Monday, February 28, 2011

M.T. Anderson, the Singer!

Okay, I just found this youtube video doing a search for something else: let's see if the link will work on this blog, and let's hope that he regales us in a few weeks as well!

Just 16 days til the Illinois Reading Council Conference!

Wow, tomorrow is March 1st, and the conference is only 16 days away – where did this last year go?  I’ve had so much fun with the planning and the details, and the READING that I fear the anticlimactic letdown that is sure to follow the end of the conference.  But I am SO looking forward to this!

A couple of updates and important notes for conference-goers:  please make sure you do not keep your room key next to your cell phone.  Doing so may demagnetize your room key and you will end up going back to the front desk to get it rekeyed.  Not fun, especially late at night when all you want to do is crawl into your motel room and drop.

BIG NEWS:  Our own Steven Layne and Bill Teale, both from Illinois, were elected to the International Reading Association Board of Directors!  We are so proud of them, and they will represent Illinois as the wonderful hotbed of cutting-edge literacy instruction that we all know it to be.  Congratulations to them both!

PLEASE check out the schedule of events for the conference – I’ve changed a few things around this year so that there will be fewer conflicts with the afternoon and evening events.  I realized this after talking with someone yesterday who had already made her choice between the Poetry Coffeehouse and the Literacy Cabaret.  She had not checked the Preliminary Program, but instead just assumed that certain events would be held at the same time that they had been held in previous years.  Glad we had that talk, so she now knows she can come to both!

I went to the Lincoln Library in Springfield today and read 13 more books.  I didn’t get there last week but the week before I did, and I read 18 books that day and 28 books on a day prior to that.  So that’s 59 more books I knocked out, and I believe that’s on top of 56 others I had already done, but I have to do a closer count to be sure.  I’m learning some new words, too!  I’ll write about a few of the books later in the week, hopefully tomorrow.  

Monday, February 21, 2011

More Press for the IRC Conference!

Well, I'm really trying to get the word out about the upcoming Illinois Reading Council Conference, and last week Blake Wood from the University of Illinois, where I work, came down to the Lincoln Library in Springfield and did a little video interview of me reading books.  If you're interested in watching it, you can  check out this link, or just go to the UIS web site ( and look under 'Hot Topics' or 'Newsroom' and you can find it.  I don't know how long they keep those links active, but it's there for now!  Or you could just try this link and see if that takes you there.  I only stayed and read for about an hour that day; I found out after reading for 2 1/2 hours the time before that that my eyes really can take only so much!  I read several of Jane Yolen's books (the library has quite the collection!) and some of Robert Burleigh's books.  Today Channel 3 news was going to do some kind of interview as well, but thank heavens bigger news came up!  I wasn't prepared for that!  Plus the library was closed today, so that all worked out.  But believe me, I'll be wearing make-up to work for the next few weeks, just in case!

The stack of books Nancy Huntley from the Lincoln Library in Springfield put together for me
The 28 books on the table are the ones I read in 2 1/2 hours the first day that I was at the library.  The ones on the cart are books I still have to read, and it just barely touches the total! 
Tonight I'm going to create a thank-you card for T.A. Barron for sending me a whole box of his books - what a good guy!  And for the next blog entry, I'm going to try to do a 'vlog' entry - a video blog entry.  My goal is to try to do at least one entry every other day before the conference; we'll have to see if that works out!  There are so many fabulous speakers coming that I haven't even mentioned on this blog.  Of course they're on the Preliminary Program, but I've been focusing on the authors because those are the books I'm trying to read, but I would encourage anyone reading this to go to the IRC web site and read through the program.  And remember - while we have fabulous featured speakers, we also have troves of other fabulous speakers coming - teachers and other educational professionals who will blow you away with their great ideas!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Walk-Through Before Conference

Okay, so this is just one more of the important steps that happens before the conference itself happens, and it's just one more reason why I'm not worried about everything happening the way it's supposed to.  About a month before the conference, the Conference Chair and the Executive Director go to Springfield to double check last minute details with both hotels (Abraham Lincoln and Hilton) and the convention center (Prairie Capital Convention Center).  On a year when all of the stars align, the Vice-President gets to go as well so s/he sees what will happen the following year.  It's a great cyclical process.  Tomorrow is the day for this year's walk-through.

We'll go over the menus for meals, the bus schedule, the time for setting up special events, the placement of signs, and seemingly minor details as well, like the fact that the servers for meals need to be reminded that they serve the speakers' tables first.  Even though this might not seem overly important, it's a special time for two reasons: one, everyone is excited, including personnel from the venues, and two, it's a reality check - the event that the conference chair has dreamt about for two years and the office has managed to plot out in such detail is really coming to fruition!  The most important thing for me to do tonight is to get a good night's sleep so that I can be sharp tomorrow and make sure I ask all the right questions and attend to the important details.  I have to say, though, that I am so unconcerned: these folks have been doing this for so long they are pros.  And I mean not only the hotels and convention center, but the head IRC office.  What a thrill it is to be working with such wonderful people!

I say that I need to get a good night's sleep, but I am deep into book five of the Percy Jackson series (The Last Olympian), and again, I want to stress that I'm not reading this book because Riordan is coming to the conference, because he's not - I'm reading this series because John Rocco, the illustrator, is coming to the conference.  (He's one of three illustrators this year:  he is joined by Marc Brown and Mordicai Gerstein.) So I am going to read for at least a good 45 minutes before I turn the light out tonight.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) is the walk-through, but when we finish, I will be going to the Lincoln Library in downtown Springfield to read, read, read!  Nancy Huntley has been so kind as to gather together as many of the remaining books for me as she can get her hands on.  I've been a reading fool the past year, trying to make it through the novels written by the authors coming to IRC, but if I'm on my game, I should be able to knock out at least 100 children's books tomorrow.  They go much more quickly. Am I nuts?  Probably!  Wish me luck, and I hope to see you in March!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Woefully Behind!

Okay, I've done a rough counting of how many books I've read and how many I have to go, and it looks like I've read around 56 of 564 books!  So I'm at 10 percent.  Most of the books I've read so far, though, have been the larger novels.  Next Tuesday I'll be settling in at the Lincoln Library in Springfield with a stack of books provided to me by Nancy Huntley.  I'm hoping to get a couple hundred books read, if she's got that many for me.  Those picture books go pretty fast; I think Arthur's life is going to pass before MY eyes!

"Press" for the Illinois Reading Council Conference!

Hey, check this out!