Monday, September 9, 2013

Newbery Challenge

I know hundreds (maybe thousands?) of people would agree that Mr. Schu and Mr. Sharp are totally awesome!  They are teaching rock stars!  They are also champions of children's literature and reading.  I am so glad I discovered their blogs and follow them on Twitter.  I learn so much from them on a daily basis.  I think this is the way professional development should be – learning a few things every day instead of sitting in meetings all day and being overwhelmed by a bombardment of information being dumped into your brain.  I wanted to write this post in honor of Mr. Schu and Mr. Sharp’s completion of the Newbery Challenge.  They have read and posted videos about every Newbery Medal winner since 1922.  It has been part of my Saturday routine to sit in a comfy chair, usually still in my pajamas, and watch their videos.  Their last post, focusing on The One and Only Ivan, is scheduled for September 14, 2013.  I’m excited to see what they share, considering they are such huge fans of the book, yet saddened about saying goodbye to such a wonderful part of my Saturday routine. 

I enjoy musicals and classic movies, and on Labor Day I was watching Dr. Doolittle, a 1967 film starring Rex Harrison.  As a librarian, I am seldom satisfied with merely watching a movie.  I usually research the movie’s production, the actor/actresses and the books behind the film.  While doing this research, I discovered that The Voyage of Dr. Doolittle won the 1923 Newbery and I instantly made the connection to Mr. Schu and Mr. Sharp’s Newbery Challenge videos.  When I started following their blogs, they were creating videos about books that won the Newbery during the 1950s.  I always meant to go back and watch the older videos, but had not found time to do so.  In the days since, I have started with The Story of Mankind and watched all the way up to Dead End in Norvelt.  I have noticed that these videos have evolved over time.  Some differences:

*Do you remember when they included a picture of themselves with each book?
* In the beginning, the videos were not posted on Saturday and they were not posted every week.
* In the early ones, they struggled with much of the reading, and each video addressed how hard/easy the book was to read. 
*Mr. Schu in particular addressed others partaking in the Newbery challenge; in later videos, he just speaks to Mr. Sharp directly.
*The end phrase Mr. Sharp has always used is “Happy reading.”  Mr. Schu uses that too, but in his first videos, Mr. Schu simply ended with “Goodbye” although he usually comments that he hopes Mr. Sharp is having a “wonderful day.”

Parts of the videos that I have loved:
*ONE TAKE RULE – they mention this frequently.
*Mr. Schu comments that people are staring at him while he is talking to the camera in public.
*Mr. Schu features so many wonderful places in his videos, from the American Girl store in the video for Hitty: Her First Hundred Years to Times Square for Moon Over Manifest.
*Mr. Sharp includes his children in many videos.
*Both include their pets in some videos.
*In addition to his video, Mr. Schu includes links and videos related to the books.
*For some of the books, they were able to meet in person and film a Newbery Challenge video together.
*Some videos include guest stars like Travis Jonker and members of the Nerdy Book Club.
*They have inspired others to take part in their challenge, or create their own Newbery Challenge.  Find out more by exploring #nerdbery on Twitter.

And the thing I love most:  They are so open about their lives and are willing to share so much of themselves with their followers.  Mr. Sharp showed us his new classroom at Parma Elementary school, which is the same school he attended as a child.  Mr. Schu took us to the college he went to for library school.  Reading their blogs and watching these videos feels like correspondence with an old friend. 

Thank you Mr. Schu and Mr. Sharp! 
Mr. Schu’s blog:  Twitter: @mrschureads
Mr. Sharp’s blog:  Twitter: @colbysharp