I head to ALA this week, but it’s with a mix of emotions.
Traditionally, the ALA June conference is a joyous time to celebrate the books that were awarded medals, touch base with our far-flung colleagues, and gather new advanced galleys for our to-be-read piles. I can’t go every year, so when I do get the opportunity, it feels like a truly special occasion.
But it’s hard to feel lighthearted this year. After the terrorist attack we saw unfold against the LGBTQ community – and the maddening debates over terrorism, hate, and gun safety that (once again) ensued, I’m feeling numb. I watched the names and faces scroll – overwhelmingly Latino in this case – and my mind went to the families and friends who have been left broken and wondering about how we’ve been dislodged from our shared humanity.
I’m grateful to see that the ALA conference organizers have several activities planned in support of the Orlando community, including a memorial service for the victims being held at the Orange County Convention Auditorium from 8 – 8:30 AM on Saturday, June 25. I’ll be there with my husband and oldest daughter, who will be traveling with me this time.
Maybe as we reach for joy this year, we can do so with a mind to continuing to build unity and understanding. I’ve put my signing and speaking schedule down below, but I would especially like to invite you to join me at the Pura Belpré celebration. Mango Abuela and Me will be awarded the honor medal for narrative and illustration. (The full list of winners is here.) But mostly I think you should come because the medal is marking its 20th anniversary – an important milestone. You’ll have a chance to meet many past and current winners, as well as the visionary women who established the award. (Latinos in Kid Lit has been doing a wonderful retrospective on past winners, by the way. Check it out.)
The party is free if you are registered for the conference. If you’re attending ALA, I invite you to support the Pura Belpré and the various other awards and recognitions that seek to celebrate the stories of all children. (The schedule is here.) This is where we can remind ourselves that we are in this life together and that our stories are really one.
Meg’s ALA schedule
Saturday, June 25:
Panel: REFORMA President’s Breakfast: The Case for Bilingual and Dual Language books: A discussion with Meg, Angela Dominguez, Rene Colato Lainez, and Margarita Engle. Hyatt Regency Orlando – Room Manatee Springs 9801 International Drive, 11 AM – 12:30 PM
Panel: “We Need Diverse Books and More: Multiple Diversities: Capturing the Experience Intersectional Identities” [Convention Center – Room W101A] (Meg Medina, Ellen Oh, Lamar Giles, Cindy Pon, Shveta Thrakrar, Eugene Myers 1 – 2 PM
Signing our upcoming anthology: Random House Booth, with Ellen Oh, Kwame Alexander, Tim Federle, Grace Lin, Matt de la Peña. 3 – 4 PM
Sunday, June 26:
Signing with Angela Dominguez: Candlewick Book #1459, 10 AM – 11:30
(Party for Pura all afternoon 1 PM – 3PM!)
Peace and safe travels…