Youth Literature Takes Center Stage at Youth Lit Fest

Posted By:  Tina Walker Davis
Date Posted:  3/7/2019

Saturday, April 6  |  9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.  |  Summit High School


From rich and colorful children’s picture books to diverse stories of challenge and empowerment in young adult (YA) fiction, today’s youth literature blurs genre boundaries and appeals to people of all ages. In fact, approximately 55-percent of YA readers are adults (Bowker Market Research), and people of all ages read and collect picture books. It’s this broad appeal to a variety of generations and interests that makes Deschutes Public Library’s Youth Lit Fest—slated for April 9 at Summit High School—perfect for readers and writers of all ages.


A Caldecott Medal winner and a Newbery Honor winner are two of the eight presenters at this free, full-day celebration of writing and illustrating books for children and teens. Those who hope to publish their own book and those who love books for youth are encouraged to listen and learn from some of the best in the field. Authors taking part include Catherine Alene, Matthew Cordell (2018 Caldecott Medal recipient), Dan Gemeinhart, Amber Keyser, Fonda Lee, Jason Reynolds via Skype (National Book Award finalist & Newbery Award Honoree), Katherine Roy and Jaime Wong.


Heather McNeil, Youth Services Manager for Deschutes Public Library, says the author line-up is everything the planning committee had hoped for. “When we selected the authors we knew we wanted to focus on three things: diversity, popular books for kids and teens from 6–17, and excellence,” she says. “Some of the team that coordinated Youth Lit Fest had personal connections with a speaker, and some of our choices were just ‘fingers crossed.’ When we looked at the final slate we were delighted to see that we accomplished all three objectives.”


More than a dozen workshops and sessions will fill the day, including:

  • The Book That Won the Caldecott (Matthew Cordell): The Caldecott Medal goes to the “most distinguished” picture book published annually. Matthew’s Wolf in the Snow won in 2018. Watch him create parts of the award-winning book and hear how it changed his life.
  • Getting to Know You: Tween/Teen Author Panel (Catherine Alene, Dan Gemeinhart, Amber Keyser & Fonda Lee): Authors are real people. Through questions and games, get to know four of today’s authors.
  • Inside the Studio (Matthew Cordell): Join Matthew for a reading, a drawing demonstration, and a look inside his creative process and studio as he discusses one of his favorite parts of making books: creating characters.
  • World Building: How to Set Your Story (Fonda Lee): Fonda’s worlds involve humans with exoskeletons and boxing in zero gravity. She’ll talk about the necessary elements and details to make new worlds seem possible and real.
  • Keep them Turning the Pages (Dan Gemeinhart): Were you on edge to see if the boys escape Scar Island, or holding your breath when Mark and his faithful dog face a blinding snowstorm on Mt. Rainier? Find out what Dan knows about writing popular survival stories.
  • It’s All About Voice (Jason Reynolds): Part of the reason for Jason’s many awards and strong following is because he knows the importance of finding the voice to make a character real and memorable. Via Skype, have a conversation with Jason about his many books about contemporary teens and tweens.
  • Story Recipe: All the Ingredients You Need to Build Your Own Awesome Story (Dan Gemeinhart): What makes a story pop and sizzle? This writing workshop for teens and tweens guides them toward what is essential for crafting a great story.
  • Breaking Down Stereotypes One Story at a Time (Catherine Alene): Catherine Alene’s book The Sky Between You and Me has been called “a thing of beauty,” but its topic of eating disorders is a tough one. In this session, Alene discusses how she used her personal experience to develop a character that defies stereotypes.
  • Creating Characters with Dimension (Amber Keyser): Amber’s characters deal with raw emotions, including grief, separation, and ferocity. She’ll discuss how she created these characters that remain real in spite of their extreme, almost impossible, challenges.
  • Kids’ Make-a-book Workshop
  • How to Be an Elephant, From Kenya to Book (Katherine Roy): What does a newborn elephant need to know to grow up? Roy’s presentation is a dynamic, behind-the-scenes look at the bookmaking process, from on-location field research in Kenya to the many drafts and sketches that went into making the final text and watercolor illustrations for How To Be an Elephant.
  • Where Do Stories Come From? A Writing Workshop on Generating Ideas (Fonda Lee): You know you want to write, but you’re not sure what to write about. This workshop focuses on how and where to find ideas that give you the spark needed to get started.
  • How Do I Get Published? (Jaime Wong): How important is the query letter? What’s the difference between agent and editor? What role does the publisher have in marketing your book? Learn this and more!


The Youth Lit Fest is free and open to all, but space is limited and registration is required. Visit the Youth Lit Fest website ( to register, for more information about the authors and their books and for a timetable of sessions.


For more information about this or other library programs, please visit the library website at People with disabilities needing accommodations (alternative formats, seating or auxiliary aides) should contact Heather at 541-617-7099.


Page Last Modified Wednesday, March 8, 2023