My ILA16 Dream Team

Close Writing Book JacketNext weekend is the International Literacy Association (ILA) 2016 Conference. This week, I am gearing up for it. As a self-declared literacy nerd, these conferences are more  like Carnival! Spending time with other educators and authors feeds my soul! I learn so much and fill my teaching toolkit so deeply. Now I am also able to share my passion with others as I present at these conferences as well.

I’ve coalesced a panel that ‘oozes’ passion for writing! They are my ILA16 Dream Team! Our session: Close Writing: Fostering Relationships Between Writers and their Writing will be Sunday morning, July 10 (10:30-11:30) in room 109 at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. If you are attending ILA16, I invite you to join us.  If you aren’t I encourage you to check out my team of panelists and if you haven’t read their books, you need to. I guarantee that you are in for such a treat!!

Meet my ILA16 Dream Team

Caroline Eldridge

I am incredibly lucky to work with so many gifted teachers. Caroline Eldridge is a 2nd grade teacher who is truly a Close Writing mentor for her students.  She and I collaborated a great deal this year as we were working on our National Board Certification and striving to lift her writers to new heights.  We’ll be sharing video clips of Close Writing approaches we have used in her classroom and she’ll share some of her insights on creating a culture of more purposeful writers.

Jennifer Jacobson

Jennifer Jacobson does it all. She is a writer, teacher, educational consultant, editor, and fantastic speaker. I learned so much from her book No More, “I’m Done!” that helped shape my thinking about what it means to be an independent writer. I have been captivated by her novels Small As An Elephant and Paper Things that deal with tough subjects (abandonment and homelessness) with compassion and honesty. They are beautifully written and need to be experienced! Her Andy Shane series books are must-haves for early chapter book readers. Jennifer knows first-hand the challenges teachers face as they try to support young writers. She seeks to empower teachers and writers to overcome those challenges and she walks the talk!

Cynthia Lord

Cynthia Lord has been my hero since she penned her first book (and one of my all-time favorites) Rules.  This fellow Mainer has a heart of gold and a head full of beautiful stories.  When you hear her speak you will be enchanted by her soft spoken voice that conveys such fervor for writing. Her books for middle grade readers: Touch BlueHalf a Chance, and A Handful of Stars, will touch you deeply and leave footprints of those characters on your heart. She has an incredible gift for taking small moments and crafting the most meaningful stories and vivid characters. But she can also make you laugh and cheer with her Hot Rod Hamster series of picture books and early readers or encourage young readers to volunteer with her new Shelter Pet Squad series. She is truly a close writer who taps into the stories around her and cultivates a garden from their seeds.

Lynda Mulally Hunt


Lynda Mullaly Hunt is a former teacher who has found a calling as a brilliant writer. Her first two novels need to be in the library of every middle grade classroom. One For the Murphys introduced us to Carley Connors who entered the foster care system feeling hopeless and emerged feeling loved. She broke our hearts and put them back together with greater empathy and compassion. Lynda followed that with Fish in a Tree ,where we met Ally Nickerson whose dyslexia made this bright and creative student feel stupid. I can’t imagine a classroom in this country that doesn’t have an Ally, and Lynda has made it safer for those kiddos to ask for help and easier for teachers and peers to be more empathetic and supportive. Lynda has a gift for creating characters that make us reflect on who we want to be as people and challenges us to be someone’s hero.  Her books have won more awards than I can list on this blog, but the Schneider Family Award from the ALA that she just won pretty much sums up her brilliance and compassion.

So that is my dream team. I could spend a week listening to and learning from these people, but we only have an hour. I hope many of you can join us, and I hope that I will have future opportunities to collaborate with these amazing Close Writers!  If you won’t be at ILA16 I encourage you to check out the works of these authors and be inspired by the power of their words.

What’s On My Book Radar?

26875689nine, ten: A September 11 Story 15 years after that beautifully blue day, several fantastic authors have penned novels exploring Sept. 11. This amazing book by Nora Raleigh Baskin introduces us to 4 children and the varied lives they lived as Americans in the 48 hours leading up to the day that would change us all forever. For those readers who know a lot about the events of Sept. 11th the foreshadowing and references will grip you. For those readers who know very little about 9/11 this book will provide a context for the human story beyond the headlines and facts. Baskin is careful when she considers her audience and doesn’t overwhelm them with horrific details, but she shines a light on the tragedy and the implications for Americans as the world around us changed on that day.Read this book. Share this story. Learn from our history.


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