I don’t know what is wrong with me! I arrived in New York this past Friday to attend the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Conference. As I was driven to the hotel on Friday and back to the airport on Sunday afternoon, I enjoyed the city views, but both times I had the theme song to All in the Family playing in my head! Could not stop it from playing in my mind because that show first exposed me to the idea of another city similar to my native Chicago.
Firsts are important. First time in New York, first time participating in the SCBWI New York Conference, and first time listening to Chelsea Clinton speak in person. She was the key note speaker for the Golden Kite Awards Gala. She spoke eloquently. I was struck by her humility considering she was raised by two of the most powerful and influential people in our country and world. She stood confidently as she described how her childhood love of reading influenced her development into adulthood. She encouraged the audience to continue in our efforts to write and illustrate because she has children who are now enjoying the fruits of our labor. She stressed the importance of representing the diversity of America in our works. It was a great motivational speech to the start of the conference.
The conference ended with another motivational speech from Angie Thomas, the author of The Hate U Give. I purchased the book and it is a great read, especially for teens. Once you start reading, you don’t want to put it down. She, too, reiterated the importance of diversity in the books that children read. Children need to see themselves reflected in the books they read. The fact that she was an avid reader as a child, but never saw herself represented in the characters drove her to pursue creative writing as an adult. She stressed the capacity words have to promote change. She is inspiring.
I highly recommend this conference for anyone who is interested in learning about the children’s publishing industry. It is very informative, provides access to great workshops, and, most important, enables you to grow your network.