Recapping the SLJ Leadership Summit 2017

October 16, 2017

by Patricia Stockland, Publisher at Cantata Learning


A number of you may have had the opportunity to attend an SLJ Leadership Summit at some point. This month, Cantata Learning had its first chance to actively participate in the event. And what an event it was: inspiring, engaging, thought-provoking, and—hopefully—action-invoking.



On an individual level, this was not my first time at the event. But once again it worked its magic in the way that a small, intensive workshop does when well executed. Like many in attendance and many who participated remotely through social media, we left reinvigorated by our mission to make learning and reading fun, engaging, inclusive, and important.


Yes, important. The Summit’s theme this year was “Confronting Our Literacy Crisis.” Literacy is important to all of us—as a community, as a society, as a strong and functioning humanity. Yet, often when we talk amongst our industry selves about literacy, whether it be librarian to librarian, teacher to teacher, publisher to publisher, or anywhere across that mix, we’re talking perfunctorily: topics, fluency, reading levels. We’re talking about literacy as the “thing” rather than the spirit and connectivity of what it truly means to be literate—and why that literacy matters.



True literacy means so much more than being able to read. It can and should mean wanting to read, thinking about what’s been read, participating in a larger conversation around the thoughts that reading provokes—and so much more. A literate society, with critical thinking skills, research skills, analytical skills, is a civil society. It is at the heart of who we strive to be as a community. A literate society is equipped to solve problems, address issues, and build bright futures.


Collectively as an industry, we have a lot of work to do. (The other blessing and curse of immersing yourself in an SLJ Summit can be the excitement and overwhelm in all we can do afterward.) Libraries need our advocacy; librarians needs our support; kids need these skills, both the perfunctory and the inspired. At Cantata, we’re rolling up our sleeves (and cranking up some music). Let’s do this.