History of the Festival

The Children’s Literature Festival at the University of Central Missouri began in 1969 when Philip Sadler, professor of children’s literature, and Ophelia Gilbert, laboratory school librarian, invited five Missouri authors to speak to local students. The Festival grew, and over the years the number of participating authors has varied, with a high of 48 authors in 2003 and 2004. The 2015 festival featured 33 authors from across the United States.

The CLF has featured many Missouri authors and others from across the country. Every festival includes both authors new to the event and those who have participated year after year. David Harrison has attended 35 years, Sandy Asher 30 years, Carol Adler 29 years, and Bill Anderson 28 years. E.L. Konigsburg, Ed Emberley, Gary Paulsen, Tomie dePaola, Donold Sobol, Jean Craighead George, Zilpha Keatley Snyder, Avi, Lois Lowry, Garth Williams, William Sleator, Jack Prelutsky, Louis Sachar, and Eileen Christelow are just some of many many others who have joined us. Looking for a full list of the authors who've attended? Check out the wikipedia article on the Festival.

Students recalling their attendance at the Children’s Literature Festival, perhaps many years later, remember it as one of the first times they were on a university campus or had the opportunity to visit with a favorite author. One student recently wrote:

The Children’s Literature Festival was an opportunity of a lifetime. I didn’t ever dream that I would get to meet a real author— especially one whose books I love. I may never get another opportunity like this.