2014 Youth Lit Seminar Featured Speakers

Todd Parr


Author/Illustrator Todd Parr is not a traditional storyteller. Yet his books with their positive, reassuring messages about acceptance, self-confidence, and diversity have become enormously popular. In bestsellers like The Family Book, We Belong Together and It’s Okay to Be Different, he encourages preschoolers to be themselves, to express their feelings, and to celebrate what makes each of them unique.

Parr’s artwork makes him one of the most recognized names in the world of children’s literature. His work has been displayed in the windows of FAO Schwartz, his products are sold worldwide, and he has won awards for his books and for his preschool television show ToddWorld. Todd will be discussing his work as an author/illustrator and how early literacy development in young children is vital to their overall intellectual and emotional well-being.

Ed Spicer


From graduate students to kindergarten students, Ed Spicer is an educator with a wide variety of experiences during the last two decades. He spends most of his time with his first grade students, but also loves his high school book group with whom he has worked for the last 14 years.

Spicer has served on the Caldecott award committee, the Printz award committee and many other committees with the American Library Association. He is a Cool Teacher winner in Michigan. Spicer writes a book review column for the Michigan Reading Journal. Spicer has also published dozens of curriculum guides for Penguin, Random House, and Houghton Mifflin. Spicer will talk about what’s new in picture books and with his teaching experience how to make it applicable in the classroom.

Dr. Mary Bigler


Dr. Mary Bigler is a Professor in the Department of Teacher Education at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan, where she teaches courses in literacy. She holds the prestigious Distinguished Teaching Award from Eastern Michigan University and the Outstanding Faculty Award from the Eastern Michigan University Alumni Association.

Dr. Bigler is internationally known as a dynamic motivational speaker, humorist and reading consultant. She has appeared on numerous radio and television programs. Dr. Bigler will discuss the importance of reading to young children and will share her list of suggested books to help children become successful readers.