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University News | Children's Literature Festival

UCM Celebrates 54th Annual Children’s Literature Festival March 5-7

By Jeff Murphy, February 27, 2023

A group of children walk across campus while attending the 2022 Children's Literature Festival, an event that celebrates its 54th year at UCM March 5-7.

WARRENSBURG, MO – The University of Central Missouri will celebrate the 54th Annual Children’s Literature Festival March 5-7, with more than 20 nationally recognized authors and illustrators in attendance.

The festival begins with a luncheon with visiting authors and illustrators at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, March 5 in the Elliott Student Union. This year’s special guest speaker is award-winning author, Gary Schmidt. His novel “Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy” was awarded a Newbery Honor in 2005 as well as a Printz Honor. He received a second Newbery Honor for “The Wednesday Wars” in 2008. “Okay for Now,” the 2011 sequel to “The Wednesday Wars,” was a National Book Award finalist and also won a 2012 Children's Choice Book Award.

Registration for Sunday Luncheon has now been closed but authors will be available to sign books from 2:30-4 p.m. Sunday in the Elliott Student Union atrium. The Book Sale also will be available from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Elliott Student Union ballroom. These events are free and open to all. Proceeds from festival book sales directly support next year’s festival. On Monday and Tuesday, March 6-7, authors and illustrators are scheduled to speak to children in grades 3-10 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at various locations across campus. Registration has now been closed but there are several sessions that will be livestreamed from Hendricks Hall on both Monday and Tuesday. Please visit the website to register and contact festival director, Maya Kucij, at or 660-543-4306, with any questions.

The 2023 Children’s Literature Festival received grants from both the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency, and the Missouri Humanities Council. Additional support from UCM’s Office of Academic Affairs has allowed the Festival to waive fees for the second year in a row.

The Children’s Literature Festival has long history at UCM that spans more than five decades, bringing school children to campus in grades 3-10 to hear and meet nationally recognized children’s authors. The festival’s  roots date back to 1969 when Philip Sadler, professor of Children’s Literature, and Ophelia Gilbert, laboratory school librarian, invited five authors to come to what was then the Central Missouri State College campus. All were from Missouri, and one author, Cena Christopher Draper, lived in Warrensburg. Children from the laboratory school listened to them speak about their experiences as authors and got their books autographed. The next year, 13 authors came and were recognized, and year by year the festival grew, both in number of presenters, and attendance of school children and their teachers. In 2017 the event attracted 25 presenters and roughly 3,700 attendees over what has become a two and a half day festival. In 2018 more than 30 authors and illustrators were on campus and more than 4,000 attendees. 

The festival welcomes participants with disabilities. To learn more visit or call 660-543-4306.



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