This was my first year attending Camp Read-A-Lot, and it was a wonderful experience! I greatly enjoyed immersing myself in children’s literature for the summer – it was almost like being a kid again. I was especially impressed with the YA titles that I read, and the discussion that took place about them at the conference.
The conference itself was very worthwhile. I always jump at the chance to spend time with other librarians, and adding teachers into the mix added a new and valuable dimension for me. I loved the exchange of ideas as we discussed the books we had read, and I came away with many new ideas that I can use in my library. It was great to hear how people have used or would use the books we read in their libraries or classrooms, and the reactions they received from this programming.
Our keynote speakers were both excellent. The first day, Alison McGhee talked about her experiences as a writer, including how she got started. In the afternoon, she shared some reading prompts that she uses with her writing students. She had us complete a writing exercise in which we made a list of important events in our lives. Then we took one event from that list, and made a second list about that event. We were limited to the facts – no emotional descriptions were allowed. We found that we were able to get a lot of information from these descriptions, and that we felt the sense of emotion even though it wasn’t stated.
After Alison’s second talk, we learned relaxation techniques from Dr. Jill Clark.
On Wednesday, we heard from author Pete Hautman. He talked about the power that books can have, especially on growing and developing minds, and the importance of being exposed to a broad range of literature during that time. In the afternoon, he, too, shared some of the techniques he uses when teaching writing.
Our final activity was a challenging but fun “escape room” activity. This was my first experience doing an “escape room” outside of a computer game, and it was very interesting. I came away with ideas for future programming at my library.
I came away from the whole experience excited about children’s literature, and with many new ideas. I would definitely like to attend Camp Read-A-Lot in the future!