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Annual Convention Speakers

The 2015 NCTE Annual Convention features a multitude of amazing authors, educators, and presenters. These speakers include:



Chelsea Clinton

Chelsea ClintonChelsea Clinton has always been interested in making the world a better place. When she was a child in Little Rock, Arkansas, one of her favorite books was 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth, and as a teenager in Washington, D.C., she led her school’s service club. While at Stanford, Clinton worked as a reading and writing tutor and volunteered at the Children’s Hospital.

Today, she is Vice Chair of the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation where she helps lead the work of the Foundation across its various initiatives, with a particular focus on work related to health, women and girls, creating service opportunities, and empowering the next generation of leaders. In her upcoming title for young adults, It's Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired & Get Going (September 2015), Clinton breaks down some of the world’s biggest challenges and shares inspiring stories of young people who are already making an impact in their own communities and around the globe.

Clinton holds a BA from Stanford University, an MPH from Columbia University, and an MPhil and doctorate degree in international relations from Oxford University. She lives in New York City with her husband Marc, their daughter Charlotte, and their dog Soren.

Clinton will be speaking at the Thursday General Session.


Alison Bechdel

Alison-Bechdel-photo-Elena-SeibertAlison Bechdel is the author of the bestselling memoirs Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama and Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, which was named a Best Book of the Year by Time, Entertainment Weekly, New York Times, People, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Village Voice, and San Francisco Chronicle, among others.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic was also adapted into the musical Fun Home by playwright Lisa Kron and composer Jeanine Tesori. It opened on Broadway on April 19, 2015, to positive reviews. Fun Home was nominated for twelve 2015 Tony Awards and won five, including “Best Musical.”

For twenty-five years, Bechdel wrote and drew the comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For, a visual chronicle of modern life—queer and otherwise—considered “one of the preeminent oeuvres in the comics genre, period” (Ms. magazine). Bechdel’s comics have appeared in The New Yorker, Slate, McSweeney’s, The New York Times Book Review, and Granta.
Bechdel won a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2012, and in 2014 she was awarded a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (“Genius Grant”). Bechdel lives in Vermont.

Bechdel will be speaking at the Friday General Session.


Dave Eggers

Dave EggersDave Eggers is the author of ten books, including most recently Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?, The Circle and A Hologram for the King, which was a finalist for the 2012 National Book Award. He is the founder of McSweeney’s, an independent publishing company based in San Francisco that produces books, a quarterly journal of new writing (McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern), and a monthly magazine, The Believer. McSweeney’s also publishes Voice of Witness, a nonprofit book series that uses oral history to illuminate human rights crises around the world.

Eggers is the co-founder of 826 National, a network of eight tutoring centers around the country and ScholarMatch, a nonprofit organization designed to connect students with resources, schools and donors to make college possible. He lives in Northern California with his family.

Eggers will be speaking at the Saturday General Session.


Kathy Short

Kathy ShortKathy G. Short is a professor in Language, Reading and Culture at the University of Arizona with a focus on inquiry, dialogue, and global children’s literature. She has worked extensively with teachers to develop curriculum that actively involves students as readers and inquirers. She has coauthored many books, including Creating Classrooms for Authors and Inquirers; Learning Together through Inquiry; Talking about Books; Stories Matter: The Complexity of Cultural Authenticity in Children’s Literature; Essentials of Children’s Literature, 8th Edition; and Essentials of Young Adult Literature, 3rd Edition.

Short is director of Worlds of Words, an initiative to encourage dialogue around global literature in order to build intercultural understanding, and the current President of NCTE. She was named the 2011 Outstanding Educator of the Language Arts by NCTE and served on the 2014 Caldecott Committee.

Short will present her NCTE Presidential Address, “Reform or Advocacy? Creating a Movement through Collaborative Inquiry,” during the Sunday General Session.


Susan Houser

Susan HouserSusan Houser has a Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership from Argosy University in Tampa, Florida, and a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida.

Houser was an ELA Middle/Elementary School teacher for thirty years in Pinellas and Duval Counties, Florida. She has been a Tampa Bay Area Writing Project Teacher Consultant since 2008. She is also currently the Vice President of NCTE.

Her past service has included the NCTE Middle Level Steering Committee, NCTE Middle Level Representative-at-Large; 2011 NCTE Edwin A. Hoey Outstanding Middle Level Educator for ELA; 2010 NCTE Convention Local Arrangements Chair; Florida Council of Teachers of English (FCTE) President and Executive Board Member; Department Chair, ELA Department, Thurgood Marshall Middle School, Pinellas County, Florida; Member of Literature Textbook Adoption team for the Florida Department of Education; instructor in Elementary Education Program at Keiser University, Sarasota, Florida; and more.

Houser will be presenting “NCTE's Successes in Being an Advocate for Teachers” at the Affiliate Breakfast on Sunday.


Kadir Nelson

Kadir NelsonKadir Nelson is the author and illustrator of Baby Bear. He won the 2012 Coretta Scott King Author Award and Illustrator Honor for Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans. He received Caldecott Honors for Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine and Moses: When Harriet Tubman Lead Her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford, for which he also garnered a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award and won an NAACP Image Award. Ellington Was Not a Street by Ntozake Shange also won a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award.

Nelson’s authorial debut, We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball, was a New York Times bestseller, a Coretta Scott King Author Award winner, and a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor book. Nelson lives in southern California.

Nelson will be speaking at the Children’s Literature Assembly Breakfast on Sunday.


Peter Sís

Peter Sis, Photo: ABoschPeter Sís is an internationally acclaimed illustrator, author, and filmmaker. He was born in Brno, Czechoslovakia, and attended the Academy of Applied Arts in Prague and the Royal College of Art in London. He began his career as a filmmaker and won the Golden Bear Award at the 1980 West Berlin Film Festival for an animated short.

Sís quickly became one of the leading artists in the field with the publication of the 1986 Newbery Medal Winner, The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleishman. Sís is a Hans Christian Andersen Award winner, a three-time Caldecott Honoree, a Sibert Award winner, and a MacArthur Fellow. He is the illustrator of Pam Muñoz Ryan's The Dreamer, a Pura Belpré Award winner, a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book, and an ALA Notable. His many celebrated picture books, including Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei, Tibet through the Red Box, and The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain, are treasured by readers all over the world. He lives in the New York City area with his family.

Sís will be speaking at the Elementary Section Get-Together on Thursday.


Candace Fleming, Ann M. Martin, and Marilyn Singer

Candace-Fleming-photo-Michael-LionstarCandace Fleming is the prolific and highly acclaimed author of numerous books for young adults and children, including the nonfiction titles The Lincolns: A Scrapbook Look at Abraham and Mary, winner of the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award for Nonfiction; Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart, a New York Times Notable Children’s Book of the Year; The Great and Only Barnum: The Tremendous, Stupendous Life of Showman P. T. Barnum, an ALA-YALSA Best Book for Young Adults; and The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia, winner of the NCTE Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction and the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award for Nonfiction.

Ann-Martin-photo-Dion-OgustAnn M. Martin is the author of many novels, including A Corner of the Universe, winner of the Newbery Honor, and Everything for a Dog, which has sold over 90,000 copies. Martin wrote the first 35 novels in The Baby-Sitters Club series and has since concentrated on writing single novels, many of which are set in the 1960s. 

Martin's title Rain Reign won the 2015 NCTE Charlotte Huck Award for Outstanding Fiction for Children. The Charlotte Huck Award was established in 2014, and Rain Reign is the very first book to win this award.

Marilyn-Singer-photo-Laurie-GaboardiMarilyn Singer, winner of the 2015 NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry and author of over one hundred books for children and young adults, writes in many genres, but poetry is her favorite.Singer's book, Mirror Mirror for which she created a new poetry form, the “reverso,” made many “year’s best” lists, and won the Land of Enchantment Award, the Cybil Award for Poetry, 2011; an ALA Notable; and a CLA/NCTE Notable. Her third book of reversos, Echo Echo, will be published next spring. She currently co-hosts the Poetry Blast, where children’s poets read their work at various conferences.

Fleming, Martin, and Singer will be speaking at the Children’s Book Awards Luncheon on Saturday.


Martha Brockenbrough, Sara Larson, and Jennifer Niven

Martha BrockenbroughMartha Brockenbrough is the founder of National Grammar Day and SPOGG, the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar. She has been a teacher, journalist, web producer, editor, and a question writer for Cranium and Trivial Pursuit, among other things.

Brockenbrough has written two books for adults, including the funny grammar book Things That Make Us [Sic], and many books for young readers, including the novel The Game of Love and Death, the nonfiction middle grade Finding Bigfoot, and the picture book The Dinosaur Tooth Fairy.

Sara B LarsonSara B. Larson is the author of the acclaimed YA fantasy novel Defy, and its sequels, Ignite and Endure. She can’t remember a time when she didn’t write books—although she now uses a computer instead of a Little Mermaid notebook. Larson lives in Utah with her husband and their three children. She writes in brief snippets throughout the day and the quiet hours when most people are sleeping.

Larson's husband claims she should have a degree in "the art of multitasking." When she’s not mothering or writing, you can often find her at the gym repenting for her sugar addiction.

Jennifer-Niven-photo-Louis-KapelerisJennifer Niven is the author of All the Bright Places, which is her first book for young adult readers. She has also written four novels for adults (American Blonde, Becoming Clementine, Velva Jean Learns to Fly, and Velva Jean Learns to Drive) as well as three nonfiction books (The Ice Master, Ada Blackjack, and The Aqua-Net Diaries, a memoir about her high school experiences). Jennifer lives with her fiancé and literary cats in Los Angeles.

Brockenbrough, Larson, and Niven will be speaking at the Middle Level Section Get-Together on Thursday.


Eliot Schrefer

Eliot-Shrefer-photo-Priya-PatelAfter a childhood spent in Illinois, Connecticut, Maryland, and Florida, Eliot Schrefer attended Harvard University, where he graduated with High Honors in French and American literature. He spent a year teaching at a boarding school in Rome and then settled down in New York City, where he writes fiction during the day and tutors for the SATs in the evening.

Schrefer is the author of Threatened, a 2014 National Book Award finalist in Young People’s Literature, and Endangered, finalist for the National Book Award and the Walden Award, and winner of the Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award and the Green Earth Book Award.

Schrefer’s first novel, Glamorous Disasters, was a somewhat autobiographical tale of a young man living in Harlem and paying off college debt while tutoring Fifth-Avenue families. After writing another novel for adults, he turned to young adult fiction with The School for Dangerous Girls, about a boarding school for criminal young ladies. That book was selected as a “Best of the Teen Age” by the New York Public Library, and his next novel, The Deadly Sister, earned a starred review from School Library Journal.

Schrefer will be speaking at the Middle Level Section Luncheon on Friday.


Lois Lowry

Lois LowryLois Lowry is known for her versatility and invention as a writer. She was born in Hawaii and grew up in New York, Pennsylvania, and Japan. She first captured young readers in 1977 with her award-winning first novel, A Summer to Die. From there she went on to create the popular Anastasia Krupnik series.

Lowry has written over 30 children’s books, and she has received countless honors. She was awarded the Newbery Medal for two of her novels, Number the Stars and The Giver. She has also received the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award, the California Young Reader’s Medal, and the Mark Twain Award.

The film adaptation of Lowry’s The Giver was released in 2014.

Lowry will speak at the Secondary Luncheon on Saturday. She will also be awarded the ALAN Award during the ALAN Breakfast on Saturday.


Stephen Dunn

Stephen DunnStephen Dunn is the author of 18 books of poetry, including the recently released Seeker of Limits and Lines of Defense. His Different Hours was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2001. Among his other awards are fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations, the Academy Award in Literature from the Academy of American Arts & Letters, the James Wright Prize, the Theodore Roethke Prize, the Paterson Prize for Sustained Literary Achievement, and many more.

In 2013, Syracuse University Press published The Room and the World: Essays on the Poet Stephen Dunn, edited by Laura McCullough.

Dunn will be speaking at the CEL Luncheon on Sunday.


Taylor Mali

Taylor MaliTaylor Mali is one of the most well-known poets to have emerged from the poetry slam movement and one of the original poets to appear on the HBO series Def Poetry Jam. A four-time National Poetry Slam champion, he is the author of two collections of poetry and a book of essays, What Teachers Make: In Praise of the Greatest Job in the World.

In April of 2012, Mali completed a 12-year project of convincing 1,000 people to become teachers and marked the occasion by donating 12 inches of his hair to the American Cancer Society. Years ago he was the official voice of Burger King.

Mali will be speaking at the Secondary Section Get-Together on Thursday.


Chris Crutcher

Chris CrutcherChris Crutcher has written ten critically acclaimed novels, an autobiography, and two collections of short stories. Drawing on his experience as a family therapist and child protection specialist, Crutcher writes honestly about real issues facing teenagers today: making it through school, competing in sports, handling rejection and failure, and dealing with parents.

His titles include Period 8, Angry Management, Deadline, Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, The Sledding Hill, and King of the Mild Frontier: An Ill-Advised Autobiography.

Crutcher has won three lifetime achievement awards for the body of his work: the Margaret A. Edwards Award, the ALAN Award, and the NCTE National Intellectual Freedom Award. He lives in Spokane, Washington.

Crutcher will be speaking at the ALAN Breakfast on Saturday.


Valerie Strauss

Valerie StraussValerie Strauss is an education writer at The Washington Post. She has covered education for 20 years, both local and national, K–12 and higher education, public and private, and now authors The Answer Sheet blog on Strauss was previously an assistant foreign editor at The Post, as well as national security editor at Reuters, assistant foreign editor at United Press International, and an editor at The Los Angeles Times.

She earned a Bachelor’s degree at the University of Miami in English and Anthropology, and a Master’s degree in Journalism at Northwestern University. She lives in Washington, DC, with her husband. They have two daughters.

Strauss will be speaking at the CEE Luncheon on Friday.


Frank X Walker

Frank X WalkerFrank X Walker is a Kentucky native and a graduate of the University of Kentucky, with an MFA in Writing from Spalding University. He is currently a professor in the Department of English and founding editor of Pluck! The Journal of Affrilachian Arts & Culture. In 2013, he was appointed Poet Laureate of Kentucky, becoming the youngest and the first African-American to hold that position.

The multidisciplinary artist and writer is the author of eight collections of poetry: Affrilachia, Buffalo Dance: The Journey of York, which won the Lillian Smith Book Award, Black Box, When Winter Come: The Ascension of York, Isaac Murphy: I Dedicate This Ride; Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers, winner of the 2014 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary work in Poetry and the Black Caucus of the American Library Association's Honor Award for Poetry, About Flight, and The Affrilachian Sonnets. He is also a 2005 recipient of the Lannan Literary Fellowship in Poetry.

Walker is cofounder of Message Theater and the Affrilachian Poets and was named one of “The most creative teachers in the South” by the Oxford American: The Southern Magazine of Good Writing. His invention, the word Affrilachia, is included in the Oxford American Dictionary.

Walker will be speaking at the College Section/CCCC Luncheon on Saturday.


Linda Adler-Kassner

Linda Adler KassnerLinda Adler-Kassner is Professor of Writing Studies and Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research focuses broadly on definitions of literacy and their implications for teachers and students at the postsecondary level.

She is author, co-author, or co-editor of eight books, including Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies (with Elizabeth Wardle), Reframing Writing Assessment to Improve Teaching and Learning (with Peggy O’Neill), and The Activist WPA, as well as many articles and book chapters on writing program administration, pedagogy, and public policy, and writing instruction.

Adler-Kassner is a past president of the Council of Writing Program Administrators and is currently Assistant Chair of the Conference on College Composition and Communication.

Adler-Kassner will be speaking at the College Celebration on Friday.


Access to all General Sessions, Get-Togethers, and the College Celebration is included with Annual Convention Registration. Additional tickets are required to attend breakfast and luncheon events. Visit the convention registration form for meal ticket pricing.

Theater seating will be available in breakfast and luncheon rooms for anyone wishing to hear the speakers without attending the meal.


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