Authors and illustrators of children’s literature make their way to the annual Children’s Literature Festival each October. The crowd consists of students, faculty, teachers, and librarians as they wait to hear the speeches presented by the authors. Another group that is in attendance is the recipients of the CLF scholarships.
Each year, Director of CLF Dr. David White selects two students who have went above and beyond to receive a $1000 scholarship and a three-credit independent study that consists of working on a semester-long project of their choice.
White explains how the winners also receive the honor of presenting an author at the festival, along with attending “all socials and dinners connected to the festival.”
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“Each one of the winners gets to introduce one of the five speakers at the festival,” White said.
“It is a great experience,” senior Danielle Johnson, 2010 winner, said.
Senior Kim Tighe, one of two 2011 winners, had the opportunity to introduce children’s book illustrator Melissa Sweet, along with speaking to her over the course of the two days.
In order to receive the scholarship/independent study, there are certain criteria students have to meet.
Besides attending KSC as a student, students should have a GPA of 2.50 or better, and should have at least 60 credits, half of which were earned at Keene, and taken a semester of Dr. White’s course on children’s literature with a grade of a B or better, along with working as a student assistant at the festival, and working on the committee of choosing the recipients of the following year.
The students apply the first week of March, and White, Pru Cuper, and last year’s winners decide who receives the scholarship/independent study.
“We look at the quality of the application, what’s original and creative,” Pru Cuper, assistant director of CLF said.
White added, “We decide which two we think are the strongest.”
“Anybody who applies should be aware that being chosen as the CLF scholarship recipient is a big responsibility, and they need to be dedicated to all aspects,” Tighe said.
Along with receiving scholarships and participating in an independent study, students also get to be in charge of the festival, working a certain area.
Johnson explained how she was able to sort through registrations, put folders together, and organize book plates.
She continued on to say that she was able to present the award to children’s literature author Jeanette Winter.
They e-mailed back and forth a couple of times, and when the time of the festival came around, she had the privilege of showing Winter and her husband around the Keene State campus.
The paper that Johnson worked on focused on Winter and her journey on how she became an author.
Having been able to work at the festival, students had a chance to get their name out there, in hopes of a possible job in the future.
“As a student director for the festival, I was able to make many connections, which may eventually open up many doors for me,” Tighe said. “I was also able to meet so many new and interesting people.”
The students are eligible to pick the topic they choose to study throughout the semester, which consists of a 20-page paper discussing their topic.
Tighe chose to study the utopian and dystopian society in children’s literature.
“It is looking at a society from a theoretical perspective,” Tighe said.
She then applied it to a literary program that could be used.
Along with being able to present at the festival and work on the independent study, White explains that it is nice recognition on their resume, and that it sets them apart from others.
Students who had the pleasure of working with White, and as future educators themselves, gained knowledge that will help them in their careers.
“As an aspiring educator, I have gained a great deal of knowledge from him that I can see myself using in the future,” Tighe said.
Tighe encourages other students to go out and apply for the scholarships as well.
“I would tell them that applying for the scholarship is a great opportunity in many different ways.”
Lindsay Ross can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org