September 20, 2011

The Golden Age of Kid Lit

My next guest blogger was nervous when he learned that he would be following Tom Angleberger & John Auxier. He shouldn't be. Colby Sharp of Sharpread has rocketed to the top of the kidlit blogosphere. I don't know how he does it- he reads everything, he tweets, he blogs, he teaches and he has a family. Does he ever sleep? Is he a droid? Is he crazy? Yes, he is crazy. I offer proof:

He is my kind of crazy. He is passionate, dedicated and knowledgeable. He is funny and kind.  It doesn't hurt that he likes the same books that I do.  We are both obsessed with Mr. Angleberger and his paper dolls to the point of stalker status. (Colby, does Tom have a restraining order out on you yet? No? Give it time.) I was thrilled when Colby said he'd post today. I agree with Colby Sharp- there is no better time to be involved in the world of children's literature. It is a scary time too- tiny budgets, closing libraries, e-books, internet, video games, crazy book banners, the dwindling test scores... When that all adds up, you should thank your lucky stars that Mr. Sharp is your child's teacher. Thanks, Colby!

The Golden Age of baseball took place from about 1945-1960. This was when baseball was at it’s best. World War II was over, and people were starving for America’s pastime. The league was littered with future hall-of-famers, and war heroes.  It is hard for me to imagine any players today going to war and being a fighter pilot.
In my opinion we are in the “Golden Age” of being a kid reader.  There has been no better time to be a young reader.  Here are my top 5 reasons why it is the best time ever to be a kid reader:

1. Book Trailers
Book trailers grab young readers, suck them in, and leave them begging to read the book.  Every morning in my class we watch one book trailer after morning announcements, and I hear kids talking about it throughout the day.  After the trailer I walk to the front of the room, and hands shoot up like crazy. We are only in the second week of school, and they already anticipate what I am going to say.  “Anyone interested in reading ___________?” I could book talk that book till the cows come home, but nothing hooks them in like a book trailer.
A big thank you to readers like Mr. Schu for making book trailers  accessible to young readers.

2. Kid Lit Blogs
As a kid, I wanted to learn more about what was out there to read, my options were limited to: 100 year old librarian, teacher that makes me read basal, and other kids in my class that didn’t read. Now kids have tons of amazing:  teachers, book lovers, librarians, and authors out their blogging about books.  Not only do kids have tons of opportunities out there to read book blogs from adults, but more and more kids are starting their own blogs both in and out of the classroom.  
I would include a bunch of links here to great kid lit blogs, but I figured that you could just check out the links down the left side of the Lemme blog.

3. Skyping With Authors
Skype is awesome.  Skype can be used in so many ways to promote reading, but I am going to just focus on Skyping with authors. Budgets are tight.  Schools can’t just go out and schedule a bunch of author visits, and when they do, they often have to pick authors that live close to their school to save on travel costs.  In comes Skype.  Many authors offer free Skype video chats to classrooms.  In-house author visits can’t be replaced, but author Skypes have their advantages.  Usually author visits include one author and 300 or so kids.  When Skyping with an author it can be one classroom with around 25 kids, giving the kids a chance to have a much more intimate conversation with their favorite author.  Another reason why Skyping with authors is so great is because you are not limited to the authors in your home area.  Last year we Skyped with Tom Angleberger (Virginia), Adam and Jay from The Familiars (California), Kate Messner (Lake Champlain), and Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich (New York). Total cost $0. Effect on my readers: priceless (sorry, that was corny).

4. Reading Workshop
Teachers like Donalyn Miller and Nancie Atwell are spreading the gospel of reading workshop. If you have not read The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller you need to buy it RIGHT NOW.  
One of the biggest reason why reading workshop makes it a great time to be a kid reader is because it allows kids the freedom to read what they want.  Reading workshop is a shift from a teacher controlling a classroom full of reluctant readers, to a teacher managing a classroom full of engaged readers.  
At the end of the school year I interview my readers and they say again and again the reason they loved being a reader in my classroom is because they got to pick what they read.  Many kids love to watch television.  Do you think they would love it as much if we made them all watch the same shows every night. “Okay kids, time to watch CNN.” That wold totally turn them off from television.  The same way with books.  “Okay kids, everyone get out the Scarlett Letter.”

5. Graphic Novels
If you haven’t witnessed the power of the Amulet series in the hands of a middle grade student you are missing out.  If you haven’t seen Smile float around the classroom from student to student, without ever making it back to the classroom library, you are missing out.  Graphic novels are  fun to read, and the quality of a lot of them can be just as high as traditional texts.  It seems like when kids get to third grade they often get books with pictures ripped out of their hands.  This is criminal, especially for reluctant readers that need that picture support.  

It is a great time to be a reader, and also a great time to be a teacher, librarian, author, illustrator, and principal.  We get to share the gospel of kid lit! I love my job.

1 comment:

  1. Honored to be on the blog. Kelly you made this post look so much cooler than it looked when I sent you the google doc. YOU ROCK!