It’s that time of year when school librarians start to think about resources we can use for teaching book care to our students. Here’s a great read-aloud that gets the message across in a humorous way, and it’s sure to leave kids feeling a bit more empathetic toward those of us who fret about smudged, wrinkled, stained, and torn books!
Little Louie is so excited about the story he wants to tell, but when first a jelly blob and then a peanut butter glob land on his beautiful pages, he is outraged that someone is being so careless with his book.
Page from A PERFECTLY MESSSED UP STORY by Patrick McDonnell
Orange juice stains, fingerprints,scribbles — keep calm, Librarians! — will no one respect Louie’s story? He eventually comes to realize that we can enjoy books (and life in general) in spite of any imperfections that intrude.
McDonnell (winner of a Caldecott Honor medal for Me . . . Jane) has created a thoroughly charming character in Louie, and there’s no doubt that as a book loverI have found a soul mate in him! In Louie’s own words: “We need to show some respect here. Books are important. They teach us stuff and they inspire us.”
And I love that I can use this book to share three different messages with my students: 1) Please take care of your library books!, 2) Even if someone else didn’t take good care of a book, you can still enjoy the story, and 3) Don’t let a little “jelly” spoil your good times. (In that respect it reminds me of Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin!)
“Branding” is one of the buzzwords that librarians are hearing a lot about lately, but because we are often locked into using our school name, mascot, colors, etc on everything we create, having a unique brand can present difficulties for a school library. But what if we tied a slogan to our name, and used it on everything?
Think about some of the marketing slogans that have resonated with the public. I bet you can easily name the companies that use these taglines:
Have it your way.
Where shopping is a pleasure.
Expect more. Pay less.
These slogans indicate that customer satisfaction is a priority, and that the needs of the consumer are being carefully considered.
So what’s your library slogan?
No one is allowed in the library without a pass.
You can only check out two books at a time, and if you return them late you have to pay a fine.
No food or drinks allowed.
There will be no emailing, games, or talking in the library.
You’re not really welcome here.
“Oh no,” you say, “no one would choose any of those sayings as a tagline!” Then why do I see these exact sentences (well, okay, maybe I’ve never actually seen that last one, but it’s been implied) in some form or another on nearly every library web page I’ve visited lately? I won’t link to any of them here, but in my search for inspiring library sites I’ve looked at quite a few that feature a stern list of do’s and don’ts. (Mostly don’ts.) And most of them aren’t discreetly tucked away in a “Library Policies” corner; they are right there on the home page!
Yes, we need guidelines, and yes, we need to communicate them to our users, so a “No rules, just right” approach won’t work in the library. But we have to “think outside the bun” and make an effort to show the many resources and services we have to offer our students, their parents, and the community. And we need to do it in a positive way so that we emphasize what visitors can do rather than what they’re not allowed to do.
So I hope these are the kinds of slogans that describe your library:
The quiz consists of seven questions such as what you want to be when you grow up, favorite after-school activity, and thing you’re most afraid of. Your answers determine your recommended genres, and you can receive anywhere from one to three categories of books that you might enjoy, along with a brief description of the genres and the reason they were chosen for you.
I have each student write his/her name on an index card and list the recommended genres. I then collect the cards so that I can provide some reader’s advisory feedback using the quiz results plus what I already know about the students’ reading habits.
While I look through the cards and write down a few recommended titles from our library collection, students use Destiny (our OPAC software) to conduct genre searches and write down any promising results on the To Be Read log sheet in their library folders. I give the index cards back as I finish my recommendations, and students are then free to visit the shelves for check out time. They can choose a book they found in the library catalog, a book I suggested, or something totally unrelated to the genre quiz activity.
Here are two log sheets you can download for your students to use for books they want to read in the future. They both have a column for the title and author of the book. The first one also has a space for a brief summary of the book, while the second one has a column for the book’s genre and for the date finished (should the student actually read the book).
I try to offer a variety of poetry-writing activities in the library in honor of National Poetry Month in April.
Magnetic poetry is always fun, and it can be inexpensive too if you make your own set. You can buy 9×13 cookie sheets at the Dollar Tree, and sets of adhesive magnetic squares or printable magnetic sheets for less than $10 online or at office supply stores. Just print out the words you want to include, cut them apart, and (if using the magnetic squares) stick them to the magnets. Better yet, allow your students to choose, type, and print the words and assemble the kit as a Makerspace activity!
You can also take advantage of some online magnetic poetry sites for kids. One that I like is the Kids Magnetic Poetry Kit site.
Students can click and drag words from a kid-friendly word bank into their workspace, and then refresh the word bank to get more words without losing the words they’ve already selected. They can also include type in a title and author name before saving and sharing. I usually have my students copy their created poems onto their own paper so they can add any missing words since no word bank will have every word they want to use, and illustrate them if they choose to.
April is School Library Month, so be sure you celebrate by tooting your own horn! Here’s a card you can share with your faculty that’s quick, simple, and inexpensive to make! Just print the words on card stock, cut apart, and attach the candy with double-sided tape or a low-temp glue gun.
If you want to use this idea, here’s a link to the printable document I made. Feel free to download it, modify it, and use it any way you wish. All I ask is that you please replace the word picture with your own graphic. (This one belongs to Janelle Kelly.)
Oh, and I’d love to see your finished product, or hear what PR projects you have planned, if you’d like to leave a comment and share, or tweet me @LibraryLoriJune
I was reminded about Storybird at my March District Librarians meeting last week and realized that I haven’t shared it with students and teachers at my new school this year.
Storybirdallows anyone to “make gorgeous, art-inspired stories in seconds.” (Or, more realistically, minutes.) The site has a huge collection of searchable and browse-able artwork, and a simple drag-and-drop format for creating online picture books, chapter books, and poetry pages.
First page of art results for the tag “rain.” (Click to enlarge.)
Users can’t upload their own artwork, so students who write a story first may have difficulty finding exactly the right art to match their words. For that reason, it might be best to let the art inspire the words, which is helpful for students who have trouble coming up with ideas. Once students have chosen the artwork they want to use, they add the pictures to their book pages (as many or as few as they want) and type in their text. Students can save their work and continue to edit it later, until they are ready to publish. Published works can be shared or kept private.
Once an art collection is selected, students are given a template for creating a book. (Click to enlarge.)
Education accounts are free and allow teachers to create classes and assign user names and passwords to their students. This makes it easy to monitor student progress. Stories can be viewed online at the Storybird site and can be embedded in a website or blog, but there is a fee to download them. Printed copies of finished books can be ordered from the site for a fee, and you can even use the site as a fundraiser. Your students purchase published copies of their books, and you keep 30% of the sales.
Here’s a Storybird book I created as I was learning to use the site tools. (I was trying to model writing rich descriptions by using lots of adjectives and adverbs.) It only took about 30 minutes from start to finish.
If you’re a fan of Storybird and you have any user suggestions, or want to share a story or poem, please leave a comment!
Testing season can be stressful for students and their teachers! We asked teachers for their favorite positive, motivational, stress-reducing, hard-work-encouraging and just plain fun read-alouds for those bubble-test kind of days.
The author (Hannah Hudson) goes on to list 6 titles that teachers recommended, with an explanation of why each book was chosen. It got me thinking about which books I would want to hear if I had taken one bubble test too many. Here’s what I came up with:
Dex: The Heart of a Heroby Caralyn Buehner (Because no one epitomizes the importance of hard work and dedication to a goal than Dex!)
Dexter the dog is little but he has dreams — big dreams. He wants to be a superhero! So he reads all the comic books he can, works out to build his muscles, and even orders a hero suit. Dexter has determination, spirit, and heart. He proves that no matter how little you are, you can still do very big things.
Instructions for using this book:
Brainstorm ways that students can prepare themselves for standardized testing (getting a good night’s sleep, eating a nutritious breakfast, etc).
Allow students to design a Testing Hero Suit. Features might include a cape in case the testing room is chilly, pockets for mints and #2 pencils, a belt buckle with a built-in pencil sharpener, and a logo to represent some sort of testing motto. (A large question mark, for example, with the big red NO symbol over it.)
Grandpa’s Teethby Rod Clement (Because I LOVE the visual twist at the end!)
Grandpa’s teeth, which were handmade by the finest Swiss craftsmen, have been stolen! Officer Rate arrives on the crime scene to investigate. He puts up WANTED posters for the missing teeth and rounds up the usual subjects. Grandpa even goes on the famous TV show Unsolved Crimes. But the crime remains unsolved. What is Grandpa going to do? And why does everyone in town keep smiling all the time?
Instructions for using this book:
Athk all thtudenth to thpeak with a lithp ath though they were mithing thome teeth.
Have students smile continuously throughout the day, the way the townspeople in the book do.
Face the standardized tests with the same bright smile the townspeople in the book use.
Skippyjon Jones: Class Actionby Judy Schachner (Because any school story that can pack in Mo Willems’ pigeon, a woolly bully, The Mona Fleasa, a word of praise for the delicious scent of books waiting to be read, a jump rope rhyme, slipping on a banana peel, three different Mexican Hat Dance songs, and a sprinkling of Spanish vocabulary words is worth sharing!!)
Skippyjon Jones, the little Siamese cat, really wants to go to school, but Mama Junebug Jones tells him school is where dogs go to get trained. So he goes inside his closet instead, where he finds himself in the school of his imagination, surrounded by dogs of all kinds enjoying reading, art, and music! It’s fun until a bully threatens total lunchroom destruction; then it’s up to Skippyjon to save the day.
Instructions for using this book:
Read it aloud to your students. Even better, play the audio version of the story (my book came with a CD) while you show the pictures.
Write your own set of class lyrics for a Mexican Hat Dance with a testing theme. (“Oh we are the testing banditos Clap Clap, We bubble like lively mosquitos Clap Clap, We all do our best on the standardized test, We hope that our snack will be Fritos Clap Clap!) Use the song and dance during your testing breaks.
Let’s Do Nothing!by Tony Fucile (Because students may need to practice doing nothing, since once they finish the day’s testing they aren’t allowed to read or draw or move until everyone else has also finished the day’s testing.)
Practice doing nothing every time the kids get on your last nerve. These are high-stakes tests after all, so your students really can’t over-prepare for the strict testing environment they will encounter.
Big Bad Wolves at Schoolby Stephen Krensky (Because ya gotta love a book whose cover shows a wolf sitting in class with two pencils stuck up his nose! Thank you Brad Sneed, illustrator!)
Rufus is not like the other wolves. He spends his time rolling in the grass, running like the wind, and howling at the moon. His parents, feeling he needs a more structured existence, send him off to the Big Bad Wolf Academy. The curriculum is tough: learning to huff and puff, determining the best way to enter a henhouse, and coming up with disguises to fool little boys and girls. When it’s time for exams, Rufus is unprepared. Then hunters interrupt the testing, and it’s Rufus who has the necessary skills to successfully fend off the danger.
Instructions for Using This Book:
Discuss with your students how everyone has a unique set of talents and abilities, and that rather than trying to force everyone into the same mold and measure success through a single limited type of assessment, we should….we should….well…
Maybe you’d better just save this book until after the testing is over!
All kidding aside, are there any read-alouds you like to use during testing season? Please share your favorite titles in the comments!