As a Teacher Librarian who is also a mother of three, working four days a week and studying a Master of Teacher Librarianship (M TL) by distance education, there is not much time left for reading for pleasure.
How then, do I stay abreast of Children’s Literature so that I can provide the best School Library Service to my colleagues and our students?
I get it when my students, friends and colleagues say, “I just don’t have time to read anymore”. BUT… I yearn to read everything that I process (and sometimes do!), I can’t pass a bookstore without popping in to see the new releases and flick through to see if I should give them a second look and take a snap of the cover so I don’t forget. Gosh, I even buy books when I’m supposed to be grocery shopping!
Besides the invaluable articles, journals and advice gained through the M TL I have a few strategies in place to help me stay on top of things:
Pinterest is my go-to curation tool (check out my Boards) . I like it’s visual layout because I can quickly find what I want (I am obviously a visual learner). I use Pinterest to curate websites to later insert in my weebly and our school library blog. I follow the boards of other Teacher Librarians and have developed a trusted network of like-minded teachers who share the content around.
Diigo is also great for finding new research, new approaches in Children’s Literature and learning about studies from around the world.
My school Library has a Twitter account (@BexleyPSLibrary). Whilst it targets parent usage in the school (students are too young to have a Twitter account), it provides an opportunity to retweet from a wide variety of Publishing houses and authors that I follow. At the moment it is somewhat dormant, but I have high hopes for it once I graduate!
My school does not have a public Facebook page, but I do use my private Facebook page to connect to authors,
Publishers, Bookstores, Libraries, Museums, Galleries and professional associations who provide ongoing sources of information and inspiration for children’s literature recommendations and ideas.
I am a member of the Teacher Librarian Network List Service which is a great source of knowledge about old and new children’s literature issues, research and resources. This group is interactive and provides a wealth of historical information as well as hints and tips about new and upcoming authors, events, talks and materials.
With the support of an inspiring Principal who clearly values the contribution of a professionally-run Library, I also attend Teacher Librarian Network meetings once each Term. These meetings are an invaluable source of information for our professional development on Library administration, organisation and development. Children’s bookstores or suppliers often attend these events with a wide range of new titles to peruse and discuss.
Blogs such as ‘Hey Jude‘ and ‘Children’s Books Daily‘ are just a couple of the blogs that I subscribe to for information about the profession of Teacher Librarianship as well as reviews and news on new and old authors and their offerings.
Regular visits to sites such as ‘Goodreads‘ and ‘Inside a dog‘, along with many more provide opportunities to explore children’s literature before spending that tight budget. These sites are also helpful when trying to find ‘the right book’ for those students that come into the Library but can’t find what they’re looking for (a little like me when I’m looking for a handbag – I don’t know exactly what I want but I know I don’t want the one on the shelf). By reading reviews from other librarians and readers I can get a feel for books that might be a good fit for that student. Sometimes I’ll find it on Amazon and download a Sample for them to read off my iPad before I commit to the purchase. It’s little things like this that can make a big difference with the reluctant readers or those boys who say they can’t find anything they like.
The New South Wales Department of Education and Communities’ School Libraries and Information Literacy website has a resource review tool which can search for general and/or online resources using keywords. The search can be undertaken for specific grades which I find useful when making recommendations to support classroom teaching and learning programs.
Having a good rapport with other education professionals and developing those through professional networks and associations ensures current and up to date research and resources can be drawn on for my school library. Attending professional development at professional association events such as the Primary English Teachers Association Australia (PETAA) strengthens these links and takes advantage of their wealth of knowledge on children’s literature.
Local Public Librarians
Local public librarians are a great source of information on trends and popular series. They also support us with Book Week visits and competitions to generate excitement about children’s literature both in and out of the school environment.
Discussing the books that my children are reading in class and for pleasure is always a great source of interest for me. I have found many little gems that they have been reading that I have then found hiding in my own school library to recommend to teachers for specific units. My own children also enjoy a wide variety of fiction but my youngest (Age 8) is really into information texts, particularly, as the research suggests, animal texts. In trying to meet her voracious appetite for all things cute and cuddly I have come to find some amazing texts, magazines and multi-media sites that are on my wishlist for my own school library.
Other strategies for the future
What else is on my list of ‘to do’s’ when it comes to continued professional learning about Children’s Literature? Here’s just a few:
- MOOCs: I have had my eye on a few Massive Open Online Courses in this area that I would love to sink my teeth into;
- Sister Library Program: Setting up a Sister Library program with my school’s local Public Library to leverage database access is one of my targets for the next three years, and finally
- Formats: Further exploring ebooks, audiobooks and interactive children’s literature following the implementation of our new Library system in late August this year.
Hopefully, all of these activities will help me to wrangle the right book for the right time for each of my little book worms.