Authors, illustrators, and readers alike flocked to Keene State on Saturday, Oct. 29 for the 40th anniversary of the nationally recognized Keene State College Children’s Literature Festival.

Dr. David White of Keene State founded the KSC Children’s Literature Festival in 1977 and introduced the first festival to campus on April 1, 1978.

He said the festival has come a long way since then, remarking, “Some of the speakers now were not even born when this festival was started.”

colton mccracken / Equinox staff

colton mccracken / Equinox staff

Dr. White has dedicated much of his time at Keene State to the festival, and though he is retiring from teaching come the end of the 2017 spring semester, he said, “However, I will not be leaving.”

White said, “I am very pleased that the college has accepted my proposal for a part time position that will let me continue to run the festival and the gallery collection. The event has given Keene State College a national recognition and we send about 4,000 fliers in the mail every year. We also now have our Facebook page and the college website, and I have even heard people in Europe say they know about the festival,” said Dr. White.

White also said there used to be three big literature conferences in New England, but after over 25 years, the other two conferences have ended.

One speaker at the festival, Marilyn Singer, said, “I had heard of (the festival) because I knew other people who had been to it. So I asked various people how is this conference? Everybody said, ‘it’s a fantastic conference definitely do it.’”

Many of the speakers were still children at heart and let it show throughout their speeches and discussion. Singer told the audience how she loves to play games, and thinks of the idea of putting her projects together as one big game made up of smaller games, making the whole process more fun.

This was received by the audience with cheers, applause and laughter, along with Singer in the process.

Audience member and librarian Alice Gordan from Manchester, New Hampshire, has been returning to the festivals since 1985 and said, “The artists that David brings to the festival are just incredible, and there is an amazing variety of talent.”

colton mccracken / Equinox staff

colton mccracken / Equinox staff

Gordan also said she enjoys how the festival puts the audience, the authors and the illustrators all on the same plain and allows for the audience to really learn a lot.

A main focus of the festival is not only the writer’s and illustrator’s process, but the children themselves.

One author and illustrator Lita Judge spoke to the audience about her process and her approach to her work and said, “Sometimes we cannot literally reach out and help the children reading our books, but it’s the stories we write that can.”

Upon closing her speech to the audience, Lita Judge was given a standing ovation from the audience for the power she conveyed in her talk.

Be sure to come out to next year’s Keene State College Children’s Literature Festival on Oct. 28, 2017, where featured speakers will be David Elliott, Daniel Salmieri, Grace Lin, Brian Floca and Sophie Blackall.

Fletcher Rice can be contacted at frice@kscequinox.com

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