Making “Good Trouble”!

“Thank you for getting in trouble!” John Lewis said. “Good trouble.”

This year at the 2018 School Library Journal Leadership Summit we made “good trouble”! Inspired by Civil Right’s Leader John Lewis’ words, The School Library Journal(SLJ) created a magnificent conference! John Lewis’ parents told him to stay out of trouble. He worked with the Civil Rights Movement and made “good trouble”. I was so inspired by all of the amazing speakers and I met so many awesome librarians. Thanks to SLJ, I was able to share my Read Woke challenge with other librarians. The response was out of this world! I am still receiving tweets and emails from librarians.

Arriving in New York for the first time, I was in awe of the city. I truly felt like a “country bumpkin” in the big city. However, Daryl Grabarek, Sarah Bayliss, and the other members of the SLJ staff came to my rescue. After corresponding with them for months over the phone and email, it felt good to finally meet them.

They helped to make my stay enjoyable. During my first day in Brooklyn, we visited the Friends of Brooklyn School, a local Quaker school. I enjoyed visiting the school and learning about all of the innovating programs and initiatives. I was really impressed with the school library in the cafeteria! While students are eating lunch, they can select a book too. I would love to do something like this at my school. They also have a really cool makerspace and cool study spaces throughout the school for students. During my visit to the school, I met the School Library Journal Librarian of the Year and we both fangirled at each other!


Later that night, we met up for a meet and greet hosted by Follett and I was able to meet more movers and shakers. The food was delicious! The next day was my big day and I was so nervous to present. However, listening to George Takei’s moving speech took my mind away from my nervousness. He told the story of how his family was held prison in American Internment camps. This harrowing story of his family’s imprisonment is being made into a graphic novel and I can’t wait to add this to my collection.

Next, was my presentation. I was so nervCITEd! It’s a mixture of nervousness and excitement. I was immediately put at ease by the audience’s eagerness to learn about the Read Woke challenge. While telling the story of how I started the challenge, I had to fight back tears. Every time I think about the impact of the challenge, I tear up. I fought back the tears and continued. When I finished, I was able to speak to other librarians and talk about how to implement the challenge in their school. Next, I was allowed to speak on a panel with my favorite authors Renee Watson, Ellen Hagan, and Ibi Zoboi! The panel was moderated by SLJ editor, Daryl Grabarek. Initially, I was nervous about meeting the authors but they were really friendly and welcoming. Sitting on stage with these ladies was like having lunch with friends. Daryl posed thought provoking questions and the ladies answered with clarity and poise. I was speechless and I constantly had to pinch myself to make sure that I was not dreaming. What an amazing experience!


Let’s talk about the swag! Lerner made these awesome bags equipped with Read Woke pins! Every one took home a free “Make Your Own Protest Sign” bag.


I picked up free books and autographed copies of Watch Us Rise and other cool goodies! This was the best conference that I have ever attended! This is truly what every conference should be like! Learning, leading, inspiring and most importantly making “good trouble” was the essence of the event. Although I was far away from Georgia, I met librarians from Georgia and now we are going to keep in contact with one another. Being among such powerful social justice warriors, has inspired me to continue to make “good trouble”. I will continue to push these books to my students that challenge them to become social justice warriors. Librarians are at war. We are at war with racism. We are at war with sexism. We are at war with classicism. We are at war with poverty. We are at war with equal access. As librarians we are at the front of the battlefield because we are the gatekeepers to information. Now, is the time for us to join together and make an impact. It’s time to make “good trouble”! Who will join me?


Cicely Lewis is a school librarian at Meadowcreek High School in Norcross, GA. She is the 2018 recipient of the AJC Top Educators award and the founder of Read Woke. You can follow her on Twitter @cicelythegreat


2 Comments Add yours

  1. J Librarian says:

    Love this page! What an awesome way to encourage the next generation to create change in the world!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. K palmateer says:

    Thank you so much for having this blog! It helps to have ideas to share with students!

    Liked by 1 person

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