Saturday, March 8, 2014

WWU Conference recap

The 11th annual Western Washington University Children’s Literature Conference was held last weekend in Bellingham. For those who haven’t attended, this conference is generally aimed primarily at the teacher/librarian crowd and the speaker line-up is packed with big-name authors and illustrators. This year’s speakers shared fascinating stories about their process, their research, and their books. A couple of fun tidbits from each presenter:

From Jennifer Holm: The biggest stumbling block she sees for young authors is that the first time they do something, they want it to be perfect. Helping kids get over that hump, helping them learn that writing becomes good through revision, is the best way to help them with writing. True for writers who are grown too, no?

From Laura Vaccaro Seeger: She broke all the rules to break into publishing. She called the president of the publishing company she wished to work for, out of the blue, at his home, at 6:30 a.m. his time, to ask if he wanted to see her work. Really! And it worked! It’s probably not a strategy to repeat, though...

From Nic Bishop: He takes all the photography for his non-fiction nature books himself often using custom-built cameras with laser-sensitive triggers to catch animals at just the right action-filled moments. He does much of his research by working directly with the animals as he takes photos. He’s a great author to learn more about if you are interested in field research for nonfiction.

From Steve Sheinkin: As a textbook writer, Steve gathered lots of interesting facts his editors never let him use because nothing in a textbook can be controversial. Now Steve uses this sort of fact in his narrative nonfiction to make history come alive for readers. Steve also sometimes gets ideas by surfing the Smithsonian’s website, which is full of interesting, inspirational tidbits.

Save the date for next year's WWU Children’s literature conference on Feb. 28, 2015. Speakers will include Yuyi Morales, Matt de la Peña, Peter Brown, and Joyce Sidman.

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