Get To Know Our
Featured Speakers

New York Times bestselling author-illustrator Matt Tavares was born in Boston, and grew up surrounded by books and reading. From the time he was very young, his mother read to him every night, and his family made countless trips to the public library. Years later, as a studio art major at Bates College, he rediscovered his love for picture books, and decided to try to make his own.

For his senior project, Matt wrote and illustrated a story called Sebastian's Ball, about a boy who caught a magic foul ball at a Boston Red Sox baseball game. Three years later, after much revision, Sebastian's Ball became Zachary's Ball, Matt's first published picture book. Zachary's Ball went on to win a Massachusetts Book Award Honor, and was named one of Yankee Magazine's 40 Classic New England Children's Books.

Since then, Matt has created over twenty more books. Three were named ALA Notable books, three won Parents' Choice Gold Awards, and twelve were chosen for the Society of Illustrators' Original Art exhibit. His artwork has been exhibited at the Brandywine River Museum, the Eric Carle Museum, and the Mazza Museum.

Thursday, Morning Keynote

Try Something New

Matt Tavares discusses the times in his career as an author-illustrator when he has ventured outside his comfort zone and tried something new. Whether it’s illustrating a nonfiction book for the first time, trying to illustrate a book where all the characters are cookies, or his latest challenge– creating a 224-page graphic novel, trying something new can be daunting, but always seems to push his work in unexpected directions.

Autographing Books

Thursday, 9:45-10:15

Kekla Magoon is the author of many novels and nonfiction books for young readers, including The Season of Styx Malone, The Rock and the River, How It Went Down, and Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party’s Promise to the People.

She has received the Margaret A. Edwards Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, the John Steptoe New Talent Award, three Coretta Scott King Honors, the Walter Award Honor, an NAACP Image Award, and been a finalist for the National Book Award.

Thursday, Luncheon Keynote

REVOLUTION in the Classroom: Embracing Our Power As Changemakers

Kekla will discuss her award-winning nonfiction book about the Black Panther Party, the importance of reading and writing as a tool for social change, and our individual and collective power to transform our classrooms and communities.

Autographing Books

Thursday, 1:15-1:45

Thursday, Breakout Session
2:00-3:00 PM

What's Your Perspective?

A big part of effective storytelling relates to perspective: Who is telling the story? What is their worldview and how does it impact the narrative they present? In this interactive session, we will examine the importance of perspective in storytelling from a few different angles. Attendees will leave with a list of perspective-related exercises that can be useful in their own writing lives as well as in the classroom.

Amanda Jones is a 22 year educator from Watson, Louisiana. She is a school librarian and certified reading specialist. Amanda is the 2021 School Library Journal Co-Librarian of the Year, a 2021 Library Journal Mover and Shaker, and the 2020 Louisiana School Librarian of the Year. She is the President of the Louisiana Association of School Librarians, an AASL Social Media Superstar, was named one of EdTech Magazine’s Top 30 K-12 IT Influencers to Watch in 2022, is the current AASL Chapter Assembly Secretary and AASL23 National Conference Co-Chair. Amanda is passionate about school library advocacy, using edtech in school libraries, and promoting the love of reading.

President of the Louisiana Association of School Librarians

Amanda Jones



2022 EdTech Magazine Top 30
K-12 IT Influencers to Watch

2021 SLJ Co-Librarian of the Year

2021 LJ Mover & Shaker

2020 Louisiana School LOY

2019 AASL Social Media Superstar

Friday, Morning Keynote

Using the 4 C’s to Unleash Your Moxie: Create, Connect, Collaborate, and Community

Join the 2021 SLJ Co-Librarian of the Year as she shares her biggest takeaways and top words of advice on how she has become an active member of the community, built a professional learning network of support, and advocates for school libraries across the country. Follow her journey as a school librarian who has learned to speak out on behalf of her students and libraries and unleash her moxie by relying on the 4 C’s.

Thursday Breakout Session
3:00-4:00 PM

Embedded Librarians: Creating School and Community Partnerships

Discover the benefits schools can reap by embedding school library programming into all subject areas and grade levels. See how working as a team with teachers, parents, and local organizations, as well as collaborating with your entire community ,is beneficial for every student and faculty member at your school. School libraries should be the heart of the school, but it can also become the heart of your community.

Friday Breakout Session
10:15-11:15 AM

Censorship, Challenges, Banning of Books: Being Proactive vs. Reactive In Preparing Yourself Personally & Professionally

The US is seeing a rise in book challenges and book bans. Learn about online resources, apps, and websites to help strengthen your collection development policies, prepare yourself for book challenges, and help better inform the community about book selections and school librarians’ roles in selecting books. We will also take a look at how to protect yourself personally and professionally from personal attacks by staying proactive and up to date on the latest in censorship news and attacks.

A graduate of University of Michigan and Wayne State University, Amy has been a school librarian in Metro Detroit for 16 years. Recipient of MAME’s 2020 Award for the Promotion of School Library Media Programs and building Teacher of the Year for 20-21. Named one of Library Journal’s Movers and Shakers for 2022, Amy discovered podcasts could create a listening community even during a pandemic. As host of School Librarians United Podcast, Amy has interviewed more than 130 school librarians in 27+ states, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Ghana. 208+ episodes downloaded in all 50 States and 139 countries with new episodes posted weekly.

Librarian & Host of the School Librarians United Podcast

Amy Hermon



Friday, Luncheon Keynote

Creating Community Through Connecting and Collaborating (on a Podcast!!!)

When school librarians connect and press “record,” the listening community always benefits. We are ALWAYS #BetterTogether and whether it is a pandemic, budget cuts, book bans and censorship or a new job, help is available 24/7. Collaborations of school librarians across the country and around the world showcase the best our profession has to offer and our professional community benefits from the shared resources and strategies.

Friday, Breakout Session
2:00-3:00 PM

Podcasts as PD

Invest in yourself by listening to podcasts. Podcasts are free, customizable, and a convenient form of PD. Learn how to fill gaps in your education and experience, prepare for interviews, transition to new jobs, implement new programming and, most importantly, raise your profile all through listening to podcasts. Better still, districts are discovering the value of utilizing podcasts to support teacher agency and choice when it comes to PD! Be a part of an upcoming episode! Attendees are invited to record 1-2 min sharing a strategy, favorite program or resource.

Melissa Stewart has written more than 200 science books for children, including Sibert Medal Honoree Summertime Sleepers: Animals that Estivate, illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen. She co-wrote 5 Kinds of Nonfiction: Enriching Reading and Writing Instruction with Children’s Books, edited the anthology Nonfiction Writers Dig Deep: 50 Award-winning Authors Share the Secret of Engaging Writing, and maintains the award-winning blog Celebrating Nonfiction.

Friday Breakout Session
10:15-11:15 AM

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