WWU Children’s Lit Conference & nErDcamp Bham

Alternately titled: the best 400 miles in 48 hours

The last weekend in February is a busy one in the Northwest: Western Washington hosts the annual Children’s Lit Conference and nErDcamp takes place in Bellingham…on the same weekend!  What is a kidlit-loving nerd to do? Attend both…and drive 400 miles in the process. 🙂

Saturday’s 2016 WWU CLC lineup was star-studded, with four acclaimed children’s and YA authors.

Cynthia Lord’s stories of her children and life in Maine drew laughs, tears, and inspired everyone in the room. Everyone was envious of her little workshed behind her house!

Melissa Sweet brought her passion for nonfiction, sharing bits from her upcoming EB White biography while showcasing her innovative, unique artistic style.

Peter Brown‘s relaxed approach to life contrasted to the focused precision with which he creates art. His insights into his new middle-grade novel The Wild Robot were worth the admission fee alone! Personally, I loved how he was dubious of any reviews it had received, as he didn’t finish the final-final FINAL draft until mere days before printing.

And Gene Luen Yang. Wow. He knew how to hold an audience captive (a by-product of teaching HS computer science for 15+ years). We learned how to binary code (actually LEARNED it) while he showcased his MG graphic novel Secret Coders. I loved how the characters were based on his older brother, pioneering woman coder Grace Hopper, and Chris Bosh, the NBA basketball player who loves computer science. What fun facts to share with kids!

And the ending panel discussion…wow. The question “what words that you’ve written or illustration that you’ve drawn would you have tattooed on your body, and where?” should be asked every year!

Sunday’s nErDcamp was a professional networking and learning dream.  Last year, meeting Monica Hodges and talking books prompted us to pilot and eventually create the OTTER Award (WA State’s newest book award for transitional readers).  This year, over 50 educators and authors from the Puget Sound area gathered to talk, share, learn, and inspire.

Some quick Nerdy takeaways:

  • diverse literature isn’t just important to be published, but it’s important to BUY. Publishers won’t publish unless it is purchased.
  • post the annual Tournament of Books in the fall to build reading throughout the school year
    • ALSO: have kids create video ads, promoting their favorite book!
  • persuasive writing idea: which children’s book should NOT (or should) be made into a movie?

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