Secondary Reading League

Leaders for Literacy in Grades 6-12

Current 2018 SRL Events

Renew and Refer Now

This summer Secondary Reading League is excited to announce that we will be having a membership drive for upcoming renewals and new memberships. As you get ready to wind down your current school year and look toward preparing for next year – this is a great time to ensure you will be connected with other literacy educators to promote and exchange ideas related to literacy issues. Members who renew their membership during the months of May, June, July and August will be entered into a drawing for signed copy of No More Telling as Teaching by Cris Tovani. Cris will be the featured speaker at the 42nd Day of Reading Workshop on November 30, 2018. Please do not miss out on this or any of our exciting 2018 – 2019 SRL events. If you have any questions regarding your membership or membership renewal, please contact Angel Kalat at Secondary Reading League is celebrating 50 years of addressing the literacy needs of middle and secondary teachers. Stay connected with other literacy professionals to promote lifelong learning.

Spring Book Talk Success

Secondary Reading League hosted its annual Spring Book Talk for over thirty SRL members and guests--some even driving from Wisconsin to attend--at Naperville’s Lou Malnati’s on April 24, 2018 with a fantastic talk led by Beth VanCurine, Children’s Department Manager at Naperville’s Anderson’s Bookshop. The evening started with President-elect Erik Borne’s welcome of all participants, including author Nancy Steineke, IL Reads Chair Tammy Potts, and Region 10 Director Cindi Koudelka; an introduction of all SRL executive board members, during which President Mark Levine promoted upcoming Sunday evening Twitter chats and Day of Reading Chair Barb Chrz-White invited members to the November 30th Day of Reading with Cris Tovani at the Tinley Park Convention Center; and an encouragement of all members to consider running for the roles of SRL Secretary and Vice President. All guests were also encouraged to share the benefits of being an IRC and SRL member with all educators and to choose SRL as their special council choice when they renew their IRC memberships this summer.

After the dinner social, Beth showcased almost forty new and notable books, including fiction, non-fiction, poetry/verse, and graphic novels addressing a variety of topics, themes, and points of view that children, young adults, and even adults are interested in. Guests appreciated a 20% discount at Anderson’s on all book purchases afterward.

Guests had an opportunity to share which books highlighted during the evening piqued their interest most in addition to other books that they hold in high regard because of how they inspire students’ active engagement and interaction with the text and each other.

Some of the books from the evening that piqued our interest:

*Love, Hate, and Other Filters (Samira Ahmed)--“current topic with unique perspective”--Juliet Zabel

*Children of Blood and Bone (Tomi Adeyemi)-- “a fantasy novel to possibly pair with more realistic fiction social justice novels”--Todd Slowinski

*Children of Blood and Bone (Tomi Adeyemi), Place between Breaths (An Na), and Spinning (Tillie Walden)--Nancy Steineke’s top choices

*Hooper (Geoff Herbach) and Children of Blood and Bone (Tomi Adeyemi)-- “I can immediately think of several students who would enjoy (ACTUALLY READ!) these.”--Tiffany Ampulski

*Hooper (Geoff Herbach)-- “Because even my male reluctant readers love Herbach’s Stupid Fast and I’m With Stupid, I am adding Hooper to my shelf right away!”--Erik Borne

*Truly Devious (Maureen Johnson)-- “Sounds like a book for students who like mystery novels”

*57 Bus (Dashka Slater)-- “Sasha who does not identify as a gender gets burned severely by a ‘prank.’”

*57 Bus (Dashka Slater)-- “I love that it is nonfiction and deals with identity issues. This book was recommended to me twice today, so I am buying it...can’t wait to read.”--Angel Kalat

*Mary’s Monster (Lita Judge)-- “Piqued my interest because of the beautiful format and poetic language.”--Christy Rush-Levine

Other recommendations from educators:

*Crossover (Kwame Alexander): “Twin boys love basketball and their family--try to overcome obstacles.” Juliet Zabel appreciate this book because it “introduces kids to literary devices in a creative way--great for girls and boys.”

*The Hate U Give (Angie Thomas): “A Girl dealing with a shooting of a friend caught in the middle of her affluent mostly white school and her mostly black neighborhood.” Todd Slowinki recommends it because it is “high, high interest and relevant.”

*Refugee (Alan Gratz): “Three young people look for a new life.” Tiffany Ampulski suggests this book because “it is a wonderful engaging story that shows things are still happening.”

*Between Shades of Gray (Ruta Sepetys): “This is a girl’s journey during Lithuanian Extermination.” Tiffany Ampulski recommends it because “it is a lesser known version of WWII.”

*Reddy Player One (Ernest Cline): “Wade is a teen in the future. He can change his dismal-looking future by finding a hidden ‘Easter egg’ in a virtual reality game called The Oasis.” A teacher has this to say: “My reluctant boy readers actually READ this book! I can’t keep it on my shelf.”

*Long Way Down (Jason Reynold)-- “60 seconds in an elevator--15-year-old needs to make a life-changing decision.” Angel Kalat recommends this verse novel because it is a”gripping story--great characters--leaves you wanting to know more.”

*Long Way Down (Jason Reynold)-- Erik Borne seconds Angel’s recommendation: “ I am reading this aloud to my juniors at the beginning of each class, just a few pages at a time, and they are in suspense and rapt attention. Because of how Reynolds carefully positions the text on the page to add to the poetic flow, I feel the need to display the text on the screen so they can also appreciate his deliberate choices--adding to the art of his writing. This book gives them insight into a world they do not know, where violence is the norm and kids their age are faced with dire decisions within their local culture.”

*Far from the Tree (Robin Benway)-- “Three adopted siblings discover each other and themselves when they reunite and search for their biological mother.” Christy Rush-Levine suggests this book because “It is the best book I read this school year. I fell in love with the characters.”

*Armstrong and Charlie (Steven B. Frank)-- “Beginning sixth grade in a new school, Armstrong and Charlie meet. One of them was bussed across LA from his black neighborhood to a white one.” Barb Chrz-White suggests this book because “This author knows middle schoolers.”

*In Sight of Stars (Gae Polisner)-- “Klee is broken. This is a story of his becoming whole through intensive therapy.” Barb Chrz-White calls this one “powerful book.”

Jackie Lidd Winner of Door Prize

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Congratulations to Jackie Lidd on being the door prize winner at the SRL Book Talk on April 24. She won a basket full of YA novels. By the end of the evening, Jackie already had ideas of how she was going to distribute the books so they'd get into the hands of students. Lucky are the adolescent students in District 60, Waukegan.

Illinois Reads Thanks SRL

Dear SRL Members,

Thank you for your generous donation to the Southern Illinois Reads Book Festival. Your contribution helped to support the attendance of 15 authors, to the delight of over 400 participants.


Tammy Potts

ILA Conference gathers in Austin, TX Summer 2018

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The International Literacy Association Conference will be held in Austin, TX this summer and offers outstanding opportunities for literacy educators. The ILA conference will be held July 20 through July 23, 2018 at the Austin Convention Center.

ILA is making a slight change to its format for this year, with the core conference taking place on Saturday and Sunday, allowing Monday to be focused exclusively on children's literature. As always, the Institute Day kicks-off the learning on Friday, July 20.

The streamlined core conference allows for two full days of professional learning on a range of literacy topics, delivered in a variety of styles, including workshops, panels, poster sessions, and featured speakers. Conference attendees can take part in the ILA General Session, over 300 sessions, and more than 100 exhibitors in the always fun Exhibit Hall.

Looking for an intense focus on adolescent literacy? Consider ILA’s Institute Day workshop “Let’s Talk About That! How Purposeful Conversation Improves Middle and High School Literacy and Learning Across Content Areas.” During this day-long workshop session on Friday, longtime SRL friends Cris Tovani, Carol Jago and Julie Meltzer join SRL members Nancy Steineke, Deb Franciosi and Terry McHugh for a powerful day of learning focused on the role of student discussion in literacy skill development.

The theme of this year’s conference is very fitting: Drive Change. Educators attending ILA 2018 will be better positioned to break through the challenges of shifting practices, advocate for all students, and make a difference in and out of the classroom. Educators will leave feeling motivated and ready to change the quality of instruction in their school district or community!

Complete details of the International Literacy Association Conference can be found at the ILA website,

Registration Opens August 1st for Day of Reading Conference