Great Lists of Great Reads

February 7, 2012

Each January, librarians, publishers, parents . . . and, well, anyone who has an interest in books and reading . . . awaits the announcement of the Youth Media Awards at the ALA Midwinter Meeting. While awards help us define the criteria for “good” books, the lists of winners and notables are just a few of the readers’ advisory tools available to help us learn about books and other library media so we can guide readers of all ages to the most appropriate resources, whether award-winning or not. Among our ever-expanding choices are the extremely popular genres of graphic novels, manga, and street literature—all of which may be out of your comfort zone but are nevertheless worth learning about.

Advise and Contextualize

Stained-glass windows delight as well as teach, and so do graphic novels. In Graphic Novels in Your School Library, Jesse Karp, a school librarian and regular reviewer of graphic novels, provides a history of the genre—from its comic book roots to its mainstream acceptance. In the book, illustrated by Rush Kress, Karp offers annotated reading lists by grade level, lesson plans for learning about graphic novels, and skill-building exercises on how to visualize a sequence of events.

Indexed. ALA Editions. 160 p. $50, pbk. 978-0-8389-1089-4

Street literature, or urban fiction, is set on inner-city streets. Its characteristics include vivid descriptions of those streets, stories that happen there, main characters who are often young adults, and stories that reflect the challenges of street life. In The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Street Literature, Vanessa Irvin Morris provides an overview of what street literature is, a brief history of its development, and tips on advocating for and building an urban-literature collection, including lists of key titles to acquire.

Indexed. ALA Editions. 168 p. $48, pbk. 978-0-8389-1110-5 (Also available as an ebook for $38 or as a print/ebook bundle for $56.)

In Mangatopia: Essays on Manga and Anime in the Modern World, editors Timothy Perper and Martha Cornog have assembled bibliographic essays exploring the history, art styles, and influence of anime and manga, including their acceptance in Western culture. Unlike the titles above, the authors here do not include a recommended reading list; rather, they discuss the aspects of the genre that produce such a committed fan base.

Indexed. Libraries Unlimited. 275 p. $50, pbk. 978-1-59158-908-2

Grief and loss are part of life. What we’re grieving for varies, of course, but the need to understand the issues and find guidance continues. In Helping Those Experiencing Loss: A Guide to Grieving Resources, authors Robert J. Grover and Susan G. Fowler provide resources for all ages, categorized by the cause of loss—death, moving, adoption, divorce, etc. The selections are made according to well-defined criteria, and an age range for recommended material is indicated.

Indexed. Libraries Unlimited. 233 p. $50, pbk. 978-1-59884-826-7

Reading aloud to preschoolers has long been considered to have a correlation to their later success with literacy. However, the benefits of hearing a book continue through a person’s K–12 years, as Sharon Grover and Lizette D. Hannegan document in Listening to Learn: Audiobooks Supporting Literacy. The coauthors also provide an annotated list of audiobooks, with key connections for educators.

Indexed. ALA Editions. 200 p. $55, pbk. 978-0-8389-1107-5 (Also available as an ebook for $44 or as a print/ebook bundle for $64.)

Celebrating a Literary Legend

The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats is a lovely biography of the acclaimed author and illustrator who received the Caldecott Medal in 1963 for The Snowy Day. Biographers Claudia J. Nahson and Maurice Berger cover Keats’s artistic development from being the “background man” for Marvel Comics in the 1940s to his success as an illustrator of more than 80 books for children, most notably his Snowy Day series featuring Peter. Beyond the quality of the art itself, the authors discuss how Keats broke new ground with his multicultural images. The book is also the catalog for the traveling exhibit of the same name, which is on display at the Jewish Museum in New York City through January 29 before moving on to Amherst, Massachusetts; San Francisco; and Akron, Ohio.

Indexed. Jewish Museum/Yale University Press. 104 p. $27.50. 978-0-300-17022-1

KAREN MULLER is librarian and knowledge management specialist for the ALA Library.


Atlanta University Center's Robert W. Woodruff Library serves the oldest and largest consortium of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

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