When I moved from New York Public Library to Evanston I brought with me two small children, a husband, more doggone books than I know how to read, and my Children’s Literary Salon. Back in New York it was a monthly gathering of enthusiasts of children’s books who would come together for moderated talks. I selected the speakers and topics and we covered everything from New York Times reviews to screenplay adaptations to ethics in nonfiction picture books.
On January 9th I hosted my first Literary Salon here in Evanston. And in spite of the fact that some of my attendees were at the American Library Association Conference while others stayed home to avoid the heavy snowfall, we had a showing of around 40-45 people. The topic? Refugee children held at America’s border. Or, as the description read:
“Bringing Books to the Border: Jeff Garrett and the Refugee Children of the Rio Grande Valley”
When 70,000 children crossed the southern border into the United States it sparked a humanitarian crisis. And until July of 2014 the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Department was unable accept donations of kids books to these children. When that changed, local bookstore owner Jeff Garrett of Bookends and Beginnings worked as part of REFORMA’s Children in Crisis Project, to help bring children’s books to the unaccompanied refugee children currently arriving in the Rio Grande Valley. Speaking about his experiences, Jeff touches on many of the issues surrounding the border today and what we can learn from those who are working with refugee children every day.
One real difference between doing this event in NYC vs EPL was that I was actually able to livestream the event. In fact, all Literary Salons will be livestreamed from here on in.
Today I bring you Jeff’s remarkable talk. He is able to adroitly clear up misconceptions, clarify points, and shine a spotlight on the amazing work that REFORMA (the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking) is doing these days. For anyone who believes in the importance of getting books into the hands of children, this is essential watching. Enjoy.
Interested in the other upcoming Salons? Here’s the full roster:
Saturday, February 13th at 2:30 p.m. – Publishing Children’s Books in the 21st Century
Lots of people want to write and/or illustrate books for kids, but how do you actually go about doing so? What are some of the pitfalls and perks of the job? What should you avoid? What are the common myths? Meet Gemma Cooper (agent), Sara Shacter (Assistant Regional Advisor and author), Ruth Spiro (author), Eileen Meyer (Network Representative and author), and Terri Murphy (Illustrator Coordinator and illustrator) of the Illinois chapter of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) as they discuss the ins and outs of writing and illustrating for kids.
Saturday, March 26th at 2:00 p.m.– Ethics in Nonfiction for Kids
Do we hold our nonfiction for children to different standards than we do our informational texts for adults? When you’re trying to make something fun for kids to read, where do you draw the line between fact and fancy? Join two of the most experienced nonfiction authors for children, Candace Fleming and Judith Fradin, in a discussion of the increasingly complex and exciting world of nonfiction for children.
Saturday, April 30th at 1:00 p.m. – “On Beyond Narnia: Death and Theology in Children’s Literature”.
Join children’s authors Jeanne Birdsall (THE PENDERWICKS IN SPRING, 2015) and N.D. Wilson (OUTLAWS OF TIME, 2016) for a discussion of writing children’s literature from both a Christian and a Post-Christian Humanism point of view.
Saturday, May 7th at 2:00 p.m. – “The Art of Enthusiasm”
Online gurus and children’s book evangelists Travis Jonker, Colby Sharp, and John Schumacher discuss promoting your favorite literature for kids, making the most of online resources, and spreading the culture of book love and enthusiasm amongst readers of every age.