Saturday, July 5, 2008

Children's Literature Conference

The 14th Biennial Conference titled “Sharing Memories, Shaping Possibilities” and hosted by Children’s Literature Hawai’i and UH Manoa, was held on the last weekend of June. Teachers, authors and illustrators gathered to discuss various topics specific to children’s literature and Hawai’i during this two day event culminating in a children’s fair on Saturday, June 28th.

Keynote speakers Ralph Fletcher and Barry Moser were present throughout the entire conference holding special writing and illustration sessions for adults and teens. Ralph Fletcher is an author and educator from the mainland, and Barry Moser is an author and illustrator who also operates his own printing press.

I was only able to attend the Friday sessions, or the beginning half of the conference since I had a book sale to checkout the next day but I was sad to miss the rest of it. Ralph Fletcher’s keynote speech was interactive and illuminating and you could tell he cares deeply about encouraging children to write, and helping adults write for children. If you visit his website, he even provides children with his email address so they can contact him directly with any questions or ideas they have. He charmingly began his keynote speech by sharing some of his favorite emails with us.

He also briefly commented on the oral traditions of Hawaii, and about how ‘talking story’ is such a big part of local culture. He further explained that many of his interesting story ideas come from things that happen in ordinary life, and that writing them and sharing them is a lot like ‘talking story’. Later, he provided handouts of the first draft manuscript for Hello Harvest Moon and we examined the differences between that and the final version, as well as his email from the editor. It was a great example of the process of publication.

Some of the short sessions I participated in afterward:

  • Interpreting Gender through Children’s Literature
  • A Literary Map of Hawai’i (be on the lookout for more on this!)
  • Beyond the Islands: Creating Stories with Universal Appeal

By far the most exciting session I attended, especially in relation to this blog, was the Literary Map session hosted by Helen Slaughter, a UH professor. She has founded an organization dedicated to mapping Hawai’i’s literature as a reference for teachers, students and parents to help promote literacy and give people a better idea of what stories are out there and where they come from. It would be an organic kind of reading list, interactive and personal because it gives stories and authors a sense of place…makes them even more relatable and a part of the community. After hearing her speak and learning about some of her goals for the literary map of Hawai’i, I cannot help but be excited and optimistic about the future of Hawai’i’s books. I am definitely looking forward to the next conference in 2010!

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