NCTE 2012: Friends, Books, Networking, and Nerdybooklovers

I spent last weekend in Las Vegas with a whole bunch of fantastic friends, colleagues and nerdybookclubers. Also known as the National Council of Teachers of English Annual Conference.  It was amazing. My preservice teachers often ask me for advice about staying current in the field, what to read, how to stay inspired, etc. Attending conferences is at the top of my list. While this was a national conference, our local Michigan Council of Teachers of English (held in October) and Michigan Reading Association Conference (held in March) are equally fantastic.

My head is still swimming with all of the books that I looked at, sessions that I attended, and people I spoke with – not to mention the constant sensory bombardment that is Las Vegas.

Highlights included:

  • presenting with my good friends and colleagues Lynne Watanabe & Dr. Laura Jimenez and using picture books and graphic novels across grade levels. Thanks to all who attended!
  • Running into nerdy friends Donalyn Miller, Paul Hankins, Cindy Minnich, John Scovill, and more in the exhibits
  • attending the Nerdy Book Club get together on Friday evening and talking to tweeps and nerdy friends in person
  • Seeing The Beatles Love show by Cirque de Soleil
  • more exhibits, more books, more nerdy friends
  • Seeing the Eagles come down the escalator for their sound check but not having the nerve to say anything (yes, those Eagles)
  • Meeting with Teri Lesesne (a.k.a. Professor Nana) in person
  • Attending the Children’s Literature Master Class on Fantasy with Dr. Barbara Kiefer and author John Stephens
  • Talking with illustrator Melissa Sweet
  • Getting an advanced review copy of P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams Garcia – the follow-up to One Crazy Summer.
  • Relaxing in the hot tub
  • Telling Kristin Cashore about the amazing discussions my children’s literature classes had about her book Graceling – they talked feminism, power, and identity!
  • ALAN Author Meet & Greet on Sunday evening –  I talked with Kristin Cashore, Rebecca Stead, Deborah Hopkinson, Jo Knowles, and Rae Carson at the same time. I told them I felt like a 12-year-old girl meeting Justin Bieber. Thankfully they said I had it more together than that.
  • ALAN Book Fest on Monday with 3 friends & nerdy folks
  • Pizza & Wine dinner in our pjs, in the room, with 2 of my closest friends on Monday evening.
  • but the best was probably having people ask me about my dissertation and respond with questions that made me clarify my thinking. More on this to follow…

There are many more people that I talked with that I didn’t mention here – thanks to each and every one of you for your smiling faces, love of books, passion for teaching, and curious questions.


It’s Monday, What Are You Reading (Nov. 5 edition)

I’m back! Be sure to visit teachmentortexts to see what others have been reading!

Over the past few weeks I’ve read:

Bear Has a Story to Tell – written by Philip C. Stead & illustrated by Erin Stead
Another lovely story by the team that brought us Amos McGee. 

Boot and Shoe – written & illustrated by Marla Frazee
Frazee’s writing and artistic style make her storytelling an absolute delight. I especially love the ways that she blends colors to show depth and movement.  

This is Not My Hat – written & illustrated by Jon Klassen
Another fantastic story by Jon Klassen. My 8-year-old and I read this together standing in our local independent bookstore. She kept flipping back and forth between pages and pointing out how much the eye on the “big fish” was telling her. 

One Crazy Summer – written by Rita Williams Garcia
This was a reread for me in preparation for a discussion in my children’s literature courses. I was again blown away by Williams’ writing, particularly her character development. This book is a must read example of historical fiction. 

Blackout -written & illustrated by John Rocco
I read this aloud to my students last week as we talked about the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and the role that children’s literature could play. 

This week I’ll be reading…

Graceling – written by Kristin Cashore
Another reread for me, I’ve been listening to the audio and reading depending on my location (car or home). This will be the first time I’ve used this book in my children’s literature courses and I’m anxious to hear what my students think when we discuss it next week. I love it as an example of fantasy – creating a consistant and believable world, and also as a book to talk about female characters. 

The Invention of Hugo Cabret – written & illustrated by Brian Selznick
My 8-year-old is reading this to me. While I’ve read it before (and even used it in class), having her read it to me is making it an entirely new experience as she shares her thinking and questions while she reads. 

Teaching Literacy for Love and Wisdom – written by Jeffrey D. Wilhelm & Bruce Novak
I’m working on my dissertation right now, and this book is both inspiration and a source of knowledge for me.