Tuesday, November 6, 2012

reading it forward

I suppose I'd have enough to say about my trip to St. Louis that I could write a week of posts about it, and I may do that.

I had never been to St. Louis before, but I am definitely looking forward to coming back next October to participate in the <3 Less Than Three Anti-Bullying Conference.

And I didn't really know much at all about what brought me out here this time: the YALSA Symposium and the St. Louis Public Library's "Read it Forward" Program. I'll talk about the YALSA Symposium and my St. Louis experiences on another post, though, because I'd like to say a couple things about the St. Louis Public Library.

Over the past five days I've been here, somebody remarked that there are plenty of reasons why the St. Louis Public Library is rated number two in the nation, and I think I got to see some of those reasons during my visit.

It was quite an honor for me to be chosen the Read it Forward author by the library for 2012. The program is an amazing way the library connects kids to books, literacy, and reading, and it is entirely dependent on the tireless work of librarians like Carrie Dietz.

In the past few months, Carrie visited something like 4,000 kids in St. Louis schools, talking about books and getting students to connect to the public library. As part of the program, the St. Louis Public library purchased 500 copies of my books and gave them away to high school students who wanted them, so when the time came for my visit there was an almost limitless supply of kids who'd read my books and were well-armed with questions about my stories and how they related to me as a person.

I met kids in St. Louis who had read every single one of my books, including Passenger and King of Marbury, which only came out weeks earlier.

On Monday, I visited two High Schools--Cleveland Naval Junior ROTC High and Central High School for the Performing Arts--where I gave talks about literacy and words, and their inseparable connections to being human, and then again I spoke at the St. Louis Public Library in the evening, and even that event was packed with kids. In a library. On a cold, wet night.

Carrie also put on what was probably the best panel session at the YALSA Symposium over the weekend, and I'll talk about that event next time. I have to get ready to catch a plane home (I am so incredibly homesick), so I can be back in time to do my patriotic duty today, which is to sit down and have a drink. And vote. Or something like that.