Last week, I had the privilege of attending the Texas Library Association Conference in Houston, TX! Thankfully, I was able to carpool and attend with my friend and fellow district librarian, Karen Rodgers. It made it so much fun to attend with a friend. We found great sessions to attend, met authors and the best thing is that Karen introduced me to the ticketed lunches! We checked the message board frequently and I was able to buy a lunch ticket every day! So much fun and it was nice to have a seat with adults and converse about books!
One of the highlights of the week was hearing LeVar Burton and singing the theme to "Reading Rainbow" with him and a chorus of librarians! He shared his vision for reading and made some very interesting points about technology. In the 80's television was the medium to reach kids so they developed "Reading Rainbow". Today, the medium is technology including computers, iPads and SMART phones, so they are introducing the "Reading Rainbow" app! It continues with a similar format by sharing a book and taking a virtual field trip. So amazing!
I have loved the book, Snicker of Magic, since the Scholastic Reading Summit in 2014. Donalyn Miller talked about it and as soon as I read it, I fell in love with the town and the characters! Last year, one of our very own sixth grade teachers read the novel as a read-aloud to her students. It was huge in teaching kindness and cooperation for them! Natalie Lloyd was kind enough to SKYPE with us last year after school and the kids had amazing questions, so it was a pleasure to meet her!
My mom has been a huge influence on me and reading. Growing up, she took us to the public library every week during the summer. Because of the Houston flooding, my mom's school district was off the entire week, so she was able to join Karen and me one day at TLA! I loved having her there. While I volunteered in the parking garage, my mom joined Karen and got to hear some amazing authors. Surprisingly, her favorite was the panel of Science Fiction/Fantasy writers. My mom is not a fan of this genre, but she loved the authors because they were hilarious. I'm so thankful my mom got to join in with me and see a bit of what I do. And she got to meet a lot of colleagues and friends too! I LOVED having her there to be a part of the conference.
The highlight of Teen Book Con for me this year was meeting Ruta Sepetys! She wrote Between Shades of Gray, Out of the Easy and her newest book is Salt to the Sea. Besides being an amazing author, she is a kind soul. The teens, adults, volunteers and other authors all spoke highly of her Opening Keynote. What a blessing to have such a talented author visit Teen Book Con. Thanks to Blue Willow Bookshop for bringing amazing talent right to our teens!
There were so many amazing authors this year from all genres and walks of life! 25 talented writers joined forces and answered all kinds of questions. Some questions included, "How many times were you rejected before you were published?" and "Where do you get your inspiration from?" One of my favorite things about Teen Book Con is that it's just that - FOR TEENS! Teens get priority asking questions, sitting in the front of sessions and in general connecting with the authors. It is amazing to see how students connect and come away inspired from the day!
Thanks to Ms. Kaieda, some of our very own Spring Branch Middle School students were able to attend Teen Book Con. (A big shout out to SWHS for letting us share a bus with you guys!)
This is one of our sixth graders and he loved the author panels. The two questions above were his! I was so proud of him for attending panels, asking questions, getting an autograph and this week he is READING! He is already halfway through the book! It's because of events like these that students find a love for reading.
And finally, Teen Book Con would not happen with amazing people and volunteers who spend their time pouring into the festival. On the far right is Lisa Stultz, SHS librarian, who chairs the festival. She is amazing and has poured so much love into Teen Book Con over the years. Kari Heitman, in the middle, helped me organize our volunteers this year. She has serious organization skills! I'm very thankful to know both of these ladies.
Not pictured are the amazing people from Blue Willow. Valerie Koehler, Cathy Berner and their staff who lead up amazing author events throughout the year. Without their love, support and dedication, none of this would be possible! So thank you to Blue Willow Bookshop for all the support and FUN!
Looking forward to Teen Book Con 2017!
Ms. Smith, SBMS