Guest Post by Lisa Rogers
Please welcome author and librarian Lisa Rogers to 24 Carrot Writing.
Lisa is an elementary library teacher in a K-5 school in Wellesley, Massachusetts. Her debut picture book, 16 WORDS: WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS AND THE RED WHEELBARROW (Random House/Schwartz & Wade Books) will hit shelves in the spring of 2019.
From her unique seat as both an author and a librarian, we asked Lisa to share her thoughts on how books are selected for classroom and school library shelves.
Thank you so much for joining us Lisa!
How do librarians and teachers choose their books? And how can you get your book in front of them?
Here’s how I choose: Readers, teachers, budget and time. Ideally, I would know and be able to read all of the new books and order the ones I think my readers would most enjoy. I preview as many books as possible before ordering and I've been focusing on books that offer characters and perspectives that reflect our diverse world. It all comes down to choices.
First, my readers. What do students want? What do they like, and what might I present to them? Sometimes, choices are simple: yes, that new Fenway and Hattie; Jasmine Toguchi, definitely. When School Library Journal advises grades 5-8 for a middle grade book that sounds amazing, I request it from the public library and read it before buying. And, I must think about readers like the first-grader who desperately sought nonfiction truck and tank books. For that, I dug into my book distributors, Mackin and Follett, and used their filters and previewing tools to make sure the books I chose were age-appropriate and had enough information to satisfy my student.
Next, teachers. What can I buy that might help them fill a hole, refresh an old reading list or invigorate a lesson? That takes curricular familiarity as well as a deep knowledge of my own library’s strengths and shortcomings. When Carolyn Crimi’s The Louds Move In came out, I knew it would be perfect for the third-grade teacher looking for onomatopoeia-based picture books. Miranda Paul’s Water is Water, I knew, would fit in two places: kindergarten study of the water cycle and third-grade nonfiction genre study.
Budget. It’s tight, and books are expensive. If the review journals flag a book for “a larger collection” or suggest giving it a pass (rare, but it happens), it’s unlikely to make it onto my order.
Time. School districts committed to having librarians might not have assistants to circulate books, shelve them and inventory them. Librarians often serve multiple schools—with a different collection of books in each, making it even more difficult to make choices. Teachers have constant pressure to learn new curriculum and ever-tighter time frames to deliver it to their students. They depend on my knowledge of our library’s books as well as lists that come with their curriculum—but those lists often include outdated, out of print materials.
That provides an opportunity for authors to get teachers’ and librarians’ attention. Teachers love lists organized in ways that support their curriculum. Teachers love Pinterest, so if you have a board or are blogging, create lists of books (including yours, of course!) around a teaching point: voice, point of view, theme, author’s purpose. They’ll ask their librarians for these books or order them on their own, and once they find a winner, it’s likely to be shared at grade-level meetings, and might find a place in the curriculum.
Educators care deeply about the quality of what they introduce to their students. If you’ve written a book that will connect to the curriculum or have enormous reader appeal, you can be sure they want to hear about it.
Work your connections to befriend your school librarian and local bookseller. Find a teacher who can spread the word. And write the best book you can.
To learn more about Lisa, please visit her website www.lisarogerswrites.com/
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