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Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Book Blogs/Bookish Websites

14 Aug
  1. Nerdy Book Club
    A passionate group of people share their love for reading – focused more on teachers and school environments, but I always find valuable information on their essays written by authors, teachers, librarians and more.
  2. MG Book Village
    A fairly new place for people who love middle grade books to connect and learn! I’m loving their book release calendar which keeps me updated with new titles weekly!
  3. Brightly
    “Founded in 2014 by a small team of passionate bookworms and parents, Brightly is a resource to help moms, dads, and educators grow lifelong readers. Launched in partnership with Penguin Random House, the Webby-nominated website features book recommendations from all publishers for every age and stage, reading tips and insights, seasonal inspirations, author essays, contests, gift guides, and more.”
  4. Book Riot
    Book Riot is filled with booklists, podcasts and news from the publishing world with a focus on diversity. I listen to the Get Booked podcast and Hey YA! podcast and am constantly checking on what they’re talking about online!

  5. Goodreads
    I use Goodreads daily to track my reading – noting what I want to read in the future and keeping track of what I’ve read in the past. I can rate and even leave a review or synopsis for myself.
    “The Cybils Awards aims to recognize the children’s and young adult authors and illustrators whose books combine the highest literary merit and popular appeal.” I got the chance to be a kids non-fiction judge one year and although it was a lot of work, it was so much fun at the same time!
  7. Books Between
    “Books Between is a podcast created to help teachers, parents, and librarians connect kids between 8 and 12 to books they’ll love. ” I love Corrina’s podcast and although she is a teacher, I’m constantly finding information that I find interesting and exciting.
  8. School Library Journal
    This is a valuable resource filled with reviews and articles about children and young adult literature. We use this one at work as one of our review journals for purchasing materials.

  9. Jbrary
    Jbrary is an amazing resource for storytime and for parents looking for some new songs and books to share with little ones. I got a chance to meet Dana and Lindsey at an ALA Annual Conference and had so much fun!
  10. Awful Library Books
    The tagline for this website is “Hoarding is not collection development” as libraries share titles they’ve found in their collection that are just old and awful!


TTT-Big2Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl.


Tips & Tricks for Booktalking

9 Aug

Yesterday, I posted about the disservice of labeling books “boy” or “girl.” Today, I’m going to give you some tips and tricks for booktalking great books to kids – hopefully pushing beyond stereotypes and focusing on pairing children with their right book at their right time. Because it’s not our right book (what we think they should be reading), but it’s what the child needs at that particular moment in time! Corrina Allen talks about this very concept in her podcast, Books Between and other great tips on not becoming a book witch!

Hopefully, I didn’t scare you away from the task because although I LOVE suggesting titles to kids, it can be very overwhelming at times. I look at booktalking in two ways – the first, a more formal presentation of the book, selling it to a group of educators or kids trying to get them interested in the story without spoiling it and the other way to booktalk is matching kids up one-on-one with a book while working the reference desk or being on the public floor of the library (or on social media or in my personal life when people ask me to suggest a good book).

I’m going to leave “group” booktalking for another post as that is something that is an entity all on its own and would make a great post. Today, I’m going to focus on that one-on-one conversation often called Reader’s Advisory in the library world.

  1. Be Positive
    Whatever you do, don’t try and booktalk a book you’re not excited about. It comes across as fake and kids will pick up that emotion and not be interested in what you have to offer. Rather, if you didn’t like something, say so, kids love it when an adult doesn’t like something and they may be interested in your dislike enough to pick up a book. That being said, if you’re not a fan of a genre or format, you need to at least be familiar with titles to suggest, so you can offer a well-rounded list of books. (The A to Z Glossary of the Kid Lit World)
  2. Reading Level or Age/Grade
    This does not mean AR or other leveled reading program, instead this is just to get an idea of what books to suggest – easy readers or is a kid ready for chapter books, are they reading middle grade titles, but maybe they’re not quite ready for young adult books. This is important to know and also be willing to throw it out the window if a kid is ready and willing to read anything!
  3. Favorite Books
    Does the child have books that they do love? Or a recent book that they liked? This is an important question to ask because if a child is super excited about Diary of a Wimpy Kid, then you can easily suggest Wimpy Kid readalikes.
  4. Favorite Genres/Formats
    Some kids will be more willing to read specific genres or formats (not unlike adults), so it’s important to know this in advance – don’t go suggesting fiction titles for a reader who prefers to read nonfiction. Not to say you can’t try and offer a fiction title, but be prepared to offer what kids are most excited for.
  5. Favorite Movies/TV shows/Videogames
    Asking a kid about a favorite movie, TV show, or video game is two-fold – one, it shows kids that you’re interested in them and creates a stronger relationship and two, it can give you some clues as to what to give them – do they like comedy, drama, action/adventure, etc.? This information is helpful in figuring out a child’s interests in books.
  6. Be Familiar
    It’s important as a gatekeeper to be familiar with a variety of genres, formats, authors, illustrators, styles and more. And this is the part of the job I could always use more time for – reading reviews, reading books, learning more about authors – there are so many titles being published and so little time. But a good gatekeeper keeps an updated and backlist log of titles for all genres and formats at the ready.
  7. Offer Choices
    I never give kids one specific book (unless they ask for a specific title), rather I like to offer them 3-5 titles that they can check out and take home or peruse in the library to make a better choice – getting them to read the synopsis or a few pages, something that will make them say, “This is the one I want.”
  8. Walk Away
    This statement could also be, “be patient.” I usually leave a handful of titles with the child, preferably somewhere they can spread them out and then I walk away. Give them time to explore the books without having an adult they feel the need to please hovering over their shoulder. This idea usually works when they come up to the desk and let me know what they picked out, or if they’re not into any of those titles, it’s back to more questions to find a new stack of books. Rinse and repeat.

Check back tomorrow for a list of recently published titles that are for absolutely anyone who enjoys a really good book!

Gatekeepers’ Disservice When Defining Books as “Boy” or “Girl”

8 Aug

This is not a new topic in the kid lit world and honestly, I’m not sure I’m going to bring and new or surprising ideas to the topic, but I definitely think it’s something that really does prevent kids from experiencing some amazing literature!

Let’s start at the beginning – the gatekeeper – those people who help choose what books kids have access to. This usually means a librarian, teacher, parent, etc. How do we, as professionals (and I’m looking at school and public librarians here, talk about books to kids?) And I’m going to focus on talking to boys about books because as most people know – girls are “allowed” to read “boy books,” but it can be harder to convince boys to do the same. Do we say, “I know there’s a girl on the cover, but just give this book a chance?” or “Are you looking for a book about action, adventure, sports or a graphic novel?” (when talking with a boy) By, falling into the gender stereotypes we are automatically assuming that boys don’t want to read about anything that is not typically considered “a boy book.”

It’s our job as educators and gatekeepers to booktalk good books – books that will appeal to individual kids, because that’s what we excel at, don’t apologize for a book, don’t offer a “but”, and don’t assume that all boys want to read about is action, adventure or sports. Talk excitedly about a book with a child because you know that it’s the perfect book for that child. Tomorrow, I’m going to share more ways we can encourage picking up good books, not gender-specific titles.

My next point, a disservice to kids. By assuming we know what kids want, we’re preventing them from knowing about a host of books that they might be interested in. I’ve said it before on this blog, I’m not a huge fan of graphic novels, but there some graphic novels that I’ve loved and really enjoyed reading. I’m also not a big fan of high fantasy and science fiction, but again, I’ve still found titles in these genres that I adore. Without seeing titles on social media or getting suggestions from other booklovers, I would have crossed these off my list just because of the format or genre.

Do we really want kids to do the same? Automatically assume because there’s a character of a different gender, the book isn’t for them? How will kids learn about people who are different from them, if not for an introduction in the books they read? What about a kid like me who grew up in a small town where almost everyone looked just like me? How would I learn about the world around me? This, I believe, stretches beyond gender and can be applied to race, culture, religion, sexual orientation and all the other aspects of diversity. Shannon Hale talks about this very topic in the Kickoff Essay for Kidlit Women – describing how it’s not either/or, but AND. And when you think about it… that’s as easy as it is.

“It’s not either/or. It’s AND. We can celebrate boys AND girls. We can read about boys AND girls. We can listen to women AND men. We can honor and respect women AND men. And And And.”

During our summer book discussion, I’d often pick out a title about a character with a disability. Most of the kids don’t have experience with kids with disabilities other than seeing them in school sometimes and these books always created the best discussions. Kids are constantly being told as young children, “Don’t stare!” But few kids are given a safe space to ask questions and to really understand a person’s disability. By offering a book discussion, kids could safely ask their questions without feeling like they were being rude or misunderstood. Curiosity is important, teaching kids how and when it’s appropriate to ask questions of people who are different from themselves is a learning opportunity that these books provide.

Tomorrow, I’m going to share some ways gatekeepers can begin to suggest good titles and steer clear of language that separates boys and girls into two categories. And on Friday, I’ll have a great list of titles for kids – strong, diverse characters, amazing settings, and un-put-downable plot lines, books that will be perfect for kids and not just “boy” or just “girls”  but for all kids – boys, girls and non-binary.

If you want to hear others’ opinions on the disservice of gendering books, check out Pernille Ripp’s blog post or Shannon Hale’s essay and subsequent follow-up discussion with Grace Lin on the Kidlit Women podcast.

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