Sunday, April 30, 2017

#txla17 post

We love that theme!

A week ago at this exact time I was sitting in a windowless room in awe of some of my new favorite YA authors. I know. YA.  I have my friend, Alicia Abdul, to blame for that.  I was fangirling Jeff Zentner after reading Goodbye Days and just finishing The Serpent King (oh, the tears...) The night before I followed (stalked?) Nicola Yoon into the elevator just to talk to her.

I had plans to write a blog post every evening of TLA.  Instead, on this glorious Saturday morning while I have brisket (Texas style?) in the oven for company tonight, I will write a belated one and share my reflections about the biggest secret in the library world, the Texas Library Association's annual conference.

My colleague and friend, Jen (we're from New York!) milked the conference for all it was worth only at the expense of lack of sleep (I think I am finally caught up?).   From early morning breakfasts and workshops to sticky buns with new friends and authors from our own neck of the woods to running a 5K in 88 degree weather and hanging out in the hotel lounges with librarians, authors and other rock stars (ie Donalyn Miller!) until even way past my bedtime, it was all worth it! On top of that, I HAD to finish The Serpent King before 8:30 Saturday morning, so reading in my spare (?) time was a priority as well.

I got this text
 from Mrs. Warland before I left and so just had to meet as many new BFFs as possible as per her charge.  I even ran into one of her bestest BFFs:

Why Texas?  Why TLA? Blame Kirsten Murphy from Fort Worth and many others on social media. The Texas school librarians are loud and strong. They are happy and positive. They advocate and are willing to take risks.  Heck, how can you not love a group of people who spend a whole year working on a routine for the annual "Book Cart Competition." Jen and I made lifelong friends and colleagues who we know we can now depend on for support, ideas and cheerleading.  Just before we left, we were given the honorary label of being from NORTH North Texas.  💞

With Rockstars Nancy Jo Lambert and Jennifer LaBoon

Beginning on Wednesday, I started working on Mrs. Warland's new BFF list.  From the Texas author speed dating to author panels to the Little, Brown reception, the late night/early morning chats, with an unlimited budget, I'd have visitors to CES at least once a month.

Walter, #flatwalter, Pat, Mr. Pat, Round Rock ISD, Cynthia Alaniz (p. 48), Carmen Agra Deedy, "Push that Cart!", TASL Executive Board meeting (thank you!), Camp Bluebonnet (I want to do that!), buying Bluebonnet spine labels for my library books in NORTH North Texas, sharing a three pound sticky bun at Lulus with two NY authors, one TX author and a mix of NY and TX librarians, pulling up pictures of student work based on the book by the Texas author next to me, fangirling Liz Garton Scanlon, leaping with Nikki Loftin (!), eating cake with our dear friend, Emma Virjan and the Texas Sweethearts and Scoundrels, meeting my Twitter friend, Barbara Moon, hugging Twitter friend and TASL chair, Becky Calzada, the Spazmatics, making a date for Mike Curato to have "Dinner at Doughs", finally meeting Victoria Jamieson, insightful author panel after panel, the YA Tea, Bluebonnet luncheon (what amazing students and roller derby friends), breakfast with Kevin Henkes...and the list goes and on...I'm sure I'm missing out key moments...

Rockstar Cynthia Alaniz and TASL Chair (what SSL calls President) Becky Calzada
With TLA President Walter Betts

And ALA President, Texan Julie Todaro
Kate DiPronio (next year's TASL Chair) and Linda with #FlatWalter

From left to right: Liz Garton Scanlon, Donna Janell Bowman, Cynthia Levinson

Sharing the 3 lb. sticky bun!

From left to right: Nikki Loftin, Twitter friend Barbara Moon and Victoria Jamieson

2017 Caldecott winner Javaka Steptoe, incomparable Donalyn Miller and the super fun Mike Curato

My new friend, Jayce in a selfie and with fellow New Yorker, Sara Kelly Johns

With TLA Executive Director, Pat Smith and her husband, "Mr. Pat"

As a New Yorker, I thought folks might scoff that we were "invading" their conference and yet it was the exact opposite.  President Walter invited us to his suite so we could meet the executive council. Executive Director, Pat Smith, was very welcoming and willing to talk to us any time.  Everyone was thrilled to share what they realize, is the best conference ever.

Some of my favorite quotes that I heard throughout the week:

Hope is why when your ship sinks in the sea, you tread water.-Cory Doctorow, keynote
Libraries are the secret clubhouses of the resistance.-Cory Doctorow 
Heard from panel of graphic novelists:
Cartoons reach out and pull you in.-Nathan Hale
If I ever have an army, I want it made up of 12 year old girls-Shannon Hale
Teens who read graphic novels, read more prose novels, more more...Literally, my child wouldn't be literate if it weren't for graphic novels.-Shannon Hale
Every time you send a text, it's a word balloon.-James Sturm
At a panel of Lonestar authors:
Some part of you is still 12, 10...or whatever age you are writing for.-Steve Sheinkin
Eavesdropping is my favorite thing ever.-Lisa Graff  
Telekinesis would make my day much more pleasant.-Tara Altebrando
Lisa Graff likes to ask students, "If I had a treehouse I would..." One student would like a meat juice dispenser. Huh?!  It was great meeting her.  I've been a fan for ages.  And I was lucky enough to get her to personalize a couple of sheets of paper for her biggest fans in Castleton.  I bought them each a copy of Lost in the Sun and glued her notes inside.

Steve Sheinkin has a new series out that he likes to think of as "Magic Treehouse meets Captain Underpants."  Kids are going to love that.
Libraries are filled with other people's ideas.-Peter Reynolds at an Early Reader workshop
I got to meet Ruta Sepetys!  And remember Alicia from the beginning of this post?  I name dropped and Ruta says, "Alicia's one of my favorite people.  Tell her I said, "Hi!"  How cool is that?

Finally on Saturday I went to a YA panel and completely fangirled Jeff Zentner.
When I was writing Travis's story, I had to get off the bus and sit in a Kroger parking lot and compose myself because he had been living with me for six months.-Jeff Zentner on The Serpent King

(I read that part on the plane on my way to TLA sitting in the middle seat between two middle aged men with NO tissues.)

Even the airport was amazing.  We ran into, and chatted with, Kevin Henkes, George O'Connor and Emily Henry. Oh, and some Overdrive folks, too.


Thanks again to everyone for the amazing PD, your warm Texas welcome and your inspiration.  I look forward to meeting up again very soon.  Dallas is on my calendar.  But, until then, 5% TLA but just as 100% awesome is the NYLA SSL conference in Buffalo next weekend!  See you there in person or virtually!

Epilogue: The Leaping Pictures

Jenny Choy from Little Brown, with a giant Clayton Byrd and where we ate yummy breakfast tacos

After our sticky bun with Karen Hebert, Emma Virjan, James Preller and Kirsten Murphy
Middle: Emma Virjan and Nikki Loftin
Right:  Hmmmm....who could that be?

At the Little, Brown party with Javaka Steptoe, Diana Lopez and Drew Brockington

Leaps with Mr. Schu

Nicola Yoon, Mike Curato and Jeff Zentner

And to the woman who started it all over a book stand, Kirsten Murphy from Fort Worth.  I owe this fabulous experience and many more, to you.  Mwah! Thank you with a whole pile of queso! 

Monday, April 17, 2017

#SLM17 Reading Ambassadors Respond

I took the idea and ran with it.

Last summer NYC school librarian, Olga Nesi, presented on her "Reading Ambassador" program at our NYS School Librarian leadership retreat at Cornell. Since I was struggling with my own fourth and fifth grade Dewey Duty program, I decided to offer my fifth graders the opportunity to be "Reading Ambassadors" instead of Dewey Duty and so far in this infant stage, I'd say it's a success.

Reading Ambassadors join me for a lunch meeting every Monday.  Hardly anyone ever forgets.  They come in, sign in the attendance sheet and we get right to work on our "business meeting."  For the past two weeks I had them grab computers (I know! I know! Food and computers with 10 year olds! Probably not the best idea and please don't tell my IT people!) and had them work on SLM17 slides. I shared the AASL slides with them, they copied them into their own Google Drive and then shared them back with me. But first, check them out, working so hard!

It's a Lunch Meeting

Why do School Libraries Matter? Why are they Important?  How do they Empower Students?

From the mouths of fifth graders, here's what they had to say...

These kids have never known life without a full time librarian.  I've just been part of their school world since kindergarten that they expect and anticipate to see me every day.  I think that's why some of their answers are so basic and simple. Having me around fulfills a basic need of their school day whether it's picking out books, collaborating on projects, researching, becoming media savvy, preparing for our multitude of author/illustrator visits, etc. As we all celebrate and acknowledge the power of school libraries, my wish is for all schools big or small, in districts small and big, support a full time librarian who can make only big, huge impacts on students far and wide.  Happy School Library Month from all of us at Castleton Elementary School!