February 19, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Diversity, Intellectual Freedom, and Innovation | Professional Reading

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Fletcher-Spear, Kristin & Kelly Tyler, eds. Intellectual Freedom for Teens: A Practical Guide for Young Adult & School Librarians. 144p. ALA Editions/A YALSA Publication. 2014. pap. $48. ISBN 9780838912003. LC 2013051234.

What is intellectual freedom? How should librarians handle access to information involving young adults? What do you do when library materials are challenged? Does intellectual freedom include Internet access and materials? These are just a few of the questions and scenarios that are clearly and concisely addressed within this incredibly useful publication. Professional librarians, educators, library staff, and anyone who works with the young adult community will benefit from the information presented here. The editors have organized the content in a manner that makes it accessible and useful for those new to the profession as well as “old hats.” VERDICT An excellent addition to any professional collection and a must-read for those new to librarianship.–Elizabeth Speer, Cisco College, TX

Phelps, Adelaide Poniatowski & Carole J. McCollough. Coretta Scott King Award Books Discussion Guide: Pathways to Democracy. 280p. ALA Editions. 2014. pap. $45. ISBN 9780838936047. LC 2013043085.

With many long overdue conversations about the necessity of incorporating diverse books into our collections, it is a joy to be reminded of the rich history of the Coretta Scott King Award winners. This discussion guide focuses on the core values that relate to good citizenship and living in a democratic society. The chapters are organized by grade, then genre, and then specific democratic core value. Each title includes an annotation, discussion points, and a list of extension ideas related to the theme. This work will prove to be a valuable educational resource for educators and a useful tool in facilitating book discussion groups or read-aloud sessions. This guide is also an important reader’s advisory source and collection development aid, as each title offers suggestions of similar books. VERDICT A necessary addition to professional collections.–Allison Santos, Princeton Public Library, NJ

Saccardi, Marianne. Creativity and Children’s Literature: New Ways to Encourage Divergent Thinking. 190p. appendix. bibliog. index. photos. Teacher Ideas Press/Libraries Unlimited. 2014. pap. $45. ISBN 9781610693554. LC 2014009411.

Saccardi offers a substantive approach for using children’s literature to promote creative thinking. Saccardi’s introduction argues for sustained nurturing of divergent thinkers in order for future society to thrive. Subsequent chapters on poetry, picture books and fiction, folklore and fantasy, and nonfiction suggest adaptable techniques for integrating literature-based activities into classrooms and programs. Chapter 5 describes a project Saccardi (a former elementary school teacher turned literacy consultant) did with fourth-grade teachers on modifying this approach for an already established curriculum. The author consistently references culturally inclusive choices available in contemporary literature for youth and incorporates methods for promoting creative thinking when discussing in-chapter recommended titles. The combination of applied pedagogy and curriculum connections makes the prose dense but rich, with references to STEM, Common Core State Standards, and supporting research offered throughout. Suggestions for the smooth integration of technology, from wikis to iPads to virtual field trips, are provided. References at the end of each chapter include strong, briefly annotated bibliographies; an appendix recommends “Useful Websites to Encourage Student Creativity.” VERDICT This title’s practical application in school library media centers and classrooms is obvious, but public libraries will also find this useful to connect literature-based library programs with local curricula.–Janice M. Del Negro, GSLIS Dominican University, River Forest, IL

Scales, Pat R. for Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF). Books Under Fire: A Hit List of Banned and Challenged Children’s Books. 232p. appendix. bibliog. index. ALA Editions. 2015. pap. $47. ISBN 9780838911099. LC 2014023945.

A resource for librarians looking to connect kids with challenged books and discuss the issues behind challenges. Thirty-four challenged titles are presented with clear and concise summaries which include several quotes from reviewers; straightforward, factual, and fascinating challenge details; awards and accolades; connections to a wealth of further reading, listening or viewing; well-constructed discussion questions to use with students; and a few related books. Titles include classics such as Judy Blume’s Blubber (Bradbury, 1974), Avi’s The Fighting Ground (HarperCollins, 1984), and Betty Greene’s Summer of My German Solider (Dial, 1973) as well as newer titles such as Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games (Scholastic, 2008), Dav Pilkey’s “Captain Underpants” series (Scholastic), and Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Little, Brown, 2007). Appendices include resources for teaching kids about the first amendment, a bibliography of professional titles about censorship, the rankings of children’s and young adult books in the top 100 most challenged books from 2000 to 2009, lists of children’s classics, and a list of Caldecott and Newbery books and why they have been challenged. VERDICT Any youth librarian that has this title within easy reach will be ready to program with challenged materials, discuss intellectual freedom issues with kids and grown ups, and respond intelligently to book challenges.–Heather Acerro, Rochester Public Library, MN

This article was published in School Library Journal's February 2015 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Diversity and Cultural Competency Training: Collections & RA

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