“Summer Tour” 2016 Highlights
I have been been across, around, up, and down the country so far this summer…and it has been filled with bookish excitement!
First up was St. Louis for the Scholastic Reading Summit. I got to see Donalyn Miller, John Schu, morning keynote Ernest Morrell, afternoon keynote Kwame Alexander, and many edufriends. I added my perspectives on a panel about the importance of independent reading, and the message was strong: we need to let kids have time to read at school, and they need to be able to choose which books they want to read!
Next up was Orlando for the American Library Association Annual Convention. Every time I attend ALA, I am overwhelmed by the generosity and support of kidlit publishers for teachers and librarians. We all have the same goal – get great books into kids’ hands that will make them want to keep reading. I was lucky to be able to attend some special events with publishers, meet a bunch of authors, and get previews of what books are coming out this fall. Needless to say, my TBR stack grew by the minute!
I got to sneak in a quick vacation to the lake with my husband and his family over the Fourth, and then to Seattle for a weekend to see the Dixie Chicks concert with my mom, aunt, and cousin. Of course, there was much time for reading! Ironically, I spent my days in the sunshine of July at the lake reading advance copies of November releases.
After a sixteen hour turnaround, I was off on a road trip to Parma, Michigan for nErDcampMI! Two great teacher friends joined me for the trip, and I was able to see so many more when we arrived. There is nothing quite like being surrounded by so many eager, enthusiastic educators/librarians/administrators + authors/illustrators who celebrate reading in their own lives and in their classrooms for those they teach. I was again able to see a bunch of authors, and learn from some wonderful educators.
What struck me most this year, from the opening NerdTalks (like short TEDtalks) to the closing share on the last day,
was the feeling that we are all on an urgent mission to help kids know the world around them through books –
that we can provide perspectives and worlds outside of those kids are surrounded by with the stories authors tell –
that books let kids know they are not alone –
that we need to cultivate literate kids who will become literate adults –
that we need the widest variety of texts, in all manners and forms of diversity, we can get to provide students with a multitude of experiences beyond the four walls of their lives –
that books and stories matter, and kids and teachers matter, and what we do in our classrooms matters for our society.
It was a reaffirming two days, and as I’ve seen nErDcampMI grow from the very first year that I attended also when there were only 150 people to now with over 1,200, I see the larger conversation about the importance of books and literacy and choice and access growing in our schools, and I want to continue to be a part of making sure the right book gets to the right kid at the right time.
I also had the privilege of getting to present a session on Day One about the #classroombookaday initiative I did in my classroom, and the impact reading aloud a picture book every day of the school year had on my students and the classroom community. You can see the slideshow here if you’re interested in learning more about it.
After day two of nErDcamp (which is a true EDcamp model), I volunteered to help with nErDcampJR where 750 kids arrived at the high school to learn from authors who talked to them about reading, writing, and books. The excitement was palpable in that building that night.
And as they were leaving the building, the kids passed by tables with stacks and stacks of books donated by Custom Ed – from which they could choose several to take home for free! It was joyful moments to experience.
It has been an amazing (albeit slightly exhausting) month of travel, professional development, conversation, learning, and talk about books, teaching, society, and helping our kids become readers.
Now to tackle the reshuffling of my TBR stack from all of the recommendations and new books I want to read.