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26 January 2013 @ 05:49 am
No thanks  
The award announcements from ALA Midwinter are getting closer (Monday 8 am PST, click on www.ala.org for a link to the live web cast). As I have said here more than once, not everyone's favorites from 2012 will be announced as winning titles. And, conversely, not all winning titles might be your particular cup of tea. Though I generally read any award winners I might have missed along the way, I do not always finish them. There are just some books that do not speak to me. I can realize their utter brilliance still, mind you, and I think that is something we can teach our kids. I might not love science fiction, but I can tell the difference between one that is good and one that is GREAT. This, however, is not the subject for today's blog, and I need to move on so I can head out for 12 hours of meetings today.

Sometimes the book we give kids, the one they pretend to read or flat out refuse to read is just not the right book. There is this silly tag I sometimes see on clothes: ONE SIZE FITS ALL. Nope, one size does not fit all. Not in clothes, not in entertainment, not in books. One size fits all swamps College Girl, for example. Think of the books we love that might swamp a reader. There was a Facebook post about this swamping recently. A parent had asked for some recommendations for her high school daughter who read at the 5th grade level and been given some bad book advice (and I am willing to bet it was based on someone using lexiles or some other stupid system instead of a working knowledge of books). The teen was distraught (really???) by the time the parent consulted the youth services librarian at her local public library who made some recommendations based on the teen's professed interests and dislikes.

Sometimes ONE SIZE FITS ALL is too small (like on me). We recommend a book that is does not allow the reader to stretch and grow. Occasionally I want a sweeping saga, I want a book to go on and not end, I want the characters to appear in more novels. Sometimes the characters are too little (young or flat), sometimes the plot is too short (too predictable to a reader). Now I am all in favor of small books: I love picture books and know many teachers who use picture books with much older readers. However, short and too small are not the same. For instance, take a look at CHLOE AND THE LION for a terrific examplle of a 32 page picture book that is complex and layered (CCSS would call it rigorous if they could get over the fact that it is too small).

I often hear someone wild with praise for a book say, "EVERYONE should read this book." I admire the passion. However, I know deep inside that not all kids will love the same book. It is sort of why teaching is a bit more complicated than CCSS and other critics seem to think it is. Kids, like books, are unique. When we are abe to match one unique book to one unique kid there is a tremenddous feeling of satisfaction knowing we are helping forge those important connections with book. Go out and forge ahead, folks. Keep reading. Make notes about who this next book might appeal to (eek, ended sentence in a preposition). And remember one size most certainly does not fit all when it come to books, and standards, and curriculum.