Festival a Draw for Enthusiasts

For the 17th consecutive year, the¬†Charlotte Huck Children’s Literature Festival drew in educators, librarians, authors, and children's book lovers to the Orton Center at the University of Redlands.

“It’s a celebration of children and quality children’s books,” said festival coordinator Marjorie Arnett.

Held March 1 and 2, the festival featured authors, illustrators, and publishers Bryan Collier, Denise Fleming, Anita Silvey, Mike Graf, Judy Fradin, Marilyn Singer, Kristine O’Connell George, and Allyn Johnston, with some offering keynote speeches while others met with smaller groups in breakout sessions.¬†Attendees could purchase works by the authors and illustrators with whom they had just interacted at the event's book markets.

It was the first time Silvey, author of “Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children’s Book,” was able to attend the festival. She provided a keynote speech that touched on the power books have on children.

“There is a very special spirit in the room,” she said. “We are all together, doing the same thing, and there is a wonderful sense that we all love books and are coming together for two days to talk about them.”

Although she is no longer working, retired elementary school teacher and principal Linda Wells enjoys the event so much she continues to attend.

“It focuses on what is elemental in learning–that’s reading,” she said. “You get children to learn by reading exciting books.”

Wells appreciates that attendees can speak with authors and illustrators and hear the back stories on their books.

“I really like that we don’t talk about standards, we don’t talk about testing,” she said. “It is an oasis in the midst of all that.”

The idea for the festival came from the late Charlotte Huck, who retired in Redlands after a distinguished career at the Ohio State University. Her textbook “Children’s Literature in the Elementary School” is in its 10th edition, and she oversaw a large children’s literature festival that drew in thousands while still in Ohio.

“It was always her dream to have a smaller conference, where people can really get to know the authors and illustrators, and really get to talk to them without having to stand in lines,” said Huck’s niece Char Burgess, vice president and dean of Student Life at the University of Redlands and administrative liaison to the festival.

Plans are already underway for next year’s event, which will be held in January and feature authors Lois Lowry, Paul Janeszko, and Candice Fleming; illustrators Eric Rothman and Eugene Yelchin; and publisher Dinah Stevenson.

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Redlands has 12 recent Fulbright Scholar recipients.

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