Friday, March 1, 2013

Free to Read #4

Feb. 28, 2013 Session 4 – To Read or not to Read? Discussions about reading discernment are very important in any Christian community, but the discussions must also lead to decisions. Individual readers (as well as parents and teachers) must decide whether or not to read a novel or to fling it aside. In this session we will begin to formalize such decisions by working together to draft a Christian school library book recommendation form. Required reading: Stephenie Meyer, Twilight.

Last night's session focussed on the practical aspects of book selection for a school library - a particularly hot topic for me as I've been on the Library Committee at my kid's school for the past 2 1/2 years and we struggle regularly with the difficult decisions about whether or not to include certain books in the library.  Dr Smid had lots of good ideas to help with this process and a few of us had an extended discussion again after the session about which of these ideas were really practical.  It was interesting for me to see which of her ideas we already have in place in our school library... and I feel encouraged that we are doing a pretty good job already!

Dr Smid shared some ideas for the purpose of a school library that I think are relevant to our church libraries and home "libraries" as well.  The books we choose should:

  • provide information
  • send the clear message that learning does not end in the classroom
  • highlight the importance and delight of reading
  • ensure that all kids have access to books
  • allow for individual tastes and interests
  • encourage reading AS A CHRISTIAN

Dr. Smid provided a fairly detailed handout for this session, but here are some ideas that are also relevant to us when selecting books to read at Book Club:

  1. include a wide variety of books to appeal to various tastes - we do this!  She emphasized here the idea of choosing books not just in different genres or on different topics, but also in different writing styles, points of view and "voices".  I think that overall many of us have welcomed the opportunity to read outside our comfort zone - even if the conclusion was simply that we still don't like that particular type of book!
  2. include classics which have stood the test of time - we do this!  Both may (forgotten favorites) and September (reading the classics) cover this category.
  3. include new and popular books... Don't automatically avoid books that have been panned in a Christian magazine or blog.  Christian reviewers can and do make mistakes or have a specific agenda, just like everyone else.  Just because the book is unsuited for one Christian, it is not necessarily useless for all Christians. - what do you think?  Can you remember us avoiding a popular book because of negative reviews?  if so, do you think we made the right choice?  I wonder if we should try to build this in to our rotation a bit more.  For example, maybe we can ditch our April theme (how does your garden grow?) which we've been using pretty loosely anyways and replace it with something like "The Latest Buzz" where we choose a popular new book to read. 
Much of the session focussed on the practical workings of a school library, so if you are interested further in that, feel free to call me a up and I'll share some of her ideas and chat your ear off on that topic too.

Thoughts?  Reactions? 
Definitely some ideas to keep in mind when choosing books for the next half year!

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