Shenandoah University Children’s Literature Conference invites acclaimed children’s authors to share their stories

shenandoah universityThe 34th annual Shenandoah University Children’s Literature Conference kicks off this month with appearances by 16 best-selling children’s authors.

The event runs from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily from June 24 through June 28 in Halpin-Harrison Hall on Shenandoah University’s main campus.

This year’s theme is “For the love of an author” and features popular writers whose works children have fallen in love with after reading just one of their books. Authors are Kevin Henkes, Kwame Alexander, Yuyi Morales, Bob Shea, Denise Fleming, Brian Lies, Aisha Saeed, Kevin Lewis, Dashka Slater, Chris Barton, Adam Rex, Ben Hatke, Adam Gidwitz, Scott Magoon, Colby Sharp and Leslie Connor.

The authors were chosen based on their popularity with both children and teachers and their body of work. Their works span several genres, from fantasy and non-fiction to fairytales and folktales, and are intended for young children to teens.

The weeklong event includes keynote sessions and small-group discussions with each author. In the afternoons, attendees can choose sessions with college professors, master teachers and librarians on how to best use the authors’ books in the classroom.

Although the general public is invited, including parents and aspiring authors, the event is targeted to teachers and librarians.

“When trying to identify the qualities of influential teachers who have made a long-lasting impression on their students, researchers found that the one quality that stood out from all the others was that these teachers conveyed a love for books and reading to their students,” said Karen Huff, Ed.D., professor of both education and curriculum and instruction and the director of the children’s literature program.

“The goal for this year’s conference is for teachers and librarians to return to school in the fall inspired by the authors’ presentations, energized by the master teachers who shared best practices, and determined to create a classroom environment where students love to read,” Dr. Huff said.

Registration remains open until the event, but early registration is preferred. The cost to attend the conference is $395 for the entire week, or $695 for those who would like to receive credit. The daily attendance rate is $125.

As part of the conference, two free community events are open to the public:

From 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday, June 24, Rockin’ the Library is being held on Braddock Street outside Handley Library. Authors Bob Shea, Scott Magoon and Kwame Alexander are attending, along with storybook characters including James Dean’s Pete the Cat, Lilly from Kevin Henkes’s “Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse,” and the unicorn from Bob Shea’s “Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great.” There will also be a deejay, dancing, a photo booth, and a free cupcake and book for each child.

Kevin Lewis, author of “Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo” and “Tugga-Tugga Tugboat,” is leading Itty Bitties Rock the Rooftop, a story time for toddlers and preschoolers, at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, June 27, at the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum.

Later that day, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Rockin’ the Rooftop features a presentation by Ben Hatke, writer, artist and author of graphic novels and picture books, most notably “Zita the Spacegirl.” Space-themed activities are being held throughout the night, with a kid-focused rooftop dance party from 7:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Copies of books will be sold in the lobby of the museum.

The conference is made possible with the support of the Claude Moore Center for Literacy at Shenandoah University and the Claude Moore Charitable Foundation.

To register or for more information, please visit


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