2019 Keynote Speakers

Ben Clanton – 2018 GCBA Picturebook (Gr. K-4) Winner: Author

Ben Clanton is a children’s book authorstrator as well as an editor-at-large for the Little Bigfoot imprint of Sasquatch Books. His books include It Came in the MailSomething ExtraordinaryRex Wrecks It!Mo’s MustacheThe Table Sets ItselfVote for Me!, and Rot, the Cutest in the World. He has spent most of his time on this planet reading, drawing, playing basketball, gardening and eating waffles. He lives in Tacoma, WA with my wife, Kelsey (a photographer and designer!), son, daughter, and a wild Goldendoodle named Gigi.

Click here for his website.


Alan Gratz – 2018 GCBA Book (Gr. 4-8) Winner: Author

Alan Gratz is the New York Times bestselling author of a number of novels for young readers. His first novel, Samurai Shortstop, was named one of the ALA’s 2007 Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults. His second novel, Something Rotten, was a 2008 ALA Quick Pick for Young Adult Readers, and was followed by a sequel, Something Wicked, in October 2008. His first middle grade novel, The Brooklyn Nine, was one of the ALA’s Top Ten Sports Books for Youth and Top Ten Historical Books for Youth, and his middle grade Holocaust novel Prisoner B-3087 was one of YALSA’s 2014 Best Fiction for Young Readers and has won eight state awards. He is also the author of the YA thriller Code of Honor, a YALSA 2016 Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, the middle grade historical thriller Projekt 1065, and the League of Seven trilogy. His latest books are Refugee and Ban This Book.

Click here for his website.


Kwame Alexander – Newbery Medal Winner/ Coretta Scott King Honor Award Winner 

Kwame Alexander is a poet, educator, and the New York Times Bestselling author of 28 books, including Swing, Solo, and Rebound, the follow-up to his, Newbery medal-winning middle grade novel, The Crossover. Some of his other works include Booked, a National Book Award Nominee, The Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life, and the picture books, Out of Wonder, Surf’s Up, and The Undefeated

A regular contributor to NPR’s Morning Edition, Kwame is the recipient of numerous awards, including The Coretta Scott King Author Honor, The Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Prize, Three NAACP Image Award Nominations, and the 2017 Inaugural Pat Conroy Legacy Award. He believes that poetry can change the world, and he uses it to inspire and empower young people around the world through The Write Things, his K-12 Writing Workshop. The 2018 NEA Read Across America Ambassador, Kwame is the founder of VERSIFY, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and the host and producer of the literary variety/talk show, Bookish, which airs on Facebook Watch. He’s led cultural exchange delegations to Brazil, Italy, Singapore, and Ghana, where he built the Barbara E. Alexander Memorial Library and Health Clinic, as a part of LEAP for Ghana, an international literacy program he co-founded.

Click here for his website.


Aisha Saeed – Local Author Spotlight

Aisha Saeed is a New York Times bestselling author. She wrote Written in the Stars (Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Books, 2015) which was listed as a best book of 2015 by Bank Street Books and a 2016 YALSA Quick Pick For Reluctant Readers. She is also the author of the middle grade novel Amal Unbound (Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Books, 2018) a Summer 2018 Indie Next Pick, An Amazon Best Book of the Month, has received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus and is a Global Read Aloud for 2018. She also has a forthcoming picture book Bilial Cooks Daal (Simon & Schuster/Salaam Reads, 2019). Aisha is also a founding member of the nonprofit We Need Diverse Books™. She has been featured on MTV, the Huffington Post, NBC, and the BBC, and her writings have appeared in publications including the journal ALAN and the Orlando Sentinel.

Aisha is represented by Taylor Martindale at Full Circle Literary Agency and lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and three sons.

Click here for her website.


Erin Entrada Kelly – Newbery Medal Winner

Erin Entrada Kelly received the 2018 Newbery Medal for Hello, Universe, the 2017 APALA Award for The Land of Forgotten Girls, and the 2016 Golden Kite Honor Award forBlackbird Fly.

Erin was raised in Louisiana, but now lives in the Philadelphia area. She is a professor of children’s literature in the graduate fiction and publishing programs at Rosemont College, where she earned her MFA. Erin is also a short story writer. Her short fiction has been nominated for the Philippines Free Press Literary Award for Short Fiction and the Pushcart Prize.

Erin has a bachelor’s degree in women’s studies and liberal arts from McNeese State University and an MFA in creative writing from Rosemont.

Erin is mestiza and identifies as Filipina-American. Her mother is Visayan and lives in Cebu, which is why many of Erin’s Filipino characters speak Cebuano rather than Tagalog.

Click here for her website.