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2017 Lenski Lecture: Will children’s books survive the digital era?

image of Betsy Bird

Betsy Bird from BookRiot.com

image of the bookcover of Wild Things: Actsof Mischief in Children's LiteratureIllinois State University’s annual Lois Lenski Children’s Literature Lecture will feature Betsy Bird, a public librarian and nationally recognized blogger on children’s literature, who will present “Wild Things Online: How the Internet Will Save Us/Destroy Us All” at 7 p.m. Monday, March 27, in Stevenson Hall, room 101. The talk is free and open to the public.

Bird will provide a careful consideration of the state of children’s literature online, including social media and online resources, as well as looking into the future for digital media. Bird has developed her insights as creator and writer of the popular, FOLIO award-winning children’s literature blog A Fuse #8 Production, which is sponsored by School Library Journal. She is also the collection development manager at Evanston Public Library. Previously, Bird was the youth materials specialist at the New York Public Library.

Bird’s talk will also be partly based on Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature (2014), which she co-authored along with Julie Danielson and Peter Sieruta. Bird is the author of the picture book Giant Dance Party (2013) and editor of the middle-school anthology Funny Girl: Funniest. Stories. Ever. (2017).

Bird told The Chicago Tribune in a 2015 interview, “Interactive books have also never been bigger—books that you draw in, write in, scribble in. A lot of it has to do with the digital revolution. Kids are so used to interacting with their apps … and that’s spilling over into books. These books break down the fourth wall and now talk to the reader directly.”

Bird has served on the Newbery Award Committee and the Arbuthnot Lecture Award Committee. She writes about children’s books for The New York Times and Horn Book.

“Books aren’t just objects that you look at and worship,” Bird said in the Tribune interview, “They’re becoming more beloved as a result of the digital revolution.”

The annual Lois Lenski Children’s Literature Lecture is co-sponsored by Illinois State University’s Department of English and Milner Library. The presentation is open to the public.

For additional information, contact Jan Susina, professor in the Department of English, at (309) 438-3739.

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