Literacy Now

Conferences & Events
ILA Membership
ILA Next
ILA Journals
ILA Membership
ILA Next
ILA Journals
  • Administrator
  • Other/Literacy Champion
  • Literacy Education Student
  • Job Functions
  • Classroom Teacher
  • Teaching Strategies
  • Teacher Preparation
  • Teacher Empowerment
  • Research
  • Networking
  • Mentorship
  • Leadership
  • Curriculum Development
  • Classroom Instruction
  • Professional Development
  • Disciplinary Literacy
  • Digital Literacy
  • Critical Literacy
  • Content Area Literacy
  • Literacies
  • Teacher Evaluation
  • School Policies
  • School Leadership
  • Administration
  • Topics
  • Conferences & Events
  • News & Events
  • Tutor
  • Teacher Educator
  • Reading Specialist
  • Partner Organization
  • Literacy Coach

Beyond National Borders: Reliving a Literacy Journey and the ILA 2016 Experience

By Oluwaseun Aina
 | Jul 10, 2017

Oluwaseun AinaBeing in Boston for the ILA 2016 conference was an extremely exciting learning opportunity for me. Although I had to travel more than 5,000 miles from Nigeria—and I was seven months pregnant at the time—it was worth every second.

I crossed several hurdles, including fundraising to cover expenses so I could attend—and present on the work of my social enterprise, Magical Books—but it’s the sessions I attended and resources I received that made the conference so memorable.

It has all aided my work with children over this past year in a country where reading for pleasure is not often promoted and most students read simply to pass exams. I aim to change that, and so I can’t wait to return for ILA 2017 to again be among so many like-minded literacy educators.

At the general session last year, I listened to Adora Svitak talk about the power of literature in teaching empathy and to Kwame Alexander talk about how to make poetry relatable, enjoyable, and accessible for children. I am also glad to have attended Pernille Ripp’s session on strategies to engage all learners, mainly that students shouldn’t be compelled to use reading logs, as this stifles the fun and limits the number/volume of books they want to read.

Teaching practices and instructional strategies that position students closer to reading and writing excellence by Kelly Gallagher was another session that inspired me. Now, I allow children to make their choice regarding the books they want to read irrespective of the volume and also model through mentor texts how students can be better writers. In addition, I take time to confer with students on their progress and challenges, to engage them with high-interest topics, to give lots of low-pressure ungraded writing, to write alongside them, and to encourage them to write for an audience.

Tiffany Todd’s session “60 Apps in 60 Minutes” was very engaging and eye opening. In fact, we were able to make a list of 100 apps. I was probably familiar with about two before the session, but now I know about Story Creator, Quizlet, AutoRap,,, and 95 others.

I found the session “From Phonics to Fluency to Proficient Reading” by Timothy Rasinski enlightening, especially because at Magical Books, we organize literacy clinics for struggling readers. One of the things I learned was that automaticity and increase in reading speed is gained through reading more and often. I have also found the “making and working words” and “vocabulary ladders” lesson plans very useful in improving students’ reading level and vocabulary.

I continue to be excited by the resources I received and, most important, the network of literacy educators I met and still communicate with. The ILA conference was a great learning experience that opened up so many opportunities beyond my national borders—and it could do exactly the same for you.

Oluwaseun Aina, an ILA member since 2015, holds a master’s degree in communication and language arts from University of Ibadan, Nigeria. She is the founder of Magical Books, a social enterprise that promotes literacy among children and young adults. She was included on ILA’s first-ever 30 under 30 list in 2015.

Back to Top


Recent Posts