Conferences and Events

NAGC 2011, New Orleans – Sessions on Books and Reading!

I just got back from New Orleans yesterday, having attended the National Association for Gifted Children Conference in New Orleans. I was privileged to have a poster presentation as well as a paper presentation this year which made the 24 hour plane ride worthwhile (it also helped that I was meeting lovely friends while I was there).

My Poster Presentation
My paper presentation

What struck me though as I was going over the programme was the number of sessions devoted to talented readers and instilling that passion for the written word. Reminded me quite a bit of the AFCC (Asian Festival of Children’s Content) here in Singapore last May, only this time, with the gifted and talented twist – exactly my kind of thing.

Introducing the Stonewall Award Books: Meeting a Global Need by Dr. Bob Seney

I did not know that there was an award giving body which honored books “with exceptional merit relating to the GLBT experience” called The Stonewall Award – how apt that I discovered it in NAGC. This was inaugurated in 2010 by the American Library Association. Professor Bob Seney in his handout shared how studies indicate that gifted GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender) individuals are more at risk compared to straight gifted individuals: “academically, emotionally and even physically.”

Professor Bob Seney, the 'Book Guy' in NAGC

I was also delighted that Professor Seney provided bibliotherapy resources to help direct gifted learners’ energy into greater positive action. My greatest takeaway from this session is getting myself familiarized with more award-winning books such as the following:

Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher - winner of the 2011 Stonewall Children's & YA Literature Award

The Stonewall Honor Books for 2011 are the following:

The 2010 Children’s and Young Adult Literature Award goes to:

Using Books to Cultivate Talented Readers and Thinkers Across the Curriculum by A/P Susannah Richards from New York

I was entranced by Susannah Richards who introduced herself as someone who lives in a house of books – a kindred! She was brimming with uncontainable energy and her passion for reading is simply contagious. Too bad I was not able to get a decent photo of her since she was constantly moving around from one place to the next – difficult to pin down such ‘ornery’ radiance and spirit.

The Sprightly and Animated Susannah Richards

I was like a kid on Christmas day with all the fabulous list of books that she just shared. Some of which I am already familiar with and have reviewed here in GatheringBooks such as:

It’s a Book by Lane Smith (reviewed by Fats)

Dave the Potter by Laban Carrick Hill and Illustrated by Bryan Collier

Life Doesn’t Frighten Me, A Poem by Maya Angelou and Jean-Michel Basquiat

The Junkyard Wonders by Patricia Polacco

Books Owned but not reviewed yet: The Wall by Peter Sis and Squids will be Squids by Lane Smith and Jon Scieszka

There are sooo many books she shared that had me salivating during her session. Here are a few of the titles that caught my eye (actually everything caught my eye, but since we have limited space, let me highlight only five):

I was just so taken by this session that I attended Susannah’s second presentation the next day entitled: Escalating Language Arts/ Reading for Talented Middle Grades Readers and Writers. How could I possibly resist such a session? As per usual, I was enriched by so many book titles that I’m just grateful she has uploaded all her presentations in her wikispace as could be found here. It’s so comprehensive that it also includes a list of professional resources for talented readers and writers, a list of recently published titles that could ignite and delight middle grade readers and writers, and list of picture books. Better check it out!

Beyond the Page: Teaching Talented Readers 2.0 by Elizabeth Fogarty

This session actually reminded me of the presentation I did with Corinne from PaperTigers and Tarie from Asia in the Heart for the AFCC Conference this May (click here to be taken to my reflections/summary of that panel discussion on Building a Nation of Readers via Web 2.0). Here, Elizabeth discussed Shelfari and GoodReads and how it can be used as tools inside the classroom to promote reading that goes beyond literacy. She has also mentioned a book that I am itching to borrow from our library entitled Readicide by Kelly Gallagher. Has anyone read this book yet? Susannah has likewise made mention of this book in her own presentation.

Elizabeth has also uploaded her set of slides in her googlesites here just in case you may wish to know more about her interesting session.

Challenging Talented Readers with 21st Century Skills by Professor Sally Reis

Sally Reis is one of the rockstars in gifted and talented education and it is such a thrill to listen to her presentation. I’ve read a number of her journal articles and lordknows I have inundated my graduate students (taking their masters in gifted and talented education) with quite a number of her papers which we discuss with a measure of excitement.

The prolific Professor Sally Reis

During her session, she talked about the digital age literacy and how it impacts on the inventive thinking and intellectual capital of talented learners who need to demonstrate curiosity, creativity, risk taking, and higher order reasoning. She also pointed out that talented readers essentially enjoy the process of reading:

Photos taken during Professor Sally Reis' presentation

and that talented readers demonstrate advanced language skills:

as well as advanced processing skills:

Professor Reis went on to discuss SEM-R (Schoolwide Enrichment Model-Reading) which they have developed and spearheaded in the University of Connecticut. Click here to know more about this initiative, its efficacy, its goals and objectives – as well as be taken to downloadable pdf links for teachers/educators.

Who would have thought that my passion for reading would be even more magnified (if that is at all possible) by my attending a gifted and talented conference! I’ve always sensed that there is a symbiotic congruence which magically weaves together everything that I do and feel passionately about – this website (our baby, GatheringBooks) that I have created with Fats and Iphigene, my specialization in gifted and talented education, and this throbbing ache to read read read – and listen to what books have to say.

I’ve also taken a few photos of books that I have found in New Orleans as I was traveling around the city. Will post some of my recent book purchases in our In My Mailbox soon.

If I can't buy them all, I might as well take photos of them

I was pleasantly surprised by how vibrant the children’s literature scene appears to be in New Orleans – lots of picture books in the touristy shops!

My mind is now positively bursting with so many ideas for NAGC in 2013 (I might not have the resources to travel November of next year since my family and I would be spending the summer in the US, I can’t possibly do two trips in a year). Truly lovely to have my two passions collide.

9 comments on “NAGC 2011, New Orleans – Sessions on Books and Reading!

  1. Wow. It’s really nice to hear that there are a lot of events like this all over the world that encourage reading at a young age. And it’s cool that you get to meet a lot of interesting people. (Susannah Richards lives in a house of books? Literally? Haha :D)

    I have always been fascinated by New Orleans. Did you get a chance to go around, listen to jazz and eat cajun and crawfish? 😀


    • Hi Tin. I did have a lovely chance to move around (not as much as I would wish though). Went on tour during my last day and saw the mansions of the rich and famous (Anne Rice, Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie, house where the curious case of benjamin button was filmed). I told my friends that the town has cast a voodoo spell on me – I was thoroughly charmed. Jazz was a staple and I have an entire album devoted to just New Orleans food in my facebook account. Haha. 🙂 Jambalaya rice, seafood gumbo, cajun dishes – yum!


  2. I appreciate that you wrote and shared so much about the convention, gifted children and reading. What a gift you gave us! I work in a school for the gifted and this year none of us were able to attend, but next year it’s in Denver, where we are, and we plan to go and to present. I see that you may not be able to attend; perhaps I can send you updates? Thanks for all the details!


    • Hi Linda! It’s my pleasure to share this with you. I had a lovely time attending these sessions, it’s too bad your school couldn’t make it – there were a lot of school teachers! It would have been grand if we were able to share coffee in New Orleans. It would be great to finally meet you in person.


  3. I was a bit humbled to be included in your blog. I also did one of the special Sunday Session on books as well: What’s New in Young Adult Literature: 2011 Edition. I have done this session for many years – reading as much as I can and then if they meet Judith Halsted’s Characteristics of Books most suited for gifted readers (and a few of my own criteria) then I place it on my list, which I am most happy to share. So happy to hear that you enjoyed NAGC. Hope you can come to Denver next year — I will be helping out. In retirement I have relocated to the Four Corners Area (southwest) of Colorado.
    Dr. Bob Seney


    • Hi Dr. Bob! Glad to see you here in GatheringBooks. Too bad I missed your Sunday Session – I went on a cemetery/swamp tour with friends as it is our last day before we flew back. Unfortunately, I doubt whether I can make it to Denver next year, but I shall try.


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