Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Lessons from a New Librarian

By Carrie Charley Brown

Part of my job as a school library media specialist is to order new books that enhance our collection. In order to do that effectively, I have to know what we already have, what we lack, and what we need. As a writer, do you take inventory of your mentor text deficiencies? As we approach the end of another year, it's a good time to assess what you read, or didn't read, and how that informs your writing. By questioning yourself, you'll take an inside look first before consulting the experts.

Your Year in Books
What did you read this year? Which mentor texts provided the best models?

Identify Your Gaps
Did you avoid certain types of mentor texts? Why? How could you grow as a writer by approaching new territory? What does your writing lack?

Fill Your Needs
As a librarian, I base our greatest needs on what others recommend. That starts with the students. I am constantly asking kids about what they are reading and what they like, and in turn, I encourage them to do the same. Who are your book people? Are you sharing your thoughts about what you read with your critique group?

Consulting the experts will help you select high quality texts for your needs. Teachers are on the front lines. Do you know what they are using in their classrooms and why they like certain texts? Thinking about this aspect can bring value to what you write. Librarians can shed light on what their teachers use. They can refer you to the resources that they consult before ordering.

In her post, My Reading Process, Marcie Flinchum Atkins, shares the resources that she consults regularly to keep up with her library and her own writing. I consult many of the same newsletters and print resources that she uses, and also refer to the award lists on the American Library Association website.

I look to a very busy reader-librarian-writer-podcaster, Matthew Winner, for his monthly picture book recaps.

Colby Sharp brings a unique educator point of view through his vlogs which are filled with intrinsic motivation for reading.

By assessing your year in mentor texts, you'll set new reading goals and get much more out of the resources that you consult. Your ReFoReMo community will be there to discuss texts and offer recommendations along the way. What are your goals?


  1. As a former school librarian, I'm glad to see you mention how professional librarians select books. I know Marcie has the 411 on this topic, too. TY, Carrie. I read widely this year with a mix of informational fiction, science, and biographies being key areas that met my writing goals and manuscripts. I also try to keep up on my MG, too, as I have begun to dabble in longer forms. TY for this post.

  2. Great post! I just posted about gift giving for writers/authors and two gifts were to check out their books at the library and/or suggest their titles to librarians as consideration for ordering. I do this all the time at my library. As a former teacher, I definitely had my favorite books I used with my students, and reasons why. Language, repetitiveness, story, illustrations, theme, and so on were some of the characteristics I used in choosing the books I used.

  3. Excellent post! Thank you, Carrie. I do list books I've read and those used as mentor texts.

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