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READING ACROSS RHODE ISLAND CONFERENCE:
A HIGH FLYING SUCCESS!

2005 conference

    An indoor kite-flying demonstration by the High Flyers of Newport welcomed almost 200 participants to the third annual Reading Across RI Literacy Conference at CCRI on January 15th, 2005. In overwhelming response to the news that the author of The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini, would be joining us and to the strong line-up of speakers presenting workshops based on themes of the novel, CCRI was full of excitement beginning at 8 a.m. that morning. As they entered CCRI, attendees were greeted by many of the thirty volunteers, in both the registration area and the school’s atrium. Participants received a copy of The Kite Runner, donated by the publisher, Riverhead Books, a Resource Packet and bubble pens donated by one of our long-term sponsors, Fidelity Investments. Conference participants were treated to a full breakfast buffet catered by CCRI’s Chartwell Catering. 2005 conference

    Lt. Governor Charles J. Fogarty, returning as Honorary Chair for the third year of the project, opened the conference with a welcome to the gathering at the Plenary in the Presentation Room. Two sessions of one-hour workshops were held, with a unique line-up of content area workshops offered by educators from the RI Department of Education, Johnson & Wales University, University of RI and Coventry High School. A photographic essay and personal account of US efforts to help rebuild Afghanistan, and a talk on Islam and the Muslim culture focused on building background knowledge of the culture and the setting of the novel. A storyteller shared her thoughts on the idea of the novel as a story built on memories, and a librarian experienced in leading book group discussions brought her knowledge to a large group of discussion leaders from libraries, schools and book groups around the state. 2005 conference

    Khaled Hosseini joined the workshop attendees for the second session, sitting in on one of the livelier groups led by Sam Coale, a professor from Wheaton College and frequent contributor to the Providence Journal. The discussion of “Catastrophe, Culture & Complicities: The Vision of The Kite Runner” received great comments from both the participants and the author himself. The group gathered back in the Presentation Room at 12:15 pm for the author’s presentation. Kathy Mellor, Rhode Island’s National Teacher of the Year, introduced the author, relating The Kite Runner to the actual experiences with the immigrant families she’s worked with in her years of teaching. Mr. Hosseini told the audience of his writing process for his first novel, connecting the story to his own experiences and culture. He graciously signed all of the books presented to him after the thirty minute Q & A session following his talk. 2005 conference

    Along with the kiting demonstration, participants were also able to purchase The Kite Runner and a range of books on similar themes, thanks to the Middletown Barnes & Noble Store, who donated a percentage of the mornings’ sales to Reading Across RI. A display of posters on Islam and the Muslim culture was set up in the atrium by Mohammed Sharif, one of the workshop presenters. As Reading Across RI is a project of the RI Center for the Book, representatives from the RI Center attended the conference, and manned a display with information about the new Rhode Island affiliation, currently hosted by the Providence Public Library. They received about 20 inquiries during the day. 2005 conference

    We received about 70 evaluations for the conference, and many more for the individual sessions:

  1. All of the workshops had good attendance, with a few complaints received from those attending sessions in the conference rooms on the first floor regarding crowded conditions and interfering noise from the heating vents and the soft partitions. Have we outgrown CCRI?
  2. The sessions met most expectations with many positive responses: “Loved listening to the author; inspired me to rush home & write; I belong to an informal book group & this gave me many ideas for enriching our discussions; it was good to see Sam Coale in action; the conference was entertaining & provocative.
  3. Some offered suggestions for improving future sessions: longer sessions with more time for questions; more diverse sessions; groups were too large. The majority of those at the conference were satisfied with the offerings and had no suggestions for improvement.
  4. More than 75% of the responses indicated that the day and time of the conference accommodated most schedules.
  5. The overwhelming majority of responses (82%) indicated the participants were very satisfied with the conference.
  6. Who attended the conference?
    • 65 middle & high school teachers/administrators; educators from community organizations
    • 9 Representatives from Higher Ed: Bristol Community College; Three Rivers, Conn; N.E. Tech; Naval War College; Stonehill, MA.
    • 2 adult ed teachers/administrator
    • 30 librarians &/or from library organizations
    • 7 Reading Group leaders and/or participants
    • 4 people from Massachusetts
2005 conference

    The 2005 Reading Across Rhode Island project is sponsored by Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Fidelity Investments, Verizon, Reading with Robin- WHJJ 920 AM, Riverhead Books and the Corporation for National and Community Service.

2005 conference