This article is the first in a four-part series of book reviews from the Children’s Literature and Reading Special Interest Group of IRA (CL/R SIG). President Janelle Mathis says that CL/R SIG has been supporting literacy educators since 1979 through its goals of sharing high quality, contemporary children’s literature, promoting creative uses of literature in the classroom, disseminating recent research in the field, and providing a forum to explore issues in the children’s literature field.
"The organization accomplishes its goals through enthusiastic and informed members who organize sessions at IRA each spring, serve along with other selected members on the Notable Books for a Global Society committee who create an award list each year, contribute to its journal, The Dragon Lode, and interact around the recently created website, www.clrsig.org," she shares.
A visit to this site offers a more detailed look at the possibilities for involvement in the Children’s Literature SIG. Membership is open to IRA members in all areas of instruction--Pre-K through 12 teachers, librarians, teacher candidates, administrators, university professors, authors, and publishers.
The members of the CL/R SIG who submitted this series of book reviews to Reading Today encourages us to remind ourselves of our responsibilities as teachers to foster a love of reading and writing in our students on a daily basis. It is also good to reflect on the lack of access to books many experience as well as the often well-hidden struggles many of our students face as they attempt to enter the often-confusing world of literacy. While there is a book for every reader once their tastes and interests have been ascertained, it is also important to help novice readers regard reading as a pleasurable activity rather than drudgery. The following books selected by members of the CL/R SIG celebrate the passion of literacy in several different ways.
For Younger Readers, Grades K-3
Amada, E. (2011). What are you doing? Illus. by M. Monroy. Toronto: Groundwood Press.
Getting lost in a story is one of the reasons to read, but this picture book provides many other reasons for acquiring reading skills, making it a sure-bet for the opening days of school. Before his first day of school, curious Chepito walks through his neighborhood, and everywhere he goes, he notices neighbors reading. When he asks them why they are doing so, they offer various reasons, such as to find out who won the baseball game, to laugh, to find their way around, to repair a car, among other purposes. Once he heads to school, he's sold on reading, and his teacher adds to his enjoyment with a read aloud. Once Chepito returns home, he is ready to share the joy of reading with his little sister. The digital illustrations are based on color pencil and watercolor originals and have a soft, sentimental quality about them.
- Barbara A. Ward
Bottner, B. (2010). Miss Brooks loves books! (and I don’t). Illus. by M. Emberley. New York: Knopf.
Miss Brooks is passionate about reading and books. As the school librarian, she shares her love of reading by dressing up for each reading circle. One first-grade girl manages to resist Miss Brooks’ Herculean efforts to get her to read. That is until Book Week when students must each share a book they love and dress up. “Really show us why you love it!” she says (u.p.). The girl promptly goes home and asks her mother if they can move to a new town. Her mother reminds her that there is no way to avoid librarians since every town has one. Determined that her young charge will find at least one book that she loves, Miss Brooks fills her backpack with books. When her mother chooses to read aloud William Steig’s Shrek!
, the girl begs to hear it again and again. Having found the right book for her, she loves dressing up as an ogre and leading the class in a chorus of snorts. Miss Brooks is right: Even “ogres can find something funny and fantastic and appalling in the library” (u.p).
- Terrell A. Young
Brown, M. (2011). Waiting for the biblioburro. Illus. by J. Parra.Tricycle Press.
Ana loves to read, but she has exhausted all the books in her small Columbian village. Often, she makes up stories to share with others since there’s nothing left to read. But when she sees two burros, laden with precious cargo—books—she is delighted, and eagerly chooses enough titles to keep her busy until the next visit from this moving library on hoofs. Ana becomes quite a storyteller herself, and even contributes her own original book to the library’s collection. This picture book pays tribute to a real-life librarian, Luis Soriano, who decided to share his books with others in the rural parts of his country. The illustrations have a folk art quality to them, and are filled with warmth as well as imaginative elements. - Barbara A. Ward
This series continues tomorrow with more great book reviews from the CL/R SIG.
Pictured above are CLR-SIG Board Members Jennifer Saunders, Jane E. Kelly, Tadayuki Suzuki, Deanna Day, Jennifer Manak, Melanie Koss, Allen Evans, Leslie Colabucci, Nancy Hadaway, Janelle Mathis, Barbara Ward, Lettie Albright, Claudia Haag, Linda T. Parsons, and Jennifer Graff. Click here for more information about the CL/R SIG.