William Allen White Book Award Highlight of Weekend Honoring Famed Kansas Publisher

September 26, 2016

Three days of events will shine the spotlight on famed Kansas newspaper editor William Allen White and the children’s book awards that carry his name. Events begin Thursday, Sept. 29 and continue through Saturday, Oct. 1 with the 64th annual William Allen White Children’s Book Awards on the Emporia State University campus.

Authors Sharon Creech and Chris Grabenstein will be guests of honor for the book awards on Oct. 1, during a day that culminates in receiving their awards. Creech wrote “The Boy on the Porch,” selected by Kansas schoolchildren in Grades 3 through 5. Grabenstein wrote “Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library,” selected by voters in Grades 6 through 8.

The Oct. 1 events will be in Emporia State’s Memorial Union beginning at 7:30 a.m. Both authors will be autographing books, and visiting students will be able to create craft projects, write letters to their favorite nominated authors, see short skits based on the books created by ESU students in the Educational Theatre Company.

At 11 a.m., the authors will lead a campus parade with the Emporia High School cheer squad, marching band along with all the schoolchildren and parents and teacher who accompanied them. At 11:30 a.m., the awards ceremony begins in the Union’s Webb Hall.

The children’s activities are free. The Memorial Union Bookstore will have copies of the winning books and T-shirts for sale. Tickets for the awards ceremony cost $5 each and can be purchased at the door.

Those attending the celebration should enter the east side of the Memorial Union. Ambassadors will direct everyone to activities from there.

The William Allen White Children’s Book Award program began after the famed journalist’s death on Jan. 29, 1944 — Kansas Day — when two memorial foundations were created in his name. Emporia State University launched the William Allen White Children’s Book Award, which was guided by Ruth Garver Gagliardo, who was hired by White to write for The Emporia Gazette.

Events to celebrate White’s legacy throughout the weekend begin on Thursday, Sept. 29, at the Emporia Public Library. At 5:30 p.m., “William Allen White and Freedom of Speech in Kansas,” a free community program will be presented.

The program speaker, Stephen Wolgast, assistant professor of journalism and digital media at Kansas State University, will look at the reasons free speech is the first right on the Bill of Rights, and provide current examples of how people in authority dissuade the public from speaking up on matters they disagree with. Wolgast will also explain the challenges White faced when he wrote his Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial in the Emporia Gazette about free speech, and share some background on Joseph Pulitzer, whose newspaper, The New York World, both assailed corruption and was labeled Yellow Journalism.

Wolgast previously spent 19 years at newspapers working as a reporter, photographer and editor. He spent nine years as an editor at The New York Times, and was part of the newsroom efforts on 9/11 that were awarded the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for reporting on the terrorist attacks and their aftermath.

This program is made possible by the Kansas Humanities Council, and seating is limited. Contact Jenny Tatman at tatmanj@emporialibrary.org or 620-340-6451 for more information.

During the afternoon and evening of Oct. 1 — designated William Allen White Legacy Day by the Emporia City Commission — the Red Rocks Ramble will shed more light on White’s impact on Emporia. From 3 to 7 p.m. a bus tour will travel around sites in Emporia that are included in the White family history. The tour will include step-on guides, stories about the sites and short tours at some stops.

These one-time, 90-minute tours begin at the Emporia Country Club, 18th Avenue and Rural Street. Tours return to the country club for a reception featuring period-based hors d’oeuvres and beverages William Allen Wheat Beer and Sallie’s Lemon Drop Martinis.

Tickets for the Red Rocks Ramble cost $45 and include a chance to win a copy of White’s Pulitzer Prize-winning autobiography autographed by his widow, Sallie White, and son William Lindsay White.

Ramble tickets are available at the Emporia Convention & Visitors Bureau, 719 Commercial St. Reservations are due by Wednesday, Sept. 28. Call 620-342-1600 for more information.

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