Posted in Freedom to read, perserverance, Reading and Library Advocacy

All I want for Christmas is a library..and I get it! Sort of…

On the last day of school before winter break, the second and third grade teachers will move from their rooms in the south wing and portables into the brand new East wing! The shifting out of rooms will leave one portable empty, to filled by as complete a library as I can make in a 30 x 25 (ish) rectangle! Yes, Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus. (Click on  “Santa Claus” to read the famous story I’m referencing.)

So while my para, Mrs. Pratt and I have gotten great exercise walking from room to room throughout the school, we look forward to having our own space to simulate a library from January 2nd to the end of the year.

We will be in what is currently serving as Mrs. Corry’s second grade classroom and I have begun creating it in my head, and now we will just need to figure out how to prune my library collection by two thirds. Or maybe three-fourths.

And I will tell you more about the epic library media center that will exist at the beginning of next year as I get the details.


Posted in Award Winning Books, Best Books

Washington Children’s Choice Vote!

They may not have any impact on the selection of Newbery or Caldecott Awards, or presidential elections, but the first through third graders in Mead School District (and across and have had their say about which children’s book wins the Children’s Choice Picture Book Award! We have been reading (actually the students have been listening and discussing, Mrs. Henning and myself have been reading) the nominees for the past six weeks. We voted for our favorites on Friday, April 14, 2017

At Midway, our overwhelming choice was I’m Trying To Love Spiders by Bethany Barton. We followed the charming story about TRYING to get used to and appreciate spiders (awesome gross fact: one spider eats 75 pounds of insects every year!!) with further research about spiders on Pebble Go, our favorite database for primary grades.

At Colbert, our top choice was Mummy Cat by Marcus Ewert. I think it’s because I talked about it being a meaningful and clever example of prose, which is long form poetry, AND it’s National Poetry Month. Also, it was the last book I read and fresh in their minds. I’m pretty sure that if I’d re-read the “Spiders” book, more students would have voted at Colbert, as well. Both schools loved Nerdy Birdy, too!(by Aaron Reynolds) We will see in the next few months who the statewide winner was!

Posted in Banned and challenged books, Freedom to read, Reading and Library Advocacy, Uncategorized

Get your hands off our books!

Spent this week’s lessons talking about banned and challenged books, as it was National Banned Books Week (September 25-October 2). After discussing this photograph of a wonderful library display which I right-clicked from a Pinterest page (I’d love to know who created it so I could give this person due credit!) I discussed more contemporary banned books, such as the Harry Potter, Hunger Games and Divergent series. screenshot-2016-10-02-16-09-10

I also set up this display:

banned-booksto illustrate what would be missing if the books on this cart were actually eliminated from the library. I believed that the students were clear I was the ADVOCATE for open and free information and access. I had them take their (sometimes vocal) sense of indignation, and write me a response to the idea of either censorship in general, or the removal of THEIR favorite children’s book on the banned and challenged lists.  Not everyone made this connection, so I got a few threatening messages about “taking away their Junie B. Jones.” (I did not, nor would I)

By the time I’d taught this lesson to the fifth class or so (I teach these lessons to 25  4th-6th grade classes in a week) I realized I needed to physically remove the CAUTION tape. They needed this sense of closure.

Here is the article I had them read for further information: (“Fact Monster” is a great elementary level online database.)

And here are some of the most insightful responses from 5th and 6th graders.

“Books are banned to protect others, frequently children, from difficult information. Adults don’t want their children to be scared. I think that children should be able to read those books. These books boost up their imagination.”

“The witchcraft (in Harry Potter) seems reasonable because they are all witches!”

“The reason given why Harry Potter books were banned is because, ‘It promotes witchcraft.’ Just because there is witchcraft, does not mean people will take it seriously. Also, it said that Harry Potter sets a bad example. I disagree. He only does things for the good of the school and his friends.”

“If you banned Harry Potter, you might as well ban all the other books.  If you WERE to ban Harry Potter, I would come and find you and do something quite unpleasant.  Your Harry Potter loving student…”

“I don’t understand why The Wizard of Oz is banned because women play the main roles! That is criticizing all woman and also, I mean seriously, banning the book because it had a witch in it because of the fake witch burnings! Women who were healers got burned for no reason!”

“I think…some of the boys I know act just like the Lion, Tinman, and the Scarecrow. I do understand that in earlier days women were not treated well.. but that is stupid.

“I think ‘The Hunger Games’ shouldn’t be banned. ‘The Hunger Games’ may be about some type of murder but it isn’t real and I don’t think people understand that! This isn’t ever gonna happen and parents should tell their kids if they read it that they won’t do what happens in this book, and that it is fake!”

P.S. If your children end up being advocates for first amendment and open access to information , it wasn’t me. They came ready to fight 🙂 It was quite glorious. 




Posted in Library of Congress, Reading and Library Advocacy

First Female Library of Congress Librarian all about advocacy

Already totally in love with the new head of the world’s largest library, Carla Hayden. Here are two of her quotes from the interview that I posted below:

“…a library’s place is even more important (now). There is a hunger in this digital age to hear authors together, to participate in programs, to just be in a place; a community space.”

And, in talking about librarians’ reputations when she was head of the American Library Association (ALA) back in 2003 …

“Librarians were called during that time ‘feisty fighters for freedom’, and we were very proud of that label.”      America’s Historic New Head of Library of Congress


Carla Hayden, the first female and African American leader of the Library of Congress sworn in September 14, 2016



Posted in Awesome Apps, Best Books, Makerspace, Trending technology

Pokemon GO read a book!

When you work at a school library, you are constantly working to keep students engaged: in reading, in education-based software games, effective search engines, platforms and apps. We are savvy enough, as modern library information technology specialists, to be happy with ANY attention or foot traffic, and it behooves us to be up with all the cultural trends.

There hasn’t been a more universally loved or enjoyed trend as Pokémon Go in a VERY long time. I love it because my now 16-year-old-son who used to LOVE playing and collecting Pokémon ten years ago, now loves this modern upgrade. I have noticed most of the people obsessed with the game are intrigued in part by the nostalgia. And parents, happy their children are disconnected from PS4 and XBox are echoing a sentiment something like “Well, at least they’re getting outside!!”

pokemon in libraryWhat has put libraries in the forefront of Pokémon Go is that community gathering places, like libraries, are programmed to be “Gyms” for Pokemon battles. They often have a high concentration of more valuable Pokémon as well as upgrades and other tools (Like “razz berries,” Which help capture the more powerful, slippery Pokemon.)

Here’s some examples of tweets sent by bookstores which are, not surprisingly, totally cool with any publicity and traffic:

Get your restock of Pokeballs at the Strand! 🎉 Your favorite literary #PokeStop destination. Plus, you never know what pokemon might be hiding in the stacks. 👀 #PokemonGo #GottaCatchEmAll

If we are in the patrons’ worlds at the time, they will remember! If you are gracious and enthusiastic, they will remember when it is time to hang out, or when the Pokémon Go servers are down (which has happened often) maybe they are more likely to come and check out a book with us! Also read the LA Times article below, it’s just the best!

Pokemon Go promotion


Posted in Awesome Apps, Best Books

Newbery and Kahoot!

We’ve been spending this literature award season (Yes, it’s award season in libraries just like in Hollywood, but authors don’t tend to have glamorous parties to celebrate their achievements.) We focused on the 2015 Newbery winner, Kwame Alexander’s Crossover.crossover

In the primary grades, we talked about the most recent Caldecott winner ( The Adventures of Beekle, the Unimaginary Friend) and I explained to everyone that generally only intermediate grades get to enjoy the Newbery winners, as they are chapter books or err on the side of YA, since this is the kind of breadth necessary  to deliver the kind of emotional and social goals the Newbery committee has for its nominated books. But then, BOOM! The Newbery committee, in a major shift from their normal MO, selected a picture book as the 2016 Newbery winner. What?!

The Last Stop On Market Street, by Matt de la Peña~ the first Latino Newbery winner, btw~ is a lovely book, but honestly, it’s no Giver or Tale of Despeareaux. Still it’s worth having in any collection. It was also a Caldecott Honor book, thanks to Christian Robonson’s sweet illustrations.  Here’s the publisher’s synopsis: last stop“Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don’t own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them.” But what excited the kids more than any reading or historical lesson (I know, shocker) was the quiz i gave them  through an interactive platform called “KAHOOT IT” I took nine questions and they raced aganist each other to choose the best answer. It was such a loud success that I honestly don’t know if I can play it in library. It sets a very high volume precedent which is hard to bounce back from. You need other players to try it out, but you totally should. Start at 2016-01-17 16.38.24

Posted in Awesome Apps, Best Books, traditional topics, non-traditional teaching, writing

On Creating a Creepy “Voice”

This Halloween week was about scary stories: both reading them and writing them. We (4-6th graders) used Storybird ( and searched “creepy” artwork, then started writing! Here’s a quick synopsis via “book trailer” of “The Graveyard Book” narrated by Author Neil Gaiman (also author of “Coraline”):

Also, here’s a link to an excerpt I read from the first chapter of “The Graveyard Book.”

I read it with a flashlight under my face and played creepy music. Then we wrote!!

Here’s our targets by the end of the next two weeks which I have slated for the young Stephen Kings to complete their projects:

I can use a variety of technology tools to organize and present data and information.

I cancreate an original response to a writing prompt and establish a tone appropriate to the task.
Check out the book (the real physical copy; all the Mead elementary schools should have it! And read it with a flashlight under your chin!
photo 3photo 2(P.S. Grade 3 classes did a screen-time study after a reading of Goodnight Ipad and first and second graders worked on National Geographic Online–the Halloween games section 🙂