A SENSE OF BELONGING: CBI Conference 2019
Every year, I look forward in longing anticipation to the Childrens' Books Ireland conference; to that feeling of welcome and 'home' that feeds this particular kidlit enthusiast with. I am with my people; my tribe; all very diverse and different, but all very connected. CBI has actually built a strong sense of community in the childrens' book world. We BELONG, and we are excited about welcoming new members to our family. This years' theme was indeed BELONGING and each speaker brought a greater, broader sense of that term, of how we can get that across to children and their grown-ups; parents, teachers, librarians, publishers... this years' conference was truly wonderful.
I'm going to take you through some of the highlights; for me. It may be a rather long post, so I will break it into two...covering both days, but there will be a lot of pictures (not the best quality, I'm afraid...sorry.) I hope it will nourish some of you the way it nourished me.
We began with coffee/tea and these wonderful cupcakes, provided by Gill publishing to celebrate the new book by Peter Donnelly; The Presidents Surprise! (ISBN: 9780717184811) This is the 3rd in his picture series featuring the President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins and it is marvelous. They all are!
You all need to know one thing: we do have the best President in the world!!!! And these books let you in on that fact.
The cupcakes were delicious and it was a fabulous way to kick off the conference!
|"Books are mirrors, but they are also windows."|
After the housekeeping and introduction by the wonderful Elaina Ryan, our first session got under way.
Kwame Alexander took to the stage...and he told us 5 stories. They were his stories; stories of childhood, of his parents, of learning, growing, becoming and publishing.
Kwame grew up understanding the power of words. His mission is to "change the world on word at a time." And we must know our stories. Knowing the stories are "proof of belonging".
Once,after winning the Newbery Medal in 2015 for the Most Distinguished Contribution to American Literature for Children; Kwame was asked, by a librarian, what colour the kids in his book were; she said the children would want to know. His response was that she should contact him after sharing the book with the kids IF they asked that question. When she got back to him, not one child had asked. You see; we need to stop segregating the books. Let all the books be for all the kids. "Books are mirrors, but they are also windows." Yes...children need to see themselves reflected in books, but they also need the windows to peer into other lives, other stories..and learn them, so we all belong. His verse novels are embedded with that sense of becoming and belonging.
So as we bid farewell to Day One (with a wine and cheese reception, of course) we left our space with a greater sense of the childrens' books community. And...we just couldn't wait for Day Two, which you'll find on the next post.
To learn more about Childrens Books Ireland, the events, outreach programmes and all the incentives that make this organisation so incredible, please follow the link below.