OPENING SESSION | Wed., Sept. 25, 2019
Room 232-233

Kahn photo

Hena Khan

More to My Story


Hena Khan is a Pakistani-American Muslim who was born and raised in Maryland. Khan loved escaping into books at her local public library, but she never saw herself reflected in the stories she read. After becoming a mom, Khan decided she would be that voice — introducing her faith and culture to young readers everywhere. Her book Amina’s Voice was named the Best Book of 2017 by the Washington Post and NPR. Her latest release, Under My Hijab celebrates women who wear the traditional head covering while teaching readers about the practice. Khan’s other books include Power ForwardOn PointBounce BackIt’s Ramadan, Curious GeorgeGolden Domes and Silver Lanterns, and The Night of the Moon. During this opening session, Khan will discuss the power of story to transform and elevate us all. She will share her personal experience as a Pakistani-American Muslim author writing characters who resemble her for a mainstream audience, including her journey to publication, issues around inclusion and representation, and her hopes for the future of children’s literature.

GENERAL SESSION | Thurs., Sept. 26, 2019
Room 232-233
Krosoczka photo

Jarrett Krosoczka

Why Lunch Ladies are Heroes


As a boy being raised by his grandparents in Worcester, Mass., Krosoczka dreamed of someday writing and illustrating books for a living. He is now happily living out his childhood dream after years of perseverance, hard work and diligence. Krosoczka was lucky enough to have several mentors guide him throughout his youth. And even though the deck was stacked against him, he went on to become a successful and award-winning author/illustrator. In this keynote presentation, Krosoczka will share stories of caretakers, teachers and other caring adults who gave him encouragement and helped make his childhood dream a reality.

Krosoczka has more than thirty published books to his credit. Titles include several picture books, his wildly popular Lunch Lady graphic novels, and the Platypus Police Squad middle-grade novels. He also recently launched a new story arc in the Jedi Academy series with Star Wars™ Jedi Academy: A New Class. Krosoczka is a two-time winner of the Children’s Choice Book Awards Third to Fourth Grade Book of the Year and has been a finalist for the prestigious Will Eisner Comic Industry Award.


CLOSING SESSION | Fri., Sept. 27, 2019
Room 232-233

Mbeseha and Marshall photo

From left: Moses B. Mbeseha and Karlos L. Marshall

Cultivating a Literary Renaissance: Ending Book Deserts for Education, Culture, Health, and Peace

Co-Founders of The Conscious Connect

Karlos Marshall and Moses Mbeseha have come up with a way to fix the nation’s urban book deserts. The Conscious Connect has placed more than 30,000 free books in little library boxes, barbershops, schools, churches and more throughout Ohio. Additionally, they own and operate four community reading parks. During this closing session, Marshall and Mbeseha will discuss innovative methods and best practices for creating an organic literary community and reaching low-income neighborhoods thirsty for reading material.

Mbeseha was raised in an African home as a descendant of Cameroon, but came of age in an American community. As someone who has read most things under the sun concerning the interconnectedness of economics, politics, and social life, Mbeseha is one who is well versed at transforming spaces and conversations around political economies, diversity, and culture.

Marshall is an educational architect, street organizer, and cultural innovator. Hailing from the deep traditions of Critical Race Theory, K-16 education, artistic activism and literacy advocacy, he works from a platform of nontraditional pedagogy and community innovation that is centered around urban renaissances and revitalization projects.

Mbeseha and Marshall were recently named Forbes’ 30 UNDER 30.

The Conscious Connect is one of nation’s leading organizations dedicated to school-age and neighborhood literacy—with the primary aim of ending urban book deserts. Located in Springfield, Ohio, the organization re-imagines and re-develops under-utilized spaces for the purposes of education, culture and peace.