Sunday, June 15, 2008

2008 Children's Literature Association Conference

I spent the last couple of days at the 2008 Children's Literature Association (ChLA) Conference. I met many people (professors) with whom I've had email with over the last ten or so years. Among them are Michael Joseph, Tammy Mielke, Kara Keeling, and June Cummins. A lot of people there read this blog and encourage their students to read it, too. It was terrific, too, to meet Tom Crisp, a student in Teacher Education at Michigan State, and talk with Ben Smallwood, at Illinois State.

There were several presentations on Sherman Alexie's YA novel, and one on Bruchac's Dark Pond and Skeleton Man. Ben Smallwood talked about Tim Tingle's books. All were thoughtful papers, not romanticizing the writers or their books, but posing good questions. I am intrigued by Adrienne Kertzer's challenge over whether or not the illustrations in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian support the text, and will return to the book to consider her challenge.

In my presentation, I talked about three books I've written about on this blog (McDermott's Arrow to the Sun, Pollock's Turkey Girl, and Rodanas Dragonfly's Tale,) none of which I recommend.

Conferences are time well-spent. Meeting people, hearing others thoughts in person. Next year's conference is in Charlotte, North Carolina. A special thanks to Linnea Hendrickson for encouraging me to attend ChLA.


Ben said...


I think yours was the most successful presentation in personalizing the need for criticism in children's literature. I heard from several of that session's attendees who all reiterated how compelling you were. To often in this field theory is valued above practice (and action), so I think your talk was important for many to hear.

Overall, I believe that your presence at the conference, both as a presenter and a critical audience member, made many other attendees to better understand their relationships to Indian peoples. My favorite moment of the conference occured when you responded to a panelist's comment that Indians did not exist within a certain big city during the 1960s. You, quite cordially, mentioned Leanne Howe's commentary about Indians being present throughout America, just not wearing the vestiges of Hollywood Indianness that others expect them to. Good stuff.

At any rate, I just want to thank you for making my conference experience that much more satisfying.


sarah park said...

hi debbie, i'm soooo sad i missed ChLA this year. great that you had a good time though. i've only been twice, but it's already one of my favorite conferences ever. tammy is awesome, isn't she? i talk to her almost every day :) anyway, hope you're having a good summer!!

k8 said...

I'm so sorry I missed the conference this year. ChLA is one of my favorite conferences to attend. Not only is it intellectually engaging, but it is also one of the most supportive environments I've encountered at any conference. It is such a nice size - great for meeting people - and it has what I think is one of the most civilized aspects of any conference I've ever attended: an extended lunch break, which is a great way to continue conversations with people.

Oh, and if you didn't know, I created a Facebook group last summer titled Children's Literature Association Members on Facebook. Feel free to join!

Anonymous said...

Hi Debbie,
It was great to meet you in person and listen to your paper and comments. I'm glad you enjoyed the conference as well. The discussions in all the panels were interesting and informative, and as Ben noted, your attendance was important in so many ways. I hope you will make it to Charlotte next year as well!
All the best,