Yesterday, on a bright and chilly November morning, TOON voyaged uptown to the A. Philip Randolph Campus High School in Harlem to take part in the annual NYC Department of Education, Office of Library Services 2012 Annual Fall Conference. This year, the conference’s topic was “Capitalizing on Teaching and Learning through Libraries,” a topic close to TOON’s library-loving heart. We bundled up two suitcases full of books (our Benny and Penny and Little Mouse dolls came along for the ride as well) and set up our table alongside the educational publishers, learning institutions, and other organizations eager for the chance to chat with NYC’s school librarians.
In between checking out the tables, the librarians had a full program of sessions and lectures delving into the ways libraries can help teachers utilize school resources and better engage their children in the process of learning. The new Common Core standards took up a major portion of their discussion, and for our part, we explained to interested passers-by how TOON’s books are not only leveled according to our own standards as well as the major levelling systems for books, but are perfect for teachers looking to meet the Common Core. Our handouts with guidelines for Common Core usage for both Frank Viva’s A Trip to the Bottom of the World as well as Geoffrey Hayes’ adorable Benny and Penny in Lights Out were a big hit, as were the real-life (stuffed) Benny and Penny themselves.
It was wonderful to meet some of the people who love TOON books and hear their stories of how children love them too. Just as wonderful was encountering those librarians who hadn’t yet come across our books, but couldn’t unglue their eyes away from David Nytra’s intricate drawings or the unbearable cuteness of Little Mouse.
We were thrilled to see a panel on “Graphic Novels for Elementary Readers,” which helped to explain this brave new genre to curious novitiates, as well as panels looking into ways picture books can be used as teaching tools and as a method of improving visual literacy. And we were truly grateful for the opportunity to meet the people whose work is so integral to getting children interested in reading, and keeping them interested in reading. Many, many thanks to Melissa Jacobs Israel for inviting us to be a part of the conference and helping put it together — we hope to see you all again next year.