I have belonged to LibraryThing (LT) almost since it began and have written about it over the years.. My “thingaversary” is October 13, 2005. In LT lore that means that this year I get to buy 16 books on October 13, one for each year and one more for good luck. In those 15 years, I have moved from cataloging my reading to becoming part of a robust reading community. I join the 75 Book Challenge group each year and have a core group of friends. But, I have not been as involved as I might be so this year I am committing to making that my main social outlet online. I have followed a few more people and am making time each day to check their posts.
For me, LT provides a model for an authentic approach to encouraging reading and writing in the classroom. I know there is a lot of pushback against reading logs that track number of pages or minutes of reading, and while most of us on LT do some kind of statistical tracking, the focus is on sharing our reading with others. Our stats also go way beyond number of pages: we think about our reading in terms of genres, geographic, racial and ethnic diversity, and so forth. We record them and then reflect on them personally and communally.
On Twitter, Michael Bonner asked about tips for increasing middle school literacy. There are specific skills to teach, but they can be taught and practiced through authentic reading, particularly at the middle school level. My answer to him was simple: let the kids read and write and talk about their reading and writing. (As always, I gave credit to my early mentor Nancy Atwell.) I would add that we should use the widest definitions of reading and writing and talking that we can to throw out the widest net. We can listen to text. We can read through images. We can talk through video.
And, the world of contemporary middle grade and young adult literature is rich these days. I haven’t compiled my list of best reads for 2019 yet, but I know it will include Finding Langston and Dear Martin and books by Jacqueline Woodson and Elizabeth Acevedo and Angie Thomas and Julie Murphy. Not sure where to start? The Nerdy Book Club is in the midst of announcing its awards for 2019 with lists from picture books to young adult fiction and everything in between. They’ve been doing it since 2011 and reading through all the lists would be a pretty amazing challenge.
For now, I’m busy setting up my LT thread, planning some of my reading and connecting with old friends and a few new ones. If you’re looking for a group of serious but fun readers, consider LibraryThing. Meanwhile, best wishes for a year of good reading and sharing.