On the Importance of Captain Underpants

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As a parent, teacher, or librarian trying to instill the love of reading into our kids, this isn’t often something we think about, but it bears consideration: not every reader needs to love literary fiction or other books we deem ‘good’ for them. We just want kids to grow up loving books, right? And if a for-fun-only series can do that, especially for a reluctant middle grade reader, then why not? This is a five-year-old post but I found it’s message to be still highly relevant, especially in today’s world where ‘popular series’ is king. ~Rosco’s Reading Room

Written by Karen Jensen, TLT. Reblogged from Teen Librarian Toolbox , a School Library Journal featured media site

“Look, I understand. We all have to do things we don’t like. We all have series of books we’d rather not acknowledge, or with which we have serious issues (mumble, mumble, wimpy kid, mumble.) But the payoff for including these books in your collection can be immense.

I think we all can recognize that the middle grades are a time of great turmoil and change. If not, I’d ask that you place an average 4th grade student and an average 7th grade student in a room together and observe them for just 5 minutes. Go on, we’ll wait. See what I mean? So then, how do we address helping these students to feel comfortable with themselves and the world around them – at least in the library? I say one way is collection development.

I’m remembering a time, probably 12 years ago, when I was asked for my input on the opening day collection for our school district’s middle schools (we have opened a lot of schools.) One of the questions I got from the district media office was about titles I was including (similar to Captain Underpants) which featured elementary school characters. The question came from someone who had spent most of his career in elementary library settings and was based on years of understanding that elementary students want to read about kids who are older than them. So do middle school  students – for the most part. But sometimes, just sometimes, they really want what I would call ‘comfort reading.’”

Read the rest of this post here on Teen Librarian Toolbox

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