Sunday, March 5, 2017

Enlisting Expert Readers

I read a lot. Although this year, honestly, I'm little (okay, a lot) behind my pace from last year. But I'm not letting that stop me from adding books to my library - thanks to the amazing nerdy community on Twitter. Twitter is the pulse of #KitLit -- but usually these are the opinions of adults. Expert adults, but adults nonetheless. I know my readers & I usually understand what books and authors kids will like but obviously, I'm not a fifth grader. Therefore, this year I've enlisted some "experts" to help me curate my library and decide on books to add to (or drop from) book clubs. Just like, I go to experts like Mr. Shu or Donalyn Miller for book talks and advice as a teacher, I go to my expert readers for help getting a kid's perspective on new books and authors.

I get feedback all the time from the students in my classroom but my experts are the readers of readers. This year, I've enlisted the help of two expert advisers this year. Both have really helped me this year read and review book choices especially for those students that have read "everything." Plus, it gives those well read students a voice and leadership role within the classroom. They often help with book talking or promoting within our classroom.

This year my experts have recommended and promoted The Girl that Drank the Moon and When the Sea Turned to Silver, two books that they read before me! They have impeccable taste! Although, my experts may not represent all the kids in my class - they represent a population of eager readers that are building their own TBR lists and piles and piles of books. Currently, one expert is weighing in on the Ethan I was Before while another is reading my ARC of Someday the Birds to see if it should go on next year's #MockNewbery. They've been such a blessing this year -- I literally finish (or even just share) a book and pass it along to get their honest opinions.

When I asked them both to share a few favorites - the resounding (and in unison) answer was "THE GIRL THAT DRANK THE MOON!" They both told me this book would win the Newbery, and they were right. Then after a pause, "Any Mock Newbery book." This includes a few favorites such as The Hour of the Bees and Paper Wishes. Giving students ownership of class libraries is important. As teachers, we need to remember to get student feedback and really know our students as readers. I'm hoping with some expert advice we'll keep curating a great list of books to share with some eager readers this year (and next!).

How do you enlist "experts" within your classroom?
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