April 23, 2018

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Common Core and Common Sense: Editorial | Series Made Simple Fall 2012

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Series Made Simple Fall 2012
Cover and illustration by Daniel Pelavin

When I get interested in a topic, I become obsessed. I don’t really have hobbies; I have infatuations. I don’t have favorite movies or novels; I have look-but-don’t-touch collections. And when it comes to learning about a new subject, I can’t just read one book on it—I have to read everything I can get my hands on.

And that is why so much of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) make sense to me. I’ve always contrasted and compared resources. Even as a kid, I knew that if I wanted to find out how much of a historical novel was true I had to put together a pile of nonfiction. Deep reading, book bundling, and embracing the learning process–these are things book lovers do by instinct. Where instinct fails, librarians are at the ready. They teach and reinforce these skills in every student every day. Whether putting together displays that link titles around a topic or lessons that ask kids to evaluate their online or print sources, media specialists have been emphasizing “rigor” long before it became a CCSS buzzword.

Given that the CCSS emphasize cross-discipline synthesis, research, analysis, writing, and the importance of nonfiction texts, now is the time to take a ruthless approach to weeding out dusty titles and replacing them with rich, complex series with great visuals and strong back matter. As the new standards are implemented, librarians will be playing important roles in helping teachers find materials, plan curriculums, and translate the language of the Common Core—selecting great series nonfiction for your collections will only make your jobs that much easier.

We can help you with that.

There are plenty of titles in this issue of Series Made Simple that I would happily have turned into a launching point for a new personal research project if I hadn’t had to keep moving along—deadlines can be so disruptive to inquiry. Grace Oliff’s article, “Endless Discoveries,” examines fresh science sets. Diana Pierce’s article on careers, “Occupational Success,” evaluates titles on exciting and high-interest topics. And for her piece on arts and activities volumes, “Make It, Do It, and Read All About It,” librarian Paula Willey tested many a craft project and recipe (check out the pictures on SLJ’s Tumblr, http://schoollibraryjournal.tumblr.com/). That’s just to name a few.

Oh, and if you’re wondering how series nonfiction specifically can be used with the CCSS, you’ll find some great advice in Myra Zarnowski’s article, “Nonfiction Series and the Common Core State Standards.”

Happy obsessing!

Chelsey Philpot Signature

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Chelsey Philpot About Chelsey Philpot

Chelsey Philpot was associate book reviews editor and editor of Series Made Simple. She’s on Twitter @chelseyphilpot, and blogs at Chelseyphilpot.com.