Lots happening in the kidlitosphere, starting with that book. Oh, you know the one. The plastic surgery book. Read here, here, and here. Never mind that, by talking so much about it and ranting about its evils, we’re actually promoting it. Controversy is the best publicity.
Age ranging is coming to the UK, and books will begin to be labeled with the ages for which the subject matter is most appropriate: 5+, 7+, 9+, 11+ and 13+. I have mixed feelings about this for all the reasons you’d guess. First, this could be so helpful for parents browsing books on their own, and I know lots of librarians and teachers would appreciate this feature. However, I also believe that it’s just one more way that the thought and judgment process is being taken out of reading. Naturally, this is not going to alleviate the issue of all those parents who stomp and protest that a book isn’t appropriate for their child. I mean, you can say that the age range is for subject appropriateness, but anyone in libraries, schools, or bookstores will confirm that parents will not read it like that: “My 8-year-old reads at the 7th grade level.” But then they’ll throw a hissy when their child asks them about breasts, snogging, and wet dreams. Also, this is another way in which customer service is disappearing from our culture: why bother with booksellers and librarians when you can find out the age range online? Never mind that booksellers and librarians will have likely read whatever book is in question and might be able to tell you if it’s what you’re looking for or not… So while I think it’s a nice idea, I really question how much good “age ranging” is going to do.
The Monkey Speaks has a nicely worded post about information literacy and the disappearance of media specialists from schools across America. Go read Walter’s post since he is often more eloquent than I am. But take my generally snarky attitude, combine it with my bold mood today, and I have to point out that while the role of a school librarian is being undervalued and unappreciated in America, Laura Bush is awfully busy with the media outlets, promoting her new book about the importance of reading. Said book includes a boy who is directed to the school library by his teacher…little do they know, that there isn’t a professional there to staff it! Apparently Good Day Elementary School was the victim of budget cuts made in the name of No Child Left Behind.
I know, totally snarky, right? I’m being so against my better judgment, I assure you. I could very well live to regret this.
I also have lots of delicious (but not necessarily food-related) news about a certain Mr. David Fickling (of Random House) and the launch of his new comics line. But that will have to be saved for an entirely separate post. Stay tuned!