ReadingCon ALAAC17 A Week of Literary Wonders!

It’s hard to believe that just last week was the first ever Reading Con at Northern Illinois University and the American Library Association’s Annual Conference.  In the course of just a week I met and learned from phenomenal authors and educators.  The first-ever Reading Con gave me a chance to hear and meet Kwame Alexander and Gene Luen Yang.


I had never heard Kwame Alexander present before and his sense of humor and gift of poetic prowess were augmented by his back up man, musician Randy Preston.  The two of them had the entire audience reciting and singing along.  It was pretty magical.  I can’t wait to get and read his newest book: Solo.

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Gene Luen Yang gave a powerful keynote that opened my eyes to the ways he and Superman are exactly the same.  I mean, they both have black hair.  They both have foreign parents who didn’t speak English, and they both wear glasses.  What more proof do I need that Gene is a superhero?  None.

His powerful program; Reading Without Walls has a powerful message for us at this time in our world.  We need both mirrors (books that reflect who we are) and windows (books that let us see the lives of others.)  I was inspired and encouraged to bring this program to my school this fall.  IMG_1426IMG_1429

I was happy to share the journey our school has gone on to transform our traditional library into a 21st century learning environment, complete with a state of the art makerspace.

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I was also able to attend several session with some of my favorite authors.  I was inspired by Barb Rosenstock, Aaron Reynolds and Judy Schachner as they talked about their process.  There were lots of laughs and an incredible amount of authors hanging out and signing books.

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ALA started bright and early for me.  I decided to take the train into the city and that meant a 4:30 a.m. train for me.  That got me into the convention center WAY earlier than I needed to be.  It was nice getting my bearings and orienting myself.

I was there early to meet with some movers and shakers in the library world who were there to help the folks at Mackin develop their TYSL; Transform Your School Library program.  Their aim is to help advocate for school libraries and to help them ‘transform’ and remain relavant.  I’m grateful to the folks at Mackin who are truly advocates for 21st Century Libraies.

Here are just a few snapshots from the conference.  I was so happy to see the Librarian of Congress again.  She continues to inspire and lead by example in such a powerful way.  I was also able to speak about transforming libraries at the Mackin booth and talk about one of my absolute favorite learning tools: Rigamajig!

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This was the first ALA Annual Confernece I have been to in many years.  I was truly overwhelmed with the number of concurrent sessions and the incredible number of authors and illustrators.  Everywhere you looked there lines of people waiting to meet and have authors or illustrator sign their books.  It was pretty incredible to hear the final speaker of the conference Hillary Clinton.  My friend Andy had the best seat!  She spoke about the power of libraries and their growing importance as places of inclusivity and knowledge.  I couldn’t think of a better speaker to close out the week!

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