As teachers, we have to make sure that we take the time to get to know our students and their interests. In doing this, we have a way to get them interested in reading books if we have the right variety in our classroom or school library. Just like we should be keeping up to date with the issues and trends in education, we should be keeping up to date with the issues and trends in children’s literature. I mean, we are going to be encouraging students to read these books, we ought to know what they are about and what is becoming popular, right?!
I interviewed a librarian from the Henderson County School District in Tennessee. She has been working at this particular school for about 32 years where she first taught 5th-7th grade part time until she was offered a full-time librarian position. This librarian is such a kind woman and she really wants the students to be interested in reading. She does whatever she believe it takes for each grade level. I had the pleasure of watching her read to the pre-k class last year where she kept the students engaged by using a Curious George doll that went with the Curious George story she was reading. Reading is important to her and I wanted to hear her opinion on the issues and trends that she has noticed over the last few years.
Here are the questions and her responses:
Are you aware of any issues in children’s literature?
The only issues that I can think of at the moment, are parents not wanting books about homosexuality. They would rather not speak about this, but whether we agree with it or not, it is here to stay. Children need to know about it.
Are you aware of any trends in children’s literature?
I have noticed that the students are becoming more interested in graphic novels and more are being published.
Who is your favorite children’s literature author?
Oh, me! Rowling, Funke, Polacco, Brett, many! These came to my mind first.
What is your favorite book to share with the students?
Any book by the authors from the previous question. The War That Saved My Life, Between the Shades of Gray, and Wonder are some of the new ones that I have enjoyed reading this year.
What are the most popular books that the students like to read or check out?
The students here really enjoy the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and Dork Diaries series.
How do you feel about books being turned into movies?
I think that movies based off of books are a great idea because the students are often interested in books based off of things they have seen. Many times, when there is a movie, the students ask for the book that it was created after.
Do you ever use technology when you share books with the students?
Yes! I will occasionally play the audio for a book or watch a video for a book on the Smart Board.
Is there an increase in interest for non-print books with the students at your school? Do you have non-print and audio books available?
Yes, our school purchased the program myOn last year. That is an app on the iPads that are in each classroom. Each student logs in under their own account and they can enter their interests. The program will give them a list of eBooks that they are able to access. They can read the books themselves or there is audio that can be played for them. They really seem to like it.
How do you keep the students interest in reading?
I have books displayed on the tables as well as the tops of the bookshelves, I talk about books as much as possible, I encourage them to talk about books, and I give them plenty of reading time.We also have giveaways throughout the year (each quarter) based on time spent reading, books read, average AR test score, etc. A lot of the teachers will have their own rewards, more frequently, in their classroom.
How do you keep the students’ parents involved in their child’s reading habits?
With the Accelerated Reader program, we have a Home Connect letter that we send home and they can receive an email when the child quizzes and look at the record. We also hold parent involvement nights and some of them have included coming in and reading with their child.