Professional Reading on Leadership, Differentiated Learning, & More

Three recent titles on providing literary instruction to all students, making the best use of children's literature, and taking a leadership role in schools.

Howard, Jody K. The School Librarian as Curriculum Leader. 116p. bibliog. chart. index. Teacher Ideas/Libraries Unlimited. Mar. 2017. pap. $45. ISBN 9781598849905.

Drawing on a solid corpus of academic work in leadership, organization, and change theory, Howard has created a useful selection for serious students of library science interested in leadership. Though the first chapter, which provides solid background and defines and explores the idea of the curriculum, is comparatively dry, the rest of the book is more engaging as Howard weaves practical applications into theoretical discussions. The material can be divided into three main categories: an introduction to the terms, information on how curriculum leadership impacts collection development, and a section on librarians as instructional partners and leaders. Each chapter begins with a summary of what readers will take away and ends with reflective questions. Howard blends seminal and current work to offer readers the framework for her assertions. The title is short enough to be skimmed quickly but meaty enough for readers to return to, and the index is especially helpful. This is a valuable resource for school librarians as they consider, and reconsider, their roles as instructional partners, and it will give them the tools they need to become leaders. ­VERDICT Practicing librarians will find this book beneficial, and Howard’s scholarly tone and reliance upon a wide body of literature for her analysis make this an ideal addition to library school syllabi.–Jodeana Kruse, R.A. Long High School, Longview, WA

Martinez, Miriam G., Junko Yokota, & Charles Temple. Thinking and Learning Through Children’s Literature. 230p. further reading. illus. index. Rowman & Littlefield. Apr. 2017. pap. $40. ISBN 9781475821512.

This succinct text offers preservice and practicing teachers a worthy overview of the importance of making thoughtful use of children’s literature in daily instruction and directions for doing so. Divided into five chapters, the book begins with a summary of research on children’s literature, including the goals of 21st-century reading and perspectives on the ways in which students make meaning from what they read. The authors then detail various literary genres, subgenres, formats, and elements. The remaining three chapters focus on engaging students with literature in the classroom and present practical strategies for fostering a culture of reading, building classroom libraries, reading aloud, incorporating storytelling, and exploring literature in depth. There are sample activities, discussion questions, graphic organizers, and ideas for lessons and units. Lists of references, resources, and reflective prompts follow each chapter, along with a thorough recommended reading list. These extensive booklists include both classic and contemporary titles in a variety of formats and genres; diverse cultures are also represented. Full-color picture book excerpts and technology tips and expert interviews are featured throughout. ­VERDICT While much of the content is likely to be a review for practicing teachers and school librarians, this selection is an excellent resource for those preparing for student teaching and a useful addition to many professional collections serving elementary school educators.–­Lauren Strohecker, McKinley ­Elementary School, Elkins Park, PA

Witherell, Nancy & Mary C. McMackin. Differentiating for Success: How To Build Literacy Instruction for All Students. 192p. bibliog. charts. further reading. Capstone. Jun. 2016. pap. $23.95. ISBN 9781496606532.

Witherell and McMackin endorse differentiated instruction, or the idea that effective learning happens when educators tailor their methods to meet students’ needs. Regarding developing reading skills in third through fifth graders, the authors begin with several guiding questions: “How do we make [differentiated instruction] possible? How do we make it realistic? Sustainable? How do we ensure that our students are actually thinking as they accomplish their work?” Realizing that most teachers don’t have a colleague with whom to collaborate in the classroom, the authors provide differentiated lessons that a single teacher could implement. The 16 chapters, which tackle various literacy skills, each contain two lessons: one based on a narrative text and the other on an informational text. Preceding each lesson is an explanation of the skill, a summary of the relevant research, and a description of how the skill progresses as students go from third to fifth grade. Both lessons suggest ways that teachers can model learning and give examples of guided practice, along with differentiation on three levels. Charts and organizers are included in each chapter. The lessons cover essential skills and are presented in clear and concise terms. This well-organized, thoroughly researched book is superb. ­VERDICT A valuable option for elementary school teachers.–Laura Fields Eason, Parker Bennett Curry Elementary School, Bowling Green, KY

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