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"My students know what they like, so if I’m going to be the best teacher that I can be for them, I need to be reading the books that they’re loving." Colby Sharp

Build Your Stack: Five Ways to Stay on Top of the Latest and Greatest in Children’s Literature

This video and blog post are part of Build Your Stack,™ a new initiative focused exclusively on helping teachers build their book knowledge and their classroom libraries. The video was recorded by NCTE member Colby Sharp. In case you don’t enjoy watching videos, we have reformatted it into a blog below—but we highly recommend watching the video, as Colby’s energy and love of books are contagious!

 

I’m going to share with you the five things that I do to stay on top of the latest and greatest in children’s literature.

1. Go to independent bookstores and talk to the people who work there.

People who work at bookstores know books so well; their livelihood depends on them knowing books. One of my favorite bookstores is Bookbug in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

2. Find friends who love books.

People who love books love nothing more than sharing the books they love with other people. The more book friends you have, the more book recommendations you’ll get.

3. Follow people who love books on social media.

Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, if you follow people who LOVE books, you’re going to get all kinds of great book recommendations.

4. Subscribe to publishers’ channels on YouTube.

Once you’ve subscribed, I recommend clicking the bell icon; every time a publisher puts out a new book trailer, it gets emailed to me and I get to watch it. That really helps me to stay on top of and know what’s coming out and get really excited about it. Then I can show those trailers to my students, and we’re all book-crazy-excited!

Here are a few publishers that I recommend:

5. This is the most important: Listen to your students.

My students are readers; my students love books; my students have favorite authors. I know that if I’m reading for them, then I should be looking at what they’re reading, what they’re talking about. I should be paying attention to how they browse the classroom library and how they shop at a book fair. My students know what they like, so if I’m going to be the best teacher that I can be for them, I need to be reading the books that they’re loving.

 

How do you stay on top of the latest and greatest in children’s literature? Let us know on social media using #BuildYourStack!

 

 

Colby Sharp is a fifth-grade teacher in Parma, Michigan. He is the editor of The Creativity Project, coauthor of Game Changer! Book Access for All Kids with Donalyn Miller, Vice President of the Michigan Reading Association, and co-host of The Yarn Podcast with Travis Jonker.