Tagged: penny kittle

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2 more reasons that e-books are better than physical books for classroom libraries

favicon I continue to fight with myself about whether I should advocate more strongly for e-books (over physical books) in classroom libraries. I want to, but my official position is still this: Both are good.

I know that sounds wishy-washy, so let me explain. If there’s a lot of money, then it’s best to get a lot of physical books and a lot of e-books and let the students choose which format they prefer.

But here’s the reality: There is just not enough money. In most public urban schools, there’s barely any. Teachers who want to build classroom libraries have to spend tons of time looking for cheap books, begging their friends for donations, and hoping that they win Penny Kittle’s Book Love grant.

(I hope I win Penny Kittle’s Book Love grant.)

So that’s why I believe strongly in e-books and Kindles.

This picture — which I took yesterday at Envision Academy’s student-run library in Oakland, offers two more reasons I prefer e-books. Take a look:

Sharon Draper Books

Do you see what I see?

#1: Look at all that wear and tear!
(The books are less than two years old.) It’s great that students have loved reading them — Sharon Draper writes extremely popular books for young people — but these physical books need replacing soon. (E-books don’t need to be replaced.)

#2: These books didn’t use to be there.
Last year, you couldn’t find a copy of a Sharon Draper book on the library’s bookshelves. Students were always reading Ms. Draper (see #1 above). But now, a year later, those six copies of Forged By Fire are just sitting there, not being read. With physical books, multiple copies have to be bought (expensive) when a title is popular. But when the trend ends, you wish you had spent some of your money on this year’s popular titles. (E-books can be read by six students at a time, all for the price of one.)

So it’s pretty clear to me that it’s best practice to encourage teachers and students to make the move toward Kindles.

But the problem is that there are a lot of people — including me — who like the idea of physical books. I love my Kindle, but it’s a bit harder to curl up with one.

Do students feel the same way? I haven’t done a formal study, but a recent lunch meeting with students in Hayward suggests no.

I asked them, “Do you prefer reading physical books?” Only one student said yes. Most were neutral or preferred reading on their Kindle.

Then I asked them, “There are a lot of people who think that a book is better when you’re reading the physical version. What do you think of that?”

Two students agreed with that notion and said that flipping pages makes the experience more tactile. But again, the vast majority said that the format doesn’t matter — it’s the story that counts.

I’m going to continue talking with students. Even though I believe strongly in the Kindle Classroom Project, it’s important to uncover what teachers and students want.

One thing is clear: What’s currently happening in public urban schools — a scarcity of books, resources, and reading — cannot continue. There needs to major shift in reading culture!

Please let me know your thoughts on this one! favicon

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First starter classroom library complete!

favicon Let me make a plain statement. If you want your students to read, you need books. Lots of them. Good ones. (Bonus points = New books.)

Sure, you can tell your students to visit the public library. Or the bookstore. Or, if you’re lucky, the school library. But that works only if your students already identify as readers.

If they don’t, that’s where you need a classroom library.

Inspired by Penny Kittle, author of Book Love and the founder of the Book Love Foundation, which helps teachers build classroom libraries, I am excited to announce that the first-ever Iserotope Starter Classroom Library is now a reality!

Here’s a peek:

First Iserotope Starter Classroom Library.jpg

The library, from top left to bottom right, includes five copies each of 22 titles: Thirteen Reasons WhyDrama High: The FightThe Fault in Our StarsEleanor & Park, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Snitch, A Child Called It, Dope Sick, Monster, Tears of a Tiger, Lost and Found, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Lightning Thief, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The First Part Last, Life in Prison, The Rose that Grew from Concrete, Legend, We Were Here, Tyrell, Street Pharm, and Hip Hop High School.

The 110 books were purchased with the kind and generous donations of people across the country. A total of seven separate DonorsChoose.com projects were funded, with 53 donors in all. The total cost of the 110 books was $1,339.

Here are all the donors: Anonymous (x 11), 100 Women in Hedge Funds (x 9), Alyssa (California), Miss Large (California), Marielle (San Francisco), Nyokabi, Ellen (Oakland), Carmen (Kansas), Emily (California), Wendy (California), Jacob (California), Sean (California), Gwyn (California), Laura (California) (x 2), Google, Larry (Texas), Sue (Texas), Macey (Texas), John (California), Roxy (California), Susann (Alameda, CA), Linda (Boulder Creek, CA), Sam (California), Marian (California), Elaine (Thousand Oaks, CA), Kristin (Alabama), David (Pennsylvania), Jennifer (California), Lori (Benicia, CA), Gregor (California), Lisa (California), George (Boston, MA), Roni (Pennsylvania), Melanie, Mr. Bahl (Elmhurst, NY), Candice (Oakland, CA), Donna (Oakland, CA), Valerie (California).

It took just two months to build this starter classroom library, thanks to these generous donors. Four of the donations came from friends. Thank you! The rest are from total strangers. Thank you!

It is astounding and heartwarming to know that there are so many people across the country who care about Bay Area students and their reading lives. It gets me excited about what can happen if we get the right books into the hands of our students.

Just a little more about the process, in case you’re wondering:

I chose the titles with the help of some of my colleagues, who have been keeping track of which titles have been most popular among ninth graders this year.

Instead of purchasing 110 different books, I decided to buy five copies of each title. This is best practice, I believe. Particularly for ninth graders, and especially to encourage reluctant readers to come back to reading (after sometimes a long time off), it’s best to focus on depth rather than breadth. It’s better for students to be reading the same titles, talking about how much they like those stories and characters, and building a classroom reading culture of shared texts. Once they have several of these books under their belt, they’re on their way. They’re free to explore.

I’m really excited to get this starter classroom library out to a deserving teacher and his or her students. But now comes the hard part. Who should get this library? Right now, I’m not ready to come up with a process, but I know one is necessary. After all, there are many excellent teachers ready to make a huge impact on their students through independent reading.

Please let me know, by leaving a brilliant insight, what you think of this starter classroom library and if you have any ideas about how to decide who should receive it. Thank you! favicon