Thursday, September 19, 2013

Reading Wildly: School Stories

It has taken me forever to get this post up! August was a beast this year. But our kids went back to school on August 1 and last month, my staff met at our Reading Wildly meeting for to talk about school stories. So, what is a school story? It's just what it sounds like: fiction set in or centered around school and classroom life. I'd say it's typically, but not necessarily, realistic and contemporary. As you can see, my staff picked a couple of genre-benders, which is fine by me.

The meeting this month took place while we were closed for staff training on our new ILS system. We didn't get heavily into discussions of the genre because it was the last bit of a long day of meetings.

So what did everyone read last month?

One way that these meetings have been helpful to my staff is that it gives them a starting point when they have kids or parents looking for specific genres. I always type up a list of the books everyone has shared, including the readalikes that they have designated, and send it out to my department. The list is a tool to help them remember which books people had talked about, which titles their colleagues liked and recommended for certain age groups, and readalikes in case those titles are checked out.

Patrons may not come in with an assignment to read a school story. They may not know the terminology "school story", but I would use this list as a starting point for kids who want stories about their everyday life. Stories about kids like them doing the same stuff that they do. Of course, not every single title on this list would fit that description (and, of course, not every kid's "everyday life" includes attending school), but it's a starting point. And having a starting point goes a LONG way towards feeling confident about doing readers' advisory (even for me, who took a graduate-level readers' advisory course and who has been doing readers' advisory for years).

Next month err... This month, our topic is African-American fiction (meaning, in this case, a novel with an African-American protagonist). African-Americans make up our largest minority group in our county. I have seen firsthand the magic that happens when you can hand a kid of color a book with a kid that looks like them on the cover. I gave my staff a special challenge to choose or include a contemporary book, so we'll see what they have chosen to read...!