April 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Professional Reading Reviews | January 2017

Get the latest SLJ reviews every month, subscribe today and save up to 35%.

1701-Profesional-CVsCase, Janice. From Power Struggles to Conflict Resolution: Transform Your School’s Culture Today. 124p. Rowman & Littlefield. Mar. 2016. pap. $28. ISBN 9781475821970.

This is a concise volume intended for school leaders who are ready to address power struggles—an “interaction between two or more people where one person is trying to control another in order to be the dominant person in the interaction and to get the subordinate to comply.” Writing in a conversational style, veteran school administrator Case devotes chapters to conflicts between teachers and students, teachers and paraeducators (such as bus drivers), and school staff and parents, as well as those among teachers. There is a chapter devoted to strategies for avoiding confrontation: offer choices, steer clear of negative words, show understanding, and be prepared to walk away. Numerous vignettes of common power struggles (student dress code violations, disagreements about teaching styles, and conflicts between teachers and parents) with alternate approaches using the lesson strategies round out each chapter. The author encourages school leaders and administrators to embrace ownership of a positive school culture through reflection, honest dialogue, and compromises. Honoring the voices and lives of students is a central concern of this work. VERDICT Case sets the path to improving school culture with this valuable guide.–Ernie Cox, Prairie Creek Intermediate School, Cedar Rapids, IA

Haines, Claudia & Cen Campbell. Becoming a Media Mentor: A Guide for Working with Children and Families. 154p. bibliog. ebook available. index. ALA. Aug. 2016. pap. $48. ISBN 9780838914632.

What are media mentors, and what role do they play in the library? How do librarians engage families to support their children’s information and literacy needs while acknowledging the rapidly changing world of “media” that we now live in? This well-written and useful volume answers these questions and more by building on the knowledge gained from LittleeLit.com and a white paper published by ALSC, “Media Mentorship in Libraries Serving Youth.” According to the authors, “a media mentor supports the literacy, information, and media needs of children, teens and their families.” The first part of the book flows from research to practice. For example, chapters provide insights into current research, the importance of professional development, how to interact with the community, diversity in media mentorship, and three ways to be a media mentor. A feature in each chapter called “Voices from the Field” gives readers the chance to hear directly from practitioners doing this kind of work. The second part highlights three types of media mentorship and gives a dozen specific examples, from app curation on Pinterest to circulating maker kits to a more involved teen intern program. One of the appendixes (there are three) is a rubric on evaluating apps and new media for young children. VERDICT This is a timely selection that addresses an important topic. While everyone will find something useful, administrators, managers, and heads of youth services departments will especially be able to put into practice the ideas included here.–Renee McGrath, Nassau Library System, Uniondale, NY

Lindsay, Julie. The Global Educator: Leveraging Technology for Collaborative Learning and Teaching. 272p. bibliog. index. ISTE. Jul. 2016. pap. $39.95. ISBN 9781564843722.

Global educators are reaping multifaceted benefits from using technology to connect classrooms in far-flung places. Aimed at teachers who are veterans at networking across oceans as well as those trying to take the first step, this volume is full of descriptions and testimonials about student engagement and enriched curricula. Browsing this work feels more like navigating a website than reading a flowing narrative; the pages are filled with boxed quotations, links to more information, and the Twitter handles and blog URLs of noteworthy global educators. Targeting beginners, the first section is glossarylike: vocabulary and concepts are defined. Later on, Lindsay summarizes case studies, which will be germane to novices and seasoned global educators alike, and presents a link to an ebook companion. An annotated bibliography; a who’s who of leaders in global education; and a list of organizations, conferences, websites, and blogs will resonate with practitioners and newcomers as they gear up. The content has currency and is high quality, though the book may have a short shelf life because of rapidly changing technology and networking. VERDICT This intricately researched and well-organized offering is a worthy introduction and reference source on global education and is appropriate for school libraries whose global education initiatives have been already launched as well as those who are just jetting started.–Amy Thurow, New Glarus School District, WI

redstarScales, Pat R. Defending Frequently Challenged Young Adult Books: A Handbook for Librarians and Educators. 244p. appendix. Rowman & Littlefield. Sept. 2016. Tr $38.99. ISBN 9781442264328.

As the title implies, this volume serves as a resource for public and school librarians who face complaints or objections to books housed within their young adult collections. There are 54 separate examples listed alphabetically by title (including Go Ask Alice, Sherman Alexie’s The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Judy Blume’s Forever, Laurie Halse Anderson’s Wintergirls, Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and more). Additional books and resources can be found in the title’s appendixes, but the work’s strength comes from the litany of information in the aforementioned primary book entries. Each of these entries contains a summary, professional reviews, awards, and honors the book may have received and, perhaps most important, a record of all known challenges. There is also a section at the end titled “Resources Responding to Challenges,” which offers librarians the necessary background that they may need before responding to an upset or angry patron. Scales spent many years as a middle and high school librarian, which ultimately shows in the finished product; it serves as a very practical guide and is a must-have for new young adult librarians responding to their first book challenge. VERDICT A highly recommended purchase for elementary, middle, and high school professional reading collections as well as for public librarians working with children.–Ryan P. Donovan, Southborough Public Library, MA

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