Saturday, December 29, 2007

CLACs Rule!

I just finished reading "The Story of French" by Nadeau and Barlow. This is a great book for francophiles and francophones, packed with all kinds of interesting details about the development of the French language and its continued existence today. It has quite an optimistic take on the future of the language as well, especially with the support it is being given by la Francophonie (despite our increasingly anglophonic world.)

Aside from all the other fascinating tidbits in the book, one particular section jumped out at me. Nadeau explains that "La Francophonie" has set up 213 CLACs around the world. These small libraries - CLACs (Centre de lecture et d'animation, in English they would be called a "Centre for Reading and Community Activity") - were inspired by Philippe Sauvageau, the head librarian of Quebec's National Assembly Library. His goal was to develop small libraries of 2,500 books that would also offer internet access, games, movie screening rooms and sound systems. As a result of his vision, 17 countries now have CLACs, each costing only 40,000 euros apiece.

What is exciting about the concept of a CLAC, is that it can be set up relatively cheaply, and it quickly becomes a hub of community life. According to Nadeau, the presence of a CLAC dramatically increases the literacy level in the area it serves. Quelle bonne idée!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

What are you reading?

Are young adults reading? Are we doomed because all kids seem to be doing is Facebook and texting? As classes wind down (and students wind up) in the week before Christmas break, I've had a chance to circulate a bit and ask students what they are reading. I'm always a little surprised to discover that maybe things aren't as dire as I thought. Of course the Golden Compass is popular right now, but so is Eclipse, and the Time Traveler's Wife, and Dan Brown, and Oprah picks, and lots more!

I was even more gratified when I stumbled across the Cool Reads website. (It was recommended to me by another TL.) Developed for and by young adults, the site reviews books for 10 to 15 year old "set" . The reviews come from all over the world. It even lists star reviewers (those who have had at least 30 reviews featured on the site.) You can pick from a number of genres including suspense, biography, time travel, fantasy, romance, sci-fi, and war, among others. It's a great resource for teachers and students alike. What I really like is that students can post their own reviews.

If you want to know what kids are saying about books, and what titles they are reading, Cool Reads is the place to visit.