A New Start
Rather than completely reconstructing this site, I am starting fresh at a new location, a cyber move to match my recent real-life move. Check out my new site at: Booksnquilts. It's a work in progress, of course, but will include the continuation of my posts on where to find your next good read, plus a gallery of my quilt projects and eventually pages indulging my love of cooking and good food. I hope to see you there! Book reviews will appear on a separate blog called Writing 'Bout Reading
Questions? moc.liamg|ca4liambil#!em liame
Find a Good Book
More places to look for your next good read.
BookBrowse.com has more than 20,000 book reviews by readers and critics plus book excerpts and links to help you find books similar to ones you already know you like. You can also search by genre, or in lists of adult fiction, adult nonfiction or books for children and teens. You don't have to join to do these basic searches!
Book Spot is another general site, but includes information on book awards, behind the scenes book facts and links to help you find where to buy a book. Looking for classics that are available in full-text online for free, this site will help you find them. This website doesn't have the prettiest graphics or the snazziest layout. But the features make it well worth exploring.
Next time, where to look for recommendations of mysteries and historical fiction. (November 6, 2010)
What Should I Read Next?
If you've ever asked yourself, or a librarian, that question, the next several posts will be for you! My Public Library Services course is learning about websites that can help you find a good book. Over the next several posts, I'll be sharing some of them with you. Click on a link for help finding a good book! Of course, you could always stop in the library and for help there!
One stop shopping!
At Books and Authors you can browse books by genre or author. You can read book reviews or choose a book from lists of award winners. Do you want more books like one you really enjoyed? Use the Read-A-Like wizard!
This database is maintained by Gale Cengage Learning and is available free through many public libraries. If your library doesn't offer access to Books and Authors, it probably does offer something similar. Just ask! (October 28, 2010)
Scholastic's Global Literacy Campaign
As part of their 90th anniversary celebration, Scholastic has launched a global literacy campaign with the theme: Read Every Day. Lead a Better Life.
Scholastic is affirming that reading is more important than ever in our age of digital information. Check out their Reading Bill of Rights!
Then, click on Live It to see suggestions for parents, teachers, librarians and everyone for how to encourage kids to read every day. The ideas are all simple, like reading to kids (you know, they're never too old for that)! But together we can make a difference. I plan to share my "bookprint," 5 books I've read that are important to me. You can too at You Are What You Read. (October 27, 2010)
One of the biggest challenges of this move has been rearranging and reorganizing things as we unpack. The new house is arranged completely differently from our last house. My work area is upstairs in the dining room. So the bookcase, cabinet and desk from the office are there. But the computer desk, files, etc. are all downstairs in the new office. Labels on the boxes were not clear enough to allow us to place them accurately. Hence, there has been much running up and down stairs carrying misplaced boxes, or half-full boxes because the new homes of the items inside are now split.
So what does that have to do with a library blog and wiki? Since I no longer work at the Brussels Library, I am no longer publicizing Brussels Library Programs. In fact, I'm not yet working in a library here. Instead, I am reading a lot and beginning to write book reviews. So, much like furniture and books in my new house, the pages on this site need to be re-purposed and reorganized. I've been putting off that project because I am increasingly uncertain that this wiki platform is suited for the sort of site I want to develop. This page does not function as a proper blog. The comments module doesn't seem to allow separate comments in separate locations. (Either that, or I am doing something wrong.) I can move it from posting to posting. But all previous comments will also move to the new location, thus divorcing comments from the text to which they apply. I suspect the answer is to start over on a fully featured blog site, like wordpress.com. But as daunting as reconstructing this site is, the prospect of moving is even more so! In the end, I think the pain of the move will pay off in a site that suits my purposes better, much like moving to a smaller house has allowed us to set it up to suit the lifestyle of two empty-nesters rather than for a family with two teenagers. So, sometime soon (after unpacking the remaining book boxes and getting everything organized, and writing my mid-term paper) expect to see a change of electronic address notice for me to go with my change of physical address. (17 October 2010)
Reading Should Be Fun
Or, let them read Goosebumps
A recent N.Y. Times article has prompted a lot of discussion in Library Land about the value of picture books. Sales of picture books have dropped off and one suggested reason is that parents, in an effort to help their kids “get ahead” are steering young children away from picture books to Early Readers and chapter books. (Read the full article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/08/us/08picture.html?_r=2&emc=eta1)
I’m not sure how accurate an indicator dropping sales is for a wholesale move away from picture books. As pointed out in the article, picture books are expensive and times are hard for many families. My experience in the library is that picture books are some of the most-circulated books. So I think any announcement of the death of picture books is premature. However, there does seem to be evidence of a trend to push children to read challenging material to the exclusion of opportunities to read for fun.
Let’s face it, parents want the best for their kids. It begins with products like Baby Einstein (no, I’m not a fan) and progresses to Hooked on Phonics (Guilty secret, I used it for my kids). We believe that reading early is better and so is reading more advanced books. Schools encourage the perception that reading hard books is always better by programs like the Accelerated Reader (AR) Program. Naturally, involved parents push their kids to accumulate AR points and advance.
Let me pose a question for you: If everything you read had to be challenging or educational, how much reading would you choose to do? Probably not a lot, because reading would become a chore. The same is true for kids. When everything they read is work, of course they will become reluctant readers.
Reading skills improve with practice. Just reading what is assigned for school is not enough. In order for kids to develop fluency with reading, they need the occasional escape into something easier, something they want to read. So next time your kid wants to choose a book that is “too easy” or not educational, let them. Odds are, they'll balance it by later choosing something that will surprise you because they will become more confident in their reading skills.
(For a discussion on the importance of picture books for learning, read this blog entry by Lisa Von Drasek: http://www.earlyword.com/2010/10/12/the-importance-of-picture-books/)
(October 12, 2010)
My First Advanced Reading Copy
Since moving back to the States, I've been trying to get on lists to get Advanced Reading Copies (ARCs) of new YA books. I just got my first one in the mail today - The Saga of Larten Crespley: Birth of a Killer, the prequel to the popular Cirque du Freak series. My side of the bargain? I need to read it and write a book review. I'll post that review on the Teen Book Recommendations page and add it to my Library Thing account. (Are you on Library Thing? My ID there is AngelaCinVA.) Now, to put aside that stack of books from the library and read my first ARC! (October 7, 2010)
With the approach of the Annual Banned Books Week (September 25-October 2, 2010), there have been recent moves to ban yet more books. Yes, in the United States books are still being banned. Are you surprised? Better yet, are you angered by that?!? I know that I am. No one has the right to keep someone else from reading a book just because they disapprove of it. The one exception is the right of parents to oversee their own children. That does not extend to the right to keep other people's children from reading a book you forbid your children to read. Still, it happens every year.
This year, I've recently read two of the books that are under attack: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie. I read Speak as part of my class on Young Adult resources. It is the story of a girl entering 9th grade who is raped at a party just before school starts. It follows her struggles during the school year with the aftermath of that trauma and her journey to rediscover her voice and speak again. Now a professor at Missouri State University is calling this book "soft porn" because of the description of two sexual attacks. Yet countless readers state they have found solace and support in this book. I found the book disturbing, but in the end hopeful. I can't begin to see how it could be described as pornographic.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-rime Indian is blunt, crude and sounds a lot like the way a couple of 14 year old boys might talk to each other. Wait! That's what the book is about! Funny, but the book seems to appeal to boys, often those who are reluctant to read. But a school district in Springfield, Missouri has banned it from all school libraries. If you WANT your child to read this book, it is not available, because some people objected to it. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I can see how it would appeal to middle and high school aged boys. Yet someone has imposed their beliefs on everyone else and justified it by arguing that such things should not be in schools.
I find it truly sad how we can be so proud of our freedoms and still allow something as disgusting as book banning to continue. I urge you to look at the ALA's list of most banned/challenged books in the last decade. I suspect you'll find at least one surprise there. What book did you really enjoy that someone else thinks should not be available in libraries?
(September 19, 2010)
Without new adventures, life would become dull. So we are beginning a new adventure in Colonial Beach, Virginia, back in the U.S. after 13 years in Belgium, Canada and Germany. As with any move, there are things that miss already about Belgium. First, the people. I already miss my Girl Scouts and the Girl Scout adults. I miss my story time kids! I will miss working with the track team. Second, the food and beer. David is planning to buy a proper deep fat fryer to try to duplicate frites. We can get some Belgian beer here and some U.S. beer is actually pretty good. We'll have some fun trying different kinds to find what we like. (So far, Bell's Amber Ale - not Chimay Red, but pretty good, buy again - and Dominion Lager - OK, but not great, need to keep trying.)
I am looking forward to getting involved in Girl Scouts here. I'm already becoming a regular in the local library. It's a small branch in a small beach town. But it is part of a much larger regional system based in Fredericksburg. I'm waiting to dive in to volunteering until after our household goods shipment arrives. While I may be bored with looking at 4 bare walls (and sleeping on a mattress on the floor!), I know there will be plenty to keep me busy once our stuff arrives. Plus my classes start again in a week. So, some patience is in order. Meanwhile, I'm catching up on my reading! I just finished The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver and really enjoyed it. It's set in an interesting period of history with Trotsky, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera as important characters.
Well, off to our next "adventure" trying to sort out some issues with the local bank… .