books, Literacy

Passing on A Few (Book) Recommendations

One of the most common questions I am asked is for a book recommendation. Whether through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or any other place I happen to be, the question typically follows a pattern; the questioner is asking for a book recommendation for a very specific situation to help a specific student. While I am flattered to be asked and sometimes a book does pop to mind for that situation, often times I am not sure because either I am tired or I am simply not sure.

And yet, I do recommend a lot of books. In fact, this is my only purpose for having an Instagram account and I also keep track on this blog. I love books and I also love sharing them with others, which is why I am writing this post. You see, I rely heavily on the recommendations of others as well, so I thought it might be nice to highlight a few of the places I get recommendations from.

  1. My students. Right now, there are a few books flying around my classroom that are fully recommended and started by students, one being the book This is Not the End, which several kids have gushed about to me and I have just purchased to read myself. Who are the students who are dying to recommend books to you?
  2. My colleagues. I love that I am surrounded by colleagues who read, and I especially love that they also love to share. From our principal to the English department, to the special ed staff and the office staff, to our incredible librarian staff and all of the other adults at OMS, we are a school of readers. It is not uncommon to see books passed throughout the day or left on people’s desk, just in case they need a great read. Who are your colleagues that can become a part of your book squad?
  3. My online friends. While back in the day the term “online friends” would have brought up frightening associations, now I cannot help but be so eternally grateful for all of the friends I have that I know through social media. They share freely on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and I love that our book conversations continue even when we are not close in distance. It does get expensive to hang with some of my friends, but it is the best kind of expensive; book expensive.
  4. Our library. Both our school one and my local one. I love to browse the displays and see what is being recommended. This has led me to the book Sadie and Openly Straight, which are both staring longingly from my to-be-read shelf. Librarians are amazing resources; make friends with them!
  5. My own kids. My own kids go to an amazing elementary school here in Madison and not only do they have an awesome librarian but they are also surrounded by staff members who love to read and share their love of books. I love when they come home with new discoveries and tell me that I have to read this book as well, especially since they read books I normally wouldn’t read like early readers. So get connected to your children’s school if you can and see what they are reading.
  6. Online, but of course. There are so many amazing people sharing book recommendations using whatever tool they love. Read on for a list of a few of my favorite people and places.

Reading While White. This blog with its emphasis on “White librarians organizing to confront racism in the field of children’s and young adult literature” has been an incredible resource not just to find new books, but also to think critically about some of the books I already have in our classroom. This is a blog that is worth subscribing to.

The Brown Bookshelf. With its emphasis on pushing “…awareness of the myriad Black voices writing for young readers,” this is a must read. Countless books have made it into our classroom because of the recommendations and discussions on this blog.

American Indian in Children’s Literature. This blog run by the fierce Debbie Reese is one of the blogs that lands in my inbox whenever she publishes a new post. With her emphasis on “…critical perspectives and analysis of indigenous peoples in children’s and young adult books, the school curriculum, popular culture, and society.,” this blog is an invaluable resource for all of us. Not only does Professor Reese recommend books, but she also helps me realize when a book is problematic or worse. She has really influenced not just our classroom, but much of the work I do for the past many years.

Nerdy Book Club. This is where I first got connected and I am so grateful I did. With its emphasis on reviews, ideas, and cover reveals, Nerdy is really a community where you are sure to see not just incredible new books, but also add many new titles to your library.

Edi Campbell’s blog CrazyQuiltEdi is a fantastic resource for anyone who is looking for books written by or featuring POC. Not only does Edi Campbell release a monthly new release list, but she also reviews, and discusses the history of important issues such as when “people of African descent are equivocated with monkeys, apes or gorillas.” This has been really eye-opening for me and I am so grateful for the work she does.

I’m Here, I’m Queer, What the H*** Do I Read? The title probably speaks for itself, it is a great resource for me as I continue to add more books with great LGBTQ+ representation to our classroom.

Disability in Kidlit. While the last blog post was published more than a year ago, the archive is still worth digging into. This blog with its promise to have people who have disabilities review books that feature their same disability has been eye-opening on more than one occasion. I loved the blog when it was “live” but the blog is still worth your time.

CCBC. Living in Madison, Wisconsin, means I am in the home city of the CCBC or the Cooperative Children’s Book Center and it is fantastic. I get to go to the events hosted there, as well as their twice-yearly book sale. However, you don’t have to be in Madison to benefit from their wealth of knowledge. Their blog is a great place to start to stay up to date with great books, as well as their research on the state of children’s publishing and many other important issues.

Latinxs in Kid Lit. Another specialty blog that does so much great work. With its emphasis on sharing reviews, news, and discussions about Latinx in children’s book, I often fill our shelves with recommendations from here. Their interviews of authors have also helped me dial into a few new authors I was unaware of.

Lee and Low. While Lee and Low is a book publisher, they also have an incredible blog that not only features recommendations but also invitations to their free webinars on pressing matters within teaching and children’s literature. Specializing in Own Voices authors, this is a must follow.

By no means is this an exhaustive list. There are so many great people and groups out there sharing their recommendations, but I thought it would be nice to recommend a few of the ones that I rely heavily upon. By sharing, I figured it is a way to say publicly thank you to all of those who recommend books to me as well as allow others to get plugged into the incredible knowledge that is shared here. One word of caution though; it does get expensive because the book sounds so amazing. What are your favorite places to get recommendations from?

12 thoughts on “Passing on A Few (Book) Recommendations”

  1. Ummmmmm…I get a lot of recommendations via you in fact, and many of the people you’ve posted above like Deb Reese, Nerdy Book Club and Reading While White. I also enjoy Melissa of Imagination Soup, and Mr Schu and Colby Sharp, and Pragmatic Mom. I LOVE Picture Books Blogger https://picturebooksblogger.wordpress.com/ and Magpie That https://magpiethat.com/ Lithub https://lithub.com/ and when I have the time, ohhhhhh swoon, Maria Popova from Brainpickings https://www.brainpickings.org/

  2. Pernille–I’ve just read a bunch of the reviews on “This is Not the End” and was wondering if you needed to get parental permission for the students to read the book–since it deals with some serious issues…I teach 9th and 12th grade English—do you suggest that I get permission for either or both grades first?

    1. I don’t have it officially in my classroom yet as students have purchased it outside of class, I don’t control that. So I am going to read it myself and see if an official copy of the book can be placed in our library. I know my 7th graders have mentioned it is mature but they self-censor as needed.

  3. Most of my book recommendations come from following blogs such as your blog or Colby’s or Jillian’s. I also find many titles come across my twitter feed. I am a fourth grade teacher so I fall right in the middle. In my class I read from a novel everyday and I also read a picture book to my students everyday so always looking for new titles. My list of titles to read never gets shorter just wish my budget matched my wish list. 🙂

  4. Another Recommender Recommendation, particularly for YA and adult: Bookriot! They get *me* reading way more books of all types, some of which I recommend to kids, some of which is just for me and my own happiness.

  5. Your blog has given me so many good references and reading resources. Thank you for suggesting the idea to ask students for recommendations! I recently wrote a post about that for the Nerdy Book Club as it is so important that we listen to our students. I am also wondering about any ideas you may have to teach writing? More specifically, I have a student who really “gets it” and his writing is comical and spot on. I am trying to find authors and books to read with him to show him how his writing fits this style. I would love any thoughts. Thanks again for all you do and give to literacy teachers!

  6. Pernille,
    Thanks for the suggestions. I am an ALA Emerging Leader 2019 working with a group of 4 other school librarians on a project about the AASL standard of Inclusion. We have been talking a lot about diverse perspectives, so I especially appreciate your first two blog suggestions!
    Thanks for all you do to promote literacy!
    Beth

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