I want to return to it today and talk about this point made in the article. Here is the salient quote:
Children have the right to be taught by those who have a knowledge of books.
In the run-up to World Book Day, challenge your colleagues to name six good writers. It will be interesting to see where their focus is. In the Teachers as Readers report from the United Kingdom Literacy Association, the responses generally cited a tight group of the best-selling authors of recent years. Where the UKLA study became interesting was when teachers were asked to name six good poets, writers of non-fiction and picture books. The question is, actually, do the teachers teaching our young readers know sufficient authors outside those they always use?
This one keeps coming back to tap me on the shoulder and whisper in my ear and nag me from time to time as I am reading a book or writing a blog post about the most recent book I have read. Is a knowledge of books, especially books developmentally appropriate for kids, still part and parcel of teacher education? Are there still teachers in classrooms who do not read books for kids? Or even read books for themselves? Are new teachers conversant with classic children's books as well as the new ones? I live in kind of a bubble when it comes to these questions. My friends, colleagues, and members of my PLN are all readers. They know books for kids, the classics as well as the newbies. They spend their "spare" time reading. They blog about it, give presentations to colleagues about it, shout it from the rooftops. But I do have to wonder about reality outside of my bubble. Actually, I sort of know since I, too, am called to talk to educators about books and reading. While it does not bother me that the audience has not read a book I have seen in ARC, it does trouble me when I am asked a question that indicates someone is not reading much at all. I see this on listservs when folks post to ask about discussion guides for books or ask if a particular book is appropriate for a grade/age. I see this when I mention an older book and see puzzlement. For National Poetry Month, I am trying hard to recommend older books of poetry, some of the ones I used in the classroom and also ones I used when working with teacher education students (back when a class in lit for kids was REQUIRED).
Bottom line: kids deserve teachers who are readers, especially readers of books for kids. Beyond being readers, though, these teachers need to have a knowledge of books. They need to know how to select books that meet the needs of the kids. They need to know the difference between popularity and literary quality (though these two often intersect). They need to know resources for reviews, sales, previews, etc. They need to know the BOOK PEOPLE (authors, illustrators, editors, critics, publishers, etc.). So, I think I will take off down that road a bit in future posts (do not worry, CCSS will still make an appearance often). What do we need to KNOW about books for kids?
Each kid deserves a teacher with this knowledge.