A couple of years ago my children and I had the pleasure of dinner with Julia Torres. I mention this because when her name comes up one of my children will inevitably say, “The queen!” and the other will say, “We stan.” The love for Julia in my household is strong is what I’m saying.
If you aren’t familiar with her, Julia is a librarian at the high school level, having been a language arts teacher prior to that. Her day job is a huge one and she somehow seems to manage to get the right books in the hands of the right kids again and again. A big piece of that, I think, comes from the fact that Julia listens to kids and sees them as full human beings. Her respect for the kids in her care results in respect and, often I suspect, adoration.
In addition to a day job that is seriously demanding, Julia does an immense amount to move our profession forward. She is a co-founder of Disrupt Texts and the work being done there is life-changing, for both kids and teachers. Julia is a Heinemann Fellow and writes frequently.
That, I think, is what makes me view Julia with such awe. She doesn’t rest or sit back and watch. She steps up, again and again and again. She does not hesitate from saying what needs to be said. She does not hold back out of fear. This means that following her – on twitter, reading her blog, attending her sessions at conferences – is always worth it. Because of Julia I have expanded my personal reading as well as my classroom library and read alouds and I am far more aware and thoughtful about choices I make in books I choose, language I use, and lessons I teach. For that I am immensely grateful.