Monday, September 17, 2012

It's Monday! Here's What I'm Reading.

Hooray for Monday!  Here's what I'm up to today:

 Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson
A disaster which has fascinated us for 100 years continues to do so. In fact, I set my alarm to wake myself up extra early this morning so that I could finish it! While we tend to think of this as well-known event, younger readers may not have had much exposure. This book geared for readers 8 - 13 years old was particularly well done.  Hopkinson uses eye-witness accounts, photographs, maps, letters, telegraph transmissions and quotes from survivors to tell the tale from the point-of-view of the passengers making this a particularly gripping account.

I lamented to a co-worker that whenever I read stories about real-life disasters, I'm always on the edge of my seat hoping that *this time* it will end differently.  This has never been more true than when I read this genuinely affecting version of the tale. 

I got the pleasure of running my Library's Toddler Time this morning and shared a few of my favorites for a Monday morning. 

My fast approaching lunch break means I get to start Fenway Fever by John H. Ritter (in honor of my annual Birthday trip to Fenway next weekend).  I'll let you know what I think...of the book and my trip to Fenway  ;)

Now tell me, what are YOU reading? 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Remembering Roald

The first book I remember my mother reading to me was "James and the Giant Peach".  It's not that she hadn't read me scores of other titles, its just that this was the first one that mattered to me. Ever a fan of dark and subversive, I thought the poems about Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker were wonderful.  I felt a sort of interesting mix of pride and shock as the story went on.  I truly felt as if that book had been written exclusively for me and I was proud that Roald Dahl felt I was grown-up enough to "get the joke".   I was shocked that my mother read this (and then many others) without batting an eye at what seemed too delicious for a child's ear. 

I had always liked books but after a few Roald Dahl titles, I LOVED books and began gobbling them up as fast as I could.  I have since read and re-read them many time. I have read them to my own children and shared them with library patrons.  Each time I open one of my beloved childhood favorites, I get the same rush of excitement as I did so many years ago for I know that what lies inside is going to fill me wonder and pride and shock all over again.  Thank you Mr. Dahl for understanding that children are just little people and are just as deserving of stories which shock and delight as are adults. 
Today we celebrate a masterful story teller and here is my tribute.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Summer Displays

I am always amazed at how fast books (any books) which are placed on display will get scooped up by patrons looking for their next favorite read.  I could just put an assortment of books out on easels and people would check them out.... but where's the fun in that?  

Here are a few of my latest displays, just for fun.

Dr. Seuss on the Loose!

Seuss books on display with home-made Trufulla Trees.  The only challenge with this eye catching display is keeping it stocked.  I stole the Trufulla Tree directions from this blog
These were so much fun to make and really brighten up a book display. 

Better Together!

I find that many people request the print book along with the audio so that they can read along as they listen.  I wrapped these up into a pretty little display. It's a fantastic time saver and it looks super cute.               Give yourself the gift of reading!

 Easy-Peasy a book, an audio and some curling ribbon. 

The MVD (Most Valuable Display)

I work with the public school to get a copies of their recommended summer reading lists.  I have copies of the list available and we pull all the books (that are in) and put them on display together by school.  This saves staff time and is SO CONVENIENT for patrons who are searching for these titles. Having the lists here at the public library has been an amazing tool, many people forget them at home and are relieved to find that we have them. Totally makes us look like ROCK STARS!

 Don't Judge a Book by its Cover! 

Who hasn't heard this sage advice?  This displays doesn't allow any judging.  We covered up some of those books that have less than appealing covers.  The inside flap descriptions are copied and pasted onto the back so patrons can make their selections based on what the book is about, not by its cover.  We let them unwrap it after they read the book.  SO.MUCH.FUN!!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Happy Monday!

Happy Monday Everyone! I'm jumping on the Teach.Mentor.Texts ( meme bandwagon. I love seeing what everyone else is reading and I have been reading some great stuff too. Here is what I've been up to:


Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead- Quirky & Wonderful!

The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen by Susan Nielsen- One of my favorites for 2012! Click HERE to see my brief review.

Another fine addition to the "Guys Read" series. My Red Sox loving soul especially liked Dan Gutman's contribution. Thanks to Walden Pond Press for the ARC of this one.

  Wishing you all a week full of wonderful books! See you next Monday.

Helping Children Meet the Right Book

I encounter many parents who are concerned that their child is not interested in reading. Through many conversations with kids and parents I have discovered a few reasons why. Some kids prefer to experience life directly rather than through reading about someone else’s experiences. Other kids find it hard to sit still long enough to read for any length of time. And think about the competition! For many kids, books seem like inadequate entertainment when compared with video games, the Internet, television and other extra curricular activities. Sometimes well meaning adults place persistent stress on the child to read constantly which can be counterproductive. We want our kids to be better readers so we make them read. They are struggling with reading so they do not want to read. Reading becomes a battleground and is not associated with pleasure but viewed as a chore. Whatever the reason, the fact remains; some kids prefer not to read. So what can we do about it?

Give Them Freedom of Choice- Whether it is a cereal box, a comic, a magazine or a novel…it is all reading. Let them read their favorite series books too. It might not be great literature, but their predictable themes and familiar characters will instill confidence and help your child prepare for more substantial reading down the road.

Play to Their Passion- Whether its trucks, horses or Sponge Bob your child has had a fascination with something and likely there is a book about it. Find it. If they are interested in it, they will read it or at least make the connection that there is something worthwhile and interesting inside of a book.

Give Audio a Go- No, it is not cheating. Your child may not be reading the words, but an audio book is a great way to expose students to books that would otherwise be beyond their reading ability. It will also challenge their vocabulary and comprehension skills as well as model wonderful reading aloud. Try pairing a print book with an audio book so your child can follow along as they listen.

Make a Connection-I believe that kids who do not read simply have not met the right book yet. When you understand the message of the story, use imagination while reading and think critically about the content, then you have made a connection with the book. Making these connections are what makes us love them and what makes us love to read. Once you read a book and have this type of experience, you are naturally going to crave more. When you crave more, you read more, when you read more you become more skilled at the practice. Unfortunately there is no one magic book which is going to hook every kid; however, we can help our kids find the right one. Respect your child’s likes and dislikes and be supportive of their choices. As your child samples new reading material they will become more discriminating in their own reading choice and development.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen by Susin Nielsen

Henry and his father are forced to pack up and move to a new city after Henry's brother commits an unspeakable crime. Grief stricken, lonely and confused, Henry is forced into therapy and given a journal which he (reluctantly) begins to write in. Through Henry's journal the story of what happened slowly unfolds. Henry is a responsible but confused young teen with an authentic and, at times, wryly humorous voice. This book beautifully blends drama and humor in a thoughtful and achingly poignant way. The cast of quirky characters charmed me and I missed Henry as soon as I finished the book. Beautifully done! Suggested for kids ages 12 & up. Review copy provided by Netgalley; Published by Tundra Books, September 11, 2012.

Saturday, June 30, 2012


I'm always jealous when the kids at my library come in to sign up for Summer Reading.  Why should the kids have all the fun? My competitive nature makes me a person who is always up for a challenge. This year I came across The Book Whisperer AKA Donalyn Miller's Book-a-Day Challenge.  This is exactly what I needed to get me amped up for summer filled with many, many books! 

It's simple. You start when you want (TODAY!) and commit to reading a book a day.  You track by posting the title of the book read in your blog, facebook or twitter using #bookaday.  Visit this site for more information.

I am having fun participating and because I have a burning desire not to miss a single great book published, I love seeing what everyone else is reading- say it <busybody>.  I have gotten some GREAT ideas and my TBR pile is growing by leaps and bounds. 
Happy Reading!

The Adventures of John Smith Jr. AKA Houdini by Peter Johnson

John Smith (dubbed Houdini due to his obsession with the magician) is inspired to write his own novel after an author visits his school. He is the best writer in his class and feels he is better equipped to write about kids than a grown-up pretending to be a kid. Additionally, Houdini has plenty of real life fodder for his own novel; a brother serving in Iraq, a father on the brink of loosing his job, a bully who is plaguing him and two best friends who have plenty of their own issues to spice things up. Alternately affecting and hilarious. This realistic glimpse into the lives of middle-school boys will surely work its own magic upon readers. Suggested for grades 5 - 8.

Fans of "Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to NOT Reading" by Tommy Greenwald will surely like this one!

Story Time... It's More Than Just Stories!

 I recently had a parent ask me why they should bring their child to a library story time. After gushing about the benefits, I decided it would make a good blog post. Because, sure, on the surface, it may look like typical story times are all fun and games but look deeper and you’ll see that the benefits are serious stuff.  Amidst the excitement, story time is actually a wonderful skill building activity for children.  Sharing stories, conversing, socializing, singing songs, counting and rhyming are all excellent ways to build the foundation for skills children will need later on. 

According to research there are six pre-reading skills that children must develop in order to learn to read. 
 Print Awareness- Knowing how to handle a book and noticing the printed word.
Letter knowledge- Knowing their names, sounds and recognizing letters everywhere.
Vocabulary- Simply knowing the names of things.
Phonological Awareness- Being able to hear and play with the smaller sounds in words.
Narrative Skills- Being able to describe events and tell stories.
Print Motivation- Being interested in and enjoying books.

Each week my programs include activities which help strengthen particular skills.  Story time participants learn how to handle a book by watching me hold the book and point to the words as I read (print awareness).  They start recognizing letters and sounds as they are exposed to them week after week (letter knowledge).  They build vocabulary by socializing and interacting with other children, by hearing new words in stories and experiencing new things. Children have fun and work on their motor skills as we sing and dance our mornings away!   In addition, by singing we break words down into manageable pieces (phonological awareness). Try it now!  The It-sy, Bit-sy Spi-der went up the wa-ter spout.

I engage children in conversation about the books we are reading. By asking a child to predict what might happen in a story or having them retell parts of a story they are developing narrative skills.  I also allow plenty of time for self expression.  Often books we read will spark a memory and children will want to tell a personal story.  The give and take in a group setting helps children learn persistence, cooperation and also how to communicate their wants and needs verbally.  

Children who attend library story times are exposed to fun and engaging activities. By making learning a fun experience, I believe I am encouraging a life long love of stories and the written word (print motivation). I think perhaps that parent got more than they bargained for when they asked that question, but it was a nice reminder to me that while I look forward to story time and have a blast doing it, it is important work that we are doing!  Goooooooo Librarians!