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20 January 2015 @ 10:00 am
For reading out loud  
You already know my feelings about lists. I try hard not to be too critical of lists, but I cannot help but talk about them and point out their usual failings. The latest culprit is this one: http://www.readaloudamerica.org/pdfs/2015%20Reading%20List%20signed.pdf. It is from Read Aloud America. While I applaud reading aloud and encourage its use, I do have some issues with these lists. In large part, I think it might have to do with the limited number of titles. If you are only picking 20 per grade band, of course there will be great titles overlooked. But I also wonder why not just compile a list of resources instead of a list of books? (note: there are resources at the end of all the lists) Give links to lists from different organizations. Keep diversity in the forefront. This set of lists purports to have diversity, but in reality, there is not much diversity here.

I would also make sure when I publicize a list, that I have the titles of the books correct. (ahem, FLORA AND ULYSSES) and not list the title of series without identifying it as a series and not a stand alone title (SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS). When recommending books to adults, why not include THE READ ALOUD HANDBOOK and READING MAGIC, two books that explain in very clear ways why reading aloud is so important?

Better yet, make the lists fluid. Here is a starting point. Put them on spreadsheets and upload them to a Google drive and allow input from others? Or let us add to the lists and create one that is our own. But there is still a need to be cautious. What I read aloud year after year is one thing, but there are dozens of books that come and go from my reading lists from my workshops from my recommendations. Lists almost demand to be static.

Even though I have a list of sorts for the books I read in 2014, it is incomplete. I read some books that never got recorded. I read other books that were so terrible that I did not include them on the lists. My list is also idiosyncratic. It reflects my reading and no one else's. While I strive to read widely and "mind the gap," there are still some books which mock me from the TBR stacks as I bypass them one more time knowing I should read them (and most likely I will) but not now. I have no fewer than 5 books all gong right now and not one of them is moving me to finish reading it. So, I can see my own shortcomings when it comes to putting lists together.

One list I did keep while I was working with middle school kids. Each year I kept a running list of titles the kids had recommended to ME. Kids loved seeing the list grow as I read their recommendations. They loved seeing their names on the list of books I read, too.

So, thank you for the lists. For some, they will be a good place to begin. But they should never be the place where reading ENDS.
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