Traveling Life 6b

De Zavala Middle School/Toscha Reeves, Librarian: this was the first of my stops (05/07/08), and the highlight was talking with an honors reading class, where K and others showed they are so far ahead of the literacy ballgame; we talked sci fi/fantasy, poetry, writing, and Sharon Draper, whose Tears of a Tiger they were reading. We talked about the poetry of J. Patrick Lewis, Pat Mora, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Janet Wong, among others, and the art of Christopher Myers, in particular his Jabberwocky. A great way to start the week.

Houston Middle School/Lori Bierschwale, Librarian: Lori has come over from the dark side; she was a math teacher before taking on the awesome duties of a keeper of books, a pusher of reading. I was very happy to see how a ton of her students were carrying around some cool titles. One class had just finished reading Walter Dean Myers' Scorpions and so I had to mention his upcoming Sunrise Over Fallujah, which I'll be reviewing for MultiCultural Review soon.
Later that evening, I met with a group of parents at Austin Middle School for a talk on the responsiblity of Latino parents when it comes to promoting literacy in the home; this was no regular group of students, either: they were folks working on learning the English language in an after-school program, from which they were graduating the following day. Felicidades, padres!

Union Bower/Diana Stephens, Librarian: With apologies to Diana and her wonderful students (05/08/2008)--since starting up my blog, my intention is to take pictures of every place I visit, but I'm still getting used to it; what excuses can I use? It was too early in the day, I was too out of it, the sun got in my eyes. No excuses, really. I just dropped the ball. But what a group of older students. UB is a sort of alternative school, serving students who need to approach education in ways other than traditional. But readers they are. M, you've got to think of what university you'll be going to; I, E, and L, the same to you. Think forward, think successful, then get it done. Thanks for hanging out.

Crockett Middle School/Lisa Cartwright, Librarian: At Crockett I met some more great readers and some wonderful reading and ESL teachers, each of whom is doing a great job getting these kids excited about reading. I got some really solid questions, especially from a young man to my right, T, who I could tell was well-read and headed in just the right direction. A young man I just know will end up a lawyer, a politician, a teacher.

Austin Middle School/Gayle Benage, Librarian: pictured above is what Lori the day before called the pebbled walkway, or something like that. When we asked Gayle about it, or Lisa (one or the other; again, my memory fails), she said, "Yeah, pebbles if you're a giant." I didn't get a pic of the school sign, knowing this path that leads directly to the library by the backway was the only pic I could take. The path to book haven, right. Hey, S, it was the best answer you gave to my question talking before the presentation: Q: So, S, where are you going to college? A: Either Harvard or Yale. The sky's the limit. Shoot for it.

Java Makes Me Jump! night @ Barnes and Noble: Dr. Bailey prepared me in advance about this event at the Irving Mall: "You never know: you might get 50 people in the audience, you might get seven." My thinking is simple: if I get two, but two who are all about reading, then that's all we need. We got more than two, not quite 50. I monopolized the time, talking non-stop just about. I should've quit, though, because I understand some of the students had booktalks ready. Sorry. But I was just so excited. Later we met at this great restaurant, Via Reál located in Las Colinas Plaza, owned by Fran Lively Mathers. And lively she is. I know this because she visited our table, and she said something so interesting: meaning these librarians, "You all are our future." I'd always heard that said about students, but the way she explained it was that educators are the ones in the classroom today, every day, teaching our kids who then become our future. Though I loved the chicken I had, better even were the vegetables. The grilled baby carrots are to die for!

Travis Middle School/Amy Hankamer, Librarian (05/09/08): Amy runs a tight ship, and she knows her readers so well, down to what areas of the library the students visit more often than others. She plans on informally shifting some books she just knows her readers would pick up from where they're shelved to the section titled "short stories." And her own boy, J, is so awesome! A reader and a gamer both. Cool meeting you, J.

Bowie Middle School (trust me, far as the sign is)/Hope Krum, Librarian: Wow! This group was way mixed--sixth, seventh, and eighth graders all represented, ESL students and ELA both. Kudos to the four eighth grade guys who did a readers' theater of a section of my The Whole Sky Full of Stars. Then the questions came. And it was the best that a girl started us off, some guys and girls added theirs, and a girl ended: the final question I wasn't able to address since we ran out of time: Q: Why don't you write about girls? A: I've tried and I got it all wrong, in my opinion. I don't want to disrespect that particular audience, but I've got some ideas, so you'll get your book. Hey, read the following short stories included in Finding Our Way to read a few female heroes I've written: "The Dive," "SylvieSylvieSylvie," "Andy and Ruthie," and "My Self Myself."

Lamar Junior High School/Cindi Rockett, Librarian: What a way to end the week. First things first, though: I hope your boy's doing well, Cindi. Right before heading over, she got a call that her boy'd got a cut in the head and she left me in the quite capable hands of two of the others: Hope and Amy, who joined me in Cindi's absence. There I talked a good bit to a large group of readers and after met with T, A, and F, who I'd met the night before at JAVA at B&N. Too cool you all are.

All I can say is that these middle school librarians've got it together. I told Dr. Lea Bailey that I'd never seen a group this large of educators all focused on the same goal, reading young folks. They are quite the family, and Irving (TX) ISD is so fortunate to have them all at this time in this place. And from what I understand from speaking to each of them, their administrators are so supportive. I so want this group to adopt me as their writer. It was an awesome time.


ahankamer said...

Dear Rene',

Thanks for the good word! We so enjoyed having you in Irving. Thanks for making time to do the extra appearances at the Bilingual Book Club and the Java Makes Me Jump night-- we got to reach a different group of parents and kids at each school and at each venue.

Having had the privilege of listening to three school visit talks, may I also add that I really appreciate you adapting your talk to the needs of the students. They all enjoyed hearing about the myriad reading and writing topics you shared.

I’m sure I speak for us all when I say we’d be happy to adopt you as “our writer!” You are welcome back any time!

Amy Hankamer

p.s. My son “J” loved seeing his “name” in your blog!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for visiting Crockett Middle School! We enjoyed hearing your childhood stories, how you love to write, and about some of your awesome book. Also, it was awesome to meet a published author. We look forward to continue reading your current and future works! Best of luck!

Mrs. Renick's 4th and 5th period reading classes, Crockett Middle School