nErDcamp Bellingham, Think & Drink offer discussions on children’s literature

A pair of free literature-related events are set this weekend, building on the popularity of the renowned local children’s Literature Conference.

Western Washington University’s 12th annual conference on Saturday, Feb. 28, sold out for the first time this year at some 600 participants. Speakers include two-time Newbery Medal winner Kate DiCamillo and three other nationally celebrated writers and illustrators whose audience is children and young adults.

Two associated events on Sunday — nErDcamp Bellingham and a Think & Drink discussion with one of the conference participants — feature topics related to teaching and children’s literature, said Adam Shaffer, one of the local nErDcamp organizers.

Shaffer said nErDcamp Bellingham is an “unconference” based on the Edcamp model founded in Michigan and copied at several locations around the country. It features a series of short sessions with topics and leaders decided the day of the event.

“It would appeal to anyone who’s interested in reading and writing,” said Shaffer, a fourth-grade teacher at Irene Reither Elementary in the Meridian School District. “Our passion about reading and writing is not just a ‘feeling.’ People get together and talk about what they want to learn about. It’s all about sharing and learning from other people.”

Many people who attend the WWU conference come from out of town, and nErDcamp hopes to capitalize on their skills and ideas with discussions aimed at helping everyone become better readers, writers and teachers.

“We have these teachers and educators all in one place,” Shaffer said. “Let’s see if we can get these people together and share their expertise. A lot of people will just come with an idea and go from there.”

Also this weekend is Think & Drink, a literature-oriented discussion for adults sponsored by Humanities Washington.

WWU librarian and associate professor Sylvia Tag (a Newbery judge last year) will moderate a panel on “You Think You Know Me: Cultural Identity in children’s Literature,” featuring Josephine Estrada, an administrator and Spanish teacher with Bellingham Public Schools, and noted children’s illustrator Yuyi Morales, whose vibrant works sing with the passion of Latino culture and heritage. Morales, a conference speaker this year, is known for such books as “Niño Wrestles the World” and “Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez” and is a two-time Pura Belpre Medal winner for children’s illustration.

“We thought that it would be something that would really spur a conversation,” said Think & Drink coordinator Marla Bronstein. “It’s talking about how we talk to children. Anyone who wants to have a conversation that’s not superficial, you can come and listen or come and talk.”

nErDcamp Bellingham

9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, March 1, at Whatcom Middle School, 810 Halleck St.

Event is free. Conference features a lunch break but no food is provided. A limited amount of free coffee will be available.

More information: https://nerdcampbham.wordpress.com; nErDcamp bellingham on Facebook.com; #nErDcampBham or #wwuclc15 on Twitter.com.

Think & Drink

4 p.m. Sunday, March 1, at Brandywine Kitchen, 1317 Commercial St.

Event is free. Refreshments will be available for purchase. Seating may be limited.

More information: mj.bronstein@gmail.com, 360-305-0536.