Alastair Heim’s passion for children’s books dates back to Bar Wars, the little-known book parody of the hit Star Wars film series.
Who could forget such characters as Charleston Chewy, Darth Nougat and Master Soda as they shot through the stars in their candy bar themed adventures?
Heim certainly wouldn’t forget it, especially since he wrote the book for homework when he was in sixth grade.
But through this class assignment, Heim began to realize that books could be more than pages of pictures and prose — they could be children’s first forays into creativity and new possibilities, especially at a younger age.
“Embracing children in visual imagery and storytelling, especially with rhyme and meter – where they hear the cadence, which can almost be lyrical – I really think this puts children on a creative path that you can really bring to life as soon as they are born.” get it to school.”
Heim, now an adult and a published picture book author from Kansas City, will be among the 60+ authors at the Kansas Book Festival at the Mabee Library and on the Washburn University campus lawn this weekend.
“It’s going to be fun,” said Tim Bascom, general manager of the festival. “We hope that families and children can come and enjoy the festival. There will be presentations on a wide range of different topics and in all genres.”
Bascom, who previously spent more than two decades as a literary scholar in Iowa, said the Kansas book festival stands out from other states because of its special focus on books and literature about and by Kansanians.
A celebration of these kinds of books then becomes a celebration of Kansas and its citizens’ slowed-down, thoughtful outlook on life, he said.
“When we read, we engage in thought, and thought differentiates us as human beings,” Bascom said. “We need to encourage that, and reading is a wonderful way to do that — to think more focused and deeper about what’s important in life.”
The Kansas Book Festival offers many opportunities for children
In its 11th year, the state book festival will focus on children and encourage them to read, Bascom said. Several of the festival’s invited authors, including Heim, will speak specifically about children’s literature.
Heim, the new Dr. Seuss books will join author and illustrator John Hare to discuss picture books and how to incorporate them into the classroom.
Other presentations include discussions with Kansas children who have published books, a discussion about young adults’ fascination with science fiction and fantasy literature, and a poetry slam by students from Topeka High, Topeka West, and Highland Park.
The Kansas Children’s Discovery Center and Paper June Bookstore will also offer hands-on activities under an outdoor tent, while storyteller Kyler Carpenter and puppeteer Priscilla Howe will perform on Saturday noon.
Too many children begin with a strong love of books when they read with parents and teachers as toddlers and preschoolers, but lose that passion when support systems weaken or when they become distracted by other activities as older children, Heim said.
But nurturing that love of reading is vital, he said, because it not only creates a well-informed society, but one that loves to dream and create.
“All the adults who write children’s favorite books, perform their favorite music, or design their favorite music – one day those adults won’t be there to do that, and we’re going to need our kids, who are the most creative people on the planet.” to shape our world,” said Heim.
Donations help the Liberate Books Project build library collections in Kansas prisons
According to Bascom, one of the festival’s exciting programs this year will be to support the Liberate Books Project, an initiative by Hays to collect new and used books to donate to Kansas prisons.
The project, led by Fort Hays State Professor Sarah Broman Miller and Hays First United Methodist Church pastor Troy Miller, works with prison and prison librarians across Kansas to add donated and purchased books to their catalogs.
Since its launch in fall 2021, the Liberate Books Project has collected and donated around 10,000 books. Eventually, the project organizers hope to be able to ship books to every prison and jail in Kansas.
The project will have a booth at the festival throughout Saturday and will be accepting donations.
How to attend the Kansas Book Festival
The free Kansas Book Festival begins at 4:00 p.m. on Friday and runs from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday at Washburn University.
After seeing more than 800 attendees in its first year as CEO, Bascom hopes to see more than 1,000 in 2022.
The festival begins with a reading by Michael Kleber-Diggs, winner of the 2022 Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award, from his book “Worldly Things” Friday afternoon at the university’s Mabee Library. In poetry, the Kansas native, who now lives in Minnesota, delves into “worldly things,” including his father’s death and the police killings of black men across the United States
About 60 authors are expected at the festival, including headliner KJ Dell’Antonia, author of the New York Times bestseller The Chicken Sisters. Her new book, In Her Boots, tells the story of a middle-aged author who returns to her family’s farm after the death of her grandmother.
The festival will also include honors and recognition for the latest books from either Kansans or about Kansas. These include the 2022 Kansas Notable Books selected by the Kansas State Library. State Librarian Ray Walling and Ted Daughety, husband of Gov. Laura Kelly, will present the awards.
The festival also includes vendors, food trucks, a book art exhibition and a children’s activity area.
Rafael Garcia is an education reporter for the Topeka Capital-Journal. He can be reached at [email protected] or by phone at 785-289-5325. Follow him on Twitter at @byRafaelGarcia.