Thursday, February 25, 2016

Where do I Find Books to Recommend to Students?

...or Lists of Stuff for Kids to Read

If you follow my blog, you know that I am proponent of getting kids to read. Period. The topic of this post, like most of my posts, comes to me by way of conversations that I have had with teachers. A conversation I have a lot is What resources are out there to help me know what books to recommend to students?"

Here is a list of resources to help you out with book recommendations:

1. Strathcona County Library publishes 30+ Books lists for teens. There are also lists for younger students. The lists are awesome and have been curated by the teen librarian there. Also note, that if you contact the SCL Teen Librarian, she may come out and do some book talks (or contact me if you want an intro).

    2. has a ton of book lists (and multimedia resources for those books). You can filter lists by grade level, curricular area, or genre. You will need to create an account (one of the simplest account creation processes I have seen in while). You can curate your own book lists, or HAVE STUDENTS CURATE LISTS!  This resource is definitely worth checking out and it is FREE resource for Alberta teachers. Check out the video overview.

  1. Whichbook This site provides book recommendations based on sliding scales which the student sets (happy/sad, safe/disturbing). The sliding scales can be changed to Setting, Character or Plot. It’s a neat tool and interactive. More targeted to older students.

  1. Good Reads. Might be the best all-round online readers’ advisory tool. It allows you to find new books based on ones you enjoy,  build personal (library/class) bookshelves, rate books, connect with other readers. Here’s a detailed review. If you want to create/join a robust online community for readers, this is the one-stop shopping place to make that happen. Also available for mobile devices.

  1. Literature Map This site asks students enter an author name and will create a scatter map of authors similar-ish to the one inputted. It’s cool, but not all authors are included in the map….although most more internationally well- known authors are (John Green was included, but Marty Chan was not). Worth a look. And cool to see.

6. Amazon  is one of my favourite book recommendation places. It is easy. It works every time.I enter a title I like into the search and then take a look at the “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” section just below the books search. Below are some of their recommendations based on a search for Lemony Snicket. Also, the books reviews are a great place to get info on books. I use Amazon a lot for readers’ advisory.

7. The EIPS Mighty Book Smackdown. OK, I’m biased here, but I’ll proceed anyway. The Smackdown blog is a collection of many, many EIPS teachers reviewing this year’s 14 Smackdown books. All the titles were chosen for their recentness and student appeal factors. There are also teacher resources listed for each book (many of which come from Take a moment to check out what EIPS secondary teachers and librarians think about recent YA titles! You can sign up to follow the blog by email on the right hand side of the blog.

8. Common Sense Media has an impressive collection of curated and vetted  books lists for students of all ages. You can filter a tons of ways (genre,age, topics, character strength, etc.) . The list is vetted, provides great reviews, readalikes and more. The site “rates” in a model that is similar to how movies are rated. For example, will provide details on positive messages, violence, language, consumerism, etc. Totally have this site on your radar!

9. Bookish is an interesting site. This link here will take you to the YA section of the site. Lots of interesting Book-ish (haha) news and recommendations. You can sign up to their site to get updates on the latest and greatest.

10. Penny Kittle Book List recommendations.

Above is my beginning list of resources that help teachers and students find books. Thank you to M-BB for kick starting this list. Because of space issues (and attention-waning issues) I have limited this list to 10 sites to check out. There are tons more out there, but these 10 should get you started. I’d love to hear what works for you and your students and what doesn’t…feel free to email me or leave a comment below.


Monday, February 8, 2016

Creative Writing Competition 2016

#EIPSWRITES is a fun new Creative Writing competition.  Submissions can be written in poetry or prose and should be related to this year’s theme:

Who Knows What You Are Going To Get?

What’s in it for students?

All entries will be considered for publication in this year's EIPS anthology (print and/or web published).
All participants will have a chance to attend a full day Writer’s Workshop with a professional author and other student writers in the district.

Who Is Eligible?

There are three student categories:
  • grades 7-8
  • grades 9-10
  • grades 11-12

What Can you Submit?

This contest has two judged categories, which we have left deliberately allow participants the broadest possible canvases:

Will there be Prizes?

Yes! And, all participants will also have a chance to to attend a Writers’ Workshop with a professional writer.

What Are the Rules?

  • All participants must be enrolled in an EIPS school.
  • All entries must be in English.
  • All entries must be accompanied by a submission form. Do not include your name on any of the other pages of your submission.
  • Maximum of one submission per category per student.
  • All entries must be approved by the submitting teacher.
  • All entries in this competition will be judged anonymously, on merit alone.
  • Submissions will be evaluated on the following: Grammar, Organization, Strong style and personal voice;  We encourage writers to include personal examples and insights; Originality and clarity of content and ideas
  • Entries must be original work, unpublished and unproduced, not accepted by any other publisher or producer at the time of submission. (The decision to disqualify any entry is at the sole discretion of the panel of judges. The disqualification decision is final and not subject to review.)
  • Entries will not be returned – keep your original copy!

When is the Deadline to Enter?
The deadline to enter is May 27, 2016. Teachers should send all submissions should be forwarded to Janice Sundar at Central Office.


All entries must be submitted through an EIPS school. Each submission must  be accompanied by a complete submission form. If you have any questions, please contact Janice Sundar.

Printable Forms:
Creative Writing Info PDF
Submission Form PDF