Literature conference draws authors, readers and teachers to Naperville
By David Sharos For The Sun September 29, 2012 8:42PM
Lynne White from Granger Middle School in School District 204 attended the Young Adult Literature Conference at the Hotel Arista in Naperville Saturday. | David Sharos~For The Sun
Updated: November 1, 2012 9:51AM
If kids throughout Naperville and northern Illinois get more plugged into reading this school year, one of the catalysts could well be the ninth annual Young Adult Literature Conference Anderson’s Bookshops hosted Saturday at the Hotel Arista in Naperville.
“We’ve attracted about 250 people here today and the idea is to share ideas about new books with educators, librarians, and authors,” said Anderson’s co-owner Becky Anderson, who managed to attract 21 published and first-time authors to the event. “There is a big crossover now going on between adult as well as young adult readers, and we’ve found over the years that the authors that come have as much fun being here as the attendees.”
The conference featured speakers, book talks, breakout sessions, giveaways, and books sales. Many queued up during the noon hour seeking autographs from major writers including Heather Brewer, Maggie Stiefvater, David Levithan, Tonya Hurley and Harlan Coben.
One autograph seeker was Rebecca Baney, a 10th-grade English teacher from Kewanee, who said she really wanted to meet Levithan, who was promoting his 15th book.
“I really wanted to meet David, and I’m here to listen to conversations about how kids can get more connected through literature,” Baney said. “My experience is that kids will read if you give them time. Reading is a way to connect with other people, but it’s something you have to make kids do. When they’re home, there are too many distractions with kids’ schedules and texting and online gaming and so forth.”
Levithan, 40, brought more than his pedigree as an author in that he was also the editor of Suzanne Collins’ runaway best seller, “The Hunger Games.” The New Jersey resident said being both an editor and an author makes one vulnerable and likened the process to a surgeon and an operating table.
“When the editor becomes an author, it’s kind of like being on the operating table and the editor becomes your surgeon since you can’t operate on yourself,” he said. “Editors are really the first reader and the biggest problem when you edit a book is helping the author flesh out the character development and the story sometimes, because until someone else reads it, the story has only existed in the author’s mind.”
Professional educators came from throughout the area for a variety of reasons ranging from personal growth to a flat-out love of reading. Pat Karner of South Elgin, who teaches English at Elgin High School, said this was her fourth time at the yearly conference.
“I came because it is part of my professional responsibility to be out here for my students and I love meeting authors,” Karner said, adding that she had her picture taken Saturday with author Paul Griffin and that it was already posted on Facebook. “He’s was a very compelling speaker and he writes thrillers based on real-life stories. I’m definitely going to recommend his works to some of my students.”
Lynne White, who currently works as a librarian at Granger Middle School in Indian Prairie School District 204, said coming to the conference Saturday in Naperville was relatively automatic for her, given the support and resources Anderson’s Bookshops has provided to her school.
“Anderson’s is a huge advocate of reading and the support they offer to the schools and community through authors and book fairs is overwhelming,” she said. “They really have promoted literacy ... thanks to them, I have kids that are just on fire when it comes to reading.”