I love reading blogs. At this point (it changes frequently) I read 50 blogs each day. To find out that other people have the same passion for children’s books as I is really amazing. I love the teachers at my school but no one has the passion for young adult literature that I have. I also love to read author blogs and begin to understand the thought processes that go into reading some of the incredible pieces of children’s and young adult literature out today.
Jen Robinson reported in her Thursday Afternoon Visits that there had been some discussion at the ALA Midwinter meeting last weekend about the trustworthiness of blog reviews. She referred to a post at Reader’s Carousel which I promptly went over to and read. (Let me insert a side note here: Jen Robinson’s blog is a must read. Not only does she have great reviews, she is also wonderful about finding information on children’s literature, literacy, and reading that is invaluable to me as a librarian).
First of all, let me state that reviews from traditional print sources are important too. The collection policy of my school system states that materials “be reviewed favorably in standard selection sources.” I depend on my two journals for these reviews.
With my library budget (which while larger than many people's, is still too small) I can only afford to subscribe to two library/media journals each year. I use School Library Journal and Library Media Connection as my primary print review sources, but they cannot review everything out there. Inevitably books fall through the cracks. Also, I like the fact that that I can have access to reviews by many people from many different perspectives. Before I only had two people’s opinion on books – now I have many more.
Bloggers tend to really tell you how they feel about a book. In a blog review you often get an emotional response. Bloggers will use the word “I” – they are more personal. Book reviews in journals are more formal and dry. As I have gotten to know the likes and dislikes of individual bloggers, it’s much easier to tell if I’m going to like a book based on who reviewed it. Quite frankly, so much time passes between when I read a book review in a journal and when I actually get the book in hand (sometimes more than a year) that I never connect the reviewer with the book.
Reading about the same book over and over really helps me get a feel for what are the most important books released during the year. This was the first time in many years that I had actually bought the Newbery winner before it was announced (and an honor book too!). I also get to hear about many books that haven’t been released yet. This has taken a dent in my personal budget as there have been some books that have I haven’t been able to wait for my school to receive (after all, it will now be year before my next major book order arrives) and I have gotten it for myself.
I’ve expanded my focus. It used to be that I would only read reviews for books recommended for my grade level. I have learned lots about high school books (again, to the detriment of my bank account) and some about the picture books that have been recently published. It’s nice to have a frame of reference when I hear a fellow librarian talk about a specific book or author.
I know some people say they don’t have time to read blogs (I hear it all the time). It only takes me 20 minutes a day to go through my blogs if I don’t comment on any of them (and many times my comments only take a minute or two). I find it well worth the time expenditure.