Rare books are stars at Elizabeth York Children’s Literature Festival – The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON — Elizabeth York always studied everything about her rare books. She’d learn about the authors, why the books were rare, why they were important and their reflection of the times they were printed.

The Anderson University alumna and longtime donor recognized the contribution children’s literature made on the world, and how her 10,000-book collection could be a resource for her alma mater.

“The real impetus of the festival is the collection itself that she gave to the university,” said Janet Brewer, director of Robert A. Nicholson University Library.

The eighth Elizabeth York Children’s Literature Festival will return to Anderson University’s Nicholson Library on Sept. 23. The free event will run from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. A $10 lunch will be available to those who RSVP by Sept. 20.

Three authors and one author/illustrator will present at this year’s festival: Louise Borden, author of various books including “The Journey that Saved Curious George,” “Fly High! The Story of Bessie Cole,” and “Good Luck, Mrs. K!”; Loren Long, author of the “Otis” series and illustrator of former President Barack Obama’s children’s book “Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters”; John David Anderson, author of books such as “Ms. Bixby’s Last Day,” “Insert Coin to Continue,” “Side Kicked” and “Minion”; and Jeff Stone, author of “The Five Ancestors” series.

Brewer said the festival is an opportunity for readers to connect with well-known authors, as well as explore deeper into children’s literature.

It may be easy for adults to overlook the power of children’s books, she said. But they show something deeper.

The collection donated by York includes many first editions and rare books by authors such as A.A. Milne, Beatrix Potter and Maurice Sendak. Even after their initial donation, Elizabeth and James York funded more rare book purchases and the renovations to store the collection.

Much of the collection consists of World War II era writings that some may dismiss as simple kids reading. In reality, stories give insight into sociological and psychological issues of the time.

“Children’s literature actually fits over every discipline imaginable,” Brewer said.

Graphic design, historical context, educational subjects, social issues and illustration, for example, can all be explored through children’s books.

The festival aims to look at the genre more broadly.

Although a college may seem like an odd place for such a vast collection of children’s books, Brewer said it fits because of the popularity of AU’s education major. It also breeds an environment of exploration.

“I think what the university is for is to give folks opportunities to think and to engage and to apply a variety of thoughts about anything,” Brewer said. “That’s what a liberal arts school is about.”

Like Kelly Dickey on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @KellyD_THB, or call 765-640-4805.

If you go

What: Elizabeth York Children’s Literature Festival

When: 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 23

Where: Anderson University’s Nicholson Library

Cost: Free. Those interested in purchasing a $10 lunch should register by Sept. 20; contact Lori Scott at llscott@anderson.edu or 765-641-4279 for more information.



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