Institute: Teaching Through Informational Texts

On Saturday, April 12, 2014, the Center for Teaching through Children’s Books, in partnership with the ESL STEM Success Grant and the Suburban Council of IRA (SCIRA), hosted an exciting full-day nonfiction institute entitled “Teaching Through informational Texts.” The event was made possible by a generous grant from the Pajeau Foundation. 

Teachers, librarians, administrators and reading specialists alike gathered for an engaging and interactive day to learn from featured academic, Dr. Marc Aronson (historian, author, editor), as well as other keynote speakers from various backgrounds: Laura Beltchenko (Literacy and Common Core Consultant), Judith Fradin (author), Nick Glass (founder of, Susan Dove Lempke (Booklist, Hornbook reviewer of children’s nonfiction), and Toby Rajput (CTCB librarian, 2012 Sibert Committee Member). 

The Center for Teaching through Children’s Books achieved its proposal to the Pajeau Foundation: to offer an institute that focuses on Informational Books and Common Core – relevant topics that have become more integrated into today’s youth education. From discovering new ways to build Common Core connections, to tutorials about innovative online text analysis tools, the day was undeniably insightful and inspiring. One attendee commented, “I couldn't have improved [the institute]. I don't think anyone will walk out of here the same person they were when they walked in today.” Indeed, the support, knowledge and enthusiasm from our attendees, speakers, and staff made the day a true success. 

The institute likewise gave us the opportunity to hand out evaluative surveys: to explore ways that we can attract a more diversified audience and to dig deeper into areas of interest for future events. Of those surveyed, our needs assessment revealed that a majority of people would like to see more coursework offered on interpreting the Common Core State Standards, topical nonfiction, and Children’s Literature (specifically Picture Books). Other noteworthy discoveries included a strong desire towards sessions that focus on utilizing international books in the classroom, and digital diversity with children’s books. 

The institute and its survey results made CTCB’s collaborative mission, which is our dedication to excellence in teaching with quality literature for children and adolescents, even clearer, as well as its relevance with children’s literacy today.