Monday, July 27, 2015

2015 ILA Conference: Scholastic Breakfast

Sunday, July 19, 2015
Day 2: Scholastic Breakfast

Bright and VERY EARLY on Sunday morning, we stood in the long line of about 600 guests to get into Scholastic's Breakfast. Scholastic is famous for doing these breakfasts during each ILA conference where they honor the educators who promote literacy and inspire their students to aim higher.

Along with the delicious meal and a bag of free books, Scholastic also features authors who discuss educators that inspired them. This year they had five authors presenting to our group: Mark Teague, Jewell Parker Rhodes, Dan Santat, Pam Munez Ryan, and Brian Selznick.

Image result for mark teagueAfter an incredibly delicious meal, our presentation began with author/illustrator, Mark Teague.

Mark wanted to honor his elementary school teacher, Mr. Rosenburg. What Mr. Rosenburg did to inspire Mark was to see reading as a reward. Part of this reward was providing a "reading loft" in his classroom that Mr. Rosenburg had specially built for his students. The reward of reading was given any time a student did well on an assignment. Mr. Rosenburg would then acknowledge that student's achievements to the class and that student would get to pick a book and walk proudly to the loft in front of their peers. This helped Mark develop a deep love of reading, which later led him to become a writer.

Image result for jewell parker rhodesOur next presenter was YA author, Jewell Parker Rhodes.

Jewell had a very rocky family life when she was brought into this world. Thankfully, a loving grandmother raised Jewell, her sister, and her two cousins. Unfortunately, Jewell and her sister were taken away from their grandmother by parents who were absolute strangers to them. This parental estrangement caused major problems at home. So to escape those problems Jewell found a safe haven in school and reading. She grew to love school and the freedom knowledge brought to her. And she saw the power and positive influence teachers were in her life. So, when she went to college, she too became a teacher so she could be a positive impact on her students' lives. From her experience, no one teacher made a major impact on her to become a writer. All the teachers she had, along with her teacher-like grandmother, inspired her to become a writer.

Image result for dan santatAfter Jewell, author/illustrator Dan Santat came to the stand. He is a recent recipient of the 2014 Caldecott Medal for his book The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend (soon to become a Pixar movie!).

All through Dan's life his parents were grooming him to become a doctor. Dan wasn't thrilled with the idea but followed his parents wishes. But Dan had a secret love for art and drawing. His parents did not like Dan having this artistic streak, so they kept him from taking any art classes in school. An understanding elementary librarian, Mrs. Whitlee, saw Dan's predicament and began suggesting library books that helped Dan learn how to draw on his own. Even after Dan left elementary school and pursued higher education, Mrs. Whitlee kept tabs on him and supported his artistic talent. When Dan was accepted into dental school, he realized that his dreams of drawing would be lost if he didn't make a career change. Quickly, he scrambled a portfolio together and was accepted into the Academy of Arts in San Francisco. His parents finally accepted his artistic gift and supported his career change.

Image result for pam ryan munozNext up was YA author Pam Ryan Munez.

Pam acknowledges that her very strict 4th grade orchestra teacher, Mr. Bumgartner, was her inspiration to become a writer. Pam had a love of music and tried to show it in her violin playing. One day as she was practicing, her violin's bridge popped out making the strings collapse. She had been warned by Mr. Bumgartner that if they damaged or ruined their instruments their would be no replacements. Thinking fast, Pam pasted the bridge back on her violin with tons of wood glue. When she brought her instrument back to class, Mr. Bumgartner was furious. His fury brought Pam to tears. She asked for a second chance, but he said that she could support the orchestra by being in the audience. Then he suggested she join the glee club. While in glee club, her teacher asked the class if someone would be willing to write an article for the school paper about the club. Pam volunteered to write it. Once she saw her name and words printed for all to see, she was hooked. 

Image result for brian selznickOur final speaker was author/illustrator Brian Selznick.

Apparently, at a previous IRA, Brian sang a song talking about all of his elementary school teachers. He said that out of all the things he has done or accomplished, people have readily remembered his song and frequently requested him to sing it. So he sang his "teacher song" to all of us, with pictures showing some of the teachers he sang about. Later in his presentation, he introduced his newest book, The Marvevls, which is similarly composed to his other two books: The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck. He calls The Marvels the end of his "trilogy" even though all three are stand alone works.

At the end of the breakfast, we brought our newest bag of books back to the hotel room and then headed back to the Exhibit Hall! My next post will be about our luncheon with YA author Meg Cabot. Stay tuned!

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