by Morgan German
The annual Plum Creek Children’s Literacy Festival brought together authors and illustrators from across the United States on Sept. 22-24 to share a love for reading with attendees of all ages. Started in 1996, the festival’s attendance has grown from a couple hundred of participants to several thousand.
According to Festival Director Dylan Teut, authors who participate are typically award-winners with a large number of published books. When selecting the presenters, Concordia also considers what the authors are like as people and how they interact with the children attending the festival.
“We want authors who are known to inspire and can give dynamite presentations to large groups of children,” Teut said in an email interview.
Freshman Victoria Cameron thinks that more Concordia students should attend the festival.
“It’s free and a lot of the authors didn’t always write (for a living), so there’s good information for everyone, not just the English majors,” Cameron said. “My favorite part was seeing the authors and realizing that they are actual people, which means normal people can write really well without having to be superhuman.”
The festival is split into two parts, with Thursday and Friday containing sessions for young readers and Saturday holding sessions for the adults.
Most of the presenters at the festival are authors and illustrators, but the list of presenters also includes elementary school teachers, college professors and other professionals.
Concordia’s Director of Elementary Education Shanna Opfer, presented at the festival.
“Engaging with professionals who want to grow in their professional practices is always a fun and stimulating experience,” Opfer said. “I was thrilled to get the chance to work with them at the festival.”
Throughout the years, the festival has won a variety of awards related to books and literacy from organizations such as the Nebraska Center for the Book.
Opfer said her favorite thing about the festival is the focus on the joy of learning.
“In an educational system that can be overwhelming, standards-based and prescribed. The festival is a breath of fresh air that allows students and teachers to focus on the joy of reading a good book,” Opfer said.
Teut said a lot goes into planning the festival. Planning for each festival can start years before the actual conference.
“We already have our 2017 and 2018 lineups. To get the ‘best of the best,’ we often have to book far in advance,” Teut said.