In March the wind / blows down the door
and spills my soup / upon the floor.
It laps it up / and roars for more.
Blowing once / blowing twice
blowing chicken soup / with rice.
–Maurice Sendak, Chicken Soup with Rice: A Book of Months (HarperCollins,1962)
While thoughts turn to a marvelous March ahead, I do have to say that it was a pretty fabulous February!
I began last month in Tucson, at the Educational Book & Media Association Annual Meeting where publishers and distributors come together to learn and do business. It was an honor to serve on a panel continuing the call for greater diversity in materials for our kids and to take this vital message to do what I believe is the necessary next step of putting dollars and cents behind the case for doing what we know is the right thing to do. It was an energizing panel and I was particularly delighted to have as a co-panelist Dr. Judy Chiasson, who is the program coordinator for the Office of Human Relations, Diversity & Equity for the Los Angeles Unified School District, and grew up 5 miles from me in Ohio. Afterwards I had a wonderful #ALSCtour visit to the Dusenberry-River branch of the Pima County Public Library, where children’s librarian Meg Beer is building on ALSC initiatives to do amazing work in serving her diverse community. And later that evening we were all inspired by Newbery Medalist Kwame Alexander’s storytelling and excited to see a sneak peak at his latest novel, Booked, coming out in April. Congratulations and thanks to meeting co-chairs Arianne McHugh and Angela K. Sherrill!
On February 6, I had a blast leading a panel at the Center for Teaching Through Children’s Books‘ event titled “I Tumbled, I Tweeted, I Taught: Critical Engagement Through Social Media.” Any hour spent with Betsy Bird, Colby Sharp, and Mike Lewis is a brilliant one, and the conversation that ensued was a rich one around the use of social media tools as a creative force to engage kids and grown-ups alike around literature and learning. The International Literacy Association was also part of the day as we were joined by their vice president, Dr. William Teale, and you can discover much more about the event on Twitter with #cttcb16
On February 26, Executive Director Aimee Strittmatter and I went to the White House to talk summer at a very valuable Summer Opportunity Workshop. Presented by the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement and the National Summer Learning Association, it provided a chance to see what other types of organizations serving young people are doing and to share the stories of libraries’ transformative work, during the critical warm months specifically. As you know summer reading and learning (SRL) is a particular strategic interest of ALSC’s and last month’s Community Forum (archived here) sizzled with great ideas and inspiration, which our SRL task force will be able to put to good use.
The winds of March will bring not just chicken soup, but SXSWedu, and I hope you’ll check out my tweets and blog posts from Austin this week as ALSC brings the library voice to this annual celebration of innovations in learning. And March 18 will see our Executive Committee coming together in Chicago for our spring meeting where we’ll be beginning the planning process for ALSC’s next strategic plan, which the Board will start exploring in depth at Annual this summer, and other business. The Agenda and documents will be available soon on ALA Connect.