Summer/Fall Teachers’ Booklist

See this post (article about the importance of reading for pleasure for teachers) and this post (Teachers’ Booklist for Spring 2014) for more information on what this whole thing is, how I came up with the idea, etc.

This article is about the booklist I created for Summer and Fall 2014.

Let’s start with the rationale I mentioned in that second post, when I created my first teacher booklist. Updates are in bold.

  • Only 5 titles; I felt like any more than that would just overwhelm already overworked teachers. –> I did this, without even thinking about it. 5 is a good number.
  • Automatically include titles with major film versions coming this Spring. –>I also kept this without even thinking about, especially because these are movie versions of already popular books.
  • My favorite YA book that I read this year should be on there, as long as it has one other qualifier, i.e. if it’s a recent title, one that will be made into a movie, a major award winner from this year, etc. –>I meant favorite book of the previous year here. How can I have a fave 2014 book yet? So this piece of the puzzle only works for Spring booklists.
  • Varying genres or formats as much as possible.–>I tried to do this. More on that in a second.
  • At least one lower level/middle grades title.–>I did this, but on accident; I completely forgot about this 
  • Common Core aligned, i.e. could be used in classes–>Personally, I think any book could be used for Common Core, so I might be personally biased here.

This was a harder booklist to develop. The first three, The Maze Runner, The Giver, and If I Stay, were easy because of the film versions. They’re all already fairly popular books (except in the case of The Giver, a 20 year old title that was wildly popular for many years) and I truly believe the film versions will really boost them. But once I established those, it was harder for me to pick which others to include. I went back and forth between a large number of choices, including Out of the Easy, Eleanor & Park, All the Truth That’s In Me, and Charm & Strange. I ended up choosing Panic and The Madman’s Daughter. I chose Panic because it is a very recent publication, by a very popular author, that has already been optioned for a film. I’m certain it’s going to be huge. In the case of The Madman’s Daughter, I am less certain. It was just named the NCYABA winner and was optioned for film, but mostly I chose it because it was such a different genre than what I had already (although it is sort of sci fi).

I still had a few issues overall, but honestly, except for choosing the books, this booklist went a bit more smoothly.

  • We do have all of these books in my library except for Panic (too new) because I was given some more money with which to buy books, but books can’t be checked out over the summer. Sorry!
  • I’ve also mentioned before that I’ve been told not to email the entire staff at my school. How do I get this list out to teachers without emailing everyone? –> I kept the original problem on here because I liked my solution; I just emailed each department as a group rather than the whole school.
  • I used Smore to create a flyer because I had just discovered that website, and I like trying out new creation tools. I think it worked, generally, but it isn’t the best format to present this type of information. At least now I know how to use it, right? –>I also wanted to keep this original issue on here. I ended up liking Smore way more than I thought I would, so I decided to use it again and find a new one for the next one.

Anyway, here’s the link to the booklist!

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What I Learned When I Ordered Too Many Books

or: Genrefying is a Legit Thing

or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Covers

or: Some of the Theories About Diversity in YA Might Be Wrong…

Okay, I didn’t really order too many books. My library is being packed up and moved to another building for the next school year while ours is being renovated, so one of my goals for this school year was to do a major weeding project in fiction and to order mostly fiction to update the collection. I want to come back to the new Learning Commons with a fresh, clean, desirable fiction section. I’m fairly certain that I was pretty successful at this.

But I ordered like 200 new books and they arrived as I was in the middle of my weeding project. I did not want to confuse myself by shelving them and having to put hands on them again when I already knew I wanted them here.

So I put them on the tables in the MC. Literally just cover up on different tables, organized by genre. Essentially I had a mini collection of fiction organized by genre and displayed so you can see all the covers.

The amount of attention this drew was MIRACULOUS. Students who normally read got SO EXCITED. Students who didn’t normally check books out went through them and checked books out. They TALKED ABOUT THE BOOKS IN FRONT OF THEM. It. Was. Tremendous.

Here’s why I think it worked.

1. Genrefying. When we throw all the books on the shelf in alphabetical order by author’s last name, we don’t give possible readers anything to go on to find a book except for whatever they can see on the spine.

2. Covers. I mean just read number 1 again.

I’ve been considering genrefying my library for a while. I did it at a middle school library I interned at and then did a lot of research into it and I really think it’s a good idea. I think I’m going to add that as a goal during the move and transition, but I’d also like to find more ways to shelve or display books with the covers out. Does anyone have thoughts or suggestions?

Also, and I’m going to do a more specific post on this at some point, but I noticed that many students did not care what was on the cover as long as it looked cool. This is a big thing for me. I always thought that a young black girl would probably not pick up a book with a young white girl on the cover, and I don’t think I got that thought from nowhere. I feel like I’ve been hearing it, reading it, discussing its factness for a while. It may be right in some cases, but it really wasn’t the case for my students here. If the cover was engaging and enticing, it did not matter what race the character pictured on the front was at all. I’m very intrigued by this.

21st Century

I had an epiphany the other day. You may have seen my tweet, but I’ve been kind of obsessed with this thought over the last few days, and I wanted to work it out a little bit. So my apologies in advance for the stream-of-conscious style of writing for this post. I’m thinking it through.

We talk so much in education about 21st Century Learning and 21st Century Skills. The American Association of School Libraries even has the “Standards for the 21st Century Learner.”

My question is: when do we stop saying 21st century and start saying 22nd century?

I feel like we were a little behind on bringing “21st century” into the lexicon. When I was in undergrad, from 2001-2005, we weren’t using those words in our education classes. It wasn’t until several years into when I was an English teacher that I started hearing those buzzwords. That would have been 2007, at the earliest. I don’t think I’m wrong when I say we were a little late with that. So can we just bite the bullet and start planning ahead? Or is that just repetitive because when we say 21st century, we at least partially mean being prepared for pretty much anything in the future?

Maybe it’s the wording that bothers me. Should we be teaching 21st century skills? Or at this point in the game, should we be teaching 22nd century skills? I think I’m okay with saying 21st century learner, like the AASL standards. Our students are learners in the 21st century, so that makes sense. I guess in the same way, I’m okay with 21st century learning then.

So if it’s the “skills” that are bothering me, then I guess I just want a better way to say that we are teaching our students to be adaptable. I definitely think that’s the best summative word for what I think “21st century skills” are. Adaptable can be applied to everything I would like my students to be able to do when they leave my school.

“21st century skills” feels like it applies too much to today and not enough to tomorrow. We are teaching 21st century learners 22nd century skills. We are teaching them to be able to do anything they can imagine, right? We have no idea what the 22nd century will look like, so it’s representative. 1914 is to 2014 as 2014 is to 2114.

I don’t know what the right answer is.