Those sessions are being planned now and will involve reading books by authors who will be visiting the summit in 2022. Right now, all of the authors for next year will remain a closely guarded secret. What I can tell you is that part of those professional development sessions will involve revisiting some of the texts and authors discussed during 2021 Summit. So, let's take a closer look at the authors who will be visiting us in June. Many of these authors have been among my favorites for a long time. Some, I have only recently discovered. Either way, I enjoy reading these books. More importantly, these are authors whose works I keep thinking about. I think about them when I plan courses, when I write a paper, and when people ask me about what they should be reading.
Read Between the LInes by Jo Knowles
Jo Knowles is a marvel. I love her books and one of my fondest memories of the 2019 ALAN Workshop was her speech. Simply put, she has a way of making people feel like they are seen, they are heard, and that they belong. I think her fiction does this as well. Readers often ask me about which books I would recommend and I almost always recommend her multi-voiced novel Read Between the Lines. Give it a try.
Wrecked by Maria Padian
Once upon a time, Trevor Ingerson sent me a few books. Unfortunately, I let them sit in my "to be read stack" for a little too long. When I started reading through them, I found that in one of them there was a note that Trevor had left me. It simply said, "I think you well like this one." That book was Maria's Wrecked and her was right. When I finally got to it, I didn't really read it, rather I inhaled it. I loved it. At the same time, I was stunned to find out that this wasn't a debut novel. Maria had other books? Why didn't I know this? I have been remedying that situation since then. My short introduction to Wrecked is this. It is as if Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak went to college. Please, read this book.
Unstoppable Octobia May by Sharon G. Flake
In 2014, I was blessed to host Sharon as one of your keynote authors at a summit at LSU. I already loved her works, The Skin I'm In, Bang, Pinned and others. During her talk, she shared about her new book--Unstoppable Octobia May. I was intrigued by this curious, black, mini Nancy Drew who was determined to solve the mysteries that surrounded her family and her life. Now, it remains one of my favorites and I often recommend it as a Halloween read. Do you like a good mystery, even one overly exaggerated in the mind of a curious young girl? If so, check this one out.
Redwood and Ponytail by K. A. Holt
Two years ago I included Redwood and Ponytail as one of many on a list of choice novels under the label of novels in verse. I was unprepared for how impactful it would be for some of my students. Several read it and many began to pass it around to others and to give it as a gift to friends and siblings. One student, a male, grabbed me after class to thank me for a book in which he was able to see himself. Mind you, my students are preservice teachers who claim to read widely. Yet, this beautiful book about adolescents exploring and trying to understand same self attraction was a book he wished he would have read as an adolescent. I told him, it wasn't me, but K. A. Holt who deserved the thanks. One of my great joys was the opportunity to report this brief exchange to Kari in person. Do books make a difference? Yes, they do.
You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins
Ok, if you are not reading the books of Mitali Perkins, you have a gap in your reading of YA literature. Mitali is a treasure. Her books are gifts to be enjoyed and shared. I am not sure why it took me awhile to find her and her books. It happened several ago at the Las Vegas Valley Book Festival. She was part of a wonderful panel. One of my students was the panel's chair and I stopped by to support her. Wow! Just a few minutes of listening to Mitali and I was hooked. As I began reading You Bring the Distant Near, I had one of those rare moments when I paused and thought--"this opening line: 'The swimmer had finished their races and were basking in the sun.' is one of those lines that calls up a ton of images, memories, and seems to stay with the reader." This feeling still holds true. This multi-generational story will take you on a wonderful journey.
People Kill People by Ellen Hopkins
In one of my first course on YA literature at LSU, a student stayed after class to "question" my reading list. It did not include anything by Ellen Hopkins. My student was aghast. It some ways the student's question was "How was I qualified to teach a course in YA if I hadn't included Hopkins?" In reality, she was probably right. I was still learning and reading. This student was aware how many adolescents, like her, had relished in reading Hopkins' books. I had seen then in libraries, in classrooms, and in the hands of students. What was always true, was that every book was well used. The corners were tattered, the pages showed wear, and one librarian told be that Ellen books were often the most frequent to go missing. My current favorite People Kill People. I hope you check it out before the Summit.
Books! So Many Wonderful Books! It is Time To Start Reading!
Bishop, R. S. (1990). Mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors. Perspectives: Choosing and Using Books for the Classroom, 6(3 ).