Well... wow. We've been back at school for a little over a month now, and it's honestly taken me that long to find my footing in this new position! The biggest adjustment has been going back and forth between schools, and overseeing projects and budgets for two different libraries. Just when I start to get in the groove at the elementary school, the day is over and I need to switch gears to head to the middle school the next day. But after adjusting to this "workflow whiplash" and developing a system that works for me, I am loving librarian life!
Here are some beginning-of-the-year highlights! (Bear with me, there are kind of a lot...)
The 40 Book Challenge
I’m so excited that we have ALL of our students in 5th-8th grade participating in the 40 Book Challenge this year! (If you are not familiar with this, the title is self-explanatory -- but I highly recommend reading The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller for the philosophy behind its implementation!) I give so much credit to the incredible 5th Grade ELA teachers at our school for adopting this challenge the past few years with all of their classes and helping our students to develop a passion for reading. A building where kids are free to choose any title they want without worrying about Lexile levels or book logs is a place where kids learn to love reading!!
Adjusting to Elementary
At the elementary school, I have been loving the chance to invite classes into the library for lessons, storytime, and book talks. My previous 12 years of education experience has been in the middle school classroom, so all of this is new to me, but I adore the excitement that our youngest readers bring into the library with them everyday, and my new elementary colleagues are so amazing to watch in action. I've loved starting to work my way through the Monarch picture book list with our K-2nd graders (so far we've read After the Fall by Dan Santat and Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall - two of my favorites) and have enjoyed promoting the Bluestem books to our 3rd and 4th graders - we can't keep them on the shelves, so I'll have to order more copies!
The technology coordinator and art teacher at our elementary school worked so hard all summer to develop an incredible STEAM lab that is adjacent to our library. (For those not in the teaching world, STEAM is an acronym: science, technology, engineering, art, math -- so the space is very hands-on where students can question and create.) It’s so cool to be a part of and see the kids learning in such a unique setting. We are future ready!!
Authors, Authors, Authors!
I've also had the chance to make several connections with authors already this year - one of my favorite parts of this job.
Pablo Cartaya and Celia Pérez
At the end of August, some colleagues and I met students and their families at Anderson’s for an evening with Pablo Cartaya and Celia Pérez.
Celia interviewed Pablo about his latest book, Marcus Vega Doesn't Speak Spanish -- he spoke his family’s experience as Cuban exiles, about visiting Puerto Rico while writing the book, and the people he met who helped shape his story. Both Pablo and Celia were so engaging and funny, and shared important insight about cultural representation in literature. If you haven’t yet, read their books!! I LOVED The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora and The First Rule of Punk, and Marcus Vega is now at the top of my pile. All would be great for ages 9 and up.
Drew Daywalt and Scott Campbell
My family and I were treated to a hilarious storytime at Anderson’s last week with these two and their latest picture book collaboration, Sleepy the Goodnight Buddy. I shared the event with our elementary students, and a couple of them showed up with their families, which is always fun. Scott put his drawing skills to work (taking goofy audience suggestions for various adventures for "Sleepy" to go on), they talked about their shared creative process, and Drew shared that the third book in his Crayons series is coming out soon!
Anne Sibley O'Brien
Finally, our middle school hosted the author of In the Shadow of the Sun to speak to our entire 5th-8th grade student body. The event was offered to my school FREE OF CHARGE through Anderson’s as a perk for using them as our book fair vendor.
Anne shared stories from her childhood growing up bilingual in South Korea, where her parents were medical missionaries. She explained that her goal in writing this book was to humanize the people of North Korea, and she did extensive research to ensure that her portrayal was accurate. After the assembly, Anne met with a group of students and autographed their books, even teaching them how to spell their names phonetically in Korean. She was fascinating to chat with during the signing, and I so respect her mission in life. In the Shadow of the Sun is another title I recommend for ages 9 and up!
To close, here are some upcoming events I’m looking forward to:
Our 5th & 6th Grade Book Club is Skyping with author Tamara Bundy TOMORROW as we wrap up our last meeting for the month - we've loved reading Walking with Miss Millie!
My kids and I (and hopefully some elementary students!) are going to Anderson’s in Downers Grove to meet author Andrea Beaty on October 4th and celebrate her new early chapter book series, The Questioneers! Come join us! https://www.andersonsbookshop.com/event/andrea-beaty-3
We are hosting author Marie Miranda Cruz at our elementary school on October 10th to meet with our 4th Graders - I started previewing her novel Everlasting Nora with classes today!
Our annual Family Reading Night at the elementary school is on October 18th - the theme this year is "Adventure Is Just a Page Away."
Finally, we'll be Skyping with author Erica S. Perl in November with our 3rd & 4th Grade Book Club! Our first group has had some great discussions during lunch about her book, When Life Gives You OJ.
It's going to be a busy year, and I can't wait! Until next time, happy reading, everyone!