Read the Winter Away

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Library Media
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This is the perfect time of the year to celebrate Read a New Book Month. Don’t we all look forward to receiving books that are selected just for us and help us while away the long winter nights? As a nine-year-old, one of my favorite gifts included four children’s books, suggested by my parents who were big on “the classics.” I read those same four volumes over and over and have them still–Little Women, Little Men, Heidi, and The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew. Beautifully bound with lovely illustrations, those volumes are part of the Illustrated Junior Library series which is still in print. One publisher remarked, “Kids will naturally bury themselves in these classics with their full-color plate illustrations and clear type that reads smoothly.”

In addition, I had a stash of Classics Illustrated comic books that fascinated me by their colorful, detailed pictures along with their complex stories and characters. “What CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED and its offspring did with increasing skill between 1941 and 1962, when original-title production ceased, was to make the realms of the literary and historical imagination accessible and immediate,” author William B. Jones noted.  Now we have the whole world of graphic novels to satisfy our reading desires. See my TeachersFirst post on graphic novels.

Since studies have shown that children and teens prefer reading print over ebook formats, here are some suggestions for finding your next beloved book for yourself or your favorite someone.

Social Media Sites

GoodReads, owned by Amazon, is the Google of reading and sharing. In fact, people 13 or over can create individual accounts or just use a Google, Twitter, or Amazon account to sign in. Shelfari, a previously popular sharing site, is now part of GoodReads. I love being able to keep track of and organizing what I want to read, what I have read, and receiving updates on friends reading along with readers’ ratings and reviews. I often recommend books to my friends and vice versa. Adding to the reading experience are lots of extra features about authors, groups, discussions, and reading suggestions.

With the Chrome browser extension called Library Extension, I can connect my GoodReads and Amazon accounts with my local library. When installed, a search for a book at those sites will include results from local libraries showing the availability of copies in any format.

Doing a regular Google Search for a book title when location services are enabled will give the results for ebooks in near-by public libraries. Google Books also shows library results for institutions that participate in WorldCat, a library consortium and online public access catalog, the world’s largest. Your local library may be a member which means you literally may borrow materials from all over the world through interlibrary loan agreements. Since many university libraries are members, it is a fantastic source for professional and/or scholarly resources.

LibraryThing really appeals to librarians but is a handy place to organize books and other media up to 200 total for free or unlimited for very low rates. LibraryThing has a wiki feel with less glitz and advertising than GoodReads. Add books to an account and then catalog titles using standardized cataloging data. Small libraries, groups and classrooms can use this site to organize their collections along with other sharing features.

BiblioNasium is the most popular free social book sharing site for children. Designed for students age six to thirteen, the site immerses members in book culture and reading enrichment while sharing favorite titles. Parents must sign up and create accounts for children whose usernames are anonymous. An educational component allows teachers to share with students. See this TeachersFirst review for more suggestions.

Book Selection Tools

BookFinder, from Reading Rockets which is devoted to helping young children read, has powerful selection finder choices by author, illustrator, genre, age, reading level, even geographic location. Allowing users to create customized book lists, it uses WorldCat to find book copies at local libraries.

Book Wizard, although designed by Scholastic for teachers, may be used by older students. A slick interactive selection tool of drop-down menus helps students find books by reading level, genre, topic, and grade.

KidsBooksSeries provides searching for titles in children’s fiction series by age and reading levels with advanced searching by genre.

Literature Map is an interactive “author” mind mapping tool. Search by author’s name and a graphic will appear that features similar authors, making this more “novelty” than novel, Although fun to search, it has limited functionality with no links to more information. Furthur investigations must be done by in separate searches.

Teen Book Finder website and app is for teens, parents, librarians, teachers, and lovers of YA literature. The database has nearly 4,000 titles recognized as outstanding by the Young Adult Library Services Association of American Library Association.

What’s Next, Books in Series, begun as a homegrown project from the Kent (MI) District Library, helps readers find titles listed in chronological order of fiction series. It is guaranteed to know the next volume in a favorite series, including adult, YA and children’s authors.


About the author: Paula Deal

Retired high school media specialist, Paula Deal, has been a pioneer in many shifts in the library sciences throughout her career. Paula contributes a monthly column on research, digital citizenship and other ways to find and use media resources in the classroom.

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