Thursday, November 20, 2008


Tomorrow author Laurel Snyder is coming to my school for a visit - and all because of the kidlitosphere!

Laurel got my e-mail from Jen Robinson, I guess Laurel was looking for some kidlit lovers in GA and Jen knew I lived in GA and passed on my info to Laurel who e-mailed me.  My life was CRAZY at the time, but I followed Laurels Blog and became a Facebook friend and was so excited when she had her first book, Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains published.  I met her at the Decatur Book Festival, where my daughter was Laurels first official book signing - how cool is that.

Well, around that time a 4th grade teacher was looking for some ideas for her gifted kids to do a book study and I recommended Laurel's book and I asked Laurel if she would like to do an author visit with the 14 kids...

and so now tomorrow she is COMING to visit us.  The kids are SOO excited - they are going to eat lunch with her and then they have a super secret thing planned for her!

This is the part of being a media specialist I love the most - connecting kids with reading in ways that they might not get a chance to otherwise.

I will have pictures and stories tomorrow!!

All about Nerds..

nerdfighters that is!

There is an awesome interview with the king of the nerdfighters - John Green up at Writing & Ruminating today.

Also, I just finished his newest book, Paper Towns the other night - another great book - what amazes me with John's writing is, I know he is writing about a modern day group of teens, but so many things in the book I can relate to from MY high school days 20 year ago. Margo could just as easily been a girl I hung out with in high school.

The only thing that would lure me into being a high school media specialist would be the ability to purchase books like this for my media center and get to recommend them and discuss them with high schoolers - boy I would love that - but I think I would miss my picture books and story time too much (and since I will soon have high school age children of my own, do I REALLY want to be around all that HS DRAMA at home and at school - although it might be a good way to keep up with my own kids - ha ha!)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Thanksgiving and Sharing Stories

This week I am reading the new book by Diane Z. Shore (a local Atlanta author) titled This is the Feast. It is a book in rhyme, about the Pilgrims journey to America and the tough road to their first Thanksgiving.

I started reading it today and I guess growing up in Massachusetts and driving through Plymouth quite often on our way to Cape Cod, I somehow always knew the story of the Pilgrims, the first Thanksgiving and how to say all those crazy Indian names. Oh and lets not forget the trips to Plimouth Plantation during the summers when I was a kid and then there was an ill fated trip in college to see Plymouth Rock at about 2am.. but that's for another blog...

I also knew what clams were and lobster and what a cranberry bog looks like in the fall at harvest time. I forget that many of the students I teach here in the South don't have those same experiences. So when I shared this book, many of the children today asked "what is a lobster?" when it is mentioned in the book. I pointed out the clams and oysters on the Thanksgiving table and many of them looked at me like I was crazy - they ate shells??

This is why I am so glad that I can share storytime with so many of my students (and wish that some of the older grades would take me up on it!) Storytime is not just about reading a book, it is also about sharing experiences with your students. I am right now searching through some pictures from my sisters wedding two years ago on Cape Cod for the picture of the cranberry bog in full harvest mode to show my students (but of course, I can't find it!) I also see a trip to Plimouth Plantation this summer and some virtual field trip video being filmed.

I think as teachers and media specialists (and even parents) we all bring different experiences to the table and although the curriculum is important to teach, it is also important to bring those experiences into our teaching to help these kids learn about the world around them.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

What took me SO long??

to finally read Twilight?  I don't know, maybe the vampire theme (I am not a big fantasy person), maybe the size (I don't read BIG, involved books during the school year very much because I don't have time) or well, I have run out of excuses.  So after hearing just about every girl age 11 and up mentioning the book, my dance teacher telling me how great they were, and some of the women in my neighborhood not believing that I hadn't read them yet (after all I am a children's librarian, shouldn't I be ahead of the curve on this one!) I picked up the first one two week ago - WOW.  What a great book, and really, if you discount the fact that the main character is a vampire, really not too much of a fantasy book either!  I zipped through Twilight in a weekend (and now my 11 year old is reading it too) and zipped through New Moon last weekend and am off today to purchase the next two in the series (especially after a friend at dinner last night told a little spoiler about the 4th book - OOH I can't wait to read it).

Of course I wish I had read them sooner, but at least I got into them before the movie comes out next week - so me and half the country can jam into movie theaters next weekend!

I seem to have this habit of coming late to the book party when it comes to blockbuster series - I did the same with Harry Potter, and what got me to start reading that series was grad school - I figured if I was going to be a children's librarian, I better read the hottest book out there for kids (for the record, I liked HP better than I thought I would, but I wouldn't say it was my favorite).

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Book Gifts

I have been thinking about a post on this subject all week, and then of course Jen came up with a perfect post about the gift of reading. 

My thoughts were tied to the book fair I am running this week.  This is a fundraiser for the media center and while I do promote it with the premise of getting books into kids hands, the real reason why I do it is MONEY - yes MONEY.  The book fair is every school librarians nightmare, dealing with parents, dealing with crying kids who break your heart, dealing with money (I had a kid today purchase $56 worth of books, only 45 in ones and the rest was in pennies, dimes and nickles!) but the money is our motivating factor.  With school budgets getting tighter every year I fear that I will have no money to spend on library books and other materials in the coming years, the money I make from book fair will help me out.  This year the money I make will go toward three author visits that I have scheduled - and I am SO excited to be able to offer my students this - I STILL have kids who ask me about our author visits from last year (and even yesterday I had to explain to a 2nd grader why Coleen Salley would not be coming back to our school this year).

So with that in mind, I have started targeting the parents in my school (I am in a fairly middle class school, we do have a reduced/free lunch population that is growing, but for the most part we are in a pretty middle class area) to use the book fair to purchase gifts for the holidays.

But the question I get asked the most is "What do you think Johnny would like, he's in second grade and is an ADVANCED reader?" (ah, aren't they all advanced readers!)

I have learned through the years, not so much from my job, but from my own children that reading material is such a subjective thing and even if Johnny loves to play baseball, baseball fiction books might not get him excited about reading. I find that younger children are easier to buy for than older children.   I do ask if they know the last book the child they are buying for read and then I might find similar books.  I might ask what the child  is interested in and find a non-fiction book about that subject.  Very often, I suggest giving a child a favorite book from their childhood.  While the recipient might not find it THEIR favorite book, kids to do get a kick out of reading books that their parents or relatives or even teachers enjoyed when we were their age. 

 I love to tell people to start a book giving tradition.  I know some families that have a night of Hanukkah be book night, or they give a new Christmas themed book to a family/child every Christmas (I do this).  I am lucky enough to get to meet many authors throughout the year and I always buy a signed book for my nieces, sometimes even including a picture of the author and myself along with the book (I do this for my own children too, but many times at least one of my kids is with me when I meet authors).

Like Jen says in her post, more important that GIVING a child a book is to READ the book to them/with them, even older kids enjoy being read to.  So while the hectic pace of the holidays starts to take hold, take a night to read a book with your kids (or a child in your life), that is the real gift of the season.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Today is election day - and as an extra bonus for me, I have the day off from school (many of the polling places in our county are schools).

Many of the members of the kidlitosphere are getting the vote out here, here and here.

I love this idea from Chicken Spaghetti from the NY times and I will be bringing a camera with me when I go vote in about an hour. (note, the NY Times website was REALLY slow to open, I think it might be a bit busy today!)

Laurel had some great ideas about getting kids involved.  At my school we did the National Student/Parent Mock election last week.  The kids were SO excited to vote and I was shocked to learn yesterday that in our VERY Republican area that the vote was very close and Obama WON (by 4 votes). Of course I had to rub it into the teacher that teased me for having an Obama sticker on my car!

I am not taking my kids to vote, well because I am selfish and if I have to wait around for a few hours, I want to read my book (finally getting to read Twilight!) without hearing the whines from my kids, BUT they are all aware of what is going  on in the country and will be watching with me tonight when the results start coming in.

I am hoping it is not a long night - my book fair starts tomorrow!!