Slightly addicted to fiction

Judi Jagger, the current Western Australian Children’s Book Council judge, has developed her own blog. It is a must read for anyone interested in children’s and YA literature. Judi explains how her blog came to be:

Slightly Addicted to Fiction was born on a wet Saturday afternoon in mid November. It has sprung from the Fiction Focus blog that I started while working in Western Australia’s CMIS as joint editor of the print journal Fiction Focus. When I moved away from the city, the late and much-missed Jill Midolo arranged for me to maintain the blog from home; a dream job.

Although I always knew it was too good to last, the sudden loss of funding for the FF blog still came as a shock. One minute I was maintaining a blog that had secured a global readership, the next minute I wasn’t.

The blog itself hadn’t ceased, just my role. The many comments of support that flowed in were both affirming and humbling.

For a day or two, I did nothing. Then I put my toe in the Twitter water and hastily withdrew. Too ephemeral. Tweeting the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards was fine, but I longed to set them in the context of other awards on the blogging record. So an impulsive decision on that wet Saturday afternoon saw me set up my own forum. Once a blogger…

On Slightly Addicted to Fiction, I will continue what had been a successful formula: news about literature-related matters. I will continue the weekly links, expanding them into a broader context to encompass news about literary and children’s and Young Adult fiction.

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I have also ventured back on to Twitter with a new identity (@readingjay) and am loving the cleverness of that publishes a daily newspaper that magically selects interesting posts from the people I follow. Each day it produces an attractive publication that regularly surprises me with its useful content. Blogging and Twitter: the ideal couple.

Readership of Slightly Addicted to Fiction is building slowly but it is something I feel compelled to do, with or without a large audience.

My former CMIS colleagues have a heavy workload and are doing a great job maintaining the first blog. I see the two as complementary and together will provide a useful resource for schools to keep their finger on the pulse of the literary world.

What was a job has become a hobby, but remains my passion. Slightly addicted to fiction – it’s an understatement.

Congratulations to Judi on her past and present contribution to Australian and global children’s and YA literature. And may we all be “slightly addicted to fiction”!

Fiction on gaming

A couple of new YA fiction books about gaming have recently been published and are must reads for teacher librarians, library staff, teachers, parents and of course young adults themselves.

I recently read and reviewed For the win by Cory Doctorow. Covering a global approach to gaming, much of this book is actually based in fact. It’s quite scary to think that economies are influenced by the invisible and virtual gaming economy and that young adults can earn more money from gaming than their currently parents earn. For the win is available in paperback or ebook format and the ebook download is free. My review is here, thanks to CMIS.

Helen Boelens alerted me to another new book, this one by Salman Rushdie.  Helen explains that “Luka and the Fire of Life makes references to Super Mario and there is a strong connection between the story and the video game.” Information about this book from The Huffington Post is available here and a review by The Guardian is available here.

It seems (and it is) a long time ago that Space Demons was published. However I think that these books are an excellent way of discussion and coming to terms with gaming and how it affects our young adults. We can build on this information. Remember that the 2010 K12 Horizon Report assessed gaming as becoming mainstream in education in 2-3 years. One of those years has almost passed.

Feature blog – Whitefriars College – Fiction is like a box of chocolates

Web 2.0 dynamo Tania Sheko has developed a fiction blog for the students at Whitefriars College. Tania explains the reasoning behind the blog’s development:

Why I started to write ‘Fiction is like a box of chocolates’ – I wanted to do more than just talk about books. My aim was to present information about fiction in an informal way, providing hyperlinks to further information, but without cramming it into a half-hour talk. Blogging allows me to include images of books covers or authors, videos of interviews, book and movie trailers, or videos produced by the authors themselves. My idea was that people would browse what they wanted and when they wanted to. Students will always go to the videos; they’re raised on multimedia.

Fiction is like a box of chocolates

The blog is deliberately informal in tone, and invites comments and discussion. Initially I started a webpage which was too static, then an internal school blog, which I couldn’t share outside the school, and finally moved to a WordPress blog which has an unlimited audience. Sharing in this way has resulted in wonderful connections with people from all over the world, and a chance to exchange ideas and information. I think that blog commenting is still foreign to our students, and needs to be learned. If English teachers integrated fiction blogs into their classes, it would be just like reading the newspaper for news, only it would be browsing the blog for information about books and authors. In the same way that we teach students to find facts in newspapers and other traditional media, we should teach them to engage with opinions and ideas in newer media such as blogs.

Where the Wild Things Are

Where the Wild Things Are

I don’t apologize for including as much audiovisual content as I can, as well as featuring books which have been made into films. I think the ubiquitous crossover between books and films should not necessarily be seen as a bad thing, as young people who don’t read voluntarily may come back to the book after enjoying the film. The media isn’t the most important thing, it’s the engagement with ideas and stories.

Thanks and well done again Tania. It’s great for students to be able to revisit what you have discussed at school or read about books you don’t have time to fit into your book talks. The incorporation of multimedia is a great idea and will lead more and more students back to books. Which is what we all want!