‟Books transmit values. They explore our common humanity. What is the message when some children are not represented in those books?”

Where Are the People of Color in Children's Books? 
New York Times, March 15, 2014

2019 is Kweli’s 10th anniversary year!

Join us as we honor Walter Dean Myers' legacy with a conference that celebrates and supports our voices, our stories, our truth. Kweli's spring conference is an excellent opportunity for Indigenous and POC writers and illustrators to learn, get inspired and network with others in the industry.

We begin our conference on Friday, April 5, 2019, from 2PM - 5PM with three Master Classes: And Then: All About Plot with RITA WILLIAMS GARCIA (Middle Grade Novel); The Heart Wants What It Wants: How to Make Readers Fall in Love With Your Characters with TIFFANY LIAO (Young Adult Novel); and The Art of Storytelling: Mastering the Visual Language with E.B. LEWIS (Picture Book). These workshops are limited to 15 - 20 students. 

We have an exciting line up on Saturday, April 6, 2019, from 8AM-6PM with an opening keynote address by New York Times Bestselling author SAMIRA AHMED and a closing keynote conversation between DR. RUDINE SIMS BISHOP and JACQUELINE WOODSON. During the day there will be panels and workshops with award-winning authors and illustrators VANESSA BRANTLEY-NEWTON, SOMAN CHAINANI, RITA WILLIAMS GARCIA, RAFAEL LOPEZ, JUANA MARTINEZ-NEAL, REBECCA ROANHORSE, RENEE WATSON, KARINA YAN GLASER and others. Please note that there will be four separate tracks this year: a Publishing Track, a Novel Trackan Illustrated Books & Nonfiction Track and our Intensives Track. Panels and workshops will cover topics from the craft to the business of writing. Top editors, agents, and authors will discuss crucial steps to help launch a writer's career and offer carefully considered manuscript critiques. Critiques will run concurrently with panels, and books will be available for sale and signing. 





Samira Ahmed is the New York Times bestselling author of Love, Hate & Other Filters, and two forthcoming novels, Internment, and Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know. She was born in Bombay, India, and grew up in Batavia, Illinois, in a house that smelled like fried onions, spices, and potpourri. A graduate of the University of Chicago, Samira has taught high school English in both the suburbs of Chicago and New York City, worked in education non-profits, and spent time on the road for political campaigns. Her creative nonfiction and poetry have appeared in Jaggery Lit, Entropy, the Fem and Claudius Speaks as well as the anthologies, This is What a Librarian Looks Like and Who Will Speak for America and the forthcoming, Color Outside the Lines and Take the Mic: Fictional Stories of Everyday Resistance




Friday, April 5, 2019

2:00pm - 5:00pm

A. Middle Grade Novel
And Then: All About Plot with Rita Williams Garcia, author of Clayton Bird Goes Underground

B. Young Adult Novel
The Heart Wants What It Wants: How to Make Readers Fall in Love With Your Characters with Tiffany Liao, editor Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, Macmillan

C. Picture Book
The Art of Storytelling: Mastering the Visual Language with E.B. Lewis, illustrator of Talkin’ About Bessie and Preaching to the Chickens: The story of Young John Lewis

Saturday, April 6, 2019

7:15am - 8:15am
Registration and breakfast

8:15am - 8:30am
Welcome and Introduction by Laura Pegram

8:30am - 9:00am
Keynote by Samira Ahmed

9:15am - 10:00am
A.  Publishing Track
Getting in on the Ground Floor of Children's Publishing - Tips From the Other Side

Esther Cajahuaringa & Sydney Tillman; moderated by Kandace Coston
B.  Novel Track
Form in Fiction: Authors who write both novels-in-verse and prose talk about how they decide to structure each story, and why each form works when. During the panel discussion, they will answer the craft questions no one has ever asked them, from the research that goes into lines on the page in free verse and prose, to the concrete steps they take to render that emotional truth on the page when they write close to home.  Featuring: Rita Williams Garcia, Lygia Day Penaflor; moderated by Alvina Ling

C.  Illustrated Books and Nonfiction Track
Picture This:
Three internationally recognized illustrators and one photographer talk about their distinct approach to telling powerful stories with an arsenal of 2B pencils, oil paint, and a sharp camera eye. Featuring: Rafael Lopez, EB Lewis, Juana Martinez-Neal, Neela Vaswani; moderated by Jasmin Rubero

10:15am - 11:00am
A.  Publishing Track
Debut Authors On Writing From Life

Featuring: Hilda Burgos, Susan Muaddi Darraj, Rebecca Roanhorse, Aida Salazar; moderated by Tiffany Jackson

B.  Novel Track
Preserving & Protecting Black Childhood on the Page

Featuring: Leah Henderson, Olugbemisola Rhuday Perkovich, Renée Watson; moderated by Ibi Zoboi

C.  Illustrated Books and Nonfiction Track
Trusting the Process: Picture Book Writers & Illustrators

Featuring: Carole Lindstrom & Michaela Goade, Kevin Mailliard & Juana Martinez-Neal and Andrea Loney; moderated by Connie Hsu

D.  Intensives Track
The Magic Words of Picture Books with Cheryl Klein 

11:00am - 11:45am
A. Publishing Track
Savvy Social Media 102

Featuring: Kosoko Jackson & Lakita Wilson; moderated by Karina Yan Glaser

B. Novel Track
Cultivating the Author, Editor, Agent Relationship

Featuring: Marietta Zacker & Aida Salazar, Alessandra Balzer & Ibi Zoboi; moderated by An Na

C. Illustrated Books and Nonfiction Track
We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices: Using Words & Images to Inspire. Cheryl and Wade Hudson asked writers and artists: 'In this divisive world, what shall we tell our children?' and the result was We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices, a powerful collection of essays, art, stories, letters, poems and more. The Hudsons, who are celebrating 30 years of Just Us Books, along with Pat Cummings, Tony Medina and editor and publisher Phoebe Yeh, will share stories of how and why the anthology came together, and the importance and impact of the intersection of art and resistance. Featuring: Cheryl Hudson, Wade Hudson, Pat Cummings & Tony Medina; moderated by Phoebe Yeh

11:45am - 12:45pm

Self-Publishing Roundtable with Zetta Elliott

1:00pm - 2:30pm
D.  Intensives Track
Navigating the Push and Pull of Rewrites:
Many writers dream of the day their novels are acquired--but what happens afterwards? Join Greenwillow's executive editor Martha Mihalick and author Heidi Heilig (THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE, FOR A MUSE OF FIRE) as they discuss the collaborative process that turns a manuscript into a finished book. Featuring: Heidi Heilig & Martha Mihalick

1:00pm - 1:45pm
A.  Publishing Track 
The Ins and Outs of the Query and Synopsis: Regina Brooks

B.  Novel Track
Mining Deep: Research, Writing & Discovery

Featuring: Emily X.R. Pan, Karyn Parsons, T.R. Simon; moderated by Namrata Tripathi

C.  Illustrated Books and Nonfiction Track
Portfolio Review. Featuring:
Pat Cummings, Adriana Dominguez and Rafael Lopez; moderated by Vanessa Brantley Newton

2:00pm - 2:45pm
A.  Publishing Track
New York Times Top Ten, Book Awards & National Tours: How to Manage Your Author Expectations
. Featuring: Tiffany Jackson, Andrea Loney and Rebecca Roanhorse; moderated by Connie Hsu

B.  Novel Track
First Pages.
Featuring: Tiffany Liao, Tanya McKinnon and Eric Smith; moderated by Esther Cajahuaringa

C.  Illustrated Books and Nonfiction Track
The Anatomy of a Picture Book.
Featuring: Vanessa Brantley Newton, Art Coulson and Minh Le; moderated by Celia Lee

3:00pm - 3:45pm
A.  Publishing Track
The Art of Inclusion.
Featuring: Alessandra Balzer, Grace Kendall, Namrata Tripathi and Marietta Zacker; moderated by Eric Smith

B.  Novel Track
Books & That Irresistible Commercial Hook. Featuring:
Kayla Ancrum, Soman Chainani, Karina Yan Glaser; moderated by Kosoko Jackson

C.  Illustrated Books and Nonfiction Track
Does This Fit With My List?
Editor Alyson Heller on Knowing the Market and Where Your Writing Fits In

4:00pm - 4:10pm
Reading by Jacqueline Woodson

4:15pm - 5:00pm
Closing Keynote Conversation

Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop and Jacqueline Woodson


Click here for details on the conference presenters. 

Click here for listing of accommodations near The Graduate Center/CUNY.

Click here for Frequently Asked Questions. 






Click here for details on the 2018 conference presenters.

Click here for details on the 2018 program.



Click here for details on the 2017 conference presenters.

Click here for details on the 2017 program.



Click here for details on the 2016 conference presenters.

Click here for details on the 2016 program.


Victoria Sanders & Associates

John N. Blackman Sr. Foundation

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