Children’s Literature Workshop Recap: A CMLE Scholarship

The following was submitted by a CMLE scholarship recipient.

 Submitted by: Jenny Hill, St. Michael Elementary School Media Specialist

On June 25th and 26th, I had the privilege of attending the 33rd annual Children’s Literature Workshop thanks to a generous scholarship from Central Minnesota Libraries Exchange.  This year, the conference changed venues and was held on campus at St. Cloud State University instead of the Holiday Inn as it has in the past.  The conference featured two key note speakers, Jacqueline Briggs Martin, author of the Caldecott Award winning book Snowflake Bentley and MN Newbery Honor winner Margi  Preus who wrote The Heart of a Samuri.

My favorite part about attending conferences such as these is gaining the opportunity to hear authors talk about the creative writing process.  Martin stressed that writing is challenging for everyone—it’s just that authors don’t mind doing the work.  Preus agreed.  She shared her beliefs that she herself is not a good writer, but she is good at rewriting and loves the work she does as an author.  This reminded me of what MN author John Coy wrote in his 2012-2013 Maud Hart Lovelace nominated book Top of the Order.   “The word RE VISION is a very simple word with two parts…it means to see again” (2009, p. 144).  I was reminded after hearing these authors speak that much of the work of writing is that of re-visioning:  examining stories from multiple angles until a story comes into focus.

Another thing I enjoy about the Children’s Literature Workshop is having the opportunity to learn from presenters during break-out sessions.  This year I attended a session about Google Lit-Trips.  I hope to project Google Earth on my SMART board in the media center this year to help students gain a stronger sense of the setting of their books.

I also attended a session on the award winning books of 2012 including Jack Gantos’ Newbery winner, Dead End in Norvelt, and Chris Raschka’s book A Ball for Daisy, which won the Caldecott.  I aim to promote this books this year on our school news broadcast during a segment that I created called Book Talk Tuesday.

 Finally, I attended a session where I learned how to create text sets, or groupings of books around a similar theme or genre.  I think that grouping texts in this way, whether through displays in the school library media center or through lists of recommended titles, will help readers discover their next great book!

Want to attend the Children’s Literature Workshop next summer?  It will be held on June 17th and 18th at SCSU!