I have wanted to attend the KidlitCon since it’s inception six years ago but did not attend until this year.
The event was held at the New York Public Library. Interestingly, as much as I love libraries and as close as we are to the city, I have never been inside this much talked about building. What a treat it was to see the lions and to admire the gorgeous design of the building with new and old friends as we talked about topics, trends and loves in children’s literature.
My day began with a presentation from a few of the many contributors at From the Mixed Up Files. The format of their workshop, “Community Building On and Off the Blog,” was engaging with Jeopardy questions interspersed giving audience members chances to win books and live tweeting going on during the discussion. My greatest take away had to do with the concept of diversity of posting. By this the presenters referred to the idea of not only paying attention to the diverse nature of the books you talk about but also diversity in your type of posts. They suggested thinking about booklists, contests, interviews and general posts as different and making sure to rotate through these types of postings. While I do this in a haphazard way, I liked the idea of really thinking through this to make sure my posts are varied.
Moving on to my next session, I was thrilled to be able to learn from Greg Pincus of GottaBook and The Happy Accident. I follow Greg’s work often and especially love his 30 Poets 3o Days series. His talk was titled, “Avoiding the Echo Chamber: Bringing the World of Children’s Literature to the World.” This is already a favorite topic of mine. My goal in blogging is to find and connect with parents, empowering them to get new children’s literature in to the hands of those they love. Greg focused on reaching out to groups that share your passions, other than children’s literature. He impressed upon me that everyone out there in the big wide world is someone who may just be dying to hear about a great new read aloud. I left with inspiration to broaden my on-line circle and my reach through social media.
I spent lunch time eating quickly so that I could browse through some fun New York City stores like Joe Fresh, Zara and H & M, each across the street from the library. No one says you can’t love books and clothes in equal measure…
After lunch, the group reconvened for a panel discussion titled, “How Nice is Too Nice? Critical Book Reviewing in the Age of Twitter”. Panelists included author Maureen Johnson, Betsy Bird, Liz Burns, Monica Edinger, Sheila Barry (from Groundwood Books), and Marjorie Ingall (Tablet Magazine, amongst other cool things) and the group was moderated by Jennifer Hubert-Swan. The comments from panelists were insightful, funny and wise. As I do not receive books from publishers, as many do, for review, I haven’t thought too deeply about the way I respond to books. I began to think my posts in new ways, after this session, as Betsy (I think!) talked about posts falling in to one of three categories, reader response, cheer leading and critical review.
My final session was titled “The Benefits of Blogging” and was presented by Diane Estrella. The presentation was geared more toward new bloggers so I probably could have chosen better for this one but refreshers are always helpful and it’s always great to meet new people.
Unfortunately, I had to leave before the end of the day keynote which was given by Maureen Johnson. Having heard her during the post-lunch panel, I knew I would be missing some amazing information and a few good laughs. Turns out I missed a give away of her latest novel, The Name of the Star as well.
Needless to say, though, one missed book did not a conference ruin. KidLitCon, as I had expected, was full of great information, fascinating people and more information than I could hold in my head.
Thank you to the ever talented Betsy Bird for organizing such a knock out event!