This month a trio of goodies highlight children’s and young adult books and for librarians, educators, and parents.
The granddaddy of these is Wilson’s Children’s Core Collection. Now 102 years old and in its twentieth edition, the Children’s Core Collection (formerly known as Children’s Catalog) is the go-to source for establishing and updating children’s libraries in school and small public libraries serving youngsters from birth to grade six.
Every four years a committee of seven librarians meets to evaluate the Children’s Core. This committee draws on a wide range of expertise in subject and ages served and discusses current and future professional issues and recommended changes for the catalog. For example, for the twentieth edition, many books (and there are over 11,000 recommended this time up) are designated with a *, indicating Most Highly Recommended and signaling to budget strapped librarians which books would be necessary purchases. The committee then divides into areas of expertise (such as American History, folklore, and poetry) with each member owning several sections of the catalog. These members study their individual sections, interview librarians, examine books, and delete and add entries where necessary. It is important to note that Wilson staff automatically deletes out of print (OP) books; occasionally a committee member will recommend an OP book remain in the catalog.
Suggestions include books (but, except for dictionaries, only those in English) and a few general web resources. Periodicals (except for professional review journals) and nonprint materials (excepting the Web resources) are not included.
The easy to use catalog is arranged in Dewey order, with nonfiction preceding fiction and/or E books. Biographies are listed as 92 or 920 (rather than in subject classification.) Each item is cataloged as a main entry, including price, suggested grade levels, and ISBN numbers. Short excerpts from selected review journals, and, when appropriate, indication of stars in various journals (see here) and inclusion on various year-end lists, accompany these entries. Web resources follow as a separate section. Four indices (Author, Title, Subject, and Analytical) complete the book.
Subscribers to the Children’s Core Collection receive three annual printed supplements of additional title recommendations. Professional staff from H. W. Wilson compile these updates, studying year-end lists, review journals, and taking recommendations from members of the respective core committees.
There is also a web edition and those who subscribe to this version have more current access to these updates as well as the Graphic Novel Core and The Nonbook Materials Core (available on the Web only.)
Thirteen years ago K. T. Horning published From Cover to Cover, an examination of evaluating and reviewing children’s books that quickly became a staple for librarians and teachers working with children. This revised edition speaks to changing trends in publishing as well as expanding coverage to include more recent examples of fine children’s literature and updated sources that reflect new ways of thinking about books. But Horning’s central question remains the same as in the 1997 edition: What makes a good children’s book?
Understanding that different kinds of books (say fiction or picture books) require different kinds of evaluative tools, Horning divides this important tool by book type, including, for example, folklore, informational books, easy readers, and beginning chapter books. For each division, Horning outlines important characteristics to consider when evaluating, loading each section with examples from current children’s literature.
The book concludes with practical advice about writing a review, advice that is important for both reviewers and consumers of reviews.
Roger Sutton and Martha Parravano have edited this month’s new kid on the block, A Family of Readers: The Book Lovers Guide to Children’s and Young Adult Literature. Sutton and Parravano, respectively editor in chief and executive editor of the Horn Book Magazine, have carved out a unique audience: parents (and grandparents) who are readers and want their children and grandchildren to enjoy the same pleasures of reading they experienced. (We wouldn’t be surprised to see this book work its way into the educational market; the information is particularly relevant for librarians and teachers working with children.) The result is a stunner, always emphasizing pleasure as adults watch and participate (sometimes actively in selecting picture books, sometimes more passively by simply letting youngsters read what they wish) in the reading lives of the children they love.
Following the reading lives of children and young adults, the book is divided into four sections: Reading To Them, Reading With Them, Reading on Their Own, and Leaving Them Alone. Parravano and Sutton provide commentary for each section and contributors include the cadre of Horn Book reviewers as well as well-chosen articles that were previously published in the Horn Book. For example, science expert Danielle J. Ford writes about “What Makes a Good Dinosaur Book?” while Kevin Henkes offers a piece entitled “Again,” about the importance of reading and re-reading (and re-reading) a child’s favorite picture book. We suspect A Family of Readers will also be a book adults will read again. And again.
- Betty Carter is a former New Orleans, Louisiana reading teacher; Houston, Texas school librarian; and Texas Woman’s University professor of children’s and young adult literature. She’s been a member of the Newbery Committee, which annually selects the most distinguished book in children’s literature and the Sibert Committee which annually selects the most outstanding informational book in children’s literature. She’s also been a juror and chair of the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award and is a past coordinator of the Texas Bluebonnet Committee which oversees the selection and use of an annual reading list of books read by over two-hundred thousand school children in Texas. She presently works as a reviewer for The Horn Book Magazine.
- A member of YALSA [Young Adult Library Services Association] for more than 25 years, Pam Spencer Holley is a Past President, chaired the 1987 Best Books for Young Adults, the 2004 Printz Committee and the 2009 Odyssey Committee. She authored the series What Do Children and Young Adults Read Next?, vol. 1-6 [The Gale Group, 1994-2004], and continues to write for their online product Books and Authors. She is a former biology teacher, middle and high school librarian, and coordinator of libraries for Fairfax County Public Schools, from which she retired in 1998.
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