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Annual Convention Speakers




Carmen Agra Deedy

Carmen Agra Deedy is perhaps best known for her children’s books, including The Library Dragon, the ALA’s Pura Belpré Honor Book, Martina the Beautiful Cockroach, and New York Times Bestseller, 14 Cows for America. While she is an award-winning author and storyteller, Deedy is also an accomplished lecturer, having been a guest speaker for the TED Conference, the Library of Congress, and Columbia University, among other notable venues. She is also the host of the three-time Emmy Award-winning children’s program Love That Book!

Most important, Deedy spends much of the year traveling across North America and the Caribbean performing for children. They remain, unapologetically, her favorite audiences.

Deedy will be speaking at the Elementary Section Get-Together.


T. A. Barron

T. A. BarronT. A. Barron grew up in Colorado ranch country and traveled widely as a Rhodes Scholar. He is the winner of the 2011 de Grummond Medallion for “lifetime contribution to the field of children’s and young adult literature” and many other awards.

Barron is the author of more than 25 highly acclaimed books, many of which are international bestsellers. They include The Lost Years of Merlin (now being developed into a feature film), The Great Tree of Avalon (the first book in the New York Times bestselling series), The Ancient One (the tale of a brave girl and a magical tree), and The Hero’s Trail (nonfiction stories of courageous kids).

Though he’d dreamed as a young man of becoming a writer, Barron couldn’t find anyone to publish his first novel. He joined a business, eventually became president, then decided to try again. So in 1990, he surprised his business partners by moving back to Colorado to become a writer and conservationist.

In 2000, he founded a national award to honor outstanding young people who help their communities or the environment: the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes, which honors 25 highly diverse, public-spirited kids each year. He recently produced a documentary film, Dream Big, profiling seven winners of the Barron Prize.

When not writing or speaking, Barron serves on many boards, including those of Princeton University, where he helped to create the Princeton Environmental Institute, and The Wilderness Society, which recently honored him with its highest award for conservation work. His favorite pastimes are hiking, camping, and skiing in Colorado with his family.

Barron will be speaking at the Middle Level Section Get-Together. 


Jim Burke

Jim BurkeJim Burke teaches English at Burlingame High School in California, where he has worked since 1992. He is the author of more than 20 books, including The Common Core Companion series and The English Teacher’s Companion. He is currently working with Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein on a high school edition of They Say/I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing for W. W. Norton.

He has received numerous awards, including the Distinguished Service Award from the California Association of Teachers of English, Exemplary Leader Award from the Conference on English Leadership, Best Social Network for Educators as moderator of the English Companion Ning, and the Intellectual Freedom Award from NCTE. He currently serves on various committees at PARCC, the Advanced Placement program, and the College Board 6–12 English Language Arts Advisory Committee.

Burke lives in San Francisco with his wife, three children, dog, and two tortoises.

Burke will be speaking at the Secondary Section Get-Together.


Joseph Bruchac

Joseph BruchacJoseph Bruchac is a writer and traditional storyteller whose work often reflects his American Indian (Abenaki) ancestry and the Adirondack Region of northern New York, where he lives in the house in which his grandparents raised him. He holds a BA in English from Cornell University, an MA in literature and creative writing from Syracuse University, and a PhD in comparative literature from the Union Institute of Ohio.

Founder and executive director of the Greenfield Review Literary Center and the Greenfield Review Press, Bruchac draws on his Abenaki Indian ancestry for much of his writing. A martial arts expert, he holds a 5th-degree black belt and Master’s rank in Pentjak-silat and a blue belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu. He and his two grown sons, James and Jesse, who are also storytellers and writers, work together on projects involving the preservation of Native culture, Native language renewal, the teaching of traditional Native skills, and environmental education. He is the author of more than 120 books in several genres for young readers and adults, and his experiences also include running a college program in a maximum security prison and teaching in West Africa.

Bruchac’s newest books include a picture book coauthored with his son James, Rabbit’s Snow Dance; a bilingual collection of poems in English and Abenaki co-authored with his younger son Jesse, Nisnol Siboal / Two Rivers; and the young adult post-apocalyptic novel Killer of Enemies, winner of the 2014 Native American Librarians Association’s American Indian Youth Literature Award.

Bruchac will be speaking at the Middle Level Section Luncheon. To purchase tickets for this event, see the convention registration form.


Matt de la Peña

Matt de la Peña -- photo, Caroline SunMatt de la Peña is the author of five critically acclaimed young adult novels: Ball Don’t Lie, Mexican WhiteBoy, We Were Here, I Will Save You, and The Living. He’s also the author of the award-winning picture book A Nation’s Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis (illustrated by Kadir Nelson).

His debut novel, Ball Don’t Lie, was made into a major motion picture of the same name starring Ludacris, Nick Cannon, Emilie de Ravin, Grayson Boucher, and Rosanna Arquette. In 2013 de la Peña wrote a book in Scholastic’s popular Infinity Ring series called Curse of the Ancients. He has also published short fiction and essays in various newspapers, literary journals, and websites, including The New York Times,, Pacific Review, One Teen Story, The Vincent Brothers Review, Chiricú, George Mason Review, and Allegheny Literary Review.

De la Peña received his MFA in creative writing from San Diego State University and his BA from the University of the Pacific, where he attended school on a full athletic scholarship for basketball. He currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, where he teaches creative writing at NYU and Vermont College and visits high schools and colleges all over the country.

De la Peña will be speaking at the Conference on English Education Luncheon. To purchase tickets for this event, see the convention registration form.




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