September 12-16: Book Shopping

So what are we going to focus on in the library this week?

Over the summer, I was fortunate enough to take part in nErDcampMI, where during day two of the un-conference, I was granted the gift of sitting in a session for over an hour to do nothing but simply read. It was something of a revelation when I discovered: I’ve been in this profession for close to ten years and this was the first time I had a chance to not only chose what I wanted to read but was also given the time to read.

While I strongly agree with other librarians that it’s important that kids read for pleasure, I’ve become more aware of how I need to give students the time to browse and select books they find interesting. Often, when engaged in reading with lower school students, or book talks with middle school students, I’ll share snippets about books I’ve come across and am passionate about — but it’s just ME doing the sharing and I’ll allot at most 5-10 minutes for students to look for a book.

That’s really not a whole lot of time to carefully select a book that we expect a child to invest a good week or two with, when you think about it.

I was introduced to Carter Higgins at a CAIS conference a few years ago and Pernille Ripp recently as part of nErDcampMI. Both have opened my eyes to how I want to change my approach in sharing the joy of reading with students.

To circle back to the question in paragraph one: this week, we’ll be discussing how you judge a book by its cover. As much as we claim we should not do it, there are certain ways that books are designed to draw your attention. I’m curious as to what students pick up on (colors? fonts?) and what they feel draws them into a story.

We’ll be, to borrow a phrase, going book shopping.

On reflecting on the upcoming week, I’ll be merging two of the worlds I’m passionate about: books and design. I’m excited to share how a certain color can evoke a certain mood, how illustrators work to give hints about what may occur in a book, how sometimes, a cover is incredibly deceptive and how you may gravitate towards a book precisely because of the illustrations on the cover.

For our kindergarden students, this is a significant first step in a long road ahead for not just developing book selection skills, but associating the printed word with a positive or negative response.

Cover. Color. Fonts. What’s shown in illustrations (or what’s not shown). How the illustrations are drawn. What the illustrations evoke and suggest.

We’ll be taking our time to explore this week, and I’m so looking forward to it.


Sample covers (images forthcoming):

Grades K-2
• Fiction/Non-Fiction
“Cats” and words describing how each look
•Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel
•Pete the Cat by Eric Litwin
•Ballet Cat by Bob Shea
•Cat in the Hat by Seuss
•Puss in Boots by Charles Perrault
•Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner
•Chester by Melanie Watt
•Mr. Wuffles by avid Wiesner

Grades 3-4
Judging a book by a cover as related to individuals — My Teacher is a Vampire by Mary Amato and Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

•Ada Twist Scientist (review)
•Marisol McDonlad Doesn’t Match by Monica Brown
•Round is a Mooncake by Jenny Thong
•Alvin Ho series by Lenore Look
•Maddie’s Fridge by Lois Brandt
•The Hundred Dresses byEleanor Estes

Middle School
Cover design color, content, fonts

•Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu
•My Life with the Lincolns by Gail Brandeis
•Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury
•These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly
•Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling (old vs. movie version)