Literacy Cafe in My Library

Let me tell you about the special event I hosted in my school library last Friday for our first grade students!

When the teachers told me they were doing a Kevin Henkes author study, I suggested a Literacy Cafe as a culminating activity.  They were thrilled with the idea of extending the learning beyond what they could do in the classroom.  The teachers read and discussed the “mouse books” with their students ahead of time, and showed the author video from the Kevin Henkes website.  They also chose the two crafts they wanted the students to make.

I planned two Cafe sessions as follow-ups to the books shared in the classroom, and two other sessions to introduce new Henkes books to the students.  And of course, it wouldn’t be a Cafe without food!  We asked parents to send in Cheez-Its and juice pouches as a snack.  I dressed up as Lilly, and my assistant dressed as Owen.  We put up a temporary Kevin Henkes bulletin board, which we changed later to display student work, and we were ready to celebrate!

I was thrilled with the level of thinking and discussion that was going on in our small groups (5-6 students in each), and the kids enjoyed being able to actively participate at each station.

You can find links to the all resources I used on our school webpage (the Schedule of Activities lists which 1st grade ELA Common Core standards each activity meets), and you can see the “highlight video” on my Book Buzz blog.

I’m already looking forward to the next one!


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Read for the Record with Ladybug Girl

This is the email I sent the teachers at my school announcing Jumpstart’s Read for the Record Event coming up this week:

“I hope that you will plan to participate in Jumpstart’s Read for the Record on Thursday, Oct 4, by reading Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad by Jacky Davis and David Soman to your students!  (Some of you may remember reading Llama Llama Mad at Mama last year, as well as other books in other years.)

Once again the online version of this year’s book is available from We Give Books, which is a wonderful site packed with e-versions of books for young readers.  And the best part is, every time you share one of these great e-books with your students, you enable the Pearson Foundation to send physical books to organizations that support early childhood literacy.  They have already donated over one million books to programs around the world!

Be sure to take the pledge to read so your students can be counted among those who participated in the big event!”

Is your school participating in Read for the Record?  I’d love to hear about anything special you are doing!

 Edited Oct 1:  I’ve realized that what we need is to have Ladybug Girl visit our school on Thursday to read aloud in the classrooms.  Watch for pictures!
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Library Lessons Online – Do You or Don’t You?

One of my goals this year is to do more to reach out to the families of our students.  I want to share the good things we are doing at school, and to get families more involved in the learning process. 

So, in that spirit, I spent some time this past weekend setting up a new blog with the intention of posting my lesson plans there.  My idea was that parents could see what their kids are doing in the library each week (complete with links to the resources we use), and I could also include follow-up ideas to promote literacy at home.

But now that the time has come to share the site, I’m feeling a bit reluctant about publicizing it, and I’m not entirely sure why. 

I realize that many of you don’t have scheduled library classes like I do, but for those who do:  Do any of you share your lesson plans online?  Why or why not?  What are the pros and cons?


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Family Literacy Calendar

I’ve added a new resource to my Parents page on our school website:  The Day By Day SC Family Literacy Calendar.  Each month has a theme, and within that theme the daily topic is supported by books, songs, games, and craft ideas.  The resources are aimed at young children, with an emphasis on Kindergarten readiness skills, but many of the activities are suitable for older kids as well.

This is just one of several family resources provided through the S.C. State Library.  Others include the Read With Me site, where you’ll find fabulous family reading resources; Let’s Get Crafty, which shares ideas for arts and crafts projects;  Places in SC, with an interactive map highlighting family-friendly activities in each county in the state; and Be Healthy. to assist families with health, exercise, and nutrition information.  Parents might also be interested in the Family Friendly Standards page.

We round off the S.C. State Library offerings with The Reading Rooster Recommends (now available on Streamline SC), ReadSC (The S.C. Center for the Book), StudySC (providing South Carolina resources for students), and of course DISCUS (providing reference resources for students). 

Wow, good stuff State Library! 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Books for Boys Webinar

On September 15 I participated in a School Library Journal webinar titled Books for Boys, hosted by Jon Scieszka.  He began by giving a shout out for his Guys Read website, and the new Guys Read book series; then he turned it over to representatives from Simon & Schuster, Random House Audio, and Candlewick Press.

Books for Boys Webinar

While it was basically a 60-minute commercial for the sponsoring companies, I did find out about a few interesting titles that I was previously unaware of, and some audiobooks that sound as if they are high-quality recordings. 

Books I’d like to get for my library include The DunderheadsRobot ZotSuperhero Joe, the Scream Street series, the Guardians of Childhood series (featuring Nicholas St. North, aka Santa!),  and the Jack Blank series.  (Goodness, where have I been that I’m unfamiliar with all of these??)

Audiobooks I’d like to get for my library include Jeremy Bender vs the Cupcake Cadets, the Alvin Ho series, The Tanglewood Terror, the Five Ancestors series, the Nicholas Flamel series, and Okay for Now

I did think it was a bit ironic that, even though you hear constantly that boys tend to prefer non-fiction over fiction, literally every title mentioned in this webcast was either a picture book or a chapter book!  I can’t remember a single non-fiction book that was recommended!  I don’t think any of them were even graphic novels!

The archive is now available if you’d like to view and/or download the presentation.  (You will have to register to access the site.)  You can also visit Guys Listen to request a free sampler CD.  And please consider leaving a comment to share your favorite books for boys!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Reading Groups – Ideas Needed

Today I’m asking for advice.

First, some background:  I have a fixed library schedule and see every class (K-5) once a week for 40 minutes as part of the related arts schedule.  This year, we have 26 classes, which means that there are four time slots each week when there is no class in the library.  (The same is true for the other four related arts: Music, Art, P.E., and Computer.)  These open slots in the schedule serve as our planning periods for the week.

Rather than spreading the planning periods over four different days during the week, our principal this year put all four planning periods on the same day.  So on Monday I have four planning periods, on Tuesday the Art teacher has four planning periods, etc.  The reason she did this is so that on our “planning days” we can be pulled and used as substitutes for teachers who are absent, since there is a limited amount of funding to pay for subs this year.

Last week, all the related arts teachers were asked by our principal to begin using our planning periods (on the days we are not needed as subs) to assist classroom teachers with reading and math circles, to provide extra help for at-risk students.

We haven’t been told exactly how this will work, but my understanding is that we will have some input into which teachers we work with and how we will assist with helping the low-achieving students.  Therefore, I’d like to hear your ideas. 

What would be the best use of my time in working with elementary students in small groups to improve reading skills and achievement?  All suggestions are welcome!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Summer Reading Celebration

At the end of each school year I make a promise to my students:  Anyone who brings in a reading log (signed by a parent) or a reading certificate, showing that they participated in some sort of summer reading, will be invited to an Ice Cream Sundae Party when school starts back in August! 

Once students are back in school, we allow two to three weeks for students to bring in their “proof” of summer reading, and then we hold the party in the Library Media Center.  I provide reminders on the library web page, on the morning announcements, via emails to the teachers, and in person during Library classes.  And finally, the big day arrives!

This year’s party was held last Friday (Sept. 2) with 41 excited participants crowding around the check-out counter chattering loudly.  We had three flavors of ice cream, two flavors of syrup, whipped cream, and five different candy/cookie/nut toppings for students to choose from.  Two of our other related arts teachers helped me serve and my assistant took pictures. 

(Normally I would have a couple of faithful parents involved, but this year our newly unified school district is requiring SLED background checks on anyone wishing to volunteer in our schools.  To date only two of my regulars have filled out applications, and neither has received the results of the investigation yet.)

Now, maybe 41 students isn’t a large number, compared to our total enrollment of 762 students.  But I’m encouraged that since I started doing this in 2008, the number of participants has approximately doubled each year.  If this trend continues, we’ll have outgrown the library by next year, and we’ll need to move our celebration into the cafeteria!  Hooray!

Here’s the Animoto video I posted on my Library page:


Print Friendly, PDF & Email