February 17, 2018  

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Children's Literature Association Annual Conference Hosted by Southern Miss

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From June 13-16, The University of Southern Mississippi’s Department of English and de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection will host the largest annual gathering of children’s literature scholars in North America when the 40th annual Children’s Literature Association (ChLA) Conference convenes at the IP Resort in Biloxi. 

Approximately 250 scholars from around the world will be making presentations related to the conference theme, “Play and Risk in Children’s and Young Adult (YA) Literature,” chosen by the conference committee.

The conference was organized by Ellen Ruffin, curator of the de Grummond Collection, and Eric Tribunella and Kay Harris, faculty members from the English department.        

Classic and contemporary works for young people often represent children or young adults playing games or taking chances. ChLA members will address variations on the conference theme, such as games and game theory, dramatic plays, stylistic or formal play, children at play, chance, risk-taking, at-risk youth, sports, and winning and losing in children’s literature and culture.

Dr. Jerry Griswold, Professor Emeritus and the former Director of the National Center for the Study of Children’s Literature at San Diego State University, will deliver the keynote address.  The author of seven books, including Audacious Kids: Coming of Age in America’s Classic Children’s Books (1992) and Feeling Like a Kid: Childhood and Children’s Literature (2006), Griswold has long studied the complex psychological lives of children at play or at risk in children’s literature.

Each year the ChLA names recipients of the Phoenix Award, which honors distinguished children’s book authors for works published 20 years earlier. The 2013 Phoenix Picture Book Honor Award will be presented to Denise Fleming for her 1993 illustrated book, In the Small Small Pond. Keven Henkes, who is not able to attend the conference, has been selected as the Phoenix Picture Book Award winner for Owen (1993).Gaye Hiçyilmaz will receive the Phoenix Award for The Frozen Waterfall (1993). 

The Anne Devereaux Award, which recognizes significant contributions in scholar or service in the scholarly field of children’s literature, will be presented to John Cech, Professor of English and Director of the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature & Culture at the University of Florida.

Some conference attendees will visit the Southern Miss campus and de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection in Hattiesburg at the conclusion of the conference to honor the fortieth anniversary of the convention.

de Grummond staff Danielle Bishop and Isaac Hudgins, and Jameela Lares, Alexandra Valint, Laura Hakala, and Paige Gray from the English department, assisted with planning for the event over the past year.

For information about the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection at Southern Miss, online visit www.usm.edu/degrummond.