BEA: The Children’s Author Breakfast
Posted by Caitie F on June 9, 2012
I plan on highlighting different parts of BEA in the next week, but I thought I would start with with my personal favorite moment, The Children’s Author Breakfast.
The first thing I need to say is thank you to my parents! This was my birthday present from them and I couldn’t have gone without them!
The breakfast was so excited and inspiring because of the authors there: Kadir Nelson, Lois Lowry, John Green, Walter Dean Myers, and Chris Colfer.
It started with Walter Dean Myers, the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.He spoke about “changing the environment…to making every child a reader” and that “reading is not optional” something that everyone in the room could agree on. He also said that “We need to develop the next generation of readers. We can make children believe that books can take you far.”. He went on to say that it didn’t mean that they could take you to far away places, which obviously they can. Instead, we need to teach them that reading books can take you far in the world.
Chris Colfer was the host of the event and he charmed every single person in the room. His book called The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell comes out in July and I know I am very excited to dive into my ARC! He talked about the funny questions he gets from reporters and said “Reporters think it is strange that I am doing a book and not an album or a movie”. He started to write this book since he was 10 and promised himself that if he ever had an opportunity to actually do it, he would. I hope that is a message he gets out to kids.
He also told how when eh started he would take every chapter to his grandmother who would either give suggestions or rip it up and tell him he could do better. He has dedicated the book to her and it was very sweet. HE also showed us his cover design and map from when eh was a kid, then gave props to his illustrator for doing an amazing job (and the cover is beautiful!).
Next up was John Green, who Colfer called the “Justin Bieber of the literary world.”, which the room loved. John Green’s said “I found fan fiction of us (he and Chris) I did not write that, but if you did I am flattered.”. I will get back to that later.
John Green talked about how when he was a kid he thought that everyone else was an alien and he was the only human in the world. Books changed that. He said “Stories were the way into believing that other people were really real” and that “It is the only way I can be in other people’s head”. Also “That revelation is the key to empathy… We understand we have a responsibility to them in addition to ourselves”. That shows the true power of books and stories.
He defended the world of books by saying it the entertainment that you cannot be only doing partially (like right now, i am writing this and watching TV). Authors and publishers “have already figured out how to do something really important” and do it well, so books aren’t going away.He doesn’t believe that enhanced books will really work “we don’t need to become something you can do while doing something else…that is how we are going to compete” That no matter what the format is “story trumps everything” which literally made the crowd go wild. He concluded with a sentiment that most readers can agree with: “A good book asks more of you than Angry Birds, but it gives you more in return”.
Chris came back and responded to Green’s earlier comment with “I did publish some fan fiction of us entitled The Fifty Shades of Green” and introduced the great Lois Lowry.
She started out by talking about how she did not have to take her shoes off at the airport because of her age and that this panel was so great because Chris Colfer would be taking his shoes off for a very long time.
She wrote The Giver to try to answer her sons’ question ““Why do people do such terrible things to each other?”. She found that she still got the question from young readers so she wrote a second book. And she still got the question so she wrote a third in the series. But the question still existed, so she wrote this final book, where the main character is named after her son who was killed in a fighter plan crash in 1995.
She never really agreed that writers just write what they know, they also “Write what makes you uneasy, what keeps you awake at night”. Also that “We wrestle with those questions we can’t answer”, which is something that can be seen in a lot of the popular young adult literature today. She concluded that “young people think that they can fix the world” and that should be encouraged in the literature.
She got a standing ovation. Chris came back to say that it is a good thing that she doesn’t have to take off her shoes “because no one could fill them”.
Kadir Nelson as last and he talked about the great things that kids can do when they are asked. He did the beautiful illustrations in the I Have a Dream picture book coming out later this year. He talked about his process and research and what the speech meant to him and how each generation is inspired in different ways by the speech.
It was a wonderful event, one that I hope to go to every year.