An appearance by author and illustrator Bryan Collier, a four-time Caldecott Medal recipient and six-time Coretta Scott-King Illustrator Award winner, will be the centerpiece of the Bexley Public Library's 30th annual Caldecott Read-In and Celebration on Feb. 10.

The Randolph Caldecott Medal is the most prestigious award for children's books. The Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, presents it annually to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children. The award started with 1937 publications.

In the weeks leading up to the Caldecott Read-In, community members are invited to visit the children's area of the Bexley Public Library, 2411 E. Main St., to read some of the contenders and vote on which book they think will win the 2018 award.

The library has participated in the read-in for each of the past 30 years and began hosting the event on site three years ago, said Ben Heckman, library director. The read-in was previously held at one of the Bexley City School District buildings.

"I think it became a lot to coordinate for the educators, and it would draw educators from outside of the school district from central Ohio," Heckman said. "This was a way we could further our partnerships with the schools."

Library and school officials vote on which books to feature during the read-in. Julie Scordato, the library's youth services manager, said she suggested inviting Collier to be the event's featured author after becoming familiar with his work while attending Kent State University.

"I printed out the list of Caldecott winners. Bryan Collier's name jumped out at me," she said. "The books he's written and illustrated with other authors cover a rich and diverse range of American history."

Collier's work that previously received the Caldecott Medal include "Rosa" by Nikki Grimes, "Dave the Potter" by Laban Carrick Hill, "Trombone Shorty" by Troy Andrews and Martin's "Big Words" by Doreen Rapport.

His work for Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award books includes illustrations for "Rosa," "Trombone Shorty," "Dave the Potter," "I Too Am America" by Langston Hughes and "Uptown," which Collier also wrote.

Collier, who lives in New York City with his family, said receiving the Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Illustrator awards and other honors helps him to reach more young readers.

"It's really mind-blowing to win an award. It really humbles me," he said during a phone interview. "It's a big help in terms of getting your books into the hands of children, because sales go up."

Collier, who is African American, said one of his primary goals is to depict positive representations of people of color in his work.

"When I graduated from the Pratt Institute in 1989, I happened to be in a Barnes & Noble bookstore in Manhattan," he said. "I looked around the children's section and didn't see any kids of color. That was the first time that I had a light-bulb moment that I should be doing this."

During his appearance at the Feb. 10 read-in, Collier will speak and sign books during a "Picture Books Are for Everyone" event at 3 p.m. in the library auditorium.

The afternoon event is free and open to the public. Collier will discuss his work and the experience of winning the Caldecott Medal.

The library also will host a morning event with Collier, planned in partnership with teachers and librarians from Bexley schools, that is open only to educators.

This session will provide an opportunity for educators to learn about the best children's books of the year and talk with colleagues about how these might be used in their lesson plans, Scordato said.

For more information about the Caldecott Read-In, visit bexleylibrary.org.

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