Every year, I think to myself, “Golly, that was the best conference yet.” This year was no different. I was fortunate to be invited to be a part of several phenomenal sessions. I learned so much from my colleagues and from the many wonderful authors who attended the conference.
It’s no secret that the ALAN Workshop is my favorite part of the conference. I live and breathe ALAN. If you aren’t an ALAN member and love young adult literature, I highly recommend this organization. Please feel free to contact me (or Kellee, for that matter) if you’d like to learn more!
My favorite part of the conference was the ALAN Workshop. This should come as no surprise to readers. I am a diehard ALAN member. As we say during the workshop, #IamALAN. If you aren’t an ALAN member and love young adult literature, I highly recommend that you join. The assembly is like a family—the members are extremely accepting and their passion shines.
I so enjoy the time I spend with old friends at NCTE and ALAN. Two of my students attended this year, and one commented, “It’s so interesting how well you know these people because you only see each other once a year.” It’s quite true. I consider some of my greatest friends to be the folks that I have met at this conference. Based on my work with The ALAN Review, I was able to meet new friends this year, particularly the reviewers for the journal. It is is such a wonderful community to be a part of, and for that, I am very grateful.
A few of the highlights this year include:
1. The “YA Lit IS Complex: Authors and Teachers Reframe the Conversation About Young Adult Literature and Text Complexity” session. It featured YA authors Laurie Halse Anderson, M. T. Anderson, Matt de la Peña, A. S. King, Julie Murphy, Jason Reynolds, and Angie Thomas. I was in charge of moderating M. T. Anderson’s table, and I was shocked at the turnout for this entire session. Someone counted 300 people in the tiny room. I feel so, so lucky to have been a part of this session, which was chaired by the incredible Jennifer Buehler. I have my fingers crossed that she does the session again next year.
2. The CEE-sponsored session about YA voice, culture, family and identity. Benjamin Alire Sáenz spoke, and he (once again) captured my heart.
3. The Meet the Editors session. This is my third year with this session as a presenter (with The ALAN Review). I love hearing what scholars are working on, and this year, I was able to connect with some people who I’ve always wanted to meet.
4. Getting to dine with some of my favorite bibliophiles and authors. Kellee Moye makes me so happy!
5. The “Vision of ALAN” session. It was so fun to work and present with some of my favorite colleagues. Our roundtable was focused on research in YAL, and I loved sitting beside my friend and soulmate, Wendy Glenn.
6. The “Future is Now” session. WOW! This is a massive session that features preservice and new teachers. It’s incredible!
7. Taking fangirl photos with some of my favorite authors, and capturing these moments with my two students.
8. Neal Shusterman‘s ALAN Award speech and Rick Riordan‘s breakfast speech. My goodness. These two men are FORCES.
9. The ALAN Workshop keynotes! Both were incredible! Jason Reynolds, Brendan Kiely, and Meg Medina make my heart feel full.
10. All of the books! I don’t even know where to begin! I am going to cut this post short. It is time to READ! 🙂