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UCM Celebrates the 50th Annual Children’s Literature Festival

By Mike Greife, March 6, 2018

WARRENSBURG, MO – The University of Central Missouri will celebrate the 50th Annual Children’s Literature Festival March 18-20, with more than 30 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 18, in the Elliott Student Union. This year’s special guest speaker is award-winning author, Jack Gantos. His works have received a Newbery Award, Scott O’Dell Award, Newbery Honor, Printz Honor, Sibert Honor, and National Book Award Finalist nomination.

Authors will be available to sign books on 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, with a special exhibit, Fifty Years of Illustrators, available in the Gallery of Art and Design in the Art Center and Gallery building from 2-4:30 p.m. Sunday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday.

On Monday and Tuesday 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. Most authors will also be available to sign books after each presentation. Proceeds from festival book sales directly support next year’s festival.

Registration for Sunday Luncheon has now been closed, but everyone is welcome to attend Sunday’s Book Sale and the book signings from 2:30-4 p.m., as well as the exhibit at the Gallery of  Art and Design. There is still space in many presenter sessions on Monday and Tuesday, and registration covers attendance for both days. For a full schedule of events and registration information, visit the Children’s Literature Festival website at

Online registration is now closed. Please register in person on the day of the festival on the first floor of the Kirkpatrick Library, or contact Maya Kucij at with any questions.

In 1969, Philip Sadler, professor of children’s literature, and Ophelia Gilbert, laboratory school librarian, invited five authors to come to the Central Missouri State campus. All were from Missouri, and one author, Cena Christopher Draper, lived right 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 about 25 presenters and roughly 3,700 children and adults attended what has become a two and a half day festival. In 2018 we will have more than 30 authors and illustrators on campus and more than 4,000 attendees.

For 50 years, the University of Central Missouri has hosted the Children's Literature Festival. Thousands of Missouri schoolchildren in grades 3-10 attend this annual event to hear nationally recognized children’s authors and illustrators speak about their work. The festival welcomes participants with disabilities. To learn more, visit or call 660-543-4306.


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