Diversity Symposium to feature children’s and young adult literature

This year’s Diversity Symposium at Marshall, which will focus on children’s and young adult literature, will feature a keynote presentation by illustrator and author Chris Soentpiet. The event will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, April 12, on both the Huntington and South Charleston campuses.

Dr. Isaac Willis Larison, assistant professor of literacy education at Marshall, said that live sessions will take place on both campuses and that sessions will be transmitted electronically to the alternate campus. In addition to Soentpiet, the program will feature West Virginia writers Anna Egan Smucker and Marc Harshman, who is the Poet Laureate of West Virginia.

There is no charge to attend the symposium, Larison said, but registration is necessary.  Please visit www.marshall.edu/diversitysymposium and click on the registration tab to complete the registration for this event. The event will include a continental breakfast, beginning at 8:15 a.m., and lunch at no cost to participants.

Soentpiet was born in South Korea. When he was eight years old, he and his sister were adopted by the Soentpiet family and moved to Hawaii. He studied fine arts and education at Pratt Institute in New York City. His work has been featured in the New York Times, USA Today, the Houston Chronicle and Newsweek.

Smucker has concentrated on books for children. She is the author of a number of books, including No Star Nights, Outside the Window, A History of West Virginia, To Keep the South Manitou Light, and a new book, titled Golden Delicious: A Cinderella Apple Story. She also wrote The Life of Saint Brigid, which tells legends of an early Irish saint, and has had poetry featured in many journals and anthologies. She lives in Bridgeport, W.Va.

Harshman, a native of Indiana, attended Bethany College, graduating in 1973. He earned master’s degrees from Yale and the University of Pittsburgh, and  taught composition and creative writing at the University of Pittsburgh and West Virginia Northern Community College for a few years before moving on to teach grades 5 and 6 for the Marshall County School System. Now a professional writer and storyteller, he regularly travels throughout the eastern United States, telling stories and honing his craft. As an author, he is known primarily for his picture books for children, but has also published collections of poetry.

Symposium events will take place in the Drinko Library on the Huntington campus and in the Administration Building on the South Charleston campus.

The symposium is sponsored by Marshall’s College of Education and Professional Development and the West Virginia Humanities Council. For further information, persons may contact Larison by e-mail at  larison@marshall.edu.