Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Themed Reviews: Summer Olympics

The Games of the XXX Olympiad-the 2012 Summer Olympic games-are being held in London, England. From the July 27th Opening Ceremony to the August 12th Closing Ceremony, athletes from 197 countries around the world will compete in 26 different sports representing their home countries. This is a time when country residents stand together to support their favorite athletes in the search for gold. As USA swimmer Ryan Lochte said: "It's time to show the world who is best."

   The International Olympic Committee organizes the modern Olympic Games, held in the summer and winter, alternating every two years (with a few exceptions) since 1896. Many cities compete for the honor of hosting the next Olympic Games. London, hosting the Olympics for the third time, is carefully preparing to show the world their take on this international tradition.

   The featured titles included here focus on the 2012 London Olympics, the many popular sports that athletes will be competing in, the history of the Olympic Games, and other related topics, such as the business of sports.

The 2012 London Olympics
Nick Hunter

A part of "The Olympics" series, this fact-filled volume introduces the young reader to London's preparations to host the Olympic Games in 2012. London is the first city to be chosen as host three times. The book begins with the successful bid and the journey of the Olympic Torch as it travels from Beijing to London. The new Olympic venues are highlighted as well as some of the athletes expected to participate, such as well-known tennis star Rafael Nadal. More than 4,000 athletes are expected to participate in the Paralympics which will begin soon after the Olympic Games. All venues will be wheelchair accessible to accommodate the Paralympians. A list of Olympic venues and a map of London showing their locations is included. Brightly colored fact boxes and color photographs along with charts and maps give a brief view of the Olympics through the years. Words appearing in bold print are defined in the glossary. A list of books and websites for further information and an index are included. 2012, The Heinemann Library/Capstone Global Library, Ages 8 to 12, $29.00. Reviewer: Shirley Nelson (Children's Literature). 
ISBN: 9781410941251

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Common Core and the Public Library

Isn't That Just for Schools?: Common Core and the Public Library
By Peg Glisson

We've been hearing for years that American students are falling behind those in other countries. Many read below grade level and graduate with the ability to read at an eighth grade level at best. A variety of educational philosophies and practices have tried unsuccessfully to close the gap. And now, there's Common Core-it's being written about in newspapers, blogs, and even Twitter; it's being talked about on TV and radio. What is it? And what does it mean for public libraries?

   The state-led Common Core Initiative, adopted by 45 states, the District of Columbia, and 3 territories, currently address English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics and will be developed for Science and Social Studies. In a nutshell, the ELA Standards, which address reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language, call for students, as young as Kindergarteners, to read more complex text and a higher percentage of nonfiction, to think analytically, to synthesize and apply what they have read to real world situations. It also makes the point that literacy doesn't apply just to ELA; it applies to everything! Students will progress through a "staircase of complexity" of reading matter over the years, at least 50% of which will be nonfiction, to allow the development of the skill, concentration, and stamina needed to read and understand complex expository text, whether in college or on the job.

   While public libraries' mission is different from that of a school, they do support the work of the schools, primarily through their collections but in other ways as well. Staff is often called on to help parents and youth find materials needed for school reading and projects. Teachers come looking for books to use in their classrooms. Many libraries, especially in urban areas, provide homework help. As these library users express their needs, it's important that youth services librarians have a working familiarity with Common Core's language, philosophy and goals to best serve parents, students, and teachers who use their libraries. Like it or not, this major shift in educational practice will impact public libraries' collection, services, and programming.

   First, public librarians need to know the talk. Rigor, rich text, staircase of complexity, lexile, inquiry based learning, task, essential understanding . . . what do these mean? If you don't know, find out! Visit sites like and; read professional journals such as School Library Journal and Book Links; talk to teachers and school librarians.

   Let's think about implications for the children's and YA collections. As students move from their current reading split of 80% fiction/narrative text and 20% nonfiction to a 50/50% split of fiction and nonfiction, libraries will need to beef up their age-appropriate, readable nonfiction collections. We have seen an explosion in the publishing of younger nonfiction, much of it in series, to address this developing need. The standards call for rich, rigorous vocabulary in both nonfiction and fiction. When selecting nonfiction, it will be important to consider not only subject matter and reading levels, but also language. Dumbing down is out! Vocabulary that resonates and complex meaning is the new norm, as is the reading and re-reading for meaning that such text requires.

   The demand for rich, rigorous text has implications for fiction as well. Many of the core novels currently used in many classrooms, particularly in middle and high schools, are too low level. Librarians can help teachers become aware of titles that would fit the bill and appeal to this age reader. Children and teens will not be able to meet the Core's writing demands without having had exposure to great writers in a wide variety of genres.

   Picture books are still needed for read-alouds at all levels. The emphasis on reading, writing, and math is leading teachers to search for quality picture books to help them integrate social studies and science into the core subjects. At the lower grades, teachers seek picture books not only to read aloud but also to give to students to read themselves. Again, they want rich language, at the right lexile, for these books.

   Having lexile levels included in OPAC records will help students, parents, and teachers choose the right books for assignments. Of course, task or purpose for reading and the complexity of language also contribute to the rigor of a text. Librarians, with their expertise, can speak to all three. CLCD allows users to limit searches by lexile, interest level, and age or grade-making the search for those perfect books much easier! The reviews displayed in CLCD help librarians judge the language used by the author and ascertain if the book meets Common Core criteria.

   Youth librarians have a vast knowledge of fiction for their level user. It is imperative that they continue to choose fiction that will draw young folks to reading. Providing books for leisure reading is a major task of the public library. Let us not forget reading for enjoyment as well as information! As librarians serving youth know, many young people enjoy reading informational text, some more than literary pieces. Common Core is urging that ALL students read a true balance of informational text and literature and become strong readers and writers of both.

   How might Common Core impact public library services and programming? We'll address that next time. Meanwhile, visit CLCD on Facebook and share your thoughts on Common Core's implications for the public library's collection.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Themed Reviews: Summer Fun

When I think of summer my mind immediately thinks of long, hot, sunny days. I hear cicadas chirping, I picture barbeques, swimming pools, fireflies, and ice cream, and I imagine being outside as much as possible. For many students, summer is also the promise of more freedom. Having more free time than during the school year opens up a variety of exciting possibilities, as the characters in this feature's highlighted books show. For teens, novels include road trips, romances, and adventures; where many characters start with certain goals and expectations for their summer, but where they end up is often somewhere entirely unexpected. Younger readers can explore board books, picture books, and chapter books with summer themes like swimming, crafts and games, songs, and making friends. Also included is the nonfiction title, Why Is It Summer?, which explains the science behind the summer season. Enjoy the selections below and don't forget to use CLCD for further searching and reviews.

Emily Griffin

The Kids' Summer Fun Book: Great Games, Activities and Adventures for the Entire Family
Claire Gillman & Sam Martin

The Kids' Summer Fun Book lives up to its title with well over one hundred fun and inexpensive activities young people can do to enjoy summertime to its fullest. Suggested activities appropriate for car travel, the beach, the woodlands, one's own backyard, or even rainy day fun pack this excellent resource for parents and babysitters as well as children. From learning the basics of body surfing, to making a model of the solar system markers, tape and simple toilet paper, to creating a terrarium, rubbing leaves, pressing flowers, and even croquet, The Kids' Summer Fun Book is a treasury of both time-tested and inventive activities. Highly recommended. 2011, Barron's, Ages 6 to 12, $12.99. Reviewer: Midwest Book Review (Children's Bookwatch, August 2011). 
ISBN: 9780764145810