Exploring the Magic of Children’s Literature at Antwerp University’s Summer School 2022

Children’s literature has the remarkable ability to captivate young minds and ignite a lifelong love for reading. It takes a special kind of storytelling to transport children to far-off worlds, introduce them to fascinating characters, and instill important values. Recognizing the significance of children’s literature, Antwerp University has organized a fun and collaborative initiative in its Children’s Literature Summer School. I was able to attend the program in the Summer of 2022 and want to take the opportunity to share why I think it is a must-attend event for anyone passionate about children’s literature.

1. What is it? A celebration of children’s literature:

Antwerp University’s Children’s Literature Summer School is an annual event that brings together educators, scholars, authors, and literature enthusiasts from around the world. It is a celebration of the diverse and enchanting world of children’s literature, with a focus on fostering a deep understanding of its significance and impact.  I connected with scholars and other children’s literature enthusiasts from all around Europe.  Along the way, I learned about new titles and new ways of looking at those I already know about.

2. Who is involved? Expert Faculty and Renowned Speakers:

One of the highlights of this summer school is the exceptional faculty and speakers. Esteemed professors, renowned authors, and experts in the field of children’s literature come together to share their knowledge and insights. Participants have the opportunity to learn from these luminaries, gaining a deeper understanding of the craft of storytelling and the power of children’s literature.  I was perhaps most personally impacted by meeting Dr. Melanie Ramdarshan-Bold (Glasgow University). She gave a fascinating lecture on intersectionality in children’s literature that has stayed with me as a source of curiosity and inspiration.

3. What does it entail? Engaging Workshops and Interactive Sessions:

The Children’s Literature Summer School offers a range of interactive workshops and sessions designed to inspire and engage participants. These hands-on activities provide practical knowledge and skills that can be applied in the classroom or in writing children’s books. From character development and plot construction to exploring various genres and themes, the program covers a wide range of topics.  Perhaps one of the most interesting topics I learned about was children’s literature in translation and how the process of translation is so much more complex than simply translating from one language to another.

4. Cultural Exchange and Networking Opportunities:

The summer school attracts participants from different cultural backgrounds, creating a rich and diverse learning environment. Engaging in discussions, sharing ideas, and collaborating on projects with individuals from around the world fosters a global perspective on children’s literature. The program also provides ample networking opportunities, enabling participants to connect with like-minded individuals and build valuable professional relationships.  I attended the workshop with my good friend and fellow librarian Renan Leite. It was a wonderful experience to learn together, especially since the last time we connected was in a virtual presentation when we were miles and time zones apart.

5. Exploring Antwerp’s Literary Legacy:

Antwerp, known for its vibrant literary scene and historical significance in the world of books, serves as the perfect backdrop for this summer school. Participants have the opportunity to explore the city’s literary heritage through guided tours and visits to libraries, bookshops, and cultural landmarks. Immersed in the city’s literary atmosphere, attendees can gain inspiration and a deeper appreciation for the art of storytelling.  I absolutely loved being at the University of Antwerp. Having the summer school set in such a place rich with literary history definitely added value to my experience.

6. Creating Lasting Memories:

The Children’s Literature Summer School at Antwerp University is not just an educational experience but also an opportunity to create lasting memories. The sense of camaraderie among participants, the excitement of exploring new ideas, and the joy of being immersed in the world of children’s literature combine to make this program an unforgettable experience.

Antwerp University’s Children’s Literature Summer School is a one-of-a-kind program that brings together passionate individuals who recognize the transformative power of children’s literature. Through expert guidance, interactive workshops, and cultural immersion, participants gain invaluable insights into the art of storytelling and its impact on young readers. This summer school is a testament to the commitment of Antwerp University in promoting the importance of children’s literature and inspiring a new generation of storytellers and educators.

This month’s curator for #IntlYALitMonth is Julia E. Torres. JULIA E. TORRES is a nationally recognized veteran language arts teacher, librarian, and teen programs administrator in Denver, Colorado. Julia facilitates teacher development workshops rooted in the areas of anti-racist education, equity and access in literacy and librarianship, and education as a practice of liberation. Julia’s work has been featured on NPR, AlJazeera’s The Stream, PBS Education, KQED’s MindShift, Rethinking Schools, Learning for Justice Magazine, School Library Journal, American Libraries Magazine, and many more. She is a Book Love Foundation board member, Educolor Working Group member, a Book Ambassador for The Educator Collaborative, and a co-founder of #DisruptTexts. Her co-authored title, Liven Up Your Library: Design Engaging and Inclusive Programs for Teens and Tweens, is just the first of many forthcoming publications for librarians and educators. Connect with Julia at juliaetorres.com or on social media @juliaerin80

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