Happy sunny summer! I hope that you are finding time to enjoy your favorite books and authors during the months when many of us are away from the demands of classrooms and libraries. And I hope that you will forgive me for asking you to do some homework for ALAN this summer. Here is the assignment:
We all know that ALAN is a terrific organization, one that promotes adolescent/young adult books and the authors that write those works. But the word about ALAN has not spread as widely or as well as it could. That's one place that you can help: please let your colleagues and your students know about us. You might want to use our Web sites—one for the organization, at http://www.alanya.org (with thanks to David Gill, Web writer!) and one for the journal, at http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournallALAN/alan-review.html (with thanks to Pat Kelly Proudfoot, Web maintainer!) to introduce them to our organization and to the issues and concerns that are important to us as proponents of high-quality, compelling, artistic literature for young people. Or introduce them to us through our parent organization, NCTE, by clicking the "Assemblies" button on the http://www.ncte.org Web site. Point out to your colleagues and administrators the advertisement of one issue of The ALAN Review that has been included in the newest NCTE publications as a way to encourage them to join the organization and, in doing so, receive the journal three times per year (at $15 annual fee, our membership is still the best bargain in the professional universe). Clip the reviews of books that are included in each of our issues so that students can browse trough them in your classroom or library. We can take advantage of the national attention on reading skills by talking, often and much, about the kinds of books that resonate with adolescent readers.
Thought you would go back to your lemonade and read this interdisciplinary-focused issue of the journal now? Not quite yet. There are a couple of other requests I would like for you to consider.
One request is aimed toward those of you who are classroom teachers and school or community media specialists who work with adolescents: Please consider gathering your students' comments about the YA books that they are reading, and send them to us, to be published in our frequent feature, Book Bubbles. This section is a fun pair of pages in which student readers' voices pop up off the page, fresh and shimmering, like soap bubbles. This is an example of the kind of text we are hoping to see:
"Wow—I knew exactly what John meant when he said he felt like his tuba was really a frog sitting on his shoulder. When I was learning the trumpet, the instrument seemed to have a mind of its own."
8th grader Xavier Parsons, commenting on You Don't Know Me, by David Klass
If you would like to send us comments for Book Bubbles, you need only send us a list of your name, the grade(s) you teach, and the school name, along with your students' book comments. (If you are sure that we can read your students' work, you are welcome to send originals. If you are not sure that we can, please type the comments and send us a list) . We will be happy to give you and the school some publicity when we publish their remarks. And what a lesson on writing for publication this can be for your students!
The students' comments should be only two-three sentences long. All of your students might be responding to a single book that they read in common. If so, we need only the student's name along with his or her comment. We ask that you give us the book title and author's name for the group of responses. If your students are responding to different books, please have them include the book title and author's name, along with their own names, when they write their comments. With the help of our friends at Graphic Press, we will add the art work to make your students' comments bubble.
The second request is aimed toward those of you who are working in colleges and universities with pre-service and in-service teachers. We would like to hear from you if you are interested in having groups of your undergraduate/graduate students serve as guest reviewers, alongside our faithful regular reviewers, for the Clip and File Book Reviews section of one issue of The ALAN Review. This is what section editor Jeff Kaplan and I have in mind:
You will send Jeff your name, mailing address, and email address, along with the number of prospective and practicing teachers with whom you work. Jeff will send you a batch of books, ideally one per student, along with a deadline for the return of the reviews. Your students, under your supervision, will write reviews, using the current reviews as models. Reviewers get to keep the books! You will read and edit those reviews, adding comments regarding books in a series, and so on, if appropriate (items that teachers who are less familiar with the genre than are you might not know), then send Jeff a copy of the reviews, in hard copy and on a disk. He will further edit for length and stylistic features, then send the reviews to the ALAN Review office before publication. The benefits with this system will be many. The primary ones are that prospective and practicing teachers have an opportunity to read and review new books, thus increasing their own knowledge in the field, that they will have the experience of publishing for a demanding professional audience of their peers, and that a broader body of reviewers will be contributing to the journal. We would happily add a note regarding your university affiliation, so that you and your students and school get a bit of PR from the enterprise.
Please send Book Bubbles contributions to:
Dr. Gail Gregg
Assistant Editor, The ALAN Review
Florida International University
University Park Campus
11200 SW 8th Street
College of Education, Office 314, Curriculum and Instruction
Miami, FL 33199
Please send Clip and File Book Reviewer requests to:
Dr. Jeff Kaplan
Book Reviews Editor, The ALAN Review
Educational Foundations, Room ED 242
College of Education
University of Central Florida
P.O. Box 161250
Orlando, FL 32816-1250
Good homework assignments should be meaningful. These are. Good homework assignments should reinforce our knowledge of an area of inquiry. These assignments do.
And now, please enjoy this issue of the journal, one that has an interdisciplinary focus; it is an ideal issue to share with your colleagues regardless of the school subjects they teach ...