Tuesday, January 5, 2010

What's new in K-3

Welcome back to school! I hope everyone had a restful and rejuvenating winter break. I got to catch up on my reading, both with actual and audio books, as I relaxed with my knitting and some nice books on cd.

Now we are back at school, students in kindergarten through third grade are moving on from our Germany unit to the Washington Children's Choice Picture Book Award. Each year a committee of librarians from the Washington Library Media Association chooses 20 finalists from a list of books nominated by elementary school librarians. I was excited to see that one of my nominations, Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship and Survival by Kirby Larson, made it onto this year's list!

After reading all 20 nominees in library class, students will get to vote for their favorites, joining over 100,000 young people all over Washington state. It is an interesting exercise in book selection and making one's own choices (rather than going along with the crowd or one's best friend). We also talk about the difference between this award and other ones, such as the Caldecott, which is selected by a committee of adults rather than by the popular vote of children!

Second and third graders also continue to explore the library via the Dewey Decimal Classfication system. It is an exercise which has both immediate practical consequences (enhancing students' use of both public and school libraries) and future benefits (laying a foundation for understanding the organization of knowledge in other contexts, such as print and online reference sources).

One side effect of exploring the DDC has been an increased interest in books that otherwise had not drawn much attention. When I pulled examples of books from the 400s to show to third graders, they were eager to borrow Lynne Truss's humorous guides to punctuation, sign language handbooks, bilingual books, and other materials that they had not previously asked for independently. My hope is that once we've made it through the entire library, many of them will to continue to read broadly and explore new topics.

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