I am a proud citizen of nErDy Nation, a diverse group of educators, librarians, authors and lovers of books. We connect with one another to share our passion for kidlit and literacy via social media, national conventions, local workshops, and private get togethers. My professional career and personal life has been transformed by these connections and I will be forever grateful.
This weekend was a classic example of the power of nErDy Nation. I attended #nErDcampNNE (Northern New England) that was put together by some of my very favorite nerds of all. Lesley Burnap, Jenn Chafin, Cathy Potter, Susan Dee, Natalee Stotz, and Jason Lewis (left to right) worked diligently to host this EdCamp in Maine Even the winter storm that hit us hard couldn’t keep hundreds of nErDs from attending this fantastic “unconference”.
The weekend kicked off with a nErDy Author Night with 35 authors and illustrators from New England signing books and talking with their fans. Many drew illustrations, took selfies, and offered words of encouragement to future authors. The place was packed with students, parents, educators, and librarians who wanted to make connections with the writers and illustrators of the books they love. nErDcampNNE Author Illustrator Event
This similar event, last year, was where I linked up with many authors who helped me with my book CLOSE WRITING. They generously shared their thinking and their writing process with me so that I could bring those approaches to the classrooms in which I teach. That never would have happened without being a part of nErDy Nation! I will be forever grateful to them, and to events like this which brought us together. I feel so lucky to call them my friends as well as my colleagues. (Clockwise: Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Melissa Stewart, Tamra Wight, Jennifer Jacobson, Ammi-Joan Paquette, Cynthia Lord, and Lynn Plourde)
The next morning we braved the ice and snow to gather for our nErD Camp. We generated an idea board of topics that people wanted to explore together. Rooms were assigned, facilitators were selected, and folks made their choices. The hardest part was trying to decide which sessions to attend, they were all so good! It was tough for me to miss some as I was presenting, but it was fantastic to share what I had been working on (Close Writing) with other passionate teachers. Every question they asked deepened my thinking even more. When I could be a participant, I learned from authors sharing their craft and process and teachers who are incredibly innovative and dedicated. It was such an empowering experience.
Even with all of that great learning, one of the best things about the weekend was making new nErD friends and reconnecting with old ones. It is the relationships we forge and nurture that makes life so rich and meaningful-both professionally and personally. By the time I got home I had dozens of new followers and friend requests on social media. I left with wonderful memories, learning, and friendships that I know will enrich my life in ways I can’t yet envision.
I encourage everyone to become a ‘citizen’ of nErDy Nation if they love books, love learning, and would love to be a part of something powerfully positive in their lives. You can get started here: https://nerdybookclub.wordpress.com/ The Nerdy Book Club is where it all began!
nErDy Nation = Live, Love, Learn!
What’s on My Book Radar?
This past week the American Library Association hosted their Youth Media Awards. For many of us, this is a bigger awards ceremony than the Oscars or Tonys! I had my mock Caldecott and Newbery favorites and was anxious to hear their names called-it didn’t happen. There were soooo many great books last year, I know these committees had some hard work to do.
I think many of us were surprised that the Newbery was awarded to a picture book, but Last Stop on Market Street is about as close to perfect as a book can get in my opinion. Matt de la Pena’s use of colloquial language and positive message makes this book accessible and empowering to so many readers. Though I was disappointed some of my favorites this year didn’t share in the honors, I was truly happy that Matt’s book not only won the Newbery, but was a Caldecott Honor book as well.
If you haven’t gotten a copy for your classroom yet, what are you waiting for?