It is such a busy week. I am swamped as I get ready to go to AERA in New York City! To keep me focused, one of my daughters posted this image from the Facebook page LeVar Burton for kids. The image features a quote from Judy Blume. She is clearly one of the rock stars in Children's and YA Literature. I love libraries! I have for as long as I remember. My mother took me, I walked to the book mobile, and we had field trips to the big library when I was in the the sixth grade. When I moved to Las Vegas after the 7th grade, one of the first places of refuge I found was a little local branch in the shopping center on the northwest corner of Alta and Decatur--long since gone. I found my first Louis L'Amour novel, The Sackett Brand, in that branch.
Jennifer's post today inspired me to talk about books once again. So, this morning I took fifteen minutes to do what I am asking all of you to do. I visited our curriculum library, the TDRL, (Teacher Development and
Resources Library) and took some pictures of the books I found--both new and old. I added books to my TBR list. I found some old friends--some from a long time ago. I don't have time or the space to book talk them all. The pictures will have to tell the story. Now, get thee to a library and find those old, familiar friends and the new ones that are siting on the shelf.
After the slide show, Jennifer takes over. Remember, she is one of the people who will be presenting at the YA Summit in Las Vegas this June. Scan down past the wonderful keynotes and view the bios of all of the fantastic presenters. Las Vegas teacher and librarians, Follow Frank Sinatra's advice: "Start spreading the word!" Well, I am leaving to New York. You need to make it to Vegas!
Get Kids Talking About YA Books by Jennifer Paulsen
There is strong support for teacher book talks, a practice I learned about from Nancie Atwell’s In the Middle and later in Penny Kittle’s Book Love. While I am totally in favor of the teacher book talk, one of the best ways to get kids reading is to get them talking about books. “To foster a love of books, children need opportunities to talk about them. Studies suggest that informal conversations around books, such as book talks or book chats, enhance children’s motivation to read” (Neuman, n.p.). Readers of any age often choose to read books people recommend, especially if the recommendation is personalized to what the reader likes. But for those students with limited reading experience, how do they even know what they like? How can we increase the likelihood they will find a good match, repeatedly, while increasing their knowledge of books they might like? Let them do what they want to do anyway: talk to their peers, of course!
Here are four practices to frame student talk about books in your classroom, without using formal speech or discussion structures or increasing your paperload.
- why I chose the book or how it found me
- my favorite moment in the book so far
- what is keeping me reading/ holding my interest
- who should read it next and why
Books We Love Shelf: I discovered this strategy while watching Nancie Atwell discuss her classroom setup on the DVD Reading in the MIddle: Workshop Essentials. She stressed the importance of giving students ownership over a shelf in the classroom, so it starts the year empty and students fill it with their favorites. I gave it a try. I taught students about “their” shelf and showed them the tiny heart stickers I bought for them to put on the spine to indicate it belonged on the Books We Love Shelf. As the year progressed, students realized that all the best, peer-recommended books were in one place in the classroom. This convenience narrowed the field and vastly improved selection time. A student only had to linger in front of the shelf for a minute or two before a student would slip up and make recommendations. And then another student would pop over to suggest another book. And someone else would offer another suggestion. Once a student made a choice, I had her record the other recommendations in her TBR list. Many passionate and persuasive conversations happened in front of this shelf over the last few years.
Atwell, Nancie. Reading in the Middle Workshop Essentials. DVD. Heinemann, 2011.
Brookfield, Stephen D., and Stephen Preskill. Discussion as a Way of Teaching: Tools and Techniques for Democratic Classrooms. Wiley, 2012.
Copeland, Matt. Socratic Circles: Fostering Critical and Creative Thinking in Middle and High School. Stenhouse Publishers, 2005.
Daniels, Harvey, and Nancy Steineke. Mini-Lessons for Literature Circles. Heinemann, 2004.
Kittle, Penny. Book Love: Developing Depth, Stamina, and Passion in Adolescent Readers. Heinemann, 2013.
Neuman, Susan B. “The Importance of a Classroom Library.” Retrieved 7 Apr 2018.