When 309 children’s booksellers gather to learn, to share books, and to tell stories, they act them out, too. Our opening reception at ABA Children’s Institute was billed as a Welcome Mardi Gras, inviting all attendees to dress as a character from a favorite backlist titles. Our fellow story-time professionals took this invitation quite seriously, and we enjoyed a lovely party as many childhood characters came to life (although I don’t remember that Pippi Longstocking ever drank rosé, she certainly looked charming holding the glass). Here are some favorites of mine from last evening:
It’s a busy few days ahead, filled with educational sessions, author events, and lots of new books to hear about (and ship a few home). The whirlwind of business card exchanges has just begun, and the hallway pitches for author events to publicists and marketing staff will expand to fill every coffee break and escalator ride. There will be consultation sessions with experts, intense conversations over cups of coffee and bottles of beer as we seek advice and solace from colleagues, mentors, and new best friends. There will be learning, and sharing, and community created around our common love of story, and while our energy might be spent, our hearts will be filled with inspiration and ideas. I can think of no better way to start this family reunion than a party to celebrate all the stories we have in common, those familiar tales that make us smile in recognition, and remind us all that books, indeed, make everything better.
Post script: It is impossible for me to post only lightheartedly today, and so I will spend one final paragraph to step out of the safety and camaraderie of this happy place to acknowledge the pain and heartache that many of us feel for families at our country’s border. It is difficult for anyone who loves children to not worry and grieve over the news reports we are trying to comprehend and react to. In response, I share two things: the belief that the mistreatment of anyone’s child is unacceptable, and that we adults who dedicate our lives to children cannot ignore even one cry out for help; and the following organization of our friends in kid lit to raise funds for relief:
I invite you to follow their group on social media, share their images and request for help, and join me in donating to their selected relief organizations: Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), Women’s Refugee Commission, Al Otro Lado, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).