Wednesday, December 13, 2017

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

Our library is a busy place, even when classes aren't visiting!  Last Thursday, the Science Team hosted Science Fair Information Night.  Parents and students looked at project board examples, picked up judging rubrics, and checked out experiment books.  We still have more set aside if you need one for a project or to swap your books out for new ones.  These books count as extra checkouts; students may still get their usual limit for pleasure/ school reading.

Little and big kids are having fun listening to holiday books and coding by the fireplace this week!

We are reading Auntie Claus by Elise Primavera, Hanukkah Hop by Erica Silverman and illustrated by Steven D'Amico, and Santa Claus and the Three Bears by Maria Modugno, illustrated by Jane Dyer and Brooke Dyer.

Please turn in all overdue books and fines for lost/ damaged books this week!  Students and parents will not be allowed to check out items for winter break if their accounts are not clear.

The Bluebonnet reading program deadline is coming up next month!  Read five before January 19th to vote.  To attend our Bluebonnet Breakfast, third graders need to finish ten books, fourth grade twelve books, and fifth grade fourteen books.  Hope to see you at the breakfast in the spring!

Monday, December 11, 2017

It's Monday! What are you reading?

During the hustle and bustle of the holidays, I often pick books that have a quiet tone, one that makes me slow down for a bit and remember the joys of the season amidst the hassle.
I picked Julie Salamon's The Christmas Tree off my shelf this morning.  Sized to fit into your purse and only 128 pages, this tale begins with the search for the perfect evergreen for Rockefeller Center and becomes the story of a nun's childhood growing up with the tree.  Nine short chapters lends itself to a classroom read-aloud or serial bedtime story for third grade and above.

What are you slowing down to read this holiday season?

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

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

Our fifth author visit of the semester, that's what happened this week!
P.J. Hoover had our fourth and fifth graders enthralled with stories of her childhood, her family, and her pursuits of electrical engineering and authoring fantasy novels.  
Ms. Hoover codes games based on her books and shares them on her website!  Visit for more information about her books and background.

The other half of third and fifth grades are coding with Lightbot Hour, while the other half of fourth is adding EasyBib to their school Google accounts, practicing making citations, and getting reminders about plagiarism (don't do it!).

We are finishing up our two-week streak of unicorn books in the Book Nook!  You don't want a unicorn--trust me!  Just ask a K-2 student for several reasons to avoid unicorns--and dragons.

New books arrived in the library this week, including some of the recommendations from our Stallion Readers' Advisory Club!

Next week, we will be announcing our end-of-semester all-call for overdue books and fines for lost or damaged books.  Students must have a clear account to check out books for the winter break!  If you are withdrawing for an extended absence, please make sure your books are turned in!

READING PROGRAMS are now in full effect!  Six Flags reading logs were distributed last month, and Schlitterbahn reading logs will go home tomorrow.  Get rewarded for your fun reading with tickets to both parks!

Deadlines:  Bluebonnet Reading Logs       January 19th
                      Six Flags Reading Logs           February 9th
                      Schlitterbahn Reading Logs   February 19th

Our annual Library Volunteer Appreciation reception will be held in the library on Thursday, December 21st from 1030a to 230p!  Please RSVP to the emailed Evite to let us know if you are attending.

Monday, December 4, 2017

It's Monday! What are you reading?

At our monthly librarian meetings, we pick books to review and recommend.  I was fortunate to scoop up this one last month:
Red fox feels the first snowflakes coming down, and doesn't know what to do!  His creature friends have suggestions of all kinds, but none are right for fox; it takes one of his kind to remind him of his wintry pursuits.  Winter Dance has a lovely, poetic rhythm which begs to be read aloud; the illustrations by Richard Jones are filled with the lightness of the first snowfall.  Marion Dane Bauer's text touches on the many ways animals prepare for winter (storing food, hibernating in dens and mud, forming a chrysalis, migrating), making this book a great introduction to those topics for science.

I'm still finishing up David Balducci's The Christmas Train, but pulled this gem from my shelves for a quick read:
If you grew up with Little Golden Books like I did, you may enjoy this trip down memory lane while reading about the hassles and happiness of the holidays.  Each page features illustrations from vintage Golden Books with new text by Diane Muldrow.  The captions may cause a gray hair or two to sprout, as you realize just how long these classics have been around!

It's Monday!  What are you reading?  Are you getting your to-read pile ready for winter break?

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

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

It's not often that we have iPads and laptops co-mingling in our learning area
but this week, there are devices all over the place!  Third and fifth grades are practicing basic coding techniques by playing with the Lightbot Hour app on the iPads, while fourth graders are on laptops adding EasyBib to their student Google accounts for citation and getting a quick reminder about plagiarism. (Don't worry, the fourth graders will get to code in a couple of weeks, too!)

In the Book Nook, we are all about UNICORNS!  Kindergarteners are learning about the mischievous Sparkle

while first and second graders are being persuaded NOT to own a unicorn--

Our library is decorated for the holidays!  We have all sorts of holiday-related and winter sports books on display.

Of course, there is always someone sitting around the library and READING!

Next Monday, the fourth and fifth graders get to visit with author P.J. Hoover!  Pictures to come next week!

Monday, November 27, 2017

It's Monday! What are you reading?

In our house, the Christmas season begins when we see Santa arrive at the end of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade--so let's break out the holiday books!  Santa brings a Christmas book  every year; our shelves are overflowing with over two decades' worth of gifts:

I've picked three books from our collection to get me into the Christmas spirit:
Maurice Sendak's illustrated version of Nutcracker, David Baldacci's The Christmas Train, and Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot's Christmas: A Holiday Mystery will be my break from the hustle and bustle of the season.

It's Monday; what holiday books are you reading this Christmas?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

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

Books and reading and learning, that's what's happening in our library!  Here are the stats from last month:
Did you know that we see thirteen to sixteen classes a day in our library?  We love our volunteers who shelve the hundreds of books that get returned each day!

Don Tate visited with third and fifth graders on Monday!  
Mr. Tate is a local author-illustrator; many of his books grace our shelves at Sommer.  His newest book, Strong as Sandow, chronicles the life of the founder of bodybuilding.  Mr. Tate was a bodybuilder himself!  The students enjoyed seeing pictures from his past, listening to his story of becoming an illustrator and a writer, and got to witness his drawing firsthand.

Kindergarteners were squealing over some creepy-crawly visitors in the library on Monday afternoon!  Yes, the spider on Mr. Dave's stomach is real, as were the scorpions and other multi-legged creatures he shared to wrap up their PBL unit on spiders.

This week, our stories in the Book Nook are Is That Wise, Pig? by Jan Thomas  for kindergarten.  We are finishing up Wanted! Ralfy Rabbit, Book Burglar by Emily MacKenzie with second grade.  Third through fifth graders are taking a quick survey about their reading lives, so that their teachers and librarian can provide assistance where it's most needed.

We are grateful for author visits, PTA support, wonderful teachers, and great books this week-before-Thanksgiving Break!  Wishing all of our learning community a restful break next week!

Monday, November 13, 2017

It's Monday! What are you reading?

I am reading Wanted! Ralfy Rabbit, Book Burglar by Emily MacKenzie to second graders:
Chosen by our district's Armadillo Readers' Choice committee, it's a great book to check in on basic rules (no stealing!), library expectations, and the characteristics of a good reader.  Ralfy makes lists of books he's read, books he wants to read, and books he recommends for others--and that's what good readers do!

My husband and I frequent a restaurant on the edge of our neighborhood.  This past week, a gentleman came in with a book, gave an order to the waiter, and sat at the bar reading while waiting.  My curiosity got the best of me; I went over to the man, introduced myself as a librarian, and asked what he was reading.  It was a crime novel by Elmore Leonard; he said he liked reading them because the criminals were not exactly smart, which made the stories funny. We chatted about books, and then I rejoined my husband for dinner.  

A bit later, the gentleman came to our table, asked if I had a pen, went back to his spot at the bar, and then returned with a cocktail-napkin-list of recommendations:

This gentleman certainly knows his favorite genre, and was more than willing to recommend books.  I'm saving this list for my winter break reading!

One of my favorite genres is sci-fi, and I finally finished Gillian Anderson's trilogy, The EarthEnd Saga (after finding it in a tote bag hidden under a pile of clothes in my bedroom! I should clean more often...).
I also finished Caitlin Doughty's Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory.   I will say that this book about death was a lot less depressing than I expected it to be, but I have to let her messages sink in a bit before I tackle her next book. 

It's Monday!  Do you know what you are reading next?  What books are you recommending to friends?

Monday, November 6, 2017

It's Monday! What are you reading?

Last month, a school district in Mississippi decided to pull To Kill a Mockingbird from its shelves, citing issues with what is now considered derogatory language.  What the district doesn't get is that it is the very discussion of those times and those words that helps to ensure we don't go down that path again.  As the saying by George Santayana goes, "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

How do you react when a book makes you feel uncomfortable?

Do you abandon it immediately, and reach for something soothing, less volatile?  Or do you keep reading, pausing a bit more to check in with your thoughts and feelings?

Lest you think librarians are immune to this phenomenon:  this very thing happened to me while reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins for my YA Lit class in my master's program.  It's a brilliantly written book, but the underlying messages on reality television and the predatory practices of government made my stomach clench.  I powered through it, and found my awareness of both of those topics broadened, my own opinions and values strengthened.  

I understand the avoidance tactic, too.  After finishing The Hunger Games, I could not bring myself to read the rest of the trilogy; I wasn't ready to continue the emotional wringing while juggling the demands of work, family, and grad school. I'm still glad I read the book.

I bring this understanding to my practice of librarianship.  I reiterate that not every book is for every reader, but at the same time encourage parents and teachers to use those tough topic stories to spur discussion in the safe spaces of classrooms and homes.  Because of our tenets of intellectual freedom, we are fortunate to have access to books that make us uncomfortable; it is these very books that widen and deepen our thinking, becoming more self-aware for the reading.

The grown-up book that inspired my post today is my current read:  Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty.
Doughty is a YouTube vlogging, real-life mortician who recounts her early years in the cremation business in graphic detail in her first book (she is kind enough to warn readers beforehand!).  This book and her second, From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death, befittingly arrived on my doorstep on Halloween. Death is a hard topic for our modern culture; Doughty revisits the rituals and ceremonies of the past in an effort to honor this inevitable event for us all.

Last month, my most beloved children's book that deals with loss arrived in our fall book order:  Old Pig by Margaret Wild, illustrated by Ron Brooks.
My children were toddlers when my mother, then my husband's father, passed away.  This book on our home shelf was a gentle reminder of lives well lived, and how we could carry on after loss, better people for the lessons learned from our loved ones.

It's Monday!  What tough topic books have you encountered, and what lessons did you learn from them?