What Makes a Good Children’s Book?literature for children A good book latches onto a child and won’t let go. What a child needs is to be exposed to the pleasures of reading and to have access to a large collection of books from which to choose when the child is ready to read. What a child does not need is to be pushed into reading or to have an adult force a child to read a certain book by insisting that it is a good book. • literature for children. Britannica Student Encyclopedia. Retrieved November 29, 2009, from Encyclopædia Britannica. <http://kids.britannica.com/comptons/article-203946/literature-for- children>
What makes an effective children’s book? Depends on the particular book in question A story picture book should have all the elements of story, engaging writing, a hero who grows and changes, and the best fit art for the protagonist and tale. A concept book should convey the concept (be it, say, alphabet, numbers, colors) in a clear and Childrens engaging manner, one that will engage youngauthor Cynthia minds. Leitich Smith Humorous books should be funny. Adventure books suspenseful and exciting. Mysteries intriguing. Fantasies imaginative. Gothics scary. • http://cynthialeitichsmith.blogspot.com/2004/11/effective- aspects.html
More from Cynthia Leitich SmithA good book should be the best book itcan beA children’s novel must do all that an adult novel does, but the hero and sensibility is that of a younger person. They are generally a bit leaner, though, less self-indulgent on the part of the author. The audience tends to have a shorter attention span.No kid reads a book because of what the New York Times has to say. To them, it must sing.Basically, a good book should be the best book it can be, in whatever manifestation fits best for its unique nature. • Effective aspects
What Makes a Good Children’s Book?A good children’s book:Stimulates the imaginationHas fun language, rhythm, rhyme, and patternsHas big, clear print, and picturesIs developmentally appropriateKeeps a child’s attentionGets children involved with the storyHas sensory appeal • No longer available on the web—was part of a project from Canadian Kingston Literacy and Skills
What about books for young adults?Former English professor Don Gallo:―Good young adult books deal honestly and openly with teenage issues and problems‖The best novels for teens, he believes, are well written, yet less complex than the famous classicsShort stories, too, are successful at addressing popular themes such as multiculturalism and character development. • In the Interest of Teenagers
Helping Children Choose BooksThe Goldilocks Strategy―Just right‖ books are ones where the child understands what the author is trying to communicate and has only one or two words per page that he does not know. ―Too easy‖ books are old favorites that a child likes to read for fun and understands what is going to happen next.In determining the category in which to place a book, have children read three or four pages, count (on their fingers if necessary) the words they don’t know, and ask themselves if they really understand what is happening in the story or text. – by Dr. Wayne D. Lance. Reprinted from the July 1992 issue of Parents Teaching Overseas.
Why NOT have classroom libraries? Books become restricted in their availability. . . when we look at the big picture -- the needs of the whole school -- it is obvious today’s limited funds must be spent for the global good of all. A centralized collection is the most economically viable solution to the heavy demands for learning resources in todays classrooms.Books are only inanimate objects until their potential for learning is utilized by a teacher or teacher-librarian. If a book is perceived to be of use with only one student, in a particular grade, at a certain time of the year, to meet a specific need, then the potential of that book is being wasted. I have seen teachers put books away in a box until next year when they do the same theme again. • Amey, L. (1995, May). ―The classroom library: Are we returning to the 1950s, or developing better collaboration?‖ Emergency Librarian, 22(5), 65.
Solution? Compromise!Classroom libraries have undoubtedadvantages in promoting reading and love ofreadingYou can share your library with others in the school by keeping track of your classroom collection using a spreadsheet or database manager, and then share that listTwo options for tracking your collection are creating a spreadsheet of your entire collection using Microsoft Excel or cataloging your books using LibraryThing.com. See Classroom Libraries on The School Library Handbook about how to organize your collection!
Are there problems in selection?What do we do about “difficult”books?What about books like the 2007 Newbery Medal winner, The Higher Power of Lucky?What about books like the Harry Potter series?
A Philosophical QuestionIs Selection a Form of Censorship?Do public libraries attempt to supervise the tastes of their readers by making it a fixed policy not to buy ―objectionable‖ books? It is a simple expedient and has often been applied. The public librarian often has the plausible excuse that as the funds of a library are limited, he must pick and choose, and naturally the more ―wholesome‖ books are to be preferred. He insists that he is exercising not censorship but the prerogative of free selection. • Morris L. Ernst and William Seagle, To the Pure . . . A Study of Obscenity and the Censor cited in Lester Asheim, Not Censorship But Selection , first published in the Wilson Library Bulletin, 28 (September 1953), 63-67.
Or, My Weird SchoolExchange on listserv LM_Net: Original Request Sun 11/29/2009 8:18 PM : Hello all, Has anyone had a challenge or any parent complaints about the My Weird School series by Dan Gutman? I have the unusual situation of having one parent wanting the series removed and another parent wanting them to remain. Any help or comments would be appreciated. I’m in a K-3 school. Reply Sun 11/29/2009 8:57 PM: One idea to help all[a]y the fears of the parent wanting to remove the books, might be to show the authors web page: http://www.dangutman.com/ Perhaps if they knew a little more about the author and the award winning books they’ve done, it might give them a different perspective. Gutman mentions the series was inspired by his daughter and one of his goals as an author is to get kids to read. For reluctant readers, they are pretty engaging.
What about self-censorship?A dirty little secret?Self-censorship. It’s a dirty secret that no one in the profession wants to talk about or admit practicing. Yet everyone knows some librarians bypass good books—those with literary merit or that fill a need in their collections. The reasons range from a book’s sexual content and gay themes to its language and violence—and it happens in more public and K–12 libraries than you think. • Self-censorship is rampant and lethal, by Debra Lau Whelan -- School Library Journal, 02/01/2009
Is self-censorship a problem?A Study of Self-Censorship by SchoolLibrariansFour factors were associated with self-censoring practices: (1) being of the age 60–69, (2) holding no formal collegiate education degree (BSE or MS/MSE) with library media certification or licensure, (3) being at the secondary level school library, and (4) having 15 or fewer years of educational experience. Just over half of respondents who were 60–69 had a mean score greater than 85. It does not indicate that most school librarians over the age of 60 practice self-censorship during the selection process. • Wendy Rickman in School Library Media Research, Volume 13 (2010)
Self-censorship by teachers?Open question: Self-censorship in theclassroomHow far should a teacher, especially a new teacher without tenure, go to limit the availability of books in their own classroom library? (I’m not even raising the question of required material at this point, just what students could have access to in the classroom either for personal reading or for reading assignments where students can choose what they read.) • Posted by The Christian Cynic July 5, 2009.
What about swear words?The curse of swearing in children’s booksSwearing in children’s books, and even in books for teenagers, used to be pure anathema.Publishers are in general more likely now to choose inaction over excision, secure in the knowledge that great querulous waves are unlikely to result from a single rude word, or even a plethora of the same, providing it reads as ―appropriate‖ rather than ―gratuitous‖. It’s probably easier to get away with a cuss word in a childrens book than it is on the news.
Need for policies & proceduresWhat are policies and procedures?Policies explain why the collection exists and what will be in it. A policy tends to address ideals and generalities.Procedures explain how the policy will be implemented and who will be involved with the implementation. A procedure should be concrete and specific. • Information Access & Delivery: Policies and Procedures
Do policies really make a difference?Without a policy you may face some ofthe situations:You are open to book censors.You may be cited on copyright infringement lawsuits.You could be accused of being biased in selection. • Information Access & Delivery: Policies and Procedures
Importance of a Selection PolicyWhy do I need a policy?haphazard patterns of acquisition will result in waste because some—perhaps many—materials will overlap in content, or will be unrelated to changing patterns of instructionwhen there are complaints about . . . fiction in the English class, the use of the ―objectionable‖ item can be explained more easily • ALA Workbook for Selection Policy Writing
Typical contentA good policy on the selection ofinstructional materials willinclude basic sections on objectives, responsibility, criteria, proced ures for selection, reconsideration of materials, and policies on controversial materials.Your policy should state succinctly what your system is trying to accomplish in its educational program, and, in somewhat more detail, the objectives of selection. • ALA Workbook for Selection Policy Writing
Contents of a selection policyselection criteriaThe set of standards used by librarians to decide whether an item should be added to the collection, which normally includes a list of subjects or fields to be covered, levels of specialization, editions, currency, languages, an d formats (large print, nonprint, abridgments, etc.). Selection criteria usually reflect the librarys mission and the information needs of its clientele, but selection decisions are also influenced by budgetary constraints and qualitative evaluation in the form of reviews, recommended core lists, and other selection tools.
Word of warningKnow thyself!Professionals should, as Bishop (2007) states, ―be aware of their own biases and preferences so that personal prejudices do not inadvertently affect selection decisions‖ (170). • Wendy Rickman (2010, Fall), A Study of Self- Censorship by School Librarians, School Library Media Research, 13. • Citation is from Bishop, K. (2007). The collection program in schools: Concepts, practices, and information sources. Westport, Conn.: Libraries Unlimited.