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OKI Conference 2019:
Fantastic Books and Those Who Write Them

Thomas More University
Crestview Hills, KY

Saturday, November 2nd, 2019   |   8 am - 4 pm

OKI Conference 2019:
Fantastic Books and Those Who Write Them

Thomas More University
Crestview Hills, KY

Saturday, November 2nd, 2019   |   8 am - 4 pm


Registration is open! And there's 2 ways to get a discount! If you are a first time attendee  OR  if you refer a first time attendee, email oki@swonlibraries.org for a discount code before you register!

OKI 2019 Keynote Speakers
Aaron Reynolds

Aaron Reynolds

Author, Creepy Carrots!

Aaron is a New York Times Bestselling Author of many highly acclaimed books including: DUDE!, CREEPY PAIR OF UNDERWEAR!, CAVEBOY DAVE, NERDY BIRDY, NERDY BIRDY TWEETS, and the Caldecott Honor Medalist CREEPY CARROTS! He has a passion for kids' books and seeing kids reading them. He regularly makes time to visit schools, where his hilarious and hands-on presentations keep kids spellbound. He lives in Chicago with his wife, two kids, five cats, and anywhere between zero & ten goldfish, depending on the day. Visit Aaron at aaron-reynolds.com.




Sayantani DasGupta

Sayantani DasGupta

Author, Kiranmala & the Kingdom Beyond

Sayantani DasGupta is the Ohio-born New York Times bestselling author of the critically acclaimed, Bengali folktale and string theory-inspired Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond books, the first of which—The Serpent’s Secret—was a Bank Street Best Book of the Year, a Booklist Best Middle Grade Novel of the 21st Century, and an EB White Read Aloud Honor Book. Sayantani is a pediatrician by training, but now teaches at Columbia University. When she’s not writing or reading, Sayantani spends time watching cooking shows with her trilingual children and protecting her black Labrador retriever Khushi from the many things that scare him, including plastic bags. She is a team member of We Need Diverse Books, and can be found online at @sayantani16. Visit Sayantani at sayantanidasgupta.com


Speakers + Workshops

Fantastic Books and Those that Write Them

From carrots (and underwear) that are kind of creepy to an average sixth grader who's destined to become an international demonslayer, the world of youth literature is full of fun, challenging, and diverse stories. Join librarians, educators and lovers of children's books as we explore the fantastical minds of two amazing children's authors - Aaron Reynolds and Sayantani DasGupta.

   2019 Breakout sessions:

  For a printable list of sessions, see: swon.li/sessionsOKI19

    • Art Education in the Community – Emily Sexton & Sarah Gordon, Boone County Public Library

      Emily Sexton and Sarah Gordon will discuss how we program art education events for their public library ("Art Club" and "ArtSmarts") and how these methods can be applied in other educational settings. The presentation will be part lecture, part interactive with examples and technique activities.

      Emily Sexton is the Youth Services Associate at the Hebron Branch of the Boone County Public Library. Sarah Gordon is the Youth Services Associate at the Walton Branch of the Boone County Public Library.

    • Great New Picture Books to Read-A-Loud – Betsy Groen, Blue Marble Books

      Betsy will be sharing new titles that are fun to read to a group of children. They may not be 2019’s award-winning books, but they are sure to win the attention and the interest of young listeners.

      Betsy taught for 38 years in elementary schools in Ohio. For 14 of those years, she was a school librarian. Recently retired, she is now a volunteer in the libraries of her former school district and helps the library aides make book-buying, organizing and weeding decisions. She also works part time at the Blue Marble Children's Book Store.

    • Learning History from Fiction – Kathy Cannon Weichmann - Author

      An engaging work of fiction can lead to a real interest in history. Kathy Cannon will share ways that books can be used in both history and Language Arts classes. Students can be encouraged to read more, write well, and learn about how we reached where we are today.

      Kathy Cannon Weichmann is a former teacher, author of historical fiction novels and the winner of the 2015 Grateful American Book Prize.

    • Lift Evr'y Voice and Sing! – Daryl Harris, KHC Speaker’s Bureau

      For African Americans throughout the country, spirituals were the soundtracks upon which the Underground Railroad movement rolled. Freedom songs helped pave the way toward true liberation. Because of its geographical and political positioning, Kentucky gave birth to its own unique musical expressions. Not all African Americans in Kentucky were enslaved; therefore, the reservoir of folk culture from which they drew their characteristic forms of expression was rich and deep—often without fixed boundaries between the sacred and the secular. In this talk, Harris takes the audience on a musical history tour through hurt, healing, and happiness.

      Daryl Harris is an Associate Professor in Northern Kentucky University’s (NKU) School of the Arts Theatre and Dance Program. At NKU since 2003, he is a 50-year veteran of traditional, experimental, educational, and applied theatre. He has studied and worked throughout North America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. In addition to teaching diverse interdisciplinary theatre courses, Dr. Harris’ work has involved projects that link the Underground Railroad Movement to the fields of Theatre and Dance, connecting themes emerging from the Movement to current social problems in ways that promote understanding and greater social harmony. Dr. Harris also acts in, directs and costume-designs theatrical productions. His primary passion: engaging scholars and communities transculturally and transnationally across disciplines.

    • Making Library Memories: Books Clubs, Special Events, and Incentives – Chris Rabold & Karen Brockhuis, Northwest Local School District

      School libraries are at their best when students are engaged and excited about books. Karen and Chris will talk about the events they have organized such as book clubs and dress as your favorite character day as well as incentive programs they have found that work.

      Chris and Karen have been working at making literacy fun for students in the Northwest Schools for over 20 years.

    • Mountain Fantasy: A Tour of the Written and Oral Heritage – Dr. Jennifer Smith, Northern Kentucky University

      This presentation will provide participants with an overview of the variety of fantasy found throughout the Appalachian Mountains. There will be an interactive discussion of written fantasy novels as well as stories from the oral tradition--tall tales, ghost stories, myths, and others.

      Jenny Smith s a librarian and professor at Northern Kentucky University where she also teaches Children's Literature.

    • One Book, One School and the Global Read Aloud Possibilities – Marie Zimmerman, Johnson Elementary

      This lecture will showcase how One Book, One School and the Global Read Aloud has developed over my three years at Johnson Elementary. I will share my process of selecting an appropriate book and setting up the program to best fit the needs of my staff and students.

      Marie Zimmerman is the Library Media Specialist at Johnson Elementary in the Fort Thomas Independent School District.

    • Reading BeTWEEN the Lines: How to Reach and Serve the Tweens in Your Library – Jill Frasher, Kenton County Public Library

      Tweens are tough to reach. This presentation will examine different programs that have been offered at the Kenton County Public Library and will cover program development strategies, successes, failures, and tips and tricks for working with this specific demographic.

      Jill Frasher is a Children's Librarian who offers programs to children ages 0-18, with a special focus on tweens.

    • STEAM and KBA – Karrie Chajkowski, Woodfill Elementary

      Come and work with the 2019-2020 Kentucky Bluegrass Award books for the Kindergarten-Second grade crowd! We will be exploring STEAM activities you can use with each of the books and lessons ideas for the classroom teacher or teacher librarian.

      Karrie, AKA "Mrs. Cowski", loves reading and tech. She is the co-chair of the K-2 KBAs and has been teaching for 14 years.

    • Stuck in the Middle – Dave Richardson, Blue Marble Books

      Dave will be reviewing his picks for the best middle grade books this year (with maybe a young adult or two thrown in for spice). He’ll include what’s getting Newbery buzz (as well as other awards talk), what he loves, and what he thinks kids will love.

      Dave Richardson has been working at Blue Marble Books since August 2003. He is a former language arts teacher and taught Children’s Literature at Cincinnati State. Currently, he is the manager and buyer for Blue Marble Books. He has also been on the faculty for the Highlights Foundation. He is a published freelance children’s writer, and he spent 10 years as a book review columnist for the International Reading Association.

    • Teen Cafe: An After School Gathering Space – Natalie Bendgen & Amy Vogel, Clermont County Public Library

      This lecture and video presentation will provide a glimpse into Felicity Library's Teen Cafe, an after school program created to meet the needs of teens in the community. Tips and suggestions on starting and developing your own successful teen program will be shared with presentation participants.

      Natalie Bendgen is a former educator who currently plans and implements programs for library users of all ages with a primary focus on school-age. Amy Vogel is currently the branch manager of the Felicity Branch with over 28 years of experience in youth and adult programming.

    • To Infinity and Beyond: Fantastic Books for Teens – Valerie Davis, Campbell County Public Library

      In the world of fantasy, anything is possible - dreams are bigger, villains are scarier and hope is stronger. Teens can find themselves and lose themselves in fantasy. Together, we’ll explore all the fantastical worlds your teens can discover.

      Valerie Davis is a Teen Services Librarian at the Newport Branch of the Campbell County Public Library. She has served on numerous local, state, and national committees, including chairing the 2016 Margaret Edwards Award Committee. She loves all things Hello Kitty and Glitter, and is always looking for the next awesome fairy tale retelling. ​

    • Teaching Critical Analysis to Middle & High School Students – Breanna Wetzel, Alex Hofacker, Cheyenne Vaughn, Emily Green & Chloe Flitcraft, Wright State University

      This interactive lecture will present methods for teaching critical analysis of literature to youth, as well as provide guidance for teachers. Breanna Wetzel is a graduate student at Wright State studying Middle Childhood ILA and Science. Alex Hofacker is a graduate student at Wright State studying Middle Childhood ILA and Science. Cheyenne Vaughan is a senior at Wright State studying Middle Childhood ILA and Social Studies.

      Emily Green is a senior at Wright State studying School Psychology. Chloe Flitcraft is a senior at Wright State studying Middle Childhood ILA and Social Studies.

2019 Registration

Registration is open!

Online registration is provided by SWON Libraries Consortium and will include a "Bill Me" option that will allow you to mail in a check or pay by purchase order.

If you have never used SWON Libraries' website before, you will need to create an account before you will be able to register for the event.

If you would still prefer to mail in your registration, you may do so. Note that Early Bird registration must be postmarked by the date listed in the chart below. Make checks payable to "SWON Libraries" To register by mail, please print out the registration form here and mail to:

OKI Registrations
c/o SWON Libraries
10250 Alliance Rd #112
Blue Ash, OH 45242

  • Pricing

    Conference fee includes: continental breakfast, lunch, and registration packet.

  • First time or refer a first timer?
    email  oki@swonlibraries.org for

    $15 OFF!

  • Early Bird
    before 10/12


  • Regular
    includes on-site


  • Students
    full-time with valid student ID


  • Register Now button will take you to the SWON Libraries website, where you may complete the registration process.

    Register Now!

    Or print & mail registration here


Refunds will be issued after conference date. No refunds will be granted after October 26, 2019.




The Conference takes place on the campus of Thomas More University in Crestview Hills, KY. All workshops will be held in the Library. Lunch will be served in Seiler Commons.

You may download and print a map here.

Thomas More University | 333 Thomas More Pkwy | Crestview Hills, KY 41017

(Click Image to enlarge)

Thomas More University
333 Thomas More Pkwy
Crestview Hills, KY 41017


Parking is available free of charge. There will be reserved parking available for conference attendees. Look for the OKI signs when you arrive on campus.


Numerous hotels are available in the area. Please consult the "stay" tab of the Northern Kentucky Visitor Bureau website for a list of local hotels.

Shuttle service is not provided.

Past Conferences + Archives

The first Ohio Kentucky Indiana (OKI) Children's Literature Conference was held over 20 years ago in 1996 & featured illustrator Will Hillenbrand (who designed OKI's signature mouse!) & children's poet and author J. Patrick Lewis. In 1997, OKI debuted its first theme: "Connecting the World with Books". Since then, it has continued to bring quality authors, illustrators & presenters to the tri-state area for the benefit of teachers, librarians, educators and others serving youth.

Take a peek into OKI's past conference themes, speakers and workshops at the OKI Archive. PDF versions of all past conference brochures are available.


Awards + Donations

OKI Charlotte Decker Award:

Established to honor the late Charlotte Decker, this award is designed to encourage others to enrich the lives of children as Charlotte did through a lifetime of work as librarian, Academic Challenge coach, and volunteer in professional organizations promoting the enjoyment of reading among young people. Nominees should be individuals whose extraordinary efforts have encouraged others to support youth literacy through time, service, and philanthropy.

Eligibility + Criteria

Librarians and classroom teachers serving the needs of youth are eligible for this award. To nominate a librarian or classroom teacher, use the online application.

Recipient Recognition

The recipient will be recognized at the OKI Children's Literature Conference and will receive free registration to the conference at which they are recognized.

Previous Recipients of the Charlotte Decker Award (Google Doc)


2019 Application Deadline: TBD


Tina Moore Memorials

Tina Moore, founder and co-owner of Blue Marble Books (along with her husband, Peter), passed away in 2016.

Tina was one of the tri-state's most prominent children's literature experts, and friend of a great many children's book authors and illustrators. She served on the Board of Directors of the Association of Children's Booksellers (ABC) and was a founding member of the trade organization. She was recognized for her contributions to area literacy with the Silver Gertie Award (1989), and she was named one of the Women of the Year in Northern Kentucky (1995).

The Moore family would be pleased if you would like to make a donation to the OKI Conference in Tina's honor.

To donate, please visit the Tina Moore Memorial donation page on the SWON Libraries website. You will be able to pay via check or credit card.




You can contact the OKI Committee by email at oki@swonlibraries.org.

If you have any questions about or problems with the registration process, please contact SWON Libraries Consortium at info@swonlibraries.org or call 513-751-4422.

Special Accommodations: Our goal is to make our programs accessible to everyone. Please request ADA services at least two weeks in advance of the conference by contacting Dr. Barbara L. Zahler at 859-344-3358.