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29th Annual Virginia Hamilton ConferenceThurs. Evening Wrap-Up

I was able to attend the Thursday evening session of the 29th Annual Virginia Hamilton Conference on Multicultural Literature for Youth at Kent State University on April 4th. It was a wonderful evening with a few new changes. There was a pasta dinner for all attendees, which is new to the Thursday evening session (and the price to attend did not increase due to this). Many people remarked how much they enjoyed the dinner and hope it continues next year as well. The theme this year was Dreams and Promises: Multicultural Literature and the Common Core. 

The first presentation was by award-winning author Angela Johnson who shared in a poetic speech some information about her childhood and her journey as a writer. She said, “It is easy to call yourself a writer, it is much harder to actually be one.” Another new feature of the session is that each author/illustrator being honored speaks on Thursday night (briefly). We were able to hear from Yuyi Morales, award-winning author/illustrator. She shared some stories about being an immigrant, what that means to her, as well as how the public library changed her life (she had never been in one until she moved to America). She found her path by reading children’s book in her local public library and met authors by reading their works. Children’s author Gary Schmidt also shared briefly how he found his path to becoming a writer and teacher. He grew up being scared of books and there was one teacher who believed in him, showed him the power of books, and changed his life for the better. He also mentioned that we remember books of our childhood much more than adulthood which I found to be very true (and interesting to think about). 

The last portion of the evening was presented by Kent State’s Wick Poetry Center. Local students presented their poetry as well as a special presentation of the I Have a Dream speech by Dr. Martin Luther King by some local North Canton high school students. This portion of the program was led by Kim Jacoby, who happens to be OELMA’s own Dr. Meghan Harper’s husband!  He also sang some multicultural songs as well which everyone enjoyed. 

It was a great evening and there were a handful of OELMA members present as well (shout out to Liz Deskins, Christina Dorr, Maureen Popa, Jan Warden, and those others I may have missed)! Next year’s Virginia Hamilton Conference will be held April 3rd and 4th so if you cannot make the entire Friday session, please try to attend the Thursday session in the evening-you will not be disappointed! 

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