This past weekend I attended the Kweli Color of Children’s Literature Conference. As a first timer, I didn’t quite know what to expect but I knew that I was excited to be surrounded by other creators dedicated to increasing diversity within children’s literature. I walked in with an open mind, ready to learn.
The experience was phenomenal! The lessons learned and connections forged far surpassed my expectations. If you are a person of color who is interested in writing or illustrating, here are the top five reasons why Kweli is the best conference for creators of color.
5. Rare opportunity to mingle with writers and illustrators you’ve admired for years. There are so many notable people milling around, participating in panels, and signing books that it can feel a tad surreal. Like, you mean I can just walk up to this literary ICON and say hello?? Yes, that’s precisely what we mean. During the lunch break I was able to speak with Pat Cummings and tell her that her illustrations have heightened some of my favorite childhood books. Just Us Women anyone? Classic.
4. Infectious energy. Everyone at Kweli was so welcoming and genuinely excited for the day. People were reconnecting with friends made during past conferences and meeting new folks. My introverted side tends to show up more during events like this. Fortunately, Kweli was more family reunion than scary and I appreciated that.
3. Diverse workshop tracks means there’s something for EVERYONE! Do you have a fully developed manuscript that needs feedback? There are special sessions for that. Are you new to the field and curious about the publishing world? There are workshops for that. Regardless of your stage in writing/illustrating, there was truly something for everyone at the Kweli.
2. The speakers and panelists are all leading experts in the field. I think this speaks for itself. Everyone from the master class instructors to the keynotes speakers to the panelists are leaders in the field of literature. They were tapped to participate because they’ve honed their craft and have the ability to teach others.
1. It’s for us and by us. This is a conference planned by people of color, for creators of color, to help children of color see themselves represented more frequently in literature. And that, dear readers, is a beautiful thing!
I am forever changed by my experience at the Kweli Color of Children’s Literature Conference. I can’t wait until 2020!