One of the things I like most about retired life is that I can commit to and help with important causes. As a lifelong educator, it’s probably not a surprise that one of those passions is promoting literacy since reading and writing open a world of possibilities in whatever field someone chooses.
A natural fit for me was to join the Humboldt County Children’s Author Festival Committee. This fantastic community organization started in 1975 and is still going strong today. I am proud to work with such a wonderful organization. Many who serve on the committee are educators and librarians, but anyone who wants to support literacy can join. The purpose of the group is to promote reading and writing by bringing 25 nationally known children’s authors into our local county schools to talk to kids about their books and the life of a writer.
Each author’s presentation to the children is different, but they often involve authors/illustrators showing how they became interested in writing and drawing. Some authors will show photos of themselves when they were elementary school children and even stories that they wrote decades ago when they were kids. It is fascinating to be a spectator and watch the engaged eyes of children. I describe it as an “aha moment” for the kids as if I’m watching the birth of future writers and illustrators.
It is no small financial and time commitment to keep this tradition alive. We fly the authors in or pay for their gas to get here if they prefer to drive and put them up at the luxurious hotel Carter House Inn. https://carterhouse.com/ While the authors are in our area, we take them to over 60 schools in the county. The festival ends on a Saturday at the Humboldt County Library with an opportunity for the authors to meet individual children, sell their books, sign autographs, and take photos with the kids.
Events like these happen because of the community’s generosity and our many volunteers’ hard work. There are approximately 30 people in our group, and it takes the efforts of everyone to pull off this biennial event. I am the token male in the group, but there are far worse things in life than working with a bunch of great ladies who are equally committed to literacy. Much of the money raised comes through grants and fundraising efforts. Many local businesses offer their financial support. I’m so proud of my community for seeing the value of the Author Festival.
My first opportunity to volunteer with the Humboldt County Children’s Author Festival Committee came three years ago. Our last in-person festival was supposed to be in the fall of 2021, but we decided to hold a virtual event because of Covid. This year it’s all systems go. I serve as the Travel Coordinator and work with a local travel agent to ensure we can work out the logistics of getting all the authors here and back home safely when the festival ends.
This year we have three local children’s authors as part of our lineup. Since my dream is to write novels for the middle grades (I taught grades 2-6 for 31 years), this is an excellent opportunity for me to learn from published children’s authors and illustrators.
The Humboldt County Children’s Author Festival will take place from October 20-22 and include children’s authors/illustrators for picture books, MG (middle grades), and YA (young adults). Those participating this year are the following:
Caroline Arnold Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen Bob Barner
Larry Brimner Erik Brooks Carlene Cogliati
Judy Cox Barry Deutsch Cathryn Falwell
Dan Gemeinhart Kelly Milner-Halls Valerie Hobbs
Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw Kirby Larson Susan Hill Long
Martha Longshore (local) Connie McLennan Bethanie Murguia
Alexis O’Neill Lisa Papp Rosanne Parry
Carrie Pearson Lori R. Snyder Greg Trine
I’m excited to participate again and look forward to writing a future blog post following the Humboldt County Children’s Author Festival in October. To learn more about us, you can visit our website. https://www.authorfest.org/