Monday, July 19, 2010

The BYU Symposium on Books for Young Readers

Thursday and Friday of last week I had the opportunity to attend the BYU Symposium on Books for Young Readers--an annual symposium put on by BYU for teachers, librarians, parents, and anyone else who wants to attend.

It wasn't too shabby.  Being a writer, of course, I wasn't the ideal attendee for the symposium, but ultimately it was worth it.  And I must say I'm surprised at the ease with which writing/book events in Utah can obtain top-notch writers and guest speakers.  At this particular event I was impressed to find Brandon Mull (author of the NYT-bestselling series Fablehaven series) and Laurie Halse Anderson (author of the popular--but controversial--Speak, and a number of other very interesting YA novels), as well as a number of other National Book Award finalists and others.

The structure of the symposium was different than the general structure I'm used to from local conventions such as LTUE and CONduit--instead of a variety of panels and classes and activities, the entire symposium consisted, for the most part, of lectures.  There were some smaller break-out sessions with individual authors on Friday, and some signings, and one or two other presentations, but other than that it was one person speaking in front of a large number of people for an hour or so, a break, and then listening to another person speak for an hour or so.  So, for me, that structure wasn't exactly ideal.  Luckily the speakers (usually the guest authors/illustrators) were interesting and entertaining, for the most part.  But I have to say I prefer the structure of the convention/conference format more, I think.  I'm not sure whether I'll attend next year--I suppose it depends on who is coming!

Also, an interesting side note:  I didn't expect 95% of the symposium attendees to be female.  Of course, it makes sense when I think about it--computing librarians, teachers, parents who are free during the day, and the population of Provo all together will equate to a very large female majority.

Anyway.  The symposium was . . . okay.  Nothing special, but not terrible (and, looking back on it, so is this description of it . . . its fitting, right?).

More to come (on other things) later . . .


  1. Whoa, when was this? I totally never ever heard a single word about this! Oh well, I've had no money to spend for a while now, so I probably wouldn't have been able to go anyways.

    Any highlights in what they talked about? Or was it the usual? =P

  2. This was last Thursday and Friday (15 and 16 of July). I only heard about it because my Professor said I could get in free since I was in his class.

    Although most of what they said was for non-writers (teachers, librarians, parents, etc.), some of it was still very interesting. I thought Brandon Mull's lecture was particularly interesting (and he is a pretty funny guy as well). He talked about why he writes what he does--specifically young adult fantasy. It was pretty cool to hear his "justification" of why he chose the literary pathway he did. I'm personally very interested in why there is such a huge rift between "literary fiction" and "fantasy/genre fiction", so I'm always intrigued by what others have to say about it.

    One author (Elizabeth Partridge--she writes YA nonfiction) had some things to say about writing nonfiction for young adults, which was interesting considering the fact that nonfiction has been the focus of so much of my thoughts lately.

    Other than that, it was a lot of the "usual" I suppose. It was a good symposium--a bit different than what I'm used to, but good.