February 25, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

New Professional Development Titles on Latino Texts and Connecting Young Readers with Nonfiction

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SLJ1702-ProfesReadingRev-CVsCulham, Ruth. Dream Wakers: Mentor Texts That Celebrate Latino Culture. 162p. appendix. bibliog. ebook available. illus. Stenhouse. Sept. 2016. pap. $38.60. ISBN 9781625311115.
Writing workshop guru Culham showcases 116 diverse mentor texts within her well-established framework of the “6+1” writing traits. She uses the analogy of guests at a dinner party to explain the importance and interdependence of ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and convention—her six traits of wonderful writers—and has compiled a well-curated compendium of recent and classic picture books about Latino culture(s) by (mostly) Latino authors and illustrators. There are few chapter books; a fifth of the materials are nonfiction. Culham offers a short synopsis of each title and a unique writing (or otherwise creative) extension activity. Readers will appreciate interviews with seasoned writers, including Alma Flor Ada and Duncan Tonatiuh, and new authors such as Monica Brown, who speak about their journeys and the need for Latino voices in children’s literature. There is an informative introduction on diversity in literature, and the appendix sheds light on Culham’s selection process and explains her criteria, developed by experts such as Jamie Naidoo and Louise Derman-Sparks. There is also a handy chart for identifying the type of book (bilingual, English with Spanish words, English only), the highlighted trait, and the genre. VERDICT Great for collection development, cultural literacy, and lessons about a writer’s craft. Educators who work with students from second through sixth grade will find this volume highly useful.–Sara Lissa Paulson, City-As-School High School, New York City

Dietzel-Glair, Julie. Nonfiction in Motion: Connecting Preschoolers with Nonfiction Books Through Movement. 136p. appendix. illus. index. ALA Editions. Aug. 2016. Tr $57.00. ISBN 9780838914687.

Librarians who are short on time but don’t want to shortchange their storytime patrons will appreciate this collection of engaging nonfiction materials and accompanying activities. Two hundred selections are organized by five major themes: animals, concepts, construction and things that go, science, and the world around us. For each example, the author, publisher, copyright date, summary, and one or more actions are listed. The suggested movements or activities are not complicated and do not require elaborate materials or props; for instance, for Connie Colwell Miller’s Happy Is…, readers are encouraged to invite kids to draw a smiling face. The introduction is informative, and included are an appendix of art outlines and indexes grouped by subject, title, and author. The volume is well organized and easy to navigate. Fortunately for those who don’t have every offering on hand, the activities are applicable to other books. VERDICT A helpful reference for children’s librarians or anyone who reads to children.–Laura Fields Eason, Parker Bennett Curry Elementary School, Bowling Green, KY

Sykes, Judith Anne. The Whole School Library Learning Commons: An Educator’s Guide. 151p. bibliog. ebook available. index. Libraries Unlimited. Sept. 2016. pap. $45. ISBN 9781440844201.

This thorough guide offers strategies and resources for developing a vision and implementing a plan for a whole school library learning commons approach. Sykes, herself a former teacher, librarian, and school administrator, as well as a project coordinator for the Canadian Library Association, relies heavily on the work of researcher David Loertscher, who also wrote the foreword. Indeed, Loertscher acknowledges that the book is not for beginners. Rather, it demands familiarity with the concept of a learning commons and functions as more of a planning guide than an introduction to the topic. According to Sykes, creating a school library learning commons involves more than just modifying a physical space; it means adopting a pedagogical strategy across the entire school to build a collaborative, participatory culture of learning. The volume is framed by four concepts: mentoring, accountability, research, and community. The author explains the importance and applications of each idea in turn, then offers suggested resources and activities to reflect on current learning models and involve all members of the school community. Sykes outlines the role of all stakeholders, from teachers to administrators, and there is a clear emphasis on the critical position of the teacher librarian. VERDICT This resource will be most effective for readers who are already familiar with the concept of a school library learning commons and are interested in how to assess, adopt, or adapt the approach.–Lauren Strohecker, McKinley Elementary School, Elkins Park, PA

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

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