Summer Reading with a Purpose

whats-your-four

To me, one of the joys of summer is finding a good book and reading it on the beach. There is nothing quite like the warm air and bright sunshine to make reading extra enjoyable. What made it even better this year was helping to inspire children to read and avoid the summer slide while they were out of school, through our first ever “What’s Your Four?” campaign.

Although I now enjoy reading during the summer as an adult, it was not always my favorite activity growing up, and I always needed a little encouraging. I was not alone. Many children and teens have a hard time reading over the summer, despite the academic benefits that it has been proven to give. In fact, teachers generally spend 4-6 weeks re-teaching what students forgot over the summer at the beginning of the school year[1]. It has also been shown that having reading role-model parents or a large book collection at home has a greater impact on kids’ reading frequency than does household income[2], and that 92% of children and teens say they are more likely to finish a book that they picked out themselves2. Knowing all of this, we decided to do something this summer to try and get kids reading more.

We challenged all residents to choose four books to read over the summer months in a campaign we called “What’s Your Four?” The idea was to encourage children, teens, and adults to read by having Massachusetts residents post four books that they chose to read to social media. It is four books because students who read four or more books over the summer achieve better on reading comprehension tests in the fall than their peers who read 1 or fewer books[3].

In total, we had over 450 posts that used the hashtag #WhatsYourFour, and from these posts, we’ve compiled a list of the over 550 books that have been recommended by participants. These books range from cookbooks, to children’s stories, graphic novels, and biographies. We had responses from the Berkshires to Provincetown, and many local libraries and their staffs got involved to share what was on their reading lists.

The top four books that were recommended by participants on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram were:

Modern Lovers by Emma Straub, about a group of college friends in New York City, who now have their own children going to college.

A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman, about a grumpy old man who warms up after a young family moves in next door.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, a sequel to the famous Harry Potter series, the book is the script to the play of the same name.

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, about a dysfunctional wealthy family and its children’s inheritance.

Massachusetts Politicos also got involved and sent over their summer reads. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Attorney General Maura Healey, Treasurer Deb Goldberg, Auditor Suzanne Bump, State Representative Jim Dwyer, Secretary of Education Jim Peyser, and New Bedford Mayor Jonathan Mitchell all shared four books to encourage children, teens and adults from around the Commonwealth to read.

As the air starts to cool and school starts again, reading will shift for many from pleasure to academic. We hope that just how memories of the beach stave off the cold on a snowy January day, the memory of a good book will remind everyone of a great summertime, and will encourage them to continue reading throughout the whole year. You can see a full recap of the “What’s Your Four” campaign here.

[1]Lasting Consequences of the Summer Learning Gap, Karl Alexander, Doris Entwistle, Linda Steffel Olson, April 2007.

[2]The Kids and Family Reading Report™ 4th edition conducted by Harrison Group and Scholastic, 2012.

[3]Summer Reading and the Ethnic Achievement Gap, Jimmy Kim, Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, 2004.

 

Globe-Horn Book Awards Kick Off Children’s & Young Adult Award Season

Editor’s note: This post was written by Shelley Quezada, the MBLC’s Consultant to the Unserved.

Here in New England, September marks both the beginning of fall and the start of the children’s book award season, recognizing some of the most excellent books for young readers published in the past 12 months. A perennial favorite with youth services librarians, authors, and publishers, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards Ceremony will take place on Friday, September 30 at Simmons College in Boston. The Boston Globe Horn Book Awards has been presented annually since 1967 and is considered among the most prestigious honors in the field of children’s and young adult literature.

Selections are featured in three categories: Picture Book, Fiction and Poetry, and Nonfiction. Additionally, each category includes two honor books. Unlike many American Library Association awards, the winning titles may be written or illustrated by citizens of any country as long as they are published in the United States. Awards are chosen each year by an independent panel of three judges appointed by the editor of The Horn Book.

This year’s award winners were announced by video on the Horn Book website in May. However, next Friday’s ceremony is especially exciting because it features speeches by the award winners, followed by a book signing.

2016 Award & Honor Winners

covers of the three 2016 horn book award winners. titles are listed below

Nonfiction Award Winner

Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin (Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of Macmillan)

Fiction Award Winner

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge (Amulet Books, an imprint of Abrams)

Picture Book Award Winner

Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph written by Roxane Orgill, illustrated by Francis Vallejo (Candlewick Press)

covers of the 2016 horn book honor award winners. titles and authors follow below in text.

Nonfiction Honor Books

  • Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad by M. T. Anderson (Candlewick Press)
  • Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement written by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Ekua Holmes (Candlewick Press)

Fiction Honor Books

  • The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz (Candlewick Press)
  • Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead (Wendy Lamb Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House)

Picture Book Honor Books

  • Thunder Boy Jr. written by Sherman Alexie, illustrated by Yuyi Morales (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
  • One Day, the End: Short, Very Short, Shorter-than-Ever Stories written by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, illustrated by Fred Koehler (Boyds Mills Press)

Attendees at the Friday ceremony are in for a treat: with the exception of authors and illustrators Frances Hardinge, Sherman Alexie, and Yuyi Morales, all awardees will be on hand to give presentations to the audience. Many of these authors will also participate the following day at the 2016 Horn Book Colloquium “Out of the Box” that will also be held at Simmons College.

Massachusetts Libraries (mass.gov/libraries) Relaunches

Massachusetts Libraries (mass.gov/libraries), the online portal for statewide library resources & services first launched in 2007, has been completely redesigned. We wanted to keep it simple and user-friendly while also offering personalized access to catalogs and collections.

screenshot of massachusetts libraries website homepage

Visitors are first prompted to find their local library by entering a zip code, town, or library name. The new site is then customized with access to their home network’s catalog and the Commonwealth Catalog, making it easy to search both locally and throughout the state. It also helps visitors find ebook collections and provides immediate access to online articles. And there’s a new A-Z title list of all research journals, magazines, and newspapers available through our statewide subscription.

In the Your Local Library section, visitors can find out about classes, events, and workshops – such as summer reading and early learning programs, high school equivalency exam prep, and English learning groups – at nearby libraries and literacy centers. The Digital Collections page highlights digital libraries and special online collections, great resources for teachers and students looking to explore history in Massachusetts and beyond.

We’ll be testing the site with users and consistently making adjustments throughout the coming months, so we welcome any and all feedback on the new site! Send your thoughts and comments to answers@mblc.state.ma.us.