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Sandy Asher

Improving Literacy in Children

Well-known authors and illustrators, public librarians, school librarians, and teachers donate their time and effort to encourage a love of literature in children

By Sarah Hover, University Communications

On October 13, local librarians and teachers will work together with well-known authors and illustrators to promote literacy in children. The 26th Annual Children's Literature Festival of the Ozarks will be held on the Drury University campus in the Findlay Ballroom Center.

Sandy Asher, a local author of children's plays and books, has participated in all of the previous literature festivals and will be participating in the 26th annual LitFest.

She says, “It's pretty obvious to those of us who participate in LitFest that it more than meets its mission of inspiring children to read and write. The children ‘adopt' the authors they meet as ‘their very own,' and definitely get excited about reading their books. The authors benefit, too, because being with enthusiastic young readers is inspiring!”  

Drury alumnus David Harrison originally went to Drury to become a scientist, but decided to pursue writing after taking a creative writing class his senior year. Six years and many failures later, he had sold his first story.

Harrison says, “The LitFest gives young people a close-up look at authors. They can ask questions and receive answers directly from people who write some of the books they read. Hopefully, the students who attend the festival go home with a better understanding of how books are made and renewed interest in reading.”

The LitFest committee is a nonprofit group of librarians and teachers who donate their time and efforts to host this event. They have created an all-day event comprised of morning and afternoon sessions where children will meet with two authors for 45 minutes each. There are scheduled times for autographing. 

Asher says, “The daytime sessions vary according to each author's style of presentation. I like to tell a little about my family and pets, share how my work has allowed me to reach people all over the world while I still enjoy a relatively normal private life, and show how much rewriting I do to get my stories and plays good enough to be published and performed.”

This event not only benefits young students, but their parents learn helpful tips as well.  “Adults who attend the festival learn ways to encourage the young people in their lives to write, revise, and not give up following their dreams. Virtually every writer there will tell a similar story about early failures and determination to keep on trying,” says Harrison.