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Confession time: my addiction to series Conspiracy 365

  • Posted on April 30, 2010 at 6:47 AM

I confess. I love reading series. I love reading lists. I love reading the Top Ten of about anything. So when Usborne books shared with me their new series Conspiracy 365 that produces one new book every month, I couldn’t help myself. I had to begin reading. 

Publisher’s Info: 

Don’t blink. Don’t forget to breathe. On New Year’s Eve Cal is chased down the street by a staggering, sick man with a deadly warning…They killed your father. They’ll kill you. You must survive the next 365 days! Hurled into a life on the run, the 15-year-old fugitive is isolated and alone. Hunted by the law and ruthless criminals, Cal must somehow uncover the truth about his father’s mysterious death and a history-changing secret. Who can he turn to, who can he trust, when the whole world seems to want him dead? The clock is ticking. Any second could be his last. 

These aren’t quality literature titles that will win any National Book Awards. Don’t expect tremendous character development. Yet they deserve to be in your middle school library. What are they? Plot-driven titles with angst and action that help hook readers. Each title ends with a cliffhanger where the main character is in terrible danger for his life so you must wait for next month’s title to see how he escapes. The first title January received reviews from most of the publishers who touted the thriller aspect. The fact is that students ask for adventure titles that are realistic.  They are willing to suspend disbelief while reading these because this 15 year old boy seems realistic to them.

The international flavor Author Gabrielle Lord from Australia has created in these approximately 180 page titles appeals to my students. Each title counts down the pages from the front of the book to the end – an unusual approach – but one that enabled some of my students to celebrate how few pages they had left while they were reading. The month and time is indicated throughout the book which forces the adrenaline rush as the month quickly passes.

The publisher and author have created a website for the series including an activity page, trailer, countdown for each new title, and more. 

Conspiracy 365 has already become very popular at my school and has resulted in some detective work. Someone has taken January from my "review shelf" and not brought it back. Students are calling for a locker search to get it back. Those students who read it, talked about it so enthusiastically that other students are waiting for it. Several have gone on to read February through April, but they are steaming because they want January back. Please, students, return January soon.

If you haven’t begun purchasing these titles yet, there’s still part of the year left. Join those of us following Callum Ormond.

Filler activities at teenreads & teensreadtoo

  • Posted on April 29, 2010 at 5:41 AM

Ever cover a class for another teacher at the last minute? End of the day, no lesson plans, no activities, no term projects coming up, no notice, just suddenly a large number of teens in the library with nothing to do and who are tired of working all day? What do you do?

You and I are readers. We’d consider a half hour at the end of the day in the library to be heaven. We could read. Yes, read. But what about these teens that seem to have had their DNA altered to be "magnetically" attracted to computers? How about giving them a purpose and helping you at the same time?

I asked the tweens and teens to visit two web sites to gather ideas for programming and collection development. Since we already have a well used system for submitting ideas for the library, it was time to get to work. I sent them to teenreads.com and teensreadtoo.com and said "Explore."

Soon the girls were demanding more paper and frantically writing down names of books they wanted to read. The girls were gathered in little groups talking about titles. Sometimes one of them would have a title and would offer to share it. Other times they could agree they all wanted a certain book and they’d notate with extra stars on each other’s papers. 

The boy behavior was different. As they became more involved in the activity, they became quieter and stopped working together. They submitted fewer titles per piece of paper, but they also went to the school web site and started sending me suggestions anonymously through the simple page we have. 

It was a simple activity, but thanks to the variety of content on those two sites for teen readers, my students were exposed to new titles. The next time you are caught at the last minute, you might try this, too.

Tornadoes and a disaster survivor series from Bearport

  • Posted on April 28, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Erased by a Tornado! by Jessica Rudolph. Bearport, 2010. ISBN 9781936087525

April 4-10 was Tornado Week yet last weekend was the wild one in the South.  Thanks to the Weather Channel’s emailing me during Tornado week, I could pull materials and activities for interested students. Try out their interactive tornado simulator. While I haven’t been blogging about it, I have been using an interesting title from Bearport’s Disaster Survivors series called Erased by a Tornado! 

Thanks to Erased by a Tornado! I have been spouting tornado trivia to everyone whether they are interested or not. For example, tornadoes usually occur in spring and summer yet the Super Tuesday Tornado outbreak of 87 tornadoes in 2008 happened in February. As the book states, "Tornadoes can be deadly because they are powerful and unpredictable." 

This Bearport series focusing on survival tales is a hit. Everyone has a story regarding their experience with tornadoes. Erased by a Tornado! interweaves narratives with facts in an engaging approach that captures student’s attention. I tortured a group of students during our testing week by telling them since we had to stay locked up in the room and quiet, I was going to read them a story. 

At first, some of the boys groaned and threw themselves back in their chairs as if suffering. (This was definitely a group of non-readers). Then one of them looked at me and said, "Well, maybe, if its a good book… What are you going to read?" 

I whipped out Erased by a Tornado and began reading quickly to this definitely un-engaged audience. The first page tells the story of the tornado that ripped through Jackson, Tennessee in 2008. Students perked up to see before and after photos of the damage that happened recently and for an event they could recall. As I read on, students got up, gathering closer and closer, until at the end of this 32-page book, they had created a human bubble surrounding me to read along and examine the photos. These are sixth graders, not preschoolers, and 11 of 12 were boys.

In fact, they caught me skipping one caption and demanded I read it, then went back through the book themselves to be sure I had read every caption after we finished the story. The students "allowed" me to read the information at the end on "Famous Tornadoes" and even "Tornado Safety". While they insisted they knew everything about safety and could outrun a tornado, they listened intently then helped interact with the weather channel’s interactive tornado simulator. After seeing an animated drawing of a human being tossed by a tornado, they agreed to always take cover in any future disasters. Who knows? Maybe the combination of facts and true stories will someday save their lives. 

I knew this title had been a hit when I finished and they ripped the book from my hands to turn it to the back cover and see which other titles in the series I had. They read aloud to each other the other titles and did an impromptu survey of which ones I had to purchase next. Well, look at this list in their rank order of interest and you can see why:

Erased by a Tornado!
Mangled by a Hurricane!
Slammed by a Tsunami!
Leveled by an Earthquake!
Devastated by a Volcano!
Struck by Lightning!
Hammered by a Heat Wave!
Blitzed by a Blizzard!

The Bearport Disaster Survivors series is a definite hit among the elementary and middle school students who have read it. As usual, the design team has created a highly engaging visual experience that interweaves fact and story. A must purchase for all libraries. Even SLJ reviewers agree and they do it with such eloquence:

"Students with a penchant for the extreme will relish the dangerous situations described in these fact-filled works, whose first-person accounts add nail-biting immediacy. "
—School Library Journal

Barriers to Involvement

  • Posted on April 23, 2010 at 4:01 PM

Ever want to get involved in an association (like ALA), but there were barriers? I want you to try out this google form and tell me all about it. For some reason, the form shows up all the way down below here so you need to just keep arrowing down. RATS! 
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Top Teen Titles #60-64

  • Posted on April 19, 2010 at 10:40 PM

#64 I am the Messenger by Marcus Zusak 
Quote from one of the nominators:
The cryptic messages in this book keep the reader engaged; the book is positive and uplifting without being the least bit hokey.
The ending took me totally off guard!
Publisher’s Description:
Awards: 
Reviews and Recommendations: 
Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari, SLJ review, TeensRead.com, TeensReadToo


#63 Somewhere in the Darkness by Walter Dean Myers 
Publisher’s Description:
Awards: 
Reviews and Recommendations: 

Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari, SLJ review, TeensRead.com, TeensReadToo


#62 The Host by Stephenie Meyer 
Publisher’s Description:
Awards: 
Reviews and Recommendations: 

Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari, SLJ review, TeensRead.com, TeensReadToo


#61 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Book 3) by J.K. Rowling 
Publisher’s Description:
Awards: 
Reviews and Recommendations: 

Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari, SLJ review, TeensRead.com, TeensReadToo


#60 Catching Fire – Collins 
Quote from one of the nominators:
Even better than Hunger Games!
Publisher’s Description:
Awards: 
Reviews and Recommendations: 
Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari, SLJ review, TeensRead.com, TeensReadToo

DoD Opens Access to Social Media Sites

  • Posted on April 18, 2010 at 8:35 PM

Today I read this good news in the April 2010 issue of the Family News—the monthly newsletter from Army Community Service (ACS) and ArmyOneSource.com:

DoD Opens Access to Social Media Sites
All users of unclassified computers in the .mil domain will now be allowed to access social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, subject to local control if bandwidth demand or Web integrity become issues. When it announced its policy review, the Pentagon said it would search for a way to strike a balance between giving troops the ability to use such social networking tools and maintaining security on its much-attacked computer networks and protecting the privacy of troops and Family members. In May 2007, the Pentagon blocked worldwide.mil computer access to YouTube, MySpace and 10 other popular sites featuring audio and video clips, citing concerns over the amount of bandwidth the sites took up. For further details, go to http://myarmyonesource.com/News/2010/04/socialmedia . To read more on this topic, go to http://myarmyonesource.com/News/2010/04/blog

Sounds like good news to me, but when you read further you realize the military is not providing more bandwidth so the problems of communication will continue. I know that even if we had access in schools, the bandwidth is a huge issue.

This issue drew my attention, not just because I have two sons serving overseas, but because recently a friend of mine was "trapped" at Walter Reed with her injured son. I use the term trapped because her cell phone wouldn’t work in the hospital – which we understand – and the computers available there for military and family members would not permit access to social media websites like Facebook. When he healed enough for her to be in her hotel room more often, she could access facebook and keep the thousands of us following her son’s healing informed. 

When my #1 son was life-flighted to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville years ago, his hospital room in the teen part of the new Children’s hospital had a computer with internet access available for the patients from their beds. They acknowledged that teens that had access to email and their friends healed faster and were more actively involved in their healing than those who felt isolated and trapped.

Now, let’s think about schools for a moment. Our students and faculty members enjoy access outside of school if they can afford it. When they come to school, we isolate them from each other in an attempt to focus their learning and control their interactions. Yet we never get the opportunity to teach them safety, privacy, and security hands-on. 

Do you see a conundrum? I am happy for the military service members.

Help my weak memory

  • Posted on April 18, 2010 at 11:53 AM

I’m trying to recall all the videos I’ve seen of various author award acceptance speeches – events like last year’s Printz and Nonfiction awards where there were a mix of authors present and those accepting via video. Thanks to Brenda Kahn I have the source of M.T. Anderson’s video acceptance speech:

www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/yalsa/booklistsawards/printzaward/current_printz_winne.cfm 

There were some other great videos linked to that and I wondered why someone in ALA never told me about them. Wait, I’m on the board, I’m supposed to know everything. (NOT!) 

Now I’m trying to recall the name of the other author I watched one night who began her speech thanking the award committee members and telling them that she was going to tattoo their names on her body as soon as someone invented a way to tattoo without that hurting needle thing. Who was that? Where’s that video? I keep recalling her presentation and how much I enjoyed it. I resolved to never miss a book by her and then promptly forgot her name. What a weak memory! I can recall the people I sat beside and who ate what. Perhaps I should call them up.

While I’ve been playing trying to spark memories today, I have been visiting various author sites. Most of the authors won awards at ALA last year and I’m searching to see if one of these triggers my memory. If one of you would help me out, I could get back to the podcast I’m filming on math resources that’s due in 12 days.

I’m wondering if it was Deborah Heiligman, but I cannot find the video. Her website has lots of fun links to view:  http://www.deborahheiligman.com/links.html 

Have you ever played with the cow on Libba Bray’s website? http://www.libbabray.com/books2.html

When I played the video book trailer to Rick Yancey’s Monstrumologist, my students were hooked. Not just by the video, but by the sheer coolness of his website. http://www.rickyancey.com/monstrumologist/home.php

The students were disappointed with author Adam Rapp because they couldn’t find a good site for Punkzilla. I don’t blame them. I tried showing them an interview he’d done via email, http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/ALAN/v28n1/angel2.html, but this is the generation of visuals and they were not amused. 

Tales of the Madman UndergroundHow about John Barnes? Where’s his website? Isn’t there some unspoken rule for authors and publishers that they have to at least have a facebook fan page or something?

If you attended the same event I did, could you please remind me who I’m thinking of? Then I can try to track down the video so you can enjoy it as much as I did.

Top Teen Titles #65-69

  • Posted on April 17, 2010 at 11:00 AM

Trying to share this list with you humbles me. Although I have been trying to read every title on the list, I cannot get them read in a timely manner and still keep the blog current. Despite the huge number I books I read daily, you readers nominated some books of which I had never heard. I have to accept that to be a young adult librarian I will never be able to read every book in the collection and on the list. 

At Hickman Elementary where I taught for 12 years, I had read 99% of the titles of fiction and about 80% of the nonfiction. With a collection of about 12,000 books, I was smug. Now at JFK Middle School I’m faced with budget cuts and increased demands on my time to participate in school sports events, YA clubs, and organizations. I cannot order every single YA title that I want. I refuse to stop reading picture books, nonfiction, and middle grade readers despite the increasing number of fantastic YA novels arriving daily. Believe me I am frustrated. 

I’m having to accept I am not perfect, all-knowing, and all-read. To be a young adult librarian in a public library or in a school, I must depend upon my colleagues and their recommendations for selection suggestions. I must trust others when they gather together to debate and create "best lists." I need to rely upon other reviewers and bloggers. I must accept that when I’m compiling a group best list, there will be a wider variety of books that I have never heard of and that I must simply trust my colleagues and their suggestions. 

With that said, let’s get to #69 on our list which is a love story. (No comment on how the numbering worked) The reviews of this title and the personal opinions I have read from people I trust shook me. How could I not have seen this book? I can immediately identify young men that would devour this book.


#69 Blankets by Craig Thompson . Top Shelf Productions, 2003. ISBN 9781891830433. 592pp

BlanketsQuote from one of the nominators:
A graphic memoir that captures a young man’s journey out of a childhood that strangled him into a life of his own. 

Winner of the Eisner, Harvey, and Ignatz Awards for Best Graphic Novel and Best Cartoonist.

I confess I enjoyed the wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blankets_(comics) and every version online that allowed me to look inside this book. Reading just the tiny bits of 8 pages online has made me a big fan and I cannot wait until I receive my own personal copy of this title. 

Need reviews? The Amazon customers reviewed this with surprising agreement. Out of 144 reviews, 118 gave Blankets five stars. The Top Shelf website has a nice listing of both professional journal reviews and blog reviews. 

Blankets ranked #1 on The 20 Best Graphic Novels of the Decade 2000-2009 for Paste Magazine and #11 on The 30 Most Important Comics of the Decade list. 

Sean T. Collins writes an insightful review comparing Blankets to Jimmy Corrigan and describing the impact Blankets had on the publishing industry – even greater than Maus. 

"Clocking in at just over 580 pages, none of which had ever been serialized anywhere, it was the largest original graphic novel North American comics had ever seen. But while the novelty of its size might have made the first impression, what was found in its pages made the lasting one. An unabashedly emotional memoir, Blankets told Thompson’s own story of first love and fundamentalism, romance and religion, as both discovered and lost by him while a teenager in the snowy northern Midwest."

Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari, ThingsMeanAlot, YALSA’s Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults 2005 "Read ’em and Weep."  

Blankets was recommended for older students in high school collections by SLJ. Blankets was subject to a town hall meeting in Marshall Public Library in Missouri to attempt to ban the book. Doubt I’ll put it in my middle schoolers hands, but I know students who have gone on to high school and college and would probably appreciate this. Growing up in a rural community, there is much to relate.


#68 Feed by M. T. Anderson. Candlewick Press, 2004. ISBN 9780763622596. 320ppFeed

Quote from two of the nominators:

  • It took me several tries to get through Feed, but once I did (via the audio production), I found it to be a brilliant riff on pop culture and being trendy. It presented a scary, all to possible future to me. 
  • A little too easy to imagine!

YALSA’s Ultimate Teen Bookshelf #17, Infinity Plus: SF, Fantasy & Horror, SLJ Review, GoodReads, LibraryThing, Shelfari

From M.T. Anderson’s speech accepting a 2002 Boston Globe/Horn Book Award for Feed "On the Decay of Language and the Rise of the Insect Overlords": 

After reading this book, people ask me whether I feel any hope for the future. I want to say to you: Yes, I do. I absolutely do. Not hope for the human race; we’re screwed. But I feel tremendous hope for the Insect Overlords who shall succeed us as masters of the Earth. 

From the Candlewick site, we gain insight into how M.T. Anderson developed his freakish, perverse, current, and irritating Teen Speak: 

"To write this novel, I read a huge number of magazines like SEVENTEEN, MAXIM, and STUFF. I eavesdropped on conversations in malls, especially when people were shouting into cell phones. Where else could you get lines like, ‘Dude, I think the truffle is totally undervalued’?"

2003 Best Books for Young Adults Annotated List. Feed received unanimous votes from the committee. 
National Book Award Nominee for Young People’s Literature (2002), Los Angeles Times Book Prize (2002)


Nation#67 Nation by Terry Pratchett. HarperCollins, 2008. ISBN 0061433012, 367pp

Publisher’s Description:
When a giant wave destroys his village, Mau is the only one left. Daphne—a traveler from the other side of the globe—is the sole survivor of a shipwreck. Separated by language and customs, the two are united by catastrophe. Slowly, they are joined by other refugees. And as they struggle to protect the small band, Mau and Daphne defy ancestral spirits, challenge death himself, and uncover a long-hidden secret that literally turns the world upside down.

Quote from one of the nominators:
I’d been a big fan of Pratchett before, but this book stunned me with its awesomeness. While ranking my favorite books of the year that year, this was clearly the winner; but then when, just recently, I went to rank my favorite books of the decade (published this decade), I was amazed to discover that I couldn’t think of any particularly better than this for that whole time!

Awards: British Fantasy Award for Top Ten (2009), Boston Globe–Horn Book Award for Fiction and Poetry (2009), Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production Honor (2009), An ALA Notable Children’s Book for Older Readers (2009), Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Young Adult Literature (2008), ALA YALSA Printz Honor (2009)

Online reviews: Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari, SLJ review, TeensRead.com, TeensReadToo GoldStar review. From the TeensReadToo website, reviewer Lynn Crow writes:

NATION has everything you could ask for in a novel. Its dramatic scenes are both poignant and moving, with Pratchett’s customary humor keeping the proceedings from straying into melodrama. Both main characters are distinctive, and it’s a pleasure watching them come into their own throughout the story. The villains are suitably creepy and brutal. Little details of the setting and cultures make it all feel so real.

Diane’s Note: I’m still struggling to get this into the hands of the right student who will then proclaim it fantastic to all the others and make the book fly off the shelf. I wish I could have embedded the video Terry Pratchett sent to ALA members to view at the Printz Award ceremony. It was hysterically funny. Anyone know how we can obtain those? Oh, maybe I should ask when I go to the ALA Executive Board meeting next Friday. These should definitely be shared.


#66 Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos. Farrar, 2002. ISBN 374399883. 208pp

Hole in My Life by Jack GantosQuote from one of the nominators:
A great pick for reluctant readers- nonfiction that reads like a novel.

Publisher’s Reading Guide description
In Hole in My Life, Jack Gantos recounts an experience from his own life that many
other writers would rather keep hidden from public view. In the summer of 1971, the young Gantos, desperate for cash for college and willing to take a risk, runs a boatload of hashish from the Virgin Islands to New York City. For this job, he is to receive $10,000. In reality, he gets a six-year prison sentence.

Read an Excerpt here. Teachers can use the Massachusetts Children’s Book Award Reading and Discussion guide written by Elizabeth Xavier.

Awards & Recognition:
Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal Honor book, BookLinks article "Telling Their Own Stories – Autobiographies of Children’s Book Creators", YALSA’s Michael L. Printz Honor Book 2003, GoodReads, LibraryThingShelfari. American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults, American Library Association Notable Children’s Books, Booklist Editors’ Choice, Books for the Teen Age, New York Public Library, Bulletin Blue Ribbon, Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
Horn Book Magazine Fanfare List, Massachusetts Children’s Book Award, Parents’ Choice Award, School Library Journal Best Books of the Year

Recommendations (from the author’s site):

Booklist, American Library Association, Starred Review
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
Horn Book, Starred Review
Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly
School Library Journal, Starred Review
VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)

Diane’s note: Jack Gantos writes many funny books for grades 4-6. This is not intended for that audience. Instead, it has found a niche among my tough 7th and 8th graders. I’d definitely put it in a high school and urban middle school audience that can handle the graphic and disturbing details. Gantos doesn’t hold back in his descriptions of the violence and depravity of prison life. I have many other students at my school clamoring for the Life in Prison book by Tookie Williams. This title has been very popular for that audience. Am I censoring? Naw, the book is on my shelf for students. With the large number of titles I have, some books have to be pulled out and placed in students’ hands for them to find them. This is a title that I’m able to chat about with students who are reluctant readers or who have already developed tough reputations and records at my school. Gantos’ biography does give them hope. They look at his life and what he has achieved to see that they too can turn their lives around.


#65 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Book 4) by J.K. Rowling. Scholastic Press, 2000. ISBN 9780439139595. 734pp

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter, #4)I don’t feel the need to repeat everything about this book since it also appeared on Betsy Bird’s countdown of the Top 100 Middle Grade Novels on A Fuse#8Production. You, readers, can drop by to read about her # 35 titles out of 100. I will quote her with this statement:

HP4 was probably the fantasy title that single-handedly convinced the publishing industry that fantasy novels of 500 or more pages (734 to be precise) could sell and sell well.

Publisher’s Description (in case there is anyone on the planet who’s still holding out and hasn’t read this series): 

Harry Potter is midway through his training as a wizard and his coming of age. Harry wants to get away from the pernicious Dursleys and go to the International Quidditch Cup. He wants to find out about the mysterious event that’s supposed to take place at Hogwarts this year, an event involving two other rival schools of magic, and a competition that hasn’t happened for a hundred years. He wants to be a normal, fourteen-year-old wizard. But unfortunately for Harry Potter, he’s not normal–even by wizarding standards. And in his case, different can be deadly.

Awards:
Hugo Award for Best Novel (2001), Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adolescent Literature (2008), Golden Archer Award for Middle/Junior High (2002), Indian Paintbrush Book Award (2002) 

Online reviews: Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari, SLJ review

Diane’s note: I had become hooked on the Harry Potter series early on, but the very first time I ever stood in line at a bookstore at midnight was for the release of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The death of a character was much whispered about before release, but when it occurred, most readers just shrugged and went on. When viewing the movie again recently, my sons’ girlfriends had to pause and drool over Robert Pattinson and argue that he was much finer here than in Twilight. The death of his character changed Harry though and prepared us for the much darker turn these novels would take. This novel in the middle of the series does indicate the struggle of middle grade students and that fine balancing act of being not-quite-still a child in an adult world. 

Read, Recommend, Remember for Teens

  • Posted on April 15, 2010 at 1:02 AM

Susan Norwood shares her perspective on the book Read, Recommend, Remember for Teens: A Reading Journal for Book Lovers today. I have had to pry the book out of her hands several times just so I could tell you about it further down. Read what Susan says:

I confess that I haven’t finished reading Read, Recommend, Remember for Teens: A Reading Journal for Book Lovers, but only because my friendly librarian asked me to give it back to her. I almost caused it to “disappear” from the library the way students’ most-loved books have a habit of doing. Anyway, when I get my own copy, I will enjoy making my own lists from Knight’s lists.

 

As a Middle School Reading and Language Arts teacher in a large urban school, my classroom library is where most of my students get their reading material. My class is where most of them read. I would find this book valuable in helping me select materials for my library and filling in the gaps of my own collection- over 1,200 books and growing.

 

After my kids have all exhausted the Bluford High Series, the Urban Lit. list would help me to keep putting books in their hands. Likewise, I probably buy (and lose) five copies of A Child Called It. With this resource, I could turn to the Read–Alikes section and find more books that deal with child abuse.

 

By the time I’ve graded 200 papers each week and written up Lesson Plans for 3 different classes, I simply don’t have much time to stay caught up with the flood of new Young Adult books. This is the kind of one-stop book that will fill my need.

Diane writes about , Recommend, Remember for Teens: A Reading Journal for Book Lovers by Rachelle Rogers Knight. Published by Sourcebooks, 2010. ISBN 9781402237195. $15.99 

The publisher’s note says:  Read, Remember, Recommend for Teens offers more than 2400 award-winning and notable reading suggestions in many genres, cross-referenced to help parents and teens chose the right books for them. 

Okay, publishers, that description doesn’t begin to explain the lure of this book. Recommend, Remember for Teens is both a journal and a self-help book for us bibliophiles. The first reaction of everyone who opens this book  is, "Wow! I’ve got to have a copy of this for me." 

It appeals to people on many different levels and for varying reasons. Most teens loved the pages to journal their own selections. I caught several picking up pencils to start marking which titles they already own and which they want. When I asked the middle school teachers if they thought teens would use this book, the teachers were skeptical. I asked teens what they thought. Most of the middle school teens wanted to flip to specific lists, make a copy, and go get a book solely dedicated to their own writing and journaling. 

The high school age teens and those in their early 20’s immediately started negotiating to get my copy into their hands and their libraries. They recognized the benefits offered by the wide variety of lists – including the college bound lists – and one teen even said, "I should have had this for my senior project!" Several students said this should go on parent gift lists for teens. The avid readers were most passionate about this title. They liked the construction of the book, the flagged sections, and the space for them to write.

Students and teachers were impressed that the 188 pages of lists at the front of the book went beyond standards for younger students like the Newbery and Caldecott awards. While ALA awards like YALSA’s Teen Top Ten Award, the Schneider Family Book Award, YALSA’s Quick Picks, and the Michael L. Printz Awards are included, there is an amazing variety of other award lists for books that appeal directly to teens. How often do you recommend titles from the First Fantasies list from the Boulder Public Library? Can’t recall the recent Cybils winners and not near a computer?  How about the Western Heritage Award for Best Juvenile Book? They’re in this book.

What didn’t I like?  If a title has received multiple awards, there are footnote symbols beside that title. Each list has a coded symbol that is listed in the Key to Footnotes. I found that feature rather confusing. There was a small error that I noticed since it involved my state award. The reader’s choice award in Tennessee is called the Volunteer STATE Book Award. We are the "Volunteer State" hence the importance of the word state in the title instead of what is listed: Tennessee Volunteer Book Award. Since this is my copy, I simply drew a caret ∧and inserted the word as needed. Problem solved. 

Teachers passionately loved this book. Every teacher indicated they wanted this title on their desk and with them while they were purchasing titles for their classroom libraries. They wanted Read, Recommend, Remember for Teens to help them recommend additional titles. Several returned to seek solutions to particular needs such as romance, urban lit, and science fiction. 

I liked lists like "30 Multicultural Books Every Teen Should Read" "Novels in Verse" and "Books by Teens for Teens." Most lists contained empty spaces for students to add the 2010 and 2011 winners. There were columns to the right for teens to mark whether they Own / Recommend / To Read / Want the title. Teachers and I liked the Journal Pages and how they were laid out. Immediately teachers wanted to know if the pages could be copied. 

The end of this book contains References and Resources including web sites and blogs to find other great book lists. While this blog was not listed, I have decided it’s because this blog refuses to be pigeon-holed into just one descriptor. Teachers and students were thrilled with the lists of sites. Several times I had to track down my copy to find it was sitting open near a computer. When I checked the internet history, sites from the book had been accessed.

Sometimes in the blogosphere it seems everyone is writing about the same book at the same time. Since Read, Recommend, Remember for Teens was just released this month, it makes since that it appears on the following blogs and journals: 

Kittling: Books blog expresses some of my concerns as far as the short lengths of some of the journaling sections
Connect with your Teens through Pop Culture and Technology blog 
TEEN Fire blog
Savvy Verse & Wit blog
Mrs. Magoo Reads states "…every teen (and even adult!) reader should have a copy.  Read, Remember, Recommend for Teens is the perfect gift for any book lover."
Library of Clean Reads blog
YA Fresh blog notes that they are included in the Young Adult Literature Blogs section
April/ May 2010 issue of Justine Magazine

The author Rachelle Rogers Knight maintains a blog at http://www.bibliobabe.com/journals When Knight self-published this title initially in 2007, she earned the Bronze Medal for "Independent Publisher of the Year." Now with Sourcebooks, Inc. releasing this new and improved edition, I anticipate their marketing department will have this title everywhere for you to view. Already you can catch a glimpse inside on the Amazon.com site. Don’t miss out on this title. It will not solve all of your problems or provide enough space for those of us who read prodigiously, yet it will be loved, used, read, written upon, and referenced again and again.

Small steps to celebrating libraries this month

  • Posted on April 11, 2010 at 6:50 PM

What will you be doing for National Library Week? Are you celebrating School Library Month every day? Neil Gaiman Web buttonThere are many resources available on the ALA website including PSA’s. 

30 days of activities flyer. Check out the flyer from the AASL page. My 8th grade library club students who are bookfair managers have been pouring over this list to add events this month. Their favorite idea is: 

#22  Have your local animal shelter bring in pets for a reading event. 2.0 IDEA: Don’t forget to share photos and video from this PAW-fect event on Flickr!

They did NOT want to do #1 and have a sock hop because we had an earlier sock drive for the elderly and they felt students didn’t participate enough. Since our school is consumed with preparing for the TCAP test (including my teaching a regular class during the extra 30 minutes a day), April is a busy month. The managers have decided (note: they have decided) to extend our activities through May so everyone keeps learning after the test.

PSA’s by Laurie Halse Anderson and Neil Gaiman. I’ve downloaded some for the office to start showing on the two large screen tv’s in the hallways for parents to view.

Invite Legislators. Have you invited anyone to visit your school? We were fortunate that Congressman Jim Cooper could visit before school with students from the Student Government Association and the Library Club Tuesday morning. There are so many things we want to share with legislators and I wanted to get my message (elevator speech) right so I called the ALA Washington Office for advice. I was able to talk with him about the importance of school libraries being included in any and all educational legislation – particularly any reauthorization of ESEA. 

Representative Cooper brought with him pocket sized books of the Constitution for each student. I pulled my copy of the Library Bill of Rights from the wall by my desk and shared with students how important it was in my daily professional life.  Rep. Cooper was very interested in this, saying he’d never realized librarians have a Bill of Rights and Code of Ethics. He studied this intently before talking to students about being a legislator and the difficulty of making everyone happy all the time. 

As the students flooded into the school and the library, Rep. Cooper commented that we were really busy and had many exciting things occurring. I shared how important it is for me that all students have access to libraries with librarians. Unfortunately he did make the comment that "some librarians seem to be just going through the motions." I reassured him that there are many fabulous librarians out there working with students. Still, that comment haunts me.

Build connections between your school library and the public library. We took a field trip April 1st with 68 enthusiastic library club members to the Main branch of the Nashville Public Library and to the local Southeast Branch.  Some of the students have begun to blog about their trip. We will take another trip with a different group April 30th. Students have begun to bring their permission slips already because they’ve heard how exciting the first trip was. We were able to visit the amazing children’s room with their puppets, see the amazing Teen Room and gather ideas for redecorating our library, tour the Civil Rights exhibit and sit at the famous counter while learning about Nashville’s sit-in protests, then eat in the courtyard. All extra lunches were left at the guard’s desk to distribute to the homeless and needy. By the time we boarded the bus, the students couldn’t wait to ask the local branch librarians how they could get a public library card and when the teen programs occur. Many students wanted to spend all day in the library reading and exploring. It was far more than just a trip OUT of school.

Create special reading events. Thanks to Kay Goss for sharing the link to the Freeze-n-Read site. I’ve downloaded some bookmarks and flyers to encourage everyone to stop everything they are doing next Saturday (freeze) and read at 4 p.m. 

Counting down to April 30th El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Children’s Day/Book Day)

What else can we do? Well, the theme of National Library Week is "Communities thrive @ your library."  We’ll be having a Career Fair at the school, cooperative Communities thrive @ your librarylessons with the computer teacher and all subject levels, plus planning for the school book fair May 3-7th. The students want to invite a Senator to visit.  They’d also love to schedule a drop in by President Obama. Isn’t life wonderful when you are an invincible teenager (or tween) and believe that all things are possible? 

One of my library friends described different blogs years ago and had a tirade about blogs that tell you "how they did things great." On this blog I sometimes share things we are doing, not because I think that anything we do is unusual, but simply because sharing little things we do might help you take steps to share what you are doing. We would all be so much better if you’d share what you are doing. If not on this blog and in the comments, then how about on ALA connect? You don’t even have to be an ALA member to use connect. Share. Tell us what you’re doing.