Each year, the one-day conference hosts four authors who each speak about their work, and their journey as a reader/writer. This year the authors were Kate DiCamillo, Yuyi Morales, Joyce Sidman, and Matt de la Pena. Each one captivated us with their personal stories, gifting us with inspiration, laughter, and hope. They were all gracious enough to spend time signing their books and talking with us throughout the day.
Poet Joyce Sidman, reminding us to take time to dawdle. So much of writing is taking the time to think, look, listen, and touch. Check out her beautiful new Caldecott Honor book, Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold.
Author/Illustrator Yuyi Morales-- a lovely, passionate speaker who reminded us that to create anything, it's best to start small. Her amazing illustrations begin very simply, and little by little she adds every detail with much love and care. Her new picture Viva Frida won a Caldecott honor this year.
Author Matt de la Pena shared his struggle to learn to read, and the shame of almost being held back in 2nd grade. With shattered confidence, he viewed himself as unintelligent for many years. He reminded us that the most difficult definition from which to break free is self-definition. Matt went on to be the first member of his family to go to college, and has written several fiction books for teens that reflect his story of growing up a Latino/White boy in southern California, struggling to fit in. The Living, and Mexican White Boy are two of my favorites. Check out his beautiful new picture book, The Last Stop on Market Street.
Kate DiCamillo reminded us that we are all made of stories, and that these stories connect us. Words and books matter. "Words had the power to save the pig (Charlotte's Web) and books can have the ability to give us a place to rest our broken hearts." Through telling our stories and reading others' stories, we know that we are not alone, and that we can, indeed, bear what life is putting in front of us. Read all of Kate's books!
I am so grateful to have had the chance to hear the stories of these gifted storytellers, and am already counting down the days to next year's conference on February 27, 2016.