I’m not current on teen literature, but as I wrote in a previous blog, I do have three favorite teen authors. Not surprisingly, they are my favorites because they have visited KPL and we had a wonderful experience with them.
I recently noted that Laurie Halse Anderson was the official spokesperson for April “School Library Month,” sponsored by the American Association of School Librarians. I was reminded of her visit to KPL about six years ago and how she quickly moved to my “list of favorite teen authors.”
Laurie was here for our Teen Literary Seminar. She visited English classrooms at K-Central and particularly bonded with one of the English teachers there, a Ms. X, I’ll say. Laurie told me she quickly sensed what a good teacher Ms. X was, how she challenged the kids to read and react to books that might be considered controversial but that had an important message for teens. Some of the books of this sort were Laurie’s, others were by other teen authors often not popular, shall I say, with school administrators and some parents.
As we were leaving a program at Chenery where Laurie had spoken to several high school English classes, she pulled me aside and told me in a strong tone of voice, to contact her if Ms. X was ever in trouble; she’d come back to defend her. I knew Laurie meant that if Ms. X’s choice of books for her students to read was challenged, she’d want to know and be involved. It wouldn’t matter if they were Laurie’s books or those of another author.
Laurie didn’t know that my son was in Ms. X’s class and was having a wonderful high school English experience. Indeed he was reading books he never would have otherwise, was engaged in challenging conversations, and had also totally bonded with Ms. X.
I’ll never forget this message from Laurie. I’m glad I’ve never had to follow up with her. I don’t know if Laurie remembers this specific teacher and conversation, but when I’ve seen her at conferences and reintroduce myself, she always speaks fondly of her visit to Kalamazoo.
No wonder she’s one of my favorite teen authors and a great spokesperson for school libraries.
Laurie Halse Anderson