Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Friday Night Knitting Club

From cooking to knitting.  I finished the book The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs this morning and while it was somewhat predictable in a "chick flick" kind of way, it did make me want to call my mother and have her teach me to knit (she's tried, and alas, has failed to make me a knitter!)

The book is the story of  a single mother who owns a knitting shop on the upper west side of NYC.  She is all business and somewhat lonely and through twists and turns a group of women end up spending every Friday night at the knitting shop and calling themselves The Friday Night Knitting Club.  As they knit (or not, as is the case many Friday nights) you find out their stories and realize that it is not the knitting that is bringing them together but their need for female friendships.  Each woman in the group has a story that the author explores, but it is Georgia, the main character who we see inside of the most.

The end of the book is like a typical chick flick, which is why it makes sense that the book is being made into a movie starring Julia Roberts, set for release this summer (and I can TOTALLY see Julia in this role!)  Of course, since I love a good chick flick, I will be in line to see this - maybe by then I will have convinced my mother to at least teach me how to knit a scarf!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas Break Reading - and a milestone

First the milestone - this is my 100th post (cue the confetti and the popping champagne corks), I hope I have many more to come on this blog!

Now to the book - I have not had as much time as I had hoped to read this break, but I finally finished a book last night - The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken by Laura Schenone.  This is an adult book that explores the mixture of family, food and a yearning to find out where we came from.  The author is a typical American mix of Irish, German and Italian heritage, but she has a pull toward learning more about her Italian immigrant  great-grandparents, more specifically the ravioli recipe that came with them from Italy.  She writes about her quest to find the recipe, from contacting relatives she has not spoken to in years, to traveling to the birthplace of her great-grandparents, Genoa to try and unearth what "could" have been her great grandmothers recipe.  She intertwined family stories of fond memories and of family feuds within the story of her quest to make the perfect ravioli.

This book made me HUNGRY - especially as she describes in detail what she eats in Italy - another reason why I long to eat my way through Italy!  I am not Italian, but even in my Irish American family, food has been central to our lives and I can relate to her wanting to find authenticity in what she is making.  Her descriptions of food and learning to make the food of her ancestors is so detailed, you almost feel how the ravioli dough should feel in your hands.

She provides recipes in the back of the book, and maybe in a different time (where I actually HAD time to cook) I would copy the recipes and try them out, but for now I think I just might have to settle upon finding some true, homemade ravioli in Atlanta (easier said then done).

The author has a great interview on NPR, where you can hear her making the ravioli.  Make sure you listen to the interview again after you read the book, the sounds of the dough slapping on the ravioli board will make sense.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Merry Christmas!

My Christmas Break (or Winter Break as it is officially called) officially started today - woohoo! It has been a killer 1st semester for me, getting used to a new job, getting used to my husband not having a job, then having a new job and then also getting my son used to middle school (this has been the hardest task by FAR!).

SO I am planning on having a nice relaxing break - picked up some new books at the library today and am hoping to get to read some of them in between parties and hearing my kids complain that they are bored (and this had BETTER not happen after Tuesday, Santa, as usual, plans to be VERY good to my kids this year!)

I hope that all of you educators out there have a FABULOUS break and to everyone else, a MERRY Christmas and a VERY happy and healthy 2008.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

"But I Can Read Big Books Mrs. Schmidt..."

This is what I sometimes hear as I tell the 1st, 2nd, even 3rd graders that even though it took all their muscle to heft Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows onto the check out counter, I am not checking it out to them. I don't like to censor what the kids check out, and even if they are "advanced readers" I still try and take into account the subject of the book and who the books' intended audience is.

Liz at Tea Cozy linked to a great post from Alix Finn about parents who want to push "older" books on kids, just because they feel that if their child is in 4th grade and reading a middle school book, well then, they must be destined for greatness.

Another thing that I have run into a lot is when books are made into movies. I have 1st graders asking for different Harry Potter books or Narnia books and they tell me they can read them because "I saw the movie". I know this has been at the center of the debate on The Golden Compass movie, many christian and Catholic organizations are saying, the movie doesn't bring religion into it, but the books do, and if kids see the movie (which is pg-13) then they will want to read the books. Is The Golden Compass appropriate, content wise for a 2nd grader - well, I don't think so, I don't think many of them would "get-it". But then again, should a 2nd grader (who is usually about 7 or 8) be seeing a PG-13 movie?

I think that parents need to take an interest in what their child is reading, but I also think that they should try and steer them to books that would interest them, not necessarily challenge them. I was having a conversation about this very subject the other day with a parent at my school. She was complaining that some book series seem to get darker as they progress (she mentioned HP and Spiderwick Chronicles) and while she lets her 3rd grade daughter read the first 2 HP books, she said she is waiting to let her read the rest until next year or even 5th grade when she thought that she could understand the content better. - WOW, if only all parents thought like this!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Polar Express Night

My new school has a holiday tradition of Polar Express night. The kids come in their pj's (even some of the parents come in pj's too!) and teachers and staff are in classrooms reading a holiday story. There are three sessions and the teachers read the same story three times. There are Christmas stories, Hanukkah stories, winter stories and even a few religious Christmas stories. After, there are cookies and milk in the cafeteria. It was So much fun - I think the kids get a kick out of seeing their teachers wearing their pj's in school! I read The Polar Express, my favorite holiday book, I usually do a big Polar Express even for kindergarten, but this school is SO big (10 kindergarten classes) that I couldn't do ti, so I did a scaled down version last night (although I did stop the fog machine, I was nervous that it might set off the fire alarm!)

Here is a picture of my two sons and I at the event, I even bought new Pj's for the occasion!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Have a Green Christmas!

I think almost every education magazine and journal that I subscibe to has had at least one article (or in some cases, whole issues) devoted to being "Green" this year. I know that conservation of our natural resources is important (as I write this, Georgia is in an extreme drought and talk of our water supply drying up is a reality!) but I often wonder if the education world is talking about this topic because it is the hot "buzz word" of the year or if we believe that going green should be taught to our students so that maybe in 20 years we won't have headlines such as the ones daily in the Atlanta paper about our water crisis. I think it is a little bit of both. I do think the sudden interest is in response to what is going on in the word around us, but I do think that we need to integrate talks with our students about conservation and recycling and not just have those conversations on Earth day!

This year as part of my month long holiday celebration I am doing a week on having a "green" Christmas. I will be reading the book Night Tree by Eve Bunting (which she wrote in 1994, way before being "green" was fashionable). After we read the story we will be making Christmas ornaments for our feathered and furry friends. I had a hard time coming up with an ornament that was not so messy (think, peanut butter and birdseed) so, with the help of my daughter, we came up with making froot loop cereal ornaments. The kids will string froot loops onto pipe cleaners and twist them together. Then they can go home and hang their ornament on an outside tree. Not sure how much birds like froot loops, but I am sure that the squirrels will love it!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Gingerbread Baby FUN!

I read the Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett as my storytime book this week. After the story we decorated paper gingerbread babies (cut from a die cut) and then I gave the kids a gingerbread cookie to eat. We decorated the media center with their gingerbread baby creations. Here are some pictures from the week:

Bulletin Board in the media center

a gingerbread baby masterpiece!

Gingerbread house I made with my son last weekend

Monday, November 26, 2007

Holiday Time in the Media Center

I know, it is still November, but in my book, the Monday after Thanksgiving officially starts HOLIDAY TIME in the media center. I always have SO many ideas and so little time, but this year we have almost four full weeks in school before vacation! Here is the e-mail I sent out to my teachers describing what I will be doing in the media center this holiday season:
Research Skills Lessons

Grades 4 & 5
Winter Holiday Web Quest: Bring your students down to the media center for some holiday research using our GCPS databases. I will pair them in groups of 2 and I will send them on a hunt through our databases for information on winter holidays. They will need to find the answers to specific questions using the GCPS databases.

Grades 2-5
Holiday Dictionary Dash: Holiday words are highlighted in this FUN dictionary game.

Story Time all grade levels welcome!
Week of November 26 – Holiday Kick off with a Sweet Treat
Story time: Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett
We’ll decorate paper gingerbread babies after the story (and maybe even have a gingerbread treat).

Week of December 3 – Hanukkah
Story time: The Magic Dreidels by Eric Kimmel
We will play a round of the dreidel game after the story.

Week of December 10 – Going Green For the Holidays
Story time: Night Tree by Eve Bunting
We will make a Christmas ornament for the student to take home and hang on an outside tree for an animal. I will also have handouts for having a “green” Holiday.

Week of December 17 – Kwanzaa
Story time: Seven Spools of Thread by Angela Shelf Medearis

I am still looking for an activity for my Kwanzaa book, so if you have any ideas out there, PLEASE leave a comment - this is a holiday I am not too familiar with!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Giving Thanks

I have been a little down this Thanksgiving season. We are not going to be with family this year, my husband has to work the holiday and we weren't even invited to spend the day with friends. I actually considered not even having a "real" dinner with a turkey etc.. because, why bother with all the effort when no one will eat it (the kids only eat turkey and rolls on the thanksgiving feast table). But I bought a turkey at the supermarket on Saturday and I decided that maybe I have to look at the positive this Thanksgiving and be thankful, instead of resentful of the bad things that have happened to my family this year. So here goes.

I'm Thankful for:
My family
my friends
our health
my new job
dark chocolate M&M's
Starbucks white chocolate mocha (non-fat milk no whip)
tap dancing class
my ipod
mu just re-soled red cowboy boots
red wine (a nice Pinot)
good books
the blogosphere
and last but not least, the Red Sox winning the World Series!!!

And I am jumping ahead a little, but while I am at it, here are things I have to look forward to in 2008

seeing Bon Jovi in concert in April
seeing Mo Willems in March at the GA Children's Lit Conference
my new niece or nephew being born in June
hopefully a new job for my husband (something that he likes AND he makes money at)
watching another great season of Red Sox baseball
hopefully watching my oldest son pass 6th grade
discovering great new books to share with my students (and blogging about them too!)

Happy Turkey day everyone!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

My blog's reading ability

cash advance

I always knew I could be a college professor!

thanks to monica at educating alice for the link.

Get a Cash Advance

Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List

Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

This is another book by the young adult author duo of Cohn and Levithan who brought us Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist. This is the story of neighbors and best friends Naomi and Ely. One is gay (Ely) and one is hopelessly in love with the other (Naomi). They are cool, hip NYC kids who are going to the local university (NYU) and trying to figure out life. When one of them kisses the others boyfriend, the gloves come off on their friendship and also on how they view their lives, which up to this point, were tied together in so many ways that without each other they are not sure who they really are.

I loved Nick and Norah for the his and hers chapters and different voices that Cohn and Levithan gave to each character. This book has the same, except that there are more characters to keep track of and more character voices to wrap your head around. As in Nick and Norah, you have the hip lives of cool New Yorkers. I love NYC and sometimes wish we had moved to NYC instead of Atlanta way back in '91, so maybe that is why I love books set in the "naked city". I loved that Naomi is a bit of a bitch and that Ely is your typical gay college student (I pictured about 3 guys I knew in college whenever I read Ely's dialogue.)

I was just glad that I had a weekend free enough to actually sit down and get through a whole book - and this one was worth reading!

Liz at Tea Cozy
Mindy at Proper Noun
2nd gen librarian

and Rachel's website and David's website

** on Rachel's website she tells us that Nick and Norah will be made into a movie - WOOHOO!**

Friday, November 16, 2007

How to teach about Biography Books

In my first year of being a media specialist I was asked to teach a lesson on what a biography is to some 4th graders. The assignment for the students was to read a biography and then do a report on it and then they also had to write an autobiography (this was the teachers assignment, not mine). So I set out looking for a way to make biographies seem interesting. I found in an old Judy Freeman seminar book (one of those BER seminars) that someone had given me, a lesson for biography hash. It seemed like a good lesson that I could tweek a little for my purposes and time constraints.

The result was Biography Stew. SO each year I dress in a chef hat and apron, call myself Chef Schmidt (say that 5x fast) and we cook up a biography stew. I have listed the ingredients below that we add to a big pot one by one, with me explaining why this ingredient goes into a biography. I also explain to the kids that not all the ingredients go into all biographies. The best part of the lesson for the kids is that they get to EAT the stew (which looks surprisingly like a trail mix). The best part of the lesson for me is that after this, the kids actually seek out biographies to read.

Biography Stew Ingredients

Yellow Raisins: Represent the person’s birth date and place
Corn Chex: Represent family members, because some family members can be a bit corny sometimes
Goldfish Crackers: Represent childhood and school life, because fish gather in schools
Bugles: Represent hobbies, interests and activities, because sometimes we like to blow our own horns
Pretzels: Represent anecdotes, because all people have interesting stories in their lives, with twists and turns, ups and downs, just like a pretzel.
Chocolate chips: Represents career, because when a person makes a lot of money or has good fortune, we say that he/she is “in the chips”
Cheerios: Represent the reasons for fame, because we cheer a famous person’s successes.
M&M’s : Represents later life/old age, because the M&M’s stand for More Mature
Black Raisins: Represents death, because we become shriveled and then the lights go out.

I guess I should also mention, I like this lesson SO much, it contributed to the name of this blog!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Marcus Zusak

I had the pleasure of attending a MJCCA Book Festival event last night with author Marcus Zusak. I finally got a chance to read his book, The Book Thief a few weeks ago and - WOW - it is such a thought provoking, beautiful book and I am even more enchanted with it after hearing Mr. Zusak speak about it.

As he was introduced and walked up to the podium, my friend's mother who was with us whispered "ooh he is SO cute!" and he was. Oh and he has that FABULOUS Australian accent! He started off his talk with a personal story and then he turned the tables on us as he described what the story illustrated and how he did it using details. He talked a bit about writing The Book Thief and then took questions. He answered the questions in such detail. In answering some of the questions, he told us that he does not think Max and Liesel get married, but had more of a brother-sister relationship (I agree) and that the book has been optioned for a movie, but if it does get made he will not have ANY part of it. He also told us that the characters from the book may show up in other works of his, but he will NEVER write a sequel to the book. I have to agree, although it was SUCH a powerful book, I think he got it right this time and there really is no more to say.

I did get my book signed and he drew a little smiling person next to his signature - not something you expect from a YA author!

If you have not had the chance to read the book, I will tell you, it is LONG but well worth it. See a great video book trailer for this book here.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Jack Gantos

Check out the interview that 7imp has up on Jack Gantos (this is for the Winter Blog Blast Tour).

He was a professor at Emerson College when I was there (although I never could get into his Children's Literature class!!) and I he is a truly gifted speaker as well as gifted writer. How can you not love Joey Pigza!

Also, if all you have read is his children's books, you need to go out RIGHT NOW and get Hole in My Life, his autobiography.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

World Book Fun

My school district subscribes to a number of online databases for our students (in addition to the State of Georgia sponsored database system called Galileo) and World Book Online is one of the databases we subscribe to. I am a HUGE proponent of databases in schools and I promote them heavily - the kids usually know me as NO GOOGLE girl (although, Google, I LOVE you so, I really do, but for educational purposes, databases rule, you'll forgive me, Google, right?)

Anyway, as I was preparing for a lesson today on using World Book Online with 3rd graders I found this contest and this HILARIOUS video by two guys named Rhett and Link. The video describes the contest, which is asking students to make a 2 minute video on evaluating websites but the video also helps describe some aspects of evaluating websites. The contest deadline is November 30th, so not that much time, but the video is a great teaching tool in and of itself. I used it today with a group of 5th graders and they loved the video and I think they really "got" what the guys were saying about evaluating websites. I hope that World Book keeps the video by Rhett and Link up even after the contest is over, or even better, that they have these two guys come up with some more videos on research topics! You can watch the video without having a subscription to World Book online, but to have access to the database your school (or district) must subscribe.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

19 more days until Turkey Day

Because Thanksgiving is so early this year I feel like I have to jump right into the season in the media center. This week I will be reading the story Thank You Sarah by Laurie Halse Anderson, a picture book biography of Sarah Hale, the woman who lobbied to have Thanksgiving made a national holiday. This also plays into the fact that the genre of the month at my school is the biography. I am going to have the 1st & 2nd graders who come in for story time write a persuasive letter to our principal asking her to do something (whatever the kids want) and with kindergarten we will write a letter together. With some 3rd & 4th grade classes this week I will be doing one of my FAVORITE lessons, biography stew. More to come on that lesson.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, here are some great FREE downlodable projects. One of a turkey and another feathered friend here. Thanks to SegaTech blog for the links. I must admit I have not tried either one of these, but I am planning on having my 9 year old help me!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Once again, I went a little crazy with the paint & pumpkins - this was done for the story Miss Fiona's Stupendous Pumpkin Pies by Mark Kimball Moulton- I read it for story time and I gave out spider rings!

I am dressed as a pirate today (left over from last years Dress Like Your Favorite Book Character day) and it also happens to be that my son matches me. Pictures to come tomorrow.

the best costume at my school today - a kindergarten teacher dressed as Shrek - green make-up and all - he looks great!

Monday, October 29, 2007

there is JOY in Mudville

image from The Boston Herald

in case you haven't heard -

The Boston Red Sox are WORLD CHAMPIONS!!!

I guess the curse is REALLY over! I just wish I could fly to Boston for the Parade!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

How COOL is this!!

My sister just e-mailed me about a book, not unusual (I am a librarian after all) but this is about a book by an author who grew up in the same small town as we did and in her book put many references to said town. Of course when I heard who the author was I was like, HEY I think I know that name - and sure enough, a few mouse clicks away and I realize that Sara Beth Durst is a kidlit blogger also! I KNEW I had heard that name before.

The books is called Into The Wild - and now I am DYING to get my hands on it. Of course my local bookstores do not have it in so I am off to Amazon - I am SO excited to read this book now.

Here are some reviews, one by Jen from Jen Robinson's bookpage and Betsy from Fuse #8.

Check out Sara's blog from this week, she is visiting schools in "our" town, she went to my old elementary school on Monday and is visiting my old middle school on Friday. Who knew our small little hole in the wall town would one day be in a book!

oh..and GO SOX!!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Could I ask for a better Birthday Present?

photo from The Boston Globe

Red Sox vs Rockies in game one of the World Series tomorrow night, which is also my thirty-something birthday- ok, well a better gift would be to get to GO to game one, but I guess I will just be content to watch it on TV.


Dictionary Dash

I love it when I can make the Dictionary FUN for kids - and yes, I actually have kids ASKING me in the halls when they can play "that cool dictionary game" again.

The game is called dictionary dash and it is a way for me to make learning about the dictionary and practicing using the dictionary fun for the kids. I take the students vocabulary words and/or spelling words for the week. I go ahead and look them up in the dictionary ahead of time and write down the page number I find it on and the guide words on the page where I find the word. Then, I type up the words in this cool program that goes along with our Smart Board - the program has a "window shade" that I can pull down to reveal words - so I type out the words I want them to find and below that I type in the page number and guide words. I have the kids start with their dictionaries closed, then I "reveal" the word and the mad dash begins to find the word in the dictionary. When they find the word, they are suppose to put a finger on the word and raise their other hand. I call on them and ask them to give me the page number and the guide words. I reveal the answer to see if they get it right, and if they do *sometimes* I give them a prize (usually a piece of candy). The kids get SO into it and they love finding the words. As we go through the game I point out things like where the pronunciation of a word is in the definition, how they find out how to make a word plural etc..

I started doing this lesson this week with grades 2 & 3 and it has not only been a hit with the kids, but the teachers have loved what I am doing too. I told the teachers that have signed up for this lesson to make sure they sign up again and around the holidays I will do a holiday word version of dictionary dash.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Miss Spider

This was my art project for the weekend - can you GUESS which book I am reading for story time this week?
And I am so proud of myself - I used a craft pumpkin so that I don't have to do this again next year OR have to clean up the mess of a rotten pumpkin!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Blog Action Day 2007

Today is Blog Action day, here is a little bit about the day:

On October 15th, bloggers around the web will unite to put a single important issue on everyone’s mind. In 2007 the issue is the environment. Every blogger will post about the environment in their own way and relating to their own topic. Our aim is to get everyone talking towards a better future.

You can find out more about the day by clicking here.

My post on the environment is going to be about Saving the Ocean. I grew up spending my summers on the coast of Massachusetts on Cape Cod. The ocean is MY special place, all is right with the world if I am looking at the ocean (so HOW did I end up land locked in Atlanta, who knows!) But I do know that our oceans worldwide are in danger. Pollution is rampant and what people and companies throw into the ocean is just sinful (and pretty GROSS!)

Here are some websites dedicated to saving our oceans:

Saving Our Oceans documentary film: A documentary about the state of our seas and the issues of disappearing fish.

Save the Bay: A group dedicated to stopping pollution in Narraganset Bay in Rhode Island

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute: WHOI is the world's largest private, nonprofit ocean research, engineering and education organization.

Save Our Sound: Our goal is to protect Nantucket Sound in perpetuity through conservation, environmental action, and opposition to inappropriate industrial or commercial development. The Alliance supports formal designation of Nantucket Sound as a marine protected area.

I thought I would make the "day" last a little longer and post some children's books on the subject of "saving our oceans" later this week.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Teachers At Sea

A good friend my family is embarking on a journey at sea with the program Teachers at Sea. She is keeping a blog about her journey. Check it out here.

She is a 5th grade teacher in Truro, MA (on Cape Cod) and she has done some really neat things in her career. A few years ago she was part of a team from weather bug that chased tornadoes in the mid-west. I would love to have a teacher like Megan.

I believe she is out to sea for five weeks. I can't wait to read about her journey!

Check out the Teachers at Sea website for more info. on the program.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Story Time: James Marshall

This is why I LOVE the kids lit blogger world! Susan at Chicken Spaghetti reminded me that the late author/illustrator James Marshall’s birthday is this week just as I was trying to decide what to read at story time this week with my Kindergarten and 1st grade students. SO today in preparation of reading a James Marshall story I stumbled upon some great sites about James and his life.

This site is maintained by his sister and includes some pictures of James and links to other sites about James Marshall and his work.

This site is SO cool. It is an archive from Horn Book with interviews of authors that appeared on NPR in 1986. In addition to the James Marshall interview, there are interviews with Robert McClosky, Rosemary Wells and a review of The Polar Express by a group of students in Wayland, Massachusetts.

Saturday, October 6, 2007


what a game last night - Manny pulling it out with a homer in the 9th inning to win. The team is up 2 games, one more win and they win the series.

And of course, who can't be just a little happy that the Yankees lost last night and are 2 games in the hole in their series.

Baseball in October, another reason why October is my favorite month of the year!!

Watching the game on TBS last night, all the promo's featured a song and pictures of my man, Jon Bon Jovi - ahh - could life get any better???

Funny Blog post about Librarians

Thanks to Susan at Chicken Spaghetti for the link to this blog post about loving librarians. Although I did have to comment about the author's comments on stereotypical librarian dress - I am happy to report I do not own comfy clogs, wool skirts that go down past my knees (but I do have some kicky wool mini skirts) or reading glasses on a chain (but I am sure as I get closer to that 4-0 number I might be getting myself a really COOL pair!)

My real question is, when will that old librarian stereotype finally be retired??

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

What makes a book a book?

One of the things that I struggle with every book fair is what the kids buy from the book fair. The book fair ultimately helps me, for every dollar someone spends at the book fair my media center receives money from the sale. Money that I will convert into author visits or more books for the media center. It doesn't matter if someone spent $10 on good, quality books or $10 on pencils and a Pokemon book - BUT - as a media specialist, it makes me CRINGE every time I have to ring a student up and all they have bought is "junk". I think what makes it worse for me are the things that parade as "books". Pokemon books and comic books (NOT graphic novels, but books like the Simpsons). Books written after TV shows such as Sponge Bob and Fairly Odd parents. I guess you can call me a book snob, but you can spend $3.99 on a Sponge Bob book or $3.99 on a Magic Tree House book or Charlotte's Web. I guess in the end, both books have words and if a child is actually READING the books and not just looking at the pictures, it is a win-win, but STILL, how many people claim that reading a Strawberry Shortcake book when they were nine changed their life??

I try and steer the students toward "good" books, things that *might* just change their lives, but I guess all a teacher can do is lead their students to water and hope that they take a sip.

I for one do not purchase "character" books for my media center. I have noticed that their are some Nickelodeon character books in my media center now, but I can assure you that there will be no more purchased, at least while I am there. Of course, I do have a HUGE collection of Captain Underpants books, and for some reason, I don't mind those as much, maybe because there is not a Captain Underpants TV show?

Sunday, September 30, 2007

busy days in the media center

School has been in session for about six weeks now and I am really feeling how different it is to be in public school, especially the difference in SIZE. I went from a school of 575 students to a school of 1100 students. Last Friday the book fair rolled into the media center and it is non-stop! Of course the fun part of the book fair is looking at all the great books that I will get for the media center off the fair. Number one on my list - Knuffle Bunny Too by Mo Willems

Starting tomorrow the 2nd annual Cybil's awards will begin taking nominations for your favorite children's and young adult books. Check it all out at the Cybils site!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Another reason to Love MO!

Mo Willems that is.

He has a great article on Scholastic on making reading FUN.

Although, I can tell that his daughter is still fairly young, he mentions in the article that
"You may not know this, but you are a very cool person (to your kid, at least). Seriously, pretty much everything you do is cool. If you mow the lawn, that's cool. If you eat chocolate ice cream, that's cool."

My eleven year old thinks that NOTHING I do is COOL and his almost 10 year old sister is *almost* at that point also, she only thinks about 10% of what I do is cool and only if it involves me buying her something!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

How would you...

over at 7 impossible things they have an interview with author Trudy White and they have challenged those in the blogosphere to answer some questions from her new book Could You? Would You? So here goes:

how would someone find you in a crowd?
medium height, brown hair, I blend so well into a crowd, that unless I wear something memorable, people wouldn't find me!

if your house had a secret room what would be in it?
a comfy chair, a laptop, books, magazines, some red wine and dark chocolate and most importantly no phone or kids!

where do you like to walk from your house?
I live in suburbia, so the only place I can walk to in my neighborhood is to the neighborhood pool & tennis complex and to my neighbors houses.

How will you change as you grow up?
hopefully gracefully and without too many wrinkles!

what kind of animal would you like to be?
I am not a huge animal person, so i have to say that there isn't one animal I would ever want to be!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Reading Motivators

One of the big things I have been working on at work the past few weeks is getting together the reading incentive program at my school. Many of the schools in our district have AR (Accelerated Reader) and they use the test results of each student to reward them with little prizes (ice cream, candy, my daughters school has hats etc..). My school has traditionally had a reading program where the students were challenged to read a certain number of books and if they read the books, wrote them down on the sheet provided by the deadline date, they were then invited to a special reading celebration. The reading celebration usually involved an author or illustrator visit. That was all fine and good, but here is my real question for all of this, do contests/programs like this REALLY encourage kids to read more or improve their reading skills?

In talking with some of the students (grades K-5) many of them said that their PARENTS made them participate and some of the smaller kids didn't even know mom & dad had turned in the slip or that they had "won" anything. The kids that are motivated to read in order to be invited to the celebration are usually the kids who would be interested in seeing/hearing a "real live author" speak to them, in other words, the kids who READ anyway and need no motivation to do so.

So there was my question, what kind of program could I instill at my school that would motivate those kids who really HATE to read. Those kids who really struggle to read and because of that HATE to do so. In in a school climate (all over the country,really, not just my school) where test scores seem to be the only indicator of something "successful" what will motivate these kids to read more so that their reading test sores would go up?

Unfortunately, I haven't figured out an answer yet! Part of that reason is, I think I need to look at the students at my school and figure out what would motivate those kids (both boys and girls) who are struggling readers. Somehow a party with an author just isn't it. Reading articles like this at Teacher magazine has helped me to get a little more insight into some things I might do with individual students, but I am looking for something that will motivate the masses (in a school of 1100 students, it is THE MASSES!).

For now, needing to have something to give the Principal, I have dusted off the old reading program, made a few tweeks to it and it will be going out to parents in two weeks. But I think I am going to use this year to really do a little research into WHY the kids who participate do so and what motivates THEM to participate in this. I am working on some things for Children's Book Week in November that I might be able to use as tests for student motivation. I want to see if seeing a professional athlete reading a book to the student motivates them to pick up a book? If listening to a book being read on a podcast or on cd would motivate them? What if the reading contest was more like the baseball playoffs and it was more like a book competition with a big trophy and a party at the end? Somehow, people seem to think trophy's motivate kids, hence why we get a trophy for every season of baseball/football/basketball - enough with the trophy's for just participating, does it really motivate anyone?

Sigh, I wish there was a magic answer to this and the magic answer was, we wouldn't need to motivate anyone to read because everyone loved it and it was part of every student's everyday life. Excuse me while I go find Cinderella in my fantasy world.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Could life get any better!

Bon Jovi has done a video for TBS promoting the upcoming baseball playoffs - and of course there are some GREAT shots of Fenway and some of my beloved (and for now, in FIRST PLACE) Boston Red Sox.

Can life get any better??

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

New Job Blues and Apples

I work in a large county where we have a GREAT central media office. One of the services they provide us is LOTS of continuing education opportunities (for FREE) and also as a new media specialist in the county I have monthly meetings with other new media specialists and our mentors, who are established media specialists in the county.

Today we had one of those meetings and I came out of it feeling so overwhelmed! The problem is, there are some FABULOUS media specialists in our county and when they come to present to us, they pull out all their stops. The woman today, who is actually the media specialist at my son's school has done great things, I have seen her media center and it is a happening place. But I think to myself, HOW am I ever going to measure up. I guess I must have had these thoughts 5 years ago when I started my first job, but then again it was a school half the size of my current school and I really had no "peers" telling me what great things they are doing. I did take some things from this woman's presentation that I can use in my media center but I guess that I am still a little under water and not sure how to get floating comfortably again. I am still doing orientations and while important, especially for the kids to meet me, I can't wait until I can really get into what I love to do, which is to teach kids research lessons, do fun story times and plan some fun PARTIES in the media center (Polar Express anyone?)

For something a little more useful, here are some APPLE websites that I shared with my teachers this week:

Check out some websites and activities on Johnny Appleseed. He was born in a town in Massachusetts not far from where I grew up (and home of the most DELICIOUS Macintosh apples!!)

Check out the story of Johnny here;

Check out some fun Appleseed activities here:

Check out information on the Georgia apple festival and also listings of the types of apples grown in North Georgia and where to pick them yourselves.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Media Odds & Ends

I have started a little weekly (well, we'll see how "weekly" it becomes) newsletter for my teachers. I hope that it will be info. about what is going on in my media center, but also some odds and ends of information that I find in magazines, newspapers and the Web (especially my fiends in the blog world!). here is an excerpt from this weeks. Most of the odds & ends pertain to happenings in Atlanta, but if you are in or near the ATL, you might want to take a look!

I attended the Decatur Book Festival this weekend and heard presentations from author Melinda Long (who I am trying to have come visit our school this year) and an illustrator panel with Caldecott award winner Chris Raschka (The Hello Goodbye window), Judy Schachner (Skippy Jon Jones book) and two local illustrators. It is always interesting to me to hear from creative people like this and how they come up with ideas and how children’s books actually get produced, it amazes me how LONG a picture book can be in production. I also got lots of STUFF. Here are some interesting things I picked up:

Where the Wild Things Are exhibit: Until September 30th at the Breman Museum in Midtown Atlanta. Original art by Maurice Sendak and children’s activities related to his books.
Visit for more info.

16th annual Book Festival of the MJCCA. November 3 – 17th. Some great authors will be giving presentations, including Markus Zusak, author of The Book Thief, lawyer and author Alan Dershowitz and the authors of the book Three Women, Three Religions, One Quest for Common Ground. Check out the website for more details: (I am going to try and attend the presentation by Markus Zusak on Sunday November 11, if anyone is interested in joining me!)

The Wren’s Nest, the historic home of author Joel Chandler Harris located in Atlanta is offering lots of programs for students this fall. One program is a reading challenge. Read five Brer Rabbit stories, then go to the website (see below) and download the Reader’s Tee form. Have a parent or teacher sign the form then visit the Wren’s nest and receive a COOL free t-shirt. Visit their website for details on this contest and other activities.

I picked up a flyer that looks VERY interesting. It is called Paper Back Swap. It is an online book club of people who “swap” their paperback books for just the price of shipping the book. I have not tried it YET, but I think I will be checking it out. Their website is

One of my FAVORITE things to do in Decatur is go to the children’s book store Little Shop of Stories. It is just a great place, what is there not to love about a book store that has an ICE CREAM parlor attached to it! They have some great activities and book clubs throughout the year. Sign up for their newsletter and check out what they have to offer. They also host MANY authors throughout the year and do special educator presentations with some of these authors. They hosted Patricia Polacco last year and she was FABULOUS! Their website is

I picked up a flyer about Georgia Project WET. Their website includes information on Project WET (which is water education programs for teachers), Georgia River of Words (an environmental poetry and art contest) and also information about volunteer opportunities with Adopt a stream and Rivers Alive. Check out all this great environmental information at

One more thing I found over the weekend. The Atlanta magazine SKIRT! Is having an essay contest for girls in grades 5-8. Pass along this info, to anyone you know who might be interested.
“To celebrate the historic moment of a women running for the White House, skirt! Wants to hear from girls in grades 5 though 8 about why they should be President and how they would make a difference in the world if they were elected.
Your Campaign Package: be creative…design your own bumper sticker. Be Thoughtful…tell us about your campaign issues. Have Fun///Hillary Clinton’s campaign song is “You and I” by Celine Dion. What would yours be? Surprise us with your ideas and presentation.”
Prizes in each grade level will receive $150 and selected entries will appear in the magazine in January 2008. Entry deadline is November 15, 2007 and must include name, address, phone number, age, grade level and school. Send entries to: Skirt! 107 West Paces Ferry Road, Atlanta, GA 30305 or e-mail

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


To one of my favorite YA authors (and daily bloggers) Sarah Dessen on the birth of her new baby girl Sasha Clementine. See the details here. Although I am sure that her daily postings will wane a bit as she gets used to being a Mommy, make sure to check out her blog, it is funny and with enough pop culture and YA book references to tide me over for the day.

Now, I hope that someone will get her the Clementine books by Sara Pennypacker as a baby gift!!

Friday, August 31, 2007

Decatur Book Festival

today began the 2nd annual Decatur (GA) Book festival. I went to see a few author there last year and my favorite part about the whole festival was just walking around the square in Decatur and being around other people who LOVE books and reading and literature. i am hoping to go on Sunday to see Melinda Long, author of How I Became a Pirate. I have an ulterior motive in seeing Ms. Long, I am hoping to bring her to my school this year as a guest author! this also gives me an excuse to visit my favorite children's book store, Little Shop of Stories in downtown Decatur. I've blogged about this store before and it really is a special place, I just wish it were closer!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Letters to a Young Teacher

Today in the Atlanta Journal Constitution there was an excerpt (which I cannot find available online) of the new book by Jonathan Kozol titled Letters to a Young Teacher . The chapter excepted was titled Down with Middle School. I was especially interested in what he had to say, since I am a parent of a new middle schooler and I have previously taught in a K-8 school. He was talking about inner city schools specifically, but his suggestion was, do away with middle schools. Have K-8 schools, where older students can mentor or help "teach" the younger students, have the older students have a sense of responsibility for the younger students in the school. I have to say, that I agree with this. One of the things I loved about working in a K-8 school is that the middle school kids had younger "buddy" classes that they read to or did projects with throughout the year. My daughter is STILL in touch with her 8th grade buddy that she had in kindergarten, she is in 4th grade now and the "buddy" will be graduating high school this year.

He also touches on the fact that so many of middle and high schools are overcrowded. I am in the MECCA of large schools. My current school has an enrollment of about 1100 students (K-5), believe it or not, we are not overcrowded or even over the projected enrollment for our building size, we are just a HUGE school. Now, many of the middle and high schools in this area do not face the problems that Mr. Kozol talks about, such as the schools looking worn down since many of the schools in my area are new, but I am certain that many of the schools are affected in many ways because of their sizes. One of the quotes from the article that I loved was : "I believe aesthetics count a great deal in the education of our children. Beautiful surroundings refine the souls of children. Ugly surroundings coarsen their mentalities. It's one of the most decisive ways in which we draw the line of caste and class between two very different sectors of our student population." It makes me feel good about what I do in the media center in terms of making it a bright and inviting place to be."

I now have to go check the book out of the library, I am very interested in what else he has to say on the subject of education in America today.

I forget how EXHAUSTING...

the first few weeks of school are! Between lunch duty (with Kindergarten no less) and running around the school delivering teachers books and overheads and overhead bulbs not to mention doing my orientation (to 5th grade last week) and trying to learn the names of not only the staff, but now the students. I have had many things I have wanted to blog about, but am just to darn tired at the end of the day, which doesn't end once I leave school, with three kids in 3 different activities, I run around town the rest of the night! I can't wait until our area has public WiFi, then I can blog and work on the net while sitting at football practice!

Another note, or should I say a complaint. It has been over 100 degrees almost every day since school started (10 days ago) and many of our classes are not going outside for recess because the air quality if very poor and our poor PE teachers, the gym is not air conditioned, so PE is a very HOT activity no matter where they have it. A year or so ago the Georgia Assembly tried to pass a law that stated that school could not start in the State of Georgia before the 4th week of August. While next week is the 4th week of August and it is predicted to be almost as hot (I hear it might cool down to 89!!), I think for the health of the students and staff, they need to look at this again. not to mention how much they are spending to cool off the schools!

Luckily for me, the media center at my school seems to be the coolest spot in the building!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Media Center orientation

In a school as big as mine (approx. 1100 students K-5) I figure that I will spend a better part of the next month getting all the classes in for a 30 minute media center orientation. Since this is my first year at this school, not only will I be teaching the kids the rules of the media center and how to care for library books, I will be introducing them to ME. My first year of being a media specialist I came up with the idea of using a "mascot" to help me teach the rules. At my old school I adopted a giant bear who stood guard in the office (I believe he had been donated to the school and they couldn't think of anywhere to put him so he ended up in the office). I created a PowerPoint with the bear "acting" out the rules. When I moved school, I wanted to use the same approach, but needed to find a new mascot. The school's mascot is a raptor, and as luck would have it, they didn't have a life-size raptor I could use, SO I did what any media specialist would do, I turned to the Internet. What I came up with was not quite a raptor, but was in the dinosaur family and had two of my requirements, it was large and cheap (Oriental Trading, the teachers best friend). So I've attached a few pictures of my "raptor". He doesn't have a name yet, but that is part of my presentation, a contest to name him. I will share some of the suggestions I get from my students.

My raptor returns his library books......

and Raptor never goes out of the playground with his books....

and Raptor always uses a shelf marker....

one more, Raptor in front of my office window, isn't the mural FABULOUS!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Odds and Ends from the Blogosphere

thanks to Jen and Miss erin for the news that Noel Streatfeld's Ballet Shoes will be made into a BBC movie. I *hope* that it is shown in the US - I love the book and introduced it to my daughter who also loved it!

And thanks to fuse#8 I can add another reason to not like the First Lady very much. She is poised to become a children's book author. While she WAS a school librarian and hence has a few more qualifications to write a children's book, say more than any other first lady, the idea of another celebrity book is just, well icky. Even worse, will be the fact that I am SURE that I will have parents asking me to buy it for the media center as soon as it is published.

And on a totally unrelated note, school starts tomorrow for my kids (and my students) and right now my 9 year old daughter is dancing around the house asking to go to bed and singing "I can't wait to go to school!" - I'm not sure how I ended up with this kid!

Saturday, August 11, 2007


It has been a whirlwind week getting the media center ready for the students on Monday, getting used to how things are done at my new school and meeting the HUGE staff at my new school. Everyone seems really nice and the school environment seems to be great, but it is frustrating for me to have to keep asking people their names, but hopefully by the end of the school year I will know most of them - I can't even imagine when the kids come in on Monday, 1100 names and faces to remember - YIKES!

I came across a video called Did You Know the other day that really makes you think. It was created by an educator in Colorado last year and he has updated it. The music is a little annoying, but the statistics are really amazing. As educators I think that we need to think about how different life is for our students than it was for us and how different their adult lives will be. The creator of the video explains why he made it at his blog, The FischBowl, I think it is one of those things that every educator should see before they head into school this year.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

A New Begining

For those of us in the education field the first day of planning for the new school year is like New Years day, full of promise and exciting things. Full of expectations and new ideas.

Tomorrow is my official first day of school. I have had a few days of training at the county office and at the school since I am new to this school, but tomorrow is day 1 of my 190 day contract. I have been busy this weekend getting supplies and navigating my new laptop (provided by the school) and doing lots of thinking. Thinking about all the ideas I have for the new school year. Thinking about how I can take those ideas and make them into meaningful lessons for the students. Thinking about how I am going to get the teachers on-board with me so I can do all these cool lessons with the students.

As Tom Hanks types to Meg Ryan in the movie You've Got Mail
" Don't you love New York in the Fall. It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils, if I knew your name and address."

So, although here in Atlanta we are far from Fall (I think the high will be in the 90's tomorrow) I am thinking about bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils and the start of what I hope will be a great year.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Book clubs

I have to admit it, I have never been part of a book club. I have always wanted to be, but alas, no one has ever invited me (oh poor me..) but I digress. I picked up a pretty cool book the other day and I am thinking of starting a book club of some kind at my new school. The book I picked up is The Kids' Book Club Book by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp. The book not only gives you some great tips to starting, maintaining and marketing a book club for kids, it even breaks down these tasks for whether you are a school/public library or just a group of moms/dads getting a book club together. The book also gives you a starting place and gives you a list of books (divided out by age group, grades 1-5, grades 4-7, grades 6-8 and grades 9+) with activities you could do to go along with the book, questions and conversation starters for the book and in some cases commentary from the authors of the books mentioned.

I have wanted to start a book club at my school since I became a media specialist,but really, I have never found the right time or the right group willing to go ahead with me (plus my after school time is so busy with my own kids!) This book has once again brought the idea of a book club back into my thoughts. Since I am starting at a new school (and a much BIGGER school) I am trying to think of a good way to start some kind of book club. If you have started a book club for kids I would love to hear some ideas, the book has some great ideas to get me started, but I am sure there are some other great ideas out there too!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Things you miss while on vacation

Librarians are Hip - who knew!

Back a few weeks ago the NYTimes had an article about Hip Librarians. I was disappointed to see that they did not include any school librarians aka media specialists in the article, but I was happy to see that maybe, just maybe the days of the little grey haired lady with the glasses and cardigan sweater are almost over! Since becoming a librarian, I have really tried hard to not be the stereotype (and in Catholic school that is even tougher, the stereotype of a Catholic school librarian is a NUN!) and even though I am a librarian AND a Mom AND close to that big 4-0 number in age, I like to think I am semi-hip - hey, I keep telling my kids that for my big 4-0 birthday I want a tattoo - that's hip, right (although the PAIN factor might make me chicken out!). But the things that the article says make these librarians "hip" are things I do, I go out to bars and drink (although not every night), go to rock concerts(last one was Eric Clapton) and I love pop culture and technology. I may not dress in thrift store chic (I like my Ann Taylor Loft!) but I don't wear sensible shoes and cardigans either.

Here (raising a watermelon martini) is a toast to breaking the stereotype for librarians everywhere!!!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Vacation's Over, T-3 weeks and counting until summer is OVER

Well, my kids summer anyway. School starts here 3 weeks from today. I actually have a training session today and tomorrow and then I have more " new employee" training 2 days next week then pre-planning starts 2 weeks from today. I love being away for 3 weeks, but I need 3 more weeks to recover from our vacation!

I read a TON while on vacation, a combination of adult books and kid lit, a few mini reviews to come.

Right now I am freaking out at how much I have to do before the students come on August 13th. I forgot how hard it is to start a new job. The summer before I started my last job, I was still in school and spent most of the summer preparing for my new job (it also counted toward credit for grad. school). This year I have thought about things, gone over to the new school twice, but really, haven't done much to really "prepare". So now in addition to trying to school shop for the kids, getting my oldest son to football practice every night (it starts next Monday) and getting my house back in order (maybe by the time school starts the suitcases will be unpacked and put away!) I will be freaking out at what seem right now a HUGE amount of things I need to do to get ready for next school year. I didn't think I would be this nervous about the new job, especially because I know HOW to be a media specialist now (my last job was my first as a media specialist and my first in education) I just need to learn how to do it at a different school - piece of cake, right?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

On Vacation

Sorry the pages of Library Stew have been dark, I've been on vacation - playing at the beach, reading lots, going to a red Sox game and many Cape Cod baseball league games and hanging out in Boston. I've also been visiting some great Independent bookstores on Cape Cod - I usually get some great ideas on displays and also on some new books, that may not have heard about before (this is how I first discovered the Beacon Street Girls series).

I get back to "reality" in a week and then I actually have to start thinking about my new job and start working (1st day of school for the kids is August 13th - WAY to early!)

Hope everyone is having a great summer and we'll be back soon with lots of library stuff!

Monday, June 25, 2007

I can't WAIT!

I didn't know this, but apparently there is a movie version in production of one of my FAVORITE picture books - Where the Wild Things Are By Maurice Sendak. The movie is not scheduled to come out until October of 2008 (a whole YEAR away) but there seem to be a few pictures floating out there of the movie.

thanks to MTV Movies Blog for the info and picture.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Nineteen Minutes By Jodi Picoult

Not a kidlit book, but one that I know many teenagers and adults have been reading. I just finished it and WOW. It got me thinking about so many things, and since I have 3 children who will be going to high school someday, it really got me thinking, and scared!

This is the story of what happened in nineteen minutes at Sterling High School. When a boy, who had been bullied all his school days starts a rampage in the school and leaves 10 dead. The story is told in flashbacks and first person accounts of a Judge, her daughter, the boy, his mother and a cop involved in the case. It is a chilling tale, especially for parents because it asks the question, how do you as a parent know if you are doing a good job and how do you know if the actions your children take are because of what you did or did not do. I think that teens reading the book will identify with many of the emotions that are spilled out in the book by Josie (the daughter) and Peter (the boy).

I have never read anything by Jodi Picoult, but I really enjoyed how the story unfolded and how you got different perspectives throughout the book.

I think that because I have children, and I think everyday if I am doing things "right", I was really moved by this book, if not also terrorized by the thought that in an instant things can change, even in the "safe hallways" of my kids school.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Exciting week- nothing to do with Kid Lit at all!

It has been a big summer week here. 1st my boys from New Jersey came out with a new album (Lost Highway) and were on the Today show on Tuesday - now I just have to wait until they tour this winter!

My hometown boys, the Boston Red Sox were in my adopted hometown of Atlanta this week. We had tickets, but the only one that got to go was my oldest son (see next item for why we couldn't make it) and although the boys from beantown gave one to the Braves on Monday, they got them on Tuesday and Wednesday - WTG SOX! And by the way, we are still in 1st place, can't get too excited yet, it is only June, but hey, being in first right now is a nice place to be.

And the best thing to happen this week has been my youngest son. He is 6 and playing on the all star baseball team for our park. His team is now 10-0! They won their first tournament on Saturday (trophy and everything) and we are now playing in the district tournament. Of course since they keep winning, they keep playing, which is wreaking havoc on our home life, since we have to be at the ballpark every night, but it has been a lot of FUN (although we will all be happy this weekend when it will all be OVER for the season!) Here is the link to their picture on our parks website - pretty exciting stuff for a 6 year old!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Nancy Drew

Lazy summer days are perfect for a movie. My daughter and I (and a friend and her daughter) went to see the new Nancy Drew movie over the weekend. Now, if you are looking for a story right from one of her books, look else where, but for a fun "girlie" mystery, this is your movie. My daughter (age 9) and her friend (age 7) both really enjoyed the movie. It was funny in parts, a little suspenseful and it was just fun to see what Nancy was wearing (could she single handily get PLAID back in style???)

What I am hoping, is that when I get back to school, there will be girls waiting to check out their first Nancy Drew book. At my old school, we had an ancient set of Nancy Drew books. They were popular when the 3rd or 4th grade teachers assigned a mystery book report. I am hoping that the movie starts a whole new generation on Nancy.

Monday, June 11, 2007

She's at it again

Laura Mallory, the mother in Gwinnett County, GA (where I happen to live) is still out to get poor Harry Potter. She started the fight about 2 years ago (!!) She started by requesting that the books be taken out of her child's Gwinnett County school library. The media committee of that particular school denied the request. She brought it to the Gwinnett County school board, they denied the request. She brought it to the State of Georgia school board - gee, THEY denied her request. She then went to the State of Georgia Supreme Court, funny thing, they denied her request. So now, she has an opinion article in the local Atlanta paper, the Atlanta Journal Constitution on her quest to rid our children of Harry Potter. The opinion article is full of bible verses and talk of how Harry Potter books are full of pagan rituals and will drive the children who read them into the practice of witchcraft, Wiccan and the Occult. I guess I should also stop my children from reading anything about the Muslims, Buddhist, Judaism and anything other than christian religions because they might want to try that out too (OH but wait, maybe they shouldn't read anything my husband writes, because, well, he is Jewish you know..)

This woman has an agenda and wants everyone to follow it. She is the kind of parent that makes my skin crawl. They have a set of values (which is good) for their family, but they want the whole world (or at least their whole world) to adopt the values too, and that is just not good.

I could go on and on about this subject and this woman, she really makes my blood boil. But for now, I am just glad that the Gwinnett County school board (who is now my employer), the State of Georgia School board and the State of Georgia supreme court is doing it's job by blocking the removal of Harry from the shelves. I can't imagine working in a library where I cannot guide a child to Harry and see their faces after they have stayed up late for a week to finish the first book and hurry back to me to get the second one.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Girls & Web Games

from Amy Bowllan's blog on SLJ I saw the link to this article from the NY Times on girls and doll websites. As I write this now, my 9 year old daughter is at the computer next to mine logging onto the Webkinz website to play with her webkinz - which is actually a stuffed dog that she got in her Easter basket. On the dogs tag was a number that she plugged into the Webkinz site and now she can play with the stuffed dog but also play with her dog on the website. These seem to be the new trend in her age group, and I say that not because of the article in the NY Times, but because whenever I have tried to find the Webkinz stuffed animal, many a store is sold out. Kind of like the beanie babies of a generation ago.

Now, as a school media specialist dealing with girls (and boys too, my 6 year old has a webkinz also) I wonder how these new computer games/toys can be incorporated into learning. I know for my daughter, it is just fun. But I also know, she has to read the website, and some of the games that she plays on the site have some math and reasoning skills involved. I wouldn't classify the website as "educational" but it is not all bad either. I think as I start planning my lessons for next year I might consider some of these games that the NY Times has mentioned (and that my daughter plays) and see where I might incorporate them into learning.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Eat Your Veggies

Some how my summer is going by rather quickly. We are already into it by about a week and a half and I feel like I will never get everything done that I wanted to do this summer - ah, but I am getting a rather nice tan while I watch my kids at the pool, so I guess I can't complain too much.

I am in the middle of the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. I have seen quite a few bloggers reading this lately and all are loving it. So far, the book is making me think. I really could do with more of the stories about her family and less about the political/socio-economic ramblings of WHY we all need to think about where our food comes from, but I guess she needed to include that in the book to get across WHY her family chose to do this food experiment. The premise of the non-fiction book, is the author and her family move from Tuscon, AZ back to their roots on a farm in rural Virginia and decide to live for a year eating only foods that they grow/raise themselves OR buy foods that are locally grown/raised. She includes essays in the book from her 19 year old daughter and from her husband. She also includes recipes and sample menus of how they managed to only eat foods that were in season.

Last year my 6 year old started a garden in our yard with my Dad. My son had been fascinated with my Dad's large vegetable garden and he wanted to start his own. Last year we ate tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers from the garden and my son couldn't have been prouder when he came in form his garden with armfuls of vegetables. This year my Dad could not come down to help, so I helped him get it ready and helped him plant. He choose the plants and we have quite an eclectic mix - tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, watermelon, pumpkins and some herbs (that was my contribution!) I don't think that living in my suburban neighborhood I will ever live like Ms. Kingsolver, but I feel that the book did open my eyes to HOW we get our food and what we can do in small ways to help out our environment, say by planting our little garden.

I just wish that we would get some RAIN here. We are in a pretty bad drought (lots of water restrictions) and although we do water the garden everyday, I think things would grow a little better if we had some good soaking rains!