Allison's Book Bag

Plum Creek Children’s Literacy Festival 2014

Posted on: October 13, 2014

When I reported on Plum Creek Children’s Literacy Festival last year, my dad wrote, “I really enjoyed your fascinating account of the writing careers (etc.) of the four authors whom you got to hear presentations by. Each account was worthy of being a separate post at Allison’s Book Bag and of receiving separate comments from your readers.” So this year, I decided not just to dedicate a few extra posts to the festival but the entire month of October! Stay turned for author teasers, the occasional interview and guest post, and of course reviews!


The need to read is undeniable. Nearly every moment of every day, we are viewing text that begs for understanding and reaction. For those who can’t, or who struggle to read, every element of their life is affected. Studies show that early attitudes and behaviors surrounding reading will greatly influence how a child learns to read. Fully aware of this need, and personally passionate about reading themselves, the founders of the Plum Creek Children’s Literacy Festival sought to create a time and place where reading was promoted to both children and adults in their lives by offering an opportunity for students and adults to interact personally with authors, illustrators and storytellers.

The very first festival was held in 1996 and featured Janet Stevens, who spoke to 200 students and adults. Janet came back in 2005 with her sister Susan Stevens Crummel, and will again appear for the 20th festival in 2015

Vikki Gremel

Vikki Gremel, Festival Coordinator

To launch my coverage, I decided to start by interviewing Vikki Gremel, the Festival Coordinator. I much appreciate her quick turnaround in answering my questions and in providing relevant photos.

ALLISON: What have been the most outstanding obstacles?

VIKKI: Space concerns–we simply don’t have enough room on Concordia’s campus for all that want to experience Plum Creek. To that end, we take authors out to York, Utica and Lincoln schools on Thursday of the festival. Friday is always a challenge to manage nearly 5,000 students and teachers on campus, but it is a great day! Of course, finding funding is always in front of us. One of our goals is to continue to offer this experience AT NO CHARGE to the students that attend the festival on Thursday and Friday, making it accessible to ALL. Through the years, Humanities Nebraska has always come through with grant money. Seward community businesses have also been very supportive. And, of course, the State Farm grants of $25,000 in 2013 and 2014 were a terrific shot in the arm for Plum Creek.

ALLISON: What have been a few memorable highlights?

VIKKI: I have only been here for the past 9 festivals, so I can just tell you recent history! The very best thing for us is to see the children’s faces on Friday–they are ALL so happy to be here on campus to experience the authors and illustrators and have fun at Literacy on the Lawn activities. One year there was a downpour, complete with thunder and lightning. The teachers were huddling their classes under any shelter possible, and the kids were grinning from ear to ear. They were STILL having a great time!

Plum Creek Friday Literacy on the Lawn

Plum Creek Friday Literacy on the Lawn

ALLISON: What does the festival offer young people?

VIKKI: A chance to see–FIRSTHAND–that normal, everyday people are authors and illustrators.

That it takes persistence to continue to pursue your dreams, and that they can come true.

That reading is FUN and takes you to new places and experiences.

ALLISON: What does the festival offer adults?

VIKKI: Tools to help students love reading and writing. Tools to help struggling readers. Excitement in meeting authors behind books that they read in their classrooms. Behind the scene stories directly from the authors and illustrators. A fresh outlook on recently published books and authors that they may not have been familiar with.

ALLISON: How has the festival grown over the years?

VIKKI: The festival began in 1996 with one author speaking to 200 children and adults. After that success and encouragement from the community to continue, authors were gradually added. As that happened, days were also added to the schedule until we have what we experienced this year–10,365 students and teachers over three days.


L-R: Director, Dr. Janell Uffelman;  Hospitality Chair, Dawn Navis; Hospitality Chair, Leah Serck

L-R: Director, Dr. Janell Uffelman; Hospitality Chair, Dawn Navis; Hospitality Chair, Leah Serck

2 Responses to "Plum Creek Children’s Literacy Festival 2014"

What an opportunity for children and teachers! The interview almost made me wish that I was still teaching and that I lived close enough to the Festival to attend it with my class.

If Andy and I were to ever leave the Midwest, one of the attractions I would greatly miss is Plum Creek Children’s Literacy Festival. It’s always one of the highlights of my year.

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