Middle School Monday – Middle School goes through Grade 8
Yes, I realize most of you know this, but how do you consider it when developing your collection?
I was recently invited to interview 4 of the Fierce Reads authors during one of their tour stops in my area (it’s not until next week – I’m so excited!) In preparation, their publicist sent me advanced copies of the titles they’ll be promoting on tour, and I’ve been working my way through them. One of the authors, Leigh Bardugo, is very familiar to me, and I’m really excited to meet her. I already have her Grisha Trilogy in my middle school collection. Another, Josephine Angelini, was an unknown quantity, but I just finished her Trial by Fire, and really enjoyed it. So my first consideration is, would this be good to add to my collection?
My initial instinct is yes, I have students who would really enjoy this title. I think it would appeal to my fans of Cassandra Clare’s novels as well as some of my Divergent and Hunger Games readers. My second instinct is to check the reviews and see where other professionals have gauged its interest level. Most are 14 and up, or 8th grade and up, one is 12 and up. Good. I can add it to my collection. But I know that’s not always going to be the initial reaction amongst my middle school librarian peers.
Self-censorship, or collection development censorship, is a real issue in the middle school library. While I believe it’s important to know your community and your patrons, I think there is a danger in going too far in limiting what is purchased for your middle school collection. I’m fortunate in that the community of readers I serve is extremely diverse. My readers run the full spectrum from very sheltered 11 year olds to extremely worldly 14 year olds, with everything in between. Occasionally that can be a struggle due to budget constraints, but in general it has been a great advantage.
I’m a firm believer in the idea that children and teens will find the books they are ready to read. The main problem, I think, is when the adults in their lives are not ready for them to be ready. This can sometimes include their librarians. But, if you fill your collection with titles that are only recommended for 6th through 8th grades, you are limiting your students access and doing them a great disservice. I include titles with interest recommendations of 3rd through 6th grade in our collection, why would I not add titles recommended for 8th grade and up? 6th grade and 8th grade are both a part of the middle school experience – and it’s important to remember it.
Filed under: Middle School Monday
About Robin Willis
After working in middle school libraries for over 20 years, Robin Willis now works in a public library system in Maryland.
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