Pleasure Reading and the IB Prescribed Authors List

As mentioned, I need to take  a break from teen novels.  I’ve had enough of “beautiful” boys and vampire-werewolf-angel triangles.  I joined a book club last Spring but have only finished one book in 5 months.  My brain is unused to slower pacing, descriptive setting, sentences that float.

I should have finished A Sense of an Ending, or Open City, or Mortality but always end up reading something I can book talk.  So I’m hoping to split the difference with the new IB English Prescribed Authors List.  I’ve been creating a Resource List in Destiny to share all of the books by these authors we already own and also create a collection development list.  I’m hoping to read (or re-read) these books to get back to literature and put them in kids hands.

How?  I’d like to work more closely with the 9th & 10th grade English teachers to book talk these titles.  The will be a part of the History students 20th century novels winter break reading list.  I should create a Diploma Program summer reading list of recommended titles.  And I should pull a truck and create an electronic resource (maybe via Goodreads?) for students interested in doing their Extended Essay in English.

The list is divided into 4 sections: drama; poetry; novels and short stories; and non-fiction prose.  I wonder why certain authors (Michael Ondaatje) are on more than one, while others (Truman Capote) are restricted to a single genre.  How are these decisions made?  And how should this effect what we collect?


On Goals & Goal Setting

Today, many weeks late, I submitted my goals to Sean.  Here’s what I hope to accomplish this year and why.

Re-establish and refine library services for our user group now that we have two people doing collection and curriculum development.
Now that I’ve got a real sense of the dimensions of the library program and we’ve gone through some massive hiring, it’s time to think about how to improve services.  Meghan and I are splitting up our areas of expertise by divisions, so finally got time to really work with the Upper School.  It’s also time I get the library into faculty and subject meetings.  We need to be part of the conversations happening at every level about knowledge literacy and how our space is used.  Major changes are afoot and I want the library to be part of them.
Create an information literacy scaffold for grades 6-12.
As we re-imagine the 6-10 curriculum, I have a responsibility to work with teachers on creating and refining knowledge seeking and knowledge evaluating skills.  I’m excited to work with Jim and Richard to modify the AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner and the NET-S standards for our school.  This will be how we deepen the library’s connection to the curriculum.
Work deeply with Humanities and History to create more access to more methods of research and kinds of material across the divisions.
This was one of my goals for last year and I didn’t get very far but I think the staff turnover is creating lots of opportunities.
Engage with librarians at other schools to learn about other methods of library service and instruction as well as to create a regional consortium of independent school librarians.

I’m hoping the newly re-formed MWISLA will jumpstart a change.  I guess I’m ready to see what our peer schools are doing and how we can work together to up the level of service and the role of the library in our schools. 
Contribute to the national discussion about school librarianship and/or IB librarianship in some way.
With this blog, by attending trainings and conferences, and (hopefully) by contributing to conferences.  One thing I learned in Atlanta is that there are very few IB librarians blogging and sharing resources.  I hope to change that.
And I plan on reading more adult books and fewer teen books this year. I have ODed on paranormal romance/ dystopian fantasy and need to read more books on the DP lists. Books with adults.  Who don’t think every teen boy is “beautiful”.  Ugh!
After spending 2 years inhaling a TON of teen novels that serve our MS audience, I need to focus on US books.  And I need to remember what it’s like to read “real literature”.

“Origin” by Jessica Khoury

I was lucky to read an ARC of “Origin” but am unable to recommend this book.

Pia, a generically beautiful and “perfect” immortal, has been raised in a science lab hidden in the Amazon jungle. She hopes to one day create her own race of immortal beings and have lifetime-long companions. When a hole in her electric fence appears, Pia enters the jungle for the first time and meets Eio, a beautiful indigenous teen who is the first person Pia has met who is her own age. While “Origin” has elements that flirt with dystopia, it’s really a teen romance.

First time author, Jessica Khoury, packs some interesting ideas and good description here but I was dismayed by the flatness of her characters and unfortunate overtones of the “indigenous” people. How has Pia reached her 17th birthday without ever questioning her existence or her relationship to the outside world? Pia is surprisingly incurious and unintellectual for someone raised by with a cadre of brilliant scientists. Her passivity and naivety keeps the novel from delving deeply into some thought-provoking questions. Eio and his tribe are incredibly problematic as well. Not only is he a shirtless half-white/ half-native (more palatable than an all-native character?) teen but he is the only person Pia can talk to in the outside world. Khoury’s reliance on stereotypical evil-corporate-scientists vs. moral-native-savages does her novel significant harm. This cultural insensitivity will keep “Origin” off my shelves.