Red Clover Conference 2015

On October 7, I had the pleasure of attending the 2015 Red Clover Award Conference in Fairlee, Vermont. The Red Clover Award is an honor bestowed by Vermont schoolchildren on the best picture book of the year– out of a batch of ten very strong nominees! Click on the above link to see the RC website and this year’s nominees!

I visited the Lake Morey Resort for the DCF Conference earlier in the year, and it was so wonderful to be back. It is absolutely beautiful and the staff is amazing. Here I am enjoying the wonderful weather by the lake!

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The keynote address was by the winner of this year’s Red Clover Award. Drew Daywalt wrote the incredible The Day the Crayons Quit, and his keynote was just as engaging. He spoke about his time in college under the mentorship of Jack Gantos (!!!) and how Mr. Gantos knew early on that he would be a children’s author. However, he was dead set on a career in Hollywood, and Mr. Daywalt spent several years in California. He was a PA on the set of “Hocus Pocus”, a screen-writer for several projects, and a director. But when Crayons (a side project) was finally accepted after years of being shopped around to publishers, Drew (and Jack Gantos of course) knew that he was set on a career in children’s literature.

I bought his second book The Day the Crayons Came Home for my school and for myself. Here is a photo of the title page, which he signed for me!

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My first workshop was about using technology to work with the RC books. The presenter showed us the RC website where there are plenty of online activities to do with kids. We also got to Skype with author David Ezra Stein, who wrote one of this year’s nominees I’m My Own Dog.

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My second workshop was with one of my favorite library people Sharon Colvin, the Youth Services Director at the Vermont Department of Libraries. She had found a plethora of activities to do with the RC books! You can see them at the VT Dept. of Libraries site here, as well as some educator resources. Some of my favorites were creating a storytelling jar with prompts for writing (Miss Brooks’ Story Nook) and a family tree out of a paper towel tube and popsicle sticks (My Grandfather’s Coat.) Sharon also gave me three free books at this event! You can see them below.

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The endnote address was by Vermont poet Geoff Hewitt. He recited some of his poetry and gave a lot of suggestions for promoting poetry and literacy in schools: the entire school, even staff, should write non-stop for seven minutes each day, it is okay to break the rules when it comes to writing poetry, and providing lots of prompts.

I had a great time at the conference and learned so much. I can’t wait to share these books with my students!

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