Friday, February 12, 2016

EBMA Annual Conference Highlights

The EBMA 41st Annual Meeting dawned bright this past week in the lovely Tucson, Arizona. We are always excited to attend this annual gathering, and this year was no different. Diversity was the theme that guided all the panels and presentations that we were privileged to attend, and they were each challenging and in their own way. We want to share some of our highlights from the week and give a few shout outs to the great people we saw along the way.

There were two breakfast educational sessions, the first of which was Wednesday morning’s session entitled “Six Ways to Know If You Are Culturally Responsive.” Dr. Sharroky Hollie presented, and proved to be a provocative speaker, challenging our thoughts on what diversity, culture, ethnicity really are.  Dr. Hollie is the co-founder of Culture and Language Academy of Success and the executive director of the Center for Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning.  His mission is to provide professional development for educators who want to become culturally responsive.  By the end of his presentation, the outstanding point was that everyone must understand themselves (and their preconceived notions of terms like culture and ethnicity) before incorporating them into teaching, publishing programs, or classroom collections. Throughout the presentation, it was obvious that Dr. Hollie is all about validating and affirming others. Really that was just the tip of the iceberg, so if you are interested to see and hear more, check out this video

Thursday morning’s session was called “Diversity in Action.”  It was a panel of three experts and a moderator.  The three panelists were Judy Chiasson, an administrator in the LA Unified School District, Andrew Medlar, the Chicago Public Library’s Assistant Chief for Technology, Content, and Innovation, and Troy Fresch, who is an Assistant Principal at Pioneer Middle School in Tustin CA.  Their discussion was about the ways diversity comes into play in their various fields – from district-wide programs to reduce bullying and homophobia (Chiasson), to collection development (Medlar), and working with a very diverse group of middle school students (Fresch).  It was an interesting program, and it proved encouraging to hear about the practical ways that everyone in our field is pursuing diversity.

Thursday’s lunch speakers were Doreen Rappaport (author) and Kadir Nelson (illustrator), discussing the working relationship between authors and illustrators, and Thursday’s dinner speaker was Kwame Alexander, the 2015 Newbery medal winner.  He was a fantastic speaker, and we enjoyed hearing the stories he had tell about how he got involved (reluctantly) in the publishing world. 

Even with all of the compelling speakers we were able to hear from, as usual EBMA was also a wonderful opportunity to meet with our wholesale partners. Our meetings at EBMA are always intense and productive, and we love this time to forge relationships with these partners who do so much to provide our books to school systems and everyone in the education world.

We were also so excited to preview some of our new titles that are coming out Fall of 2016! It was great to see how well received these new stories were, and everyone was especially excited for Janet Nolan’s Seven and a Half Tons of Steel.

Another great year for the books, and we’ll be seeing everyone next year!

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