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    Spotlight on the ILA Network: Children’s Literature and Reading Special Interest Group

    ILA Staff
     | Sep 22, 2022

    CLRSIGhiglight_680This is the first of a new series of posts highlighting ILA’s richly diverse network of state chapters, global affiliates, special interest groups, and Alpha Upsilon Alpha honor societies.

    Children’s Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) | Est. 1979

    What they do

    Share resources and current research findings pertaining to books for young people through webinars, a virtual book club, a peer-reviewed journal (The Dragon Lode, available free to members), and the Notable Books for a Global Society (NBGS), an annual list of 25 outstanding books that celebrate diverse human experiences and promote intercultural understanding.

    Why they do it

    To advocate for the inclusion of children’s literature in educational settings.

    Who can join

    ILA members with “an abiding interest in the development of literacy and in promoting high-quality literature,” including school-based educators, teacher candidates, higher ed faculty, authors, and children’s book publishers.

    How to join

    Online or by calling customer service at 800.336.7323 (US/Canada) or +1.302.731.1600 (all other countries).

    Ways to get involved

    Serve on the CL/R SIG’s Board of Directors. Current openings include three member-at-large positions and one president-elect. Board members serve three-year terms; the president-elect serves six: two in this role; two as president; and two as past-president. Responsibilities include overseeing the SIG business, developing events and initiatives, promoting the SIG’s publications and activities, and recruiting new members.  

    Interested candidates should send a statement of interest and brief biography (no more than 200 words each) to Danielle Hartsfield, CL/R SIG President, at by Friday, September 30. Elections will be held in October; terms begin on November 1. All candidates must be members in good standing of both ILA and the CL/R SIG.

    Participate in the Notable Books for a Global Society Committee. During their three-year terms, members of this committee read and evaluate several hundred children’s and young adult books annually. They collaborate with fellow committee members to select the 25 books that most closely align to the NBGS selection criteria. In addition, they participate in webinars and conference sessions to share information about the award.

    dragonlodecoverFor more information about serving on the NBGS Committee, please contact Mary Ellen Oslick, Chair, at Applications are due in January 2023.

    Write and/or review for The Dragon Lode, CL/R SIG’s juried journal. The Dragon Lode provides a forum for exchange of ideas concerning the content and teaching of children’s literature in the development of literacy. For more information about what content they are seeking and guidelines for submitting a manuscript, you can visit the CL/R SIG website or email the editors.


    Want to get your ILA chapter, affiliate, or SIG featured in our next spotlight? Email for more information

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    Explore Resources for Banned Books Week

    By Wes Ford
     | Sep 19, 2022
    Girl reading book


    This week, September 17 through 24, is Banned Book Week, an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. This event calls to light the hundreds of challenges that are made in an effort to remove books from public schools and libraries. A proud member of the Unite Against Book Bans movement, a campaign organized by the American Library Association (ALA), ILA has long stood against censorship and supported children's rights to read.

    Here are some resources to help you stand up against censorship and promote a love of reading in students.

    Children’s Rights to Read

    ILA's Children’s Rights to Read initiative, founded on 10 fundamental rights every child deserves, was developed to ensure that every child, everywhere, has access to the education, opportunities, and resources needed to read. These resources expand on and support the Rights (downloadable in 16 languages), helping you enact them in in your classroom, school, or community: 


    Both of these ILA Digital Events are available on our YouTube channel, along with several other videos in our Free Events playlist.


    Several organizations have created informational guides and resource packets with promotional material and suggestions on how to guide discussion and lead action around fighting book bans.

    Special Interest Groups

    Censorship silences the voices of marginalized populations. Our Children’s Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) uplifts diverse voices with their annual Notable Books for a Global Society book list.


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    How are you advocating for a child’s rights to read during Banned Books Week? Let us know by emailing or tagging us on social media. Follow us on Twitter for more resources, articles, and events, and be sure to use the hashtag #BannedBooksWeek and our handle, @ILAToday, when sharing your events.


    Wes Ford is proud to stand with ILA against censorship and banning books.

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    2022 International Literacy Day Welcome

    By Kenneth Kunz & Annette Kiberu
     | Sep 08, 2022

    To our International Literacy Association (ILA) global community, we want to take this opportunity to join all of you in celebrating 2022 International Literacy Day and to call attention to the amazing work taking place across our committed and dedicated worldwide literacy network. This year’s theme is: “Transforming Literacy Learning Spaces.” As so many have embraced ILA’s Children’s Rights to Read, one can draw immediate connections to Right #6: Children have the right to supportive reading environments with knowledgeable literacy partners. As co-chairs of the ILA Global Committee, we are proud you have partnered with ILA to carry out this work. We invite you to share how you are embracing quality, equitable, and inclusive learner-centered learning for all.

    Our work this year began with a focus on joy around literacy, as we were able to meet for the first time face-to-face since the pandemic at the Federation of European Literacy Associations (FELA) Conference hosted in partnership with the Literacy Association of Ireland (LAI) in beautiful Dublin. Like the projects and initiatives presented to ILA’s global community, we were humbled to participate in their celebration of literacy, diversity, and new directions in the aftermath of COVID-19. As a proud supporter of this year’s event, ILA recognizes that there are countless opportunities to join hand in hand with networks advancing literacy across the globe, and our membership is second to none when it comes to research, innovation, practice, and service.

    On this International Literacy Day, our joy around this work continues as we participate in the many events taking place around the world. On this one day alone, the collective efforts of our network impact millions of readers across all of our regions and affiliates. As you celebrate this day with your schools, families, and communities, we invite you to visit to learn more about how the “I” is represented across ILA. Click on “Get Involved” and learn more under “Chapters and Affiliates.” We know you will be inspired by responses to literary needs impacting communities around the globe.

    If reimagining literacy through a global lens is new to the work that you do, or if you are looking to transform literacy in global ways in the aftermath of the pandemic, we share a few tips that have helped to bring our work into perspective:

    • Connect with a colleague from across the globe. Consider attending an international literacy conference (virtually, or in person!). We are looking forward to FELA 2024 in Chania, Greece.
    • Evaluate your local/school/classroom libraries to inventory representation of voices and diverse experiences from around the world.
    • Visit the ILA website to explore possible literacy networking opportunities. Identify a global affiliate participating in initiatives and projects aligned with your core values and interests.
    • Joining ILA is just a click away; membership is open to all of us. By joining or encouraging new members to join, you will learn, enjoy, and grab exposure to the latest research and practices. Join today to add to your knowledge as you promote literacy globally.
    • Enjoy the numerous literacy awards and grants that are open to all members internationally.
    • Write for Literacy Today, ILA's member magazine, or Literacy Now, ILA's blog, and share your International Literacy Day project. Showcase how you are transforming literacy learning.
    • Tag @ILAToday in your Twitter posts so we can connect and share your work! Use the official event hashtag in all of your tweets: #LiteracyDay.

    On this International Literacy Day, we would like to recognize YOU for supporting ILA’s mission and are proud that you are part of our ILA network. We wish you a safe, happy, and healthy International Literacy Day and look forward to hearing the different ways you bring readers together around the globe both today and throughout the year.

    Wishing you all the best,

    Kenneth Kunz        Annette Kiberu
    Co-Chairs, ILA Global Committee

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    Get Ready for International Literacy Day 2022

    By Wes Ford
     | Aug 31, 2022

    Mother and daughter readingThe end of August is synonymous with a few things around ILA headquarters: shorter days and longer nights, kids returning to school (for those with school-aged children), the local Renaissance Fairs opening for the season (though, this one could just be me…), and International Literacy Day (ILD) being just around the corner.

    Celebrated on September 8 each year, ILD was created by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in 1967 to “remind the public of the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights, and to advance the literacy agenda towards a more literate and sustainable society.”

    Now is the time to consider the future of education

    The theme for ILD this year is Transforming Literacy Learning Spaces. This is a timely theme in the wake of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic that shut down schools and drastically shifted how many students across the globe accessed literacy education.

    For many educators, there is an idea of a normal to which we could return. But many students do not have such a memory. Before we slip back into the pre-COVID way of teaching—whether we do so out of nostalgia or simply because that’s how it has always been—we need to examine if we should return to that way of teaching. What elements should we bring into the post-COVID world, and which are better left as remnants of the bygone era best left behind us?

    How can you transform literacy learning spaces?

    The scope of the answers to that quandary vary greatly depending upon the role of the ruminator:

    For administrators and policymakers, these questions apply to how literacy education is offered and accessed.

    For researchers, here lies an opportunity to explore the outcomes of digital learning and virtual classrooms and how best to accelerate student learning after the gap.

    For classroom teachers and librarians, this transformation could be more literal and physical: How can you change the way learners are using your space to access learning?

    And let’s not forget families, caregivers, and communities at large who should consider how best to center and promote literacy and guarantee access to quality, appropriate, and inclusive reading materials for all readers.

    In the wake of a challenge as tumultuous as a worldwide pandemic, we are presented with the opportunity to forge a new path forward. Let’s not let this opportunity to reinvent and reinvigorate literacy education pass us by in a rush to return to a comfortable but no-longer-appropriate “normal.”

    Resources to spark your imagination

    As ILD’s theme invites you to consider a new path forward, ILA resources can give you a jumping off point.

    The free Dungeons and Dragons webinar series—sponsored in part by Wizards of the Coast—offers an excellent example of how literacy learning spaces can be transformed from the more common teacher-directed lesson plans into joyful, student-led game sessions that build emotional literacy, draw in reluctant readers, and propel writing instruction through shared storytelling.

    The following resources might also spur your imagination and help you evaluate how literacy learning spaces can transform into something magical.

    Rethinking a new normal

    Let’s Not Return to Normal,” by ILA Board Member Molly Ness

    An Opportunity for Change,” a Q&A with groundbreaking scholar Gloria Ladson-Billings

    What Should Equitable and Comprehensive Early Literacy Instruction Look Like in 2020 and Beyond? with ILA President of the Board Kenneth Kunz, ILA member Diane Lapp, ILA member Susan B. Neuman, past president of IRA (now ILA) Patricia A. Edwards, past president of the ILA Board Douglas Fisher, ILA member Sonia Cabell, ILA Vice President of the Board Kia Brown-Dudley, Lisa Forehand, and Lesley Mandel Morrow

    Reimagining literacy learning spaces

    Classrooms That Spark Joy,” by ILA 30 Under 30 honoree Jigyasa Labroo and Umaima Ehtasham

    From the Unknown to the Reimagined,” by ILA member Amanda Shimizu and Jill Sylvia

    Literacy Redesigned,” by ILA member Brandi MacDonald

    Literacy Teaching in Turbulent Times, with Ernest Morrell and Nell K. Duke

    Access to literacy

    Book Access in the Post-COVID Era, with Susan B. Neuman and ILA 30 Under 30 honorees Allister Fa Chang and Karlos L. Marshall

    Meeting People Where They Are,” by ILA 30 Under 30 honorees Allister Fa Chang and Karlos L. Marshall


    For more resources from ILA, check out our new Resources by Topic pages. The Teaching in the Time of COVID and Digital Literacy are particularly poignant to this conversation.

    Let us know how you are celebrating ILD this year in your school and your community. Tag us on social media (@ILAToday on Instagram and Twitter) or send us your stories at And continue to reach out to us throughout the year. We want to hear not only how you are transforming literacy learning spaces but also the outcomes of that transformation.

    Stay in touch!

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    Malparara: A Partnership of Friends When Teaching Indigenous Languages

    By Janet Armitage
     | Aug 15, 2022

    Across the Oceanic region, Indigenous languages are being preserved and revitalised by people within local communities in partnership with schools. In remote central Australia, teachers arrive not knowing the local languages and, with a high turnover of teaching staff, they often leave within 18 months. How then can local Pitjantjatjara-speaking education staff, with many years of employment at the local school, ensure that their language, mainly Pitjantjatjara, is maintained, preserved, and taught in schools?

    Setting the stage

    This video explains some of the colonial history of language in education on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in northwest South Australia as a way of setting the scene of the systemic responses to language in education. The historical context of a strong era of bilingual education makes it even more surprising that education in the 21st century is English as Medium of Instruction or English-only instruction in these schools where students have very little contact with speakers of English other than their teachers and other service providers.

    When teachers stay long enough to develop friendships and strong understandings of the importance of bilingual education, classrooms can become lively places of sharing knowledge, power, and the teaching role. The case study in above video exemplifies the possibilities of working together as friends in a malparara partnership where two people accompany each other in the classroom work of teaching language and teaching through their respective languages to support student understanding.

    As principal of Pipalyatjara Anangu School in 2021, I became aware of the rare partnerships created at times in classrooms when teachers stay a long time and create strong personal connections with Anangu colleagues and their families. As part of an action research project in Culturally Responsive Pedagogy with the University of South Australia, I began observing the responses of students in classrooms when teaching partnerships developed.


    Asking Anangu colleagues how to describe this they told me malparara, sometimes translated as teamwork, but most specifically as pairs of friends who accompany each other.

    Professional friendships develop when parity is encouraged in teaching roles, not when the Piranpa teacher does the “teaching” and the Anangu teacher does the behaviour management. There is no real equity in this type of arrangement, common as it may be in APY Lands schools. However, when forms of knowledge, languages and cultures are given parity in the pair of teachers, a malparara approach may develop.

    In the above video, Emily becomes the main teacher when teaching writing in Pitjantjatjara, her teaching malpa (friend) takes the quieter role in supporting reading in English. The roles become mutually supportive in a malparara approach that quite naturally developed over time and trust.


    Find out more about how educators can preserve indigenous language by attending the free online event Preserving & Revitalising Indigenous Languages: Stories From the Oceanic Regionon August 16.


    Janet Armitage an educator working with local educators in the APY Lands in Central Australia. She will be one of the presenters for the International Development Oceania Committee online seminar Preserving & Revitalising Indigenous Languages: Stories From the Oceanic Region.

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