Distributed February 14, 2001
For Immediate Release
News Service Contact: Mary Jo Curtis

The Dignity of Children

Lowry to headline 21st annual Brown/Providence Journal conference

The 21st annual Brown University/Providence Journal conference, The Dignity of Children, will be presented March 4-10, 2001. Award-winning children’s author Lois Lowry ’58 (The Giver) will deliver the keynote address for the conference on Sunday, March 4, at 4 p.m. in the Richard and Edna Salomon Center for Teaching.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Some of the nation’s leading experts on children and childhood development will be featured in the 21st annual Brown University/Providence Journal Public Affairs Conference, The Dignity of Children, March 4 through 10, 2001, at the University.

Award winning children’s author Lois Lowry ’58 will kick off the week-long conference on Sunday, March 4, at 4 p.m. in the Richard and Edna Salomon Center for Teaching, when she delivers the keynote address, “Bright Streets and Dark Paths.” Her presentation will be the 2001 Michael P. Metcalf–Howard Swearer Memorial Lecture, honoring the memory of public affairs conference founders Michael P. Metcalf, former chairman and publisher of The Providence Journal, and Howard R. Swearer, Brown’s 15th president.

Lowry, the author of 27 books for young people, is a two-time recipient of the Newbery Medal, awarded each year for the most distinguished contribution to children’s literature by an American writer. She has also received the Regina Medal, the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award, the Mark Twain Award, the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, the Bank Street College Award, the National Jewish Book Award and countless other honors for her work. She was the United States nominee for the 2000 Hans Christian Andersen Medal. Her books have been translated into 17 languages, and her award-winning book, The Giver, was chosen by the children of Belgium and France as their favorite in 1996. Her most recent novel is Gathering Blue. She has traveled the world, speaking to children in Spain, Germany, Belgium, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand and Australia about the importance of literature and imagination in their lives.

The Dignity of Children conference will gather nationally recognized persons who have made it their task to hear, to help and to honor children in this complex time, when expanded educational opportunities are tempered by an increased exposure to the darker side of life, and when childhood innocence is marred by divorce, schoolyard shootings and other trauma. Among the panel participants are noted educators, child psychologists, authors and scholars.

[Editors: Several guest speakers will be available for telephone interviews before the conference opens. Contact the News Service for details.]

The conference – which is free and open to the public – will continue Monday through Friday, according to the schedule below. Except where noted, all sessions will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the Richard and Edna Salomon Center for Teaching, located on The College Green. Doors will open one hour before each event.

The Dignity of Children
(Except as noted, all sessions begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Salomon Center for Teaching.)

Sunday, March 4: The Michael P. Metcalf–Howard Swearer Memorial Lecture

Lois Lowry ’58, author of The Giver and other award-winning books for children, will deliver the conference keynote address, “Bright Streets and Dark Paths.”

Note: Lowry’s keynote address begins at 4 p.m. in the Salomon Center for Teaching.

Monday, March 5: “Playgrounds and Playstations: Technology and Children”

Technology can introduce children to a world of information, arts, culture and geopolitics, but it can also expose them to darker images. This panel – Michael Brody, chairman of the media committee of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry; Gloria DeGaetano, author of Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill; Jane M. Healy, author of Failure to Connect: How Computers Affect Our Children’s Minds; and Javier Taymes, a sophomore at Providence’s Central High School – will discuss how we can harness these forces for our children’s benefit.

Tuesday, March 6: “Nuclear Family Fallout: New Models for Parenting”

The definition of “family” has expanded to include single-parent households, gay parents and other alternatives to the traditional nuclear family household – but not without controversy. How can we determine what children need, and how can we best support and encourage those who are raising children? Joining this panel are Alex Kotlowitz, best-selling author of There Are No Children Here; Dan Savage, nationally syndicated columnist and award-winning author; Margaret Beale Spencer, professor of psychology and education at the University of Pennsylvania; Judith Wallerstein, international authority on marriage and author of The Unexpected Legacy: A 25-Year Landmark Study.

Wednesday, March 7: “Childhood”

Many of the challenges of childhood, such as establishing identity and security, are universally shared. What do children need to develop into healthy, productive adults? What can we learn from them? This topic will be tackled in two sessions with Peter Edelman, former member of the Clinton administration and author of Searching for America’s Heart, and David Elkind, professor of child study at Tufts University and author of The Hurried Child.

Note: Edelman will speak at 4 p.m., Elkind at 6:30, both in the Salomon Center.

Thursday, March 8: “Boys and Girls: Perspectives on Gender”

How different are boys and girls, and why are they different? How should parents, schools and communities handle gender differences? Christina Hoff Sommers, author of The War Against Boys and a professor of philosophy at Clark University, and Michael Thompson, child psychologist and author of Raising Cain, will lead a discussion on this timely and controversial issue.

Friday, March 9: “Literacy in Our Schools: Beyond Dick and Jane”

Even as politicians make sweeping promises to teach every American child to read, universal literacy continues to elude us. A panel of experts will discuss the current state of education and literacy in America and what we can do to improve it. Participants include: Esmé Raji Codell, founder of a children’s literature web site and author of Educating Esmé; Ned Hallowell, psychiatrist and expert on treating children’s cognitive problems; Mary Russo, former director of libraries for the Boston public school system and principal at the Richard J. Murphy Elementary School in Dorchester, Mass.; and Benita Somerfield, director of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.