Library Ramblings

from an elementary school librarian

The Help March 14, 2010

Filed under: Book Club — librariantiff @ 1:26 pm

I’m so far behind on my posts. Lately there has been too much going on in my crazy little head for me to communicate coherently. I’m trying to get my brain back on its tracks.

Here’s my post about my March (grown-up) book club meeting. For February, we decided to read The Help by Kathryn Stockett. The date we had originally scheduled ended up being the day that the Saints went to the Super Bowl, so we just pushed our meeting back to March. I actually read the book in February, so there was a long wait between then and this meeting. I absolutely adored this book. It’s a weighty topic – the role of black maids in high society white families in 1960s Jackson, MS.

Kathryn Stockett did an amazing job with this topic. The characters in this book made the story. They were all so real and complex and (most of them) lovable. I laughed, I cried, I was angry, I was filled with joy for the characters. This really is a beautiful, well written book. I highly recommend it.

This was a very good discussion book, as well. My book club consists of a small group of 20-somethings. Most of us were raised here in the South, but we do have a dear friend who was raised up yonder (shout out to Belle!). We can’t identify with the way of life that is described in this book, it seems so…fictional, I guess. But many of our grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts, coworkers, etc. remember this from their childhood. I think this book really opened up some interesting converstations with people from older generations that we all have in our lives. And could you really ask for anything more in a book? I think not. So you really must read this one.

I’ve already passed my copy along to a coworker. Being the librarian makes me the resident book guru, which I obviously love. Not only do I have teachers coming to me for recommendations on books to use with their students, but I even have some coworkers who come to me asking for suggestions on good adult fiction for themselves. (See, darling husband, my personal excessive book collection is completely necessary!!!) I love nothing more than loaning out a great book, and having it returned with a big smile because it was loved!

So I’m going to try and catch up with my posts…look forward to hearing about two great things this week: my success with “Read Around the World” and the ways I’m trying to pull in reference resouces to prep students for iLEAP.

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Book Club February 10, 2010

Filed under: Book Club,Children's Books — librariantiff @ 9:59 pm

Between yearbook, being sick, Mardi Gras festivities, Take One, and the everyday library chaos, I have not been able to blog about Book Club! The kids are having such a great time with our after school Book Club, and I am too! I’m learning a lot about managing a program like this during our first 6 week run of the Book Club. We have 5 groups of 8-10 students that are meeting on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school for an hour. Each group is reading a different book and at meetings the students are working on creative/research oriented activities.

The first book that my group read was Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary.

My group really enjoyed this book, and several of them have already started reading other Ramona books. For our activity, they split into two groups and made a commerical for the book. They were slightly silly, but had a lot of fun doing it. I videoed them and they weren’t overly proud of their final product to the point of wanting to share it with others, but it was a good time none the less.

Yesterday I introduced our next book – The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden.

I’m really excited about our project for this book – we’re going to make our own newspaper! In the paper, each student will have two articles featured. One will be about an attraction or event in NYC, the other will be a book review. I have high hopes for the outcome of this project. I’m hoping we’ll come out with a much more polished finished product this time! I think this is something my group could be really proud of. And I really hope they enjoy this book as much as I did!

 

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet January 12, 2010

Filed under: Adult Fiction/Nonfiction,Book Club — librariantiff @ 12:48 am

Our book club selection for this month was Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. We were glad that we chose this book, because we all found it to be a “lighter” read than the other books we’ve done recently. We thought this, even though the basis of the book was pretty heavy – the placement of Japanese-American families into internment camps during WWII. It’s a love story that’s just as the title suggests it would be – bittersweet. We had a good discussion about what happened at that time in our countries history, as well as great discussion about the relationships between the characters in this story. I would definitely recommend this book – it’s one that has real substance without completely weighing you down.

I hosted this months meeting and had so much fun! I went with the Japanese/Chinese themes from the book and served: Asian salad, edamame, pot stickers, egg rolls, and sushi! I even created a cocktail using lychee (which is really great, by the way!). Of course, this is south Louisiana…and it is Mardi Gras…so we did have a Zulu king cake after the discussion. We only have a small window for those delicious creations, and Ambrosia’s Zulu is my personal favorite.

On the school front, I am extremely overwhelmed right now. Yearbook and our new school Book Club on top of the everyday madness is wearing me down, but I really am excited about everything that’s coming up. And I brought my National Board binder into the house and out of the trunk of my car where I was keeping it out of sight. That counts for something, right??

 

The Lace Reader December 21, 2009

Filed under: Adult Fiction/Nonfiction,Book Club — librariantiff @ 2:07 pm

Once again, I barely finished the book before our book club meeting. I’ve got to start giving myself a little more time! We read The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry. This really was a good book. I think we may have liked it better if we hadn’t read it immediately following The Thirteenth Tale, which is one of the best fiction novels of this generation, in my opinion. There were similarities between the two: the twin factor and the SHOCKER of an ending that makes you gasp out loud. Because of this, we couldn’t help but make some comparisons. We really felt that The Lace Reader didn’t have the resolution at the end or the feeling of closure that we liked so much in The Thirteenth Tale. Instead, the end left us with a few too many questions and a little too much confusion. The build up was so nicely written and detailed, but the end just felt rushed.  Would I recommend it? Sure, it’s a good read. But if I’m suggesting to someone who doesn’t read often and wants something really great: go with The Thirteenth Tale.

On a library note, I’ve been feeling kind of down since I heard about something rude that a teacher said regarding the library – basically she’d like my job because it’s so easy. It’s so upsetting when I put so much of myself into what I do and try so hard to be a resource to the teachers, to find out that some of them think I do so little. How do you find enough confidence in what you do so that jabs like this don’t bother you?

 

I’m exhausted! November 10, 2009

Filed under: Adult Fiction/Nonfiction,Book Club,Children's Books,Library Lessons — librariantiff @ 3:52 am

I have not stopped since I’ve gotten back from Atlanta and the Renaissance Learning Symposium! I learned so much at the Symposium – bottom line is that Accelerated Reader MUST be a classroom program, not a library program. I’ve been trying to take as much of the program application upon myself because I don’t want the teachers to feel like I’m putting more work on them, but in doing this I have been doing the program an injustice. In order for this program to be implemented with fidelity, we must (1) have a minimum of 20 minutes of SSR time daily, school wide and (2) teachers have to use that time to monitor the reading of their students. Otherwise, we are just spinning our wheels. I have also been exposed to the incredible resources that STAR Reading presents for RTI. I think that if we can get everyone on board with the AR program, we will see some incredible benefits. It’s time to do it right!

A few hours after arriving home, I went to by book club meeting, where we discussed The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield.

ThirteenthTale

I hadn’t read this book in several years, and I had completely forgotten the main points of the plot. I hadn’t forgotten how beautifully written it is. I savored the writting in this novel – it is absolutely beautiful. The various plot lines and many twists are woven together in a way that makes this book so easy to follow. I always recommend this book. If you haven’t read it, then you need to. And buy it, because it’s something you’ll want to keep so you can loan it to others and reread it yourself.

Immediately after book club, I went up to school for the Charette that is being held for the design of two new schools being built in my district. I’m so excited to be involved in this planning, even if it is not for my school. I’m so excited about what is taking place in my community! These new schools are going to be unlike anything our area (our state even, I believe) has ever seen.

Last week, I didn’t share what I was reading to my classes.

herbie

For second grade, I read The Most Unbelievable First Day of School. This is part of the Herbster Reader series by Herbie Thorpe, who is from Louisiana! I have the entire series (both sets) and my kids love it. This is a great series for 1st and 2nd grades, especially struggling readers. Last year, Herbie Thorpe came to my school and did a presentation about his books for my 2nd graders. It got them so excited about the books. My new 2nd graders needed to get excited, too, so I shared this book with them. They loved the story, and I know that Herbie Books will never stay on the shelf for long.

dolley

For my 3rd grade, I read Dolley Madison Saves George Washington by Don Brown. This is one of the LYRC books. For me, it’s okay. It’s a great story, but some of it (particularly the quotes used) are over the heads of my students. My advanced classes tend to enjoy it more, but they also devour lots of nonfiction. I don’t think this will be the book voted as the state favorite, although it does have lots of possible uses in the classroom.

My Take One! box came in the mail today, but I don’t have it in me to dive into it tonight. Not after a 12 hour day at school (just one more evening of this charette, I don’t think I could handle any more).

I really am starting to ramble now, I believe, so it’s time for me to call it a night.

 

The 19th Wife October 12, 2009

Filed under: Adult Fiction/Nonfiction,Book Club — librariantiff @ 12:44 am

Today was our book club meeting. We discussed The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff. I was determined to finish the book before our meeting and I (barely) did.

Here’s the synopsis from barnesandnoble.com:

It is 1875, and Ann Eliza Young has recently separated from her powerful husband, Brigham Young, prophet and leader of the Mormon Church. Expelled and an outcast, Ann Eliza embarks on a crusade to end polygamy in the United States. A rich account of her family’s polygamous history is revealed, including how both she and her mother became plural wives. Yet soon after Ann Eliza’s story begins, a second exquisite narrative unfolds–a tale of murder involving a polygamist family in present-day Utah. Jordan Scott, a young man who was thrown out of his fundamentalist sect years earlier, must reenter the world that cast him aside in order to discover the truth behind his father’s death. And as Ann Eliza’s narrative intertwines with that of Jordan’s search, readers are pulled deeper into the mysteries of love, family, and faith.

It was a very interesting read. Once I got into it, I started wondering how much truth there was to the story. This story is a work of fiction that’s based on some real historical figures. Both the past and present story lines made for interesting discussion. It’s unbelievable that polygamy is still something that happens in our country, that women and children are still living in such situations. The isolation and brain washing that must take place for people to accept this lifestyle as commanded by God is completely unfathomable. One of my book club members watches the HBO show Big Love and was telling us a little about it, and I’m definitely going to have to watch it. This is an interesting topic,  sad reality, and I think The 19th Wife is a very well written book.