Sunday, July 21, 2013

ALA Chicago Highlights

I went to the American Library Association (ALA) Conference for the first time June 29-30th and it was a truly magical, amazing, and
overwhelming event. I could have spent a week just hanging out in the Exhibit Hall. I got to catch up with old friends like Esther Hershenhorn - author, Chicago resident, and fellow panelist at the IRA Conference in April of 2012.

I also got to meet one of my favorite writers of all time, Laurie Halse Anderson. She is as warm and wonderful as she is talented. Laurie is most well known for her riveting novel, Speak, a Printz Honor book which many of my students have read, but she's also written some wonderful historical novels. I picked up Chains, which won the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction. It was also a National Book Award Finalist. I also got the sequel, Forge. I'm looking forward to sharing both of these with my students this school year.

In addition to hanging out in the exhibit hall with authors, I attended the Coffee Klatch on Sunday morning. It's like Speed Dating with librarians. Thirty-eight authors, myself included, went from table to table speaking with young adult librarians about our books. Each table had about eight librarians and when the bell rang, the authors moved to a different table. It was exhausting and invigorating and I nearly lost my voice afterward, but so much fun!

The biggest highlight of the conference was getting to see Vaunda Micheaux Nelson at her book signing. Here she is with the Coretta Scott King Honor she received for No Crystal Stair. It's a documentary novel of the life and work of her uncle, Lewis Michaux, a Harlem bookseller in the tumultous 60s. Vaunda works as a librarian at the public library in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. It's the same city where I'm a speech-language pathologist. She and I led author panel discussions at both high schools last fall about book research. We also talked about our experiences at the YALSA SYMPOSIUM in St. Louis last November.

I'm already marking my calendar for ALA 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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