During the pandemic, students may have lost opportunities to pursue topics and learning opportunities of self-interest. Learners who lose their choices become disempowered. Providing more choices in reading material and response activities can increase students’ reading engagement and joyful reading experiences. This session includes instructional and programming ideas, resources, and book recommendations that support and encourage readers’ agency and choices. Session features a surprise guest, Torrey Maldonado.
Growing up, Torrey hated reading. No. He hated boring books and ones that seemed to hate or dismiss him and where he was from. With books failing him in a failing school in a Brooklyn housing projects that Life called “One of the Ten Worst Neighborhoods in the Country”, he unplugged so hard from literacy that he repeated a grade, almost three times. Luckily, he was introduced to NOT boring and culturally responsive books and teachers. It inspired him to become the first college student and graduate in his immediate family to join the world of writing and education. Voted a Top Latino Author and best Black Middle Grade and Young Adult novelist, Torrey has authored critically acclaimed middle grade books whose popularity stretches into younger and high school grades. New York City’s current and former Chancellors have praised him as a top teacher and author who has taught public school for over twenty years where he was born and raised.