Friday, April 27, 2007

Summer Reading part 1

As I mentioned the other day, summer is rapidly approaching here in the ATL (18 more days!) and I have been searching for some summer reading activities to suggest to my students and their parents. Here is what I have found so far, but I am sure that once May 1st hits, there will be even more things to report. Some of these are specific to my area, but you may want to check out their websites to get ideas for your own students/children.

Scholastic Summer Reading Buzz
They are tying in with the Today Show’s Al Roker to support Al’s Summer Reading program. They have some great suggested summer reading lists for grades K-2, 3-5 and 6 and up. The site really gets going on May 15th with some interactive activities and other fun things to do around reading.

Al’s Book Club for Kids -
As mentioned above, Al Roker is gearing up to host a summer reading club for kids. They announced the first book already, The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznik (which we just bought off our book fair last week). You will be able to e-mail questions to the author which he/she may answer on the air. If you will be in NYC this summer, kids are encouraged to come down to the studio on the days the authors are scheduled to be on air to have their book signed and participate in the book discussion.

Gwinnett County (GA) Public Library -
As of today, the GPL has not announced their summer reading schedule, but I do know they usually start sometime in May and end right as school starts. Have your students check their local public library branch for more details.

Little Shop of Stories
This is a children’s book store in downtown Decatur,GA and it is AWESOME – they have an ice cream shop also inside the store, so you can make a day of visiting this really cool place. Check out their website for some cool things going on there this summer, including camps, story hours, book clubs and of course, a Harry Potter book party to beat all Harry Potter book parties.

One thing that I am going to try and get going in my own neighborhood is a book/movie party. My kids wanted to read the book Hoot by Carl Hiaasen, so I thought I would see if any of my kids friends wanted to get in on it. We will read the book and then I will pick a day and we'll talk about the book (with food of course) and watch the movie outside in my yard (with the help of an LCD projector/laptop - haven't figured out the screen yet, but I think a sheet might work.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Planning with teachers and Library PR

a recent blog post at the School Library Journal Blog, Practically Paradise got me thinking about how to engage teachers to plan with us (school media specialists/librarians).

In the four years I have been at my current school I have found some things that have worked and others that were not as successful, and some that worked once and then didn't work the next time I tried it. One thing I have found is, that teachers are busy and there is never enough time in the day for them to get what they need to get done, done and sometimes I am just another thing that they have to get done on their list. I think the one thing I can offer teachers is, if I can somehow get something off of their to do list, if I can help them either find the right resources for a project or help them teach some skill to their students then instead of being something on their to do list, I am the person to help solve their never ending to do list.

In our school, even though it is small (575 students) many of the grade levels do not meet at specific times each day or even each week, but they do usually eat together in the teachers lounge at least 3 times a week. I try and schedule my lunch so I can go and eat with a different group a few times a week. And while lunch talk is not always about what is going on in the classroom, it is a great way to work in a comment, like "hey, I heard that you guys were working on a dinosaur project, I have some great books, want me to pull some for you?"

I also use e-mail as my life line to the teachers. Most teachers at our school check their e-mail frequently, so I use it to my advantage. I send out e-mails almost daily with a new website or tech tip that I think a teacher might be able to use. I also frequently send out links (or even copy and paste right to the body of the e-mail) to articles from blogs or online newspapers that I think some teachers might be interested in.

I also try and take a few minutes at least once a month in the faculty meeting to go over what is going on in the media center and I try and remind everyone about the services that we can provide to them, sometimes the media center might not be on the top of a teachers mind, but when reminded, they seem to come out of the woodwork for help.

I also try and do a newsletter for the faculty a few times a year. I print out copies and hang them in the faculty bathrooms and faculty lounge and I e-mail a PDF copy to everyone on staff. I started a little contest this year, I hide a question somewhere at the end of the newsletter, the first 3 people to e-mail me the answer to the question wins a little prize.

I think that running a successful school media center is part library knowledge (books, technology, research)and part PR, if you publicize it (hopefully) they will come!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Count down to Summer!

After today we have 22 days left of the school year. Since my school is a K-8 school, the last month of school is hectic, we have Kindergarten graduation , 8th grade graduation, award ceremonies for each grade level, the annual talent show and field days for each grade. Not to mention field trips! So my schedule is so jumbled up for the last couple of weeks that some days I don't even know who is actually coming into the media center for classes, this makes planning anything kind of hard!

Our school has a required summer reading list for grade 3-8, but I am thinking I would like to highlight some "fun" summer reads for my students and also some ideas of how to make summer reading "fun". ANY suggestions for either of these would be greatly appreciated!

I am also starting to clean out my office. I am leaving this school to go work at a public K-5 school next year. I am excited for the challenge of being somewhere new (and HUGE, 1100 students - WOW!) but I am also sad to leave here, especially since they have yet to find a replacement for me (if you are a media specialist looking for a job at a Catholic school in GA, let me know!!) I have come to realize that I have treated this media center as a child and I am feeling a little sad about letting it go.

On good note, our book fair was last week, and even with me being out the first couple of days of the fair, we took in over $3000 more than last spring and almost took in what we did at the fall book fair (spring fair is always lower in sales for some reason) so I am really excited! Scholastic provided the fair and this year they really worked with me to get our school's summer reading titles on the fair, titles that they would not have stocked otherwise.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

and now back to our regularly scheduled programming

Sorry the pages of Library Stew have been dark - I had to travel to Massachusetts this weekend to attend my grandmothers funeral. We had some wild weather while I was there (snow, sleet, ice, rain, flooding) but the day we buried her it was sunny, and she kept telling her daughters before she died that she wanted to go home and sit in the sun. We also had some other unfortunate news this weekend, while we were away, our neighbor was taking care of our 13 year old dog Carly. We got a call the day of my grandmothers funeral that our dog was not well and my friend ended up taking her to the vet and we had to put her down. So two family members in one weekend, it has been hard on all of us.

But they say to get over some of the grief you should keep yourself busy, well book fair arrived in the media center while I was away and it continues until Friday, so I will certainly be busy!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

This and That

Well it was back to the grind yesterday, spring break is over, it got REALLY cold here in the ATL but the good news is there are only 31 days until summer vacation!! I am off today because of sick kids and dentist appointments, so I can't complain too much. Book fair hits my media center on Friday, so I need to rest up!

Here are some interesting tidbits I have found in the past few days:

Independent Booksellers Finding it Tough - an article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) business section today, it is telling us nothing new, that the big guys, like B&N and Borders are doing well and so are online giants like Amazon, but the little guys aren't. Every time I read an article like this I cringe a little more. I LOVE the little bookstore. my favorites are Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, GA, Armchair Bookstore in Dennis, MA and Yellow Umbrella books in Chatham, MA (so small they don't even have a website!). Of course, I buy books for the big guys and I link books on this site to Amazon. I think someone (I forget who) was debating linking to smaller, independent bookstores instead of Amazon, I am thinking I might just have to look into that also.

Atlanta's Author Ambassador - another AJC article from last week, I love my job, but sometimes I see an article or hear about someone with a cool job and say HEY, in my next life I want to do THAT (which is essentially how I got to be a media specialist, but that's another story...) This article is about a woman named Esther Levine and she is an independent author escort, which means she escorts visiting authors around town, to book signings and readings and school visits - basically she acts as the authors (or illustrators) hostess with the mostest - HOW COOL!

How 2B hip - a blog entry by Diane Chen on the School Library Journal Blog Practically Paradise. Chen, asks the question, how do you stay hip on what's going on with the kids that you teach, meaning, what are they listening to, what are they reading (hopefully you have a pretty good idea of this) what is the hot game/tv show/movie for the age group you serve. Right now, I have it easy in that department, I am the media specialist at a K-8 school and I have a 6 year old, 9 year old and just turned yesterday 11 year old (Happy Birthday Ryan!). SO my life is all about baseball players and High School Musical and Hannah Montana and Webkinz and Under Armour and Limited Too and Runescape and, well I could go on and on with pop culture for the grader schoolers. But someday (soon) I will be out of that loop and I do wonder, like Ms. Chen, how you stay "up" on the current "hot thing" for the under 13 set. Case in point, yesterday at my daughters dance class a few of the girls were comparing webkinz before class and one of the teachers (who is 21 and still in college) had no idea what the kids were talking about. I think the answer lies in hanging out with a tweener for a few hours and pick their brains (even better, take them out for ice cream and you are sure to hear lots!)

and one more, non-kidlit related item, I found a baseball bracelet that I have told my husband I want for Mother's day (if we can afford it after the kids dental work!) - it is a must for any female baseball fan. Check it out here!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Spring Break Books

Spring Break is almost over, and I have survived....... so far. We actually had some nice weather and I got to spend some time outside with the kids. On Tuesday we headed down to Turner Field (where the Braves play) to get some tickets for this weekend and we ended up taking a stadium tour - it was pretty cool and the kids loved it. We got to watch the Red Sox opener on Monday (they lost) but we were redeemed with a win last night. And I did get to have at least one fruity drink with an umbrella in it while sitting on my deck with some girlfriends - almost as good as being at the beach!

The one good thing about spring break is, I have read a TON of books this week, not having to get up at the crack of dawn has let me read late into the night. Here are some books I picked up this week:

Cures for Heartbreak by Margo Rabb
LOVED this book, and I think I loved it more than I normally would because I read it after reading all about Margo on her blog tour ’07. Reading it, I couldn't help but think of my own kids and what would happen to them if I died suddenly. What would my husband be like as a widower father, would he meet and want to marry some crazy woman with lots of figurines? I am recommending this book to any teenager I know, some have lost a parent and will identify with Mia, some have both parents and hopefully might appreciate that fact for a second or two (hey, they are teenagers, I think that’s all you can ask for!)

Shug by Jenny Han
I finally got this book into my library and I snatched it up and read it in a night. Loved the character of Annemarie (Shug) and her struggle to go from being a kid to a teenager and what a difficult thing that is. As a mom to an 11 year old boy, I really took thought as I read about how Shug’s Mom & Dad interacted, how she talked about her Mom’s drinking and how she felt about the whole situation. I still see my kids as little, kids who don’t have an opinion about what my husband and I fight about or how much I drink, but through Shug’s eyes I am reminded about how “in tune” with reality kids can be. This is the reason why I think adults, especially adults with children should read intermediate and YA books, I think we “get” something different out of reading them than our kids do, but we DO get something from reading them.

Babymouse Rock Star by Jennifer Holm & Matthew Holm
Actually I checked this out for my 9 year old daughter, she is in LOVE with Babymouse right now and heck, so am I. Love her spunkiness and her dreams of stardom. Love the graphic novel format and as a fan of the color pink, I love the black/white and pink colors of the book – add Hannah and I to the Babymouse fan club! I just ordered the series for my library, I have a feeling they will fly out of there!

Waiting for Daisy by Peggy Orenstein
I am a sucker for the Mommy memoir – maybe it is because I can on some level connect with the author. This book is the story of Peggy Orenstein, she has put off motherhood and now she is READY to take a stab at it, only her body decides that she isn’t so ready, she has breast cancer. So she deals with that (she tells the reader very little about this ordeal, other than to tell us, she was diagnosed, she had surgery, radiation and she is cancer free). Then she goes full force into trying to make a baby with her husband and, well, it’s not as easy as it looks. So she takes us on her journey, and in the end, you will be surprised how it ends, but YES, it does have a happy ending (I have yet to see a Mommy memoir that doesn’t have a happy ending). I had a blip of infertility trouble (miscarriages, fertility drugs & hormones) and although I was young when this happened (I was 25/26) this book still brought back some of those thoughts and fears and the craziness of that time in my life. Who would have thought that once I got what we had been working toward and praying about that one day I would want to give them away (ok, might be kidding about that, but get back to me at the end of Spring break)

I Feel Bad About my Neck by Nora Ephron
I love Nora Ephron, love her writing, love her movies, love her (well, I’ve never actually met her, but I think I would love her) and although this book is talking about a time in my life that I have yet to experience (aging for the over 50 set) it was still an enjoyable read. One of the quotes in the book says “ Anything you think is wrong with your body at the age of 35 you will be nostalgic for at the age of forty-five” – that quote alone was worth reading the book for. At the age of 37, I see lines on my face, I see the pooch that is my stomach, no matter how many crunches I do, it is still there, reminding me that I gained and lost 40 pounds with each baby (3 times) and forgot to put stretch mark cream on religiously after I gave birth because, well, I was busy.
I am buying the book for my Mom for Mother’s day, she will enjoy it and hopefully we let me borrow it again when I hit 40 and 50 and 60.

Anatomy Of A Boyfriend by Daria Snadowsky
I picked up this book after Margo Rabb on one of her blog tour stops said that she was hoping to read this because it is like an updated Forever by Judy Blume. Well, I remember reading Forever, it was 8th grade and I stealthy checked the book out of the library (the adult section!) I read it during class and under the covers at night. It wasn’t that my parents would have forbid me to read it, but somehow I thought with it’s sexual content, that I was embarrassed to have my parents find me reading it. It was the first book I read that made me blush, and was certainly my first book with any kind of sexual content. GOD, I loved that book (note to self, pick up a copy..)

Well, Margo was right, even though I last read Forever about 20 years ago, I can see the similarities. The first love/first sexual encounter kind of story. The story follows Dom as the brainy, pre-med, serious high school student who suddenly (and unexpectedly) falls for a BOY! The relationship takes a while to get going (even I was yelling in my head JUST KISS HER while reading parts of the book) the relationship quickly becomes intense. Scenes like making out in the car and getting “caught” by the cops, almost every adult can relate and realize that even in this age of IMing and MySpace that teenagers still go “parking” (and get caught!) The end of the book is predictable, they go off to separate colleges, one of them starts to lose interest and the end is near. I see this book as this generations Forever, the first book that a young teen reads that explores sexuality in their terms. I actually bought this book because they did not have it at my local library, so I see my daughter and her friends in a few years (she is 9) stealing this book off our bookshelf to read between the sheets!

I have Clementine by Sara Pennypacker and Rules by Cynthia Lord left in my bag to read this week - hopefully I'll get through a few more too!