Check It Out

Books and life in a school library

Archive for December 16, 2008

Tidbit Tuesday

I enjoyed yesterday. A day home although school was in session. Reason?  I could not get out because there was 2-3 inches of snow and ice at my house.

Today, I returned to school. You should see the difference between the two states.  My car was the only one with evidence of a Sunday snow storm in the parking lot this morning.

Have you read the Washington Post article about the Newbery Award?  Great reading and I agree with most of it.  It is difficult for many of my students to read the titles that end up as Newbery.  The level of reading is quite often and challenge and then there is the content.  My school’s population hales from homes that could end up as a plot for the Newbery: “death, absence of parents, mental challenges”, and other tough social issues. 

I have come to believe that many of these students want to be entertained rather than to read about a story that mirrors their own.  My guess is that is the reason behind the popularity of Captain Underpants, Junie B. Jones, and other light but hilarious books.  Who wants to read what they are living?

I could not agree more with Lucy Calkins statement: “I can’t help but believe that thousands, even millions, more children would grow up reading if the Newbery committee aimed to spotlight books that are deep and beautiful and irresistible to kids.” 

I am glad for the creation of the CYBILS Award .  The award offers an alternative look at books that are not only written in a high quality manner but have great kid appeal.  Have you seen the nominations for this years books. They are amazing, all of them.

This year my goal is to foster a love of reading in all students but targting my fifth graders who will be off to middle school.  I have been book talking up books beyond the Captain Underpants and Junie B. Jones.  It means reading a lot of children’s books and interviewing what students like to read.  I have been challenging them to think outside the box.  But the biggest difference?  It is that teachers are now coming down to the library for checkout time.  This is separate from their class time.  Having teachers involved in student check out helps to foster that community of readers.  Being able to actually talk about books because you know the story line? Again, fostering that community of readers.  Fostering a community never forcing them to read a book.  Huge difference.

It will be interesting come January 26, 2009. What will the Newbery committee decide this year?  I have perused some of the contenders but not read any. (one that comes to mind is The Underneath by Kathi Appelt.)

What are your thoughts about the Newbery Award?

Happy Reading.