Are you ready for some KidLitCon?
Founded in 2006, KidLitCon will be celebrating its seventh year in Austin, Texas from November 8th to 9th. The convention gathers readers of all kinds to celebrate children’s and young adult literature, and covers all aspects of blogging.
“Author Robin Brande made a comment on her blog that we really should have some sort of pot-luck supper so that people could meet face to face. People were immediately enthusiastic about the idea, and Robin said that if people wanted to come to Chicago on a particular weekend, she would organize. Then, as long as people were meeting, a few of us decided in grassroots fashion to put together some sessions, and turn it into a one-day conference,” said Jen Robinson, blogger at Jen Robinson’s Book Page and one of the organizers of this year’s conference.
One of this year’s highlights is keynote speaker Cynthia Leitich Smith. Smith is both a young adult author of the Tantalize series and the Feral series and is the owner of Cynsations. She’s also a leader in the Austin children’s book community – and is honored to be selected as the keynote speaker.
“[Austin is] home to top book festivals, legendary librarians and boast one of the most active and successful creative communities in youth literature,” said Smith.
Charlotte Taylor, blogger at Charlotte’s Library for nearly eight years, has attended KidLitCon three times already. Her focus on middle grade and young adult science fiction and fantasy books make KidLitCon a perfect match for her. Taylor’s memories of first hearing about the loosely organized blogger meet-up made her enthusiastic to attend – and this year, she’ll be running a session herself, entitled “Blogging the Middle School Books.”
Taylor, who has been blogging for almost eight years, focusing on young adult and middle grade science fiction and fantasy books, organized a session for this year’s conference called “Blogging the Middle School Books.”
“I hope [the session]will be a really intense conversation about all sorts of topics -audience, publisher relationships, networking, critical content, etc. – all with particular focus on the Middle Grade,” said Taylor.
Allie Jones, blogger at In Bed With Books, has always wanted to attend KitLiCon. With the convention in Austin this year, there was no question of her attendance – or her enthusiasm.
“I like putting faces with names I know from the Internet. Watch me spend the whole time huddled in the corner like a scared turtle,” said Jones with a laugh.
Unlike last year’s conference in New York, KidLitCon will lean on the smaller side.
“In keeping with the laid-back flavor of Austin, we’ve gone for a less formal agenda, with plenty of panel discussions and the opportunities for audience participation. Our evening events will be held in local restaurants, rather than in hotel function halls, which will help people to see a bit more of Austin,” said Robinson.
This intimacy makes it more likely for bloggers and authors and publishers to interact, talk, and have fun.
“KidLitCon isn’t about catching a glimpse of big-name authors, or getting books signed, or scoring free books. Instead, KidLitCon is a chance for the community of children’s book bloggers and authors, many of whom interact with one another online, to meet in person. It’s about turning virtual friends into real world friends. The sessions at KidLitCon are focused on things of use to children’s book bloggers and blogging authors, rather than on children’s books in general,” said Robinson.
Sheila Ruth of Wants and Worlds, a blog focused on young adult science fiction and fantasy, knows that no matter who comes, their experience will be energizing and fun.
“It’s different from other conventions: the relatively small number of attendees and the close-knit nature of the Kidlit community make this more like a family reunion than a convention. I’m looking forward to seeing people that I’ve known for years and meeting new people, all of whom share a passion for children’s and YA books, literacy, and infecting young people with the reading bug,” said Ruth.