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2017 Conference Speakers

Engaging All Readers through Explorations of Literacy, Language & Culture

Author Presentation
Thursday, November 2, 2017
7:30 – 8:30 pm

Carmen Agra Deedy

Carmen Agra Deedy is the author of eleven books for children, including The Library Dragon, The Cheshire Cheese Cat, Martina the Beautiful Cockroach, and 14 Cows for America, a New York Times Best-seller. Her personal stories first appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered; funny, insightful, and frequently irreverent, Deedy’s narratives are culled from her childhood as a Cuban refugee in the all-but-sleepy Southern town of Decatur, Georgia. She is also host of the four time Emmy-winning children’s program, Love That Book!

An award-winning author and storyteller, Ms. Deedy is also an accomplished lecturer, having been a guest speaker for both the TED and TEDx Conferences, the Library of Congress, Columbia University, The National Book Festival, Kennedy Center, among other distinguished venues. In the fall of 2016, she opened the Art of the Book Lecture Series, for the Smithsonian Libraries, and was a keynote speaker at the Association of International Baccalaureate Schools of Costa Rica Conference.

A new picture book, The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet! (Scholastic Press) was released in January, in both English and Bilingual versions. The Book of Unintended Consequences (Peachtree Publishers), a young adult novel, is scheduled for release in 2018.


General Assembly Keynote Speaker
Friday, November 3, 2017
9:45 – 10:55 am

Dr. Thomas W. Bean

Thomas W. Bean, Ph.D., is a Professor of Literacy and Reading and the Rosanne Keeley Norris Endowed Professor in the Teaching and Learning Department, Darden College of Education, at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. Tom earned his Ph.D. at Arizona State University and is considered a leading scholar in content area literacy and the intersection of creativity theory, concept learning, and music. His work has been published in the ALAN Review, Reading Research Quarterly, and the Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy. Along with Co-Author Dr. Judith Dunkerly-Bean, he served as Co-Editor of the International Literacy Association’s Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy. Tom is senior author of the widely used text, Content Area Literacy: An Integrated Approach (2017, 11th ed.). He can be contacted at:


Awards Breakfast Keynote Speaker
Saturday, November 4, 2017
7:45 – 9:50 am

We were saddened to learn that Dr. Jack Shaheen, the Award Keynote Speaker, has recently passed away.  We would like to extend our condolences to his family on his passing.

Ibtisam Barakat

Ibtisam Barakat is a Palestinian-American poet, translator, artist, educator and an award-winning author in both English and Arabic. She is a human rights advocate whose work focuses on healing social injustices and the hurts of wars, especially those involving young people. She emphasizes that conflicts are more likely to be resolved with creativity, kindness, education, and inclusion rather than with force, violence, ignoring and exclusion.

Ibtisam’s books include the critically acclaimed memoirs: Tasting the Sky, a Palestinian Childhood (FSG, 2007) which won several best-book awards, and Balcony on the Moon, Coming of Age in Palestine (FSG, 2016) which has received numerous honors and is currently on the short list for the Palestine Book Award. Both memoirs accompany the reader into the world of a Palestinian family from the perspective of a young person.

Ibtisam’s writings also appeared in publications including, The Nation, The Washington Post, Amnesty International books, World Literature Today Magazine, and Book Bird.

An international speaker, Ibtisam has addressed audiences at venues including The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; The Margaret Mitchell House and Museum; The Faulkner Word and Music Festival, and the Center for Civil and Human Rights. She has visited a large number of schools and learning communities; was delegate to the UN third conference on ending racism, and has performed as a judge in the national finals of Poetry Out Loud competitions organized by the NEA and the Poetry Foundation.

Ibtisam can be reached via her website, where one can also find several of her poems; watch her TEDx Citizen talk about her relationship with language, and if desired, learn how to pronounce her name, Ibtisam Barakat, which, in Arabic, means Smiling Blessings.

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Dr. April Blakely, Bus. Manager
4076 Loblolly Lane
Richmond, KY 40475
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ALER seeks to stimulate the self-development and professional growth of professors, teachers, reading specialists and students at all educational levels. We encourage the continuing improvement of college and university curricula and assist preparation programs for teachers and reading specialists. Our members work at the forefront of policy, pedagogy and practice.  Further, we encourage the continuing improvement of administrative, clinical, diagnostic and instructional practices related to the learning process.
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