NCTE Annual Conference


ALAN Online News: October 2011
On Not Curbing Our Enthusiasm

Organizations composed of teachers, librarians, writers, professors, and all-around bibliophiles don't throw around terms like "amazing," "incredible," or "best ever" lightly when describing professional conferences.

How does the ALAN Workshop generate this kind of fanbase? My  theory is that we have too few opportunities to simply celebrate books and writers for their own sweet sake. These two magical days in November offer a chance to indulge our passion for literature, for stories about individuals and communities. And we get to indulge this passion in the company of the smart, funny, and wonderfully human writers who create stories good enough to engage that most demanding of audiences, young adults.

In this newsletter you'll hear from ALAN President Wendy Glenn about just of few of the treats in store at the annual workshop, read one first-time attendee's reaction to the 2010 Orlando workshop, and find answers to FAQs as well as tips from experienced ALAN Workshopper Daria Plumb.

You don't have to take our word for it though. Come to Chicago and see what you think. 

Anne McLeod, Editor
ALAN Online News
In This Issue
Election Results
President's Message
Flashback to ALAN 2010
Workshop Tips
AEW 2012 Committee
Call for Peer Reviewers
Calls for Manuscripts

ALAN Workshop

November 21-22, 2011

Chicago Hilton


Register through Early registration rates end November 1.  


Congratulations to ALAN's New President-Elect and Directors

Election results are in, and Jeff Kaplan is ALAN's President-Elect for 2012. Joining the Board of Directors for 3-year terms are: Jeff Harr, Karen Hildebrand, and Barbara Ward


Forge Ahead to Chicago!
A Message from ALAN President Wendy Glenn
Dear ALAN Members,

The fall is upon us.  Cooler weather rides on the wind, nature shows her seasonal colors, kids in costume come a-knockin', and the ALAN Workshop is right around the corner!  I'm so excited about what's in store that I'm a bit giddy.  To experience this same thrill, consider some of these highlights:
  • Keynote address by M.T. Anderson entitled, "The end of the story: Is there a future in narrative?"
  • Single author presentations by Matt de la Pe´┐Ża, Sarah Dessen, Laurie Halse Anderson, Coe Booth, Chris Crutcher, and David Levithan
  • A session titled, "That was then; this is now" featuring three YA greats: Angela Johnson, Walter Dean Myers, and Janet Tashjian
  • Conversations on craft with Jacqueline Woodson, Kazu Kibuishi, and Kenneth Oppel
  • Some humor:  "YA lit, the internet, and social networking" with Sean Beaudoin
    and John Green
  • Some weight:  "Crossing lines of difference" with Cara Chow, Sharon M. Draper, J.L. Powers, and Matthew Quick
  • Some interaction:  "Dynamic duo:  It's about time" with Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
  • And a whole lot of celebrating (the ALAN and AEWA Receptions), breakout session expertise, and free books!

If this sounds enticing, I encourage you to take a peek at the full Workshop Schedule posted on the ALAN website. Space is limited, as you know, so please visit NCTE  to register soon.  I'm so looking forward to seeing you!

Flash Back to ALAN 2010
Notes from a First-Time ALAN Workshop Attendee

The whole experience began with a cocktail party the night before the workshop started.  All these famous authors were milling about, many of them seemingly as star-struck as I was inthe face of Jack Gantos and Gary Paulsen and all the others. I talked to them about the experience of writing, the reaction my students have to their work, and even offered my opinion when they asked for it. They were kind and friendly, and the whole thing was amazing.

The conference itself was equally incredible.  I received a box of books on my way in the door, which I eagerly dug into.  There were books from many of the authors who were speaking, all available for signatures.  The authors spoke for fifteen or twenty minutes each, and I was riveted the entire time.  Between author sessions, there were the most charming poetry readings I've ever heard. 

The experience itself was beyond my wildest imagination. More important than that, however, was the impact my attendance had on my students.  Not only did I return with the box of new books to share with them, but I also came back with stories of the authors they'd idolized for years, and those had as big an impact as the books themselves. Because the transformation in their mindset was instantaneous. The authors my students loved became human, became people. 

The students could say, as they picked up books created by authors I'd met, "Oh,that's the guy Mrs. Wallace said was so funny," or "That's the one who read excerpts from her high school diary," or "That's the one who wore overalls to the cocktail party," or "Those are the authors Mrs.Wallace said she wishes she could hang out with."  And suddenly these magic words that transport my students every time they open a book have an origin, a creator.  And if words like these can come from an ordinary person, why not them? Suddenly, my students could be authors too.

- Melinda Wallace
Advanced Content Language Arts Teacher
West Jackson Middle School
Jefferson, Georgia 

Sharon Draper
2011 ALAN Award Winner Sharon Draper


What's the ALAN Breakfast? It starts how early? Seriously?
The ALAN Breakfast is a separate event that you must register and pay for in addition to your ALAN Workshop registration. You may attend one and not the other, and you need not need to be an ALAN member in order to attend (but we really wish you'd consider it-it's an awesome organization). You will need to show your ticket at the door, so be sure to bring it with you.

The breakfast begins at 7 a.m. I know it's early, but NCTE sessions start early (in fact, you probably won't make the first session or two if you're planning to attend the breakfast. Trust me when I tell you that it is totally worth it to be up at the crack of dawn for this event.   

Once breakfast is over, several announcements will be made and recipients of the ALAN Foundation Award Grants (which provide up to $1,500 to fund research in young adult literature) and Gallo Grants (which provide up to $750 + registration fees for classroom teachers with fewer than 5 years of experience to attend the ALAN Workshop) will be named. For more information, see ALAN Grants.  

Two ALAN awards will also be given. The Ted Hipple Service Award for the individual who has contributed to the ALAN organization goes to Gary Salvner, former ALAN Executive Secretary. The ALAN Award for outstanding contributions to the field of young adult literature recognizes author Sharon Draper. This year's keynote speaker is YA author Jacqueline Woodson. She's amazing. Enough said.

What's going on in the NCTE Exhibit Hall? 
If you're already in town for NCTE or if you get in early enough on Sunday, take a swing through the NCTE Exhibit Hall. Lots of publishers and vendors have booths set up here. Not only are they displaying their newest and most popular titles, but most of them have books and materials for sale at reduced rates and free promotional items. Throughout NCTE, publishers also have scheduled author signings at their booths and, if you keep your eyes peeled, you're very likely to run into several authors just wandering around. And, here's the tip of the day: Just before the hall closes on Sunday (usually somewhere around 1 p.m.) lots of books are available at MAJOR sale prices (and I mean MAJOR *wink*).

I got an invitation to the cocktail party. That sounds swanky. Do I need cocktail attire?
The cocktail party is one of my favorite events of the ALAN Workshop. It takes place on Sunday evening and is the "kick-off" event of the workshop. You'll see people in everything from jeans to professional attire to party dresses and suits. Like most things ALAN-related, it's pretty casual, so the rule of thumb is just to be comfortable.

What about the actual cocktails? Is there a cash bar? Do I need to bring money?
This shindig is hosted by the publishers, for which we are exceptionally grateful!. Light hors d'oeuvres will be served and the open bar generally serves soft drinks and an assortment of wine and beer. Tips are welcome.

Wait a minute. So you're telling me I get to have snacks and adult beverages for free AND schmooze with my very fave YA authors and their publishers?
Yep. It is the Best. Thing. Ever.

Don't be shy. I know it's hard to believe because we think they're rock stars, but authors really are just regular people. It's okay to stroll up, introduce yourself, and start chatting with them. You might even bring your camera so you can preserve the moment for posterity.

How does the workshop work?
With the exception of one set of breakout sessions each day, all 400-500 of us will be in the same room all day for both days. Throughout the day, panels of authors, often organized around a certain theme or genre, and individual authors will be on stage talking about their books. Once the authors have finished speaking, they will move to the back of the room for a silent signing (more on that in a bit). People who are interested in having their books signed will form a line(s) at the back of the room.

Occasionally an author needs to be whisked away to another event, but most will be available to sign your books and hear about how much you, your students, your patrons, and/or your children love their books. But please, please, please whisper. Other authors will be speaking while you're in line.   

There aren't many scheduled breaks. In addition to the lunch break, there's usually only a short break during each of the morning and afternoon sessions. People are up and down and in and out all day, so don't worry if you're a little ADHD and don't think that you can sit that long, you'll have plenty of opportunities to get up and move around if you need to.

Wrapping up the day on Monday will be the 2011 Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award ceremony and reception. There are no other scheduled evening activities. Go out and enjoy the nightlife. Grab a nice dinner. Shop the Magnificent Mile. Stay in your room and read, read, read. It's totally up to you.

 - Daria Plumb 


Top 10 ALAN Workshop Tips 
  •  Get there a bit early.  You'll have to wait in line to check in and to collect your box of books (Oh, did I forget to mention the enormous box of books you get on Monday morning?)
  • The box of books is heavy. Think about bringing something with wheels-a fold-up luggage cart, one of those collapsible rolling crates, an empty carry-on suitcase, etc.    
  • The hotel business center will often set up a makeshift shipping office near the conference room for people who want to ship their books home. 
  • The aisle seats and the back row fill up first.  This is so people can easily get in and out for the signings.  People do tend to sit in the same seats both days.  It's sort of one of those unwritten rules.  
  • Bring a sweater, sweatshirt, or jacket.  No matter where we go or what the outside temperature is, conference rooms are usually sub-arctic.  I don't know why. 
  • Snacks aren't always easily accessible in these places, so if you're a "grazer", you should plan to bring something with you.  
  • Throughout the day, ARC's (advanced reader copies) and other books will become available in the back of the room or in the lobby.  Generally this will be unannounced, so you may want to cruise back there every now and again to see if any have been put out.
  • Think about bringing some business cards. Tuck them into the back of your name tag holder.  
  • It might make me a total dork, but I always wear my name tag to any NCTE/ALAN events.  I am not, however, so dorky that I continue to wear my name tag once the day's events are over and I leave the convention hall.  You can take it off.  Really.  No, really...take it off.
  • Even if you're not coming in for NCTE, you can still book your hotel reservations through the NCTE website to get the conference room rate.  The Chicago Hilton even has rooms with 2 double beds and 2 bathrooms for right around $200, which is fantastic if you're trying to save money by squeezing 4 people into one room.   
Lastly, don't forget to breathe and have fun!  The ALAN Workshop experience tends to be addictive in all the best ways and we definitely want to see you back (with new recruits) next year.  

 - Daria Plumb

Note: Check the ALAN website soon for complete versions of Daria's FAQs and Tips for workshop attendees. 

Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award Committee
New Members Announced
The 2012 Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award Committee is pleased to announce the appointment of four new members, who will serve for two years with the possibility of reappointment for a third.   The new members were chosen from an extremely impressive group of candidates and will join seven returning members from the 2011 committee: Ricki Ginsberg (Committee Chair), Wendy Glenn (Past Chair), Carolyn Angus, Lois Buckman, Jeff Harr, Jeff Kaplan, and Diane Tuccillo.

The new members are:
Jonatha Basye (Librarian, Ralston High School, Ralston, NE)
Kellee Moye (Classroom Teacher, Hunter's Creek Middle School, Orlando, FL)
Mindi Rench (Classroom Teacher, Northbrook Junior High School, Northbrook, IL)
Lois Stover (Professor, St. Mary's College of Maryland, St Mary's City, MD)

For more information about the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award, including award context and criteria and submission information, please visit the ALAN website  or contact Ricki Ginsberg.

Call for Peer Reviewers
Journal of Graduate Research in Young People's Materials and Culture
The Journal of Graduate Research in Young People's Materials and Culture is a peer reviewed open-access e-journal that will publish graduate student research in the areas of children's and young adult literature, childhood studies, and cultural studies related to children and young people, as well as creative writing for children and young adults.

If you are interested in contributing as a peer reviewer please send an email to indicating your areas of interest and the types of papers you would like to review.  

- Robert Bittner, General Editor

Calls for Manuscripts
The ALAN Review

Summer 2012 Theme:  Exploring Identity & Identities in YA Literature - Deadline: November 1, 2011. Contact TAR Editors Steven Bickmore, Jacqueline Bach, & Melanie Hundley at for more information.



Spring/Summer 2012 Theme:  On the Cutting Edge: Pushing the Boundaries of Genre - Deadline: February 1, 2012. Contact for more information.