The First Annual African American Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Conference will take place on April 25, 2009.
Speakers and faculty:
Sarah Ketchersid—Senior Editor, Candlewick Press
Eileen Robinson—Children’s book editor, editorial consultant and creator of F1rst Pages. For almost 10 years, she has acquired, developed, and edited children’s books for both Scholastic as Executive Editor, and Harcourt publishers, as Editorial Manager. She has also worked on projects for National Geographic, Santillana USA, Marshall Cavendish, Weekly Reader, and others. Having published many new authors, Eileen believes in helping newcomers get their feet in the door, as well as working with experienced fiction or nonfiction authors.
Eleanora E. Tate—Award-winning author of over 15 fiction and non-fiction
books for children, preteens, and teens (Celeste’s Harlem Renaissance!)
Don Tate—Award-winning illustrator of over 25 children’s books (Sure As Sunrise: Stories of Bruh Rabbit and his Walkin’ Talkin’ Friends; Ron’s Big Mission)
Christine Taylor Butler—Author of more than 40 books (A Mom Like No Other)
Jacquelin Thomas—”Divine” young adult novel series author (Simply Divine)
Kelly Starling Lyons—Picture book author (One Million Men and Me)
Christine Young-Robinson—Picture book author (Chicken Wing)
This is going to be such a fun weekend! In addition to speaking at the conference, thanks to Kelly Lyons, I’ll visit at least one school.
So, why do we need an African American children’s writers and illustrators conference? I mean, we already have an SCBWI, right?
Well, I’ve been in this business for almost 25 years. Those who deny that race plays a factor in children’s publishing are simply in denial. I’ve illustrated for many other industries — newspapers, magazines, advertising, education, toys, textile, apparel. In no other industry has the color of my skin been such an issue.
I’m not complaining, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Many publishers depend upon African American’s to fill a need. Filling that niche creates great opportunities for African American illustrators like me. I’m honored and proud to create children’s books that reflect my skin color, my history, my people. But topics pertaining to these special needs are probably not covered at other writing conferences. And I’ve been at conferences where publishing folks uncomfortably dance around the topic when questions are asked.
For African American children’s authors and illustrators, the challenges of writing a book, getting published and staying published are the same as for everyone else. But within our community, there are issues uncommon to others. The more information we have as African American youth literature creators, the better equipped we will be in a competitive and tightening book-buying market.
Thanks to Sabra Robinson and AACBWI for addressing this need.