SLJ Summit 2020

Join us Saturday, October 24 for the SLJ Summit: Culture Shift. Now in its 16th year, this national convening will focus on creating a culture that promotes an equitable world and closes the opportunity gap for all children.

In this free, day-long event, you’ll gain skills, ideas, and support in leading the change you want to see in your library, school, and community.

The day will host three concurrent tracks, with sessions on:  

  • Reimagining School  

  • Antiracism: Next Steps

  • School Library Leadership 2020

  • Challenging the Classics: Reimagining the literary canon

  • SEL (Social Emotional Learning) & Trauma-Informed Teaching

  • Coming of Age, Graphic Novels 

  • Reimagining Youth Librarianship

  • How to Start an Online Book Club 

  • The Latinx Experience, Genre Fiction

  • And much more

Facilitated discussions will follow core sessions, providing you the opportunity to convene, network, and advance ideas on subjects ranging from Reimagining School—what are the lessons of remote learning and how will this impact the classroom of the future?—to SEL and supporting students and families in the COVID-19 crisis (advance registration required). 

And, in a first-ever reveal, we’ll announce SLJ’s 2020 Best Books at the Summit.

All registrants will have access to the Summit’s archived content for up to three months for on-demand viewing.

We are anticipating an unprecedented number of library and education professionals to attend this summit, so you may find the environment or live sessions become full during the day.

But fear not! All sessions and author chats will be available for viewing on-demand within an hour of their initial broadcast, and the entire event will be available on-demand until January 24, 2021.




Any person who violates the Code of Conduct during our events, webinars or any online convening, will be removed immediately.

9:30-10:00AM ET | Visit the Exhibits; Zoom Social: Meet and greet some of your colleagues in a Zoom social event. Hop between breakout rooms on a variety of topics - from what I learned this summer to virtual community engagement - and take part in formal and informal conversations with some familiar faces, and probably people you have never met.

10:00 - 10:30AM ET | Ijeoma Oluo in Conversation 
Oluo, author of So You Want To Talk About Race, speaks to journalist and SLJ contributor Christina Joseph in this keynote presentation about race and education in America.

10:30-11:20AM ET | Reimagining School
Administrators and educators will discuss the lessons of remote learning and solutions that can be taken into the future to make school more equitable. Panelists will also discuss the impact of the racial reckoning in the country and spring and summer of protests on students and education. Is the moment when school can be reimagined to work for all students? Join the post-panel discussion in Zoom and we'll crowdsource ideas and resources together, in community.
Susan Gauthier, Director, Library Services, East Baton Rouge Parish School District

Dr. Jacqueline Perez, Assistant Superintendent, Equity, Access & Community Engagement, Riverside (CA) Unified School District

Brian Schilpp, STEM Supervisor, Garrett County (MD) Schools
Marlon Styles, Superintendent, Middletown City (OH) Schools

Moderated by Kara YorioSLJ News Editor

11:20AM-12:10PM ET | Beyond Book Clubs: Next Steps in the Work of Antiracism with Children
The killing of George Floyd sparked an unprecedented response nationwide, with a call to address systemic racism. What does this work look like in schools and libraries? An expert panel will consider this question with actionables. Join the post-panel discussion in Zoom and we'll crowdsource ideas and resources together, in community.
Colleen Cruz
Tricia Ebarvia
Tiana Silvas
Akemi Kochiyama

Moderated by Sonja Cherry-Paul 

11:20AM-12:20PM ET | Post-Session Discussion: Reimagining School (Session Track 2)
Follow-up your learning from the Reimagining School session by joining with your colleagues in Zoom breakout rooms. In our facilitated conversations participants will work together to plan for next steps, leverage of opportunities, and overcome obstacles in the reimagining school process. (On Zoom, space is limited)  
Facilitated by Linda W. Braun, Learning Consultant with LEO

12:10-12:30PM ET | Break to visit booths

12:10-1:10PM ET | Post-Session Discussion: Antiracism Work with Children (Session Track 2)
Take the next step in thinking about how to bring antiracism to your institution in small group Zoom breakout rooms. In this Zoom session, participants have the chance to join in a facilitated conversation about how to take what they learned and heard in the large group presentation to their own organization and community. (On Zoom, space is limited) 
Facilitated by Linda W. Braun, Learning Consultant with LEO


12:30-1:00PM ET | Tommy Orange 
Orange, the author of There There, a 2019 Pulitzer Prize finalist, delivers a keynote address.

1:00-1:50PM ET | School Library Leadership 2020 
[Speakers to come]
Moderated by KC Boyd 

1:50-2:15PM Break to Visit Booths 

2:20-3:10PM ET | Challenging the Classics 
Titles such as To Kill a Mockingbird and the “Little House” books face scrutiny for their racism, bias, and depiction of BIPOC by White authors. Three DisruptTexts cofounders, Julia E Torres, Kim Parker, and Lorena Germán, discuss and field questions about unpacking bias, decolonizing the canon, and developing critical consciousness while teaching classics and material by BIPOC authors. 
Julia E. Torres, Language Arts Teacher and Librarian, Denver, CO.
Kimberly N. Parker, Assistant Director of Teacher Training,  Shady Hill School,  Cambridge, MA.
Lorena Germán, educator working with middle and high school students, Austin, TX.
Introduced by Sarah Bayliss, Editor, News & Features, SLJ

2:20-3:10PM ET | Trauma-Informed Teaching and COVID (Session Track 2)
Based on public health research and the ACES (Adverse Childhood Experiences) quiz, trauma-informed teaching takes into account how factors such as poverty, neglect, and racism impact children’s health and ability to learn. Educators discuss COVID’s impact and effective teaching strategies.
Mathew Portell, principal, Fall Hamilton Elementary School, Nashville, TN
Shawn Nealy-Oparah, Ed.D, Trauma-Informed Education Trainer, Adjunct Prof, Mills College
Dr. Lauren Davis, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction, Montana State University 
Moderated by Celeste Malone, PhD, MS; associate professor and coordinator of school psychology program, Howard University 

3:15-3:45PM ET | James McBride
James McBride is an award-winning author, musician, and screenwriter. His 2013 novel, The Good Lord Bird, about American abolitionist John Brown, won the National Book Award for Fiction and will be a Showtime limited series in fall 2020 starring Ethan Hawke.

3:10-4:10PM ET | Post-Session Discussion: Challenging the Classics (Session Track 2)
(On Zoom, preregistration required) 
Facilitated by Linda W. Braun, Learning Consultant with LEO


3:45-4:25PM | Latinx Magic: Latinx Authors on Speculative Fiction
Aliens. Brujos. Ghosts. Shape-shifters. Hear from the up-and-coming author panelists as they chat about the marvels of genre-fiction writing, building intricate worlds, and how their Latinx identities and culture shaped and influenced their work.
Aiden ThomasCemetery Boys (Macmillan)
Raquel Vasquez GillilandSia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything (S&S) Maya Motayne, Nocturna (Harper)
Isabel IbanezWoven in Moonlight (Page Street) 
Claribel OrtegaThe Ghost Squad (Scholastic)
Moderated by Shelley Diaz, Reviews Editor, School Library Journal

4:30-5:00PM | SLJ Best Books 2020
The SLJ reviews editors offer an exclusive first peek at this year’s Best Books. Come see whether your favorite works—whether YA, middle grade, nonfiction, picture book, or graphic novel—made our list.

Session Track 3 (available all day)

I Guess This is Growing Up: Coming of Age Stories in Graphic Novel Format 
Adolescence is a rocky time, but literature can make it easier. These graphic novel creators will discuss how they crafted stories about growing up, dealing with identity, and learning to carve out a sense of self.
Tyler FederDancing at the Pity Party (Dial)
Robin HaAlmost American Girl (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray)
Matt LubchanskyBe Gay, Do Comics (IDW)
Ngozi UkazuCheck, Please and Sticks and Scones (First Second)
Moderated by Mahnaz Dar, Reference & Professional Reading editor

Fast Learning: How to Launch an Online Book Club 
Laura Gardner, Teacher Librarian, Dartmouth (MA) Middle School 

Empowering Educators: Having Courageous Conversations with Students About Race and Racism
First Book and Pizza Hut have introduced a series of free resources designed to support educators in helping their students engage in effective, courageous conversations about race and social justice. Created in response to research uncovering educator needs, the Empowering Educators series of resources includes a guidebook, instructional videos, and other pedagogic resources informed by leading anti-bias and antiracism experts.
Julye Williams, Senior Advisor, First Book
Christine Platt, Interim Managing Director, Antiracist Research & Policy Center

Speaking the Language of Power
Sometimes, we get frustrated when we build a case for our stakeholders, and they don't bite. Why is that? Sometimes, it's a matter of framing: our library talk doesn't appeal to what stakeholders value and care about. We'll explore ways in which we can rethink our ask so that the answer is more likely to be yes.
Kristin Fontichiaro, Clinical Associate Professor, University of Michigan School of Information 

Building Community for Connection and Learning with Facing History and Ourselves
The COVID-19 pandemic has upended schooling and sparked a massive, ongoing experiment in remote and hybrid learning. Join Facing History and Ourselves to explore how teachers and librarians can create community, sustain student-centered learning, and support students' social-emotional needs in this new normal. We'll share promising practices to engage students in inquiry, reflection, and discussion both online and off-screen, including Facing History's Guide to Remote Book Clubs and Back to School resource collection. 
Laura Tavares, Program Director for Organizational Learning and Thought Leadership, Facing History and Ourselves

Video Production Tips with Buttons & Figs
Kidcasting librarian & SLJ columnist Pamela Rogers, founder of Buttons & Figs (buttons&, and kid-tastic Chloe Anderson will show how they pivoted from podcasting to whimsical, wordplay-filled, short educational videos for their county's 2020 Summer Reading Program. They'll giddily guide you through the steps they took to quickly, easily, cheaply, alliteratively think about the visual, verbal and vocal ways videos work.

What If It’s Not “Reluctant Reading”? A Discussion of Dyslexia for Librarians
An overview of dyslexia for librarians and teachers working with youth. We’ll bust longstanding myths about people with dyslexia. Learn how to curate and champion multiple formats for accessibility.
Karen Jensen, youth services librarian, Fort Worth (TX) Library, founder, “Teen Librarian Toolbox,” and parent of a pre-teen with dyslexia
Stacy Wells, Youth Services Librarian, Advocate, and Parent of Two Children with Dyslexia

Vote Woke: Empower Students to Vote with Books and Community Support 
Cicely Lewis, 2020 School Librarian of the Year and founder of Read Woke, describes how she used Woke Wednesdays to educate her students about voting. The initiative helped Lewis and her students win an MTV Virtual Prom grant of $5,000 and participate in a a private Zoom call with Michelle Obama and Jenna Bush Hager. Learn how educators can win $150 for their classroom and start a student-led voter registration team with support from When We All Vote.
Cicely Lewis, 2020 SLJ School Librarian of the Year 



Sarah Bayliss is the News and Features Editor at School Library Journal.

Betsy Bird is the Collection Development Manager of Evanston Public Library, and the former Youth Materials Specialist of New York Public Library. She blogs frequently at the School Library Journal site A Fuse #8 Production, and reviews for Kirkus and the New York Times on occasion. Betsy is the author of the picture books Giant Dance Party and  The Great Santa Stakeout, she a co-author on the very adult Wild Things: Acts of Mischief In Children's Literature, editor of the middle grade anthology of funny female writers Funny Girl, and author of her upcoming debut middle grade novel Long Road To The Circus, illustrated by Caldecott Award winning illustrator David Small. Betsy hosts two podcasts, Story Seeds, which pairs kids and authors together to write stories, and the very funny Fuse 8 n' Kate where she and her sister debate the relative merits of classic picture books.

Linda W. Braun is a learning consultant with LEO. Her work focuses on designing high quality learning activities with library and out of school time staff and with youth, families, and communities. She manages the IMLS-funded YALSA Transforming Teen Services: Train the Trainer and Future Ready with the Library projects and is the co-author of the report, The Future of Library Services for and With Teens: A Call to Action.

Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul is the co-founder and co-facilitator of the Institute for Racial Equity in Literacy. She is Director of Diversity and Equity at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project where she uses her expertise in critical literacies to advance the work of equity and inclusion in curriculum and teaching. Cherry-Paul is the co-author of four books Teaching Interpretation: Using Text-Based Evidence to Construct Meaning; Flip Your Writing Workshop: A Blended-Learning Approach; Breathing New Life Into Book Clubs: A Practical Guide for Teachers; and Critical Literacy: Unlocking Contemporary Fiction (all Heinemann). Connect with Sonja on Twitter @SonjaCherryPaul or visit her website:

Mahnaz Dar is Reference & Professional Reading Editor, School Library Journal & Library Journal. She also handles graphic novels at SLJ in addition to participating in the magazine’s equity and diversity initiatives.

Dr. Lauren Davis an assistant professor of Curriculum and Instruction for Montana State University. Her research interests revolve around middle grades students and how trauma affects student achievement and adolescent behavioral/mental health.

Shelley M. Diaz is SLJ Reviews Editor. She also teaches young adult literature to future librarians at CUNY's Queens College and is currently working on her EP.

Nancy Disterlic graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Development and Dallas Baptist University with a Master of Arts in Teaching (Multisensory Instruction).  She is a Certified Academic Language Therapist, Licensed Dyslexia Therapist, and a member of the Academic Language Therapy Association. She is currently serving as the Region 10 Dyslexia Consultant, serving districts and students to develop the skills to become independent and confident.

Tyler Feder is a full-time illustrator based in Chicago. She graduated from Northwestern University in 2011 with a BA in Radio/TV/Film and a certificate in Creative Writing for the Media. She further honed her comedic skills at the Second City Training Center, where she graduated from the writing program. In 2012, Tyler began posting her artwork online, and within five years she had grown her illustration company, Roaring Softly, into a recognizable brand. She has illustrated for Netflix, Comedy Central, and ESPN, and is the illustrator of Cristen Conger and Caroline Ervin's Unladylike.

Kristin Fontichiaro is a clinical associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Information. Her research focuses on library leadership and data and information literacy.

Laura Gardner, a National Board Certified Teacher in Library Media, is teacher librarian at Dartmouth (MA) Middle School. Laura was a n SLJ School Librarian of the Year Co-finalist in 2016 and the AASL Reader Leader social media superstar award in 2019.

Lorena Germán is a Dominican educator working with teachers, schools, and students in Austin, TX. She's a co-founder of #DisruptTexts, co-founder of Multicultural Classroom, and NCTE's Chair of the Committee Against Racism and Bias in the Teaching of English.

Raquel Vasquez Gilliland is a Mexican American poet, novelist, and painter. She received an MFA in poetry from the University of Alaska, Anchorage in 2017. She’s most inspired by fog and seeds and the lineages of all things. When not writing, Raquel tells stories to her plants and they tell her stories back. She lives in Tennessee with her beloved family and mountains. Raquel has published two books of poetry. Sia Martinez and The Moonlit Beginning of Everything is her first novel.

Nick Glass is a nationally known educational partner focused on improving literacy opportunities for all students. He has a master's degree in educational policy and the history of multicultural education from the University of Wisconsin Madison, and runs Nick currently serves on both the Legacy Book Award jury and the executive committee of the Coretta Scott King Book Award, and has previously juried the Newbery, Sibert, and other book awards.

Robin Ha grew up reading and drawing comics. At fourteen she moved to the United States from Seoul, Korea. After graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in illustration, she moved to New York City and started a career in the fashion industry. Her work has been published in independent comics anthologies including Secret Identities and The Strumpet, as well as in the pages of Marvel Comics and Heavy Metal Magazine. She is also the author of the bestselling comic recipe book Cook Korean!

Isabel Ibañez is the author of Woven in Moonlight (Page Street), which received two starred reviews and earned praise from NPR. She was born in Boca Raton, Florida, and is the proud daughter of two Bolivian immigrants. Isabel is an avid movie goer and loves hosting family and friends around the dinner table. She currently lives in Winter Park, Florida, with her husband, their adorable dog, and a serious collection of books. Say hi on social media at @IsabelWriter09.

Kathy Ishizuka is School Library Journal’s Editor in Chief and Partnerships & Innovation Director for Library Journal & SLJ.

Karen Jensen, MLS – Youth services librarian with 26+ years experience and the parent of a pre-teen with dyslexia (panel host and moderator).

Cicely Lewis, 2020 SLJ School Librarian of the Year, is the media specialist at Meadowbrook High School in Norcross, GA. She launched Read Woke in 2017 in response to the shootings of young unarmed black people, the repeal of DACA, and the lack of diversity in YA lit.

Celeste Malone, PhD, MS, is an associate professor and coordinator of the school psychology program at Howard University. She has a PhD in school psychology from Temple University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in child clinical and pediatric psychology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Her research relates to multicultural and diversity issues embedded in the practice of school psychology.

James McBride is an accomplished musician and the author of the National Book Award–winning novel The Good Lord Bird, the bestselling American classic The Color of Water, the novels Song Yet Sung and Miracle at St. Anna, the story collection Five-Carat Soul, and Kill ’Em and Leave, a biography of James Brown. The recipient of a National Humanities Medal, McBride is also a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University.

Araceli Moreno is a librarian at McHenry Public Library District. She was born in Waukegan, Illinois and enjoys listening to music and cooking comfort food.

Maya Motayne decided she wanted to be a writer when she was four years old and hasn’t stopped writing since. Her first novel, Nocturna, was a #1 Sunday Times bestseller. She lives in New York City, where she pursues her passions of petting as many dogs as possible and buying purses based on whether they can fit a big book in them.
To learn more about Maya, visit her website at

Shawn Nealy-Oparah, E.D., is an innovative, trauma-informed educator and a Supervising Improvement Partner at Partners in School Innovation. Shawn is also an adjunct professor in the School of Education at Mills College.

Tommy Orange is a graduate of the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. An enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, he was born and raised in Oakland, California.

Claribel A. Ortega is a former reporter who writes middle-grade and young adult fantasy inspired by her Dominican heritage including Ghost Squad, which received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. When she's not busy turning her obsession with eighties pop culture, magic, and video games into books, she's traveling the world for her day job in marketing and making GIFS for her small graphic design business, GIFGRRL. You can find her on Twitter @Claribel_Ortega and on her website at

Dr. Kimberly N. Parker currently prepares preservice teachers as the Assistant Director of the Teacher Training Center at the Shady Hill School in Cambridge, MA. She is the 2020 recipient of the NCTE Outstanding Elementary Educator Award and is a co-founder of #DisruptTexts and #31DaysIBPOC.

Dr. Jacqueline Perez is the Assistant Superintendent, Equity, Access & Community Engagement for Riverside (CA) Unified School District, serving 42,000 students and 50 schools.  A veteran educator, her roles have spanned from high school science teacher, high school principal to district office administrator. Dr. Perez focuses on the systemic and district-wide improvement process to ensure access, equity, inclusion and anti-racist efforts.

Christine Platt is the Managing Director of the Antiracist Research & Policy Center at American University and a passionate advocate for social justice and policy reform. Christine's work centers on eradicating social and racial injustices through the power of literature. She has written over two dozen children’s books, including the beloved Ana & Andrew series.

Mathew Portell is principal of Fall-Hamilton Elementary, an internationally recognized innovative model school for trauma-informed practices in Metro Nashville Public Schools that has been featured on National Public Radio, PBS, and Edutopia.

Christina Joseph Robinson is an editor, writer, and content strategist whose expertise spans race relations, immigration, education, healthcare, and government. She is currently an editorial director at Group SJR and an adjunct professor in the School of Communications at Montclair State University. Christina is a graduate of Spelman College and holds a master’s degree in journalism from Syracuse University. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and two daughters.

Pamela Rogers inspires kids to read, write, and record literary nonsense for her podcast, Buttons & Figs, where listeners hear original wordplay written by kids; interviews with poets and wordplay authors; short wordplay challenges; and original sketch comedy...all that, and a bag of chips!

Chloe, 11, is one of the many kids who write literary nonsense for Buttons & Figs. When she's not on Buttons & Figs she reads Calvin & Hobbes over and over again, rides a unicycle, and she just started a podcast called Story Cup...oh, and she's Pamela's daughter.

Tiana Silvas is a public school teacher in New York City and former Heinemann Fellow.  In addition to her current position as a 5th grade teacher at PS 59, the majority of her teaching experience is in upper elementary as well as working as a literacy coach. During this time, she works to engage critical literacies and culturally responsive teaching to co-constructed a classroom that embodies liberating literacy practices.

Dr. Mega Subramaniam is an Associate Professor and the Co-Director of the Youth Experience (YX) Lab at the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland. She received her Ph.D in Information Studies from Florida State University and her master’s degree in Instructional Systems Technology from Indiana University, Bloomington. Subramaniam’s research focuses on enhancing the role of libraries in fostering the mastery of emerging digital literacies among non-dominant youth. Subramaniam is a Library Journal Mover and Shaker.

Laura Tavares is Program Director for Organizational Learning and Thought Leadership at Facing History and Ourselves. She leads strategic partnerships, designs learning experiences for educators, and creates innovative classroom resources. She writes about history, current events and education for publications including the New York Times. Tavares is also a faculty member at the Harvard Graduate School of Education's Project Zero Classroom. Laura graduated from Wellesley College and received graduate degrees in literature and history from Oxford University, where she studied as a Rhodes Scholar.

Aiden Thomas, author of Cemetery Boys, received their MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College. Born in Oakland, California, Aiden often haunted Mountain View Cemetery like a second home during their misspent youth. As a queer, trans Latinx, Aiden advocates strongly for diverse representation in all media. When not writing, Aiden enjoys exploring the outdoors with their dog, Ronan. Their cat, Figaro, prefers to support their indoor hobbies, like reading and drinking too much coffee.

Julia E. Torres is a veteran language arts teacher librarian in Denver, CO. who facilitates teacher development workshops rooted in antiracist education, equity and access in literacy and librarianship, and education as a practice of liberation.

Ngozi Ukazu is the creator of Check, Please!, a massively popular online graphic novel. She graduated from Yale University in 2013 and received a master's in sequential art in 2015 from the Savannah College of Art and Design. While she used her intensive knowledge of ice hockey to launch Check, Please! in 2013, Ngozi has a deep interest in sports that ranges from half-marathon training to basketball documentaries. Ngozi also cites '90s sitcoms as a major influence in the quirky, found-family feel of Check, Please!

Stacy Wells, MLS – Youth Services Librarian, Advocate, Writer, and parent of two children with dyslexia.

Julye Williams is an educator with a passion for educational equity and social justice. She began her career establishing free tutoring programs in NYC schools and went on to create the cultural exchange program, Global Youth Connect. Williams later co-founded North Star Academy – Liberty Elementary School in Newark, NJ. Today, she is founder of Project 2043, an organization committed to helping individuals and organizations prepare for an inclusive multi-racial democracy. Williams also serves as a Senior Advisor to First Book, where she leads the creation of educational resources, workshops, and more on the topics of race & diversity, trauma, and social-emotional learning. Fluent in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, Julye holds an MBA from Florida A & M University.

Kara Yorio has been SLJ’s news editor since January 2018. Prior to coming to SLJ, she spent seven years at The Record newspaper in New Jersey, writing features and news stories, covering various subjects including education, authors, arts and entertainment, and health.

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