Events

Upcoming Events | Season 4  (Sep. 2024 - May 2025)

Additional details will be announced soon.

An Evening With Neil Gaiman

in conversation with Lauren Chambers

Tuesday, September 17 at 7 PM CST

Embark on a literary journey with bestselling author Neil Gaiman as he shares stories from a career that covers fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and horror. Named one of the most influential people in the world by Time Magazine in 2023, Gaiman elevated an entire genre with The Sandman, widely considered one of the most influential graphic novels ever. His novel American Gods was chosen as one of the most important books since 1900 by the New York Public Library. Gaiman has worked closely with the film and television adaptations of his works, including Coraline, The Sandman, American Gods, Stardust, Good Omens, and the upcoming Anansi Boys. His popular and critically acclaimed works bend genres while reaching audiences of all ages. 

Being Imperfect with Erika Sánchez

Wednesday, October 9 at 7 PM CST

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with Illinois Libraries Present and Erika Sánchez, award-winning author of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter. She will be joined in conversation by Cythia Pelayo.

Erika L. Sánchez is the daughter of Mexican immigrants. Her debut poetry collection, Lessons on Expulsion, was a finalist for the PEN America Open Book Award. Her debut young adult novel, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, was a New York Times bestseller, National Book Award finalist, and Tomás Rivera Award winner. Recognized by Time as one of the best YA novels of all time, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter has also been adapted for the stage at Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago and is being made into a film directed by America Ferrera.

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with Illinois Libraries Present and Erika Sánchez, award-winning author of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter. She will be joined in conversation by Cythia Pelayo.

Pelayo is a Bram Stoker Award-winning and International Latino Book Award-winning author and poet. She writes fairy tales that blend genre and explore concepts of grief, mourning, and violence. Cynthia is the author of Loteria, Santa Muerte, The Missing, Poems of My Night, Into the Forest and All the Way Through, Children of Chicago, Crime Scene, and The Shoemaker’s Magician.

Raise Your Voice with Jason Reynolds

(Youth Program)

Tuesday, October 22 at 7 PM CST

Jason Reynolds is a #1 New York Times bestselling author, a Newbery Award Honoree, a Printz Award Honoree, a two-time National Book Award finalist, a Kirkus Award winner, a UK Carnegie Medal winner, a two-time Walter Dean Myers Award winner, an NAACP Image Award Winner, an Odyssey Award Winner and two-time honoree, the recipient of multiple Coretta Scott King honors, and the Margaret A. Edwards Award. He was also the 2020–2022 National Ambassador for Young People’s Litera48ture. His many books include All American Boys (cowritten with Brendan Kiely); When I Was the Greatest; The Boy in the Black Suit; Stamped; As Brave as You; For Every One; the Track series (Ghost, Patina, Sunny, and Lu); Look Both Ways; Stuntboy, in the Meantime; Ain’t Burned All the Bright (recipient of the Caldecott Honor) and My Name Is Jason. Mine Too. (both cowritten with Jason Griffin); and Long Way Down, which received a Newbery Honor, a Printz Honor, and a Coretta Scott King Honor. 

Holiday Tips and Tricks with Chef Art Smith

in conversation with Monica Eng

Wednesday, November 20 at 7 PM CDT

Chef Art Smith began his culinary journey with formal training at the Florida Culinary Institute and honed his skills working with top chefs in France. He became Oprah Winfrey’s personal chef for a decade, boosting his reputation as a top-tier chef. In 1997, he opened "Table Fifty-Two" in Chicago, known for its modern Southern dishes and locally sourced ingredients.

Smith is also a prolific cookbook author and TV personality, sharing his passion for Southern cuisine. He expanded his culinary empire with "Homecomin' Florida Kitchen" at Walt Disney World Resort and "Reunion" at Chicago's Navy Pier. Smith's work celebrates Southern flavors, inclusivity, and culinary innovation.



Additional details for Season 4 events coming soon!

Season 3 Past Events

The Power of Story with Colson Whitehead

Kicking off our third season, we hosted two-time Pulitzer Prize winning author Colson Whitehead to our Illinois libraries. The #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Underground Railroad, The Nickel Boys, The Noble Hustle, Zone One, Sag Harbor, The Intuitionist, John Henry Days, Apex Hides the Hurt, and a collection of essays, Whitehead is only the fourth writer to win two Pulitzers in the Fiction category (for Underground Railroad in 2018 and The Nickel Boys in 2020). His latest bestselling novel, Harlem Shuffle, was published in 2021.


Chills & Thrills with Stephen Graham Jones

Stephen Graham Jones is the New York Times bestselling author of The Only Good Indians and Don’t Fear the Reaper. He has been an NEA fellowship recipient and been the recipient of several awards including: the Ray Bradbury Award from the Los Angeles Times, the Bram Stoker Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, the Jesse Jones Award for Best Work of Fiction from the Texas Institute of Letters, the Independent Publishers Award for Multicultural Fiction, and the Alex Award from American Library Association. He is the Ivena Baldwin Professor of English at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Food Family & Folktales: A Conversation with Grace Lin

The season continues with Food, Family, and Folktales: A Conversation with Grace Lin, award-winning and New York Times bestselling author/illustrator of picture books, early readers, and middle-grade novels. 

Lin was recognized in 2016 by President Obama’s office as a Champion of Change for Asian American and Pacific Islander Art and Storytelling and, in 2022, was awarded the Children’s Literature Legacy Award from the American Library Association. Her work received the Chinese American Librarians Association Annual Best Book Award.


A Taste of Love with Maya-Camille Broussard

Broussard uses her love of food to positively impact the local community. She offers an “I Knead Love” workshop several times yearly for children from lower-income communities to learn basic cooking skills, healthy eating habits, and nutrition. She founded Justice of the Pies in 2014, to honor her late father, The Pie Master. The bakery with a social mission has partnered with many Chicago area charities to provide meals for communities on the South and West sides and with Frontline Foods, to provide food from restaurants for front-line workers during the COVID pandemic.

Surviving the Holidays with Lori Gottlieb 

Lori Gottlieb, New York Times bestselling author of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, and co-host of the “Dear Therapists” podcast shared stress reducing tools to help in everyday life, especially as we prepare for the holidays. Gottlieb is a psychotherapist and New York Times bestselling author of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, which has sold over a million copies and is currently being adapted into a television series. In addition to her clinical practice, she is co-host of the popular “Dear Therapists” podcast and writes The Atlantic’s “Dear Therapist” advice column. She has been on the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, and NPR’s “Fresh Air” as a therapy expert and her 2019 TED Talk was one of the most watched of the year. 

Experience The Nutcracker at Home

Get in the spirit of the season with a recorded virtual performance of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker performed by the United Kingdom’s internationally renowned Royal Ballet. With sumptuous period designs, spellbinding stage effects, and Tchaikovsky’s iconic score, the 2016 performance of The Nutcracker will enchant audiences of all ages. Performed by Britain's flagship ballet company, registrants can expect to see some of the most elite ballerinas in this performance.

Speculating about Our AI Future with Cory Doctorow, Ken Liu, and Martha Wells 

This panel discussion featured three best-selling science fiction writers, Cory Doctorow, Ken Liu, and Martha Wells. They will discussed the promise, perils, and possible impacts that AI will have on our future, as well as AI in contemporary and future science fiction writing.

A Conversation with Jerry Craft:
From Mama’s Boyz to New Kid and Beyond

Learn about life, art, and telling your story with bestselling author, illustrator, and syndicated cartoonist, Jerry Craft. Join us for a conversation about his works and journey to success, including a drawing demo that will be fun for the whole family!

Jerry Craft is the author-illustrator of the #1 New York Times bestselling graphic novels New Kid, and its companion book, Class Act. New Kid was the first book in history to win the Newbery Medal (2020), The Coretta Scott King Author Award (2020), and the Kirkus Prize for Young Readers’ Literature (2019). In his latest book, School Trip, Jerry hopes to share his love of travel in order to inspire kids and their families to see the world and embrace new cultures. Craft is also the creator of Mama’s Boyz, an award-winning comic strip which won the African American Literary Award five times. He is a co-founder of the Schomburg Center’s Annual Black Comic Book Festival.

Romance and Regency with Bridgerton's Julia Quinn 

Julia Quinn, the #1 New York Times bestselling and award-winning romance author, has written close to 40 novels including her popular series about the Bridgerton family which was adapted into an Emmy-nominated series on Netflix. Her newest novel, Queen Charlotte, is co-written with television pioneer Shonda Rhimes. It’s a powerful and romantic novel of Bridgerton’s Queen Charlotte and King George III’s great love story and how it sparked a societal shift. 

Quinn has been inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame and was recently named the national ambassador for EveryLibrary, an organization that helps libraries fight censorship. Quinn’s novels have been translated into 41 languages and have appeared on The New York Times bestseller list 19 times. 

Ruth E. Carter: Interweaving Tradition and 

Imagination Through Costume Design

We hosted Ruth E. Carter, two-time Academy Award-winning costume designer. Carter made history as the first Black person to win an Academy Award in Best Costume Design for the film, Black Panther. She received a second Academy Award in the same category for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Ruth E. Carter’s ability to develop an authentic story through costume and character made her one of the most sought after and renowned costume designers today. 

The Many Lives of Kal Penn Quinn 

Kal Penn is an actor, writer, producer, and former Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. He is known for his starring roles in Designated Survivor, House, Mira Nair’s The Namesake, the Harold & Kumar franchise, and the Christmas comedy The Santa Clauses for Disney+.

From 2009 to 2011, Kal took a sabbatical from acting to serve in the Obama/Biden administration, where he served as the President’s Liaison to Young Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and the Arts community. In these roles, he worked on a range of issues, including the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the Affordable Care Act, Pell Grants, arts and culture programs, the DREAM Act, and rapid response to the BP Oil Spill and earthquake in Haiti.

The Hidden Gifts of Visual Thinkers with Dr. Temple Grandin

Dr. Grandin, one of the world’s most accomplished and well-known adults with autism, has been at the forefront of research and activism for autism and neurodiversity for decades.

Her memoir, Emergence: Labeled Autistic, was published in 1986 and she has continued to write about autism and neurodivergence over the decades. Her most recent book is Visual Thinking: The Hidden Gifts of People Who Think in Pictures, Patterns, and Abstractions. 

Dr. Grandin’s research and understanding of animal behavior spearheaded a reform in the quality of life for agricultural animals worldwide.

If your library would be interested in how you can provide access to all these great events for one low price, visit our membership page for details.