Reading Haven (2007) was a great way to set the scene for this course. Even if we were not all literature “converts” before starting the course, understanding the research behind the power of stories would make us so. Of all the themes I think the second module – concerning diversity – was the one that engaged me most passionately and emotionally. Smolen and Oswalds’ (2011) book was instrumental in expanding my knowledge on this topic.
Reviewing my blog posts The Best of Times, the Worst of Times; if you name it will it come; Conversations and thoughts about diversity in literature; It can’t get any worse … can it? and The right to write as well as my first assessment The Power and Potential of Multicultural Diverse Literature I realise they all concerned themselves with this topic. In practise, despite best intentions and efforts, large international communities of practise, the so called “global librarian networks” it is still difficult to source and purchase diverse literature of the quality and quantity necessary.
Looking at the collection, the teacher librarian (TL) walks several tightropes simultaneously – balancing curriculum needs with literacy needs with pleasure “fast food” reading needs as well as parental and societal expectations and biases makes for interesting tension. All while ensuring that literature can fulfil its destiny without losing a generation of potential readers. Personal observations reinforced the need for positive role models and personal – particularly peer –recommendations (Marcoux & Loertscher, 2009). Attempts to transform a physical library space were documented in a number of blog posts summarised here. Both Travers and Travers (2008) and Elizabeth and Selman (2012) cast an important biopsychosocial developmental lens on the subject of literature in schools.
With respect to the digital experience, as a colleague remarked to me “we are the first generation of teacher librarians and parents dealing with the internet, and we don’t know what we’re doing or what the long term effects will be”. Of course there are more than enough naysayers (Carr, 2013; Mangen, Walgermo, & Brønnick, 2013) and cheerleaders (Cornis-Pope & Woodlief, 2000) to balance each other out and the jury is out on the matter. At the end of the day it is important to meet the students where they are – whether that is in the land of text, live or digital and embrace the benefits of interaction, self-directed learning with creative opportunities (Anstey & Bull, 2006).
Finally, as they say – the proof of the pudding is in the eating – or in this instance, the proof of the learning is in how it can be applied in the teaching and promotion of literature in schools. Changing the culture in any learning environment is a slow process, where one has to learn to trust one’s instincts and trust the students, alternate between catching one’s breath in horror and outrage at the utterances of some teachers and parents while being in awe of the skill and depth of understanding and good practice of others, all moments from each other. It’s quite a ride.
Anstey, M., & Bull, G. (2006). Defining multiliteracies. In Teaching and learning multiliteracies : changing times, changing literacies (pp. 19–55). Newark, Del: International Reading Association.
Carr, N. (2013, January 5). Don’t burn your books—print Is here to stay [WSJ.com]. Retrieved 22 May 2014, from http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323874204578219563353697002
Cornis-Pope, M., & Woodlief, A. (2000, Fall). The rereading/rewriting process: Theory and collaborative, on-line pedagogy. Retrieved 17 January 2016, from http://www.vcu.edu/engweb/ReReadingTheorychapter.htm
Elizabeth, T., & Selman, R. L. (2012). The role of social development in elementary school curricula: Past, present, and future. Saperstein Associates. Retrieved from http://www.sapersteinassociates.com/downloads/2012_Elizabeth_and_Selman_SD_Whitepaper.pdf
Haven, K. F. (2007). Story proof: the science behind the startling power of story. Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited. Retrieved from EBook Library
Mangen, A., Walgermo, B. R., & Brønnick, K. (2013). Reading linear texts on paper versus computer screen: Effects on reading comprehension. International Journal of Educational Research, 58, 61–68. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijer.2012.12.002
Marcoux, E., & Loertscher, D. V. (2009). The role of a school library in a school’s reading program. Teacher Librarian, 37(1), 8–14,84.
Smolen, L. A., & Oswald, R. A. (Eds.). (2011). Multicultural literature and response: Affirming diverse voices. Santa Barbara, California: Libraries Unlimited. Retrieved from EBook Library
Travers, B. E., & Travers, J. F. (2008). Children, literature and development: Interactions and insights. In Children’s literature: a developmental perspective (pp. 2–17). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.