If I Were a Rich Girl: The Children’s Literary Conference and Convention Tour
Ever have that moment where you wish you were independently wealthy? Let’s say you are and that you’re also a children’s librarian (dream with me here) who can take leave anytime you wish. What would you ideally love to do? Me, I’ve got a plan in place. When the universe informs me that I’ve won the lottery (this would be the lottery you never have to actually play but that grants you free moolah for no particular reason) I am going to go to every single cool children’s book related conference I know of. Yep. That’s my crazy dream. So let’s see if we can drum up a roster of where one would go if, in fact, they could go wherever they liked.
- SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) Conferences (January 27-29th & August 3-6th) – There are the national conferences and the regional ones. And even at the height of my fantasy I can’t really see myself going to ALL the regional conferences. So instead I’d make sure to go to the two big national ones (one is held in L.A. and the other in New York City) and one New York State-based one. And maybe New Jersey too, if I’m feeling plucky. More info here.
- Kidlitcon (November) – The children’s and YA book bloggers meet each and every year somewhere in the country for a big beautiful conference. This year I’ll actually be able to attend the Kidlitcon in November because . . . er . . . well, I’m kind of hosting it. In my big library. Hmmm. Better get cracking on that, shouldn’t I?
- The London Book Fair (April 16-18th) – Book fairs abound and not all have much to offer on the children’s literary side, but if I had to choose one I think I’d go with this one. For one thing, it’s in London. Fabulous. For another, I’ve heard good things about the children’s lit offerings. More info on it is here.
- IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People) World Congress – London (August 23-26th) – Not content to take merely one trip to London a year I would backtrack a mere four months later to attend the yearly conference meant for people all over the world that love books for youth. I’ve actually made my free days this year for these dates, just on the off-chance that I’m feeling up to it. You never know. I’ve never been to a real IBBY Conference before and this wouldn’t be a bad place to start. More info here.
- The Bologna Children’s Book Fair (March 19-22nd) – Well, obviously I went last year so I’ve probably filled my quota for the next decade or so. Still, it would be a blast to attend yet again. Portugal will be the guest of honor country this year (fascinating since I could swear they said before that it would be Russia). And as I stated in my SLJ article back in July, there’s a ton to do at the fair for everyone. You needn’t be an editor or publisher to have a good time. More info here.
- Book Expo (June 5-7th) – This one happens here in New York which makes my life easier. Ostensibly meant for the bookseller community, it’s plenty informative if you’re a librarian too. And there are a lot more free books on hand than you’ll find even at an ALA Conference (this is true). More info here.
- TLA (Texas Library Association) Annual Conference (April 17-20th) – Oh, there are state library association meetings and then there are state library association meetings. The one that everyone talks about, though, is in Texas. TLA has gotta be the biggest, most notorious library association meeting of them all, and I want in, man. I wanna see it firsthand. I’ve never been to Texas (crazy, right?) and this could definitely be a rip-roaring good time. Sure it would interfere a little with London’s Book Fair, so I figure I’d spend a day at the London fair then catch a red-eye (or two) to Texas and finish up there. That’s logical, right? More info here.
- ALA (The American Library Association) Conferences (January 20-24 & June 21-26th) – These I would normally attend but this year I’m eschewing the Midwinter Conference (thereby busting my chance to see Texas, yet again). I will be attending the June conference in Anaheim, however. In a perfect world, I’d do both. Ah well. More info here.
- Comic Con (San Diego July 12-15th and New York Oct. 11-14th) – I mean, you can’t ignore this one, even if you wanted to. The days when librarians could turn up their noses at comics have long since passed. And honestly, I’ve never been to the San Diego conference before. Word on the street says it’s a madhouse, but I still think it’s still worth checking out at least once. More info here.
- MoCCA (Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art) Festival (April 28th & 29th) – And if I’m going to the big Comic Con conferences then it only makes sense to attend the much smaller New York-based MoCCA. A must-stop for anyone interested in the genre. More info here.
- ChLA (Children’s Literature Association) Conference (June 14-16th) – A show of hands. How many of you belong to this organization? It is my fervent opinion that they need to be better known. We have a whole organization dedicated to children’s literature out there yet how often are they part of the conversation? Academics tend to belong to this group, and they deserve our love. I do wish to attend this conference one of these days (it’s in Boston this year) when the opportunity presents itself. More info here.
- PLA (Public Library Association) Conference (March 13-17th) – Held in Philadelphia this year, PLA is another mystery. Though I’ve been to ALA Conferences galore, PLA offers practical solutions for the average public librarian like myself. I think I may be able to go down for a day or two this year, just to check it out. More info here.
- NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) Annual Convention (November 15-18th) – Vegas, baby, Vegas! That’s where they’re having this particular conference. If you’re interested in children’s literature from an educator standpoint, NCTE is the place to be. Think of it as a teacher’s version of ALA. This is another conference that has always been shrouded in mystery to me. I’d love to see it. More info here.
Now what have I missed? Any must-attend cons come to mind for the discerning children’s literary enthusiast?
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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