WHY READING MATTERS CONFERENCE 2018: Reading Without Boundaries

EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN.

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Keynote Speaker: Alvin Irby, Founder of Barbershop Books
Winner of the 2017 Innovations in Reading Prize

Alvin Irby Barbershop Books
Alvin Irby Barbershop Books

Alvin Irby is an award-winning educator, comedian, and entrepreneur. As Founder and Chief Reading Inspirer at Barbershop Books, winner of the National Book Foundation’s 2017 Innovations in Reading Prize, Irby has expanded book access for thousands of children and inspired a national movement to promote reading in barbershops. As a 2015 StandUp NBC national finalist, he beat out more than 600 comedians nationwide to showcase his stand up comedy at the Hollywood Improv in Los Angeles, CA. Irby has established himself as a thought leader in early literacy and a cultural competency specialist, captivating audiences with his passionate keynotes and insightful workshops. In 2016, Irby published his debut children’s book Gross Greg, a laugh-out-loud story that combines his passion for humor and children’s literature. Irby holds a BA from Grinnell College, an MS in Childhood Education from Bank Street Graduate School of Education, and an MPA from New York University.

 

Author Talk:
Lisa Ko, The Leavers
2017 National Book Award Finalist

Lisa Ko author photo, credit: Bartosz Potocki
Lisa Ko, photo credit: Bartosz Potocki

Lisa Ko is the author of The Leavers, a novel which won the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction and was a finalist for the 2017 National Book Award for Fiction, the 2018 PEN/Hemingway Award, and the 2017 Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Award. Her writing has appeared in Best American Short Stories 2016, The New York Times, BuzzFeed, O. Magazine, and elsewhere. She has been awarded fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and the MacDowell Colony, among others. Born in Queens and raised in Jersey, she lives in Brooklyn.
Visit her at lisa-ko.com.

A full schedule of breakout presentations will be announced May 10, 2018.

Eight Publishers Commit Over 420,000 Books to Second Year of Book Rich Environments Initiative

The Book Rich Environments (BRE) initiative, now in its second year, aims to combat lack of literary access, often termed “book deserts,” by connecting communities with resources that help foster life-long, joyful relationships between readers and books.

With new partner and participating sites,
Book Rich Environments  programming will take
place at 37 sites across 19 states

Book Rich Environments logo

The Book Rich Environments (BRE) initiative, now in its second year, aims to combat lack of literary access, often termed “book deserts,” by connecting communities with resources that help foster life-long, joyful relationships between readers and books. BRE is a collaboration between the National Book Foundation, which serves as lead partner, the U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Urban Libraries Council, and the National Center for Families Learning, a new partner. This unique program works with HUD-assisted communities to strengthen home libraries, facilitate book-distribution events, and provide the information and tools to establish long-term connections between families, libraries, and other literary resources.

This year, with book contribution commitments from eight U.S. book publishers (Algonquin Books for Young Readers/Workman Publishing, Candlewick Press, Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, Macmillan Publishers, Penguin Random House, Scholastic, and Simon & Schuster), BRE has secured a total of 422,000 free, high-quality, diverse books that will go to children and families in HUD-assisted communities. BRE programming will once again take place throughout the U.S., from Missouri to Colorado to New York, where last year, through BRE, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) received the largest book donation in its history.  37 sites across 19 states will participate, and two sites will be joining for the first time, one in Phenix City, Alabama and the second in northern Minnesota, serving communities on three Anishinaabe reservations: Leech Lake, Red Lake, and White Earth.

“Our commitment to supporting and encouraging readers of all ages is unwavering.”

— David Steinberger, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Book Foundation

Each local public housing authority (PHA) partner pledges to hold at least three book-distribution events. The most visible part of the BRE program, these events are held at public housing buildings, community centers, and local library branches (providing opportunities for attendees to sign up for library cards). Past events have included a community barbeque in Cincinnati, a scavenger hunt in Springfield, MA, and an innovative plan to turn the otherwise tedious process of public housing renewal into a family-friendly book distribution event in Houston.

“Our commitment to supporting and encouraging readers of all ages is unwavering,” said David Steinberger, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Book Foundation. “We are thrilled that with the expansion of Book Rich Environments, we will be able to reach even more young people across the country with literature and stories that will be meaningful to them.”

“We firmly believe that the wonder and excitement of books are for everyone,” said Lisa Lucas, Executive Director of the National Book Foundation. “Access to those books—new, quality books that readers are able to take home and keep—is a strong foundation on which to build a rich, enthusiastic, life-long relationship with reading.”

“We firmly believe that the wonder and excitement of books are for everyone. Access to those books—new, quality books that readers are able to take home and keep—is a strong foundation on which to build a rich, enthusiastic, life-long relationship with reading.”

— Lisa Lucas, Executive Director of the National Book Foundation

National Center for Families Learning has joined as a new BRE partner this year. The Louisville-based nonprofit has a national footprint, and brings to the table nearly 30 years of broad experience with coalition-building, professional learning, and a family-centered approach to reading—experience that is invaluable to BRE’s goal of connecting families to the literary resources necessary to sustain an active interest in literature.

In its inaugural year, BRE provided over 270,000 free books to children and families in PHAs. This year’s quantity of 422,000 books represents a significant expansion in the reach of BRE resources. With a new programming partner and participating sites, BRE is not only able to provide free books that encourage and sustain home libraries for families, but is also able to activate local libraries and literary partners able to serve families in the communities where these public housing authorities are located, to develop and deliver ongoing literary and literacy programming, resulting in a program that is far reaching, but also responsive to each local community’s needs.

Books available at BRE book-distribution events include both English and Spanish language titles for kids ages 0-18, and include books by beloved children’s and YA authors such as Margaret Wise Brown, Evelyn Coleman, Donald Crews, Tomie dePaola, Arthur Dorros, John Green, and Sabaa Tahir. Titles by National Book Awards authors are also available, including Bronzeville Boys and Girls by Gwendolyn Brooks, Ramona and Her Mother by Beverly Cleary, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, Mango, Abuela y yo by Meg Medina, The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson, and Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman.

With a focus on providing free books, programming, and vital connections to local resources, BRE seeks to make long-lasting impact within PHAs, helping to create sustainable book rich environments where literature is accessible and celebrated within the community.

  • Phenix City, AL
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • Chandler, AZ
  • Contra Costa County, CA
  • Fresno, CA
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Marin County, CA
  • San Diego, CA
  • San Joaquin County, CA
  • San Mateo County, CA
  • Stanislaus County, CA
  • Boulder, CO
  • Sarasota, FL
  • Tampa, FL
  • Nampa, ID
  • Pocatello, ID
  • Fort Wayne, IN
  • Topeka, KS
  • Cambridge, MA
  • New Bedford, MA
  • Springfield, MA
  • Anishinaabe Reservations, MN
  • Kansas City, MO
  • Billings, MT
  • Durham, NC
  • New York, NY
  • Akron, OH
  • Cincinnati, OH
  • Brownsville, TX
  • Edinburg, TX
  • Harlingen, TX
  • Houston, TX
  • Gregory, TX
  • San Antonio, TX
  • Roanoke, VA
  • Tacoma, WA
  • Washington, DC


Martin Amis reading and discussion with Deborah Treisman – Eat, Drink & Be Literary at BAMcafe

Presented by the National Book Foundation and BAM

Martin Amis is the author of 13 novels, including Money, London Fields, Time’s Arrow, The Information, The Pregnant Widow, and, most recently, Lionel Asbo: State of England. He is the author of the memoir Experience, two collections of short stories, and six books of nonfiction, including The Moronic Inferno, Visiting Mrs. Nabokov and Other Excursions, Koba the Dread, and The War Against Cliché. Amis has served as literary editor of The New Statesman and is a regular contributor to many newspapers and journals including The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and The Guardian. He lives in Brooklyn.

Nell Freudenberger reading and discussion with Phillip Lopate – Eat, Drink & Be Literary at BAMcafe

Presented by the National Book Foundation and BAM

The acclaimed author of Lucky Girls reads from and discusses her most recent work, about a Bangladeshi Muslim woman whose online courtship leads to marriage in America.

Nell Freudenberger is the author of The Dissident, a novel about a Chinese performance artist in Los Angeles, and The Newlyweds, about a Bangladeshi Muslim woman whose online courtship leads to marriage in America. She is also the author of the short story collection Lucky Girls, which won the PEN/Malamud Award and the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction. Freudenberger, a Guggenheim Fellow, was a recipient of a 2005 Whiting Award and was named one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists and one of The New Yorker’s “20 Under 40.” She lives in Brooklyn.

Jamaica Kincaid reading and discussion with Phillip Lopate – Eat, Drink & Be Literary at BAMcafe

Presented by the National Book Foundation and BAM

The beloved author of At the Bottom of the River reads from and discusses See Now Then, her first novel in 10 years.

“Kincaid writes with passion and conviction…a musical sense of language, a poet’s understanding of how politics and history, private and public events, overlap and blur.” —The New York Times

Born in Antigua, Jamaica Kincaid is the author of the memoir My Brother, which won the Prix Femina Etranger, and the works Annie John, Lucy, Among Flowers: A Walk in the Himalaya, Mr. Potter, and The Autobiography of My Mother, which won the Lannan Literary Award for Fiction. Kincaid’s short story collection At the Bottom of the River won the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award and was nominated for a PEN/Faulkner Award. Her short fiction has appeared in The Paris Review and The New Yorker, where she was a staff writer for 19 years.

Ann Beattie reading and discussion with Deborah Treisman – Eat, Drink & Be Literary at BAMcafe

Presented by the National Book Foundation and BAM

Ann Beattie has been included in four O. Henry Award Collections and in John Updike’s Best American Short Stories of the Century. In 2000, she received the PEN/Malamud Award for achievement in the short story form. In 2005, she received the Rea Award for the Short Story. In a review of her most recent novella, Walks with Men, Jay McInerney described Beattie as “a national treasure” (The New York Times Book Review). She and her husband, Lincoln Perry, live in Key West, Florida and Charlottesville, Virginia, where she is Edgar Allan Poe Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Virginia.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie reading and discussion with Michael Greenberg – Eat, Drink & Be Literary at BAMcafe

Presented by the National Book Foundation and BAM

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie grew up in Nigeria. Her work has been translated into 30 languages and has appeared in various publications, including The O. Henry Prize Stories 2003, The New Yorker, Granta, Financial Times, and Zoetrope. Her novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, won the Orange Broadband Prize, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, was named a New York Times Notable Book, and was a People and Black Issues Book Review Best Book of the Year. Her first novel, Purple Hibiscus, won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. She is the recipient of a 2008 MacArthur Foundation fellowship, and was selected as one of The New Yorker’s “20 Under 40.” She divides her time between the United States and Nigeria.

Jennifer Egan reading and discussion with Deborah Treisman – Eat, Drink & Be Literary at BAMcafe

Presented by the National Book Foundation and BAM

Jennifer Egan has published short stories in many magazines, including The New Yorker, Harper’s, Granta, and McSweeney’s. Her first novel, The Invisible Circus, came out in 1995 and was released as a movie starring Cameron Diaz in 2001. Her second novel, Look at Me, was a National Book Award Finalist in 2001, and her third, The Keep, was a national bestseller. Her book, A Visit From the Goon Squad, won critical acclaim “as a brilliant, all-absorbing novel” (All Things Considered). Also a journalist, Egan has written many cover stories for The New York Times Magazine on topics ranging from young fashion models to the secret online lives of closeted gay teens. Her 2002 cover story on homeless children received the Carroll Kowal Journalism Award, and her 2008 story on bipolar children won an Outstanding Media Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two sons.

George Saunders reading and discussion with Aoibheann Sweeney – Eat, Drink & Be Literary at BAMcafe

Presented by National Book Foundation and BAM

George Saunder’s reads from “Sea Oak,” which can be found in his short story collection Pastoralia. A Q&A session with moderator Aoibheann Sweeney and the audience follows, where Saunders discusses (among other things) the writer’s place in the political landscape, why he writes short stories versus novels, and the truthfulness found in fiction.