Monday, December 12, 2016

It's Monday! What are you reading?

Our fifth grade Book Lunch Bunch groups will have all met twice after today! I enjoy both types of groups--the two that discuss personal reading, because they give me insight as to what's popular in that grade level (hint: Harry Potter is still a strong contender); and the two that do group books, because they often stretch me as a reader.

Group Four's last book pick was Happy Birthday, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald and Anne MacDonald Canham, illustrated by Alexandra Boiger.
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle is part Mary Poppins, part child psychologist as she helps parents navigate the more common problems of childhood--picky eating, bullying, disorganization.  Children whining for more television time?  Saturation will do the trick--let them binge-watch t.v. until they realize how much sleep and fun with friends they are missing.  Disorganization an issue?  Paint the furniture with magic paint that makes your drawers spit back clothes that aren't put away correctly.  (I imagined myself in that last scenario, and felt a bit guilty when considering the state of my own desk these days!)

The Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series was originally written by Betty MacDonald.  Happy Birthday, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle was published posthumously by her daughter, after finding the manuscript among her mother's belongings.

On a personal note, I am enjoying Home for Christmas: Stories for Young and Old, compiled by the editors of Plough publishing.
This is not your usual collection of holiday stories, with passages by Pearl S. Buck, Henry Dyke, Madeleine L'Engle and others.  There are twenty short stories, meant to be read one each night during December.  I've been reading them at bedtime, though I've often wished that our lives were not so harried this season that I could read them aloud with my husband and son.  Each story leaves me pondering the lessons of love, kindness, giving, and forgiving that the celebrations of winter stir in our hearts.

It's Monday!  What books are on your nightstand this winter?

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

It's Wednesday! What's happening in the Sommer Library?

Fourth grade had a great time on Monday visiting with Steve Swinburne, author (and ukulele musician!).  Mr. Swinburne has written several nonfiction and fiction books for children.  He talked about the importance of hooking readers with great opening lines, and then helped the fourth graders craft some great leading sentences of their own.

In the Book Nook, we are continuing to explore our theme of kindness by reading Oskar and the Eight Blessings by Tanya Simon and Richard Simon, illustrated by Mark Siegel.

Oskar arrives in America on the seventh day of Hanukkah in 1938.  He is alone, and needs to find his aunt before sunset--but she lives one hundred blocks up Broadway Avenue.  We are enjoying considering and counting the acts of kindness he receives as he makes his way towards his new home.

More of our upper grade students are taking their turn at making appreciative notes for their teachers using PicCollage on our iPads.  We've had to move our lessons to the Book Nook, as our learning area has been converted to technology central--our teachers are getting new computers!

Need information about Science Fair?  Stop by the library tomorrow from 530p-630p to see examples of previous science fair project boards, and check out books with science experiments to try on your own.  Can't make it?  We will keep the books in a special section through January; students may check them out in addition to their usual two-or-three books for personal reading.

All overdue books must be returned, and fines paid for lost/ damaged books, by next week in order for students to check out books for the winter break.  Settle your accounts so you can find something great to read in the warm indoors during this chilly season!

Library volunteers, you should have received an email with your invitation to our Library Volunteer Appreciation Reception!  If you haven't, please contact the library for more information:

Stay warm this weekend, and cuddle up with a great book!

Monday, December 5, 2016

It's Monday! What are you reading?

'Tis the season for new holiday books!  I ordered some copies of Walk This World at Christmastime, by Debbie Powell.

I was first drawn to the multicultural theme of Powell's book.  My campus has a diverse population, and I'm always on the lookout for books that feature different cultures.  

The large, heavy-duty pages feature several countries in each two-page spread, with hidden flaps to lift and learn details from each country's Christmas traditions.  There are also numbered flaps from one to twenty-five scattered throughout the book which can be used as an Advent calendar, prompting a re-reading of the story.  The text is concise, allowing the reader to focus on the pictures.  The illustrations are mirrored on the cover--bright, graphic, with lots of details to peruse and discuss.  By the end of the book, the reader has "walked" the entire globe. 

I'm adding a copy to my home and school libraries; I think the flaps are sturdy enough to last through a few dozen check-outs.  

It's Monday--what holiday books are you reading?

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

It's Wednesday! What's happening in the Sommer Library?

We hope everyone had a relaxing and rejuvenating Thanksgiving Break!  We are back to regular library visits with our students here at Sommer.

Mrs. Baker's class had the highest donations to Coins for Coats in our second grade, so they came in for some fun flashlight reading time this week:

The upper grades are using apps such as PicCollage, Chatterpix, and Screen Chomp on our Next Gen iPads to create greetings for their teachers.  They are logging into their Google accounts, uploading and sharing their creations, and learning to log off of these "public" devices.

The kindergarteners are giggling over Polar Bear's Underwear, a Texas 2x2 selection, in the Book Nook:

The second graders are finally getting their turn with Last Stop on Market Street, a book from our Armadillo Readers' Choice list:

Our new book menu is ready for the first day of December tomorrow!

Next Monday, we will be hosting Stephen Swinburne in our library!  He will be conducting a writing workshop with all of our fourth grade classes.  Fourth graders, get your author book orders in this week!

Library volunteers, be on the lookout for an invitation to our annual Library Volunteers Reception, to be held in the library on Thursday, December 15th.  We hope to see you there!

Monday, November 28, 2016

It's Monday! What are you reading?

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving break!  I took the time to get some reading done, and shopped for book gifts on Black Friday.

I have four fifth grade lunchtime book club groups that meet once a month in the library.  Two of the groups discuss books they have personally chosen to read, and the other two groups read books together.

I just met with one of the latter groups to discuss their first choices of the school year. 
 Scepter of the Ancients by Derek Landy is the first in the Skulduggery Pleasant series--and a pleasant surprise when I read it!  The books are somewhat popular in my library, but I had never cracked one open until this book club.  What I thought would be a kidlit horror book ended up being so much more--mystery, lots of magic, and a classic good versus evil conflict with an independent, feisty twelve-year-old female protagonist--and a centuries-old walking skeleton detective.  I'll be promoting this series more in my library!

The Rumpelstiltskin Problem by Vivian Vande Velde starts off by poking holes in the traditional fairy tale, and then offers six variations on the story.
More than just fractured fairy tales, these renditions are smart twists of character and plot.  What if Rumpelstiltskin wants to eat the baby?  What if the king really didn't want the (annoying) miller's daughter to spin gold straw?  The readers in my book club thoroughly enjoyed the short story retellings of this classic.

I love perusing the catalog of Bas Bleu, and can't wait to get these in the mail:

I'm adding Walk This World at Christmastime to my home AND school libraries...and adding it to the gift basket of a dear friend as well!

It's Monday!  What are you reading these days?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

It's Wednesday! What's happening in the Sommer Library?

Last Friday, our school held an assembly to honor our community's veterans for Veterans Day.  A well-attended reception was held in the library after the assembly.

Mrs. Stroh's class earned flashlight time in the library for having the highest kindergarten donations to our Coins for Coats fundraiser.  They had a lot of fun reading in the dark!

The fourth graders have been exploring the lives of Wampanoag Native Americans and pilgrim settlers at to learn more about our first Thanksgiving.  

We've been reading Eve Bunting's A Turkey for Thanksgiving in the Book Nook, and playing Thanksgiving Mad Libs in the learning area.

We are grateful for books and learning and fun in our library!  What will you be grateful for this Thanksgiving?

Monday, November 14, 2016

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's the last week of school before our Thanksgiving holiday break!  Holiday books are among my favorite, and they occupy two full shelves in my home library.  Here are a few from my Thanksgiving collection:

Let's Look at the Seasons:  Autumn Days by Ann Schweninger is out of print, but a great book to find. It's full of short nonfiction essays--one to two page spreads--and crafts for fall.  Animal behavior, farm harvests, processing food, changes in trees (roots to leaves!), and the tilt of the earth are discussed.  Crafts include making a leaf wreath and carving a pumpkin, and there's a cute depiction of a Thanksgiving school play.  The characters are friendly, fun-loving animals.

Thanksgiving Treat by Catherine Stock was a favorite of my children when they were little.  A quiet book, told from the perspective of the youngest member of a family gathering at their grandparents' house for the feast, portrays the frustration of child who can't find their place among the busyness of preparation--until Grandfather steps in with an important task.  

Feeling Thankful, by Shelly Rotner and Sheila Kelly, Ed.D. was published in 2000, and features wonderfully diverse photos of children by Rotner.  It's a simple book--one or two lines per two-page spread--that gives children an idea of what gratitude means.  Material things are just a small part of the list.

Robert Maass' seasons series are among my favorite photographic children's books, so I'll close with his fall offering--When Autumn Comes.

It's Monday!  What are you reading to celebrate the upcoming holiday?

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

It's Wednesday! What's happening in the Sommer Library?

Books on democracy, voting, and the presidency were on display and flying off the shelves this past week, as teachers prepared our students for their mock election held yesterday.  

Ms. Margocs caught some readers from Mrs. Larson's second grade class on Friday, enjoying their books after checkout:

Mrs. Gaston's class raised the most money in first grade for our Coins for Coats drive!  Their reward was flashlight time in the library on Monday:

The kindergarteners are excited about checking out books from the nonfiction section, as they learn about the differences between fiction and nonfiction in their classes.  Third and fourth graders are exploring our nonfiction section, too, as they learn to navigate the Dewey system.

What nonfiction books have you read lately?

Monday, November 7, 2016

It's Monday! What are you reading?

Last week, I finally had the chance to share Last Stop on Market Street with my first grade classes.

We began by discussing all those shiny stickers on the cover--how unusual it was for a picture book to win the Newbery Medal, how special the pictures must be to win a Caldecott Honor, and that it must have a powerful message of peace and brotherhood to win a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor.  

The opening pages conveniently give us the main characters and setting.  I read the story, stopping along the way to get students thinking.  Do we know where Nana and CJ are going?  How does CJ feel about the trip, and how do we know?  What do we call smiling at others and wishing them a "good afternoon"? What did the blind man give Nana?  Did CJ really leave the bus when he was listening to the music?  How does the place where they get off the bus compare to the place where they got on?

When we find out that Nana and CJ are going to a soup kitchen, I had to stop and explain what a soup kitchen is--and then I asked the children why they thought Nana and CJ were going.  The first answers are always related to being poor and hungry, but after pressing the students to think of a different answer, a few classes were able to guess that they might be going to give food.

I chose this book to read the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, because Nana is such a great example of being thankful for the good things that exist in our lives, instead of thinking that others always have it better.  The ending message of service is powerful in this season of consumerism.

Author Matt de la Peña and illustrator Christian Robinson knocked it out of the park with this book.  The students and I agreed that the story, pictures, and message were definitely worthy of the shiny stickers on the cover.  

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

It's Wednesday! What's happening in the Sommer Library?

We've got some great books on display for the coming month!

Kindergarteners, first and second graders are all listening to stories in the Book Nook this week: 

Third and fourth graders are learning a neat way to remember where books are located in our nonfiction section.  If you have a third or fourth grade Sommer student in your home, ask them how growing up and the Dewey system can be connected!

Fifth graders are exploring the databases, to become more familiar with them as they do research in their classrooms.

Thanks to all who donated coins for our annual Coins for Coats drive!  Your change will help children in our very own district who need warm coats for the winter.

You can follow our Sommer Library Twitter feed @SommerLib .

Monday, October 31, 2016

It's Monday! What are you reading?

Happy Halloween!

I had a wonderful time reading Halloween Pie by Michael O. Tunnell to the kindergarteners last week.

It's an oldie-but-a-goodie, published in 1999.  I read it to my own children when they were little (the paperback copy is still on my home shelf), and was delighted to find it in the stacks at my school library.

The illustrations by Kevin O'Malley are appropriately dark and spooky, but somehow not scary!  The story has so much to offer for a read-aloud:
  • repeated phrases
  • places to stop and make predictions and inferences, based on text and pictures (What do the creatures smell?  Why did they fall asleep?  How do you think the witch will react?  What happened to the creatures?  What do you think the witch will do next?)
  • my favorite feature--lots of synonyms for "sleep", on the two-page spread where the graveyard creatures snooze in the witch's cottage
The kindergarteners were on the ball in the Book Nook, making connections with their classroom learning of separating fiction from nonfiction, connecting information from one part of the story to another, and gauging the efficacy of the witch's spell.

It's All Hallows' Eve!  What spooky books are you reading with your listeners?

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

It's Wednesday! What's happening in the Sommer Library?

Mrs. Woodul and Ms. Margocs really do like getting new books for the library!

We get new books in lots of different ways.  The library gets an annual budget from the school district based on the number of students we have.  The books above are some that were bought with those funds.

We also pull some books from the Scholastic Book Fairs and add them to our collection, using our Scholastic Dollars to pay for them.  Here's what we pulled this fall:

We will be receiving new sets of some of our well-loved series very soon, thanks to the generosity of our PTA!  Pictures will be posted as soon as they arrive!

Remember, you can help our library collection grow by purchasing a birthday book for $15!  Just fill out the form here:

Last Thursday, Ms. Margocs kept track of classes and visitors to our library for Texas Library Snapshot Day.  She will be sharing the information with our district Library Services, who will report to administrators to show just how essential our libraries are in our schools.

This was our schedule last week!
This week, we are still reviewing nonfiction text features with second graders, discussing genres and Bluebonnet Award Nominees with third through fifth graders, and reading Halloween Pie by Michael O. Tunnell with our kindergarteners. 

Tomorrow is our annual Coins for Coats Drive!  The money we collect helps to buy coats for students in need right here in Round Rock ISD.  Bring your change to support a great cause!  The class with the highest contribution from each grade level wins flashlight time in the library!

Thank you to all the volunteers who have visited our library this week to shelve books and restore order to well-loved sections!