Engaging Teen Readers: SLAV Conference 25th Nov 2016

The final School Library Association of Victoria (SLAV) Conference for 2016 looked at how to keep students engaged & develop and/or continue to develop a culture of reading into adulthood.

We were welcomed to the State Library of Victoria (SLV) by Andrew Hiskens (Manager, Learning Services) who explained the SLV’s Strategic Plan for the next few years.

Will Kostakis, the acclaimed author of YA literature, gave the Keynote address, Being Brave: ‘Difficult’ Topics in Literature and Writing. His presentation was fantastic. Honest and humorous, he had the audience spellbound and totally focussed on the experiences he had when starting out (he began to write very early in primary school) and how he has developed and grown into his writing

The program included over 10 Concurrent Sessions that gave practical examples of how we can engage teen readers. Those presenting gave us so many ideas about how to approach reading with our teen readers. There were so many interesting things going on in the schools they came from that it will take me some time to reflect on them. I can see so many ways they  will be useful in my school.

The tweets are collected in this Storify

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Book Review: Alan Turing By Jim Eldridge

I have always had a fascination with code breaking and cyphers. I have also been fascinated by the history of Bletchley Park and knew about the life of Alan Turing , well before the movie The Imitation Game. I recently took the opportunity to visit The Bletchley Park Museum, which is still being developed. I  spent a full day enjoying the opportunities that this museum offers and is well worth a visit.

It was with this interest I read the book,  from the Real Lives series, by Jim Eldridge entitled simply Alan Turing. This series looks to offer a great reading option for a number of the boys I work with. They are very accessible stories about interesting real-life figures and written by a range of authors.

My GoodReads review:

Alan Turing (Real Lives)Alan Turing by Jim Eldridge    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jim Eldridge has written a short but interesting biography about Alan Turing, who has become more widely known since the movie “The Imitation Game”. I have enjoyed many books written by Jim Eldridge as he writes about historical people and events in a narrative form that makes history accessible to a broad audience.

Alan Turing was a remarkable man and nowadays is considered to be one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century and is widely considered to be the father of computer science and artificial intelligence. Jim Eldridge has written about Turing starting from his schooldays, through his time as a solitary undergraduate at Cambridge, his important and secret wartime work through to the moment of his untimely death from eating an apple laced with cyanide. (There is still debate about the circumstances of his death and quite a few theories about what actually happened.)

Alan Turing had a startling talent as a mathematician and was credited with shortening World War II by years, thanks to his work on the Enigma code. He was an awkward man who did not make friends easily and was gay in a time that made him a criminal and received punishment for it. Jim Eldridge includes it all in this book. He encourages the reader to consider all the factors to better understand the amazing life of Alan Turing, a true British hero.

This is part of a series (Real lives http://bloomsbury.com/uk/series/real-… ) of biographies written for younger readers and there is a broad range of people covered. All the books are short but offer enough information to satisfy young readers with accessible (but not simple) language. They are good books for boys who enjoy “real” stories and reluctant readers.

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Review: Night Break (Young Sherlock Holmes #8)

Our book/reading group has been reading and reviewing quite a few books this term. This is one of mine.

This is the eighth book in the Young Sherlock Holmes series. As with the other stories in this series the period detail is well-researched and convincing, the characters are engaging and the plotting is excellent.

Night Break (Young Sherlock Holmes, #8)

Night Break by Andrew Lane

In this story the Holmes brothers, Sherlock and  Mycroft, are called back to their family home for the funeral of their mother. They begin to prepare for her funeral and sort through what needs to be done as well as trying to decide how best to support their sister, Emma.
They are all dealing with a sense of loss so when Emma claims that faceless men are visiting the house Sherlock doesn’t believe her. However Sherlock investigates and discovers that three men in bizarre disguises have broken into the house in the middle of the night. When Sherlock finds them he is viciously attacked. The family seems to be caught up in some strange mystery that they have no understanding or knowledge of.
The next occurrence involves men, posing as builders, attacking their sister’s fiancé. Both Mycroft and Sherlock independently deduce that the mystery is somehow connected to the building of the Suez Canal. The paths they then follow turn out to be very different, as Sherlock, with his ever loyal friend Matty, setting out for Egypt, determined to discover just what is going on. He feels betrayed by his brother and follows his own instincts to get to the bottom of what is going on. The nature of loyalties and friendship is called into question before the book is finished.

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Made a few years ago, the trailer below is a good introduction to the series and should whet the appetite of all young crime and detective fiction readers

Reading is not dead – or teenagers still reading

With the Term 2 school holidays now upon us, we have had a lot of English teachers bringing their classes into the library so the boys can borrow a book for holiday reading. Many of our boys like reading although not always novels. They have to read a something in a narrative format so many borrow biographies. All sorts of biographies are popular but sporting biographies are the “best sellers”. This year we can hardly keep up with the demand for basketball biographies, followed by the soccer biographies and finally AFL ones.  Basketball has not been very popular for a few years but interest in the NBA has really been evident across all year levels so far in 2013. Most students are quite happy to read, in whatever format they can get the item, although a few prefer hard copy and others love the e-books.

Our borrowing records and student comments prove time and time again that reading is not dead. All we need to do is to find the right interest/subject at the appropriate level and most are happy to read. They love sitting in the armchairs , feet up on the ottomans, especially when it is cold outside. We have teachers who read with their students and many parents who also read. It is always interesting when a student tells me that he is borrowing a book for himself and another for his mother or father. I love the fact that they are supporting each others reading.

I recently came across a post on the PewResearchCenter site that contained a great interactive graph. The data compared 2011 and 2012 data about American Reading habits. I do not think that an Australian survey would be all that different and it certainly ties in with what I witness here. The data shows that teenage readers (16-17) are reading more than they did the previous year.

Reading habits-2011-2012-All_books.-whole-jpg

Reading in “all formats” is up from the previous year. The darker column is 2012 data.  Continue reading