Monday, March 8, 2010

The library is for all the kids

Among the classes coming to the library for wide reading in the last while have been 10E8 and 9E8 - classes composed mostly of boys.  The classes are streamed, so these are classes where I want to put out books that will catch their attention.  Graphic works can be a great way to go.  Some of these kids struggle to learn, others are focused on other things - I've had some great conversations with them about all sorts of topics.  They don't like being patronised, and they don't like books that patronise them either, 'stupid-simple', childish covers, or such.

I put books out for them as I do for all the other visiting wider reading classes, all around the table to give them plenty of choices.  A couple of successes recently:

The Osprey Graphic History series is one (that's the publisher website).  They're thin (never mind the quality, feel the width) and high interest - battles include Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal and several US Civil War ones.  9E8, to whom I showed them first, had some kids who were pleased (and surprised) that when I realised how much they liked  them, I offered to add the remaining titles to the library's collection (we had five of the twelve, as I wanted to see if they would find friends).  10E8 liked them just as much, and were very pleased to know more were coming (collection development and library PR, there).  Several boys who had never borrowed from the library EVER borrowed from this series.  (My excellent local independent bookshop is able to supply these in Australia with no hassles, so check with your local independent bookshop if you're after some).  We had conversations about the planes illustrated (luckily the male teacher of 10E8 knew more than me about planes) and looked to see exactly where Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal were in the atlas (I could do that better than plane identification), but most of all we wanted the classes to engage with books, and most of them did (you can't win them all, but you can keep trying).

One of the charming smart-alecks in 9E8 thought he'd catch me out (or end up with Where's Wally) when he asked for a book 'with no words'.  Ha, buster, I've got YOU sorted...

In this book, about five pages of detailed drawings in, it goes surreal - the man, having packed, arrives in a place where there is a dragon-like tail shadowed on a building... the kid got interested in spite of himself, and spent  a goodly slab of the lesson reading this book.  His mate got kinda interested too, so I gave him this Shaun Tan book:

which he liked; and you can still access, online a pdf of my favourite story from this book, Eric.

The teachers of these (sometimes challenging) classes have been positive about these visits, and the classes will be returning.  Which is great.  The library isn't just for good kids or top classes, it's for all the kids.



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