|with Rob at Bocado|
My friends, Rob and Pam Taylor, picked me and took me to dinner at a wonderful place, Bocado. Between the great food and the even better company, it was the perfect start to my visit.
|My new pal, Oscar|
The Opening Session featured W. Kamau Bell, political comedian and podcast host. The conference program described him as, "Bell is the ACLU’s Ambassador of Racial Justice and serves on the advisory boards of Race Forward, a racial justice think tank, and Hollaback, a non-profit movement to end street harassment. "
|Exhibit Hall Grand Opening|
At the August House booth I met Rob Cleveland and then won a door prize drawing for one of his books, which I had him autograph. Rob is a storyteller and has written many of the books in the Story Cove series, which collects folk tales from around the world. I chose The Bear, the Bat, and the Dove: Three Stories from Aesop. I visited with Charles Ghigna, the author of Strange, Unusual, Gross, & Cool Animals a book of fascinating facts from Animal Planet. Anything gross or unusual is a big draw for elementary school boys, so I knew they would love the book. And I had the pleasure of meeting Reem Faruqi and hearing about the inspiration for her book, Lailah's Lunchbox: A Ramadan Story. With the need for diverse books, it is fortunate to find a picture book about something like a lunchbox that younger children can relate to.
|Planting Seeds of Peace Panel|
|Kit Seaton & Leila del Duca|
All the excitement in the exhibit hall was followed by a panel with Kit Seaton and Leila del Duca. They discussed "how the YA Fantasy and Science Fiction genres are opening up to diversity and increased representation, broadening horizons not only for characters but for authors and audiences as well." Kit and Leila are the creators of Afar, a graphic novel with a young woman of color as the protagonist who is able to travel to other worlds and visit their cultures in her dreams.
|Dr. Duchess Harris|
January 22nd began with a presentation by Deputy Sheriff Becky Coyle on how she came to write picture books about "the role of school resource officers, lockdown drills, and school security in her new series, Police in Our Schools." Next, I heard Duchess Harris talk about her work on Hidden Human Computers: The Black Women of NASA. Dr. Harris is "the granddaughter of Miriam Daniel Mann, who was a Hidden Human Computer at NASA from 1943-1966." Her presentation included some of the family photos and other archival images of Mrs.Mann and her coworkers.
In the middle of the day, I attended the Boyds Mill Press ALA Midwinter Spring 2017 Preview Luncheon. Along with a tasty meal, those in attendance also saw all the upcoming titles from the publisher and heard book talks on each one. Among those present were John Schu (author of the blog - "Mr. Schu Reads"), and Della Farrell, an editor for School Library Journal. After a brief visit to the exhibit hall, it was time for the ALA President's Program, featuring Kwame Alexander. Mr. Alexander discussed how his "work is inspired by his belief that poetry can change the world, and how he uses poetry to inspire and empower young people all over the world."
|Congressman John Lewis|
|Sourcebooks Author Dinner|
The last day of the conference began with the event I had been waiting for - the announcement of the ALA Youth Media Awards! I was fortunate enough to bump into Deborah Ford while waiting to enter the auditorium, so I sat with her and Susan Marston during the ceremony. It was fun to watch the two of them do mini celebrations every time a JLG title won an award, but we cheered for all of them. I was especially pleased at the number of awards March garnered; as a graphic novel about a tumultuous time in American History, it was very gratifying to see it receive so much recognition. And I had just shaken the hand of the author the day before.
If you have never heard of the Humanities Tennessee Outstanding Educator Awards and you (or someone you know), are a teacher for 3rd - 12th graders in the Volunteer State, please look into it. If you are chosen, the award benefits your school and your own professional development. I had the chance to learn about award-winning books, meet authors and even an historical icon such as Congressman Lewis, and expand on what I have to offer the staff and students at my school - all due to the award funding my trip to the conference. It is the best professional development experience that I have ever had.
Footnote: Quoted materials about the sessions and speakers was taken from the conference schedule provided by the American Library Association.