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Children’s Literature Festival Brings Acclaimed Authors and Children Together

By Jeff Murphy, March 4, 2020

Gary Schmidt - Children's Literature Festival

WARRENSBURG, MO – Bringing children and the authors and illustrators of their favorite books together, the University of Central Missouri’s annual Children’s Literature Festival is March 15-17 on campus. The event, which is in its 52nd year, features 28 nationally-acclaimed authors and illustrators, 17 of whom will be new to the festival in 2020.

Thousands of students in grades 3-10 will have the opportunity to hear these authors and illustrators speak about their craft and how they became interested in the field of children’s literature. They also may have their books signed, be able to ask questions of the writers, and participate in a campus scavenger hunt. Many children have submitted designs for a new bookmark contest. The winners’ designs will be printed and distributed at the festival.

The festival kicks off with a luncheon at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, March 15 in Elliott Student Union 237A-B. This year's Sadler-Gilbert Series speaker is two-time Newbery Honor winner, Gary Schmidt. He is known for best-selling novels such as Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, The Wednesday Wars, and Okay for Now, a National Book Award finalist.  Authors are available to sign books on Sunday, following the luncheon. Tickets for the luncheon are required, and cost $25 per adult, $17 per child. Admission to the book sale in the Elliott Student Union is free, as well as the autograph session following the luncheon.

The festival began in 1969 under the leadership of Philip Sadler, professor of children’s literature, and Ophelia Gilbert, laboratory school librarian, who invited five Missouri authors to speak to students. Long after the two emeriti faculty members’ passing, the festival has continually grown, and has included authors from Missouri and many other states. It has provided Missouri children the unique experience of listening to nationally-recognized authors and illustrators speak about how they became published, and has helped fuel young interests in writing and reading. To learn more, visit


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