The Classroom Bookshelf sprang from our mutual love of children’s literature and our firm belief that literature-based classrooms allow for shared meaning-making, deep exploration of topics and ideas, differentiated instruction based on both students’ interests and reading abilities, and the examination of multiple perspectives. Over the years, we have shared titles, reviews, artwork, and our passion for this field with each other as colleagues. Now, we want to share all of that with you, our current, former, and virtual colleagues around the world. Each week, we will post our thoughts and ideas about some of the most exciting, arresting, profound, and beautiful books for children and young adults.
Our mission here is twofold: to review the most recent works of children’s and young adult literature and to provide you with a variety of ideas and resources to help you incorporate these texts into your K-12 classroom teaching. We welcome your comments, suggestions, and questions and look forward to learning from your ideas as well.
In addition to our SLJ site, you can also follow us at “The Classroom Bookshelf” on Facebook and at @Clssrmbkshlf on Twitter.
Editors and Contributors:
Mary Ann Cappiello
Associate Professor of Language & Literacy, Lesley University
Mary Ann is passionate about providing children and young adults with authentic reading, writing, listening, and speaking opportunities. After spending over a decade teaching language arts and the humanities in public schools in New York and New Hampshire, Mary Ann transforms theory into practice in her literacy courses at Lesley University, asking teachers to engage deeply with content, examine pedagogical choices, and consider a range of perspectives within and outside of the classroom. Mary Ann teaches courses in literacy methods and children’s literature, including a specialized course in using nonfiction trade books in the elementary and middle school classroom. Prior to her arrival at Lesley, Mary Ann taught children’s and young adult literature courses at Teachers College, Columbia University and Manhattan College. In collaboration with Lesley colleague and Classroom Bookshelf coauthor Erika Thulin Dawes, Mary Ann has created instructional models for strategically organizing children’s and young adult literature of all genres, along with multimodal digital texts, at center of classroom inquiry in language arts and the content areas. You can read more about their ideas in two books: Teaching with Text Sets (2013) and Teaching to Complexity (2015). Mary Ann has been a guest on public radio, served as a consultant to public television, and was a founding member of the Uncommon Corps. In the past, she has co-authored two monthly columns for School Library Journal’s Curriculum Connections newsletter: “Nonfiction and the Common Core” and “Inquiry and Integration.” She is a member of the National Council of Teachers of English Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children committee and writes children’s book reviews for Language Arts. Mary Ann is currently writing a children’s biography of the medieval queen Eleanor of Aquitaine.
Mary Ann can be reached at email@example.com. You can follow her on Twitter at: @MA_Cappiello.
Erika Thulin Dawes
Professor of Language & Literacy, Lesley University
A former elementary classroom teacher, reading specialist, and district literacy administrator, Erika now teaches and mentors courses in early childhood literacy, children’s literature, and elementary literacy methods at Lesley University. Prior to Lesley, Erika taught literacy methods courses at Teachers College, Columbia University. When teaching, Erika works to ensure that her students have hands-on experience with various models of instruction so they can bring them to their own teaching. She believes in making theory accessible to practicing educators and, through inquiry-based activities, she taps into the curiosity of students to promote new and in-depth ways of learning. She is a co-author of a book on writing instruction Learning to Write with Purpose: Effective Instruction in Grades 4-8 (2009) and the author of ancillary materials for the well established textbook Charlotte Huck’s Children’s Literature, now in its tenth edition, authored by her mentor Dr. Barbara Kiefer. In collaboration with Lesley colleague and Classroom Bookshelf coauthor Mary Ann Cappiello, Erika has created instructional models for strategically organizing children’s and young adult literature of all genres, along with multimodal digital texts, at center of classroom inquiry in language arts and the content areas. You can read more about their ideas in two books: Teaching with Text Sets (2013) and Teaching to Complexity (2015). Erika is currently serving on the c Charlotte Huck Award for Outstand Fiction for Children committee and writing children’s book reviews for Language Arts.
Erika can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow her on Twitter at: @ErikaDawes.
Associate Professor of Language & Literacy, Lesley University
Grace teaches a variety of literacy courses at Lesley University, including children’s and young adult literature, the teaching of writing, research in reading, literacy methods, and the practicum seminar. Prior to Lesley, Grace taught children’s literature, literacy methods, and research courses at Teachers College, Columbia University. A former English Language Arts teacher and literacy staff developer, she bridges her work with teachers and students with ethnographic and critical research in high-needs urban populations to examine their responses to literacy instruction in school contexts. Her teaching and scholarship centers on the multiple and complex ways students and teachers respond to reading and writing in schools, with particular interests in critical literacy instruction, children’s and young adult literature, intersections of literacy and identity, and literacy performances. Grace serves on national literacy committees and has presented her work at numerous national literacy conferences. Her work has been published in national and international journals. She has co-authored the book The Reading Turn-Around (2010) with Stephanie Jones and Lane Clarke, and has co-edited the book Literacies, Learning, and the Body: Putting Theory and Research into Pedagogical Practice (2016), with Elisabeth Johnson, Stavroula Kontovourki, and Christine Mallozzi. Both books delve into the complexities of understanding students’ responses to reading and offer educators ways to reconsider what those responses signal about students’ reading strengths. A reviewer for The Horn Book Guide and Editor of the Children’s Literature Reviews Department of Language Arts, Grace believes that quality children’s and young adult literature can provide a wealth of learning experiences for adults and children alike. She is currently working on various projects related to children’s literature and writing, as well teaching social justice with children’s literature.
Grace can be reached at email@example.com. You can follow her on Twitter at: @enrigrace.
Associate Professor, Manhattanville College
Katie believes in the power of stories to transform lives. This was central to her decade-long work as a former elementary classroom teacher, literacy specialist, and literacy coach. This belief now informs her work as she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in children’s literature, early childhood literacy methods, elementary literacy methods, literacy research, new technologies, critical literacies, and the literacy practicum at Manhattanville College. Katie strives to engage pre-service and in-service teachers to support their own students to think, act, and feel to strengthen literacy learning. In particular, she emphasizes the role social and emotional connections have to what it means to be a reader and writer. Much of Katie’s teaching and scholarship focuses on changing suburban schools, particularly working with bilingual learners through arts approaches, authentic multicultural children’s literature, and multimedia production. Katie is the author of Story: Still the Heart of Literacy Learning (2015) and is a co-author of Literacy Leadership in Changing Schools: Ten Keys to Successful Professional Development (2016). Katie is currently serving as a co-editor for the New York State Reading Association’s professional journal, The Language and Literacy Spectrum and is writing children’s book reviews for Language Arts. Katie is also a staff developer for the national literacy organization, LitLife, Inc,. where she works with teachers and literacy leaders supporting curriculum development, instructional methods, and assessment review. Across roles and contexts, Katie brings a relationship-centered approach to her work with teachers, students, and families.
Katie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow her on Twitter at: @kegancunningham.