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As you prepare to return to your classroom this September, which books will you add to your classroom library? Here are some book-list suggestions for Manitoban educators.
Winnipeg Public Library
Our own Winnipeg Public Library publishes a variety of reading guides. These are helpful when selecting Canadian texts and authors. Also, many titles on the library’s lists would help meet the learning goals in the “Power and Agency” category of our new English Language Arts curriculum. These texts could be used to open dialogue about inequities, viewpoints, and bias. For French Immersion teachers, the guides indicate which titles have a French version in the library collection. Finally, the Winnipeg Public Library also has Staff Book Picks blog that is regularly updated with recommendations.
Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Awards (MYRCA)
The 2018 nominees for the Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Awards offer a selection of books for Middle Years and Grade 9 Students. Create a MYRCA club and have students do book talks on the books they have read. Our library technician last year made a beautiful display and encouraged students to recommend MYRCA books to their friends. Past award winners in the archives offer other great titles.
CM: Canadian Review of Materials
The Canadian Review of Materials is a weekly publication issued by the Manitoba Library Association that examines purely Canadian books written for children and adolescents. Reviewed by teachers librarians, and others involved in education, CM Magazine offers comprehensive critiques of new Canadian literature.
Choices Reading Lists from the International Literacy Association (ILA)
The International Literacy Association’s annual Choices Reading Lists. These annotated lists of recommended reads for children and young adults are published every May. ILA has organized the Children’s Choices List, for Grades K-6, into age-based categories: Beginning readers, young readers, and advanced readers. The Young Adults’ Choices List features books for teenagers. A third list, Teachers’ Choices, includes 30 titles deemed by teachers as being exceptional for curriculum use. Supplement American content with books included on the lists above.
How to Choose?
When picking texts to add to your classroom library, consider three questions shared by Pernille Ripp: How are characters represented? Do we have #OwnVoices authors represented? How are books highlighted and selected? Pernille, who teaches in the United States, used these questions to review the books in her Grade 7 classroom library. The booklists from We Need Diverse Books and the School Library Journal’s piece on #OwnVoices Collection Development are helpful to ensure a variety of perspectives and backgrounds are included in classroom libraries. Pernille even suggests When We Were Alone by our own local author David A. Robertson as a must-have text!
One of my goals for this school year is to encourage my students to complete Gene Luen Yang’s Reading Without Walls Challenge. They will be challenged to read books about characters who don’t look like or live like them, to read books about a topic they don’t know much about, and to read books in a different format.
All of the resources above have helped me pick texts, and I look forward to the energy of my students as they rush in to discover which new books have found a new home in our classroom.
About the Author – Jon Sorokowski (@sorokowskij) is the editor of the Reading Council of Greater Winnipeg's new Reading Manitoba blog and teaches Grade 7 French Immersion in Winnipeg.
September 23, 2021 at 4:30 p.m. on Zoom
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