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The New Release Spotlight : How It Works and Criteria for Inclusion

The New Release Spotlight has been a regular feature on MrsReaderPants since May 2016. The Spotlight includes picture books, chapter books, middle grade books, young adult books, and occasionally, adult books that would appeal to young adults. Most weeks include at least 15-20 titles, but some weeks can be 30 titles or more.

You can see all the currently-published New Release Spotlights here.

WHO PUTS TOGETHER THE NEW RELEASE SPOTLIGHT?

I do! My name is Leigh Collazo, and I am the sole author of every post and free and paid resource on MrsReaderPants. This includes the New Release Spotlight. I do not “hire out” any content-related work.

There are no guest posts anywhere on MrsReaderPants. Every product in my store was (very proudly!) created 100% by yours truly. I started this blog from scratch in early-2011, with zero prior knowledge of blogging. It’s been a ton of work, but it’s a labor of love!

HOW AM I QUALIFIED TO SELECT THE BOOKS ON THE SPOTLIGHT?

I am a Texas-certified teacher and school librarian with 18 total years of classroom and school library experience. I began my career as a 7th grade ELA teacher from 2001-2004, then served as a school librarian from 2004-2019. I earned my MLS from University of North Texas in 2008.

I have worked as a librarian at all grade levels, from PreK-Grade 12, in Fort Worth, Texas and also internationally in two cities in China. I’ve opened three brand-new schools and was responsible for selecting the entire opening collection for two of them. In China, I was the Head Librarian at both international schools I worked in. Both schools were IB schools, one IB full-continuum and one DP-only. The DP-only school was British and also offered Cambridge International Curriculum / IGCSE.

I also wrote book reviews for School Library Journal from 2012-2015 and served on the Spirit of Texas Reading Program (SPOT) Middle School Committee from 2012-2014.

Though I have been a librarian at all grade levels, my “sweet spot” Grades 4-8.

Since 2019, this blog and my shop are my full-time job. I still live outside the US, but my articles and resources still support US teachers and librarians.

WHEN DOES THE NEW RELEASE SPOTLIGHT PUBLISH?

Since most new books are released on Tuesdays, the Spotlight is always available no later than Tuesday morning (usually sometime on Monday). I have missed a few Spotlights over the years, but not many! Barring my own illness or emergency, you can count on the Spotlight every week on Tuesday mornings.

I put a lot of thought into each week’s featured titles. I have specific criteria, but I don’t always stick with it perfectly. For example, there may be a book with only one positive review, but it features an underrepresented setting, topic, or protagonist. Other books might have more than two positive reviews, but they are in a saturated genre or topic.

The last Spotlight of each year occurs in early-mid December. December book releases are slim pickins, so for the last Spotlight of the year, I combine all featured December titles into one Spotlight.

HOW DO I CHOOSE BOOKS TO INCLUDE?

My criteria for inclusion aren’t set in stone. I will stray outside these from time to time, but in general, my criteria for inclusion are listed below.

A “professional review” means the review comes from professional library journal or book review sources like School Library Journal, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, etc. Goodreads, Amazon, and book blogger reviews are not part of my consideration process.

I only consider titles that:

  • are available on both Titlewave and Amazon
  • have 2 or more positive professional reviews listed on Titlewave and/or Amazon, OR
  • if a book has only one professional review, it is a starred review from a major library or book review journal
  • are available in hardcover (exceptions given for graphic novels, which are sometimes only available in paperback)
  • are written primarily in English

Preference for inclusion goes to:

  • books with one or more starred professional reviews
  • books with multiple positive professional reviews
  • underrepresented protagonists
  • underrepresented cultures
  • books set outside the US
  • books that show a different or unique side of an issue
  • unusual or uncommon genres (steampunk, Western, genre mash-ups)
  • curricular tie-ins or engaging read-aloud

Rarely included:

  • bedtime stories
  • craft books
  • cookbooks
  • series nonfiction
  • board books
  • picture books based on commercial characters, products, or brands (such as Disney, Minecraft, Barbie, etc)
  • movie or TV “novelizations”
  • reprinted classics
  • serialized comics and webcomics
  • sequels (exception: highly-anticipated sequels that also receive starred reviews; examples = Harry Potter and The Hunger Games)

Not factors in inclusion:

These criteria have no influence on whether or not I include the books. They must still meet previously listed criteria.

  • publisher (indie and self-published books are eligible for inclusion)
  • books translated into English may be included
  • books written under pseudonyms or by ghost writers

HOW LONG ARE SPOTLIGHTS AVAILABLE?

Once a year, I delete Spotlights that are older than one year from this blog. This helps me save space so the webpages load more quickly. Spotlights older than one year are probably not very helpful to librarians and teachers anyway.

THE GINORMOUS BOOKLIST

In October 2019, I started compiling the New Release Spotlight titles on a Google spreadsheet that I call “The Ginormous Book List.” This is available free to anyone with the link, and you can “make a copy” of your own to edit as needed. As of January 2023, there are 3000+ titles on the Ginormous!

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