October 13th: Knoxville LitUp Book Festival
CCYAL Statement Responding to the Disinvitation of Author Julia Watts from the LitUp Festival:
The UTK Center for Children’s and Young Adult Literature (CCYAL) is honored to support young adult author Julia Watts, whose books for teens explore issues of Appalachian and LGBTQ identity. We believe all teens deserve to see their lives and experiences represented and honored in books written for youth. We trust authors like Julia Watts, whose books matter deeply to teens, and we also trust teens and believe in their right to read.
The CCYAL is an official co-sponsor of the Knox County Public Library LitUp Teen Reading Festival, which recently made a decision to uninvite Julia to the festival without our knowledge or approval. Although we continue to co-sponsor the festival, in keeping with our mission to engage and empower young readers with high-quality books, we hope the decision to uninvite Julia—and the community’s ensuing strong support of her important work—provides our community the opportunity to reflect on and discuss our understandings of diversity, representation, and inclusivity. The CCYAL looks forward to opportunities to help center diverse and inclusive voices as planning continues. The CCYAL will host Julia Watts at an event to be held shortly after the festival.