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Check It Out: Keeping an eye on the curriculum

January 31, 2013|By Mara Coto

California public schools, along with public schools in 44 other states, are adopting a new set of standards. The Common Core State Standards (http://www.corestandards.org) for K-12 are a set of language arts and math standards developed to ensure that students are prepared for the college and career environment. One of the major goals of the standards is to teach students how to evaluate information sources and think critically about the sources, content and use of the information with which they interact. To accomplish this, the standards place a premium on reading, and reading information texts, across the curriculum. Informational texts might be books, newspaper or journal articles, websites, infographics, audio and visual media. The standards do not intend to replace fiction. Instead, teachers help their students learn to employ multiple modes of analysis and comprehension by using a variety of fiction and nonfiction reading.

At the Newport Beach Public Library, a central part of our mission is supporting the academic work of our community's students. The new standards offer an opportunity to highlight the library's often under-utilized nonfiction resources, including a collection of nonfiction texts on many subjects intended for a young-adult audience. The YA nonfiction collection is inter-filed with the general nonfiction at all our libraries and can be identified in the stacks by a colorful spine label that says "YA." The following are just a few highlights from that collection.

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"Side by Side," edited by Jan Greenberg, is a beautifully produced book of artwork and original poems from around the world. Inspired by the tradition of poetry written in response to visual works of art ("ekphrasis"), Greenberg sought out contemporary poets around the world and asked them to reply, with a poem, to varied pieces of artwork. That poem is then translated into English and placed alongside both the art and the poem in its original language. Greenberg believes that art transcends geography and is a powerful tool to inspire and unite the people of the world.

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