Session Descriptions


Be sure to also check out the conference schedule and presenter bios


Special Professional Session
Shar Tui'asoa
Q&A with author/illustrator Shar Tui'asoa. In person: $25 general/$20 CLH members. Online: $20 general/$15 CLH members


Pearls of Success: How Multilingual Students Discovered Their Voices Through Poetry
Sue Cowing, Kimberly Dingal, and Caryn Lesuma
Thanks to a federal State Literacy Development grant, the multilingual students in English Learner (EL) classes at Highlands Intermediate School in Pearl City have spent the last two years writing and illustrating two books of their poems to be published by Bess Press. The young poets' families are from the Philippines, Micronesia, Samoa, China, Japan, Vietnam, Mexico, and Palestine. In this session, Caryn Lesuma will interview Highland's English Speakers of Other Languages course teacher Kimberly Dingal and poetry coach Sue Cowing on how the project and the poems developed, and some students will read and talk about their experiences in person and/or on videos they have made.


Resilience, Recuperation, and Persistence in the “Rick Riordan Presents” Series
Maiya Kaulana Mendonca and Todd H. Sammons
Many people have heard of Rick Riordan and know why he has been called “storyteller of the gods”: because, starting with the first book (The Lightning Thief [2005]) of the “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series, Riordan has published almost two dozen books based on Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Norse mythologies. Not at all content to rest on his own strikingly good writing chops, Riordan is also the quite-accomplished editor of the “Rick Riordan Presents” series, published by Disney-Hyperion, a series that is itself nearing three dozen books. What Riordan has managed to do is find stunningly good middle-grade authors (many first-timers) conversant in mythologies other than the ones that he knows: Hindu, West African and African American, Maya, Korean (two authors!), Cuban, Mexican, Navajo, Mesopotamian, Hmong, Aztec, Ghanaian, and Chinese. (Oddly, no Hawaiian . . . yet. If you want to hear about a Hawai'i-based book that might or might not fit in this series, come to tomorrow’s "Let's Talk about Malia Maunakea's Lei and the Fire Goddess" session.)

In a panel at the 2021 Conference, Todd presented on “The Rick Riordan Formula”: characteristics common to all of his own books. In this panel, and by considering story components such as character, plot, theme, motif, and (of course) mythology, Maiya and Todd will try to see if a similar formula exists for the books in the series that Riordan edits. Join this session to gain insight into what makes the narratives we will discuss resonate with readers of all ages and also how other authors could draw principles from formulaic fiction. One thing at least is clear to us: as our panel’s title suggests, a “Rick Riordan Presents” story is certainly one of “home and hope,” as this year’s Conference theme has it.


The Real AI: Accessible Inspiration
James B. McCarthy
Accessible Inspiration (the real AI) awaits us at our fingertips as we dive into the images in a picture book and rise to the surface with beautifully designed and consistently engaging ways to bring story to life.



Your Wish Is This Book's Command: The Purpose and Craft of the Fantastical in Novels for Young Readers
Kristiana Kahakauwila and Kelly Murashige
In this session, Kristiana Kahakauwila (Clairboyance, May 14, 2024) and Kelly Murashige (The Lost Souls of Benzaiten, July 23, 2024) discuss their new novels, delving into the craft, characterization, and process of writing with fantastical elements in order to illuminate the very real situations and emotions of young readers' lives. What purpose does fantastical fiction serve in contemporary middle grade and young adult literature? How do these authors craft stories that make the characters' worlds come alive while also reflecting the worlds of their readers? What were their intentions in creating their work, and what messages, themes, and meanings do they hope (or, perhaps more aptly, wish) to leave with their readers?

Literacy for the Lāhui: Building Inquiry, Connection, Self-Determination and Pride Through Moʻolelo
Gabrielle Ahuliʻi Ferreira Holt
Children construct meaning and knowledge about their world through their interactions with each other and with the place around them. When children of Hawaiʻi are empowered with moʻolelo [cultural stories] of their place, their interactions and therefore their understanding of their home are deepened, and their connections with each other and their learning are made more meaningful. In this session, we will explore how to use moʻolelo to spark inquiry and curiosity (both at home and in the learning space), and how moʻolelo can also spark self-determination and pride for each child in Hawaiʻi.

Let's Talk about Malia Maunakea's Lei and the Fire Goddess
Todd H. Sammons and Caryn Lesuma
Come find out how the author, a graduate of Kamehameha-Kapālama (here for her high school reunion this week!), melds Hawaiian material into the first of at least two contemporary stories for middle-school readers. Indeed, we are lucky that Malia has decided to launch the second book in the series on Sunday afternoon at the Conference. Its title? Lei and the Invisible Island. (Please note that you do not need to have read Lei and the Fire Goddess beforehand in order to benefit from this session. Indeed, if you have not yet read this wonderful book, we hope to convince you to do so--and then to get and read the second book!)

TEACHING WITH CHARACTERS: Bringing Characters to Life
Alton Takiyama-Chung
You have found a great children’s book, but how do you breathe life into the stories on a page? One way to get the audience involved is to make the characters of your story come alive. Join storyteller Alton Takiyama-Chung as we explore using your voice, body, gestures, and facial expressions to create memorable characters and better connect to your audiences. By the end of the session, participants will have a way to approach any book, inhabit the characters, and make the story come alive for their audiences.


Talk Story with the Children’s Literature 'Ohana

A networking, support, discussion, and/or listening session about children's literature's "home and hope": current goals and issues in any aspect of the field, next steps, and what the future might hold. All are welcome to attend!