Washington Library Media Association (WLMA) conference. It is my one chance all year to rub elbows with other librarians, authors, and book distributors. I get to hear what other librarians are doing to enhance reading, get lists of good books, and actually meet and talk to YA authors. As in past years, I had a wonderful time. Here are five highlights from this year's conference:
1. Sherman Alexie, author of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian, was the guest speaker at the Friday night banquet. He teased us by saying that he was drunk on estrogen since the audience was over 80% female. He also pretended that he was reading a lost and found notice, "Lost: a pair of reading glasses...as if you guys care about a lost pair, since you all have about 10,000 pairs." Once he got done teasing us, he talked about the effects of banned/censored books. When someone in Missouri recently wrote him to complain about Absolutely True Diary and how it was so anti-American he quipped that he wrote back asking the complainer to start a national campaign since efforts to ban a book always seem to increase sales. Last of all, he read us the first chapter of his sequel to Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian. I can't remember what he said the title will be but it was thrilling to hear him read. Once again he writes with equal amounts of humor and poignancy. Guess we'll all have to hold our breaths until this one comes out.
Alyson Noël, author of the Immortals series, was the highlighted "high school author" breakfast speaker. Girls adore her books and I found her personal story to be very moving. She came to writing via a very unconventional route but one that I think many students would find reassuring. I am a new fan even though I haven't read any of her books yet. Her book Evermore (first book in the Immortals series) has zoomed to the #1 spot on my TBR pile.
Carl Deuker, author of many books for male reluctant readers, such as Runner and Gym Candy, held a session on how to encourage male readers through appropriate selections. Deuker, a 6th grade teacher in North Shore School District (North of Seattle, Washington) said that he always feels a little uncomfortable in his role as author/presenter as he is more used to being a member of the audience, collecting Clock Hours, a requirement for teachers in this state. He had lots of great suggestions to help us get boys to read. The main idea that I took away was to not judge boys selections and don't make them feel like they aren't reading "real" books. One thing is for sure, this guy is onto something. Boys love his books, as do I.
Sharp's Roasthouse, across the street from where the convention was held. I'm not really meaning to pimp a restaurant, though the food was wonderful (I had a turkey sandwich on ciabatta bread), I am thankful for the time spent with my colleagues sharing what we've learned at the conference and discussing issues back in our schools. Collaboration is a very important way to stay current and nourished (pun intended) as a professional.
Alex Award books, or adult books that cross over well for teens. My friend Paige and her husband, both librarians, book-talked over 25 great books from this list and I got tons of suggestions for books I want to push with my students or read myself.
Here are a few of my favorite Alex Award winning books:
a. Stitches: a Memoir by David Small (2010)
b. City of Thieves by David Benioff (2009)
c. Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah (2008)
d. The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly (2007)
e. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (2007)
f. Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman (2006)
g. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (2006)
h. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon (2004)
i. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach (2004)
j. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (2004)
k. Peace Like a River by Leif Enger (2002)
l. A Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague by Geraldine Brooks (2002)
Three books that Paige and Ira suggested that may be on the list of 2011 Alex Awards I definitely want to read:
aa. The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni (See about book here!)
bb. The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep and Didn't Have To by D.C. Pierson
cc. The Unlikely Disciple: a Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University by Kevin Roose
My other highlights from the WLMA conference:
-A presentation on how to do high school book clubs with phenomenal numbers of students participating.
-Meeting Kimberly Derting, the author of The Body Finder. She lives very close by in Bonney Lake, Washington.
-Visiting the Exhibitors and getting a few free books from Orca Publishers and several half-price books at Scholastic Books.Winning the silent auction bid for 20 Orca books (Hi-Low.)