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Category Archives: Events

SLJ’s day to shine: librarian love

It is the best and worst kept secret. The fact that School Library Journal changes venues each year for it’s annual Day of Dialog but never increases its footprint means that they like things just the way they are. But, once a librarian experiences Day of Dialog, they have torn feelings: do I tell other librarian colleagues about the most amazing professional day of our life so they can enjoy the same awesomeness or do we keep it a secret so that it’s mine, all mine (cue villainous music)? Yet, here I am, writing about it because it’s hands-down my favorite professional day of the year.

2017-05-31 17.44.32The format is simple– opening, lunch, and closing keynotes by engaging authors with something to say. Then, four ingeniously organized panels of authors and illustrators centered around a central idea. Interspersed within that are a few breaks for vendor time while publishers panels stump for their top five picks from their publishing houses. Then, putting the cherry on the sundae, there is an announcement by The Boston Globe/Horn Book on their award-winners.

I have come to love each portion of the event for its varied purposes: you can only keep up with publishing so much before it’s nice to have a little help, you can only love so many authors and illustrators before falling in love with more after each panel like the capacity to love each new child as they’re born into your family. You imagine yourself one of the moderators engaging them in dialog, especially the ones who just have a knack for it (I see you Deborah Taylor!). And, you also enjoy collecting galleys for giveaways for your students. Because, well, we know that librarians give it away for free…

So if you ever find yourself in need of somewhere to go to remember why you’re a librarian, be sure to take the day to attend Day of Dialog. I was able to spend a train ride from Albany catching up with fellow colleagues, see IRL the librarians I admire from social media, and laugh, cry, and sigh with prolifically talented authors and illustrators. And even as long as the day was and I devoured Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds like Thanksgiving dinner on my solo train trip home, I can’t help but appreciate the hard work and dedication of my professional magazine in bringing valuable insight into the publishing world.

 

In it for the kids

This post originally appeared in the Times Union Books Blog

It was evident from the moment our chartered bus from Albany to Rochester dropped us off on the Nazareth College campus that the Rochester Teen Book Festival is in it for the kids. There are signs around the venue’s various classrooms, opening ceremony in the gym, and in informational booklets that priority is given to teens– this means that if there are one hundred seats in a gym, you bet your butt that all one hundred will be given to teens first. Adults are last to be admitted and last to find a seat. And that is how it should be at a teen book festival- the adults (many of which are fellow middle grade and YA book lovers themselves) play second fiddle. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way because seeing the excited faces of the forty-three teens we brought on the cross-state adventure were all that should be needed.

A Saturday event dedicated to readers.

Bring in twenty authors where you have rolled out the red carpet is exactly what should get your blood pumping. As students scattered with their buddies across the campus to see their rock star authors in the flesh, I found myself listening to a graphic novelist who amazed us with some live illustrating, then a professor leading us in a workshop about graphic lettering, followed by the last two sessions with male YA authors that could captivate anyone with their oratory skills in addition to their amazing literary talent. Plus, I managed to squeeze in a visit to the food truck Macarollin’ for some lobster mac and cheese.  Phew!

So when we got back on the bus after my colleague, Kristen Majkut, counted, recounted, and triple-counted as the captain and all-around Wonder Woman of this trip, I settled in with a smile as we learned one of our students won a raffle drawing, another was given the sketches from her visit with the graphic novelist, and the students lovingly petted their new purchases… books. And you think reading is dead? These events serve as constant reminders about the nature of reading for teens. Plus, we have others to remind us too, since we were joined on the bus by YA author Eric Devine. Hours were spent talking about writing, other books, readers, and the target audience: teens.

So, if you’ve never been, mark it on your calendars for May 19, 2018. If you’re a librarian or teacher, bring your teens. If you’re a parent, bring your teen and their friends. If you’re in neither category, donate to the event which each of the twelve years it has been running is a runaway hit with its intended audience. Teens.

 

Embed THIS!

Embedding is always exciting and sometimes aggravating but imagine my excitement when I realized that the Padlet I created to share resources on a presentation I was giving actually has a specific embed code for WordPress– as in, copy and paste this address rather than lines of code inside the body of the blog post and it will automatically embed. Cool, huh? When we talk about how integrated and networked devices, apps, and websites are, these are the shining examples.

Today I had the privilege of presenting at the New York State Council for the Social Studies. The first presentation centered on current books representing timely topics like child exploitation, trafficking, and social movements. And the second (back to back and in separate rooms leaving little room for error in disconnecting and reconnecting my laptop, cables, and bags) was about new literacy. For the attendees, I wanted to share websites, articles, videos, and images and decided Padlet was my mode of delivery. So if you’re interested in the topic, check out the collection of resources

Made with Padlet

Enjoy the resources and be happy that you were not me during the presentation (though I will say I think I handled it flawlessly) where many of the resources and videos I wanted to show live never happened since the Internet wasn’t working. But damn, my slides looked amazing! (see previous post about the importance of images for me)

 

 
 

Student privacy: respect it

As a unique educator in that the 2,500 students that attend the public high school that I work at are all “mine” since I work in the library means that any given program, activity, class project, or visitation could mean meeting a student I have never met before or that has never come to the library before. It also means that at the beginning of the school year I haven’t sent home a photo release form from our school to post or not post images of my one class or multiple classes that I have direct contact with if I was a classroom teacher. With that in mind, as I do for my own elementary-aged children, I do not want my own kids’ images plastered on social media for the sake of capturing an exciting educational moment unless it protects their privacy or I have given permission. That’s where creative camera work comes into play.

Many of my favorite memorable moments from programming in the library have been avoiding students’ faces and focusing on the atmosphere or activity. Now, I’m not saying I’m Dorothea Lange, but I know my way around my iPhone camera to capture the moment without student faces. Yes, I have them, but they’re not the ones that get shared. This is important. It’s also why I teach Googling your name and do so often with my and my family’s name to see what is out there. This is an element of digital citizenship that people must get out in front of, even if it’s simply to know what’s out there. We must be aware of what it out there attached to our identity or others that have similar or the same name. It can take the form of a picture or simply your name or your affiliated institution.

Ultimately though, it is as much our responsibility as educators as students and their parents to be sure that they can control what and where they can. So, here are some examples from our own social media postings where we avoid showing student faces. For us, it’s about angles, light, or putting teachers in the foreground.

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Six sensational stories with veterans

In honor of Veteran’s Day, I wanted to highlight some of my favorites from the past and one current favorite to recognize all the men and women who have fought for our country, returned, struggled and adjusted, and continued on. I certainly could highlight many, many more including books like The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien or The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers, but I’ve chosen these six sensational ones to highlight for this homage to our veterans, including my husband.

  1. In Country by Bobbi Ann Mason- The journey that Sam takes to understand why her father never came home from the Vietnam War and what her uncle and his friends are experiencing upon their return creates a beautiful arc to the story where they travel to the Vietnam Memorial fulfills Sam’s quest.
  2. I Had Seen Castles by Cynthia Rylant- This is a small story with a very big impact because it doesn’t sugarcoat the experiences of a World War II story. I’ll share a favorite quote “When I told my father, during his Sunday evening call, that I had enlisted, I think he stopped breathing. When finally he could inhale once again, it seemed to be with great labor. A man with a ton of weight on his heart.”
  3. Soldier’s Heart by Gary Paulsen- A contemporary classic using one of the oldest terms for PTSD, this is Paulsen at his best telling the story of nineteen year old Charley Goddard during the Civil War.
  4. Ghosts of War: The True Story of a 19 Year Old GI by Ryan Smithson- Knowing him personally makes the impact of Smithson’s story stronger and his willingness to speak to teenagers about the impact of his service on him and his family make this a powerful memoir with a mix of emotions, facts, experiences, and heart.
  5. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers- A seminal work that makes me love Walter Dean Myers. African American service member, Perry who enlists and goes to Vietnam coming face to face with evil and danger to fight against racism in the military as well as the horrors of fighting in Vietnam.
  6. Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk- This story has many layers, but the one that spoke loudest to me as a reader was Toby’s, the World War I veteran living near Annabelle’s home in Pennsylvania. He’s disliked because he’s mysterious, a loner, and disheveled, but Annabelle knows how deeply he feels inside, especially when he becomes the target of the new, mean girl’s rage only to suffer a tragic fate that is emotionally draining.

If you haven’t read them all, add them to your to-be read pile because none of them will disappoint. Happy Veteran’s Day to all who have served as well as their families who have supported them.

militaryveterans

 
 

When students and authors collide

This post originally appeared on the Times Union Books Blog here.

When someone asks a school librarian whether kids read books anymore, they’ll have to move past the look of shock from the librarian and then likely hear a few minutes worth of anecdotes and data about how reading is alive and well for teens. It was no more evident than this past weekend when over 250 students and over a hundred more of their librarians, teachers, parents, and siblings converged on the Shenendehowa Middle School campus for the third annual TeenReaderCon.

In short, it’s a free event for middle and high school students to attend a day filled with authors, books, and reading. This year, the students rubbed elbows with eight authors: Jennifer Armstrong, Joseph Bruchac, Eric Devine, Jackie Morse Kessler, Patricia McCormick, Lauren Oliver, James Preller, and Ryan Smithson. There was a kickoff and then individual sessions with the authors and a panel to choose from at the end. Northshire Bookstore was on site to sell the author’s books, but the students could bring their personal copies of the authors’ books as well, plus mementos from the day. It was the hum of the students throughout the day: some excited to exit the bus they rode for over an hour to get there, amazement over Joseph Bruchac’s storytelling, or simply sharing a book recommendation with a stranger turned friend while waiting in line.

The culmination of the day was our author signing where students clamor to get in line for a few extra minutes of face time with their heroes; sometimes it is literal, since rumor has it that Eric Devine, local teacher and author, will willingly sign foreheads if the requester asks. And at the end of a long day when I put my feet up, staring at my book socks and scrolling through the tagged photos from the day, we know we’ve succeeded as a committee of educators, writers, and book lovers in bringing more joy to the joyful readers who took part.

If you want to learn more about TeenReaderCon, including making a donation to continue to make it a free event for students, visit our website at http://teenreadercon.weebly.com. You’ll find pictures from past events, our giving sponsors, and the names of the committee members who work diligently to put this on.

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2016 in Authors, Events, Librarian Life, Young Adult

 

See you Saturday

In just a few short days, middle and high school students will descend upon the University at Albany’s Downtown Campus for the second annual TeenReaderCon. Write this down—on Saturday, October 17th. Boasting nine authors, including a few famous locals, let me take a moment to share my favorite book from each of the authors in one sentence.

  • Jennifer Armstrong’s Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World: The Extraordinary True Story of Shackleton and The Endurance: A riveting survival story with a killer setting.
  • SA Bodeen’s The Raft: A smart thriller on the open water with mind-bending twists—a contemporary version of survival classics.
  • Eric Devine’s Press Play: Compelling rather than sensationalistic, there’s a sensitivity and intelligence that makes the book so grounded.TeenReaderCon134 greenTry
  • Helen Frost’s Salt: A Story of Friendship In a Time of War: An eloquent verse tale of two boys whose lives are changed by the War of 1812.
  • David Levithan’s Every Day: Uniquely existential it allows readers to take a long, hard look at who we are, how we treat one another, and the fluidity of love.
  • Jackie Morse Kessler’s Breath: The final book in her Riders of the Apocalypse foursome, Kessler kills it with imagination, creativity, humor, and Death perched on a balcony.
  • James Preller’s Bystander: The necessary tale of Eric’s role in a middle school drama that can be happening in Anywhere, USA.
  • Eliot Schrefer’s Endangered: With the bonobo sanctuary destroyed and war breaking out, a beautiful story unfolds of the riches of the animal kingdom and the cruelty of humanity.
  • Todd Strasser’s Wish You Were Dead: The first in his ‘thrillogy’, I know it’s good when I’m scared in the middle of the day.

As anticipation builds, the most deeply personal images from our first event and the infectious excitement of the students reminded me of something Holden Caulfield said in The Catcher in the Rye that “what really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though,” so while I can’t promise that you’ll be able to call up any of them like they’re a terrific friend, you can get pretty darn close Saturday.

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2015 in Authors, Events, Young Adult