Kelly Depin is the Head Librarian at Derby Academy in Hingham.
Wordless books can be a librarian’s secret weapon for having a raucous story time! Students vie to give their interpretations to what happened, what IS happening and what is about to happen in the book. Amidst the controlled chaos, wondrous learning is occuring. Students are comprehending the story by inferring from the picture clues. Predictions of what comes next spout as each one defends their choice by citing evidence from the pages. The why’s and where’s spotlight their oral language skills. All from a book with pictures - and no words. Sounds like they have mastered some of the Common Core Standards for ELA, all while having fun with a story.
Nancy Snow is the librarian at Bancroft Elementary School in Andover
and is a recipient of a 2018 Super Librarian Award
It is that time of year again. Fall, the beginning of a new school year. You can feel the excitement in the air, but in my library something is missing. Oh, yes. My fabulous fifth grade library assistants have moved on to Middle School and I have a serious lack of help. What to do? It’s time to start recruiting again.
Wendy Garland is the School Librarian at Avery School in Dedham.
Back to school - I have always loved this time of year with it’s fresh starts and dreams of possibility. I loved this time of year as a child and continue to relish the excitement. This is our library’s back-to-school story, where I confronted the challenges of years past, asked hard questions, and framed our year of learning around the concept of “welcoming” all students in and “inviting” them into our space and our books. Do I have big hopes and expectations? Absolutely. Big changes? Not really. This is about the small, subtle ways I am choosing to build a positive library culture and grow learners. I consider this just the beginning of our journey.
The inspiration for change came from two books I read over the summer - one being a powerful picture book, and the other being a dynamic professional book about reading. There is something beautiful about summer reading, soaking in the sun and ideas without the pressure of lesson planning and deadlines looming. I read, wrote and thought about Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters by Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst well beyond the time it took me to “read” the book. It planted seeds and I spent much of my summer cultivating them. What surprised me was I “thought” I was reading about reading. What I ended up thinking about was change.
Wendy Garland is the Librarian at Avery Elementary School, in Dedham.
As librarians many of us find ourselves operating in a vacuum. I am the sole librarian in my building. Our teacher colleagues have each other for support, but my colleagues are across town. Twitter has granted me the opportunity to connect with others, observe what they are doing, ask questions to the larger school librarian community, and grow as a professional. I attribute the growth in my teaching in large part to Twitter and the innumerable individuals that have influenced my journey.
Char Sidell retired from her elementary school library in Needham,
but continues to work as a librarian at the Codman Academy Public Charter School in Dorcherster.
Editor’s Note: It is with great sadness we share that Char Sidell passed away suddenly on February 24th. Even in retirement, she continued to contribute to our community with this column. Over the years, she served the MSLA in countless capacities including membership on the Executive Board and Conference Committee. Her definition of retirement also included volunteering three days a week as a librarian at Codman Academy. Please enjoy her final column and comply with Char’s request to share your ideas in the comments below.
I am looking forward to spending this winter break in Penang, Malaysia, where they will be celebrating Chinese New Year, beginning February 16 through March 2. In Malaysia and other countries outside of China, this holiday is also called the Spring Festival, or Lunar New Year. The holiday is based on the lunar calendar and its beginning is different every year, unlike our New Year celebration on January 1, which is based on the Gregorian calendar.
I have a few favorite picture books that I feel have withstood the test of time and are still relevant today. Many of the picture books on Chinese New Year in this country deal with stories around family preparations, celebrations, red bao envelopes, and the lion/dragon dance, all stories that are comfortable and understandable to the Chinese children of Chinese backgrounds that live here. I have also found some new books that I feel will add to your teaching experience that I would like to share with you. My goal is that each of you will find at least one new picture book to share with your students!
Wendy Garland is the Librarian at Avery Elementary School, in Dedham, MA,
and received a 2017 Super Librarian Award
Recipe for a Lunch Bunch
(Wherein I change the culture of the library, gain support from my principal and read a book or two)
Below follows my recipe for Lunch Bunch. It is a basic, easily sustainable program that does not break any new ground. What it does do is reflect the changing culture of our library and the growing support for our program. Lunch Bunch continues to be the most highly-attended library program and children vie for “their turn” for a literary lunch.
2 read alouds
30 minute lunch
Pinch of laughter
Splash of relaxation
Handful of Principal support
Well-stocked bins of condiments and silverware
Optional (but a great help):
Student helpers that stock the condiments & silverware
Wipes for cleaning surfaces (donated by parents)
Vacuum for under-the-table messes
Prep time: 5-10 minutes for book selection
Active time: 30 minutes
Serves up to 25
Wendy Garland is the Librarian at Avery Elementary School, in Dedham, MA,
and received a 2017 Super Librarian Award
My district’s Summer Reading took on a new, refreshing feel this year. The Reading Specialists and Librarians were given the freedom to develop our own Summer Reading program and we abandoned reading levels, book lists and logs, and reading minutes. Instead, we partnered with the Public Library and gave our students permission to read far and wide.
At my school we planned and launched the program at an assembly at the end of the school year which was hosted by the Student Council. One third grader shared with us some of her writing, why it was important to her and the story behind it. Next, members of the Public Library staff came to explain what Summer Reading looked like.
They shared with us how to "sign up" for Summer Reading.
Char Sidell is the K-4 Librarian at Codman Academy in Dorcheste.r
I am sure many of you are familiar with books with surprise endings. In this column, I’d like to try to introduce you to a few more - new books, and some older favorites of mine that may not be so familiar. I have used as one of my criteria for selection over my many years of experience presenting surprise-ending books with children, the books that once shared, never stay on the shelf!
Wendy Garland is the School Librarian at Avery School in Dedham
Our community read The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer as a One Book, One Community read.
The different formats enabled my elementary school students to participate. I was excited to have my students think about their community and work together within it to frame our thinking. I outline our project here and on my blog. Together with our cable station we created this video:
Char Sidell is a retired Library Teacher from Needham
and is currently working at The Codman Academy Public Charter School in Dorchester.
Writers write what they know and experience, and so for this Forum, I have decided I to write about something I have recently experienced in my librarian life at Codman Academy. I have had some unexpected reactions to the books I have been sharing with my students … abstract picture books that have proven to be real hits!
Wendy Garland is the School Librarian at Avery School in Dedham, MA.
I am always looking for new ways to engage readers. When National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature, Gene Luen Yang, proposed the Reading Without Walls challenge I knew it was the perfect opportunity to have rich conversations with students and take deeper looks at our reading to challenge ourselves as readers.
To start the new year we began by discussing what our favorite kind of books are - we all have those. The challenge was to read outside of our comfort zone. We talked about what might happen. I proposed a three part challenge: topic, character and format.
For our first exploration of topics, students chose a non-fiction book and returned to the perimeter of the rug where we then had a "30 second book preview" activity. Students had 30 seconds to look through the book then pass it on to the next student. I wrapped up the activity by asking for a show of hands in response to a variety of questions including “Who saw something that they already knew a lot about?” “Who saw something interesting?” and “Who saw something they might like to read?”
Picture Book Column: A New Perspective on an Old Favorite: Looking Inside the Making of THE SNOWY DAY
Char Sidell is the librarian at Codman Academy in Boston.
With my ever-present dilemma of which books to write about for the Forum, I’m following my heart this time and writing about one of my very favorite books that has recently been in the spotlight.
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats (New York: Viking, 1962) won the 1963 Caldecott medal. It received a lot of attention because of its multicultural protagonist, Peter. While Peter is often thought of being the first child of color illustrated in an American picture book, he is not. According to Kathleen T. Horning, the director of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, “there were really early negative portrayals, such a the Epaminondas series (c.1907) by Sara Cone Bryant and Little Black Sambo (1900), by Helen Bannerman which wasn’t really African American but used a lot of stereotypes familiar in the U.S. The first positive portrayal of a child of color in a picture book was Tobe (1939) by Stella Gentry Sharpe. It was followed by Two is a Team (1945) by Lorraine and Jerrold Beim, and My dog Rinty (1946) by Ellen Tarry and Marie Hall Ets. Tobe and My Dog Rinty were both illustrated with photographs. Two is a Team was illustrated by Ernest Crichlow, making it the first picture book illustrated by an African-American artist.” This story has an African American protagonist who, after a disagreement about building a coaster with his white friend, ends up learning the value of working together.
Char Sidell has come out of retirement to work at The Codman Academy Charter School in Dorchester
I’ve had a hard time deciding on a topic to write about for this Forum. I really want the books I choose to both be ones that are new to you as well as useful in your work with children. After some thought, I decided to look at books about the Election, a topic on everyone’s mind. The task of selecting books was difficult for me since in my repertoire I don’t have many books with first hand experience on this topic. The favorite books that do come to mind are ones you are probably familiar with already. But if you aren’t, let me introduce you to two old favorites that I enjoy sharing with the younger set and three books published in the last year.
Char Sidell is a retired elementary school librarian from Needham
It’s hard to believe that it’s actually Spring as I write this! It’s been a cold, snowy and rainy April’s showers week. Hopefully, when you receive this, it will feel more like the SPRING we have been waiting for! I love this season when the world is just waking up after a long winter’s nap and everything is seemingly coming “alive” again! I love the sound of the birds returning and seeing them busy in preparation for their new families. Here, then, are some of my favorite old–and new-books on the topic. I hope you’ll find something new to use with your students and teachers!
Margaret Schoen is a Librarian at Newton South High School
Happy Poetry Month! We were about halfway through the month as I wrote this. If you still have the poetry bug, feel free to explore these new activities and projects in your library or bookmark this for future use. Here are some websites, apps, and other projects to help you use your tech tools to explore poetry with students.