ALA Midwinter 2017

Welcoming rainbow families in your library #alamw17

I’m belatedly blogging about the incredibly valuable ALSC Mini Institute session on Friday, “Serving ALL Families in Your Library: Inclusive Library Collections & Programs for LGBTQ Families & Children,” presented by Dr. Jamie Campbell Naidoo (University of Alabama) and Megan Roberts (LGBT Center of Raleigh Library). Whether you know it or not, if you serve young people in your library this session is relevant to your work. In the US there are over 125,000 same-sex couples raising children, between 2-3.7 million children under the age of 18 growing up with an LGBTQ parent or parents, and LGBTQ families are present in 96% of counties, many in rural and suburban communities, not just major cities. There are also the legions of LGBTQ young people growing up everywhere around the country. For ease of discussion, Campbell Naidoo and Roberts used the term “rainbow families,” and I’ll do the same here. What do these…

ALA Midwinter 2017

#alamw17 Authors Interview LeUyen Pham, Scott Westerfeld, and Susan Tan

This morning I had the privilege of listening to an author interview in the big auditorium at ALA Midwinter 17 moderated by Dan Kraus, featuring Scott Westerfeld, LeUyen Pham, and Susan Tan, who all have new books coming out soon.  He began by asking them about their new books. LP:  Real Friends is a graphic novel memoir written by Shannon Hale. It’s her story about her first group of friends.  After you read it, you realize the same thing happened to you.  She captures the pain of what happens whe you get ousted from your group.  It’s about very young friendships, but complete with all the emotion of that, and feels universal. ST – Her debut novel is Cilla Lee Jenkins, Future Author Extraordinaire.  Her protagonist is growing up in a mixed race family, just like the author.  She’s 8 1/2 years old and getting a new sister.  She’s asked “what…

ALA Midwinter 2017

#alamw17 and The Running of the Librarians

Here are librarians milling around, waiting for the Exhibits to open at 5:30 pm.  When they do open, the crush is not insignificant. This year, I had a mission:  I wanted an Advance Reader Copy of Megan Whalen Turner’s fifth book in the Queen’s Thief series, Thick as Thieves.  I even reread the rest of the series this week. I checked the publisher (HarperCollins), learned the booth number (2016), and headed straight for it. I got a copy! Mind you, they were in the back — you had to ask.  I got a tip from a friend years ago that if there are books you know you want, to be ready to ask for them. But then — Book Frenzy began.  Publishers placed out Advance Reader Copies (and even some finished books) free for the taking. You roam the crowded aisles walking past them. I don’t have it in me…

ALA Midwinter 2017

Jacqueline Woodson at #ALSCMI #ALAMW17

Our Closing Session speaker at today’s ALSC Mini-Institute was Jacqueline Woodson. She talked about how in view of what today is, that it’s good to be with librarians.  We have to transform silence into action, and Libraries do Transform. We can have empathy for those we disagree with because we all know what it is to have fear. Begin a conversation across misunderstanding. Memory keeps her moving forward. Keep hope in the room and in your lives. Don’t forget to vote at the local level, too.  We do have the power to create change.  It’s important to hold onto history. We had a mini-Institute because we decided not to meet in North Carolina.  She said, “This country has always messed with bathrooms.”  She’s deeply proud of the Institute organizers for taking a stand, as a person deeply committed to making this place safe across lines. These conversations are disruptive, but…

ALA Midwinter 2017

Carmen Agra Deedy at #ALSCMI #ALAMW17

Carmen Agra Deedy was our lunchtime speaker at ALSC Mini-Institute today, so I didn’t take notes. But I can tell you what her talk was about:  Storytelling! And she told stories to tell us about storytelling.  She kept us laughing, on the edge of our seats, and deeply moved in turn. She also read from her wonderful new picture book, The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet. The power of words mean everyone can talk.  We each fight the good fight.  In the end, where is your voice? There is a time to be silent and a time to speak. There are always those who resist being silenced. May we be among them!

ALA Midwinter 2017

#alamw17 “Absence tells a child that their stories don’t matter” – Aisha Saeed

Micah Bazant's "Everyone Is Welcome Here" poster

Today’s ALSC Mini Institute session “Passing the Mic: Muslim Voices in Children’s Literature and Lessons Learned in the Pursuit of Equity and Inclusion” offered highly personal and deeply moving accounts of what it felt like to grow up either invisible in popular media and books or, even worse, seeing your religion and culture reviled or ridiculed when they were mentioned. Authors Hena Khan and Aisha Saeed, and Zareen Jaffery, Executive Editor of the new Simon & Schuster imprint, Salaam Reads gave suggestions for anyone who wants to make sure that Muslim children feel welcome in our libraries. One important step is visibly indicating that your institution is a caring and safe space, for example through displaying books, programming and posters such as this one: Aisha Saeed shared a delightful story of her young son’s joy upon discovering Hena Khan’s It’s Ramadan, Curious George. As a huge fan of all things…

ALA Midwinter 2017

#ALAMW17 #ALSCMI Break-Out Sessions and Inspiration

Going to ALSC Mini-Institute Break-out Sessions was a little overwhelming, because many of the programs presented seemed way beyond the scope of something I could do in my own library. But I came away challenged, inspired, and invigorated.  I was reminded of the need out there and that Librarians are shining lights and touching people’s lives. I recently got put as the only librarian on a Neighborhood School Readiness Team — so I chose as my focus programs about getting children ready for Kindergarten, “ECRR: The Next Generation,” “Fighting Intergenerational Literacy,” and “Kindergarten Bootcamp.” All of them had a focus on teaching parents how to get their own children ready for Kindergarten.  They all have a lot more staff to devote to their programs than I do at my branch — but I think I can move in that direction, and it’s nice to see what big things can be…

ALA Midwinter 2017

#alamw17 #alscmi Picture Book Collaborators at Breakfast for Bill

Okay, I was extra excited to go to Breakfast for Bill this morning, because I wore my Kevin Henkes t-shirt that says “Share Books With Friends”!  And I got a picture with him afterward. The breakfast featured Kevin Henkes and his wife Laura Dronzek, as well as another married couple, Erin Stead and Philip C. Stead.  All four of them were delightful to listen to. Some highlights: Kevin said that a high school teacher told him, “I wouldn’t be surprised if some day I see a book with your name on it.” He’d always known he wanted to be an artist, but that inspired him.  If someone else believed in him, it made it easier to believe in himself. On the other hand, for Erin, art school professors discouraged her because they said she needed to do her art differently.  But her husband kept her going. For Philip, a teacher handed…