The Children's Book Festival History
In 1983, a wonderful tradition began. Dr. Jan Paris held a vision of what was to become the Texas Bluebonnet Award Program. This vision led to students having the opportunity and responsibility of selecting the book from a preselected list of books that would receive the prestigious Texas Bluebonnet Award, an award that causes the publishing world to take notice of what Texas students are reading and choosing as their favorite.
The first Sam Houston State University Children's Book Festival hosted 200 participants and Barbara Cooney as its speaker. Dr. Paris arranged for the Festival to be held on the SHSU campus where she was at that time a professor in the the Department of Library Science.
After Dr. Paris retired, Dr. Mary Berry successfully carried forward the annual event. At this same time, Dr. Teri Lesesne coordinated the Young Adult Conference that was patterned in a similar fashion after the Children's Book Festival but the focus was on young adult literature. The two conferences kept the Department of Library Science busy, with one conference held in the fall and other in the spring. Eventually, Dr. Berry and Dr. Lesesne decided to combine the Children's Book Festival and the Young Adult Conference together. The annual date was selected as the first Saturday in November so as not to overcrowd the spring calendar when the Texas Library Association holds its annual conference.
From that time forward, the event carried the lengthy title of Sam Houston State University Department of Library Science Children's Book Festival and Young Adult Conference. The title was beneficial in knowing the history of the development of the event. However, it was definitely a mouthful to say.
Beginning in fall 2010, the SHSU Department of Library Science faculty decided to change the name of the event. They decided that the new name should honor Dr. Jan Paris who began the event's rich tradition that has grown throughout the years.
Previous Keynote Speakers
(Displayed alphabetically by year of appearance)