Blogger Ellen Riordan

History in the Making

Literature lovers are gathering in Washington DC , at the DC Public Library to hear Brian Selznick’s May Hill Arbuthnot lecture. It is the 45th lecture and he joins an august bunch of authors, illustrators, children’s literature experts and scholars that have shared the podium to provide “a significant contribution to the field of children’s literature. “ Looking through the past honorees, one has a sense of the vast and changing world of children’s literature.

Established at a point of high consciousness of changing times (1969), this lecture has remained rooted in the cannon of our work. In its implementation, the Arbuthnot honors both creator and space. Part of the process, as we know, is the application of host institutions that vie for a chance to showcase a renowned figure in children’s literature in their own world of work: city, town, university and in one notable case, a farm. 1

For all its academic trappings, a look at this lecture series brings to mind the most important connection of all: child and book. This synergy of reader and creator is celebrated in an integrated way, creating for all who attend a world of shared experience and history in the making, fueled by a mutual passion for and the ability of children to connect to books in meaningful and life changing ways.

If you can, come. It is a chance to be part of history, our history. No matter the speaker, the subject or the venue, it is always an event full of delightful surprises and discovery and joy. We are reminded again that really talented, committed, smart people write for and care about children. This is a wondrous thing worthy of the pomp and care it requires, the hard work of all involved: the committee, the staff at the venue, the speaker, and the publishers. Come, you deserve it.


1 The 2009 lecture by Walter Dean Myers was held in Clinton, TN hosted by the Children’s Defense Fund and the Alex Haley Library at Haley Farm.

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