Choosing books

I made it to the library today, so I have some better choices for books to read to Mr. S (and T, we don’t just read during “school time”) for the rest of the week.  We’re reading books on Fall this week, then next week I want to do a zoo unit (possibly culminating in a field trip, the weather here has been gorgeous and we have an annual membership to the zoo).  I’m also checking out books for Halloween – I have enough good ones now that I think we’ll have Halloween-themed story time and crafts for the last two weeks of October.

When seeking books to read to the kids, I do more than just wander the stacks in the library looking for interesting titles.  I try to determine my themes in advance and then research titles on Amazon as well as in the public library’s OPAC.  Amazon generally gives more comprehensive reviews, but of course the library doesn’t have the selection of new materials that Amazon features; still, I find it useful to cross-reference between the two when putting holds on books.

Rather than spend a lot of time searching for titles that my local branch may not have, I use our library’s online system to put holds on titles I want, and then the library emails me when the books are available for me to pick up.  I typically visit the library twice a week to drop off and pick up materials.

Once I get the titles I thought would be interesting, I spend some time reading them to see if they will meet our needs.  I generally reject about half of the books I check out – today I passed on two zoo picture books (including one by Eric Carle, whom I typically adore) for various reasons; the Carle book was wordless, which is fine for the kids to have on hand to look through on their own, but not what I want for story time.  Other books don’t get included in our school time because I find the storyline too weak or the pictures not high quality or appropriate.

Of course, there are a lot of obviously good books that I want to expose my kids to, from Caldecott winners to books by notable children’s books authors such as Jan Brett and Kevin Henkes, but I try not to limit my searches by just looking for familiar titles.

I don’t know if I mentioned this here before, but I do have a graduate degree in Library Media Technology – I’m a certified school librarian, though I’ve never worked as such.  I completed my degree in December 2009, including a 100-hour internship in a local elementary school, and although I loved the work I decided that taking charge of my own kids’ education was a higher priority for me at this time than working, even if it was a career that I would love.  I do hope to work in a library setting at some point in the future, though I realize it won’t be for many years – possibly not until my kids are off at college.

Anyhow, as part of my degree program I took a course in Children’s Literature which featured this text:

It’s called Children’s Literature, Briefly and the authors are Michael O’Tunnell and James Jacobs.  It was hands down the best textbook I have ever read – it provides a comprehensive overview of various genres of children’s literature, and my edition even came with a CD-ROM containing lists of age-appropriate titles in each genre.  It’s fairly expensive, and I’m not sure if it’s available in public libraries, but I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for great books to read to and with kids.

And that’s a brief overview of how I choose the books we read in our happy little homeschool!


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Kelly
    Sep 29, 2010 @ 21:47:39

    Hey Jen! I am sorry that it has taken me some time to respond to your comment! It was great to hear from you. And, yes, I think the last time I saw you was my wedding sooo long ago! I am happy to hear that you are enjoying home schooling. It suits our family very well for now and we just take it a year at a time! I am glad that we have the blogs to keep up with one another! Your kids are adorable. I am glad that you found ours. Take care and let’s “comment” one another soon!
    Love, Kelly


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