The Young Adult Literature Symposium was held in Austin, Texas this year from Friday, November 14th to Sunday, November 16th. The Young Adult Literature Symposium is one of my favorite conferences because it gets at the heart of what librarians who serve tweens and teens care about.
There were many interesting panels this year and I unfortunately could not attend them all but I will tell you a little bit about the ones the I was able to attend and what information I took from them. I want to point out that this will just be a quick overview of some of the sessions that I was able to attend. There are always multiple sessions running at any given time as well as poster sessions. As I am only one person I can only share what I experienced and even then only briefly otherwise we’ll be here forever. For more information check here: http://yalitsymposium12.ning.com/page/preliminaryprogram
The first session I attended on Saturday morning was “YA Realness: What makes ‘contemporary realism’ feel true to readers?” This was an author panel that was led by the author’s themselves. Authors included Sarah Zarr, Matt De La Peña, Coe Booth, Sarah Ryan and Jo Knowles. It was a great way to start off the conference.They spoke a lot about authenticity and getting at the heart of human experience. I enjoyed this session because we got to hear from the authors’ different perspectives. I will say that I had not read some of these authors books and now want to make a more concerted effort to do so.
The next session I attended was “Talking Book Covers with Young Adults: Whitewashing, Sexism and More.” This session was probably the most useful for school librarians. The main speaker was Allie Jane Bruce who works at Bank Street and the participating authors were Malinda Lo and Jaqueline Woodson. I felt this was the most applicable to me because I could use the base lesson plan that Allie used and re-adapt it to my purposes. I have already begun discussions with some teachers about working on book covers to further discussions and issues of diversity. As both a librarian and the middle school diversity coordinator this works so well with what I aim to do with students. From what I recall, this project was done with 6th grade students (Don’t quote me on that!).
Here is a very quick overview of what Allie presented as a 12 week project.
Week 1: Race & Covers
What are books for?
What messages are being sent through covers?
Week 2: Language (Common language for the group - perhaps also start whole project with group norms?)
Week 3: Gender and Covers
Week 4: Out of the Library (Real World Applications)
Week 5: Body Image
Week 6: Claims vs. Actions (this gets wonky - my notes are weird on this part)
Week 7:LGBTQ and Banning
Week 8: Iceberg of Identity
Week 9: Barnes and Noble Trip
Week 10 & 11: Publishers Visit
Week 12: Zen Shorts
For more information I am sure Allie would be happy to hear from everyone and I can
also provide more in depth notes and also some ideas I have around this project. I found it very fascinating and am impressed with what they have done with it. I am sure this project could also be shortened for this with limited time with their students.
Next I attended the Teens’ Top Ten Author Luncheon which was a nice place to meet people outside of my usual social circle and also to hear funny stories from Lauren Oliver, Jennifer A. Nielsen & Julie Kagawa.
For Saturday afternoon, I attended “Where are the Heroes of Color in Fantasy & Sci-fi?” which was an excellent session led by some familiar faces. Kerry Roeder, our illustrious HVLA President, Angie Ungaro, past president, and Sarah Murphy, previous board member, led the discussion which included a discussion with authors’ Amalie Howard, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Cynthia Leitich Smith and Joe Monti who is Executive Editor at Saga Press. The discussion was animated and thought provoking.
Kerry, Angie & Sarah are hoping to post this session on their amazing podcast The Watchers Podcast: http://watcherspodcast.tumblr.com/ Please also check out this site to receive more information about the panelists, articles, booklists and other important resources.
The last session I attended on Saturday was entitled “Who gets to tell our stories? Authentic Portrayals of Trans* Youth in YA Fiction. This panel was presented by Talya Sokoll, Jillian McCoy and another familiar face Kyle Lukoff, our current membership coordinator. This session also included two young authors Arin Andrew and Katie Hill who have written memoirs, “Some Assembly Required” and “Rethinking Normal” respectively, about their own experiences. This session started with some important definitions, moved toward the history of lgbtq literature, provided reading lists and then some interesting discussions. For more resources check here: http://bit.ly/1zN1Es7
After this final session there was a Book Blitz in which everyone receives a Yalsa tote and 6 tickets for signings. There are several authors there but you have to pick the 6 that you would like to see and get your books signed.
Okay, Sunday! Sunday, I attended “Genre Queer: Smashing the Closet” which was led by Christie Gibrich and Katelyn Brown. The participating authors included Malinda Lo, Robin Talley and Kristen Elizabeth Clark. Malinda Lo who is the cofounder of the blog Diversity in YA: http://www.diversityinya.com/ shared with us some interesting statistics about lgbtq literature. Unfortunately there were not a lot of handouts so I do not have one to share with you. Is is posted on the blog though so do check it out. There was a lot of discussion about representation through different genres including historical fiction & speculative fiction. There was an emphasis on the importance of moving beyond problem stories or coming out stories.
The last session I attended before heading back home to beautiful Brooklyn was “Keeping it Really Weird” which was an author led panel. The authors included were Chris Barton, Andrew Smith, Lisa Yee, Jonathan Auxier, Bruce Coville, Laurie Ann Thompson, Kris Dinnison & Kelly Milner Halls. This session was really just fun. Everyone was very funny and quirky and some of their discussions were heartfelt but for the most part this was the session to come to laugh.
I know these were all really brief overviews but this post is very long. If you wall want more information please feel free to contact me or some of the people who moderated these sessions. You can also check out my Twitter feed from the weekend @MollyTyn for some fun quotes of the weekend. Thanks All!