Monday, May 24, 2010

Do You Have a Book to Sell? Part 4

Will your book make the cut when I whittle down my book purchase list to the Must-Haves? Today, I'll focus on the fiction portion of the collection: Easy readers, beginning chapter books, and fiction. Here are the goals I must meet as library media specialist:

  1. Engage all the students as readers. I need books of varying levels -- titles to attract reluctant readers, high-interest, low-level books for my struggling readers, and challenging literature for my advanced readers.
  2. Develop appreciation for literature. Provide students with exemplary writing by collecting both the classic children's books and the best new material by debut authors.
  3. Support the curriculum: I want copies of the books that are excerpted in the language arts anthology or read by the teacher for class discussion. I'll also provide State Reading Award nominee books to read and discuss with the students in library as preparation for voting later in the school year.

When it comes to item three, those selections have already been made for me. So I will focus here on one and two for which the search process is the same.

My first choice when it comes to making selections is to read the book. I spend a lot of time browsing through bookstores and school book fairs. Does that picture book hold my interest to the last page? How will it sound read aloud? Does the first line, paragraph, or page of a chapter book hook me? Does the blurb on the cover intrigue me? I'd love to read everything that sounds promising, but I can't.

In order to sort through the hundreds of new books that are published every year, I read the reviews.

The Synopsis: Does the story sound engaging? How similar is the theme or premise to other books I have in the collection? This determination can work for or against a book. If it is something that the students are still eagerly pulling off the shelf, then another fairy book, sports mystery, vampire tale, or ? will provide additional reading options. On the other hand, if interest has waned then I don't need more of the same.

The Assessment: What does the review have to say about the writing - plotting, pacing, characterization, word choice, etc? How well does the book attain its stated goals and work for its intended audience? I'll look for key words and phrases.

  • Pros: clarity, wit, fresh twist, rewarding choice, natural for book talks, adept pacing, well-drawn or memorable characters, genuine emotion, lively humor, original concept, honest, universal -- to name a few.
  • Cons: flat, lecturing, intrusive narrator, heavy-handed, above its target audience, stretches credulity, tries to tell the story in rhyme, but doesn't succeed, stereotypical, forced, insipid, predictable.

If you are hoping for your book to make the cut then consider which of these remarks describe your writing. Library books generally have a much longer shelf life than books that are purchased for home use. The titles that make it to the collection must have enduring quality and themes that will remain relevant over time. I hope your book is one of them.

Here is the answer to Friday's Famous First: "Now, Bix Rivers has disappeared, and who do you think is going to tell his story but me?" From Newbery Honor Book The Moves Make the Man by Bruce Brooks.

1 comment:

max said...

It's so important to draw attention to reading, and attract reluctant readers to it, especially boys.

I grew up as a reluctant reader, in spite of the fact that my father published over 70 books. Now I write action-adventures & mysteries, especially for tween boys, that avid boy readers and girls enjoy just as much.

My blog, Books for Boys http://booksandboys.blogspot.com is dedicated to drawing attention to the importance of reading. And my new book, Lost Island Smugglers - first in the Sam Cooper Adventure Series - is coming out in August. .

Max Elliot Anderson
PS. My first 7 books are going to be republished by Comfort Publishing later in 2010

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