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13 Dec 2018
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NCTE 2018

I attended NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) for the first time a few weeks ago and absolutely loved it. There were clearly two topics that I felt drawn to. The first… visual literacy and the second…females and their identities in literature.

I should also mention the phrase “mirrors and windows and sliding glass doors” that I consistently heard throughout the conference. Mirrors…the idea of someone like you being reflected in the book and knowing that your narrative matters and windows…exploring and seeing other people, cultures, and lifestyles. It was nice to be reminded that in addition to reading for pleasure, books can be vehicles for change, empathy, social justice, and exploring alternate world views. This Scholastic article goes a little deeper into the topic.

When I do one of these recaps, I am seeking to do two things, 1) organize and reflect on all of the ideas and resources AND 2) create a resource that is easy to navigate for others that may not have attended these sessions or NCTE at all. 

Rather than going session by session and transcribing my notes, I have decided to include the best ideas, resources, and books shared from the event. Enjoy. 😉

Ideas and Instructional Practices

  1. 4 Quadrants: Harvey Daniels @smokeylit talked about looking at each quadrant of an image or piece of art and noting what you see, think, wonder, and infer. 
  2. Visual KWLs: Tanny McGregor @TannyMcG shared a KWL and noted examples of visual KWL’s which I loved. She has multiple examples linked here. And her new book Ink and Ideas: Sketchnotes for Engagement, Comprehension, and Thinking is available as well. 
  3. Gender in Art: This was probably my favorite. Nancy Steineke @nsteineke primed us with the question, “How does this art define women and men? Who they are? What they do? And the implied gender expectations? She then had us divide a sheet of paper into 2 columns: Men in Art (1200-1530) and Women in Art (1270-1519) and began to show us art pieces from that time frame and had us document our noticing. My Men in Art section had words like protector, violent, and active and Women in Art had words like madonna, care-taker, virgin, prim, matriarchal, religious, and passive. A fantastic idea to blend gender norms and visual literacy. (Presentation Linked HERE).


  1. CBLDF’s Using Graphic Novels in Education (lots of resources for using graphic novels in education)
  2. Lion Forge Educator (lots of resources and lesson plans for using comics and graphic novels in the classroom)
  3. Fierce Females: Owning Their Strong Voices and Bodies (a fantastic curated tour through books and current topics like gender roles and strength, standards of beauty, love and relationships across the rainbow, confronting mental health, and much more).
  4. Fierce Females Book List (categorizes books about privilege and intersectionality, mental health and wellness, love and relationships, gender roles, and standards of beauty)
  5. KidLit Women podcast (“A podcast of interviews and essays focusing on women’s and gender issues, including non-binary and gender fluidity, in the children’s literature community and all its intersectionality!”)
  6. ALA Amelia Bloomer List (“an annual annotated book list of well-written and well-illustrated books with significant feminist content, intended for young readers (ages birth through 18).”.
  7. Lambda Literacy List (largest LGBTQ literary community in the world)

Nonfiction Books and Awesome Authors

  1. Ink and Ideas: Sketchnotes for Engagement, Comprehension, and Thinking by Tanny McGregor
  2. Mental Illness in Young Adult Literature: Exploring Real Struggles though Fictional Characters by Kia Jane Richmond
  3. Taming the Wild Text: Literacy Strategies for Today’s Reader by Pam Allyn and Monica Burns
  4. Worth a Thousand Words: Using Graphic Novels to Teach Visual and Verbal Literacy by Meryl Jaffe and Talia Harwich 
  5. The Write Thing: Kwame Alexander Engages Students in Writing Workshop by Kwame Alexander


Fiction Books and Awesome Authors

  1. Sharon Draper’s Blended and Tears of Tiger (and many more)
  2. Renee Watson’s Piecing Me Together and Watch Us Rise
  3. Brigid Kemmerer Letters to the Lost and More than We Can Tell (and many more)
  4. Gabby Rivera’s Juliet Takes a Breath
  5. Padma Venkataraman’s Climbing the Stairs and The Bridge Home (and many more)
  6. Abbey Lee Nash’s Lifeline
  7. Katherine Locke’s The Girl with the Red Balloon and The Spy with the Red Balloon.
  8. Kim Briggs’s author of Star Fall (and many more)
  9. Jennifer Holm’s Swing it, Sunny (and so many more) 
  10. John Hendrix’s The Faithful Spy and Drawing is Magic: Discovering yourself in a Sketchbook (and more)
  11. Nathan Hale’s Lafayette!: a Revolutionary War Tale (and so many more Hazardous Tales)
  12. Lauren Spieller’s Your Destination is on the Left
  13. Elizabeth Acevedo’s The Poet X
  14. Nisha Sharma’s My So-Called Bollywood Life

But Wait… There’s More

If conference recaps and resources or a list of books totally floats your boat the way it does mine, I have a few more links you might like: