Young Authors Conference was literacy celebration

This past week saw the 40th edition of the program, which is geared toward building literacy and authorship within the education community. In this amazing program, youngsters not only get to meet a real-life author, their own work is brought into the spotlight.

This year’s special guest was David Biedrzycki, of Pennsylvania, who has authored and illustrated 10 children’s books and illustrated about a dozen more. Among other events, Biedrzycki took part in a book signing at the Peter White Public Library on Tuesday.

At the event — shared in a wonderful Wednesday story and photos by Journal Staff Writer Lisa Bowers — Biedrzycki shared biographical information and drew a family of beetles for attendees using a computer program before talking one-on-one with students.

The book signing was just one of many events over the course of four days during which 3,400 children ranging from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade participated in workshops at Northern Michigan University as well as events at local libraries.

Thirteen schools in Marquette and Alger counties took part in the conference, during which students attended an author presentation and a “special” class lead by a local presenter.

Most exciting of all, the youngsters celebrated their own writing during a book-sharing session, and shared a “published” book at the conference as a culmination of literacy activities such as reading, researching, writing, illustrating and sharing that have taken part throughout the whole school year.

“The kids get to not only see an author, but they get to share their own writing and see themselves as writers,” said Young Authors co-organizer Ashley Nicholas.

This year, having Biedrzycki who is both an illustrator and an author, made the conference unique.

“They can see both parts of it,” conference organizer Erika Morrison said of the students who attend Young Authors. “They can see the words and they can see the pictures that go into it, and how important that is. You can do both.”

We hope the community shares our enthusiasm for Young Authors and its positive impact on thousands of children through the years. And we hope that enthusiasm includes participation through donations and being conference presenters. Those things have been a key part of keeping the conference alive.

“We could not do this without donations from the community and our specials presenters who donate their time and this year their expertise with the kids, it really is a community event,” Morrison said.

In the story, Nicholas said the events make a lasting impression on many of the adults who attend the conference.

“We’ve heard that a lot, (people say) ‘I still have my books, and it was so meaningful for me and my kids went and loved it.’ That shows that it is important that we keep it going,” Nicholas said.

Thanks to all those who put much time and effort into making the Young Authors Conference come to life each year. Congratulations to all those who have taken part through the years.

Mining Journal (Marquette)