February 23, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Professional Reading on Fandom, Library Spaces, & More

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Court, Joy, ed. Reading by Right: Successful Strategies To Ensure Every Child Can Read To Succeed. 256p. chart. illus. index. photos. Facet. Jun. 2017. pap. $69.99. ISBN 9781783302093.

In this exploration of reading around the world, contributors highlight different theories about what makes a child become a successful reader. Though Court and the bulk of the writers are from the UK and the introduction examines the state of reading there and internationally, the programs and case studies covered here can be universally applied. For instance, the book presents ideas from the Republic of Korea and Finland, which consistently perform well in reading. Thoughtful and inspiring essays address the importance of reaching all readers, strategies for encouraging reluctant readers, and reasons why some children become reluctant readers. Any librarian who has struggled to convince teachers or parents of the value of audiobooks will appreciate advocate and educator Rose Brock’s piece on how this format supports literacy. In the final chapter, “Reading Is the Future,” reading development consultant Jake Hope discusses why change is necessary and offers approaches for meeting future challenges. VERDICT Despite the international focus, U.S. readers will get plenty out of this title. This reading is “right” and highly recommended.–Renee McGrath, Nassau Library System, Uniondale, NY

Rendina, Diana. Reimagining Library Spaces: Transform Your Space on Any Budget. 150p. ISTE. Oct. 2017. pap. $24.95. ISBN 9781564843913.

Divided into short, accessible sections, this slim volume covers everything from considering the library space to redefining it. Rendina discusses how libraries and librarians are evolving to address student needs and how the theory of active learning can help envision a different type of space. Design theory supports a framework for a new, flexible layout where students can collaborate on presentations, conduct research, create projects, and, yes, read. While most libraries make technology available for student use, the author suggests rethinking the traditional desktop computer stations in favor of more options, including mobile and/or group work stations. She recommends that librarians start by taking inventory and forming a team of advisors. Rendina offers inexpensive solutions, such as weeding the collection and painting the walls, and action steps are included at the end of each chapter. Though this title effectively describes how to reimagine the library space, ultimately it falls short. There are very few examples of redesigned libraries, the black-and-white photographs are fuzzy, and the section on grants relies heavily on crowdfunding sites, with few other options. ­VERDICT A useful starting point for those interested in redesigning their libraries. Readers in need of a more detailed guidebook will want to consult Margaret Sullivan’s Library Spaces for 21st-Century Learners.–Laura Fields Eason, Parker Bennett Curry Elementary School, Bowling Green, KY

Sanguras, Laila Y. Grit in the Classroom: Building Perseverance for Excellence in Today’s Students. 175p. bibliog. Prufrock. Aug. 2017. pap. $19.95. ISBN 9781618216311.

Sanguras explores how educators can foster resilience and passion in their students by explicitly teaching grit. She argues that grit, which lies at the crossroads between perseverance and passion for learning and is separate from intelligence, is essential for success. The book is accessible, engaging, and often humorous, weaving in current research alongside relatable examples and anecdotes for teachers. The author addresses methods for developing, instilling, and assessing perseverance and engagement at all levels, including in the classroom, through partnerships with parents and by creating a “gritty” culture in the school community. Sanguras also examines differentiation and how to teach grit to gifted learners, and the concepts pair well with other hot topics in education, such as project-based learning. Each chapter ends with discussion questions, making this an excellent choice for school or district-wide professional development. An extensive list of additional resources is appended. ­VERDICT This comprehensive introduction is the rare professional resource that is useful to most educators in many contexts.–Kathryn Justus, Renbrook School, West Hartford, CT

As Seen in LJ

Alessio, Amy J., Katie LaMantia, & Emily Vinci. 50+ Fandom Programs: Planning Festivals and Events for Tweens, Teens, and Adults. 160p. illus. index. ALA. May 2017. pap. $49. ISBN 9780838915523.

Library program planners who connect with avid fans have a ready-made audience for events. Alessio (Club Programs for Teens), LaMantia (Schaumburg Township District Library, IL), and Vinci (Schaumburg Township District Library, IL), coauthors of A Year of Programs for Millennials and More, provide a basic guide for drawing tween, teen, and adult fans into the library. The book covers an assortment of interests, such as sports, gaming, steampunk, anime, and history, as well as beloved book, toy, movie, and television franchises. Demonstrating their programming experience, Alessio, LaMantia, and Vinci provide detailed instructions on shopping lists, preparation time, crafts and games, program length, recommended number of attendees, and more. Many of the suggestions are suitable for patrons of various ages—perfect for those engaged in multigenerational programming. Readers will also come away with marketing ideas, including partnerships with appropriate businesses, along with hints for keeping staff informed and engaged. VERDICT Library staff involved in programming will appreciate this resource for its no-fail directions and wealth of material.–Lydia Olszak, Bosler Memorial Library, Carlisle, PA

Downey, Jennifer. Public Library ­Collections in the Balance: Censorship, ­Inclusivity, and Truth. 208p. Libraries Unlimited/­Teacher Ideas. Jul. 2017. pap. $55. ISBN 9781440849640.

Downey (Rancho Cucamonga Public Library, CA) explores the roles of public librarians as guardians against suppression and censorship. Starting with an overview of the history of censorship in U.S. public libraries, she points out the ethical and philosophical responsibilities of the library profession and the value placed on inclusivity, open access to all types of information, and a fair and balanced approach to collection development and programming. The author suggests tips on dealing with book challenges and developing staff training. She also emphasizes the ­importance of ensuring that both the collection and programming for kids, teens, and adults are all-encompassing and provides an appendix of resources listing small and alternative publishers that focus on LGBTQ materials and titles by authors of color. VERDICT This edifying guide, along with the current edition of the ­American Library Association’s Intellectual ­Freedom Manual, is essential reading for library students, librarians, and library administrators.–Donna ­Marie Smith, Palm Beach County Library ­System, FL

This article was published in School Library Journal's January 2018 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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