This fall YALSA is launching a brand new online course. Brenna Shanks, instructor for Secrets of the Seal: The Michael L. Printz Award, chatted with me about the course.

Eve: You’re teaching a new class for YALSA that starts in October. Tell us about Secrets of the Seal: The Michael L. Printz Award.

Brenna: I wanted to build a class that would reveal some of the Printz trends and give participants a taste of what its like to be on the committee. We have a final project that basically replicates the committee work. Also, I wanted to discuss what makes a Printz book a Printz book.’  We’ll look at questions such as, what criteria drives the selection process. It isn’t just about what we like as readers. It goes beyond the reading taste of one individual, which is why its sometimes hard to explain or understand each committee’s choices.

Eve:’  What should students expect to learn from this course?

Brenna: I hope students will gain a better understanding of committee work and the value the Printz Award adds to teen literature. Of course, they can’t read 10+ years of work in four weeks, but hopefully they can whet their appetite and approach the books with new insight.

Eve:’  Tell us a little bit about the readings and assignments for this course? How do they fit into your typical librarian’s work schedule?

Brenna: Students will read four of the Printz books (they are welcome to read more, of course!) They will also read a little about the history of the award and its trends over the past decade. They will read supplementary material too- award speeches, press releases, reviews, etc. Assignments include writing reviews and booktalks for Printz titles. The final assignment will be to pick an award and 2 honor books from the Printz titles they’ve read throughout the course.

Eve:’  How do class discussions work? Are they real-time or can I post on my own schedule?

Brenna: We will have a few real-time discussions, but mostly students will post to forums. Discussion topics will be posted each week and any questions brought up by students will be posted for discussion when appropriate. If someone has to miss a real-time chat, archives will be available.

Eve: What can students take away from this course? How can they use the lessons of this course in their day-to-day jobs?

Brenna: Hopefully they will have an increased appreciation for the Printz Award. We will also spend a week discussing ways to promote the Printz. They should come away from that assignment with useful tips for their libraries. I also hope they gain some experience reading with the Printz criteria in mind and that they get a taste of what its like to work on an award committee.

Eve:’  What are you most excited about in this course?

Brenna: Reading on the 2011 Printz committee was a wonderful experience. I’m excited to share some of the insight I gained. I’m also excited to share more great books with colleagues!

Registration for this course is open:

About Eve Gaus

Eve Gaus is the program officer for continuing education at YALSA.

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