Back in February 2020, the board of the Virginia Hamilton Conference (of which I am a member) was eagerly planning the 35th anniversary of the longest-running event in the United States to focus exclusively on multicultural literature for children and young adults. We were especially excited that our keynote speaker, illustrator Floyd Cooper, was planning on visiting area schools in conjunction with the Conference.
Now, three years later, we are finally moving forward with the 35th anniversary of a conference whose relevance in a climate of book banning is more important than ever. The conference will be held on Friday, April 28, at Kent State University.
However, the day will look quite different than the 2020 plan. Coretta Scott King Book Award Winner Cooper died of cancer in July 2021. Virginia Hamilton’s widower, Arnold Adoff, passed two months earlier. Both men will be honored at this year’s event.
Rest assured, though, that the 35th Virginia Hamilton Conference will be a celebration in memory of the beloved author and of the importance of multicultural literature for children and teens. Indeed, I am so very excited to share this year’s keynote speakers: The Emmy Award-Winning creators, writer, director, and producers of Reading Rainbow, Cecily Truett and Larry Lancit. The duo will be in conversation with attendees, and I cannot wait to find out more about the creation and production of one of my favorite childhood shows!
Virginia Hamilton and Arnold Adoff’s son, author Jaime Adoff, will discuss his parents’ legacy and his upcoming projects. Additional guests include award-winning illustrator April Harrison, award-winning author Nisi Shawl, and Lee and Low Publishers’ Jason Low.
The 35th Virginia Hamilton Conference is sponsored by Lee and Low Books, Scholastic, the Reinberger Children’s Library Center, Kent State University’s School of Information, the Graduate Student Advisory Council, and Cuyahoga County Public Library.
If you are interested in joining us in Kent, Ohio, this April, you can register for the conference here. The price, $100, covers the conference, a full breakfast, lunch, and parking. It will be an energizing day for all!
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