The Tuesdays welcome Diana Perri-Haneski, media specialist at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School.
What do Librarians/Media Specialists want from authors and author visits?
By Diana Perri–Haneski
Every day I connect Young Adults with Books they will want to read. Yes, kids of all ages are still reading books, the ones where you turn the paper pages and the ones that you swipe pages on a phone, iPad, or computer. Students want hardback, paperback, Kindle, Nook, or Overdrive e-books purchased and borrowed from the library. I’m always on the lookout for YA books and authors that will motivate our students to read and write. As the Media Specialists at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, I love the challenge of putting a book in the hands of a student that will intrigue them to open it up and read. Sometimes visitors see a novel placed on an eye catching promotional display, they pick up the book and start leafing through it while they are waiting, and later check it out. Often their friends recommend a book, or they see one at the book store and come to the library in search of it. Every day I am inspired to help students that can’t find a book they want to read or think they don’t like to read. I prepare and read many books so I can share that title or author that might get their attention. I will often excite curiosity in a library visitor after chatting with them a bit to find out their hobbies, and interests. This time builds relationships and leads me to show them books that will appeal to them.
A question like: What was the last book you read that you loved? Helps me find the right book as does getting a published author to visit the students at school. When an author comes to visit students in person or via Skype, it creates an interest in the author’s books.
What do Media Specialists/Library Teachers want from writers?
I purchase books that help students learn and complete assignments based on the curriculum, and I buy books for them to read for pleasure. My goal is to create a collection of books and materials that reflect the needs and interests of our school community. The YA books students look for, are books where they see themselves, see others, and take them places they have never been or would never want to be. Florida award winning author Adrian Fogelin agrees and says, “Authors who can write books that show the reader experiences they haven’t had by bringing experiences into stories, and take them to places they’ve never been, they also validate who they are when they connect with a story , and make sure that they see themselves in books.”
When authors visit schools they get a chance to be around the kids they write about. Guest authors have asked to eat in the cafeteria in order to have conversations with the students and hear how they talk, and get new, updated vocabulary. Fogelin adds, authors want to make sure are on target with their writing. They often write from their own childhood and that isn’t always the same. It’s also important to connect with teachers since they are allies. She adds,“ School visits help energize the authors, teachers and the students.”
What are the books that kids look for?
Young Adult literature professor at USF, Dr. Joan Kaywell, believes “books can save lives.” She says “authors like Laurie Hale’s Anderson, Ellen Hopkins, Jay Asher, and Sharon Flake have published books that cover serious hard to talk about topics like bulimia, bullying and suicide.”
After reading books by these important young adult authors, I am more alert to possible struggles, more understanding and better equipped with language to deal with the situation. When I read, Fogelin’s, “Crossing Jordan,” I was better prepared with vocabulary for speaking with young people about and dealing with prejudice.
I always saw the value in making sure my students can find themselves in a book now I realize a reader needs to see others as well.
It’s a pleasure to performs as matchmaker between books and Reader’s.