March 14, 2013

Time Travel . . . I mean, book club.

Yesterday I spent some time discussing with a group of fifth graders the merits and complications of time travel. No, we weren't holding a monthly Doctor Who fan club, we were discussing the When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.

Bogged down by the changing nature of her friendship with Sal, her intelligent but fashion challenged mother, and the strange goings on with new friend Marcus, Miranda changes in this novel from young girl to young woman. ("They" describe this as a coming of age novel, which I've always found to be a goofy expression.)

It's hard to describe all that takes place in this story without giving away the ending--which is fabulous and comes together in the final twenty pages--so I just tell students to trust me and read the book. (It does have a great connection to Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. Spoiler.)

Readying for the discussion, I realized I wanted to "shake it up" and try something other than my regular Twizzlers-while-we-talk-routine. So, I pulled out book making supplies and we set to work making paper bag books while talking about THIS great book.

Thanks to Carol Ruth Carlin and Madeline Huston I've had a lovely introduction to book making.
Image from Amazon
Check out The Book Making Experience: An Educator's Guide for Student Made Books for great ideas you can use in both classroom and library.

Here are my supplies:
Image from Liberty Library Lady
Here is my (unfinished) example:
Image from Liberty Library Lady
Here are some of the (unfinished) results:
Image from Liberty Library Lady
Image from Liberty Library Lady
Image from Liberty Library Lady
This worked out SO well. We enjoyed working with our hands while talking about Miranda and Sal. We discussed ways Miranda could have been a better friends to Julia, Colin, and Annemarie. We talked about Miranda's mother. And Miranda's mother's crazy bright tights. (She works at a law office, for goodness sake, bright magenta tights are a no-no!) We figured out Marcus and The Old Man's role in the story.

In addition, all technical problems and moral dilemmas involving time travel were solved. We created a TARDIS and reenacted our favorite scenes from last season's Doctor Who. Wait. That didn't happen. I just wish it had happened. I really want to meet a Time Lord.

I'm the winner for a happy Wednesday book club with a super group of fifth graders!

March 5, 2013

It's a good day when . . .

. . . Phil Bildner comes to visit and he's just as AWESOME as you anticipated. 

It's a great day when, one week later,
 you're still "high" from his visit!

Extremely Grainy Pic from Liberty Lady

I used to think, "Author visits, take em' or leave em'." Authors, I thought, share their craft and work ethic, but their words are often lost on young students. I witnessed many students (boys, mostly) tune out during an author talk.

Then we hosted Trenton Lee Stewart, Toni Buzzeo, and Patricia MacLachlan. All in one school year. GAME CHANGERS!

Students recently shared with me their love of this yearly event. One boy told me it's the highlight of his year. Who knew? (Not me, I'm the dope.) Obviously, I get bogged down by the planning and then hold my breath until presentations are made--meanwhile forgetting to ENJOY the visit.

Phil rocked our library world this year. Boys were cheering for books. Girls were cheering about writing. Teachers were cheering for Phil! Phil's energy is contagious and his message was clear: you CAN write, you SHOULD read, and BE yourself.

Image from TitlePeek
Image from TitlePeek
My favorite is the "Sluggers" series by both Phil and Loren Long. I suppose it took me by surprise. Expecting a "boy" book, I was taken instead on a family baseball journey that was written with warmth and humor. Suddenly, I was barnstorming with Griffith, Graham, and Ruby. Magically, I was holding that special baseball.

Image from TitlePeek
Be sure to check out Phil's books, they are the real deal. Know that author visits make an impact on students . . . and me too, if I slow down and listen.

Librarian Sucked into Wormhole!

I'm not cool enough to write for an authentic newspaper, so I created my own headline:

Thanks to The Book Chook (@BookChook) I can be as cool as I want. Plus, I get to make crazy stuff up using this newspaper generator at

Newspaper treats to share with a friend:

The Daring Nellie Bly by Bonnie Christensen
Image from TitlePeek
Fearless Nellie Bly bucks the system when she becomes a newspaperwoman. After a challenge by a leading editor, Nellie becomes the first female to use her given name and revolutionizes newspaper journalism. 

Henry and the Paper Route by Beverly Cleary
Image from TitlePeek
Paper newspapers might be vintage in today's world, but readers will still enjoy Henry's efforts toward independence gained through his paper route.

Max's Words by Kate Banks
Image from TitlePeek
Max learns all about storytelling when he creates a collage of words from newspapers, magazines, and other print materials.

Do you have any favorite treasure books about words, newspapers, or publishing?