From Wonder to Social Justice: How One Book Changed a Community

coverOver here at SLC we were touched by R.J. Palacio’s book Wonder about a boy coping with a craniofacial disorder. In her article, Angela Hartman describes how she shared  the message of Wonder with her school and the wider community. If you haven’t read the book, you need to go get it right now and see if it doesn’t inspire you to “choose kind.”

Subscribers to SLC can read more articles like this at School Library Connection.

A number one New York Times bestseller and still winning awards, the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio continues to be a favorite of people of all ages. For those not familiar with Wonder, it is a middle-grade novel about a boy named August Pullman who was born with severe craniofacial anomalies. As a baby and a child, Auggie underwent twenty-seven different surgeries. He is finally able to begin public school for the first time in fifth grade. Chapters are told from the perspective of different characters, illustrating how Auggie is treated because of the way he looks. Readers learn that Auggie just wants to be a normal kid and to be accepted for the person he is. This book transformed our community.

One Book/One Community
Inspired by Palacio’s book and by a session I attended at the annual Texas Library Association Conference in 2015, I began a One Book/One Community project in Hutto Independent School District (HISD) using Wonder. After explaining my ideas to and getting backing from the entire library staff in our district, I wrote a grant proposal. Thanks to a generous grant from the Hutto Education Foundation, we were able to purchase over 800 copies of the book, both in English and in Spanish, to share at our campuses and with our community. The books were purchased through an organization called First Book (https://www.firstbook.org) at a greatly discounted price. Our superintendent, Dr. Douglas Killian, encouraged me from the time I presented my grant proposal idea to him.

The success of the One Book/One Community initiative was due in great part to the library staff on each HISD campus and to the teachers who grabbed on to the idea and participated enthusiastically. The HISD library staff made sure the books got into the hands of teachers and kids?, endlessly promoted the book, and encouraged “choosing kind.” Teachers made time to share the book aloud. Teachers and library staff had discussions with kids about compassion, friendship, and tolerance. Parents, siblings, and grandparents talked about Auggie. It genuinely took a village of supporters.

Wonder was read at all campuses by most grade levels. Teachers were able to choose if and how they wanted to participate. Some classes read it together with a set of books. Some teachers read one copy aloud and some classes listened to the audio recording. We had copies available for checkout in each library and we had “floating” copies that students, staff, and others could read, sign their name in, and pass on to a friend or family member. Wonder provided a connection at campuses between students of all ages and all abilities. We all loved Auggie and loved to talk about the book.
Continue reading “From Wonder to Social Justice: How One Book Changed a Community”

Journey to Fantastic Worlds in these Magical Stories

With the return of Harry Potter to bookshelves everywhere, the world is starting to feel just a bit more magical again. However, the story of The Boy Who Lived is not the only one to be told! Check out these great titles recommended by SLC reviewers that take readers on journeys through worlds filled with magic and adventure.

We’re excited to include an exclusive sneak preview of this first title that will appear in our upcoming August/September issue. Subscribers can always find reviews of other great titles like this at reVIEWS+

Auxier, Jonathan
Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard
2016. 464pp. $18.95 hc. Amulet Books/Abrams. 9781419717475. Grades 4-8

The second Peter Nimble adventure introduces Sophie Quire, a feisty young bookmender who expertly and lovingly restores the pages, covers, and spines of many treasured tales. Storybooks are on the verge banishment in the city of Bustleburgh, and because she cannot imagine a world without stories, Sophie rescues a handful of books from their Pyre Day fate. Just as Sophie is apprehended by the nasty Inquisitor Prigg, Peter Nimble and his companion Sir Tode come to her rescue. Peter presents Sophie with the Book of Who, one of the Four Questions. When complete, this set of books protects stories and holds the world’s magic. Sophie learns she is the last storyguard, entrusted with finding the books of What, Where, and When, stopping Pyre Day, and saving her world. Magical obstacles like quickbramble and kettle bogs can’t stop Sophie from completing her quest, for she is supported by an odd yet impressive cast of characters and creatures—including a talking silver tigress and an old tattooed scrivener. Auxier has created an electrifying and extraordinary story. Middle grade readers will likely wish to reread to appreciate the wonder that is this book. Aimee Haslam, Graduate Student, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia
Highly Recommended

 

Black, Holly & Cassandra Clare
The Iron Trial
2014. 304pp. $17.99 hc. Scholastic, Inc. 9780545522250. Grade 3 & Up

If your students were fans of the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson books, they will like this first book in the Magisterium series. Callum has always known about magic and his family’s abilities. He is about to go to the Iron Trial to test and see if he will be chosen to train at the Magisterium. Because of a family tragedy, Callum’s dad does not want him to qualify and has taught Callum to fear for his life if required to attend. Callum does his best to fail, but he is still picked. As the novel progresses, Callum becomes a reluctant hero like Harry and Percy, especially with his male and female companions. Callum and the reader both begin to realize that something is just not right. Can he and his friends survive their first year? This book is perfect for fantasy and adventure lovers. Neely Swygert, Information Technology Specialist/Librarian, Gadsden (South Carolina) Elementary
Recommended

Continue reading “Journey to Fantastic Worlds in these Magical Stories”

School’s Open. Is Your Library?

Sorry-were-closed-sign

Schools across the country are getting ready to welcome students for a new year, but will your library be open the first day? In the following article Judi Moreillon explains why your library should be open and welcoming students from the first bell.

Subscribers can find more great articles like this on School Library Connection.

Policy Challenge: Why Is the Library Closed?

The bell rings on the first day of the new school year. Students and teachers are meeting and greeting each other in their classrooms after the summer break.

But wait, why isn’t the library open and library staff ready for the excitement of the new school year? Some school librarians may believe tasks in preparation for opening the library warrant keeping the library closed on the first day or first few days of school. While these tasks may be important from a librarian’s perspective, other library stakeholders may not see it that way.

What do students, classroom teachers, and principals think when the library is not open like every other classroom on the very first day of school?

CLOSED LIBRARY

Student’s Perceptions of the Library As a Learning Environment:

Students may surmise that a closed library means it is not an integral part of their education. Rather than the library as the hub of learning, they may see it as an add-on, something extra, not central to their academic success the way the classroom is. Although they will use the library the next week and later in the school year as an academic learning environment, students may not place a high value on using the library if it is closed when they need it—even on the first day of classes. Continue reading “School’s Open. Is Your Library?”

Beyond Junior Shelvers: Involving Students in Creative Library Work

Have we got a GREAT author line-up for you this fall, dear readers. First up, we’ve got an issue examining the school library as an incubator for our democracy. Hot on its heels, the October issue will focus on Making, where you can look forward to a fabulous new article by Melissa Techman and Lars Holmstrom looking at fostering a maker culture across the curriculum. To whet your appetite, we thought we’d share this article by Melissa from our February 2016 issue. How do you involve your students in creative library work? Let us know!

Feb_cover
from School Library Connection, February 2016, “Collaboration 360*”

Whether or not your library has enough staff, there are compelling reasons for involving students in the work of the library. The widespread interest in makerspaces and student tinkering has pulled students into libraries, giving them new creative roles. Including students in design decisions and outreach projects builds their sense of ownership and increases their interest in libraries in general. Not only do these efforts connect the school community in new ways, but there are easy advocacy benefits as well.

Be Open to Clubs and Informal Groups

Open up your library as much as possible. If you’re in K–5, keep working toward a flexible schedule, if you don’t already have one. In high school, welcome lunch groups and students with study hall periods. Enlist students who are already in the library but also seek out those who aren’t and invite them in. I have an informal group of 30 students I call Design Crew. We meet occasionally and I email them requests and solicit ideas. Everyone who contributes in any way is a member. Students making things for the library is new for my school, but I’m seeing growing interest. Continue reading “Beyond Junior Shelvers: Involving Students in Creative Library Work”

Does Your Library Space Participate in Learning?

Sullivan3Summer can be a great time to take a step back to consider your library space. In Library Design for Learning, Margaret L. Sullivan challenges us to look at the library space in a new way. She asks, “What if we ask more of our buildings?” “What if we ask them to participate in the pedagogy that they support?”

This 8-part video workshop shows you how changes to your library space can enhance student learning. Whether your focus is inquiry, direct instruction, blended learning, or something else, she shows how big or small changes to your space can help make the most of your efforts.

Click the video below to watch the lesson on supporting STEM and STEAM in the library. (Subscribers can view the full workshop here).


Margaret L. Sullivan, MA, is an independent consultant and principal at Library Resource Group, LLC. She holds a master’s degree in communication arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her published works include articles on space planning in School Library Journal, Knowledge Quest, Teacher Librarian, and American School & University and she is the author of High Impact School Library Spaces: Envisioning New School Library Concepts (Libraries Unlimited, 2014).

ICYMI: September 2015 Author of the Month Bruce Hale

We all know summer and fun go together, but we’re also aware of the not-so-fun summer reading gap. So why not suggest some books from Bruce Hale that will bring summer, fun, and reading all together?

We were thrilled to have a chance to meet Bruce in person last August when he was gracious enough to visit our offices for an author of the month interview. Be sure to look for our review of his new book, The Curse of the Were-Hyena, in the August-September issue of School Library Connection. Subscribers can see reviews of Bruce’s books and our complete archive of reviews on reVIEWS+.

bruce hale“If it’s not fun, why read it?” That’s children’s author and illustrator Bruce Hale’s motto. And fun is a word that definitely describes Hale and his books.

Hale considers himself to be a very lucky man; it’s not everyone who gets to make a living doing something they love to do. He hasn’t, however, always been an author. Hale has worked as a magazine editor, actor, gardener, and surveyor, just to name a few of the careers he has pursued. He won a Fulbright grant to teach storytelling and study folklore in Thailand, and his energetic storytelling comes in handy for his school visits. Despite this rich and varied background, the idea of becoming an author was never far from his mind.

Eventually, Hale took the leap and turned his focus to writing children’s books. Hale has written and/or illustrated over thirty books for kids, from picture books to novels and graphic novels. Many of his titles speak to an affinity for lizards and detectives, which often are one and the same in his stories. Continue reading “ICYMI: September 2015 Author of the Month Bruce Hale”

Let the Sounds of Summer Inspire You

TakeMeOutBallgameCoverHere’s something to think about when you’re enjoying summer music in the park: collaboration! In his most recent column, Stony Evans, describes ways to bring music into your school library for both enjoyment and curricular connections.

Subscribers to SLC can look forward to reading Stony’s next Advocacy in Reach column on encouraging student voice and choice in the library in the August/September issue. Subscribers can also read his past columns by visiting School Library Connection.

I spent the first twelve years of my career in education as a school band director. Even after leaving that career eight years ago to become a teacher librarian, I still enjoy a part-time career in music. As teacher librarians, our strengths and passions just may be contagious within the learning community. By maintaining relationships with local music teachers and musicians, I have brought music into the library whenever possible for enjoyment and curricular connections. Continue reading “Let the Sounds of Summer Inspire You”

It’s Always the Right Time to Find a Partner

Who do you work with in the community? For our Summer One-Question Survey, Maria Cahill asked about partnerships between the school library and the community, revealing both their popularity and the variety of organizations involved.

We encourage you to use these surveys to help you reflect on your own practices. Subscribers can view our archive of past surveys here.

Be a part of our next survey! 

SummerSurvey1

What’s a school librarian’s favorite greeting? Well, it should be, “Howdy partner!”

We asked school librarians to identify the community organizations and businesses with whom they partner, and we were impressed that more than 85% of the 400 respondents confirmed partnering with at least one community organization, agency, or business, and most of those librarians identified multiple community partners.

Continue reading “It’s Always the Right Time to Find a Partner”

Sneak Peek: Inquiry as a Lone Ranger

JaegerToday, we’re wrapping up a series of posts about creating deep learning experiences on a fixed schedule with this sneak peek of an eight-part workshop by School Library Connection’s own Paige Jaeger. Click the video below to watch. (Subscribers can view the complete workshop online here.) We know you’ll enjoy some of Paige’s ideas for leading the charge on inquiry learning as a “lone ranger” librarian. And thanks to Sue Kowalski for putting in a special request for these resources from #ALAAC16!

Inquiry as a Lone Ranger Librarian

Deep Learning Experiences within a Fixed Schedule

Fixed schedule got you feeling trapped? This week, we’re featuring a few favorites from our archive, after Sue Kowalski put in a request from #ALAAC16 for some resources to support our many colleagues on fixed schedules. Today’s article from Julie Green and Laurie Olmsted  focuses on creating deep learning experiences for second graders within a fixed schedule. Subscribers will find dozens more relevant resources at our online home and can also look forward to a great new article on this topic by Ernie Cox in the August/September 2016 issue of the magazine.

Two and a half years ago, elementary school librarians in the Birmingham Public School district had to change to a fixed schedule for half the day with kindergarten through second grade students. This change was due to cutbacks and the need for common planning time among classroom teachers. School librarians found themselves scheduled for 45-minute class periods in a four-day rotation.

As a result of this change, school librarians at the lower elementary level typically saw one kindergarten, one first grade, and one second grade class each day. After the first year, school librarians realized that they needed to develop more meaningful learning experiences for students to meet curriculum objectives and the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) Standards. Because they saw these students often and consistently, it became a rare opportunity to go beyond the basics and develop deeper concepts.

Continue reading “Deep Learning Experiences within a Fixed Schedule”