Award-winning author Ellen Oh to visit Lawrence for LitFest

LAWRENCE – The University of Kansas Center for East Asian Studies (CEAS) and School of Education & Human Sciences will host author and activist Ellen Oh at the annual CEAS Literature Festival (LitFest) this month for events of interest to educators and public. 

Oh is a former adjunct college instructor and lawyer with a curiosity for ancient Asian history. She won awards for several of her novels, including “Finding Junie Kim,” which is the featured book for LitFest. Oh is also a founding member of We Need Diverse Books, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing diversity in children’s literature.

The CEAS LitFest is an opportunity to promote East Asian content to K-12 educators. With the partnership of Project PEACE, the festival expanded to include preservice educators for three events:

Schedule of events

  • An in-service workshop for K-12 educators in the Lawrence area will take place at 3 p.m. Feb. 7 at Cordley Elementary School, 1837 Vermont St.
  • A preservice educator workshop open to School of Education & Human Sciences students, staff and faculty will take place at 11 a.m. Feb. 8 in 100 Stauffer-Flint Hall.
  • Oh will give a public talk for the Lawrence and surrounding communities at 6 p.m. Feb. 8 at the Carnegie Building, 200 W. Ninth St.

Project PEACE (Promoting English Learners' Academic Achievement and Cultivating Educational Equity) is one of the grants supporting these events. It is a federally funded project to support preservice and in-service teachers in Kansas in completing professional training and obtaining English as a second language endorsement to teach English learners.

English learners face a multitude of challenges in schools, one challenge being developing linguistic and cultural awareness to provide equitable education for English learners.

“Multicultural children's literature can provide a meaningful venue for educators to explore perspectives from linguistically and culturally diverse students and their families,” said Kwangok Song, KU associate professor of curriculum & teaching. “Additionally, teachers can reflectively consider ways to incorporate multicultural literature representing their students' diverse experiences. CEAS' Literature Festival, centering on the theme of migration, is intended to reconfirm and strengthen preservice and in-service teachers' understanding of the criticality of diversity, inclusion and equity in educational settings.

“Specifically, Ellen Oh's book ‘Finding Junie Kim’ and her activism to support diverse books in classrooms and libraries can inspire teacher candidates, practicing teachers and administrators to continue their endeavor to create an inclusive environment for culturally and linguistically diverse students,” Song said.

Other support for the event comes a Department of Education Title VI grant that funds the Center for East Asian Studies. Founded in 1959, CEAS is a National Resource Center with a mission to disseminate knowledge about East Asian studies to the Great Plains region. It partners with the Kansas Consortium for Teaching About Asia (KCTA), which is funded through the Freeman Foundation.

Fri, 02/02/2024


Mego Londeen

Media Contacts

Mego Londeen

Center for East Asian Studies