Today I was able to do something that I love more than possibly anything I can think of. It was our Kane County Institute day and I signed up to hear about Non-fiction library books. When I got to our fabulous Gail Borden Library in Elgin I pulled in the parking lot first.
“Yikes, I thought, I hope a few more people are coming to this event.”
I happily enjoyed my Dunkin’ coffee in the car with my country tunes up loud. I was really hoping for a few new books to add to the non-fiction book side of the course I would be teaching in May.
I got out of the car as I saw a few people leading the way in. Of course, those were the women in charge of the sign in. Why was I always first? I finally saw another friendly face, a person from my district. I happily chatted away. I put my coat down, four rows from the front, taking the first seat on the aisle. I love the aisle seat closest to the exit, or to the restrooms? Remember yesterday, I told you I am 50 something. This person on stage was doing some sound checks and books lined the tables surrounding the stage. As I was looking at the titles. I glanced up and wondered if that was going to be our book talker, she wasn’t a spring chicken and looked even quite a bit older than me. I worried silently for her….this was a big event and I guess not being in the library world I hadn’t recognized her name.
I was already enjoying myself seeing bits and pieces of my life as more and more people entered. In walked my friend who I was saving a seat for. For seven of the last ten years we had worked as literacy teachers/coaches together until she was transferred to another building in the district. I love who she is as a person and have missed her so much the last few years. We were off to the races and the show began.
Kathleen Baxter started talking to a massive audience and was obviously a pro….mic problems didn’t stop her as she gabbed about my favorite subjects early…bugs, blood and guts and all things poop related. She had my mind engaged and I was hanging on her every word…writing down her quotes as quickly as my pen could go. This person was amazing and definitely stand up comedian material; this chick was fiery! I knew she would become my new best friend today.
I came believing that most of the non-fiction books that I loved were animal related. I left with a list of 185, books of all subjects. She had phenomenal book-talks for over 75% of them. Using visuals and pulling out quotes she told stories as she went. Her husband, though he was not there was the side-kick in her routine. I learned more about presentation and learned more about events in our history than I thought possible.
There was one book that I had briefly looked at for my class, a wordless book, I brushed it off without a glance because I said to myself, “I need books with text for my class”. Personally, I just have never loved wordless books, I have wordless bigotry. But she convinced me and as soon as I got home I added it to my list, Unspoken a Story from the Underground Railroad by Henry Cole, thinking it would be an incredible mentor text for reading and writing.
There were several places through the day tears welled up. The power of words, it is exquisite art and it speaks to my soul. xo nanc
PS Kathleen Baxter hails from the banks of Plum Creek. Here is her website: Kathleen Baxter.
PSS Thank you Kane County ROE for sending this fabulous speaker.