katarina Barbosa.

Session 4B – Families in Fiction for Children and Teens

Families come in all shapes and sizes. Join authors Kelly J. Baptist (Flying Lessons), Patrick Flores-Scott (American Road Trip) Merrie Haskell (Castle Behind Thorns), and Dawn Quigley (Apple in the Middle) as they discuss family dynamics in stories and the ways they can shape how children and teens view the world. Moderated by Nakenya Lewis-Yarbrough.

Session Block 5 – 3:30-4:15

Session 5A – Publishing: the Indie Author Revolution

Indie authors are changing the publishing industry. In fact, this is the age of the author. Big publishers no longer determine authors’ successes; authors do. Join panelists Sailaja N. Joshi of Mango and Marigold Press, T.L. Criswell (Peace on That: the Peacemaker II), Lauren Ranalli (Places We Have Never Been) as they discuss challenges and successes that are unique to indie publishing, building a grass roots platform to reach readers, selling and making profit from books, and how indie authors can position themselves as experts and thought leaders. Moderated by Dara Beevas of Wise Ink.

Session 5B – Decolonizing the Library

From books to the cataloging system, libraries have a deeply embedded bias towards the white perspective. How can they instead reflect the realities of older traditions and new populations? This conversation with Angeline Boulley of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and author contemporary YA thrillers; Randi Foor-Dalton, Mohawk and librarian; and Anne Heidemann, tribal librarian for the Saginaw Chippewa will address these issues and give librarians and book people tools to take home with them. Moderated by Pam Margolis of Unconventional Librarian.

4:15-5 pmFriday Evening Keynote with Arree Chung

Arree Chung, award winning author, illustrator, international speaker and founder of Storyteller Academy closes the first day of KidLitCon with his evening keynote address entitled “The most important story you will ever tell.”

Unsession Block 5-7 pm

Author Meet & Mingle

Meet the authors! Books will be available for purchase and signing.

Speed Critiques

The speed critique is a no-prep review of 10 pages of a manuscript or 10 illustration images. Please bring your work and sign up for a slot. Please be respectful of their time and limit the critique to 15 minutes. Thank you!

Saturday, March 28

Registration and Set-Up – 9-9:30 am

9:30-10:15 am – Keynote with Jasmine Warga

Newbery Honor Winning author Jasmine Warga opens the second day of the 2020 KidLitCon with the morning keynote address.

Jasmine Warga will discuss the way in which books present their characters and how this shapes our real world perceptions. Ms. Warga will focus on the representation of Muslim and Arab characters, and the danger and harm in telling only one story.

Session Block 6 – 10:30-11:15

Session 6A – Illustrators: Putting the Picture in Picture Books

Illustrations bring a picture book to life. These illustrators will talk about their work illustrating books, whether the words are their own or from a different author. With Rachelle Baker (Shirley Chisholm is a Verb), Arree Chung (Mixed: a Colorful Story), and Kenneth Kraegel (Wild Honey from the Moon). Moderated by Noelle Douglas.

Session 6B – What is Kid Appeal?

What makes for kid appeal in children’s lit? This panel including a school librarian, Bookstagrammer, Project Lit coordinator, and bookseller will look at what goes into a book that kids and teens can’t put down. With Athena Johnson of Black Stone Bookstore, Natalie d’Aubermont Thompson of Living by the Page, school media specialist Jonathan Richards, and Project Lit coordinator Hawanya Urquhart; moderated by Francisca Goldsmith of Audio Sync.

Session Block 7 – 11:30-12:15 pm

Session 7A – So Ya Think You’re Funny, Do Ya? Hilarity in the 21st Century

Join authors Jim Benton (Catwad, Dear Dumb Diary), Josh Levy (Seventh Grade Vs. the Galaxy), Rajani LaRocca (Midsummer’s Mayhem) and Ruth McNally Barshaw (Ellie McDoodle) for a discussion of how to write humor for kids of all ages. Moderated by Betsy Bird (Funny Girl: Funniest. Stories. Ever.)

Session 7B – How to Pitch a Manuscript

How do you know when you’re ready to pitch your book, and how do you polish that pitch? What are agents and publishers looking for in manuscripts? Join authors Angeline Boulley (Firekeeper’s Daughter, forthcoming), Heather Shumaker (The Griffins of Castle Cary), agent reader Jay Whistler and publisher Dara Beevas of Wise Ink as they answer these questions and more. Moderated by Erin M. Brown, MA MFA.

Lunch Break – 12:15 am-1:30 pm

Lunch provided courtesy of the Ann Arbor District Library. Vegetarian and gluten-free options available.

Session Block 8 – 1:30-2:15 pm

Session 8A -Muslim Representation in Kid Lit

Let’s take a look at Muslim-positive, Muslim-centric books for kids and teens – celebrate what’s there and look at how far we still need to go, with Newbery Honor winning author Jasmine Warga (Other Words for Home), author Siman Nuurali (the Sadiq series), We Need Diverse Books mentorship winner Tahira Bryant Naeem, and Mena and Zena of Girls of the Crescent. Moderated by middle school teacher Saina Sajjadi.

Session 8B – Graphic Novels Teach

Explore a world of graphic novels beyond superheroes with fact-based and education graphics from Jim Ottaviani (Astronauts: Women on the Final Frontier), Matt Faulkner (Gaijin: American Prisoner of War) and Sarah Jamila Stevenson (Alexis vs. Summer Vacation), as well as how to use comics in schools with comic artist Kam Reynolds. Moderated by Edith Donnell, co-director of Kids Read Comics.

Session Block 9 – 2:30-3:15 pm

Session 9A – Future Famous: Debut Authors

Come discover some recently- and soon-to-be published authors. Learn about books and the publication journey with Alex Aster (Curse of the Night Witch), Vicky Fang (Layla and the Bots series and Invent-a-Pet), and Heather Shumaker (The Griffins of Castle Cary). Moderated by YA author Erin Hahn (More Than Maybe).

Session 9B – The New Inclusivity: Beyond Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

You’ve read the stories: character is different, bullied, and then saves the day with their uniqueness. The new inclusivity is about characters whose differences aren’t the only thing that defines them. With authors Merrie Haskell (Handbook for Dragon Slayers), Lisa Rose (Star Powers), Jack Cheng (See You in the Cosmos) and Jennifer Camiccia (Memory Keeper); moderated by disabilities studies expert Kira Dallaire.

Session Block 10 – 3:30-4:15

Session 10A: Fuse 8 n’ Kate Podcast Live and In Person: The Cat in the Hat Comes Back

One sister doesn’t know anything about picture books. One sister knows way too much. See what happens when Kate is handed the famous Cat sequel for the very first time. A live recording of the School Library Journal podcast, starring Kate Ramsey and Betsy Bird.

Session 10B – Tough Topics in YA and Middle Grade Roundtable

What are the issues that kids and teens face today and what are the books that represent these issues in literature? Turning to books in a time of crisis helps the reader process their situation. Join Pam Margolis of Unconventional Librarian and Hawanya Urquhart of Project Lit 313 for a discussion on tough topics in YA and Middle Grade Lit and leave with a list of crowdsourced book titles.