Famous authors visit the Heartland for annual Children's Literature Festival

Darren Cullifer shows off his book, signed by author Eric Berlin.

More than a 1,000 students have the opportunity to meet some famous children's book authors and illustrators as a part of the annual Children's Literature Festival.

Fourth, fifth, and sixth graders from all across Northeast Missouri converged on Truman State University Friday and listened to the authors talk about how they began their careers and the importance of reading.

The fifth grade class from Macon Elementary School listened to several authors including Eric Berlin, who creates puzzles for all ages. The children say the festival has taught them a lot about life.

"I have learned that you never give up even if something is really hard and like whenever somebody is saying something, you listen unless you get in trouble," said Darren Cullifer, a 5th grader at Macon Elementary School.

"I've learned that it's not easy for the authors to come up with ideas to write their books and that they never knew that they'd be able to write books and do this when they were older," said Madie Ewing, a 5th grader at Macon Elementary School.

Mary Downing Hahn, one of the visiting authors, said she traveled all the way to the Heartland from Maryland because she said the children in Missouri are always an inquisitive and attentive audience.

"Just never had any bad experiences with Missouri kids," said Mary Downing Hahn, who has written more than 30 children's novels. "They're just wonderful. They listen to what you have to say. They ask good questions. They're polite when they stand in line to have their book signed. Friendly. They're great kids. It's a treat to come and see them."

The other visiting authors and illustrators include Tracy Barrett, Henry Cole, Lulu Delacre, Cheryl Harness, Kate Klise, Kirby Larson, Rosanne Parry, Kurtis Scaletta, and Suzanne Morgan Williams.

Daisy Rearick, is a Reference Librarian at Pickler Memorial Library at Truman State University. She was one of the lead organizers of the event. She said the festival is an excellent opportunity for students to learn about what it takes to be writer.

"I think it encourages the kids to read and it shows them that they can be writers as well. I just think it's a wonderful opportunity to encourage reading and literature in this area, especially for children who aren't able to travel to bigger cities..for the authors to come to this area of Missouri. "

The children were also able to get their books signed by the authors. The festival was sponsored by Truman State University's Pickler Memorial Library. The books written by the visiting authors are available in the Truman State University Bookstore.

Here's a link to our interview in Spanish with Lulu Delacre.