Saturday, August 1, 2015

2015 ILA Conference: Closing Ceremony and Exhibit Hall

Monday, July 18, 2015
Day 3: Closing Ceremony and Exhibit Hall

Today was our final day at ILA. We joined the 6,000 other attendees to finish out the conference by listening to two speakers: Dr. Stephen Peters and Octavia Spencer.

Stephen Peters

Peters was a classroom teacher and administrator, but through his dedication became the CEO of The Peter's Group, a group that aids at-risk and honor students in the United States. In Peter's presentation, he talked about the educators that inspired him to become the success he is today.

But along with his background, Peters also addressed the problems students face today because of the decline of the family. From studies done by The Peter's Group, Peters talked about how the influences on children today have changed dramatically from the past. In the 1950s, the top five influences on children were Home, School, Church, Peers, and TV. Today, the top five influences on children are TV/Media, Peers, Church, School, and Home. Peters knows teachers cannot take the place of parents. He asked that parents take a stronger stand in helping their children succeed in life.

Peters also discussed how poverty is still a big problem in our society today. He has a special saying that he quotes often in his books, "Literacy is the vaccine for poverty." Once we give people an education, they can learn to rise above their monetary challenges and then give back to their communities.

Octavia SpencerThe final speaker was Octavia Spencer, Academy Award winning actress and recent YA author. Marcie Post, Executive Director of ILA, had a Q&A session with Octavia where two middle school students asked Octavia questions about her upbringing, reading history, acting, and writing.

Octavia admitted she has dyslexia and ADHD. These two problems made her life difficult when it came to reading. But the books that helped her become a reader were mystery books. She said that knowing there was a problem she could solve helped her continue reading even though it was a struggle. So with her new series, Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective, she wanted to make it a mystery to help other struggling readers to learn to like books.

With her acting, she credits her mother for her success. When Octavia admitted she wanted to become an actress, her mother didn't like the idea, but still supported Octavia in any way she could. But before Octavia pursued an acting career, her mother gave Octavia some guiding advice. She said Octavia should never give into the pressures of changing who she is personally, morally, or physically to suit the needs of others. That if she stayed true to herself she would be rewarded for it. At first it was a struggle getting acting jobs and staying true to herself, but eventually she was rewarded by her performance in the movie The Help.

Octavia is an advocate for those who deal with dyslexia and ADHD. She wants the world to know that you can still be successful while dealing with these mental challenges.

When the ceremony was over, we joined the flood of conference goers towards the Exhibit Hall. This time, however, we didn't see many authors. Only a few were doing book signings. But on this day, most of the booths were giving away or cutting prices on their goods. Brand new hardcover books were $10 to $5, while paperbacks were $2 or free. This is when our stash of books REALLY grew (as seen by the photo on the right). In the end I brought home SEVEN book bags full of awesome reads!

Thanks for checking out my time at ILA! I hope I conveyed what an incredible experience it was to attend. Check out the authors I mentioned in previous posts and keep an eye out for the books they will be publishing soon. Lots of amazing reads ahead! 

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