This past weekend I took a trip to Wichita, Kansas to help facilitate Kidlitcon. And you heard me right, folks, forget that Beyonce; she’s yesterday’s news. Kidlitcon was Lit! Turnt! Off the Chain! Fabulous!
Never since that time at band camp have I had such a good time. I met some super nice locals. Heck, ALL of the locals arcamp have I had such a good time. I met some super nice locals. Heck, ALL of the locals are nice; which is kind of off-putting when you’re from the East Coast and no one really cares how your day is going or why you’re in town. Aside from meeting nice locals, I met my tribe. My squad. My pack. I’ve known the organizers of Kidlitcon/Cybils marginally for a couple years now but in Kansas, we became friends. How can you not become friends with people who share your understanding of Heathcliff, Harry Potter, and Lemony Snicket? Ok maybe I was the only one who liked Heathcliff, but whatevs. These people let me fly my bookfreak flag high and didn’t judge.
If you want to know what we talked about and who we talked to, follow these two hashtags: #kidlitcon16 and #kidlitcon. We spent time with AS “My book won a Cybils Award” King, C. Alexander “I write for all genres” London, Clare “I have a Newbery Award” Vanderpool, and TONS of other authors whose names I will mess up if I try to remember them without checking Twitter. But just know that if you didn’t attend you missed OUT. Just like how Beyonce dropped her last album and people lost their minds? That’s how it went down in Wichita.
We were WILDIN’ !
Shout out to Drury Inn for comfy beds, the Arkansas River for being all quiet and pretty, and for Wichita, for being home of the super nice people and yummy food. OMG who knew that Wichita could do BBQ? Super shout out to the nice dude with the Tom Selleck ‘stache from Drury hotel who helped with conference set up. He was a superstar for making things possible for us.
Even though it wasn’t on the agenda, diversity was prevalent in practically every conversation. It was the elephant in the room that we couldn’t ignore. We celebrated diversity of many different types: racial, religious, ability, socioeconomic, etc. I was really amazed at how chill and woke everyone was about diversity.
Woke. Yes I said it. The kidlit community is WOKE. We are aware of the need for diversity, we want it, and we want our diversity to be diverse: not everyone’s story is the same nor does everyone react the same way and that’s important. I feel good about the bloggers, librarians, and authors I met last weekend. I feel like I have a squad of folks who will stand with me as I fight for more diversity in kids’ books.
I have a SQUAD. A posse. A tribe. A gang. A group of diverse bookish folks who are just like me.
And it feels AWESOME.
There’s room for you at the kidlit diversity table.
Join us! (bring your own wand)
P.S. Jonah Winter is a yinzer.
P.P.S. We learned about Occam’s razor. Or was it Shroedinger’s window?
P.P.P.S. Phil Binder is RAD.