AASL National Conference Closing Session Features Authors on the Right to Read

For Immediate Release
Mon, 08/28/2023


Allison Cline

Deputy Executive Director

American Association of School Librarians (AASL)



CHICAGO – A panel of authors sponsored by We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) will close out the 2023 AASL National Conference taking place October 19-21 in Tampa, Florida. The moderated panel will include bestselling authors Samira Ahmed, Phil Bildner, and Tracey Baptiste and the authors will present concrete ideas for how to respond to censorship attempts in the school library. More information on the conference and closing session can be found at national.aasl.org.

During “Authors on the Right to Read,” panelists will present strategies and resources educators can use when responding to parents initiating challenges. Strategies will include how to book talk a challenged book effectively; how to get support from the greater community; how to get resources from the publishing community of writers, publishing professionals, activists; and how to start a book club and get the parents and students involved.

"Since its inception in 2014, We Need Diverse Books has worked to raise awareness on how librarians can ensure diversity on their school library shelves and in programming," said Paige Battle, conference co-chair. "The authors selected for this panel bring valuable insight on strategies for creating a community of advocates. Having this topic as the focus for the AASL National Conference closing session will energize attendees to redouble advocacy efforts because #BooksSaveLives."

"I have been a huge fan of We Need Diverse Books since I first heard Ellen Oh’s moving general session at AASL19 in Kentucky," said conference co-chair Amanda Jones. "All students deserve to see themselves in school library collections, so I am beyond thrilled that AASL will feature an author panel from We Need Diverse Books for the closing general session at our national conference. School librarians must push back against the movement to target librarians, authors, and essentially our students, to create an equitable and safe learning environment for each student and educator at our schools."

Samira Ahmed is the New York Times-bestselling and critically acclaimed author of numerous works for children and teens including “Love, Hate & Other Filters,” “Internment,” the Amira & Hamza middle grade series, Hollow Fires, as well as the comic book series, Ms. Marvel: Beyond the Limit.

Phil Bildner is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous books for kids including the 2021 NCTE Charlotte Huck Award Honor-winning middle grade novel, “High Five for Glenn Burke,” the Margaret Wise Brown Prize-winning “Marvelous Cornelius,” and the Texas Bluebonnet Award-winning “Shoeless Joe & Black Betsy.”

Tracey Baptiste is the New York Times-bestselling author of “Minecraft: The Crash” and the acclaimed middle grade fantasy trilogy: The Jumbies. She has also written the middle grade nonfiction book “African Icons: Ten People Who Shaped History,” as well as the popular picture books “Because Claudette” and “Mermaid and Pirate.”

Founded by marginalized authors, We Need Diverse Books strives to diversify the publishing industry and make our bookshelves more equitable — all to promote literacy, build empathy, and reduce bias. Established in 2014, WNDB is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that supports diverse creators and publishing professionals via grants, mentorships, and workshops. We also serve educators and teachers nationwide, providing over 100,000 diverse books to schools and libraries. Learn more at www.diversebooks.org

The AASL National Conference is the only national conference dedicated solely to the needs of school librarians and their roles as educational leaders. A one-of-a-kind conference, the 2023 AASL National Conference will feature daily keynotes, more than 150 concurrent sessions, author panels, research into practice sessions, more than 150 exhibitors, the best practice IdeaLab, author signings, and endless networking opportunities. Content provided at the conference will be rooted in AASL's National School Library Standards for Learners, School Librarians, and School Libraries.

The American Association of School Librarians, www.aasl.org, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), empowers leaders to transform teaching and learning.