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February 15, 2018 BOOKLIST
Find more AASL National Conference Preview
Karen Perry and Mary Ann Scheuer are the author cochairs for the 2015 American Association of School Librarians (AASL) National Conference, taking place in Columbus, Ohio, November 5–8. As such, they are responsible for planning and organizing all of the conference’s author events. Curious who you can expect to see and what events aren’t to be missed? We were, too. Karen and Mary Ann were kind enough to give Booklist the inside scoop and tell us what they are looking forward to the most. A full schedule of events can be found on the conference website: http://national.aasl.org.
The theme for the Author Banquet is “Diverse Authors, Diverse Voices.” Was this inspired by the We Need Diverse Books campaign? How do you hope your authors (Matt de la Peña, Sonia Manzano, and Rita Williams-Garcia) will contribute to the conversation?
SCHEUER: Yes, we were definitely inspired by the We Need Diverse Books campaign, but, honestly, that’s because their values speak to what we hold true and dear as our core librarian values—serving all of our patrons, giving all of our students both windows and mirrors through which they can see their worlds. As the ALA website states, diversity is a core value of librarianship: “We value our nation’s diversity and strive to reflect that diversity by providing a full spectrum of resources and services to the communities we serve.” AASL not only encourages diversity in its membership, it also wants to make sure we can provide diverse literature for our school communities.
PERRY: Matt, Sonia, and Rita are all veterans of the diversity campaign in one way or another. Each of them will give a brief 10-minute talk about their work between the courses of dinner and then come together for a roundtable discussion after dessert. We thought it would be a great idea for our audience to simply listen in on the conversation these fabulous authors hold among themselves on the topic of diversity in writing and publishing. It should be a fascinating time, well worth the price of dinner.
The Author Breakfast panel is made up exclusively of women authors taking on the subject of female character development in fantasy literature. Can you talk about why you chose to focus on the female perspective? Why is this something school librarians should be thinking about?
PERRY: We chose strong women writers who are very successful at creating strong female characters who grow and develop as individuals. The popularity of the fantasy genre gives school librarians an opportunity to connect student readers with relevant role models in fiction that can help in their daily lives. In their works, these authors have created the kind of examples of female leadership and problem solving that are so important for young girls to read about. This is a fantastic group of writers and should be one of our most exciting sessions of the entire conference. I am totally stoked about it! Anyone who has student readers of the fantasy genre should be there.
What can attendees expect to hear from speaker and Caldecott winner Brian Selznick?
PERRY: A fabulous talk on the power of stories! Brian is such a creative person, and his talks always reflect an extra effort to use his talents in illustrating and in video to communicate with his audience. His new book, The Marvels, will be published just in advance of the conference, and I am sure his presentation will include images from that new title. This is the Saturday general session, open to all in attendance, so we hope that everyone gets to enjoy Brian’s remarks and presentation.
What are other “don’t miss” author events?
PERRY: Don’t miss the session on audiobooks with Kirby Heyborne, who narrated two Odyssey Award–winning recordings (Rotters, 2011, and Scowler, 2013) and has been known to write songs in praise of librarians. He is joined by narrator Amy Rubinate (the Selection trilogy and The Gold-Threaded Dress, 2011) and producer John Cheary, of John Marshall Productions. Another session I do not want to miss is called “Changemakers in Society,” featuring author-illustrator Don Tate and nonfiction writers Shana Corey and Melissa Stewart. This session will be moderated by Laurie Ann Thompson, whose book for teens, Be a Changemaker (2014), has started many enriching discussions on solving problems and making the world a better place.
Any final words for conference attendees?
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