NOTE: This event has been canceled.
The University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg will host its 24th annual Children’s Literature Conference on Friday, May 1. Two award-winning young-adult (YA) authors are the keynote speakers for the day: two-time Coretta Scott King Award recipient and author Sharon G. Flake and two-time Michael Printz Award-winning author A.S. King.
Early bird registration at $70 per person is available through March 31. After that date, the cost increases to $80 per person. Special discounted rates are also available for retirees ($60) and full-time college students ($30). ACT 48 and ACT 37 educational credits are available with attendance.
The Children’s Literature Conference will be held in Pitt-Greensburg’s Smith Hall. It opens with registration at 7:45 a.m. A continental breakfast and a hot buffet lunch are included with the ticket. Books will be available for sale throughout the event, which closes with a book signing at 3:30 p.m.
Two breakout sessions featuring four options each complete the day’s schedule, which is available here.
“Our conference serves educators and librarians, allowing them to learn about various aspects of children’s literature and how to better incorporate it into their classrooms and libraries,” said Renee Kiner, public services librarian at Pitt-Greensburg’s Millstein Library. “The conference also gives them an opportunity to interact with their peers to discover what they are using in their classrooms and libraries that work for them.”
New this year is a scholarship for those who want to attend the conference but are unable to get reimbursed from their employer. Applications for the scholarship will be accepted through March 15, 2020. Kiner explained, “We want to share our love of children’s literature with as many librarians and educators as possible. We also know that, each year, travel funds and allocations to attend conferences continue to dwindle.”
A University of Pittsburgh alumna, Flake is the author of 10 books in print with two more on the way. She writes about children who are likely viewed as least valued, loved, and appreciated—black, urban youths—whose stories are told in a voice that is compelling, authentic, and truthful.
Her work has been recognized by an array of awards and recommendations including the Coretta Scott King Honor Award, the Kirkus Review Top Ten Book of the Year, the YWCA Racial Justice Award, the Detroit Public Library Outstanding Book of the Year Award, Chicago Public Library Best of the Best, American Library Association Best Books for Young Young Adult Readers, New York Public Library Top Ten Books for the Teen Age, Top Twenty Recommended Books to Read by the Texas Library Association, the Junior Library Guide Selection, 100 Books Every Teenage Girl Should Read, IRA Notable Book For A Global Society, as well as being an NCAACP Image Award Nominee.
Flake, who lives in Pittsburgh, describes her work on her website: “I write about African-American youth. I take on tough topics and shine light onto people and places that society doesn’t always care to see.” She is probably best known for her first novel, The Skin I’m In, currently available in a 20th-anniversary edition. In the foreword and introduction to the new edition, Jason Reynolds writes, “Before incredible movements and monikers like Black Girls Rock, Black Girl Magic, and Well-Read Black Girl, there was The Skin I’m In, which is not just a book but a platform for young people—especially the Maleekas of the world—to stand on. Chin up, shoulders back, voices lifted, beaming.”
Flake’s list of books in print also includes Unstoppable Octobia May, Bang, Begging for Change, Who Am I Without Him (a Coretta Scott King award winner), Money Hungry (a Coretta Scott King award winner), You Don’t Even Know Me, and Pinned. Her work is also part of two anthologies, Fresh Ink and We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices.
Described as “one of the best YA writers working today” by the New York Times Book Review, A.S. King is the author of multiple highly-acclaimed young adult (YA) novels. Most recently (January 27, 2020), King’s novel Dig (2019) was awarded the 2020 Michael Prinz Award. Her other award-winning novels include the 2012 Los Angeles Times Book Prize winner Ask the Passengers (2012) and the 2011 Michael L. Printz Honor Book Please Ignore Vera Dietz. Her other YA novels include Still Life with Tornado (2016), I Crawl Through It (2015), Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future (2014), Reality Boy (2013), Everybody Sees the Ants (2011).
Her work often includes magical realism and unconventional structures, often making it hard to categorize her work. King also writes Middle-Grade fiction as Amy Sarig King. Those books include The Year We Fell From Space (2019) and Me and Marvin Gardens (2017).
King is a faculty member of the Writing for Children and Young Adults MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts and spends many months of the year traveling the country speaking to high school and university students, educators, and humans who care about the mental health of young people. After more than a decade living self-sufficiently and teaching literacy to adults in Ireland, she now lives in Pennsylvania.