July 17


Let’s Step Up by Anne Lee

July 14 was a day of great highs and lows. A group of almost 500 educators congregated in Leesburg, Virginia for the Scholastic Book Fairs Reading Summit. We heard from Nancie Atwell, Donalyn Miller, John Schu, Sara Pennypacker and many others. Our spirits were buoyed by the power of independent reading and the strength of a community committed to raising readers and critical thinkers.

Educators hugged Clifford, smelled books inspired by Mr. Schu, and were challenged by Donalyn Miller to commit to one change in the upcoming school year to support independent reading.

Then….the horrors in Nice on France’s Bastille Day.

I am on a plane again as I was when I wrote my last blog post. Today I sit next to an elegant African-American couple who took out The Book of Daniel and prayed when they sat down.  As the plane took off, I prayed too and even genuflected. It felt necessary to make the sign of the cross today. Faith feels like all we have left, that and community, starting first here in Row 24 of United Flight 379 headed to Orlando.

It was a rough week and I continue to worry about our children. A friend schooled me recently that worry serves no purpose.  So I am driven to action by the words of Dallas Police Chief, David Brown, that society must step up.

I need help Nerdy Book Club community and maybe some of you do, too.

What books can I share with my soon to be fifth grade daughter to help her process the horrors that are occurring?

When she returned home to Orlando after the Pulse attacks, she took me aside in our kitchen and whispered in my ear: “Mommy, is it safe?” After I took a moment to confirm that I understood what she was asking, my mom voice reassured: “Yes, Honey, we are safe.” My adult brain wasn’t so sure.  She could see through that – the response was too quick.

Perhaps as a community we can step up over the coming weeks and create lists of great books to share with children that can provide understanding and healing.

Perhaps school counselors and social workers can guide us to some strategies to talk about these kinds of questions with truth and reassurance.

Perhaps school leaders can share ideas on how to welcome families and staff back to school with support for the inevitable anxieties that will manifest campus-wide.

Now is the time to deploy those books we know are life savers just as our Police Officers must go out every day and risk their lives to protect us.

Let’s step up together.

The quote by Dallas Chief of Police, David Brown, is part of this article by Peggy Noonan – well worth the read: Three Great Men Talk About Race

Anne Lee has worked in the education, children’s publishing, non-profit, and bookselling arenas for over 25 years.  In her positions, she is responsible for developing outreach programs for school principals, teachers, families and students.  She is an advocate for independent reading and believes in the power of one book to change a life and inspire a life-long love of reading.  Anne has served  on a variety of non-profit boards and literacy advisory councils including LitWorld, NAESP, First Book, and the Early Learning Coalition of Orlando.  She is honored to serve as a LitWorld Advisory Council member and to lobby for the global rights of all children to be literate and develop a love of reading. Her opinions are her own.