What is SYAC?
The Suncoast Young Authors Celebration (SYAC) is a festival for children in grades Kindergarten through five who have written and/or illustrated stories, poetry, and non-fiction. The purpose of the celebration is to honor the creativity of children and to promote lifelong writing, reading, and visual expression. This event is an opportunity to support and showcase the writing and illustrations of diverse students. During the scheduled events, children share their writing with each other, listen to guest speakers who are nationally recognized authors and illustrators, participate in writing activities, and have the opportunity to take part in an author book signing.

Who attends SYAC?
The children who attend the Suncoast Young Authors Celebration represent schools from all over the Tampa Bay area. Individual schools register to participate, and then the schools determine which students will attend. Each school is encouraged to develop a method (not necessarily a contest) to select children who are proud of their work and who want to share it with others.

Ideas for Selecting Students
The following methods are used by various schools to select student participants for the Suncoast Young Authors Celebration:

  • Teachers select the most improved writers.
  • Teachers select the best writer(s) in their classes.
  • Teachers select children who love to write.
  • Children self-select to attend.
  • Teachers have classroom contests.
  • The whole school has a contest.

Celebration History
In 1985, Dr. Gloria Houston established the Suncoast Young Authors Celebration to create a forum for children to share their writing and to learn writing techniques from professional authors. The celebration began with a keynote speaker who was a professional author or illustrator. Then the children broke into small groups to share their writing with each other. USF student volunteers supervised the students and led the book discussions while adult chaperones attended writing workshops. Dr. Houston chaired the Suncoast Young Authors Celebration until 1994.

In 1995, Drs. Kathy Oropallo and Barry Morris co-chaired SYAC, and in 1996, Dr. Margie Radencich joined the team. They moved the event from the College of Education building to the Marshall Center and in doing so, enabled 1300 children and adults to attend.

In 1997, the College of Education was under construction, and the event was cancelled. In 1998, SYAC resurfaced and with its reappearance, a change in the format and direction also occurred. Dr. Jenifer Schneider is the current chair of SYAC. In the new format, all children from the same school, regardless of grade level, remain together throughout the day. Adult chaperones remain with their students and attend the same events as the children. All participants attend two breakout sessions with professional children's book authors or illustrators. In addition, the children participate in other activities focused on writing, reading, and drawing.

The USF College of Education's Department of Childhood Education continues to support the literacy development of children through the Suncoast Young Authors Celebration. Over the years, the SYAC has grown from several hundred children representing 20 schools to over 1,000 children representing 90 schools. We are pleased to recognize the writing, creativity, and effort of so many talented local children.

Previous Guest Speakers
1995- Trey Finney (Disney Studios)
John Reynolds Gardiner
1996- Angela Shelf Medearis
Gabriel Horn
1998- Eloise Greenfield
Tim Hodge (Disney Studios)
Gloria Houston
Matt Novak
1999- Rob Corley (Disney Studios)
Suse MacDonald
Angela Shelf Medearis
Matt Novak
Victorene Jackson (storyteller)
Wendy Watson
2000- Floyd Cooper
Pat Cummings
Judith Caseley
Alice Schertle
Rob Corley (Disney Studios)
Sam Ewing (Disney Studios)
2001- Jeff Brown
Alyssa Satin Capucilli
Rob Corley (Disney Studios)
Nikki Grimes
Ruth Heller
Sarah Weeks
2002- Judith Caseley
Henry Cole
Nina Crews
Pamela Duncan Edwards
Elizabeth Levy
Jerdine Nolen
Javaka Steptoe
2003- Jose Aruego
Ted Lewin
Betsy Lewin
James Ransome
Michael Sterns
2004- Vicki Cobb
Rob Corley
Doris Anne Holman
Michael Sterns
Eric Velasquez
Elizabeth Winthrop
2005- Amy Axelrod
Brod Bagert
D.B. Johnson
Julie Mammano
Carole Boston Weatherford
Mike Wimmer
2006- Tom Birdseye
Jan Spivey Gilchrist
Elizabeth Levy
Kevin O'Malley
Virginia Schomp
Joyce Carol Thomas

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Contact Vanessa Minick with any questions or comments.