For immediate release | January 15, 2013

Jonathan Kozol to keynote AASL President’s Program at ALA Annual Conference

CHICAGO — Best-selling author and student advocate, Jonathan Kozol, will speak during the American Association of School Librarians’ (AASL) President’s Program at the ALA 2013 Annual Conference in Chicago. Kozol’s presentation, preceded by a brief membership meeting, will take place at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 29.

Jonathan Kozol has devoted his life to the challenge of providing equal opportunity within the nation’s public schools to every student regardless of racial origin or economic level. During the civil rights campaigns of the 1960’s, Kozol moved from Harvard Square to an impoverished neighborhood of Boston and became a fourth grade teacher. His book chronicling his first year teaching, “Death at an Early Age,” received the 1968 National Book Award in Science, Philosophy, and Religion.

“At the risk of dating myself, when I was a graduate student at Simmons GSLIS, Jonathan Kozol's ‘Death at an Early Age’ was required reading,” said AASL President, Susan Ballard. “I was deeply touched by his brave, unflinching and unflattering portrait of the failure to address the needs of urban education. Too many years later, too many children and families are still waiting for change. The lack of progress has resulted in a negative impact on all of society.”

Kozol’s subsequent books continued to expose the conditions he discovered in public schools in a multitude of different districts. In the fall of 2012, Kozol published “Fire in the Ashes,” an anthology of stories about the children of the poorest urban neighborhood in the United States. These stories are interwoven with the crisis in the nation’s public schools and showcase the resilient teachers who fight against the odds and work with students in underserved communities.

“Kozol continues to push us to understand the price we pay when hope is lost, because through each of his successive, brilliant and often disturbing books, the message resonates stronger and louder,” Ballard continues. “I can’t think of a better person to share his insight with us so that we can better realize that school librarians can make a positive difference in the lives of all children as we help them aspire to a promising future through the power of knowing how to find and use information, generate ideas, develop deep understanding, share stories and create positive human connections.”

The AASL President's Program and Membership Meeting is an annual event featuring prominent experts on issues relevant to school librarianship and is open to all registered conference attendees. For more information about this and other AASL programs at the ALA 2013 Annual Conference in Chicago, visit

The American Association of School Librarians,, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), promotes the improvement and extension of library services in elementary and secondary schools as a means of strengthening the total education program. Its mission is to advocate excellence, facilitate change and develop leaders in the school library field.


Jennifer Habley

Web Communications Manager

American Association of School Librarians (AASL)

800-545-2433 ext. 4383