In many classrooms around the country gone are the days of the class novel. Instead classroom teachers are expected to monitor each reader as they move through individual books that are at “just right,” independent levels. This requires a new way of thinking for the middle grade classroom teacher, the school librarians, and the publishers since many of the books the students will read are found in classroom libraries instead of the school media center.
So how can teachers (or parents) stay current in knowing what’s out there for their students (or children)? Here are some tips you can use.
1. Check out the book lists at blogs like this one!
Since you are already here, take the time to check out our new releases by month. Our bloggers are constantly adding lists of new books for middle graders.
2. Form a partnership with your school librarian and/or media assistant
I would have thought that this tip was a given, but at an American Association of School Librarians conference I attended a couple of years ago I was surprised to hear that many school librarians and teachers do not have good relationships. Librarians told me that many of their teachers were unwilling to go outside the books they felt familiar with and had used in their classroom for years and years to try something new. Instead, work with your school librarian to introduce new books to your readers.
3. Get to know your local children’s librarians and book sellers
Librarians and book sellers have been matching books to readers for years so it makes sense that they would have knowledge about the most current books. If possible, invite your local librarians into the school to talk to kids about books or to publicize summer reading programs.
4. Sign up for free subscriptions
Many subscription magazines have weekly eNewsletters that you can sign up for without any charge. Publisher’s Weekly Children’s Bookshelf is my favorite eNewsletter because of it’s easy to read format and article links. You can also sign up for Extra Helping at School Library Journal. Many local bookstores also have eNewsletters where they announce new books. Publishers also have enewsletters with new book announcements. If you are quick, you can sometimes request ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) of books that have not reached their publication date.
5. Attend book conventions such as Book Expo America, American Association of School Librarians, or NCTE
At each of these conventions, new books are highlighted and ARCs are even handed to teachers as you walk on the floor. Some of these conventions are costly or require membership, but if you can convince your school system to let you attend, they will often pay at least part of your admission.
Once you find all these new books, make a plan to read them. I know teachers are busy and the new common core objectives and curriculums have made us busier than ever before, but new books are worth exploring. While the older books should not be forgotten, new books move at the pace of our readers and connect to their world. A good classroom library has a mix of old and new to help every reader find what they are looking for. By taking the time to read new books and stay current, you are also connecting to the current world of the child. Plus, they are great, quick reads for you to enjoy too.