NCTE & ALAN recap – plus bookstore events


I spent yesterday snoring on the couch, recovering from the wonderful, high-energy weekend at the National Council of English Teachers Annual Conference. Thank you, thank you to everyone who stood in the long lines and who shared their stories of the impact my books have had on their students. You guys made me cry more than once – happy tears. Those stories humbled and honored me.

I am still fairly wiped out from the whole shebang, so let me pull my photos out of my back pocket and share them.

Here is Davis Macinnis Gill and I recreating our photo from last year. In last year’s acceptance speech and this year’s keynote address, I referenced The Scarlet Letter.

I ordered a Scarlet Letter shirt from for the occasion.

Melinda Campbell from Tuczon, AZ had her students create a tree of students reactions to SPEAK, and she brought it all the way to Philly to share with me.

I did not take a picture from the podium of the 600+ people who listened to me at the ALAN breakfast because I was too nervous. Thank you for not laughing at my poem!

I went hunting for my friends on the convention floor before my signing. Here is Jerry Spinelli with editor Alvina Ling.

My buddy Kate Messner was there!

Sharon Draper!!

Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney.

I spoke on the panel about author blogging with Justine Larbalestier, Maureen Johnson, Lisa Yee, and Barbara O’Conner. It was a fantastic panel!! I raised a point for all teachers to contemplate: Should we continue to spend classroom time on letter writing or has the time come to teach children how to compose appropriate email communication? What do you think?

I was honored to meet Risha Mullins, the KY teacher who has had books (including TWISTED) pulled from her classroom by her district superintendent and NOT returned, even though the review committee approved them. Risha received oodles of support from her fellow teachers. I am sure there will be more details soon about the progress of this challenge.

Along with all the speechifying and booksignings and panel and friend-stalking, I had three bookstore events in the Philly area with other authors. Here is the crowd that came out to the Doylestown Bookshop to hear Jay Asher, Lauren Myracle, and me. Actually, the crowd was about three times as many people as you can see here – my phone couldn’t get everyone in one pic.

On Sunday morning, Sarah Dessen and I had breakfast with 100 fans at Chester County Book & Music Company. Here we are with the members of a writer’s group, The First Novels Club, who followed us to the enormous, weekend ending last event:

It was an epic signing at Children’s Book World In Haverford, PA with T.A. Barron, Sarah Dessen, Steve Kluger, Justine Larbalestier, David Levithan, Lauren Myracle, Scott Westerfeld & Jacqueline Woodson. And me.

Yeah – it was a whirlwind. Exhausting. And wonderful and fun and energizing!

12 Replies to “NCTE & ALAN recap – plus bookstore events”

  1. I think, when it comes to letter-writing vs email-writing, students should be taught how to write both. Each form of writing is different from the other, and while more communications these days are centered around computers, computers still produce a lot of paper documents. It also doesn’t hurt to have students learning to rely on dictionaries rather than spellcheck and grammarcheck in word processing programs. Knowing certain pieces of information, such as the use of ALL CAPS indicates that a person is yelling, will help students realize that etiquette does not stop once you are at a computer.

  2. Laurie,
    I just wanted to say that I love your book t-shirt! The pictures of your events also make me wish that I lived in Pennsylvania. 🙂
    Sister of the Book Shirt

  3. I love the novel-t shirts! I’m hoping I might get one for Christmas. Otherwise, I’ll just get one for myself 🙂

  4. As a preservice teacher, I wish I could have gone. I just learned of this event a few weeks ago.

    You ask, “Should we continue to spend classroom time on letter writing or has the time come to teach children how to compose appropriate email communication? What do you think?”

    I think that organization of thought is independent of medium. We can help our students arrange their thoughts logically in any medium. That is paramount to me.

    Thanks for being more accessible than most authors. It’s very cool that you have an LJ. Of course, I will keep mine after I’m published too!

  5. Knowing how words are spelled is extremely important. In 1987, my university suitemate Robert Mirfield said spelling didn’t matter as long as one spelled enough of the letters correctly to be understood. I still disagree.

  6. Whew! is right

    What an exhausting weekend you had, Laurie. Thank you so much for coming to Chester County Book & Music Company. It was wonderful meeting you. I never had a chance to tell you that SPEAK is one of my all-time top ten favorites. CATALYST and TWISTED are pretty high on the list too.

    I posted not once but twice on my own blog about the author breakfast with you and Sarah Dessen:


    Joanne Fritz

  7. I wish I could have been there…

    I wish I could have been there, so many of my favorite authors (and the authors I plan on introducing and teaching to my students one day). I loved the picture of the two teachers who brought you the tree with all their students reactions to Speak. (I’m working with a group of high school students right now who are all in the process of reading Speak, not to mention it’s one of my favorites as well- I might have to pass this idea along, as well as file it for the future.)

    Secondly, why not teach students proper email etiquette as well as how to write letters. Why value one over the other? But an interesting point to address, and something to keep in mind as I get ready to enter the classroom.

    Thanks for the post and the pictures, and might I add, I’m just a little jealous that it was you hanging out with all my favorite authors and not me… I wish.

  8. Seems to me that letters are good, but proper emails will stand the kids in better stead – too many of them think that the computer means everything’s unofficial and temporary, and they are wrong on both counts.

  9. Risha Mullins

    I am working on raising awareness among KY teachers about the shameful censorship of Risha’s teaching and the literature she is sharing with students. Could I get your permission to use the photo on this page? Thanks. terry.elliott at

  10. I think we should still spend time on letter writing. As much as I appreciate the speed of e-mail and facebook, you don’t get the same thrill from opening an e-mail as you do from an actual letter.

    I just got word that you were coming up to the Albany area in May! But only for librarians… =( I am trying to get mom to sneak me in, but I don’t think it’ll work… Are you going to any of the nearby libraries? I am working on the teen librarians in both Guilderland and Saratoga. =) NCTE looks like tons of fun. I am reading a book by Sarah Dessen right now, and I heard Bruce Coville was there as well. Fun!

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