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April 15, 2017 BOOKLIST
Find more Book Links April 2017
STEM v. STEAM
There’s been an ongoing debate in our offices. This past year, we’ve fully embraced our commitment to STEM, and have worked to gather features and interviews that support a STEM-focused curriculum. But what about STEAM? That little A has been popping up all over the place, and for many, it’s been prompting a question: Do the arts belong in STEM education?
The jury, it seems, is still out. There’s practical reasons, of course—many scholarships and government-funded grants are STEM specific. Some say no for other reasons: the value of STEM, in the classroom and for our futures, has been proven, and adding another focus both complicates things and distracts from some of the goals that STEM programs seek to achieve. Besides, there are plenty of natural connections to the arts inherent in STEM fields (architecture, fashion design, music), and STEM education doesn’t ignore or deny those; it just doesn’t focus on them.
But for STEAM proponents, those natural connections are the very reason the arts do belong. Highlighting them doesn’t take away from the focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, it just encourages a more creative way of thinking and allows for a more complete education. The arts, they say, are an inherent piece of an effective educational program, and there’s practicality to be had in studying them.
In this issue, as we have in others throughout the past year, we walk the line. There are certainly some STEM-oriented articles here, including a feature on food production and preparation, and another that pairs poetry with the popular resource series Picture-Perfect Science. But the arts are represented as well: in interviews, author-illustrators Carson Ellis and Julie Flett discuss their artistic processes.
But there’s another art form that often gets lost in this discussion: language arts. To that end, this traditionally language arts–focused issue pays homage to linguistics, speech, and the written word in several ways. Featured here are a discussion of the ways in which the mystery format can aid pre- and early readers, an interview with Newbery Award–winning author and poet Kwame Alexander, an exploration of creation stories across cultures, and an interview with G. Neri, author of Tru & Nelle, a novelization of the early lives of Truman Capote and Harper Lee. This last interview also highlights a list of young-reader biographies about other writers.
In her column, Pat Scales reflects on the goals of school and public librarians. Kids today might have a wide variety of interests—be they science or the arts—but at the end of the day, what they’re reading isn’t really the thing that matters. Our job, she says, is to get them interested in reading in the first place.
Books and Authors
Talking with Carson Ellis, by Julia Smith
Talking with G. Neri, by Pat Scales
Talking with Julie Flett, by Kay Weisman
Talking with Kwame Alexander, by Lauren Vander Pluym
Creation Stories, by Ilene Cooper
Dishing Up Food for Thought, by Angela Leeper
Elementary, My Dear, by Kristin Rydholm
Poetry and Picture-Perfect Science, by Sylvia M. Vardell
Reid-Aloud Alert, by Rob Reid
Weighing In, by Pat Scales
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