Thursday, January 28, 2010

Fifth grade's February genre: poetry!

Fifth grade students have been assigned by Ms. Russell to read a book of poetry next month. If you need help finding a good book, try the following:

A wonderful book to check out, my very favorite personal guide to enjoying poetry, is Immersed in Verse: An Informative, Slightly Irreverent & Totally Tremendous Guide to Living the Poet's Life by Alan Wolf and Tuesday Mourning. Full of advice, examples and humor this book will forever enhance your experiences with poetry.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Announcing the New National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature

The prolific, acclaimed children's author, Katherine Paterson, has been named as the successor to Jon Scieszka, last year's National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. Paterson has won numerous awards, including the Newbery Medal for Bridge to Terabithia and Jacob Have I Loved, and the National Book Award for The Great Gilly Hopkins and The Master Puppeteer. She was honored with the title of Living Legend by the Library of Congress in 2000.

She has chosen as the theme for her tenure "Read for Your Life," a wonderful bit of advice for all of us to follow!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Meet Allen Say

Allen Say is a rare gem: a gifted artist, a profoundly expressive yet economical writer and a deeply imaginative and thoughtful human being. His books capture for me, more clearly than any others I have read, the experience of belonging to more than one culture.

Say's fascinating personal history spans multiple cultures. As his website relates, he grew up in Tokyo, his father "a Korean orphan raised by a British family in Shanghai, and his mother, a Japanese American born in Oakland, California." Many of his books - Grandfather's Journey, Tea with Milk, Tree of Cranes - are autobiographical in nature, while others - El Chino, Allison, Erika-san - center around this theme of belonging.

This past weekend Say made two appearances in the Seattle area. I was fortunate enough to see him at the Wing Luke Asian Museum where he talked about his upcoming projects (a graphic novel version of his memoir The Ink-Keeper's Apprentice and a picture book based on an event that took place when he was 5 years old), gave a slide show about his life and work, and signed books.

Say was a gracious, modest and engaging speaker. If you're not already familiar with this talented man and his incredible books, you are in for a treat!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Many Voices, One Land 2010: Passport to the World

In conjunction with the upcoming Winter Olympics taking place just north of us in Vancouver, BC, the King County Library System has organized a fun series of performances and activities from around the world!

They are aimed at a wide variety of ages and include some notable names, such as Won-Ldy Paye (Liberian author and storyteller), Gerald Fierst (Jewish storyteller) and many more!

Monday, January 18, 2010

...and the winners are...!

Today the American Library Association announced the winners of this year's Newbery and Caldecott Medals!

Rebecca Stead's When You Reach Me, one of the most startlingly clever and deeply moving works of juvenile fiction I've read in a long time, won the coveted Newbery Medal.

Celebrated artist Jerry Pinkney won yet another well-deserved Caldecott for his The Lion and the Mouse, a gorgeous adaptation of the fable from Aesop.

You can also check out lists of winners of other ALA awards, such as ones for non-fiction, easy readers, books in translation, and so on. These prestigious awards mark some of the finest children's literature being published today.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Student picks: 2nd & 3rd graders in the spotlight!

In past years we have featured staff picks to promote books. The display shows a photograph of a staff member holding a favorite book, their review, and the book itself, naturally! This has been a fun way to encourage students to read books they might not otherwise have picked up (e.g. classics from a teacher's childhood) as well as for them to see that their teachers keep up with current releases and enjoy a lot of the same books they do!

Take a look at this example from Mrs. Spadoni, one of our 2nd grade teachers:

Ms. Spadoni recommends: The Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle Treasury by Betty Bard MacDonald

My favorite books are in the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle collection. There are three great books in this collection, and they’re all wonderful! When I was young, I loved reading about all of the “naughty” children and the funny ideas that Mrs. Piggle Wiggle would come up with to fix the problem. This is a great book for all of you who may need the Won’t-Pick-Up-Your-Room cure, or the Picky-Eater cure!

Starting this month we are offering 2nd and 3rd grade students the opportunity to be featured as the student pick of the week. This is an optional activity that students may participate in if they are interested.

All they have to do is:

  • Choose a book or series they have read and loved and that we have in our school library.

  • Write a brief review at home that explains why they liked the book and who they would recommend it for (e.g. Harry Potter fans, people who like ghost stories, etc.).

Students may bring their reviews to me during their regular library class time and I will take their photo as they pose with the book. The photo, review and book(s) will be on display in the library (NOT on the blog!) for other students to read and enjoy.

We will rotate the student picks periodically, with the frequency and duration depending on how many we receive.

Please let me know if you have any questions! Happy reading and reviewing!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Help Choose the Next Newbery Winner at KCLS!

The American Library Association will announce the next winner of the prestigious Newbery Medal for distinguished achievement in children's literature on January 18th. Between now and the 17th you may vote for your own choice on the KCLS Blog. Read at least four of the eight titles on the KCLS final ballot, and then pick the one you like best!

Check out past winners on the official Newbery site and stay tuned for announcements about this year's winner as well as winners of other American Library Association awards!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

What's new in K-3

Welcome back to school! I hope everyone had a restful and rejuvenating winter break. I got to catch up on my reading, both with actual and audio books, as I relaxed with my knitting and some nice books on cd.

Now we are back at school, students in kindergarten through third grade are moving on from our Germany unit to the Washington Children's Choice Picture Book Award. Each year a committee of librarians from the Washington Library Media Association chooses 20 finalists from a list of books nominated by elementary school librarians. I was excited to see that one of my nominations, Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship and Survival by Kirby Larson, made it onto this year's list!

After reading all 20 nominees in library class, students will get to vote for their favorites, joining over 100,000 young people all over Washington state. It is an interesting exercise in book selection and making one's own choices (rather than going along with the crowd or one's best friend). We also talk about the difference between this award and other ones, such as the Caldecott, which is selected by a committee of adults rather than by the popular vote of children!

Second and third graders also continue to explore the library via the Dewey Decimal Classfication system. It is an exercise which has both immediate practical consequences (enhancing students' use of both public and school libraries) and future benefits (laying a foundation for understanding the organization of knowledge in other contexts, such as print and online reference sources).

One side effect of exploring the DDC has been an increased interest in books that otherwise had not drawn much attention. When I pulled examples of books from the 400s to show to third graders, they were eager to borrow Lynne Truss's humorous guides to punctuation, sign language handbooks, bilingual books, and other materials that they had not previously asked for independently. My hope is that once we've made it through the entire library, many of them will to continue to read broadly and explore new topics.