School is back in session. As kids return to classrooms, children’s book creators are getting ready for author and illustrator visits. Sharing with young readers is an honor and a joy. The pandemic brought countless challenges, but also fresh ways to connect. Authors and illustrators do readings, share their publishing journeys, give writing workshops and lead discussions about themes in their books through platforms like Zoom and Google Meet. They use tools like jamboard, polls and the chat to make sessions interactive and keep students engaged.

In Publishers Weekly’s insightful article, The Future of School Author Visits, award-winning North Carolina author Alan Gratz shared that he loves the energy of in-person visits but found ways to bring some elements of live presentations to the online space: “Some of his techniques translated seamlessly to Zoom—an in-person show of hands became an online poll. Some kids were more willing to participate in this more anonymous format.”

Whether virtual or in-person following Covid safety protocols, author visits are here to stay. They’re a chance for young people to not just explore books in different ways, but to meet the people who create them – and realize they can tell their stories too.

Looking for NC authors and illustrators to invite for visits?

Here are some resources:

Writers and Illustrators of North Carolina

SCBWI Carolinas

United Arts Council of Raleigh & Wake County

Durham Arts Council

Arts and Sciences Council

Children’s Literature Article to Check Out:

In Their Own Words: What Christine Day and Andrea L. Rogers Want You to Know By Kara Stewart

School Library Journal will be featuring Kara Stewart’s book reviews and interviews with Native creators in their “In Their Own Words” series. Stewart (Sappony) is a reading specialist for Orange County Schools, Native educational equity consultant and 2014 Lee & Low Books New Voices Honor Award winner. She was the 2020 United Tribes of North Carolina Indian Educator of the Year and has been a literacy coach and teacher for more than two decades.

New Releases from Triangle Creators:

Spring and summer brought some wonderful new titles from Triangle children’s book creators. Here are a few stand-outs to consider adding to your collection.

The Boy & the Sea by Camille Andros, illustrated by Amy June Bates

“The text has universal themes of longing for peace and answers to life’s questions. . .Watercolor seascapes are beautiful, with shells, crabs, and reflections in wet sand. A warm-hearted story that many will find solace in.” ― School Library Journal

Escape from Hurricane Katrina by Judy Allen Dodson

Junior Library Guild selection

“Hurricane Katrina was one of the most destructive storms in American history. In this fictional tale, daring twins Jo Jo and Sophie battle the raging floodwaters in a fight for their lives.” ― From the publisher

How to Build a Story . . . Or, The Big What If If by Frances O’Roark Dowell

“. . . Both encouraging and realistic (“Writing is like a sport: it takes practice to get good”), [Dowell] confines standard writing advice (“show don’t tell,” etc.) to an appendix and instead confronts the real monster that devours many an aspiring writer: quitting before the end. Fresh, interesting, and unique . . . ” ― Kirkus

Black Boy Joy: 17 Stories Celebrating Black Boyhood by Kwame Mbalia

New York Times Bestseller

 “Luminous . . . Filtering perennial subjects such as friendships, gender identity, and family through the lenses of magic, science, space travel, superheroes, and more, this is an exuberant celebration of carefree Black experiences; while it will especially resonate with Black readers, any reader will appreciate how this genre-bending collection expands the horizons of what joy for Black boys can be.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

Fall Events:

Want to pick up tips about children’s book writing and make literary connections? Two conferences are coming this fall.

Creating Together: SCBWI Carolinas 2021 Fall Conference (September 24-26)

I’m on the Creating Success with Empowering Characters panel on Sunday, September 26. The panel is moderated by children’s book author Judy Allen Dodson, who is head of special collections for the State Archives of NC, and includes award-winning Charlotte children’s book creators Alicia D. Williams and Gordon C. James. 

NC Writers Network Fall Conference (November 19-21)

I’m leading a So You Want to Write a Children’s Book workshop. Stay tuned for registration information and more details.