Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Summer reading list 2017!

Just as every June, I find myself wondering what on earth could have happened to the school year that stretched ahead so tantalizingly! It feels like I blinked and it was over...

Summer is the perfect time for catching up on reading for fun. Audiobooks are a perfect accompaniment to a car or plane ride, or to have on in the background during art projects or while playing with Legos.

I regularly tweet links to recommended reading lists (follow me, or check them out here and here), but below are a few books I'm especially delighted to recommend. Every OWS student was given a souvenir OWS library summer reading bookmark to bring home that featured some of the titles below. We hope you enjoy it!

Remember to give National Ambassador for Young People's Literature's Gene Luen Yang's Reading without Walls challenge a try! It's a fun way to structure your reading if you don't know where to begin. 

Not sure if one of the titles below is for you? Check out professional review sources (Booklist, Kirkus, School Library Journal) available via the public library and online bookstore sites for more details, including recommended ages.

Picture books (fiction and nonfiction) for ALL ages!

Away by Emil Sher
Josephine by Patricia Hruby Powell
Lesser Spotted Animals by Martin Brown
Tidy by Emily Gravett
The Way Home in the Night by Akiko Miyakoshi
Wild Animals of the South by Dieter Braun

Upper Elementary & Middle School

Amina's Voice by Hena Khan
Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia
Click Here to Start by Denis Markell
Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly
In the Shadow of the Sun by Anne Sibley O'Brien
One Last Word by Nikki Grimes
Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder
Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm
This Is Just a Test by Madelyn Rosenberg & Wendy Wan-Long Shang

Middle & High School

 Between Two Skies by Joanne O'Sullivan
 Every Falling Star by Sungju Lee
 My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier
 Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson
 The Singing Bones by Shaun Tan
Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team by Steve Sheinkin
Wonderful Feels Like This by Sara Lövestam

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Battle of the Books 2017!

Our middle schoolers had so much fun at their first Battle of the Books last year (kindly hosted by Overlake School) that we're inviting students from Overlake as well as St. Thomas School to come to our campus in early March this year to engage in (friendly) battle!


The goal of Battle of the Books, a popular activity nationwide, is to encourage students to branch out and read adventurously. The questions aren't nitpicky ones that take the joy out of reading by expecting you to remember minute details about each title; instead they aim to pique your interest by highlighting what is fun, interesting and unusual about each book.

The thirteen books shown here were chosen by students and librarians at all three schools. They represent a range of genres and exemplify high-quality writing and strong appeal for readers in grades 5 and up. 



You don't have to plan to participate to enjoy reading these titles. We have multiple copies of each in the Library Learning Commons - stop by sometime and take one home! But if you do want to join Team Bobcat, come to the LLC during lunch on Monday, February 13th for our last meeting before the Battle commences!

Friday, November 4, 2016

5th graders promote the Washington Children's Choice Award with Animoto videos!

As part of our annual participation in the Washington Children's Choice Picture Book Award, our 5th graders used Animoto to make short video trailers to get Kindergarten through 3rd graders even more excited about voting!

Working in pairs, 5th graders chose a book they especially liked, read and analyzed it (What is the hook? How can we build interest in it?), searched for images using Creative Commons, then crafted a video that suited both the atmosphere of the book and the needs of their audience.

They peer-reviewed their work and then made improvements based on the feedback. (Some sample comments: "The slides go by too fast," "You need to include less big words," and "Make the book title more obvious").

We finished up with a video viewing party to celebrate. Check out their great videos (and read the books too)!

 And two videos by Ms. Richey, our Library Learning Commons Assistant, since we didn't have enough 5th graders to go around!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Mock Newbery Challenge!

The Newbery Medal is one of the most prestigious literary awards, given annually to a work that exhibits excellence in writing for young people by a citizen or resident of the US. 
The Mock Newbery is a fun way to get involved in trying to guess the next winner (which will be announced at the American Library Association's Midwinter Conference this January)!

The five titles we're reading are: As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds, The Best Man by Richard Peck, The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Regan Barnhill, Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo, and Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk.

Each of these titles received starred reviews from four or five professional reviewers and are considered strong contenders. They represent a range of genres and subject matters.
Any OWS student who would like to participate just needs to read two or more of these books. As you finish, let Ms. Simeon or Ms. Richey know. We'll keep track of your progress and record your vote before the winner is announced. Remember, the winner may not be one of these books: the Newbery committee chooses from thousands of eligible titles each year. Sometimes the winner is quite a surprise and sometimes it’s one many had tipped to win. We’ll just have to wait and find out... Ms. Simeon will be tweeting from the ALA conference, so stay tuned!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Bobcat Book Bingo!

Last year I challenged students to read their way around the world by reading one book set in or authored by someone from every continent. This school year there's a new challenge: Bobcat Book Bingo!

Even with thousands of new books published each year, it's possible to fall into a rut. This is a fun and easy way to expand your reading horizons.These 5th graders can't wait to get started:

Here's our bulletin board with a few suggested titles:

Want to participate? Just stop by the Library Learning Commons to fill out an entry form and pick up a book (or two or three...). There are 25 different categories to choose from.* Record your books as you go!

The challenge is open to K-8, and parents and staff are welcome to join in. The first person at each grade level to get a BINGO will win a $15 University Book Store gift card!

Happy reading!

*A list of categories in case you're wondering...
  • Graphic novel
  • Translated from another language
  • Published this year
  • Novel in verse
  • Biography or memoir
  • Published before 1990
  • Narrative nonfiction
  • Fantasy or science fiction
  • Mystery or suspense
  • National award winner
  • Wilderness adventure
  • Book that's been made into a movie
  • Scary book
  • Short story collection
  • Set in another country
  • Sports fiction
  • Humorous fiction
  • Book with animal protagonists
  • Realistic fiction
  • On a topic you don't know much about
  • Story set during wartime
  • In a format you don't usually read
  • Realistic book about someone who doesn't look like or live like you
  • Set in the Pacific Northwest
  • Free choice (in the middle)

Monday, June 6, 2016

OWS Bobcats read their way around the world!

In November 2015 I set the Rufus Reads Challenge, inviting our students and staff to read one book set in or written by an author from every continent (Antarctica was optional). Seven months later I am pleased to report that nearly a third of our students took part, reading books from about 50 countries

Big congratulations to this 5th grader, the first person in the whole school to complete the challenge! She's even started her own blog of reviews by and for young people! See her list of fantastic fiction books below.

  • Daughter of Xanadu by Dori Jones Yang (China)
  • Endangered by Eliot Schrefer (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
  • Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson (Brazil)
  • The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd (England)
  • Lost by Jacqueline Davies (US)
  • The Whale Rider by Witi Tame Ihimaera (New Zealand)
  • The Winter Pony by Iain Lawrence (Antarctica)

Special recognition to this Kindergartner, who was the second person to finish and the first in all of the Lower School! She read so much wonderful nonfiction, she's ready to plan quite the holiday!

  • The Capstone Press One Nation series: Alabama, California, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, and Texas (US)
  • I Lost My Tooth in Africa by Penda Diakité (Mali)
  • Lost City: The Discovery of Machu Picchu by Ted Lewin (Peru)
  • Not For Parents Australia: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know by Janine Scott (Australia)
  • Not For Parents Paris: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know by Klay Lamprell (France)
  • The Story of Divaali by Jatinder Nath Verma (India)

Ms. Bonning, one of our newest teachers, was the first staff member to read her way around the world! Check out her incredible list of titles...

  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigeria)
  • Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress: A Novel by Dai Sijie (China)
  • The Light between Oceans by M.L. Stedman (Australia)
  • The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton (Netherlands)
  • Twenty Love Poems by Pablo Neruda (Chile)
  • Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple (US & Antarctica)

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Summer reading adventures: a suggested book list & selfie challenge

Can you believe summer break is nearly here? Check out some of these great titles! Why not take National Ambassador of Young People's Literature Gene Luen Yang's #ReadingWithoutWalls challenge? Post a selfie with your book on Twitter and Instagram - and tag OWS so we can see what you're reading!

What the World Eats by Faith D'Aluisio - all ages