This blogger loves what she loves and has no problem publicly professing her love for Project LIT Community! The effort-of-the-heart that populates book deserts with culturally-relevant books and hosts a monthly community book club at the school launched by Maplewood High School English teacher Dr. Jarred Amato and a group of students. I’ve dedicated several blogs to this effort as it something that I believe has the power to transform nonreaders into vested lifelong readers as well as the potential to reverse the dismal literacy rates in far too many school districts.
But let’s not go there.
Last weekend was Project LIT’s first annual summit and without a doubt the hottest ticket in town. You had to be there. But if you weren’t, I’m here to offer you five things you missed from the most inspiring event I’ve attended in many years – maybe ever. If you would like another perspective on Saturday’s LIT summit, check out fellow blogger T. C. Weber’s post. Also, see NewsChannel 5’s report.
5 Things You Missed
Dr. Amato opened the summit making the purpose clear to everyone under the sound of his voice. ‘Everything, all of this, is about the students.’ Three of the co-founders from Maplewood High School had their moment on the stage, witnessing to more than 150 adults hanging on their every word. True to the model, approximately 50 students from Project LIT chapters around the country participated alongside educators to celebrate the first P-LIT family convening and the books responsible for bringing them together.
2. Twenty-Seven States
Yes, educators and vendors from Washington State to NYC and 25 states in between made the literary trek to celebrate students and books and students reading books.
3. About those books…
Thanks to book vendors and local bookstore Parnassus, educators and students went home with LOTS OF BOOKS; most were purchased, many were giveaways. By the way, Parnassus is owned by Nashville’s own renowned author Ann Patchett.
Every woman, man and child at Maplewood High School on Saturday, June 16, 2018, was happy to be among Panther Nation. Giddy even. This was no run-of-the-mill professional development opportunity. The first-ever Project LIT Summit was a party. Some educators celebrated the end of a successful year of book clubs and book recommendations. While others celebrated the anticipated launch of Project LIT in their community. Finally, there were the fans who, like me, were there to celebrate the celebration.
5. Best-Selling Authors
Book signings, panel discussions, and author-led discussions were just a few of the opportunities that allowed summit attendees to interact with authors. Best-selling authors. It was sorta, kinda unreal.
Kwame Alexander, an author of 21 books including P-LIT books Booked and Crossover, disrupted his family vacation to open the summit with the P-LIT family. In flip-flops, Alexander worked the crowd during a Q & A style town hall covering topics ranging from reading behavior (“I didn’t like it”) to his love of poetry to the teacher who almost destroyed him his senior year of high school after accusing him of plagiarizing. (He sends her a copy of each of his books)
Tiffany Jackson, author of Allegedly and Monday’s Not Coming, showed up early Saturday morning and effortlessly interacted with students and educators through the end of the summit. Jackson is confident in the badassery of today’s youth noting this is the generation that will not take “because I said so” for an answer.
Nic Stone. Personality oozes from the pores of the amazing author of Dear Martin. Stone was also committed to the duration of the summit and it was quite clear how much she adores the audience for which she writes.
Jeff Zentner, author of The Serpent King and Nashville resident, is deeply connected to the world around him and exceptionally passionate about writing books for young people.
Yes, a great time was had by all.