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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Teachers’ Booklist Spring 2014

In an earlier post, I read an article about the importance of reading for pleasure for teachers and thought of creating something like a once-per-semester booklist for teachers to help them keep up with some of the popular reading for teenage students.

After spending the fall semester getting settled into my position and feeling out the school and my users, I’ve gone ahead and created one for Spring 2014.

Here are some of the major pieces of my rationale:

  • Only 5 titles; I felt like any more than that would just overwhelm already overworked teachers.
  • Automatically include titles with major film versions coming this Spring.
  • 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.
  • Varying genres or formats as much as possible.
  • At least one lower level/middle grades title.
  • Common Core aligned, i.e. could be used in classes

It didn’t take me long to come up with this list. Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars, both huge books from the last couple of years, have film versions coming out before the end of the school year. Seraphina is my favorite book of the year and won a bunch of awards, not to mention it will be a fantasy trilogy, so it will probably blow up at some point; it just hasn’t happened quite yet. Code Name Verity has been wildly popular already, was #1 on the Teens’ Top Ten for 2013, and is historical fiction, which doesn’t happen often. And The False Prince is arguably middle grades, but was #2 on the Teens’ Top Ten for 2013 and has been optioned for a film.

Honestly, it wasn’t hard to make these choices. Obviously, I might end up being wrong about something being a popular book, but even if that happens, I think this is a good list for teachers to be familiar with at the very least. Films will cause a buzz, and there is a lot of buzz around both Verity and Prince thanks to the Teens’ Top Ten.

I did end up thinking about some issues I had:

  • My library here at school does not have all of these titles. I don’t think it’s a huge problem, but it would be a definite bonus to say that I have them. I’ve already been asked by a couple of teachers if we have all of them. I hate saying no. Unfortunately, as I’ve mentioned before, my budget doesn’t really allow for much wiggle room.
  • 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 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?
  • The Smore flyer is embeddable, but it changes the dimensions of the pictures and doesn’t look right. Also, Smore and WordPress don’t like each other so it won’t embed here.
  • I was concerned that teachers would immediately think that this was a required thing, so I went out of my way to explain that it was just an FYI thing; they could read if they wanted or completely ignore.

I think that about covers my feelings about this. I think this is a really good thing to do, and I’ve already received positive feedback from several teachers. I even had one ask if we could do a discussion group for anyone who reads any of the books. I think that’s a fantastic idea, in small doses. Again, I don’t like the idea of adding on to what is expected of this group of teachers already, which I think is a whole lot, so I’d want to keep it to just one 30 minute session where we can just share our thoughts about the books.

Anyway, here’s the link to the booklist!

Using YA lit in Classrooms

I went to my first department meeting as a librarian last week. I started with the English Department because I thought it would be the least shocking for my system since that is the department I’m most used to. Mostly, I was there to discuss how we want to handle cataloging the class sets of novels that are housed in the stacks in the Media Center and how handling of those books will help with reading across content areas and build literacy in the school. I will do a post about that later.

But I stayed for most of the meeting, as I should. The conversation lingered on teachers wondering how they are meant to find time and resources to allow students to read texts of their choice, while still holding them accountable for those.

The time issue is not necessarily a concern of the MS, but reading, in general, is, and defending students’ need to read literature that truly reflects their lives and experiences definitely is.

I’m definitely no expert or anything, but finding ways to let students choose their own novels to read was a really important and effective change I made in my classes in my third year of teaching. And after going through library school and studying the reading habits and psychology of teenagers, I feel even more strongly that YA lit should be a staple in high school English classes. Here are some research based facts as to why:

  • Teens are more likely to actually DO the reading, and thus, get better at reading, because YA lit will be more interesting to them.
  • Students learn best when they are able to make connections to what they like, know, and are familiar with. YA lit reflects their own lives.
  • Teens have a lot going on. YA lit is not childish; it deals with the issues that plague teenagers and can help them deal with those issues. Basically, they’re not all about handsome vampires who sparkle in the sunlight (swoon).
  • They will actually be able to make it through this book with only a minimal number of confusing moments. Yes; challenging our readers to think about symbolism and use context clues to define words is important. But so are simple things like questioning the text, drawing conclusions, and making inferences.

Essentially, I’m arguing for more use of modern YA lit for students, or mixing YA lit into classics. We can’t keep expecting students in 2013 to relate to a title written in 1950. The world has changed and it’s time for us to adapt to it.

There are LOT of resources out there explaining more about why we should be using YA lit. I’m working on finding more about HOW we should be using YA lit. I will post any free resources I find.