October 26, 2017

New favorites for your school year

It’s October, so it’s “same old pencils, same old books, same old…”

Wait! That’s not how the rhyme goes, but as we get deeper into the school year, that’s sometimes how it feels. Whether you’re sitting in front of the class or have kids gathered around you in the library, maybe the book you were excited about ten years ago began to feel stale a couple Octobers ago. And who has time to research something new that would fit the bill?

Sound familiar? NoveList’s articles on read-alouds can help with quick suggestions. Or combine our metadata with *your* experience (and needs) to find the perfect new set of books to get you through the rest of the school year.

My Big Tip

Type Susie Wilde in the search bar and select the “Lists & Articles Tab.” 

Susie Wilde

Don’t know Susie Wilde? You can find information about her and all our contributors here, but she’s best described as a “children’s book crusader” and her articles bear that out. It was her article “Revitalizing Your Read-alouds” that made me think it was time to reevaluate the children’s books I turn to year after year. In that article, she suggests trying Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones as a read-aloud instead of Where the Red Fern Grows.

Why read Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer? Animal stories teach us about caring, friendship, and loss. Plus, kids love animals. Jones’s funny and warm story appeals to kids who like action-based books set in the outdoors. With a Latina protagonist and delightful illustrations of chickens, your readers are sure enjoy every moment of reading the book.

Want more suggestions for read-alouds? Susie’s got some “Grab and Go Book Lists” for you with read-aloud suggestions for all ages. Search read-alouds in search bar and select the “Lists & Articles” tab to see them all.

My Turn to Try

Susie’s list of new read-alouds for middle grade students inspired me to find some new books to read instead of my old favorites.

Everyone wants a good first-day of school book. I’ve always loved First Day Jitters because it has that surprise ending. Kids love surprise endings and NoveList lets you search reviews for them. Use our Advanced Searching, type “surprise ending” in the search bar, and choose “review” from the drop-down menu. If you want to try out field code searching, type RV “surprise ending” into the search bar on the homepage. In either case, refine your results by age range (0-8 for picture books) where the review mentions a surprise ending. 

 Looking at the list, I realized that I wasn’t looking for a surprise ending, but I did want something different for the first day of school. So I looked at First Day Jitters in NoveList again, scrolled down to “Search for More” and picked the aspects that matters to me: “picture books for children” and “first day of school.”

From that list of books, I could refine the search to the tone I wanted (“feel-good”) and among those nineteen books was one for me. School’s First Day of School doesn’t have a surprise ending, but it’s got a surprise twist -- the newly built school is the nervous character. I knew I would love it when I saw that the illustrator was Christian Robinson, plus the reviews told me it was a great read-aloud.  

Building on success

Searching for new first day of schools books went so well that I tried it with one of my favorite concept books. Mouse Count has been a hit since it was an ALA Notable Children’s book in 1992 –no surprise, since books about counting with a compelling story arc can be hard to find.

NoveList has a genre just for concept books like this. Type GN counting books into the search bar for a list. I want the books I read to reflect the diversity of the kids I’m reading to, so I narrowed the results to “culturally diverse” from the character appeals on the left. The reviews of One Family told me it would fit the bill.

Learn my tricks

Learn how to recreate my searches to find new favorites for *your* kids.

Want tips like this to come to your inbox all year long? Sign up for our Book Squad emails, including School KidLit and KidLit Connection.

Kathy Stewart is a NoveList Consultant.

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