On Friday, Youngstown State University will begin its Annual Reading Conference with three national authors as keynote speakers.
The event will also feature a series of work sessions and exhibitions targeted toward using technology in the classroom, expanding young readers’ interests and adapting teaching techniques to contemporary reading challenges.
The two-day event will take place in Kilcawley Center and is aimed at professional reading development for educators in Ohio and throughout the Midwest.
The conference is a cooperative effort between YSU, the University of Akron, Kent State University, Cleveland State University and the Ohio Council of the International Reading Association.
Mary Lou DiPillo, associate dean of the Beeghly College of Education, explained YSU’s involvement in the conference.
“The purpose of the conference is to provide professional development for teachers in Ohio and beyond, and to give the students at our four universities the opportunity to participate in a professional conference,” she said.
This year marks the third time that YSU will be hosting the conference.
“Our first time was in 2006, then again in 2009,” DiPillo said. “The history of the conference dates back far beyond. Kent State University developed this conference and hosted it for many years, then UA joined, then YSU and now CSU.”
David Adler, Conrad Storad and Kevin O’Malley are slated to participate in the conference’s events.
Adler is known for writing more than 200 children’s books, as well as for the “Cam Jansen” series of mystery novels. Adler began his career in 1977, shortly after the birth of his first child.
“When Michael, our first child, was born, my wife, a school psychologist, wanted to continue working, so I took a child-care leave,” Adler said. “When Michael napped, I wrote. That’s when I wrote the first ‘Cam Jansen’ mystery.”
Adler said he will discuss idea formation, writing techniques and instruction methods for young readers. He emphasized that he will dedicate additional time to research methods for nonfiction writing as well.
“The one lesson I most want to leave with my audience is that writing is a personal expression,” Adler said. “Every one of us has stories that no one else could tell and write. Writing enables teachers to reach every student on his/her level.”
Storad will speak on Saturday. He is a former magazine editor who now writes nonfiction science and nature books for readers between the ages of 6 and 12. He said he hopes to demonstrate the spirit of the conference’s theme: creating a sense of wonder that engages all readers.
“My work is all about using storytelling techniques to make nonfiction material fun and enjoyable to read,” Storad said. “I am all about helping to grow and nurture the next generation of lifelong readers.”
Storad said he hopes those at the conference take away one lesson: “Nonfiction” should not equate to “boring.”
“Nonfiction material should be as fun to read as any bit of the very best fiction,” he said. “It all is in the presentation, and that is the task of the author.”
Storad will also read his latest book, “Rattlesnake Rules,” which was named the Best Nonfiction Children’s Picture Book in America by USA Book News in 2011.
The event is dedicated to the memory of Philip Ginnetti, former dean of the Beeghly College of Education.
Ginnetti was instrumental in the integration of YSU into the OCIRA and spearheaded YSU’s first conference in 2006.
“His passion for reading and love of books inspired those who knew him,” DiPillo said. “He was past president of OCIRA and our local reading chapter, the Mahoning Valley Chapter of the International Reading Association. Dedicating this conference in his honor is our way of thanking him for his many contributions to literacy.”