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WSRA24 Sessions and Takeaways!

Updated: Feb 10

This week, I had the chance to present at the Wisconsin State Reading Association conference. I shared during 5 of the 6 breakout sessions that were held during my time at the conference, so I didn't have the opportunity to attend other presentations, but I was able to attend Mr. Schu's closing keynote before heading to the airport.

I've seen Mr. Schu present a zillion times (approximately), but his message of connection and hope through story never gets old. If anything, I would say that in 2024 we need Mr. Schu more than ever! His keynote, which focused on how story saved his life, and about how humans are built for story, and about how modern classics in children's literature can amplify our shared humanity, felt like a balm for my heart after spending several days with educators who care very deeply about the reading lives of children, and who are motivated to connect the readers they serve with books in which they will feel seen, valued, and inspired, but also

are (justifiably) fearful of the world we live in and those who seek to demonize teachers and limit kids' access to the power of story. Being an educator has never been easy, but right now, together, we're living through a particularly difficult time to devote your life to helping kids become readers. I want all the teachers, librarians and other educators I met this week to know that I see you. While I can't wave a magic wand and fix <<waves hands around>> all the things, I will continue to use whatever voice I have to tell your story and tell the story of how what you do saves lives and makes the world better.

After taking much of the fall/winter "off" (from work that involved travel), WSRA was my first conference of 2024. Today as I head home and then onto my next opportunity to learn and share, I'm left feeling hopeful and with a full heart. Somehow, in the face of unprecedented challenges, teachers persist. It's an honor to be a part of their journey and I'm humbled by the opportunity to share ideas and resources that were built specifically, and intentionally, to support them.


Over the years, I've shared the story of how meeting Henry Winkler in 2014 was a touchstone moment for me. As someone who grew up very poor and transient, I have very few photos of myself as a child. One I treasure features me in a Fonzie sweatshirt and hiding behind a Pink Panther doll. (Is there any doubt this photo was taken in the 1970s?!) That picture perfectly captures who I was during that time in my life: shy, ashamed and desperate to be invisible. I often credit public schools, and libraries in particular, for saving the girl in that first photo. When speaking to educators, I point to the second photo as evidence of what the public schools so often do for kids like me. Teachers, librarians and reading saved the girl in the first photo and turned her into the one in the second picture, who got to speak to thousands of educators at the same conference where The Fonz was speaking, too.

So... it probably goes without saying that I absolutely had to visit the Bronz Fonz when I was in Milwaukee! Of all the pictures in this group, I think I may love this new addition, of me standing next to a statue of an iconic TV character, overlooking the Milwaukee river, most of all. Not only do I look thrilled (and I was!) but it also captures who I am now: one lucky librarian!

Until next time, Wisconsin!



My time at WSRA was sponsored, in part, by Bookelicious. (Note: I was no way required to mention them in this post as part of that sponsorship). I had the best time sharing the Bookelicious Bookmoji AND our Bookelicious Middle Grade Book Club during all of my reading related sessions. Both of these resources are FREE and I love them with my whole heart. I hope you'll check them out.


As an extremely introverted person, when I'm at a confeence, I often wear headphones between sessions. Not only do they cancel out the surrounding noise, but they also afford me the opportunity to wrap myself in something familiar: music. If we're ever at a conference together and you see me wandering around with headphones on, this doesn't mean you can't say hello to me. It does mean, however, that I might not hear you when you call my name, so don't be afraid to give me a wave or tap me on the shoulder, too. For anyone who might be interested, here's my current go-to playlist.


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