The Virginia Hamilton Conference on Multicultural Literature for Youth, 32 years young, is the longest running multicultural children's conference in the country. This year Nikki Grimes, Margarita Engle, Christian Robinson, Angela Johnson and Helen Frost assembled to share their award-winning books and thoughts on the campus of Kent State University.
|Nikki Grimes shares her dreams|
Words that winged their way into my notebook:
- "I write books about children who look and feel like me."
- When writing, remember that "...the best worlds are formed from the architecture of dreams."
- Set aside time to play when beginning a new work.
- Good stories share "compassion, sympathy, and empathy."
- What can writers do to confront the world's atrocities? Begin with empathy. "The most important common denominator is heart, and we can start with books."
- WORDS WITH WINGS is a story "about the beauty of a little girl's interior life that is not valued."
- Daydreams are important for writers AND children. Do not discourage, but encourage daydreaming in students. It is the seed of creativity and invention.
|Robinson draws a Corgi at my suggestion.|
Christian Robinson, Caldecott illustrator for LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET treated us to spontaneous sketches and his influences during his presentation:The poetic contributions from the "honored guest" authors continued with Margarita Engle, who shared such goodness with us:
- Drawing gave him a way to express himself in a world he wanted to see.
- Influences include Leo Lionni, Ezra Jack Keats, Roger Duvoisin; animators Mary Blair, Walter Peregoy, and Eyvind Earle.
- As a Pixar intern, he worked on the movie Up, but was then let go.
- He gave himself illustration projects to keep himself working and posted them on his blog. Eventually, agent Steven Malk found his work while scrolling the net one day.
- Riding the bus with his Nana, who raised him, inspired the art for MARKET STREET.
- Take heart, writers and illustrators. Christian told us he is "overwhelmed and scared every time he starts a book."
- Her books are about power. "Characters are powerful and so are words."
- Margarita wrote ENCHANTED AIR: TWO CULTURES, TWO WINGS: A MEMOIR for "peace and reconciliation."
- She feels that "rhyme and musical language can soften the blow of difficult topics."
- Why write in free verse? "Poetry makes me happy," Margarita says.
A stellar line-up of honored guests and authors Christian Robinson, Nikki Grimes, Helen Frost and Margarita Engle
In two days, attendees were treated to sixteen breakout sessions that focused on diversity and culture, wonderful dinners and repasts, a reception with the authors, and book giveaways. This is a conference you want to pencil into your calendar for next year, April 6 and 7, 2017. A big thank you to the conference committee and Arnold and Jaime Adoff for carrying on Virginia Hamilton's legacy. As Arnold says, "The struggle continues."