Sunday, September 9, 2012

October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard

For several days, this book was the source of my emotional, literary paradox: I had a hard time putting it down but then didn’t necessarily want to pick it up again. I wanted to read it but at the same time wanted to spare myself, preferred that it collect dust on the bookshelf rather than haunt my thoughts. I received the book as an advanced copy, and after I started to read, the poems began to creep into my mind routinely, playing with my emotions and distracting me periodically throughout the day. The book consists of 68 different poems; the author, LeslĂ©a Newman, created “fictitious monologues from various points of view.” The star-filled night sky, the fence that Matthew was tied to, and Matthew himself all have a voice. I think that students will have positive reactions to the book, but I feel that it helps if you, as the teacher, read it first. The message permeates most classroom discussions—arousing themes of respect, acceptance, and individuality. At the same time, I hope this book is not over taught (i.e. Readicide by Kelly Gallagher) but instead used to teach and reflect in a way only a good book can do.

To find out more, check out the book on our website. The book will be released September 25th.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

♫ Summer readin'... had me a blast... ♪ ♬

Summer is a great time to catch up on reading—both personal and professional. My favorite personal read in the last couple of months is Yes, Chef, a memoir by renowned chef, Marcus Samuelsson. I like his narrative voice; he has a way of putting you in the scene without any convoluted description or flowery language. It’s hard to put down the book, as you travel along his international path to culinary renown. I like most books that pertain to food, but he also includes personal details in such an open, simple way—you feel the raw human emotions he experienced in pursuit of his dream.
Professionally, I have picked up and put down Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement. The Times Educational Supplement exclaims that this book, "...reveals teaching's Holy Grail." The author, John Hattie, has pulled together an enormous amount of research from experts around the world. I don't think that I could digest this book during the school year, but it is the perfect "pick-up, put-down" book during the summer. I find myself referencing it while researching various projects for curriculum directors and school administrators. 

Happy reading!

Monday, July 16, 2012

E-book Battles

E-books. We sell them. Some of my family reads them. Some, like myself, have not particularly taken to the new format. But, what does all of this digital publishing mean for libraries and small bookstores?
An article in the Christian Science Monitor caught my attention recently. (“Battle Over e-books in the Library” June 18, 2012 p. 43). It outlines the brewing battle over price and usage between publishers and libraries. In some cases, prices have jumped 700% due to the possibility of multiple readers reading the same copy and thereby making the publishers believe the books to be more valuable. Last year, Random House announced that e-books sold to libraries would expire after being checked out 26 times.
I have watched e-book prices yoyo as publishers try to gain and understand the e-book market—the underlying reason for the current tug of war between publishers and libraries. Will the price be what sways the reader? It did initially with $0.99 books, but publishers can’t keep up with this loss forever as evidenced by price increases. Some say the e-book will spell the end to small bookstores, but right now, I still believe it will be the below or at cost sales of Amazon and other corporate stores that affect the independent bookstores the most. But like the e-book publishers, these corporations must recover those lost profits somewhere…

Here is the link to the CSM article: