So many books! (Reading and, now, writing reviews)

Last semester I piloted an assignment (along with a colleague and good friend) that asked our children’s literature students to follow a children’s literature blog or blogs throughout the semester. (I’ll be doing something similar this semester, but that’s another post.)

One of the things that I find most helpful about reading blogs and book reviews is that it is an accessible and time-sensitive way to stay current with the field of children’s literature. I think this is important for teachers (and others) who are in a position to share books with children. I added the assignment for my students as a way to help them broaden their knowledge base of literature as well as think about how they will stay current when they are in their own classrooms.

Personally, I read lots of blogs and I am a huge fan of The Horn Book Magazine – it’s like getting a gift in the mailbox every two months. The writing, not only of the reviews but of the articles as well, is always thought-provoking and inspiring. In addition to my addiction to literature, reading reviews has served other purposes as well:

  • it helps me stay current in the field in regards to books that I may want to share with my chidren’s literature students, teacher friends, and children
  • it helps me decide what I want to read
  • it allows me to have conversations with other children’s literature professionals, fans and addicts like myself.

These experiences as an instructor and reader have made me think about how I will make decisions about what to review and post about on this blog.I was inspired by a post a few days ago over at the Nerdy Book Club. This coming year, they will be having reviews of both new and retro books, so I’m going to follow along and do a combination of both. My goal will be to post two reviews a week, we’ll see how it goes. I suspect it will vary as the semester progresses and depending on what sorts of books I decide to read. I’m also over on Goodreads and have decided that I will be doing much shorter reviews there, while reviews on this blog will be more in depth. I hope this will provide another opportunity to engage across disciplines, professions and interests.

Teachers: What do you find helpful and useful? What resources do you wish were available? What is interesting and inspiring when it comes to your own reading and sharing books with your students?

Current bloggers, reviewers, and fellow children’s-literature-geeks: what advice or suggestions do you have?

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8 thoughts on “So many books! (Reading and, now, writing reviews)

  1. I find this blog to be very insightful and has offered me some ways to think about the books I engage in. But, also it helps me to think about HOW I engage in books. Which leads me to my questions. As such an advid reader and critic of literature, specifically children’s literature, what are some of the criteria, or “things”, that you do consider when you decide choose a book to read vs. review? Are there things in a review that you read/or write that are hints as to a books interest level for you?

    Thanks!
    Z.

  2. I am so glad for the Comment Challenge because that’s what led me to you and … great first to me post to read. I agree with your reasoning behind why we like blogs and book reviews. One of my goals this year is to improve my review writing. I want to find a balance between the reviews that are longer than the books themselves and my current probably too short and vague variety. I may lower my Goodreads To Read in 2012 goal just so that I can be more careful with the books I do read, instead of being in such a rush to get on to the next one. There is BEAUTIFUL WRITING OUT THERE (like, for example, as you mentioned … The Graveyard Book).

  3. I appreciate current reviews of books that are two, three, five years old. I often don’t have access to hot-off-the-press books, and reviews of older books are buried on blogs and websites. I get very excited when I read a review that excites me, and discover I can get my hands on the book in good time. So, yay to the Nerdy Book Club for adding reviews of retro books!

    I really dislike reviews of books that aren’t even out yet. So frustrating!

    Also, I’m always curious about reviewers’ processes. I want to know what you’re thinking your first time through a book. What catches your eye or ear? How often do you interrupt the story to think about it from a reviewer’s perspective? Do you read everything from a reviewer’s perspective, or do you sometimes just read for the sake of being carried away by the story? Do you have a process for writing your reviews, or is each one different?

  4. When I look at reviews, I like them to be fairly short and to the point, and focused on which readers the book might engage. For myself, my blog reviews are a way I can have an auxiliary memory– when a student wants to know what a book is about, I may have forgotten, but at least I can look it up!

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