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Field Notes: Pandemic Diary: Bilingual Virtual Programming

Children’s literature has the unique ability to inspire a lifelong love of reading for children and their families. One of the books that shaped my own understanding of growing up biracial, as a Honduran American, was Arroz con leche: canciones y ritmos populares de América Latina / Rice with Milk:...

Field Notes: "But Are They Level O?": Leveled Reading and Antiracism

2
Knoth reading to a kindergarten class in her school library. My search began with the most ordinary of questions. All school librarians will recognize the request: a teacher sent a weekend email needing book suggestions for her fourth graders — books that were well written, accessible, and of course, engaging....

Field Notes: Books Everlasting: Teaching Children's Literature to Older Adults

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Retired children’s librarians don’t fade away. They become consultants, and teach. When I’m not taking classes myself, I am teaching two courses about children’s books to older adults who participate in Osher, the Lifelong Learning Institute, based at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. My students are mostly grandparents. Some are...

Field Notes: Teaching Infinite Hope

Ashley Bryan’s Infinite Hope: A Black Artist’s Journey from World War II to Peace won the 2020 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award for Nonfiction and a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Award — but as a teacher, children’s literature aficionado, and friend of Ashley’s, I’ve known the book was special for...

Field Notes: Readers and Refugees

Beginning in the spring of 2018, IBBY [International Board on Books for Young People] Canada initiated the Readers and Refugees program in Toronto. The program was inspired by IBBY Children in Crisis Fund programs, such as IBBY–REFORMA’s joint Children in Crisis Project at the U.S./Mexico border and IBBY Italia’s work with...

Field Notes: A Family Affair: Connecting Community to Books

On a rainy day in July 2017, a group of teachers, librarians, and community activists gathered at Frugal Bookstore, Boston’s only Black-owned bookstore, to participate in a discussion of Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give (which would go on to be named a 2018 Coretta Scott King Author Award Honor...

Field Notes: Camp Read-a-Rama: Learning to “Live Books”

Leader: Hey Nick.Nick: Yeah!L: Hey Nick.N: Yeah!L: Can you Gruff?N: Gruff-a-what?L: Can you Gruff?N: Gruff-a-lo.N: My hands are high, my feet are low, and this is how I Gruffalo. [Nick dances]All: His hands are high, his feet are low, and this is how he Gruffalos! [Everyone mimics Nick’s dance]All: Gruff-a-lo,...

Field Notes: Lucha Libros: Bilingual Battle of the Books

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On May 3, 2017, fifty-six second- and third-graders and their parents gathered in the Pasadena Public Library’s Donald R. Wright Auditorium for the final battle of our third annual Lucha Libros reading competition. That month’s selection was Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox / El Superzorro. As I looked around the...

Field Notes: Loud in the Library: Creating Social Activists at School

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I am the librarian in an elementary school in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It’s a city of socioeconomic extremes, but dedicated to the mission of equity in public education; every classroom in each of the twelve public elementary schools maintains a 60/40 ratio between paid and free lunch students. In addition to...

Field Notes: Escaping Series Mania

3
Last spring I worked, temporarily, as a school librarian, a position I hadn’t held since Reagan was president. There were lots of adjustments, some easier than others. But the biggest surprise of all was that in this elementary school in an affluent suburb in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, almost every...

Field Notes: On Propagating Literacy

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Illustration by Erin Farley.My story about working in adult literacy starts with a Black Knight Buddleia sapling on my twenty-sixth birthday at around two o’clock in the afternoon. I was digging the hole to plant the Buddleia in the garden of my Tipperary farm when the phone rang. The caller...

Field Notes: Alice, the Transformer

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She began life as Alice Liddell, the daughter of an Oxford college dean, who in 1856, along with her brother and two sisters, was befriended by mathematics tutor Charles Dodgson, later better known by his pen name Lewis Carroll. A few years later, on a summer boat trip, the first...

Field Notes: “This Is Too Much!” Why Verse Novels Work for Reluctant Readers

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Novels in verse have earned their place in the mainstream of children’s and young adult literature — Exhibit A: Kwame Alexander’s The Crossover winning the Newbery Medal — and this is good news for reluctant readers, especially reluctant middle-grade and middle-school readers. Compared to a conventional novel, a novel in...

What Happened to the Frog?

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During this new era of the Common Core State Standards, it is essential for teachers and librarians not only to have an understanding of the end goal of each particular standard but also to have a deep knowledge of the children’s literature that can support it. Take, for example, the...

Field Notes: And Stay Out of Trouble: Narratives for Black Urban Children

Back when I taught fifth grade at an elite independent school, we used to laugh that all the children’s books we knew prepared our students for waking up one morning to find that they were required to save the world — which perhaps they were and one day would be....

Field Notes: “Mom, Look! It’s George, and He’s a TV Indian!”

by Debbie ReeseThe title for this article came from my daughter, Elizabeth. One day last year when I picked her up from kindergarten, she came rushing to me with a scrunched-up, angry face. Before she even said hello, she plopped down on the hallway floor and opened the George and...
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