confessions of a SLMS

Monday, October 31, 2005

Children's author and boys literacy advocate Jon Scieszka recently edited a collection of stories, comics and general advice. The book, _Guys Write for Guys Read _, contains works by best-selling authors like Stephen King and Jack Gantos, author of the popular Joey Pigza books. Gantos' 'Joey' books are geared toward the mid to upper elementary ages. Read and hear Jon Scieszka talk about boys and the love of books in this National Public Radio interview.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Jim Trelease, author of _The Read-Aloud Handbook_, has recognized the challenges boys face with learning and enjoying reading. In his book, which is an excellent source of ideas and strategies, he notes important information for parents and teachers. Trelease relates that school-age males read less for pleasure, have lower writing scores, have lower educational expectations and do less homework than their female classmates. Males who do enroll in college graduate at a lower rate than females. Wow-that really makes you think. Not very encouraging statistics, but there are ways to combat these grim numbers. Check out his very interesting reading web site . Another source which offers additional creative and practical approaches to making reading more appealing to boys is on the International Reading Association web site, entitled

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Looking around on the PBS site, I came across some good strategies for parents and educators to get boys involved and excited about reading. Especially interesting is the technique that focuses on reading non-fiction with boys and integrating a hands-on approach to understanding. Boys determine their own questions to research with a group and are given guidance on reading the selected non-fiction books for meaningful facts. The groups present their discoveries to the rest of the boys. This sounds like what my fourth grade car-builders are doing on their own. Check out this Reading Rockets site. Anything that will engage more boys to read more willingly and with enthusiasm is the way to go.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Using, I searched the AASL archives and found this blog from the just-passed conference in Pittsburgh. Additional thoughts on boys and their interests . And speaking of boys sharing and using knowledge...five of my fourth grade boys came into the Library today, asking to use the computers while I was teaching another class. They are planning on making a large model car and wanted to do research. Yes, they did find the info they wanted and the coolest part is that this is not a school project, just a bunch of buddies with the same interest and they did this on their free time.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Exciting day for all of my fifth graders--and some interesting observations. Friday was the culminating event for their biography project. During the second week of school, their classroom teacher assigned them a research packet (their choice, no sports or entertainment figures). When they came to Library each week (and some at lunch) we looked at print, online and database sources for their information. I helped them refine their searching and writing skills and pictures were included for their final presentations. Students were to have a very good idea of their person and why he or she made a difference in our lives. On Friday, they dressed as that person and talked and answered questions as that person for other students in our school. It was a great success-very creative ideas and much excitement all around! One of the best parts was that many of the boys got so into this project. Three of my students, who struggle academically, were very enthusiastic and ended up doing asuper, well-thought out projects they were proud of. As William Pollack, author of _Real Boys_, puts it, "Boys, just like girls, do best in schools that give them the chance to participate in learning activities that correspond to their personal interests and competencies, enabling them to sound their authentic voices and thrive as individuals." (p.253). A good read.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Finding out what boys want to read in their library is my latest quest. At the end of one of my fifth grade classes, I took 2 minutes to talk about how I buy books. A quick explanation regarding the limits of a budget and then on to asking what they wanted. I told the class that I couldn't promise to get all the books, but would promise to listen and keep their suggestions. Most of the hands raised were boys'-asking for everything from mysteries, the latest Lemony Snicket, science experiments, to wolves and planes. I took down all the suggestions to put in my 'wish' file. I will be putting out a suggestion box this week, too. The February, 2003 issue of Teacher-Librarian magazine has a good article on this topic entitled, "Bait the Boys and Hook Them into Reading." by Barbara Braxton.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Michael Sullivan's excellent book _Connecting Boys with Books-What Libraries Can Do_ contains various ideas and strategies to promote reading among the males in your library (big and small). He makes an important point regarding other males in boys' lives. As Sullivan notes on page 111, "If we fail to give boys male role models who read, then they are likely to find their own role models with more destructive habits." See the August, 2004 issue of School Library Journal for a very interesting article by Sullivan entitled, "Why Johnny Won't Read." My classmate, Tracey, also reminded me about Michael Sullivan's website, Thanks, Tracey!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The ALA website has a whole section devoted to the unique reading and developmental needs of boys. It's on the ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children page. There are links to Patrick Jones' magazine reading lists, interesting websites and suggestions for successful library programming for boys. Check it out at:

One section of my third grade boys are heavily into animal books. One of them asked me for books about wolves, snakes and cougars today. Another was looking for anything with spiders- as he told me, "the scarier, the better." !

Monday, October 10, 2005

I keep thinking and reading about different ways to attract more boys to read and check out books in our library. Some of my third grade boys are dedicated readers-tackling anything from _Secrets of Droon to _Chet Gecko_ . Many other male students seem to lag behind in skills and confidence, which discourages them even further from picking up a new title. It's easy to see what Michael Sullivan says in his book, _Connecting Boys with Books: What Libraries Can Do_ , that one-half of all boys identify themselves as non-readers by high school. Jon Scieszka's website, talks about and offers some creative solutions to the challenge of getting our boys to read.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Always looking for ways to promote my elementary library to the school community. While looking at ALA's AASL site, I came across information about International School Library Day. This event, which will happenn on October 24th this year, was proclaimed by Dr. Blanche Woolls in 1999. It was started to feature the diverse, learning-rich environments in school libraries around the world. Dr. Woolls is the author of the textbook _The School Library Media Manager_. Click on the cool bookmark link at the bottom right side of the page. Do any of you celebrate this event with special activities?