Slideshow: Ohio Early Learning Conference | Fostering Lifelong Learners 2014

On September 19, the Cuyahoga County (OH) Public Library hosted the Fostering Lifelong Learners conference presented by SLJ and sister publication The Horn Book with Robert Needlman proclaiming tears, Kevin Henkes talking about his children being "built by books," and Case Western University's Robert Fischer talking big data.
[portfolio_slideshow id=110317] On September 19, the Cuyahoga County (OH) Public Library near Cleveland hosted Fostering Lifelong Learners: Investing in Our Children, a daylong program presented by School Library Journal and sister publication The Horn Book. There, over 100 librarians, early childhood educators, and various stakeholders came together to learn and discuss how to best serve the literacy (and other early learning needs) of children. Robert Needlman, cofounder of Reach Out and Read, keynoted the event, and proclaimed, “I’m about to cry,” after a warm tribute and introduction by Sari Feldman, Cuyahoga’s executive director and president-elect of the American Library Association. Needlman’s humor was present throughout his address, as he described recent research in brain physiology and the effects of nurturing on the child’s brain—as well as the debilitating effects of toxic stress. The early learning panels throughout the day brought together experts knowledgeable in the topics of forming partnerships to address early literacy, how to apply technology in the early years (panelist Chip Donohue's recommended technology resource list found here), best practices in discovery learning and engagement, and selecting books for children and readers’ advisory for parents and children (recommended booklist available here, starting on page 6). Notably, many presenters pointed to parenthood as their greatest source of knowledge and inspiration. The day brought children’s author Kevin Henkes as a guest speaker, and during his address, he borrowed a quote from his colleague Anne Fadiman and said his children had been “built by books” and riffed on how his children used his books as materials for building forts, as one does as a kid. When Henkes reclaimed his books, he tells, he found his books worn and torn, with the covers gone and spines weakened—but the physical toll on his beloved books had been well worth it by providing his children early exposure to them. He then provided unique insight into both the early reader’s mind and his creative process as he detailed the development of the three books that make up the “Penny” series of first readers. The closing speaker, Robert Fischer, co-director at the Center on Urban Poverty & Community Development at Cleveland’s Case Western University, talked big data—specifically collecting and mining existing data on children from birth onwards for insights into trends and potential service gaps to address. Such analysis of big data can not only track progress of initiatives but inform policy and interventions. All-in-all, the day was full of talking points, programs, new products, and ideas to model—plus orange swag bags—courtesy of one of the event’s sponsors PNC Bank. To follow the early learning conversation on Twitter, use the #EarlyLearning hashtag. For slides of the early learning PowerPoint presentation, click below:

Fostering

Read more coverage on the event:

Technology Can Empower the Child | Fostering Lifelong Literacy 2014

Robert Needlman Keynotes Early Learning Conference | Fostering Lifelong Learners 2014

Selecting Children’s Books: A Reader’s Advisory by ‘The Horn Book’ Editors | Fostering Lifelong Learners 2014

Kevin Henkes' Speech: Books for Beginning Readers (The Horn Book)

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