One of new "most favorite" blogs that I read is "Nonfiction Matters" from the School LIbrary Journal. Honestly I love the talk because it's centers around all the things I'm struggling with in my class and where I've put so much of my energy the last three years.
The most recent entry really caught was called "Speaking of Schools and Reading".
While Math scores are improving nationwide, reading is not -- the only uptick is in scores for readers who were have the most difficulty. One theory is that while we can teach basic reading, there are not enough books that engage and challenge readers as they get older tinyurl.com/ykvmf2x which sound very much like a call for the kinds of books we've often discussed here.
This statement reflects the kind of performance improvement I've seen. It's the bottom group of kids that are making the most progress....I wonder what things would look like if we compared the progress of the middle and high level kids?????
I can attest that it is nearly impossible to have a flourishing nonfiction collection without huge budgets. My district is very generous with it's school library budget and we still cannot do lots of reading in science class because there aren't enough books on specialized topics appropriate for middle school students. The library interloans them from other schools...but this takes weeks to get them all in if we ever get enough books. I think it's also tricky because the books for middle school readers are usually too hard or too easy....being a science teacher I have no idea why. But I can tell you that it is exhausting trying to elevate the background knowledge of middle school students in science with the limited resources we have to engage their minds and tickle their curiosity about the way the world works.