I took a day off from work last Tuesday. Make that four days, because I didn't return to work until yesterday.
It was the annual conference time again for Texas librarians. Thousands of us converged on Houston's convention center, making our way through rain and flood warnings to gather and learn and celebrate literacy. Judging by the crowd, it seemed most of the attendees made it. Sure, there were a few missing authors due to cancelled flights and impassable roads, but the conference carried on.
So what did I do for four days away from work?
I speed-dated the Texas Bluebonnet Award nominees for three hours on Tuesday. Authors and members of the Bluebonnet committee traveled from table to table, talking about the books and showing us related activities to share with our students. After the rounds, we lined up to get free and nominally-priced books signed.
The next morning, we were singing the theme song of "Reading Rainbow" with LeVar Burton in our general session. His lifelong love of literacy and education is inspiring!
I attended breakout sessions on collaborating with classroom teachers to support the curriculum, engaging students with fun activities, and a showcase of the new Texas 2x2 list for our younger readers--can't wait to share those with them next school year!
At the Bluebonnet Award Luncheon, we listened as author Laban Carrick Hill read us a poem for Poem in Your Pocket Day. Illustrator Theodore Boone III talked about his history with hip-hop music and bragged on his wife and adorable baby.
Jeff Kinney wowed us at our Texas Association of School Librarians breakfast. Did you know he owns a bookstore in Massachusetts?
More breakout sessions taught me ways to support my teachers with their new T-TESS evaluation using technology in the library, and introduced me to the Little Mavericks, our new list of recommended graphic novels for the K through 5th grade crowd.
There were less serious events, too; the Children's Illustrator Sketch-Off was a hoot, and our district's Book Cart Drill Team was fabulous!
Our final session featured Dav Pilkey of Captain Underpants fame. Pilkey shared his childhood history of ADHD and dyslexia, and spoke about the importance of free choice in children's reading. There are no "junk books", he said; any book has something of value for a child, if the child chooses to read it.
I drove back to Austin on Friday afternoon. The sun was shining, no floods along the way, so I didn't even mind getting a teeny bit lost and adding a half hour to my trip. More time to ponder what I had seen and learned in Houston.