Wonder of Childhood presented by Institute for Child Success and AIR Serenbe

Decatur Recreation Center Studio

Saturday, 3:00-3:45

Highly regarded authors and artists who collectively share a passion for the power of stories in the lives of children discuss and celebrate the importance of stories in the shaping of children's own personal narratives, conceptions of self and of the world, and their location within our broader cultural narratives of race, gender, and class.


Mac Barnett


Mac Barnett is the New York Times best-selling author of more than 20 books for children, including Count the Monkeys, illustrated by Kevin Cornell; Chloe and the Lion, illustrated by Adam Rex; and Extra Yarn and Sam & Dave Dig a Hole, both illustrated by Jon Klassen, and both winners of a Caldecott Honor and the E.B. White Read Aloud Award. He also writes the Terrible Two series with Jory John. Mac lives in Berkeley, CA.

Jeanne Birdsall

When Jeanne Birdsall was young, she promised herself she'd be a writer someday - so that she could write books for children to discover and enjoy, just as she did at her local library. She is also the author of The Penderwicks, which won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature, The Penderwicks on Gardam Street, The Penderwicks at Point Mouette, and The Penderwicks in Spring.

Jeanne lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, with her husband and an assortment of animals, including a dog named Cagney. You can find out more about Jeanne, her books, and her animal friends at JeanneBirdsall.com.

Anis Mojgani


Anis Mojgani is the 2016 recipient of the Institute for Child Success Focus Fellowship at AIR Serenbe. This award supports an artist making work for young children. While at AIR Serenbe, Anis began work on a new picture book.

Anis is a two time National Poetry Slam Champion, winner for the International World Cup Poetry Slam and multiple-time TEDx Speaker. He has been awarded residencies from the Vermont Studio Center, AIR Serenbe, and the Oregon Literary Arts Writers-in-the-Schools program. Anis has performed in venues around the globe, and his work has appeared on HBO, NPR and numerous literary journals. He is the author of four collections of poetry, including his most recent: the fully illustrated poetry-memoir, The Pocketknife Bible. He lives in Portland, OR.

Joe Waters

Joe Waters oversees and provides overall direction for strategic initiatives, public policy, and communications of the Institute for Child Success (ICS). In that capacity, he focuses on creatively building the Institute's approach for achieving impact, and realizing its mission and goals. He also leads the Institute's efforts in searching for new opportunities, catalyzing innovation, building leadership capacities, developing partnerships, and crafting and executing initiatives in support of all pillars (research, integration, and policy) of the Institute's work.

Joe works with local, state, and federal elected government leaders and their staffs, corporate leaders, and other partners to ensure the success of every child in school, their lifelong health, and contribution to a prosperous society. Joe has led the Institute's efforts in impact investing, including ICS' exploration of the feasibility of using Social Impact Bonds to scale and sustain early childhood
home visiting interventions.

A Greenville, South Carolina native Joe earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Furman University and his Master of Divinity degree from Duke University.


Joe Waters