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Kids’ reading platforms are proliferating like crazy. The best offer a great reading experience and some great books. But none of them have all the best books. And only a few are available to libraries.
Why do kids have to jump from app to app to get the content they want? This publisher here, that one there. History over here, science over here. Picture books in one place, chapter books in another.
Why can’t we pull it all together?
No matter how many books their families buy them, kids always need free books. Not a select list or a special of the week. The books they want the moment they’re ready for them. From the best and most reliable source, the library.
I want the library to be the first place kids look for ebooks.
I want to show them everything we have to offer in one place–our catalog.
I want to offer a great reading experience on any device, not just for chapter books, but for picture books, graphic novels, and photo-heavy nonfiction.
I want to load up our collection with the best books that publishers–all publishers– have to offer.
I want it all in our catalog and accessible with a click.
This is the experience libraries could provide. Why are we settling for less?
What do you think we could do to make better e-reading experiences for kids? Please share your ideas in the comments!
We would love to hear from you. Please email us at email@example.com
Also, please join our ALSC Digital Content Task force group on ALA Connect. Share ideas! Add to discussions!
This month’s blog post by Rachel Wood, ALSC Digital Content Task Force (virtual committee)
Acting Materials Division Chief
Arlington (VA) Public Library
This week I'm joining the Start with a Book
blog tour organized by Amy over at Show Me Librarian.
It was an easy yes when Amy asked if I might be interested in participating. The Start with a Book
site is so rich I almost feel like a millionaire when I am using it. So.much.at.my.fingertips.
As busy librarians, we juggle so many balls in the air - desk work, programming, budgets, selection, displays, outreach, planning and more. So time is often precious no matter what size library we work at. With summer around the corner, the speed of the balls increases exponentially.
When I discovered this resource, a project of Reading Rockets
, my work got immeasurably easier. While the site supports parents and caregivers, it a treasure trove for librarians as well. I'd like to sprinkle some gold and jewels on one of my favorite parts of the website: the 24 Learning Summer Themes
.Once there we are greeted by lots of fresh-faced and diverse children ready to take us on incredibly rich adventures in math, science, social studies - all with strong literacy support.
Pick a theme, click, and scream with happiness! You find a list of excellent book titles for multiple ages that can be used as a selection tool to strengthen your collection or to pull for a display inhouse if you already own them at the library. You also discover a nifty downloadable pdf "Reading Adventure Pack" that supplies activities, questions and information on effectively using both fiction and non-fiction books for kids. These packs could easily be put together and made available to your families to check out.
Each theme also has a number of resources featuring more activities, videos, apps and exemplary websites for kids and families to browse to learn more information. One of the perks of this portion of the theme is it lays out rich content that can be easily used to build programs for kids at the library. Everything in the themes truly underscores literacy and adventure for kids.
It's almost a steal to have this kind of resource at our fingertips as librarians. If you haven't been here before, be sure to dig into this treasure chest of ideas not only for summer but also year round!
Read the rest of this post
Title: Art Authority
Platform: iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.Requires iOS 3.0 or later
I think a lot about how apps can extend the collection for teens or even replace materials on teen shelves. If you have art books in your teen collection, Art Authority provides new options for what you provide teens on the topic of art and art history. The screencast below gives you a view of how the app works and its benefits to teens.
For more App of The Week posts, visit the App of the Week Archive.
I have to tell you, I’m nervous about the state of YA collection development. Why? Because I worry that teen collections may transition from collections for teens who read YA to collections for adults who love reading YA. Don’t get me wrong, I am a reader of YA and I know that that reading can be just as good, if not better, than adult book reading. But, yet, I don’t think my library’s YA collection should be filled with the YA that I want to read if teens don’t also want to read it. And that’s why I worry. There is so much talk of late about adults reading YA and why that’s OK that I begin to wonder, who are we building YA collections for? The adults who love YA or the teens who are simply looking for a good book to read?
My take is that we always build for the teens. If adults want to read YA titles that aren’t popular with teens in the community, then those titles should go in the adult collection and be a part of the adult collection purchasing budget. Those serving teens often have to struggle with budgets as it is. So, if they are buying books for adults that read teen AND teens that read teen how are they going to have enough money to do both? They won’t. The teen collection is the teen collection. That’s the priority. That’s who teen library staff serve. That’s the bottom line.
Yet, I continue to worry. I think about the books a library buys that circulate and have great statistics and so more of that type of book is purchased and put on the shelves. Yet, if the library really delved into those statistics they may find that it’s not teens checking out the books, it’s adults. But, circulation can drive collection development so the books continue to land on the shelves. That just isn’t right.
I worry that a teen walks into a library filled with titles that are being read and titles that are published for teens, but, yet, the titles aren’t of interest to the teen or his friends. Or, for that matter to a large part of the community’s teen population. So, what does that teen think and do? He doesn’t think of the library as a place that serves his reading needs. And, he doesn’t use the library to find materials for leisure or informational reading.
Or, what about the teens who hang out in the library and notice that the stacks are always inhabited by adults looking for their new favorite teen novel? What message does that send? If you were a teen would you really want to be hanging out in a teen section filled with adults looking at and talking about the books that are supposed to be for you? Come on be honest. Would you?
I have to say, “be careful.” Sure, it’s OK that you and other adults you know read YA but don’t make that the focus of your teen collection. If you know adults in your community are really into a dystopian series but that the teens just don’t show an interest, then don’t buy that series. Inform the adult collection development staff of the adult interest. Save your money, and your shelf space (virtual or physical) for the books teens want and need. That’s really what you are there for. Right?
Are my worries completely unfounded? Let me know what you think in the comments.
With the school year winding down and the summer reading season gearing up, it’s a good time to reflect on the partnership of public youth services librarians and school media specialists. The recent cover story by Rebecca T. Miller and Laura Girmscheid’s, “It Takes Two,” in the May edition of School Library Journal offers up some food for thought, and I urge everyone to read it.
Many of the partnership ideas suggested in “It Takes Two,” are great ones, including “middle school booktalks, outreach to school groups, shuttle buses between schools and libraries, and age-appropriate book clubs.” Miller and Girmscheid also suggest the possibility of a purchasing collaboration, noting that “the results of SLJ’s first survey of public library spending habits on children’s and young adult services reveals a disturbing trend: only 30 percent of respondents say their library collaborates with local schools to coordinate book purchases to support the curriculum—leaving 70 percent that don’t.”
I’d be interested in hearing others’ thoughts on this. Here are mine.
My library system has a centralized collections department, but that isn’t to say that individual branches do not have some say in the purchase of books. Several times per year, I am offered the opportunity to submit purchasing or replacement requests. Having a close connection with my community, I, of course, request books that I know will appeal to local children or will fulfill the need for commonly requested resource materials (e.g., Ancient Egypt, Colonial America) However, there is a definite difference between a public library and a public school library, particularly when it comes to the library’s collection. Personally, I believe that the school library’s mission should be to support the curriculum of the school and the education of its children. To some degree, public libraries do this as well, but I believe that our main focus is to foster literacy and a love of reading and learning, and to provide appealing, inclusive, informative and desirable books, programs and materials, as well as a place to enjoy them. This, I feel, is where our paths diverge.
Anecdotally, I can say that, over the years, to fulfill homework assignments, I have had children request lower elementary school level books on the brown trout, sea lettuce, Chinese stirrups, Ancient Egyptian jewelry making, anchovies, and obscure local inventors. These materials (were they actually to exist) would not necessarily meet the collection development criteria of the public library. With school and public library budgets shrinking, we definitely have ourselves a dilemma. The school library often doesn’t have the needed books. The students come to the public library, which may not have them either.
I am very fortunate to work in town where I have very close connections with the local school media specialists, as well as some teachers and school administrators. When I contact my district’s media specialists, to let them know of my inability to find age-appropriate reading material on some of the aforementioned topics, they commiserate. They in turn, contact the teachers from whom the requests originate. The teachers may also commiserate. Their requests are often dictated by government requirements.
I’m not offering an opinion on the initiative, but like it or not, the Common Core is coming. (Read USA Today article here) Read more at the Common Core State Standards Ini
Collections are big and ungainly things. No matter how hard you try, they grow like topsy. But like any weedy thing, too much growth sucks up space, oxygen and *things* start taking over. Soon the weedy things completely obscure the healthy things and before you know it, kids and families start wandering aimlessly through the growth praying to the gods and goddesses to get them out of there.
Ah, it is clearly August in libraryland. A time when the minds of youth librarians turn to tending those shelves and making some progress through the weeds. There I found myself today working with a colleague and talking about what, for me, is an absolute favorite library activity - deselection!
Maybe I like it because weeding as an activity is a microcosm of management - a hundred tiny decisions that need to be made with confidence. Some are quick; some are slower and some can't be made at just that moment and the book needs to be re-shelved to see how it fares for a little more time. Perhaps a bit more face-out display time for this one or handselling to kids might jumpstart it. There is an element of careful consideration and finesse that I enjoy as well.
Today we were in chapter books discussing the kind of criteria that we need to think about to make good weeding decisions. Condition is always easy (Eeeee-yooooo = toss!). Of course, if it's popular, then we need to re-order.
How is the circulation on the item? With a three week check-out period, an item could have 17 circs per year in a perfect world of everyone keeping books exactly three weeks and no overdues. But more realistically, we expect most chapter books to have an annual turnover average of 4-6 circs. Way over that number and we may buy an additional copy. Way under...oh-oh, not making the shelf-rent and we'll have to evict you.
What is this book really? Has it stood the test of time and emerged as a keeper? Has the story, the writing, the plot and the language endured and found a home with the readers in our community. We have many books that are between 4-5 years old that have not crossed over that divide. Reviewed well but never truly a fit; sadly un-checked out; written by authors once - or never- popular, these books need thought but often must leave the island as well.
Books that are pedestrain in content (think the equivalent of series nonfiction - churned out; undistinguished; full of bad cover art and clearly aimed at a school audience that needs to "keep to a reading level") are an easy fling. Books once popular but fading in appreciation (oh Beverly Cleary, this is killing me), get to stay but only in a guilty way. As a resource library, we can always make the argument that our collection needs to be deep after all.
And finally, how does the book fit into the overall collection. Is it just one of eleventy-zillion fantasies and a poor circ'er? Good-bye. Is it our only book written from the viewpoint of a camel (let me check the circ on that and get back to you) with fairly wretched original reviews? Buy-bye. Do we only have the third book in the series and the rest are out of print? Sayonara.
Though the reader in me calls out to keep them all, the realist knows that we have reached a capacity that calls for one book weeded for every one cataloged. So it comforts me to think of these books going to our Friends who will sell them and give us the money to fund our programs and initiatives.
And don't our shelves look dandy and the beep of increased circs for the remaining books sound nice?Image: 'La caverne aux livres' http://www.flickr.com/photos/24183489@N00/395079578
Title: Bluefire Reader
iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch with OS 3.0 or higher
Android app is coming soon!! According to MediaBistro AND Bluefire Facebook page
As a school librarian, summer is one of my favorite times to catch up on professional development and read as much as possible. This year I was lucky enough to attend ALA Annual (post on this coming soon) where I was showered with galley after galley of upcoming summer, fall and even winter titles. I left New Orleans with an entire extra suitcase full of finds.
Only occasionally during my rounds through the exhibit hall was I reminded of the great service NetGalley, which allows “professional readers” (i.e. librarians and other eligible persons) access to DRM and DRM-free Galleys of upcoming titles.
The list of publishers in NetGalley’s arsenal is long, and I’ve found out about many great titles through this service. I turned a few books down when I discovered they were on NetGalley…less to carry.
Upon my return from ALA, I learned that the iPads we ordered for the coming school year were in, so I picked one up with plans to try it out. I’ve put several different reading devices on the iPad; Kindle, Copia, Stanza, Bluefire have all been added, to name a few.
All are free apps, and all have their benefits,* but I’m highlighting Bluefire for a few reasons:
HOW TO: Collection Development on the Fly
It’s time for that little bit of money to be spent and quickly or it will be spent by someone else. You haven’t had any time to work on an order and you don’t want to make a mistake. Look to the lists below to help you find all kinds of exciting books, DVDs, and audio books that should be in your library.
Every title on every YA list will not be automatically suitable for your collection. To double-check yourself, when you add a title to your order list, you can quickly skim the reviews provided by your jobber to see if an item matches your needs. Look to the sections for older readers in the children’s lists for other titles, especially if you serve middle school age.
YALSA Best Books for Young Adults
YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults
YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers
YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens
YALSA Printz Award and Honor Books
YALSA Amazing Audios for Young Adults
YALSA Fabulous Films for Young Adults
YALSA/ALSC Odyssey Award
ALSC Notable Children’s Books
ALSC Notable Children’s Videos
ALSC Notable Children’s Recordings
ALSC Newbery Award and Honor Books
ALSC Sibert Informational Book Medal and Honor Books
Projects of the Children’s Book Council in collaboration with ALA and other professional organizations:
Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People
Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12
Looking for a way to highlight your collection, increase circulation, put your expert knowledge of children’s literature to great use, and remind your users that the library is the beating, pulsing heart of your community? It may be as simple as a few duplicate copies, a handout of discussion questions, and a quiet corner for groups to meet.
A few of our popular Kids Book Club Kits.
Launched last fall, Kids Book Club Kits have been an extremely popular (and easy to manage) new service at my library. The kits are designed to make patron-led book discussion groups fun and easy. Each kit contains several copies of a librarian-selected title, a book summary, discussion starters and questions, further resources such as websites or extended reading opportunities, and suggested activities related to the book’s themes. In addition to the kits themselves, parents who register with the Children’s Library are also given the opportunity to reserve a meeting space to host their discussion group.
Choosing the Books
We began by surveying our Kids Fiction and Kids IRead (chapter book) collections, noting the titles we owned in multiple. We decided to start by choosing ten titles for early elementary (grades 1 to 3) and ten titles for older elementary (grades 4 to 6.) In addition to being available in duplicate, we looked for books that were exciting, highly discussable, slightly off-the-radar, and that naturally lent themselves to extended activities. It helped that we booktalk new titles each spring to our local elementary schools and purchase multiple copies of those titles. As a result, after a few years, we are able to go back and resurrect these great books as Book Club Kits.
Writing the Content
A selection of our Book Club Kit handouts.
The most time-intensive aspect of launching the Book Club Kits service was researching and preparing the handouts. We decided to make a template consisting of a picture of the book cover, a brief summary, 1 or 2 discussion starters (or icebreakers), 4 to 6 discussion questions, a list of further resources (often consisting of the author’s website or related material), and an activity related to the themes or characters. As an example, check out The Year the Swallows Came Early Kit.
While getting the discussion questions together took some time and consideration, it was one of the most enjoyable in the process. The entire children’s staff, including our summer intern, was encouraged to participate by reading and re-reading the selected books and thinking of great questions and activities to add to the handout. When stumped, we were often able to find questions and discussion starters from several publisher websites. Although we decided to create our own templates, libraries could just as easily print out discussion guides straight from the publishers.
Kits and Meeting Spaces
Once we had our 20 initial kits ready to go, we had to figure out how we would store them and how patrons would check them out. We decided, after a bit o
By: Betsy Bird
Blog: A Fuse #8 Production
(Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
, adult authors up to no good
, baby names
, badass embroidery
, boxing monkeys
, collection development
, Doctor Doolittle
, Jonathan Auxier
, Kidlitosphere Conference
, new band name: Surreptitious Grapes
, Richard Dawkins
, The Secret Garden
, Tom Angleburger
, typewriters with skillz
, Where the Wild Things Are
, Add a tag
SLJ represent! Though I could not attend this year’s KidLitCon (the annual conference of children’s and YA bloggers) many others did and they have all posted links to their recaps of the event here. So while I could not be present, fellow SLJ blogger Liz Burns of Tea Cozy showed up and has a fabulous encapsulation of that which went on. Lest you label me a lazy lou, I did at least participate in a presentation on apps. Yes, doing my best Max Headroom imitation (ask you parents, kids) I joined Mary Ann Scheuer and pink haired Paula Wiley. It went, oddly enough, off without a hitch. Attendees may have noticed my gigantic floating head (we Skyped) would occasionally dip down so that I seemed to be doing my best Kilroy imitation. This was because the talk happened during my lunch and I wanted to nosh on some surreptitious grapes as it occurred. You may read Mary Ann’s recap here and Paula’s here, lest you fail to believe a single word I say.
- Speaking of Penderwicks, the discussions fly fast and fierce over at Heavy Medal. To my infinite delight, both Jonathan AND Nina are Penderwick fans. Wow! For the record, I agree with their thoughts on Amelia Lost as well. That book has a better chance at something Newberyish than any other nonfiction this year. This could well be The Year of Amelias (Jenni Holm has an Amelia book of her own, after all).
- Heads up, America! According to an article in The Guardian, “The debt-laden businesses behind some of the biggest names in childrens’ TV and books are selling off some of the nation’s best-loved characters.” Personally, I figure the Brits can keep their Peppa Pig. It’s Bagpuss I want. Or The Clangers. I grew up watching Pinwheel on Nickelodeon so I’ve an affection for these. Any word on the current state of King Rollo?
- Aw yeah. Authors talking smack about authors. Granted it’s living authors talking about dead authors (dead authors talking about living authors is a different ballgame entirely) but it’ll stand. Two dude who write for kids break down J.M. Barrie, The Yearling, etc. and then end with unanimous praise for what I may consider the world’s most perfect children’s book. Go check ‘em out.
Part of good collection development is knowing where to find the newest and greatest books. For so long we have relied on the standards such as School Library Journal, Horn Book, Book List, and H.W. Wilson’s Core Collection for Children among others, and while these are great selection tools if you want to wait six months to read the reviews, today’s library patrons want books that are still being unpacked at the local bookstore. Everyone knows the release date to new and upcoming books – think back to when Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins came out. Weren’t you waiting with bated breath? How many times have you been asked, “When is Inheritance by Christopher Paolini coming out or the next Diary of a Wimpy Kid?”
Library vendors such as Ingram, BWI, Baker and Taylor and Brodart do a great job of letting us know the forthcoming titles through catalogs and lists but if you don’t use a vender you might not have access to them. One of the best is Baker and Taylor’s Publishers Presents Powerpoints provided on their webpage. My second favorite is BWI’s What’s New section but you have to have your own log-on to access it.
Other sources to help in collection development and selection are newsletters, blogs, author’s websites and other sites dedicated to children and young adult books. Check out these sites and sign up today to start receiving information on upcoming children’s books.
Know of any other selections tools outside the box that you use? Where do you find out about new books?
Our guest blogger today is Danielle Day, the Youth Services Manager at the Carnegie-Stout Public Library in Dubuque, IA. Danielle can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at email@example.com.
All year, the ALSC Notable Children’s Books Committee and the Carnegie Medal/Notable Children’s Videos Committee have worked diligently – reading and viewing – in an effort to identify the best of the best in children’s books and videos/DVDs. These committees are now issuing a final call to the ALSC membership for submissions of items to be considered for inclusion on the 2012 Notables lists.
Notable Children’s Books
The 2012 Notable Children’s Books Committee invites ALSC members to suggest titles for consideration for the annual list of notable children’s books. “Notable” is defined as: Worthy of note or notice, important, distinguished, outstanding. As applied to children’s books, the term “notable” includes books for all age levels (through age 14) of especially commendable quality, books that exhibit venturesome creativity, and books of fiction, information, poetry, folklore, and picture books that reflect and encourage children’s interests in exemplary ways.
The evaluation criteria to be used are:
1. Literary quality
2. Originality of text and illustration
3. Clarity and style of language
4. Excellence of illustration
5. Excellence of design and format
6. Clarity of organization and accuracy of information
7. Subject matter of interest and value to children
8. The likelihood of acceptance by children.
The list will be voted on during the ALA Midwinter Conference to be held in Dallas, TX, in January, 2012. Only books first published in the US in the 2011 publishing year will be considered. Send suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for submission of suggested titles is December 15th. Be sure to include the appropriate bibliographic information and your reasons.
For more information about this list visit the ALSC website. Click on “Awards and Grants” in the left-hand navigation bar, then click on “Children’s Notable Lists,” and finally “Notable Children’s Books.”
Notable Children’s Videos
The 2012 Carnegie Medal/Notable Children’s Videos Committee invites ALSC members to suggest titles for consideration for the annual list of notable children’s videos. Notable is defined as worthy of note or notice, important, distinguished, and outstanding. In identifying notability in videos/DVDs for children, notable should be thought to include videos/DVDs for all age levels (through age 14) of especially commendable quality that demonstrate respect for the child’s intelligence and imagination; the video/DVD should, in exemplary ways, reflect and encourage the interests of children
Official criteria used in evaluation of videos and DVDs includes:
- Utilization of media
- Organization and appropriate treatment of material
- Subject matter of interest and value to children
ALSC members may send nomination suggestions of DVDs/videos released this year to be considered for inclusion on the Notable Children’s Videos list to email@example.com. The deadline for submission of suggested videos is December 15th.
The committees are waiting to hear your suggestions!
My husband and I have been shopping for a new refrigerator. The old one has been fine, keeping cold foods cold and frozen foods frozen. Other than that, I never gave it much thought. But now that our kitchen remodeling project is done, it’s time for a new one. We’ve searched three appliance stores and checked out all the new models. We’re leaning towards a French door-style refrigerator with a freezer on the bottom, although a side-by-side has its advantages, too.
The funny thing – for better or worse, is that by not looking at new refrigerators over the years, I didn’t know what I was missing. Now that I know what else is available, I begrudge each time that I have to get down on my knees to look in the vegetable and fruits bins. Who ever decided that freezers should be on the top anyway?
And that got me to thinking – who ever decided that beginning readers must be 8.5 x 6 x 0.2 inches, with a banner on the top and number in the corner? Though the publishers do not agree on readability levels, there has been apparent agreement in matters of shape, size and general appearance. For years, my beginning reader shelves were the neatest in the library – each book a perfect match to its neighbor.
Newer shapes and sizes have been steadily increasing in volume, however. The Elephant and Piggie series (Hyperion) stretched the genre by about an inch (the better to see the delightful duo). The I Like to Read series (Holiday House) is the same size as a typical picture book.
The always innovative Toon Books has turned the usual shape on its side with their new Level One books measuring up at 9.4 x 6.3.
(My kids grew up with the non library-friendly, but nevertheless tiny and wonderful, Bob Books, so I am familiar with the appropriateness of little books for little hands.)
However you measure them, it seems to me that there is a trend toward greater choice in the shape, size and appearance of beginning readers. One size does not fit all. The newfound possibilities are limitless – for readers and refrigerator buyers. My shelves have never looked messier and I’m happy with that. (My kitchen, I prefer neat).
One of the most energetic celebrations of El día de los niños/El día de los libros has to be the celebration hosted by the Farmington (NM) Public Library. Since 1997 this library has celebrated bilingual literacy. The Farmington Public Library does many things that other libraries do, like bilingual book readings and author programs. For several years they have also hosted a tailgate party in the library’s parking lot as part of a day-long celebration with vendors and partner organizations. Community groups and organizations are able to distribute information about their programs for youth while also offering educational activities, games, and crafts for families. I love the idea of a tailgate party because it takes any mess out of the library while still keeping the celebration at the library. It’s also a great way to handle limited meeting room space and supplements what staff can do by having partner organizations provide activities and games. Check out the library’s website for a diagram showing how the parking lot was organized and photographs from past tailgate parties.
Not every library will be able to pull off a big event like this but Farmington includes some other activities in their programming that is easily emulated elsewhere. For example, the April 30th celebration of El da de los niños/El día de los libros also serves as the kick-off for summer reading registrations. One of my favorite ideas is the poetry garden. Children and teens are encouraged to write their own bilingual poetry or copy a favorite poem onto a paper flower. The flowers are then shared in the Poetry Garden/Poesia Jardín. Children are encouraged to bring a book wrapped as a gift. In a literary version of musical chairs, books are handed around until the music stops. Each participant then leaves for the day with a new book. Donations ensure that every child has a book.
Located in the Four Corners region of New Mexico, it is natural that Farmington’s celebration would include the Navajo language (Ałchíní Baa Hózhóogo Bee E’e'aah Naaltsoos Wólta’ Bee E’e'aah is Dia in Navajo). Although you may not have Navajo speakers in your community, you can share this beautiful language and culture through books like The Navajo Year, Walk Through Many Seasons by Nancy Bo Flood. The text includes many words in Navajo with pronunciation assistance provided in the back matter and the book is beautifully illustrated by Navajo artist Billy Whitethorne. Salina Bookshelf, Inc. is the publisher of this and many other culturally authentic books, a number of them with accompanying CDs with both English and Navajo narration. There are other books that feature Navajo stories but Salina Bookshelf is the only bilingual English-Navajo publisher so check out their other titles.
Don’t forget that you can get ideas from other Día celebrations, register and share your own
As a school librarian, I can’t tell you how many times people offer used, new or self-published books for the school library. For one reason or another, nine times out of ten, they are not appropriate for our collection.
Want your book’s spine facing out on the library shelves? Then listen up…
1. Enough with the anthropomorphic animals, people!
So you wrote a charming picture book about a helpful squirrel or a shy frog. Good for you. I have 3, 276 of them already. Talking animals have been done to death. Unless you’re the next H.A. Rey or Kate DiCamillo, please consider a premise with more minty freshness. Kids are tired of these books and so am I.
Talking robots or mutant woodchucks? Now you’re talking.
2. I will throw your book across the room if you mention the phrases “learns how to…” or “teaches a lesson…”
Seriously. One whiff of GRANDMA TAKES RAINBOW KITTY TO THE DENTIST and I’m out. Kids want to read about complex characters tackling conflicts in a vivid setting. They don’t want to be taught or lectured. They want to get lost in a story and draw their own conclusions. Leave the lessons in Sunday School, please.
Didactic books are so last century. Don’t go there.
3. Your writing style reveals you don’t have a clue about your audience.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started reading a so called “children’s book” with the voice of a misty eyed eighty year old.
Gee whiz, Gramps.
If your dialogue, phrasing and plot conjure the words “heartwarming, old fashioned fun” or “Dick and Jane antics,” you don’t know Jack about what kids are reading.
If your story would make a great hallmark movie, it’s probably not a home run for today’s market. Or my library.
4. Your writing style reveals you don’t have a clue about format or genre.
A 30,ooo word picture book? A twenty page mystery for sixth graders? Fritz the Friendly Frog, a chapter book for shy tweens?
No. No. And heck No! Maybe you chose the wrong format. Maybe your picture book is really a middle grade novel. Maybe your middle grade chapter book with an eight year old protagonist is really an early childhood picture book. Maybe your voice is not a good fit for your target audience.
Maybe no kid of any age would touch your book with a ten foot Nerf bat. Just sayin’.
5. I’ve read books written by second graders better than yours.
After reading your typo filled book with the dayglo, grainy stock photo cover, I suspect you barely have opposable thumbs.
I don’t just reject these dreadful books, I exorcise them from my library. Get thee behind me, Lulu!
6. Your books scares me. And not in a good way.
Your anime style romp with sword wielding, brimstone breathing, scripture quoting heroes in spandex? Tis’ the mark of the beast.
Your middle grade chapter book infused with colorful pejoratives and racist overtones? No thank you, you are not, in fact, this century’s Mark Twain. Kindly respect the restraining order.
Okay, before you the comments section with hate scented air freshener, just know I’m exaggerating. A little.
What turns you off a book? I’d love to know.
Hungry for more? Try these Indoor S’mores, the eas
“They say there is strangeness too dangerous in our theaters and bookstore shelves…Those who know what’s best for us must rise and save us from ourselves…” – from “Witch Hunt” by Rush
Yes folks, it’s September, and that means two things are certain: students are back in school, and potential censors and book challengers are coming out of the woodwork. Recent challenges to Sherman Alexie’s “Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” and Laurie Halse Anderson’s “Speak” were just the first to greet the new school year. Interestingly enough, this last week of September is Banned Books Week, and therefore the perfect time think about the potential for censorship, and whether you’re ready for that challenge if it comes your way.
While we often think of Intellectual Freedom as a rather high-minded concept (and it is. don’t get me wrong…), it is, in a lot of ways, a management issue. The most important thing you can have in place to deflect censorship is an up-to-date collection development policy and a clear set of channels set up for a patron or parent to issue a challenge. Sometimes a calm explanation of your policy may be enough to deflect the issue. Many potential censors are simply concerned parents who’ve gone a touch bonkers over something they saw in a book their child was reading, and being concerned for your children’s well-being is never, EVER wrong. A little conversation on the issue can often go a long way. But some are determined, and there are folks out there with all sorts of agendas who would love to take lots of books off of our shelves. So what to do if that challenge is issued? Fear not! You’ve got lots of help…
First, check out YALSA’s Intellectual Freedom resource page. It will direct you to much of what you need to deal with and report a challenge.
ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom exists to help you, educate you, and back you up in the event of a challenge. Their resources are invaluable.
Additional resources compiled by YALSA’s Intellectual Freedom Committee are available on the YALSA Wiki:
In addition, I highly recommend you become a member of YALSA’s Intellectual Freedom Interest Group. Formerly the IF Committee, this group will be a broader and more open way for YALSA members to keep themselves and their colleagues well informed and ready to understand and face potential censors and challengers.
You can join us on ALA Connect, or hop on to our new