Thursday, September 17, 2009

Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr

Will Kanye West's reputation ever recover from his antics at the VMA's? Does he regret his behavior?

Have you ever regretted something, wondering if your community will ever be able to forget it so you can move past it?

In the 2009-10 California Young Reader Medal nominee Story of a Girl , Deanna is wondering the same thing. When she was 13, her father caught her having sex with 17-year-old Tommy. Rumors spread, and now, 3 years later, people are still gossiping about her. Wort of all, Deanna's father hasn't had a real conversation with her since that day. As her family life falls apart, she relies on her brother and her 2 best friends, who are a couple. Deanna feels lonely and is trying to figure out an escape. As I read this book, I found myself caring about her, rooting for her, and hoping she would figure it all out. She is a girl who made a mistake which took over her life. Will she (and the people she cares about) get past it?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Read Aloud Favorites

Update: We got most of the books below at the public library. I am glad we don't live in Philadelphia! Closing all the libraries? REALLY?

About 15 years ago, I was a children's librarian. I worked at public libraries and K-6 school libraries. Now that I have spent so many years at the middle and high school level, I miss the children's books! Lucky for me, I have kids who love it when we snuggle up and I read to them.
Now we are into chapter books - especially those with sequels. I have a 10 year old son and a 7 year old daughter, so finding books that they both enjoy can be tricky. Books with sequels are good, because once we find characters that they both care about we can continue for a while with them. Here are some family favorites:

The Tales of Olga da Polga by Michael Bond
After reading this series about a feisty guinea pig, we were inspired to get one as a pet - with rosettes and all, just like Olga. Except ours is a boy. The kids didn't connect with Bond's more famous Paddington Bear, but this one hooked them (and me) from the start.

The Indian in the Cupboard
by Lynne Reid Banks
This whole series is exciting. Imagine your little plastic figurines coming to life! It is an older book, so the language is a bit dated, but it has it all - from adventure to characters needing miniature supplies. They use a toothpaste cap as a cup. What could be better?

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
Even my son loved hearing about these adventurous and thoughtful sisters.

Toys Go Out by Emily Jenkins
The humor of the toys - especially the ball, who one day realizes he has no limbs, is spot-on. We read this one a year or two ago, but it continues to be a part of our family memory.

What are your read aloud favorites? I think any of the above would work in a classroom or school library setting as well as at home, appealing to both genders.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sometimes Fear is Good

I am sure you have all heard about the purging of the Cushing Academy Library. I have thought about it a lot lately - as we all should. I wasn't sure how I felt about it. I see it as a mistake - a huge mistake - but I can also see it happening at other schools. I finally realized today - I feel afraid. I am afraid for our field. I am threatened by the changes at a school I frankly hadn't heard of before they decided to dump their books in favor of an espresso machine.

Now more than ever we have to make our library programs even more relevant, important, and exciting to students and faculty. We have to make ourselves even more indispensable in our roles at our schools, and we must learn to toot our own horns. Make sure others (adminsitration) know about your great books, lessons, clubs, extra-curricular events, and overall contributions to the intellectual life of the school. The death of the Cushing Academy library has only invigorated me to do my best this year, to take more risks, be visible, and solidify my role and the library's role in student life.
How has it inspired you?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Wow them with Prezi

Today I had the opportunity to start the year with my upper schoolers by giving 10 minute presentations to each grade, 9-12. It was the first day back, and I needed to tell my students about changes in the library. We (well actually the other librarians) moved all the books, interfiling reference and circulating books, changed how to print from the color printer, and made some other really not-so-interesting improvements. Changes that will help the kids, but changes that could make for a boring presentation. So I decided to make it snazzy by presenting maybe the first Prezi at my school. The kids ooohed and aaahed and asked me to teach them how to use it. Actually the tech department did too. I wish my Head of School was there to see it.

Prezi, a web based presentation program, took only a bit of time to learn. I watched the help videos a couple of times, tried making one, watched the videos again, and finally got the hang of it. It isn't hard - I just kept losing my perspective on the ever changing size of the text. I used the free version, which worked really well from my home. But when I tried it at school it wouldn't load. I don't know if it is because I didn't have the latest version of Flash or if it was blocked for some reason, but I brought a downloaded version on a flash drive which worked perfectly. Now I just have to get Prezi to work at school so I can use it more and teach the kids how to use it. Try it - maybe the kids are getting bored of PowerPoint!