Monday, September 2, 2013

A Different Kind of Books

OK, so I am just going to come right out and admit it. I am a snob. A book snob. As a book snob, there are certain books that I deem as "literature." And those are the books that I choose to feature in my classroom. And read aloud to kids. And share on my blog.

But there is a whole other category of books.  You know these books. They are the books with characters that you see on television or in the movies. And  the ones you buy in the grocery store check out line. The ones that have pretty blatant morals, sometimes even featured in the title. They are not the books I use in mini-lessons. But, they are books kids love. And read. And reread. And beg me to read aloud.

And they are books I think we ought to talk about.  At least once in a while. Because these books, whether or not I deem them as literature, are books that invite kids into the world of literacy. They provide kids with a link between the world of pop culture and the world of school. They feature character kids know and love. They address problems kids face. And they provide print, words for kids to read.

In my mind, all of those are worthy reasons for reading. And so, starting today, once in a while, I'm going to feature a few of those books. Some might be singles, and some will be series. Today's featured series is Mia by Robin Farley, illustrated by Olga and Aleksey Ivanov.

Mia is a cat, or really actually a cat with little girl loves and problems. In Mia Dances Back to School, for example, Mia and her friends Anna and Ruby are starting school. Mia is very excited until she arrives at school and discovers that Anna and Ruby are in Mr. Bear's class, and she is all by herself, with Miss Bunny. How many times have I needed that book the first day of school?

Mia is a ballet dancer and many of the books in the series. e.g. Mia and the Tiny Toe Shoes, Mia and the Too Big Tutu, Mia and the Big Sister Ballet  feature a ballet-related problem or issue. Lots of the Mia books are I CAN READ books, which makes them perfect for those emergent readers in our first and second grade classrooms.

Several of the Mia books, e.g. Mia: Time to Trick or Treat, Mia: The Sweetest Valentine, and Mia: The Easter Egg Chase are holiday related. Generally, the holiday books also have problems kids face. In Time to Trick or Treat, Mia and her friends are planning to be matching pink ballerinas for Halloween, but then one friend wants to be a blue ballerina, and another wants to be green, and a little compromising has to occur. In Easter Egg Chase, Mia is faced with the hard choice of filling her own Easter basket with goodies,  or helping a much younger cousin.

It seems like it's time for this book snob to reconsider. Mia is a series primary grade girls are going to love. As such, it definitely has a place in my classroom!


Linda B said...

With the 'tutu' craze, I'm not sure you can avoid it anymore, Carol. My granddaughter (four) has a pre-school friend who wears nothing but tutus. At least Ingrid will put on shorts once in a while! My biggest quarrel with the books is that the "looks" sway as much as anything the book says. What a dilemma! But they indeed do love them! Sort of like the Babysitter's Club book of long ago!

Becky Shillington said...

Thank you for this thoughtful post, Carol. You are right--whatever it takes to get kids to read is worth taking a look at! This looks like a cute series that will encourage those in the tutu-loving set to read! = )

Stacey Shubitz said...

I hear you about being a book snob, Carol. I am too. Of course my daughter's favorite book to read before her naps is one based on a TV series she's never seen or heard of. (They must do market research on the characters and how appealing they are to kids.) The book is devoid of plot or conflict, but she loves it so I read it. I guess it's the same with Mia... At least kids are reading, right?

Nanc said...

okay...and yeah The Rhyming Dust Bunnies is my grand girl's favorite book too. I guess it is pretty good with the phonemic awareness. These step into reading books look like they have adorable pictures and I'm guessing our first graders will love them! I don't think you could be ever be a snob to a book. xo

Tara @ A Teaching Life said...

Whatever gets kids to read...however, the book snob in me has a hard time with these books. I have not evolved in this regard as you have, Carol.