International children’s and young adult literature will be the focus of an all-day celebration at the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 21, 2009, at the Memorial Union, 800 Langdon Street, Madison, Wisconsin.
The conference, entitled “Open a Book … Open a Door … Open your Mind … to the World,” will feature presentations by three internationally known authors – Sylviane Diouf, Rachna Gilmore, and James Rumford, and a scholar of Russian History, Kelly Herold. The opening speaker will be Megan Schliesman, a nationally recognized authority on children’s literature and librarian at the UW’s Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC).
The celebration, designed for educators, school, and public librarians; students and faculty of education and library science; and children’s literature enthusiasts, is an interactive workshop that aims to encourage educators to internationalize their curriculum by incorporating literature that focuses on different cultures from around the world. Held in celebration of International Education Week, a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education to promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment.
“This year’s  celebration was wonderful as always, and it made me marvel at the different and remarkable energies, passions and windows through which our authors view and create their works..,” says Jean Hildreth, Librarian at the Luxemburg-Casco Middle School, who attended the last years conference. “I anticipate the annual conference with pleasure for months each year, and the reverberations of the experience create a long-term wealth of ideas which I bring to both my job and my personal life for years afterward,” Hildreth says.
In addition to their presentation at the Saturday event, authors Diouf, Gilmore, and Rumford have been invited by First Lady Jessica Doyle to participate in a “Reading Day” at the Governor’s Mansion. School children from Madison, Lodi, Albany, and Cambridge will convene at the Mansion for a one-on-one reading with the author whose book was chosen by the First Lady for her Read on Wisconsin Initiative.
The annual celebration is sponsored by the Wisconsin International Outreach Consortium (WIOC) , which includes seven UW-Madison, and two UW-Milwaukee area studies programs. This year additional sponsorship was granted by the UW-Madison Anonymous Fund. Participating attendees for the workshop come from all over the state of Wisconsin, and from Illinois.
The award-winning authors who will be featured during the conference are:
Sylviane Diouf is an award-winning historian. She received a doctorate from the University of Paris and has taught at New York University. She is the author of several academic books which have won critical acclaim and historical prizes, such as Dreams of Africa in Alabama: The Slave Ship Clotilda and the Story of the Last Africans Brought to America (2007). Diouf has written books for younger readers, including the award-winning Kings and Queens of West Africa (2000); and her only fiction book, Bintou’s Braids (2001) published in the U.S., France, and Brazil. Born in France, Diouf has lived in Gabon, Senegal, Italy, and now resides in New York.
Rachna Gilmore is the critically acclaimed Governor General’s Award winning author of numerous books. Her publications include picture books, early readers, middle grade, and young adult novels, as well as adult fiction. Her young adult novel, A Group of One, was named a Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Honor Book, and recommended by the New York Public Library’s Books for the Teen Age List. Born in India, Rachna has lived in London, England, and Prince Edward Island. She now lives in Ottawa where she continues to plark (play, work, lark) at her writing, and dreaming up weird and wonder-filled tales.
Kelly Herold is an assistant professor in the Department of Russian at Grinnell University. She did her undergraduate work at the University of California at Berkeley, receiving a B.A. in Slavic Languages and Literatures and History in 1989. She received the M.A. and Ph.D. from the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at UCLA in 1993 and 1998 respectively. Most recently, Kelly has been doing research in the area of children’s literature, and has taught two tutorials devoted to this topic (2007 and 2008).
James Rumford has studied more than a dozen languages and worked in the Peace Corps, where he traveled to Africa, Asia, and Afghanistan. He is the author-illustrator of Sequoyah: The Cherokee Man Who Gave His People Writing, a 2005 Sibert Honor Book; Calabash Cat and His Amazing Journey; Traveling Man: The Journey of Ibn Battuta 1325-1354; and There’s a Monster in the Alphabet. His most recent book, Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad, has won numerous awards. He lives in Hawaii.
For more information on the authors and the workshop, contact Rachel Weiss, Outreach Coordinator, Center for South Asia, UW-Madison, (608) 262-9224 or firstname.lastname@example.org.