One of our assignments for this Young Adult Lit class could be to volunteer at the Colorado Teen Literature Conference at the Tivoli on the Auraria campus. I jumped at the opportunity to attend this one day conference again. I love any chance to learn more about the field of YAL and talk to fellow book lovers. It’s also so wonderful to see all of the teens that are willing to give up their Saturday to meet with teachers, librarians, and authors. Seeing all of their fresh faces in the crowds made me happy to know that there is a whole new generation of readers out there.
One of the keynote speakers at the conference this year was A.S. King. She is the author of Ask the Passengers, Reality Boy, Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future, Everybody Sees the Ants, Please Ignore Vera Dietz, and The Dust of 100 Dogs. King started the conference with an inspiring speech meant for people of all ages even though it was directed toward the teens in the room. She really emphasized that we all make decisions that either help us achieve our dreams or sabotage our dreams. She told the audience that we all have baggage that we lug around with us. It might be past experiences or people in our past. Her point was that we have control over what we allow in this baggage. We can take out whatever we feel we don’t need anymore. I liked her speech because she was trying to empower the audience to take control over our lives to do what will make us happy. I think this is a message that everyone needs to hear at some point in his or her life.
You can read more about A. S. King and her books here.
The first session I went to was “Gender Studies in Young Adult Literature” presented by Bree Ervin. I’d read most of the books the speaker was talking about but I really liked the points she was making about why these books were key in teaching teen boys and girls about gender roles. She talked about a lot of books like Openly Straight, The Knife of Never Letting Go, Dust Land, Cinder, Book Thief, Legend, Luna, and Ask the Passengers. Her main points were that our society is too ready to put labels on people so they can decide how to react to them. These titles rip off those labels and break down the barriers and let people just be who they’re meant to be. Girls can be strong but they can also be weak. Boys can be rescued but they can also do the rescuing.
The next session I went to was called “Stranger than Fiction: Young Adult Nonfiction”. I decided to attend this session because nonfiction is not one of my strong areas for readers advisory. I never pick up a nonfiction book to read for pleasure but I have plans to change this. The presenter, Angie Manfredi’s session gave me a good reading list to start with and my goal is to read at least 5 of them over the summer. Her list included:
Parrots Over Puerto Rico by Susan L. Roth
The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery by Steve Sheinkin
Call of the Klondike by David Meissner
Hidden Like Anne Frank: 14 True Stories of Survival by Marcel Prins and Peter Henk Steenhuis
Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different by Karen Blumenthal
A Volcano Beneath the Snow: John Brown’s War Against Slavery by Albert Marrin
Titanic Voices From the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson
Pure Grit: How WWII Nurses in the Pacific Survived Combat and Prison Camp by Mary Cronk Farrell
Theater Geek. By Mickey Rapkin
Boys in the Boat. By Daniel James Brown.
Brilliant Blunders. By Mario Luvio.
The New Kids: Big Dreams and Brave Journeys at a High School for Immigrant Teens by Brooke Hauser
My Foreign Cities by Elizabeth Scarboro
Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan
You can check out Angie’s blog here.
I stayed for the rest of the conference but the above three were the highlights for me. I came away with a better idea of why gender roles are so important to understand in YAL and I have a long list of nonfiction to hook teens. King’s speech also inspired me to overcome all of those obstacles to achieve my dreams and to help the teens I see every day achieve theirs.