Saturday, June 25, 2011

Whirling, spinning, with books in hand at #ALA11

I'm away for a long weekend at the American Library Association, known in my household as "Librarians Gone Wild," the annual meeting where librarians from around the country (and world) gather to talk, share and trade. It's hard to put into words how wonderful this experience is so far, but I think the greatest part of it has been making connections with people whose work I've read - authors, bloggers, friends on GoodReads, librarians on list-serves, reviewers.

SmileOn the first day, I walked into the exhibit hall's graphic novel artist's lane because I knew my students adore graphic novels. I'm quite a shy person, not very good at asserting myself into conversations, so I was waiting patiently to say hi to Raina Telgemeier, the author of our most popular graphic novel Smile, when she saw me and shouted, "Mary Ann! Hello!!!" and gave me a huge hug. I've never met Raina or her husband Dave Roman before, but I've shared my enthusiasm for their stories on my blog and on Twitter. My support (and truly, the support of my students) has meant a lot to them, and Raina recognized me immediately from my blog - I was stunned!

I'm just thrilled to connect with the people who create these stories that mean so much to our children. That's really the heart of it. These stories enrich our children's lives, help them make meaning out of the confusing times, bring them hope and joy when they may be sinking low, and keep them company when they may feel alone. And I want to be able to share that appreciation with the artists who make huge efforts and take tremendous risks to share these stories.

I also have loved meeting and connecting with other librarians, bloggers and book lovers at the conference. Today I met three bloggers and librarians I really admire: Brenda Kahn of ProseandKahn, Travis Jonker of 100 Scope Notes, John Schumacher a.k.a. Mr.Schu, a Library Journal Mover and Shaker of the Year. I had connected with all of these amazing book-loving librarians online, but had never met in person. And yet we've had great connections. MrSchu and I have shared late night book swaps on Twitter. Brenda leaves encouraging messages on my blog and amazes me with the breadth and depth of her reading and amount of books she reviews on her blog. And Travis amazes me with his creative reviews, always seeking new ways to share books he's loving. I've felt connected to each one, but to finally meet them in person has me whirling and spinning!

Turtle in ParadiseI would like to give special thanks to two people who have truly inspired me, in more ways than these simple words can convey: Kathy Shepler and Jenni Holm. Kathy is a librarian and book-lover extraordinaire who invited me to join her Mock Newbery book club several years ago, where a group of passionate, fun-loving adults read the best children's books of the year. Kathy has introduced me to a world of literature, with grace and passion that have made me sparkle with joy. This year, Kathy served on the Newbery Committee and it was amazing to watch and listen as she read more than I could ever imagine, considering each book thoughtfully and deeply. And Jenni has not only brought such joy to the students at our school and to me as a reader, as the author of the Babymouse series and the Newbery Honor winning Turtle in Paradise, but she has welcomed me, inviting me to dinner with her editor and sitting at her table. So tomorrow night I will be able to sit at the Random House table at the Newbery / Caldecott Awards banquet with Jenni's family.

Never in my wildest dreams as a child would I have ever imagined such a small world, where we could reach out and connect to authors we admire, to people far across the country.

1 comment:

  1. WOW! Lucky you! I'm living the ALA fantasy through your post/tweets!!!