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Annotated bibliographies

We had our fifth of six children’s lit classes last week, which means the big assignment was due: an annotated bibliography of fifteen books on a single subject. Students choose a topic they are interested in and I help them focus and revise those topics until each topic is neither too broad nor too narrow, given the time available. Ideally, each list includes a mix of fiction and nonfiction; and diversity in character, setting, perspective, etc. At the end of the semester, the lists are shared.

I like that this assignment adds to their collection of book list handouts, websites, and other resources accumulated over the course of the semester, but the real value of the assignment is not the result, but the process. They read dozens of books covering the same subject, find out what reviewers said about these books, and decide for themselves what set of fifteen titles will make the most interesting and diverse list. There are plenty of online resources, like The Horn Book Guide Online, but there is one resource that beats all the websites. That resource is a good children’s librarian.

Usually, students talk about their bibliography process in their book discussion groups at class #5. This year, they didn’t get that chance, so I’m hoping some will use the comments here to tell us about their processes and discoveries.

 

Lolly Robinson About Lolly Robinson

Lolly Robinson is the creative director for The Horn Book, Inc. She has degrees in studio art and children's literature and teaches children's literature at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. She has served on the Caldecott and Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committees and blogs for Calling Caldecott and Lolly's Classroom on this site.

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Comments

  1. Arienne L. Calingo says:

    Growing up, I always looked forward to going to ballet class after the school bell rang. I have cultivated a deep love for ballet over the years, which is why I chose ballet as the topic of my annotated bibliography. Before searching for books about ballet, I had assumed that there would not be a lot of books with people of color as the main characters. Much to my surprise, I found a number of books with people of color, such as “Alicia Alonso: Prima Ballerina” by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand and “Emma and Julia Love Ballet” by Barbara McClintock, which partly focuses on an African-American principal dancer. I was also very surprised to find ballet books in which the protagonists are boys! Another interesting discovery was that most of the books I found were non-fiction. Prior to researching, reading, and reviewing books, I had assumed that I would find the exact opposite—mostly fiction books on ballet. I borrowed all my books from the Cambridge Public Library and used the Horn Book Guide Online and Minuteman Library Network, as well. The Horn Book Guide Online was incredibly helpful in the whole bibliography process! I learned so much through this assignment.

  2. Garden is an indispensable part of a family life in many cultures, east or west. When I grew up, vegetables on the dinner table mostly came from my grandpa’s garden, in as many variety as you could imagine. My mother is also an diligent gardener for green plants. However, I was never engaged in the gardening process since young, hence my interests towards this fantastic activity were not triggered until very late in my life. My own learning about gardening was mostly achieved by tedious real-life practice, rather than books. Hence I’m curious to find out if relevant books can stimulate children’s interests towards gardening early on and make the learning process engaging for them. That’s why I pick up the topic of gardens and gardening.

    Lolly was very helpful in expanding my horizon as to what types of sub-themes I could look for under the big topic of gardens and gardening. I conducted research on Horn Book Guide online through search terms like gardens, juvenile gardening, plants and flowers and consulted librarians from Cambridge Public Library to find the books. The Horn Book Guide was very helpful as a reference but my bibliography took a different perspective from the guide and discussed how the recommended books can help teachers in their classrooms.

    Even though I focused on picture books only, I tried to diversify the list by including a variety of things that grow in a garden like plants, flowers, vegetables, even insects! I also found an interesting combination of antagonists in the gardening process, not just the typical mother-daughter gardeners. While I included a few gardens from other countries, it seemed there were not as many exotic gardens as I imagined before the assignment. It we were to enlist 30 books, I’d love to expand my search and recommend more picture books illustrating gardens from other cultures.

    I really learned a lot and enjoyed the bibliography assignment!

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