February 20, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

A New Approach to Picture Books, a Look at Visual Learning, and Reaching Out to Teens | Professional Reading

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PROF-Berg-VisualBerg, Jesse. Visual Leap: A Step-by-Step Guide to Visual Learning for Teachers and Students. 246p. diags. further reading. index. notes. websites. Bibliomotion/Lamprey & Lee. 2015. Tr $24.95. ISBN 9781942108078.

A discussion of learning strategies to help students think independently, creatively, and critically, while improving listening and reading comprehension. The author begins by describing his own personal learning difficulties and goes on to discuss the research on left brain and right brain functions and the differences between audio-sequential and visual-spatial learning. Visual thinking is said to be innate even with Braille users, and it is this idea that is emphasized, while Berg also recognizes the importance of auditory learning. In order to tackle a subject fully—whether it is brainstorming a topic in collaboration with others, writing a paper, taking notes, planning a speech, or simply making personal plans—Berg recommends the processes of webbing, mapping, and web-storming. These strategies make use of linear and nonlinear thinking and are described in detail with accompanying black-and-white diagrams and personal anecdotes. Readers will appreciate familiar examples that include the Common Core standards, well-known children’s literature titles such as Louis Sachar’s Holes (Scholastic, 1988), and common history topics such as the Civil War. A useful resources section lists further reading and websites. Chapter notes are provided as well. VERDICT Teachers and students will find unique learning and teaching strategies well worth considering.–Jackie Gropman, formerly at Chantilly Regional Library, VA

PROF-Lambert-Reading-PicBksredstarLambert, Megan Dowd. Reading Picture Books with Children: How to Shake Up Storytime and Get Kids Talking About What They See. 176p. ebook available. Charlesbridge. 2015. Tr $21.95. ISBN 9781580896627.

Lambert’s Whole Book Approach challenges librarians to think differently about how they share a picture book in a group setting. It asks adult readers to value the opinions of young listeners and to engage them to become active participants as they try to make meaning of all they see and hear during a shared reading. This volume gives concrete examples and practical tips on how to do a shared reading based on the Whole Book Approach; through a conversational style and clear directions, Lambert offers support for librarians and teachers testing out new ways of engaging young listeners. The author developed this method during her graduate studies in children’s literature at Simmons College and while working in the Education Department of the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. As she points out, the Whole Book Approach method of sharing picture books starts right on the title page—adults share vocabulary information about the various parts of a physical book. Lambert goes on to dedicate individual chapters to “Jackets and Covers,” “Endpapers,” “Front Matter,” “Typography,” and “Page Design” and spends a good deal of time on how to foster a child’s visual intelligence. The author’s storytime anecdotes are funny, touching, and ultimately illuminating, highlighting how this approach can open new avenues to explore with children. VERDICT An essential purchase for any educator wanting to understand and apply the Whole Book Approach in their storytimes, or for those who would like to better understand the various parts and wonders of the picture book as a unique art form.–Renee McGrath, Nassau Library System, Uniondale, NY

PROF-velasquez-real-worldVelásquez, Jennifer. Real-World Teen Services. 136p. bibliog. index. ALA Editions. 2015. pap. $50. ISBN 9780838913420.

Even the most experienced teen services librarian in the public library will find the perspectives here extremely useful. Issues considered and strategies proposed are ones not often addressed in professional library literature. The author considers teen services a core value for libraries, as much a priority as children’s services. Unlike children’s services, however, programs and services for teens are seen as evolving, teen-centered, and planned from the bottom up, often spontaneously from needs expressed by this specific population. The librarian is seen as facilitator and activator rather than curator of activities and materials favored by the librarian and thought to be good for teens. In addition, the author promotes nontraditional outreach in the community, such as visiting shopping malls. Barriers to providing services (including adult attitudes and space restraints) are explored and concrete innovative strategies considered. Familiar issues of truancy, privacy, and behavior are presented with fresh solutions by Velásquez. A section called “Lightning Round” presents views of other librarians dealing with universal concerns. “Soap Box Moments,” opinions highlighted in gray, add spice and passion to the text. Some of the out-of-the-box approaches presented here will not be practical for some institutions, but teen librarians and library managers will find much to ponder, and the author’s appreciation for and understanding of teens are laudable. An extensive bibliography appears at the end of each chapter, and an index and table of contents are included. VERDICT An excellent resource for current and future YA librarians and library managers.–Jackie Gropman, formerly at Chantilly Regional Library, VA

This article was published in School Library Journal's January 2016 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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