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Susan shares her experiences at IRA

Guest blog post “From the Field- Day 1 IRA Convention” by Susan Norwood

I just returned from the International Reading Association (IRA) Annual Convention in Orlando, Florida. I had two wonderful days surrounded by books and those who love them. If you have never been to an IRA Annual Convention, plan to go to one. It is a must for everyone who loves to read.

Upon registration, I was given a program that was the thickness of a telephone book. It contained everything you needed to know about the convention. If you plan to go next year in Chicago, take a look at the workshop offerings, speakers, exhibitors, etc. on the IRA website. The book has gotten too big and costly to mail, so you get your copy when you show up.

I came to attend the programs on Monday and Tuesday. There are programs on the weekend, but they cost extra. The weekday programs/workshops are anywhere from an hour to almost three hours. I liked the shorter programs. There was so much to see and do, that I didn’t want to commit to one program for too long. To tell the truth, my favorite part was the Exhibit Hall. I spent most of my time there.

The Exhibit Hall had booths representing the wares of all kinds of companies and publishers. I liked going to the publishers best, because they had the most freebies. You can pick up all sorts of goodies for your classroom, including, but not limited to: pencils and pens, notepads, post-its, bookmarks (LOTS of these!), posters, candy, etc. My favorite freebie of all is the ARC (Advanced Readers Copy). I know you librarians know all about these, but many classroom teachers do not. These are books that are about to be published and may have a few little typos. Usually they look like a paperback copy of a hardcover book that has just come out, or is about to come out. ARCS are also known as Galleys. You’d be surprised at the number of people I educated about ARCs. Lots of people don’t know that it is illegal to sell these books! Hence, publishers GIVE them away!

I felt like a kid going Trick-or-Treating. Publishers would set them out on the ground or on the display table. I had plenty of chutzpah and didn’t mind asking for them. Consequently, I have added about 100 books to my classroom library. Okay, I’m not really sure of the number, except to say that I Fed-Exed 4 boxes full of books. Today when I arrived at my house on Wednesday, I found the books that I had shipped on Monday! Wow! It’s like Christmas (insert your favorite gift-giving holiday here)! My two boxes full of books and assorted goodies are 14 x 14 x 14, and 17 x 17 x 7. Word to the wise: Unless you have driven to a major convention, Do Not attempt to take your books back. Plan to ship them. I could barely carry all my books to the Fed Ex store, let alone trying to schlepp them onto a plane. They were so heavy, I actually dragged them along the carpet. “No wheeled carts, backpacks, etc. allowed into the Exhibit Hall.” This means you.

I am still awaiting two boxes, which will probably arrive tomorrow. I spent about $200 to mail all my books. Don’t complain about the cost, just plan for it. After all, the books are free. I will let you know which publishers were generous and which were chintzy. Right now, I can certainly say that Houghton Mifflin (pronounced HO-like ho, ho, ho) was very giving. Thanks HM!

My other favorite part of the IRA Convention was meeting famous authors. I was star-struck! I will tell you more about this in my next post. I must leave you now to go unpack my boxes of (free) books.


  1. Je pense que c’est un très bon article et je me demandais si c’est ok avec vous si je l’utiliser sur mon site Web? merci.