Friday, January 28, 2022

The Slides and the Talk


I got my Google Slides presentation put together yesterday for today's Newbery talk to the 8th graders. I feel good about it -- I definitely needed a visual element and the 12 slides help me organize my remarks.

I'm starting with some information about the history of the award and the criteria before I get into my book recommendations, and I'm talking specifically about six books: "Johnny Tremain," "The Witch of Blackbird Pond," "M.C. Higgins the Great," "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry," "The Hero and the Crown" and "Rifles for Watie." They all seem complex enough to be interesting to an 8th grader, and they're books the kids may not know. (As opposed to "Holes" or "A Wrinkle in Time," which are so famous they don't need me to tout them.)

Then I'm talking about a couple of Newbery "mistakes," or years when the award went to a forgettable book rather than to one that has since become a classic -- in 1953, when "The Secret of the Andes" triumphed over "Charlotte's Web," and in 1988 when a biography of Abraham Lincoln won over Gary Paulsen's "Hatchet."

And then I'm finishing up with the two of the Newbery books I enjoyed the least, "Tales of Silver Lands" and the readable but horribly outdated "Daniel Boone." I hope to also work in some tips on how to keep reading books that aren't grabbing us, and how to deal with older books that contain what we would now consider offensive language or ideas.

Anyway, hopefully they'll like it. I haven't timed it and I only have 15 or 20 minutes, so I hope I'm within that time frame. I have two talks today and two more on Monday, with future presentations planned for the fifth and sixth grades.

And as you can see, this is pretty much all I've been thinking about for the past 24 hours!

(Photo: Light patterns on a doorway on my way to work yesterday.)

50 comments:

Moving with Mitchell said...

Break a leg! Lucky kids. I know your talks will be well-received. Looking forward to hearing about them.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Good luck Steve! The words "slaughter" and "lamb" spring to mind.

Andrew said...

You are a USA person. US people can always talk well. I wonder if that comes from parents or society. Maybe it is part of the educations system, instead of the subject of geography.

Peter said...

Sounds like a great talk, wish I could hear it. Any thought of doing a video?
Cheers

The Padre said...

Stoked For Ya - I Hope Somebody Catches Your Presentation On A Social Platform - Good On You For Representing The Library - And For Walking Your Talk - Well Done Brother Man - Enjoy Your Weekend

Cheers

Colette said...

Bravo!

Ms. Moon said...

I'm really glad you're addressing the issue of books that have outdated ideas and language. As you know, this is something I struggle with in recommending books to my grandchildren. Personally, I think they are wise enough to handle the reality of past views.
I can't wait to hear how it goes!

Ed said...

I am appalled at the efforts to rid books in our libraries for language, different beliefs or the one that made last night's news, a drawing of a nude woman. People need to realize that every book has some sort of agenda and not everyone is going to agree with it. Find one that matches your agenda and move on or read one that opposes your agenda and learn something or strengthen your belief. But the last thing we should do is get in the habit of tossing them on the burn pile lest our popular opinion becomes a minority in the future and we are on the receiving end.

Linda Sue said...

That is a lot to cover in 20 minutes! I would love to see/hear your presentation. Pretty sure it will be extraordinary- like how you do.

Ellen D. said...

That sounds like a great talk, Steve!
I am sure you have heard about the parents/schools that have been banning books again in the US! I just can't believe that they are doing that and, really, aren't they just calling attention to the books that everyone (including their children) will want to read now?! It is nuts and disturbing at the same time.

robin andrea said...

Sounds like you have a wonderful plan. I'm looking forward to reading how it all went today, Steve.

Edna B said...

Your talk sounds to be interesting. I'm sure the kids will enjoy it. Good luck with your presentations. Hugs, Edna B.

Marcia LaRue said...

The book Tennessee is banning is "Maus," I believe is how it is spelled. It is coverage of the Holocaust and how provocative can a naked woman, starving to death in a friggin concentration camp actually be?
The ignorance and knuckle dragging stupidity in this country is mind boggling!!
Good luck with your presentation ... here's hoping the kids really get it!

ellen abbott said...

It sounds like you've put together an engaging talk. And talking about the language in outdated books is a good idea. I recently read a book set during the great depression in Phoenix AZ and there was disclaimer at the beginning about the language used, that the author was trying to be authentic about the language re racism and bigotry and how people spoke back then using words we find offensive now.

Boud said...

I've done many presentations and yes, definitely, the slides help the audience along and give you a great structure so you sound spontaneous, that's always a good thing.

You're going to be great.

Red said...

I wish more people would make interesting presentation s on books to kids. some kids are readers and some need a little push to get reading.

Debby said...

I think that you're covering everything quite well in a limited time. I really do like that you're talking about the objectionable stuff. In my opinion, given the right 'framing', kids can reason through these books perfectly well. In some places here, the Little House books are banned due to the way they portray Indians. Those portrayals are one sided and unfair, but the books are wonderful recapturing of a bygone time.

Sharon said...

By the time I'm seeing this, I'm sure you have already given your talks for today. I have confidence that they went well.

Kelly said...

What?! Charlotte's Web was in contention and didn't make the cut?! I loved it along with Stuart Little and Trumpet of the Swan.

It sounds like a very interesting presentation and I hope the kids enjoy it. Will it be filmed? You could share it on YouTube!

Allison said...

I hope it went well. A few slides are always good to keep the speaker on track.

Wilma said...

I would like to hear your tips on getting past offensive language and ideas. I struggle with that at times.

Margaret said...

Slides, like photos in our blog posts, give us focus and keep us on track. They also provide eye appeal to our listeners. I think I've read Secret of the Andes but I'm not sure.

The Bug said...

I can't wait to hear how it went!

Catalyst said...

F--- you, Ratana. And good on you, Steve, for putting so much into this project. I just hope the youngsters appreciate it.

Steve Reed said...

They were well-received, thankfully!

Steve Reed said...

By which you mean I am slaughtering these lamb-like children with my cutting wit and incisive intelligence??

Steve Reed said...

Well, I'm not sure that's true. I've met plenty of Americans who aren't great public speakers! But you're certainly right about our notoriously bad geography skills.

Steve Reed said...

I haven't recorded these talks but maybe when I do the 6th grade assembly I'll record that one.

Steve Reed said...

Walking my talk, or talking my walk -- I guess it works either way. LOL

Steve Reed said...

Thank you!

Steve Reed said...

Yeah, kids are smart and they understand that old books don't necessarily reflect modern norms.

Steve Reed said...

You are definitely right about that! I saw that story about the school board in Tennessee banning "Maus" from the classroom. Boneheads!

Steve Reed said...

Thanks for the vote of confidence! I'm not sure I'm "extraordinary" but I didn't fall on my face. :)

Steve Reed said...

Yeah, I saw that story. This stuff goes on all the time, honestly. It's appalling how small-minded some people can be.

Steve Reed said...

I think it worked out well. The slides made a huge difference.

Steve Reed said...

Thanks, Edna! I think they did like it. I think.

Steve Reed said...

Yeah, I saw that story. I guess they want a cleaner, more polite Holocaust! Morons!

Steve Reed said...

It's probably smart for modern books to include a disclaimer like that, just to give people a heads-up. Everyone is so readily triggered now.

Steve Reed said...

Exactly -- they help prevent a lot of hemming and hawing.

Steve Reed said...

We try to do book talks periodically, but mostly new ones. Going back to talking about old books, like I am, is more of a rarity.

Steve Reed said...

Yeah, the "Little House" books get a lot of flack on that front nowadays, which I understand. But it's a shame because they are such good books. This is one reason I was so happy to find "Caddie Woodlawn," because I felt like it covered the "Little House" ground without the objectionable language about Native Americans.

Steve Reed said...

They did indeed, thank goodness!

Steve Reed said...

And not only did "Charlotte's Web" not win, but it lost to a distinctly inferior and forgettable book.

Steve Reed said...

Yeah, they made all the difference! They're a great organizing tool.

Steve Reed said...

I basically tell the kids to:

1. Consider context -- is the language in dialogue, in which case it's the author's attempt to reflect accurately the way people speak or spoke in a certain time or place? Or is it the author's own language?

2. Weigh the overall value of the work against the objectionable content. The n-word is more tolerable in "Huckleberry Finn," which has had great cultural impact, than in a dime-store novel that will be forgotten tomorrow.

Common sense, really, but something for them to think about.

Steve Reed said...

Oh, I hadn't thought of them as similar to pictures in our blog posts, but you're right!

If you've read "The Secret of the Andes" you are literally the only person I've ever met who has done so.

Steve Reed said...

See next post! :)

Steve Reed said...

Well, I deleted Ratana, so no F-ing needed! LOL! I think the kids did enjoy the talk.

Wilma said...

Thanks!

Yorkshire Pudding said...

No. Not quite.