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A novelist, librarian and educator will team up to present suggestions on engaging and encouraging readers to increase their literacy and sensitivity through writing activities and close reading. Carrie Banks will demonstrate how she uses literature, research, models, class discussion and demonstrations to help readers understand an aspect of the disability experience. Based on her work at the Pratt Institute, she will sketch a character development project that involves developing avatars with disabilities based on readings of children’s and YA fiction about disabilities. Sara Kersten will share how the graphic format of El Deafo gave voice to the different ways of being that people with hearing loss have to navigate in a society that privileges ability, and demonstrate how, through the use of anthropomorphized rabbits and various ways of depicting hearing through speech bubbles, her hearing students had an opportunity to become witness to and live an experience outside their own. Finally, Padma Venkatraman, award-winning author of A Time to Dance (a critically acclaimed ALA notable book set in South Asia, featuring a female protagonist who is disabled), will address her experiences as a writer and will provide questioning frameworks, critical thinking strategies, research activities, writing tips, book pairing ideas and other resources to increase comprehension of international attitudes and perspectives on disability. The session will end by listing further resources and offering links to discussion guides, lesson plans and handouts with suggested activities.
- Attendees will have concrete steps that they can take to add excellent books featuring characters with disabilities to diversify their collections.
- Attendees will gain resources containing ready-to-go exercises, lesson plan suggestions, hands-on activities and other sure-fire strategies that they can implement in library book clubs and reading groups, and share with teacher colleagues.
About the Instructors
Dr. Sara Kersten
is an Assistant Professor of Literacy Education at the University of Nevada, Reno where she teaches literacy courses to education majors. Prior to getting her Ph.D., Sara was a 2nd grade teacher in Tennessee. Her teaching philosophy and academic interests are rooted in the power of children's literature to capture children's imaginations, broaden their understandings, and encourage diverse view points. She has conducted research on nonfiction children's literature, graphic novels, and representation in diverse books with elementary children and undergraduate students. This research has been presented across the country as well as internationally in Croatia and Australia. Sara currently lives in Reno, Nevada.
Dr. Padma Venkatraman
is the award-winning author of three critically acclaimed novels: A Time to Dance
, Island’s End
, and Climbing the Stairs
. All three were released to multiple starred reviews (12 total), and were Booklist
Editor’s choices and ALA/YALSA Best Books of the Year. In addition, her books have won numerous awards (such as the ASTAL RI Book of the Year, Boston Authors Club Julia Ward Howe Young Readers award, Paterson Prize, South Asia Book Award, and Singapore Children’s Choice Red Dot Award); been on several shortlists (e.g. Cybil, Crystal Kite, in more than 10 states, including ME, UT, SC, NJ, OK, NY, PA, RI, IN, CT); and received many other honors - ALA Notable, Amelia Bloomer List, Bank Street College of Education Best Book, Book Links
Best New Book, Booksense Notable, CCBC choice, Capitol Choice, CLN Top 25, CSML Best Book, IBBY Outstanding Book for Young People with Disabilities, IRA Notable Book for a Global Society, Kirkus Best Book, NCSS/CBC Notable, Publishers Weekly Flying Start, etc. Before becoming a full-time author, Padma Venkatraman taught courses in oceanography at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography. She has taught students of all ages, from elementary school children to university professors and has conducted hands-on workshops for students with disabilities. She has served as a panelist at book festivals such as the PEN World Voices Festival and the Hong Kong Young Readers Festival; been an invited guest at Harvard and other universities; has provided commencement speeches at schools and keynote addresses at numerous conferences, including the Caribbean Beach Pen Literary Festival in Trinidad, where she was the chief guest. Her work has been featured nationally and internationally on TV and radio. Padma Venkatraman is an American and lives in Rhode Island with her family.