I was honored to participate in the inaugural Bill Morris Seminar at the 2008 ALA Mid-Winter Meeting in Philadelphia.
I don’t recall how I first heard about the Morris Seminar, just that it was something I just had to participate in! When I received my letter of acceptance to the seminar I jumped with joy! I am always on the look-out for professional learning opportunities that also allow me to meet some really interesting youth librarians. Participating in the Morris Seminar fulfilled both desires.
All participants received a list in advance of ten (10) books ranging from picture books to young adult fiction. I loved learning about books I might not have read otherwise, and I don’t think there was a single book I didn’t enjoy reading. Certainly some of the selections were outside what I might normally read, but that was part of the fun. Through our guided discussions I learned how to better set aside my personal thoughts and feelings about a book, and approach evaluation from a more objective point of view. Objectivity can be difficult to maintain when reading a book one absolutely loves or loathes. But I always try to remind myself that gushing about how much I loved a book (or hated it) does not help anyone else truly decide if the book is right for them, their students, or any young reader.
In addition to fine tuning our individual evaluation skills, we were also guided through steps that facilitate productive group discussion. With one of the Seminar goals of helping prepare future Award committee members, this was a vital skill for those highly interested in pursuing such appointments. It was also quite fun to sit in small groups to discuss these great books with youth librarians.
At the conclusion of the Seminar I felt invigorated about continuing to write reviews for School Library Journal, as well as less formally on my Good Reads page. I also created several new friendships and professional connections because of the Bill Morris Seminar. When I saw the call for applicants posted last week I immediately emailed several colleagues to encourage them to apply. This was a great learning opportunity as well as chance to widen my professional network.
Here is a list of the books we read for the 2008 Bill Morris Seminar:
Love Curse of the Rumbaughs b y Jack Gantos
Henry’s Freedom Box: a true story from the underground railroad by Ellen Levine
First the Egg by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
The Wall: growing up behind the iron curtain by Peter Sis
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznik
Thank You Bear by Greg Foley
Dogs and Cats by Steve Jenkins
Little Night by Yuyi Morales
The Pull of the Ocean by Jean-Claude Mourlevat, translated from the French by Y. Moudet
Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson