Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What Books Librarians and Teachers Want (A Conference Report)

Yesterday, I presented my workshop Books Are Ice Cream Not Broccoli at the Mississippi Reading Association annual conference. It was the first time I'd presented it, so I wasn't sure what to expect. But it turned out awesome--I had a packed room with people sitting on the floor, and ended up having exactly enough handouts for everyone. Phew!

Realization #1: Librarians (or Media Specialists) and teachers are so polite. The room was very quiet when I started talking about reluctant readers, and about being one myself. I talked about how we can get kids to read by adjusting the way we present books. I suggested creative new ways to build excitement. Nobody interrupted, even though I'd given attendees permission. After a bit of prodding, people started sharing their kids' favorite books. Books that hit the mark with their class. We had fun sharing favorites, and everyone took notes, including me.

Realization #2: Librarians and teachers know kids like no one else. They'll tell you what books work, what kind don't. Some requests from the crowd: we need more books for 5th and 6th graders, ones that don't get into YA-type content. We need more books with depth--silly-funny books for boys don't cut it past 3rd grade (they want more story). More books for middle-grade girls that aren't so girly (ditch the pink covers, in other words). Reluctant reader adventures that are girl-friendly. More middle-grade, more middle-grade, more middle-grade. Make it so, publishing peeps.

Realization #3: Librarians and teachers get upset if they can't buy your book on the spot. Seriously. I wish I could have, but alas, there was no opportunity. Hope Double Vision ends up in a few libraries and schools after the conference anyway.

There was lots of talk about the new Common Core State Standards (the new curriculum standards, for those of you unfamiliar) too, but that's a post for another time. Anyway, I had a great time. Librarians and teachers rule, don't they?

While we're on the subject: are there any books you wish you'd find (more of) on the store shelves?

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