A Public Meeting of the KPL Board of Trustees will be held at 5 pm Monday, December 11, 2023 at Central Library/Van Deusen. Information can be found on the library’s website. 

46th Annual Mary Calletto Rife Youth Literature Seminar

Tell Your Story!

2023 Youth Literature Seminar

Friday, November 10 | 9 am–3 pm | Online | Free

Featuring award-winning authors Kelly Starling Lyons, Ebony LaDelle, and Raul the Third. 

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Join us for our 46th Annual Youth Literature Seminar where everyone has a story to tell. We are so excited to hear from Kelly Starling Lyons, Ebony LaDelle, and Raul the Third this year! The day will include author keynotes and multiple breakout sessions. Everyone has a story to tell, and all ages, especially children, need to see themselves reflected in the books they read. Learn about stories through youth literature together in this day-long seminar geared towards educators, students, and anyone with an interest in youth literature. The Youth Literature Seminar is a long-standing tradition at Kalamazoo Public Library. The seminar is named after Kalamazoo Children’s Librarian, Mary Calletto Rife. Mary created a legacy of sharing books with children, and we are honored to celebrate her work every November by bringing award-winning authors to Kalamazoo.

On Friday, December 1, we will also welcome award-winning author Gary Schmidt!


9:00–10:00 | Opening Zoom Webinar Keynote | Kelly Starling Lyons

10:15–11:00 | Breakout Zoom Meeting | Jennifer Clark | The Fuel for Memoir: What is memoir and how can we use this literary genre as a vehicle to capture those moments that have shaped our lives? This breakout session will get you on the road to telling your own stories.

11:15–12:15 | Midday Zoom Webinar Keynote | Raul the Third

12:15–12:45 | Lunch break

12:45–1:30 | Breakout Zoom Meeting | Casey Coker | No One Knows What They Want: A Guide to Figuring That Out

1:45–3:00 | Closing Zoom Keynote | Ebony Ladelle

About the Speakers

Kelly Starling Lyons
Kelly Lyons Kelly Starling Lyons is a children’s book author whose mission is to transform moments, memories and history into stories of discovery.

Her picture books include CCBC Choices-honored title, One Million Men and Me, illustrated by Peter Ambush (Just Us Books, 2014); Ellen’s Broom, illustrated by Daniel Minter (Penguin, 2012), a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book and Junior Library Guild selection; Tea Cakes for Tosh, illustrated by E.B. Lewis (Penguin, 2012); and Hope’s Gift, illustrated by Don Tate (Penguin, 2012), Notable Trade Books in the Field of Social Studies and One More Dino on the Floor, a Scholastic Reading Club pick.

Her popular Jada Jones chapter book series has earned praise for its focus on friends, family, and STEAM. Kelly is a teaching artist who regularly presents at schools, libraries, festivals, and conferences around the country.

Ebony LaDelle
Ebony LaDelleEbony is the author of Love Radio—People magazine’s best book of the summer, a 2023 Audie Award Finalist, a 2023 Michigan Notable Book, Apple Books’ best book of 2022, an Amazon’s Editor Pick, and featured on the Today Show. Prior to being an author, Ebony was a brand marketing director in book publishing and worked at Penguin Random House and HarperCollins, among others. Born in MI, awoken at Howard University, and cultivated in Brooklyn, Ebony can usually be found eating out somewhere or being the undisputed Mom Friend of any group. You can visit her online at www.ebonyladelle.com and follow her on social at @ebonyladelle.

Raúl the Third
Raul the ThirdRaúl The Third is a New York Times-bestselling and four-time Pura Belpre award-winning illustrator, author, and artist. His work centers around the contemporary Mexican-American experience and his memories of growing up in El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

¡Vamos! Let’s Go to The Market! was Raúl’s first authorial project and was colored by Elaine Bay. It was awarded a Pura Belpre honor by the American Library Association and Reforma. Vamos! Let’s go Eat and Vamos! Let’s Cross the Bridge were also awarded the Pura Belpre. Vamos! Let’s Cross the Bridge was named one of the year’s Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2021 by the New York Times and the New York Public Library. He is currently adapting his World of Vamos! books into an animated television series with Silvergate Media and Mercury Filmworks.

Raúl’s graphic novel Lowriders in Space was nominated for a Texas Bluebonnet award and was awarded a Pura Belpré Award for Illustration. He is the co-creator of The Snips a new graphic novel series with Elaine Bay from Little Brown and Company. He is also currently collaborating with New York Times-bestselling author Jason Reynolds on The Stuntboy books from Simon & Schuster.

Jennifer Clark
Jennifer ClarkJennifer Clark is the author of a children’s book and three full-length poetry collections. Her latest book, Kissing the World Goodbye (Unsolicited Press), ventures into the world of memoir, braiding family tales with recipes. A former speaker for the Youth Literature Seminar, Jennifer has facilitated a variety of writing workshops in diverse settings for over 30 years. You can find her at jenniferclarkkzoo.com and @jenniferclarkbooks on Instagram.




Casey Coker
Casey J. CokerCasey J. Coker graduated from Ferris State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology. From there, she attended Western Michigan University where she received a Master of Arts degree in Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology. She also completed a Master of Science Degree from Purdue University in Human Development and Family Studies. In 2018 she completed the certification as an intercultural developmental inventory qualified administrator and began extensive leadership and executive coaching across West Michigan. She has a number of publications in peer-reviewed journals and has presented at local, state and national professional conferences and organizations. She is currently a psychotherapist and consultant at The Rinehart Institute in Kalamazoo, Michigan and partners with Bronson HelpNet Employee Assistance Program. Casey will talk about honoring your authentic self. We are very excited to welcome Casey back to Youth Literature Seminar for the second year in a row!

Gary D. Schmidt
Gary D. SchmidtGary D. Schmidt is the author of the Newbery Honor and Printz Honor-winning novel Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy (2004), the Newbery Honor-winning The Wednesday Wars (2007), and Okay for Now, a National Book Award Finalist in 2011. He lives on a two-hundred-year-old farm in Alto, Michigan, with his wife and six children, where he splits wood, plants gardens, writes, feeds the wild cats that drop by and wishes that sometimes the sea breeze came that far inland. He is a Professor of English at Calvin College. His latest book is The Labors of Hercules Beal.

Save the date!  Gary will host a public visit at the Central Library of Kalamazoo Public Library (315 S Rose St., Kalamazoo, Michigan) on Friday, December 1, 2023 from 4:30–5:30. Stop by for snacks and stories with one of the best storytellers in Michigan! This event is part of a new ongoing series of the Youth Literature Seminar.

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