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From the Publisher
A MESSAGE FROM KATHY SHORT
Children’s books have always been my passion. I was the kid who read under the covers long into the night to finish a book and who pulled a book surreptitiously from my desk to read when the teacher wasn’t watching. Books were more than a way to occupy my time; they provided me with a sense of possibility for my life. Literature expanded my life spaces by taking me outside the boundaries of my life to other places, times and ways of living. The hope and imagination that I gained from books encouraged me to dream and to look beyond my immediate world and so transformed my future.
My involvement in this textbook grows out of my belief that connecting children with books opens minds and opens the world. My hope is that the adults in children’s lives will experience the transformative power of story and bring their passion as readers into their work with children. To do this, they need to experience lots of books and develop an internal sense of what makes a book memorable for a child, as well as read about the field of children’s literature. This textbook provides the essential knowledge that teachers and librarians need to understand about the field of children’s literature along with the resources to encourage them to read children’s books themselves. By keeping the information concise and to the point, students are able to get the information they need and still have time to read many children’s books so that the power of story comes alive in their lives and they can, in turn, bring that passion for reading into children’s lives. I had used earlier editions of this textbook in my own teaching of children’s literature because of this balance of genre information and literary issues with a wealth of resources for locating significant books and authors, all within a concise and easily accessible textbook. Carol and Carl approach literature in such a thoughtful and respectful manner and use the conciseness of the text to make careful selections of the content and to prioritize the most significant issues and books. Academics can frequently be quite verbose and so I appreciated finding a textbook that was so concise and yet substantive in its content. This textbook is brief without a loss of content, current to reflect the most recent literature, and far less expensive than many other textbooks on the market. I was excited to become part of the team that was producing the textbook I found most effective in my own teaching.
Working on this edition of the textbook forced me to focus my own thinking and writing. I could bring my passion for connecting books with children, particularly in the teaching strategies chapter, where I could share my work with strategies for engaging kids in thoughtful talk around books. The teaching strategies chapter introduces a curricular framework for thinking about how to encourage students to read widely for personal purposes, read strategically to learn about literary forms and structures, and read deeply to think about life. Often teaching strategies are just a list of activites; our focus is conceptualizing the process of engaging children with literature. My background in curriculum, inquiry and reader response and my many experiences working in schools provide a new frame for this chapter.
Much of my work has focused on children’s talk about multicultural and international literature as a way to build intercultural understanding. Books take children beyond information about other cultures by immersing them in story worlds to gain insights into how people live, think, and feel in other times and places. My research on cultural authenticity and work with children responding to these books in schools provided the basis for revising the chapter on literture for a diverse society. The issues raised in this chapter weave through all of the other genre chapters in the book, which each have many examples of literature reflecting diverse cultures. This chapter brings multicultural and international issues to the forefront, rather than separating these books or treating them as a special category of literature. The balance of highlighting important issues of cultural authenticity and critical literacy while integrating multicultural literature throughout the chapters effectively promotes deeper understandings about diversity within literature.
My work on various award committees, as a journal editor, and in leadership positions in professional organizations has put me in contact with many authors and illustrators. In particular, my relationship with Rafael Lopez led to the stunning cover for our 7th edition of the book, as well as reflects my commitment to issues of diversity as connected to literature.
My ultimate goal for this textbook is that it serves as an invitation for students to become immersed as readers in children’s books as well as to develop the ability to stand back and evaluate the literary effectiveness of those books. A literate person is not just someone who can and does read extensively, but is also someone who thinks critically about that reading. A literate reader combines passion with knowledge and this delicate balance is at the heart of this textbook.