The Kidlit Conference family photoAs I write this, Andrea and I are struggling to stay awake. We’re flying home after an amazing weekend in Chicago where we attended the first annual children’s literature bloggers conference (known at this time as the KidLit Conference). Click here to see photos of the conference.

The event was conceived by author Robin Brande as a pot luck dinner with a handful of children’s literature bloggers. That wasn’t enough for Robin. She gradually turned the event into a large scale gathering including speaking sessions and social events (cue flashback sequence: genesis of Podcasters Across Borders).

Robin did an amazing job. She put together a conference that attracted seventy people — bloggers, authors, illustrators, book sellers and a few podcasters — from across the United States (and a couple from Canada). Besides turning online acquaintances into real-life friendships, Robin was a doting host, taking care of every detail including establishing a buddy system for coffee runs at a dangerous intersection, prying herself out of bed early on Sunday to arrange taxis from the hotel to Planet Esme, and making sure that travelers got to the airport with time to spare.

The online children’s literature community is filled with people who are passionate about children’s literature and are collaborating to advance the creation and availability of quality books for children of all ages. Ideas were flying everywhere and included discussions about the use of online and traditional modes of collaboration and promotion.

I delivered a presentation on podcasting and spent some of the social time trying to convert people into eager podcasters. It seems that there are a few people in the community that are seriously considering starting their own podcasts. I’m looking forward to hearing their shows.

For me, the standouts of the weekend were meeting everyone (too many to name), Anne Boles Levy‘s presentation on review styles and the Sunday brunch hosted by Esme Raji Codell at her brand new oasis of children’s literature and good energy — the Ginger Bread House of Planet Esme.

Next year’s conference is in Portland, Oregon. We’ll be there!