NCTE and My Picture Book Haul

I always have a wonderful time at the NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) conference, and last week was no different! Celebrating books with other book lovers and creators always fills my well and gives me hope for the future. I started off the conference by doing a Build Your Stack session with Anika Aldamuy Denise and Rajani LaRocca, two amazing kidlit authors. Here we are before the session:

The theme for our session was “Forging Community across Cultures,” and the PBs that we book-talked to educators included some of our own: Gato Guapo; A Girl Named Rosita; Summer is for Cousins; and Luli and the Language of Tea. Anika also recommended An Ofrenda for Perro; Keepunumuk: Weeâchumun’s Thanksgiving Story; Niki Nakayama: A Chef’s Tale in 13 Bites; Plátanos are Love; and Spanish is the Language of My Family. Rajani recommended Namaste is a Greeting; American Desi; My Name; and a few MGs. I book-talked The Words We Share; Say My Name; and several MGs. Follow the links to learn more about these books! You can also search PBB for previous blog posts about some of these books or creators.

I had several hours to wander the exhibit hall before my next session, so I visited my publishers’ booths, said hi to the staff, and asked for copies of certain books that I wanted. Sometimes they were able to give me copies, sometimes they couldn’t — but it never hurts to ask! Here’s me at the Penguin Young Readers booth with an advanced readers copy of my upcoming MG, Summer at Squee (releasing March 5, 2024 from Kokila and available for pre-order now)!

I also stood in signing lines for books that I really wanted and ran into a lot of author & illustrator friends who were also walking around the hall. Here are the PBs I scored over the course of the conference (I also brought back a stack of MG books):

Aren’t they all gorgeous? Some I’ve read before, others I read while standing in line to get them inscribed, and the rest I can’t wait to read and pore over. Here’s the list of titles and their creators (clockwise from top left):

In addition to hanging out with kidlit friends and getting free books, I met wonderful educators who showed me how they use my books in their classes. Here’s a pic of a mind map that one teacher created with her class after reading The Many Meanings of Meilan (so neat to see!):

Another highlight was listening to Tom Hanks’ keynote, which was an ode to teachers, especially the teachers in his life who taught him the power of story. Just this year, Tom published his first novel, The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece, which sounds really intriguing.

That’s really why we read and/or create books, isn’t it — the power that stories hold in our lives. The gift of knowledge, wonder, and connection that reading gives us. Did any of you also go to NCTE or another book-related conference or festival this year? What PBs did you pick up? If you didn’t go, what are the top 2023 PBs on your TBR list?

And lastly, a bit of housekeeping: Congrats to Sue Ko, the winner of the giveaway for The Words We Share by Jack Wong! And congrats to Jen Dieleman, the winner of the double giveaway for Fungi Grow and Thank a Farmer by Maria Gianferrari! Please look for an email from me.

Andrea Wang

Andrea Wang is an acclaimed author of children’s books. Her book Watercress was awarded the Caldecott Medal, a Newbery Honor, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, and a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor. Her other books, The Many Meanings of Meilan, Magic Ramen, and The Nian Monster, have also received awards and starred reviews. Her work explores culture, creative thinking, and identity. Andrea holds an M.S. in Environmental Science and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing for Young People. She lives in Colorado with her family and pandemic pup, Tupelo.


  1. Amazing, Andrea! And thank you for taking us along for a bit.

  2. Thank you for sharing your experience. I hope to go myself at some point!

  3. Thank you for sharing so many great books.

  4. That’s quite a glorious book haul! I so wish I could have been there. Love the mind map idea. I’m going to use it with kids going forward. Thanks!

  5. Hooray, Andrea! So glad we got to hang out together <3.

    And congrats, Jen Dieleman!

  6. It was delightful to meet you at the “AUTHORS ARE PEOPLE session! NCTE conferences walk a tightrope of being OVERWHELMING and AMAZING!

  7. How energizing it must have been to be around so many books and authors!

  8. What a fun trip through the event! Loved seeing that mind map. And can’t wait to receive The Words We Share! Thank you for all,

  9. Sounds like a wonderful conference, Andrea. Some year I’ll make it to NCTE. Not sure how that all works… Thank you for sharing SPANISH IS THE LANGUAGE OF MY FAMILY in your Build Your Stack session!

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