Sally Flint

Books as Door Openers
Some great book choices!

I have just spent a pleasant hour reading the Kate Greenaway medal shortlisted titles for this year. It made me sad and nostalgic that I won’t get to share them with the kids at school. We have always enjoyed reading them, voting for our favourite title and discussing the issues they explored. The kids made connections, sometimes even to the previous year’s titles and remembered the stories way after I’d forgetten them. Sometimes we added to this a little research activity, author study quiz, or creative writing and drawing extension activity, though for me, it was always sharing the story that was fun. I’m not a big believer in forcing written responses to reading (it kind of kills the magic).  Anyway, I didn’t always realise it, but those were fun days. 

Book Chat

There are, however, certain advantages to reading the books alone, by myself, from the comfort of a sofa, not least being able to enjoy a cup of tea and a hob-nob as I read. Despite being a little regretful to not be having the follow on discussion and excitement that sharing books with little people brings, I still enjoyed them and as stories are ‘want to do’ they got me thinking. It sort of felt like a ton of rusty doors in my old grey matter had been opened, with each room having a different set of thoughts and issues to ponder on. Consequently I’ve now got absolutely no idea what to blog about. There are just so many options! Will it be one of these things?:

  • A chat about what being transgender means in 2019. Reading Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love has made me reflect on the issue again. I’ve reviewed books on this issue before on Goodreads. I’m so pleased this book is on the short list; it sits well next to George by Alex Gino for Primary kids and Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart for Secondary kids and will hopefully reignite lots of chat. (It makes me feel like writing a whole curriculum unit across the age ranges looking at audience, purpose, writing style, theme and the whole shabang. Don’t worry, I’m not such a nerd, and the urge will fade.)
  • The shocking statistics about transgender sucides. The Jessica Love book has clearly made an impact on me this morning. 
  • A compilation of the zillion articles exploring the need to keep reading aloud to kids even after they can read themselves. Probably not, as I think I might have done that before back when this blog was very bookish. Oh yep, here’s my blog post from then. I sound very earnest -haha! 

Could it be:

  • Looking at rhyme and rhythm in picture books. that’s probably a bit too specialised, but it is a fascinating topic.

Or perhaps I might write an:

  • Evaluation of David Roberts Suffragette – The Battle for Equality book. It has also made it onto the Kate Greenaway list, and has good reviews, but I’m not completely sure I’m sold on it. It is a good book and clearly laid out with nice headings, but other than the contemporary nature of the topic is it so exceptional and strong that it is worthy of being shortlisted? Also, what a shame there wasn’t a female or co-female author.

Perhaps I’ll chat about other school-ish things eg how:

  • Exam boards and publishers will be promoting equal rights for the rest of this year and probably next, but then what? Will women’s rights get forgotten again? 
  • The value of a true ‘picture’ book where it is the pictures not the words that do the talking. I would love to see Secondary kids explore books like this and see what they come up with. There are some amazing titles out there which I could blog on.
  • The importance of reading shadowing schemes in schools, like the Carnegie scheme. I could reflect on whether the need for this type of scheme is greatest where schools probably can’t afford to buy the books.
  • School administrators have a massive role in supporting an open minded approach to  developing school library collections. 

Perhaps I’ll write a more confessional blog post and acknowledge that:

  • I don’t actually know much about transgender issues and state that that’s ok. I’m open minded and accepting so I figure that’s a good starting point. I could get onto  Trump  and the implementation of the trans-military ban, but I’m not sure that will be good for my blood pressure!

I might get a bit critical and look at:

  • The value (and lack of) of as a parent group for looking at the appropriateness of texts. It has a place, but it strikes me that it is often conservative parents that write on it, thus artificially upping the reading age of the books that are reviewed

Perhaps I’ll e  self-critical and give my self a kick up the bum blogging how:

  • I need to stop being so lazy and glass half empty and get my new picture book out there on the market. I’ll probably end up asking what’s the point though,  when it seems a fruitless task. If only I was a celebrity .. or an influencer!

Or maybe I won’t blog about any of these things.

As I say, I’m not always a fan of using reading to do follow up written work, so perhaps today I’ll take it easy and just enjoy having read the Kate Greenaway stories for no reason other than the enjoyment of reading them. I’ll keep the personal, social and political follow-on reflections in my head. That is, until tomorrow at least!

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