Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Best Kept Secret in Education Part 1

This weekend I had the opportunity to attend the American Library Association Annual Conference in Orlando, FL and it was beyond anything I could have ever imagined!  In this three part blog series I am going to tell you about each day that I was able to attend and my final advice for you should you ever get the privilege to go!
 I knew it was coming a couple months ago, I had even said to myself, "Hey!  A lot of my favorite authors are going to be there, I want to go."  And then mommy-hood and teaching life got in the way and I completely forgot about it.  Fast forward a few months to this past weekend and what pops up on my Instagram feed but pics from the conference (#alaac16)!  Well since it's in my own backyard I decide I'm just going to get an exhibit pass (for $65) and go the next day!  The exhibit pass gets you in for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.  At this point I have already missed Saturday and because of other plans already made I would only get to go for a short while on Sunday and Monday, but that's okay because I'm a HUGE book nerd and it's worth it to me.

So I get there Sunday, register on site and walk into the mass amount of vendor booths.  There are so many books and crazy technology I don't even know where to begin!  I see Scholastic's sign hanging from the ceiling so that's my beacon and where I go (what teacher wouldn't?!).  
Well, as I'm walking someone says, "Would you like to meet Frances O'Roark Dowell and get a book signed?"  
"Yes, I would!... but I don't have any of her books on me.  How much are they?"
  "Oh, they're free!  Here are two, one has already been published the other is an ARC (advanced reviewer/reader copy)."  
So I wait in line and meet the fabulous Frances who I can say is an absolutely a doll and funny to boot!  She was so nice and personable.  We even got to talking about my kiddos and how we like to Skype with authors and she offered to do a Skype visit with my students!  When she signed my book she even wrote her email inside to get connected.  Just so friendly!
Okay, so back on my journey towards Scholastic...
I finally make it to Scholastic, but on my journey I pass many different children's publishers along the way.  And at every publisher they are giving away free books.  I don't mean some dinky boring book that no one wants.  I mean the new release you have on your Amazon Wish List but are waiting until it comes out on paperback (because we're teachers and have no money), or the sequel to a book you and your kids have been dying to get your hands on.  It's all there just waiting for you to claim and take back to your room!  Usually it's not even just one freebie, there are three or 4 to choose from and guess what...  You can take all three or four!  So I did!  (Disclaimer: I offered to pay for almost every book because it just blew my mind that they were giving them all away for free.  Every time they said, "Oh no take it, it's free!")
And when you go back about 20 minutes later, there is a whole new selection of books because they ran out of the last one they had!  Well, let me just take one of those as well, thank you!
Now, not all books are free.  Some are for sale.  When I say sale, yes I mean you can buy them but they are SUPER DISCOUNTED.  Hardbacks anywhere from $5-$10 max.  Paperbacks $1-$5.  If you are having an author sign your book, they give you the book for free!
I got to meet Pam Munoz Ryan and I LOVE her!  She gets me.  Or she could have just been really nice and saying what she thought I wanted to hear but either way, it worked for me!  I am so excited to read her new book ECHO.
Now, Sara Pennypacker was signing at Disney Hyperion for her new book Waylon! One Awesone Thing, but I also wanted her to sign our Global Read Aloud for this year, Pax.  So I spent $10 at Scholastic and bought one.  Come to find out two hours later she was signing for Pax at Scholastic and I could have got a copy for free then, but that line was ridiculously long so I found it money well spent!
I made the fatal mistake of not branching out and/or preparing for this visit.  To be fair, I had no time to plan because I registered on site where I got my goodies then but I was also short on time so I was trying to get as much in as I could.  I also assumed that the three aisles of children's publishers was it because on either side was book technology.  So those three aisles are where I stayed and got all my goodies.  Rookie mistake.
This was my first time I ever had FOMO (fear of missing out).  Seeing how many authors I almost missed, or did miss, and looking at other people's posts and seeing the books they got that I didn't definitely put FOMO into high effect, haha.  It also made going back the next day all that more exciting!  You remember that feeling you got on Christmas Eve as a kid just waiting to see what would be under that tree the next morning?  It's like that but tenfold because it lasts way longer than 30 minutes!!!
Imagine if I had stayed the whole day and actually walked around!?
Part 2 is all about Monday (which was different than Sunday!) and Part 3 is my advice to anyone going, especially the first time!  I will also be giving you a list of all the titles I received.