November 21, 2017

The Advocate's Toolbox

Professional Reading on the Genius Hour, Literacy-Based Programs, & More

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Alman, Susan W., ed. School Librarianship: Past, Present, and Future. 208p. (Beta Phi Mu Scholars). bibliog. chart. index. photos. reprods. Rowman & Littlefield. Feb. 2017. Tr $70. ISBN 9781442272071.

The stated mission of Beta Phi Mu, the society that lends its name to this series, is to “recognize and encourage scholastic achievement among library and information studies students,” and this title exemplifies that goal. As with any collection of essays, readers will find some of the pieces more applicable than others. Alman has scoured the field and assembled a cast of 12 luminaries, including such notables as Joyce Kasman Valenza, Barbara K. Stripling, and Karen Gavigan. The first chapters offer an overview of the history of school libraries and the development of standards associated with information literacy. The next two chapters present the history of children’s literature—though a discussion of young adult literature is noticeably absent—and a valuable essay about fostering inquiry. Chapters five through seven introduce readers to a more global perspective, covering participation in international library organizations and the state of school libraries throughout the world. The final chapters focus on teacher librarian preparation programs and collaboration, ending with a look at the future of school libraries. Readers will find quick pieces of information that provide a springboard for future professional inquiry, though those seeking depth may be disappointed. Thoughtful insights are augmented by generally helpful photographs, charts, and reproductions. Each chapter concludes with references, and the end matter includes a biography for each contributor. VERDICT This cerebral collaborative effort contains several useful gems for the scholarly minded practitioner.–Jodeana Kruse, R.A. Long High School, Longview, WA

Baker, R. Lynn. Creating Literacy-Based Programs for Children: Lesson Plans and Printable Resources for K–5. illus. by Victo Ngai. 165p. appendix. index. notes. ALA Editions. Mar. 2017. pap. $48. ISBN 9780838915004.

This comprehensive text provides ideas for a wealth of literacy-based programming for public and school libraries. Baker, an early childhood specialist and librarian, describes the essential skills that children must master before learning to read and discusses the best practices for achieving them. The book examines various literacies—phonological, print, social, digital, and multisensory—as well as cognitive skills and individual social and personality traits and details the process of choosing, planning, and scheduling events that range from readers theater to discussion groups to impromptu programs. Samples of lesson plans are arranged by age group, and there are suggestions for possible partnerships with community agencies and tips on marketing and advocacy. The author emphasizes the necessity of understanding different learning styles. Particularly helpful is the section about the opportunities to create programs for children on the autism spectrum, kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or those who may have mobility, visual, or audio difficulties. The text offers ideas for adapting space and equipment for a variety of learning challenges. An appendix includes useful resources, such as sample patron surveys, check lists, and release forms. VERDICT A valuable programming tool that’s recommended for professional training collections in school and public libraries.–Jackie Gropman, ­formerly at Chantilly Regional Library, VA

McNair, Andi. Genius Hour: Passion Projects That Ignite Innovation and Student Inquiry. 175p. bibliog. further reading. photos. websites. Prufrock. Mar. 2017. pap. $21.95. ISBN 9781618216342.

“Genius Hour” is an educational trend that focuses on the individual learner and allots regular class time for students to pursue a personal passion. The idea is based on the assumption that young people learn collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity when allowed to explore their interests. McNair lays out the six phases of Genius Hour in detail, with chapters devoted to “Passion,” “Plan,” “Pitch,” “Project,” “Product,” and “Presentation.” She also addresses troubleshooting and assessment. Each chapter ends with reflection questions and a list of technological resources that were discussed in the prior pages. Sample planning documents for students and teachers are included, too. In addition to offering a typical annotated bibliography, the book provides Genius Hour–related Twitter handles and hashtags. One drawback of the text is that McNair appears to have implemented this concept primarily with gifted students, so educators working with a wider variety of learning levels and styles may need to look elsewhere. Though the volume mentions standards, it doesn’t get specific about them. VERDICT Best for educators whose school administrators are already on board with Genius Hour, but anyone interested in the concept will find useful ­material within.–Deidre Winterhalter, Oak Park Public Library, IL

This article was published in School Library Journal's September 2017 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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