Conferences and Events

Passion for Books + Digital Literacy =

Four days from now, I shall be giving a mini-lecture in my institution (National Institute of Education, at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore) on one of my favorite topics in the world – Book Blogging and GatheringBooks! My talk is aptly entitled: Passion for Books + Digital Literacy = Using Web 2.0 to share the love for the Written Word. Here is a sample of the blurb that’s being sent out.

My talk is scheduled on 22 February, 2012, 10-11 am, at NIE5-01-LT11. If you’re within the area, do find the time to come. Let’s talk about the kidlitosphere, YA Blogosphere, and how book blogs can prove to be a wonderful resource for teachers.

I am also inviting other book bloggers to leave comments on this post about some of the things you think I should share with my colleagues (fellow teacher educators) so that they’d get a more educated eye towards what it means to be part of this community. 🙂 I’m sure this talk is going to be loads of fun! Join us, virtually or otherwise!

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

16 comments on “Passion for Books + Digital Literacy =

  1. Hello,
    I’ve never commented here before, but I stumbled across your blog a few months ago and immediately added it to my Google Reader. I thought I’d respond to this post because I’m really interested in this topic. I’ve been reading book blogs, specifically children’s and young adult literature blogs, for several years to keep up with current kidlit trends and to find books that would interest my students. I’ve read a great many books after reading reviews on blogs. A lot of the books I own, and now recommend to my students, I first learned about through a children’s/YA book blog.

    I’m an assistant teacher in a fourth grade classroom, and this year we have some really strong readers. They’ve always got their noses in books and love talking about what they read. I thought a blog would be a great way for them to share their books, to see what their classmates are reading, and add to their own To Be Read lists. About two weeks ago I started a blog for the class. It’s a voluntary activity. Students e-mail me their reviews, and I post them. They are free to comment on any of the posts. I wasn’t sure how much students would be interested in participating, so I haven’t given them a lot of structure yet. Almost all student activity on the blog has been outside of class. Since February 7, I have received and posted 13 student reviews (with a few more that I’ve asked students to revise and edit before I post), and there have been over 50 comments. They are not receiving a grade for this, although I am keeping a running tally of who is posting/commenting on a poster in the classroom. I’m really pleased with their participation thus far. In the next couple weeks I’m hoping to do some targeted lessons on writing book reviews so that more students will have the confidence to participate.

    A classroom book blog is a great way to foster community and to engage students in conversations about what they are reading. Students are doing authentic writing – book reviews are written by people in the real world, for pay. It is not simply another school writing assignment. Students are given the chance to read about books their peers are reading. They may be inspired to try a new book.

    As 21st century educators, we are often encourage to integrate technology into our lessons. Blogs are a great way to do this. Having a blog with a specific focus, such as book reviews and discussions, can facilitate student engagement in learning through technology.

    I would love to connect with another upper elementary/early middle school classroom that has a book blog, or other student bloggers. It would be great for my students to what their peers are reading around the world.

    I’m not sure if this is the kind of response you were looking for, but I thought I’d share. I wish I was in Singapore because your conference talk sounds so interesting. I hope it goes well for you.

    (My goodness this got rather lengthy. Sorry about that!)


    • Hi TeacherGirl, I just left a comment on one of your student’s blogs. I love that you are blogging about books with your students and echo Myra’s reply to join some of the blogs that Myra follows in the Kidlitosphere & your will find friends from many places in the world. I am from Denver, CO in an independent school. I am sad to say that no one is blogging at school right now. I taught a class of some students in the fall to get them started (middle school aged) but have let them go on their own right now. Good luck to you; hope to continue to see your students’ writing!


  2. Hi TeacherGirl! So good to read such a lengthy response. I just visited your blog and you and your kids are doing such an amazing job. I shall include you in the blog roll and in my talk on Wednesday. Thank you for leaving a comment and letting me know what you’re doing, I think this is a perfect illustration of what it means to incorporate ICT in teaching – I also congratulate you with the amount of work you are putting in here. And the dedication that you’ve shown which I can see is likewise being mirrored by your very own students – it is so wonderful to actually read and see what kids are reading and saying about the books that captivate them.

    I am also part of the Program Committee for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content here in Singapore this May 2012, and one of the recommendations that I have given was for us to have a Panel Discussion of Young Voices from children/teenagers about the books they are reading. Exactly what you are doing in your “Books that Reach the Stars” blog. I am looking avidly at some of the book recommendations of your kids. I also have Darren Shan as reviewed by Eden but I haven’t started reading yet, still am waiting to read a review of his books, so I’m glad to chance upon Eden’s review.

    I know of one child book blogger with whom you can establish a connection: the blog is called “this kid reviews books” – here is the link – – I also recommend that you be part of the kidlitosphere community and if you have the energy and the time, do jump in with some of the daily events that happen across the blogosphere so that you can widen your readership and networks.

    I would send out this invite to connect with other upper elementary teachers who may be book blogging here in Singapore. We also have a Quill Junior section here in GatheringBooks that you might want to explore:
    These are the voices of kids, teenager, young children about books that they love – mostly coming from Singapore schools, but a handful are coming from other parts of the world. 🙂 We’d love to have a cross-posting with some of your students here through Quill Junior and link back to your site. 🙂

    Again many thanks for your very thoughtful comment, will definitely raise the issues you have shared here during my talk on Wednesday.


    • Hi Myra,
      Thanks for responding to my comment and for the compliments about my class blog. My students will be thrilled to hear your response and to know that people outside of our community are reading their writing. I took a look at “This Kids Reviews Books” and your Quill Junior section – lots of great book talking going on! I’ll have to share them with my students when we get back to school on Wednesday (we have a long weekend vacation for President’s Day).

      I’d love to know more about your cross-posting suggestion with Quill Junior.


    • Oops, I forgot to add this to my response.
      You mentioned daily events in the kidlitosphere community. Are these things like Poetry Fridays?


  3. Hi Myra,
    Great to see the reply above. I would say that I have almost made it to my one year anniversary & have loved every single minute of my experience. I have learned to write more thoughtfully, have learned so much from others’ writing (their ideas and their writing), have loved being inspired by the dedication of all who blog regularly. Whether in teaching or not, I have enjoyed their writing content. Even with those people in the blogosphere that I haven’t met in purpose, I feel supported & slowly have begun to know something about them, like you, so dedicated to your work, to children and reading! It’s been a wonderful learning year for me & I am grateful for all the support and feedback given. Thanks for asking!


    • Hi Linda, I have also included your blog link to one of my recommended posts in my set of slides, and I shall definitely read your comment during my talk next week. Many thanks for sharing how valuable your experience was.


    • I think I might have re-read first. There is one change: “that I haven’t met in person”. Don’t know what I was thinking!


  4. Great to read that other schools are starting to blog. We have just got going this year as a school, and the blogs were shut down for a while due to Board security concerns. I think fear of misuse so often hinders teachers/educators from moving forward with their students in digital literacy. Linda and Teachergirl I shall check out what you are doing. Look forward very much, Myra, to hear how your seminar goes. I personally am trying to continually educate myself in this changing domain.


    • Hi Joanna, I know what you mean about the fear of misuse and the firewalls within the school community that discourage both teachers and students alike to blog. I am hoping that I would have the energy to give an update about the outcome of the talk. – if not, I shall just leave comments here about how it went.


  5. The kidlitosphere is a wonderful cyberspace to source great books, and to find support for all sorts of web 2.0 tools and platforms. I think teacher educators (and therefore teachers) can learn so much from reading about and observing in action the many presentation and digital storytelling tools that book bloggers use too. Twitter is a great way to build a PLN, but sites for curating information like ScoopIt and Delicious and LiveBinder are also great. Because I write about education AND children’s literature at the Book Chook, I get particularly excited to find tools that encourage kids to write – blogs, yes, but places like Storybird and ToonDoo, Little Bird Tales and Blabberize as well.


    • Hi … am glad that you left a comment, I shall definitely visit your site and check it out as well. Will also make mention of your site during my talk. I have very little knowledge of Scoop it, Delicious, Live Binder, or even Blabberize – but I have definitely heard of them. Fairly recently, we have opened a Pinterest account as well as having a more active online presence in Good Reads. I am glad though that you have mentioned these other tools that teachers may familiarize themselves with.


  6. Myra, I started NC Teacher Stuff two and a half years ago as a response to a request from a teacher. One of the difficulties of being a classroom teacher is that you have precious little time to learn about the new titles that come out every year. Teachers tend to use the same books every year because they don’t have time to investigate the newer titles. The blogging community is so helpful in sharing knowledge about new books but also the latest technology as well. Good luck with your talk!


    • Hi Jeff, thanks for the well wishes. And thank you for sharing your insights as well about blogging. I agree about not having the time to know about the new titles that come out every year. One of the greatest (yet at the same time frustrating) experiences I’ve had about blogging is that my TBR stack has grown a mile long now. Wow. 🙂


  7. Hi!

    I read about your talk on the kidlithosphere group. I am keen to attend but the NIE page says its only for the staff. Will there be a webcast of your talk?


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