“Locked in the Library”
Inspiration for Your Library Escape Room

We’ve all the seen the photos of groups of our friends who worked together to try and get out of an escape room—some successfully and some not so successfully.  Librarian Maddie Powell decided to see what the idea might look like in the school library in Frisco, Texas. Her goal with the escape room was to engage non-readers and bring them into the library. Students had 10 minutes to figure out whether a character in the story had jumped or was pushed out of a window. A series of clues and riddles led students to find a black light in the sock of the dummy on the floor, which was used to uncover the answer on the walls. There was a high rate of participation and excitement that got many non-readers into the library space. Demand was so high that teachers began bringing whole classes in together. School Library Connection’s own Carl Harvey talked to Maddie about the experience and her tips for others hoping to try their own escape room.escape-now

Carl Harvey: What was your motivation or inspiration to do something like this?

Maddie Powell: Escape rooms seem to be popping up everywhere! I’m always looking for some sort of programming that my students might like. It’s hit or miss and you never know what will catch on. When the escape room idea hit me, I knew I had to try it. Continue reading ““Locked in the Library”
Inspiration for Your Library Escape Room”

Growing Readers and Parent Involvement through Picture Book Month

picture-bookPicture books. Who doesn’t remember looking at a favorite picture book over and over until it became worn and tattered? Who doesn’t love sharing favorite picture books now with those eager little readers as they delight over the colors and drawings that come together to tell a story? To celebrate National Picture Book Month, we’re sharing an article from our archives by Jennifer Kelley Reed about creating a successful picture book celebration at your school.


Picture Book Month is “an international literacy initiative that celebrates the print picture book during the month of November” (http://picturebookmonth.com/). The initiative affords libraries, schools, and literacy organizations the opportunity to promote the power of the picture book. Our school has participated for the last five years, and each year we have been building on our experiences, extending the reach of the activities from the library to the classroom to students’ homes. Our most recent celebration was a success on many fronts—it reminded K-5 students about the richness, information, and enjoyment of picture books, boosted library circulation, and strengthened the connection from our school to students’ families.

Individualizing Student Experiences

In our latest observance, the celebration lasted for the entire month of November, and we focused activities on students’ individual connections with picture books. Students in grades three through five challenged themselves to read a specific number of picture books from one of three “neighborhoods” in the library: biographies, picture books, or nonfiction. They were encouraged to set realistic goals for themselves, and to keep in mind that they weren’t in competition with other students, but instead enjoying the opportunity to explore and read books in a neighborhood they didn’t often frequent. It was clear that students heard the message, with some committing to read ten books, while others committed to fifty.

For the students in grades one and two, we focused on a nonfiction Picture Book Month challenge. For the month of November, I had more students than ever before coming to the library to exchange books, sharing what they were learning while reading, and marking the numbers on their challenge sheets. (This video on my blog shows the state of the library in the midst of Picture Book Month: http://reederama.blogspot.com/2014/11/what-does-school-library-in-midst-of.html.) Continue reading “Growing Readers and Parent Involvement through Picture Book Month”

Planning a Free Book Night

Here’s a great idea from the archives. Subscribers to SLC can read more articles like this by visiting School Library Connection.

giftsMost librarians realize that families are at the heart of providing support for developing lifelong readers. Involving families in reading fun, activities, and training is integral to creating a strong network of readers. Families (along with other significant adults in the reader’s life) can support and promote reading at home by making reading an everyday, even casual, activity. School librarians can play an important role in helping families in the school’s efforts to support and develop readers at home as well as at school. Free Book Night is a great way to offer a special event that focuses on reading.

Communication
School librarians can play a central role in communicating information on reading to families. They can let families know what’s new in reading, how to support and build a reader, and what social reading activities are available in the school or community. School librarians can also lead the effort to host special reading events like a Free Book Night for families. This event helps readers become interested, motivated, and efficient by developing a home support network and home reading habits. It is an opportunity to remind parents of the importance of being reading role models, providing reading time at home, maintaining a home bookshelf of reading materials, participating in reading conversations, and providing moral support for reading. It is also a way for the school to promote opportunities in the community for participation in reading-related activities with connections to the library.

Free Book Night
Pre-planning: Work with administrators to set a date on the school calendar for an evening family reading event. Once the date is set, establish a committee to help and to ensure there are others on the staff with a vested interest in the project. Begin by collaboratively developing a promotion plan in order to get the word out to the community and families. Create a plan for the evening. Consider spaces needed, supplies, donations, training, and entertainment. Plan for the important components, but also think outside the box. For example, would attendees enjoy having a local sports mascot or book character in costume to greet them as they enter? Continue reading “Planning a Free Book Night”

Time for Teens, Teen Read Week, and More

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It’s teen read week and we’ve got some great ideas from our Collections Editor, Sylvia Vardell, to get your teen-aged students to put down their mobile devices, take a break from social media, and pick up a book.

For nearly twenty years now, October has been the month for celebrating Teen Read Week™ (http://teenreadweek.ning.com), a time to “encourage teens to be regular readers and library users” according to the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). This year, Teen Read Week is October 9-15, 2016, featuring a multi-lingual “Read for the fun of it!” theme to “highlight all of the resources and services available to the 22% of the nation’s youth who speak a language other than English at home.” Since 1998, YALSA has been highlighting teens and their reading for Teen Read Week and during this time the field of YA literature has truly exploded in the numbers and variety of books being published, with an abundance of dystopian fiction, science fiction, and fantasy, in particular. YA fiction is drawing the attention of mass media and becoming popular crossover reading for adults, too. Many YA books are now adapted for feature films and television programs and e-book publication of YA fiction has skyrocketed too.

Teen Programming

We have to do our part in the library to be sure young people know about all the great new books and materials being published and help them find choices that fit their interests. Fortunately, there are many great programs and strategies to try, starting with the resources available at YALSA’s Teen Programming Ideas http://hq.yalsa.net/index.html. In addition, check the reVIEWS+ Collections page for Kay Wejrowski’s comprehensive article, “Teen Promotions: Getting High School Students Excited about the Library” which is full of creative ideas. For those working in the middle school, don’t miss “Book Tasters” by Suzanne Dix (also on the Collections page) where she writes about creating a lunch club that’s a big hit with students who write reviews to promote books they love. Continue reading “Time for Teens, Teen Read Week, and More”

Speed Dating Remix

October 9-16 is Teen Read Week. Here’s an idea from Tish Carpinelli to help your 10th-12th graders find a book they can love.

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Image courtesy rich_f8 under Creative Commons license

A Reason to Remix
“My students are really enjoying the books they selected the other day. A few of them are already finished with them!” As media specialists, we certainly love to hear those words from our colleagues after classes come down for book selection. Often, however, traditional booktalks or just allowing classes to freely roam the stacks for books does not result in the majority of students finding a book with which they can really connect.

In “Speed Dating with Books” (LMC, October 2012), I described an activity that has been very successful with my students. After the first few years of these speed dating sessions, I wanted to change things up a bit. I did not want to repeat the same activity for sophomores, juniors, or seniors that I had used with them as freshmen. Also, when the assignment requires nonfiction books, my original setup would not work well. It is impossible to have enough topic variety on one table to satisfy every interest. For these reasons, I devised a “Speed Dating Remix” activity that can be used with either fiction or nonfiction books. The setup for each is slightly different, but the actual “dating” remains the same. And the objective continues to be for the students to leave with a book with which they feel they can have a “committed relationship.” Continue reading “Speed Dating Remix”

School Daze through Pictures and Stories

A quick peek in the SLC archives turned up this back-to-school gem from Carolyn S. Brodie highlighting picture books and related resources.

Subscribers to SLC can read find many more articles with book and activity recommendations at School Library Connection.

This assortment of fifteen school-related picture books, both classic and new, is meant to be enjoyed. These stories will foster connections for students as they are introduced to memorable characters, situations, and storylines in a variety of school settings.

BACK TO SCHOOL

No doubt this will prove to be a year filled with promise, new beginnings, and lots of learning! The following list of great books should get the school year off to a great start.

 

Allard, Harry. Miss Nelson Is Missing! Illus. by James Marshall. Houghton Mifflin, 1977.

When Miss Nelson disappears, her disruptive students in Room 207 are faced with a one-of-a-kind substitute teacher until Miss Nelson returns.

Print out a fun reader’s theater script (http://web.archive.org/web/19991118161638/www.qesn.meq.gouv.qc.ca/schools/bchs/rtheatre/pdffiles/missnelson.PDF). Another script can be found at: http://www.thebestclass.org/uploads/5/6/2/4/56249715/miss_nelson_is_missing.pdf.

A literature guide from the “Learning to Give” site provides before, during, and after questions in relation to the story (http://www.learningtogive.org/resources/miss-nelson-missing-literature-guide). Eight activity ideas are suggested for family involvement, but can be easily adapted for the classroom or library.

Continue reading “School Daze through Pictures and Stories”

Linking Literature to the Classroom

In case you missed it, we’re excited to share this fabulous article from our summer issue online by Naomi Bates.

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Linking Literature to the Classroom

As school librarians, we know the impact the library can have on classrooms. The difficult part is that other decision makers on campus may not see how important this classroom connection can be. In our educational age of standardized testing and curriculum alignment to state and federal guidelines, the library and librarian can be pushed to the side. Instead of being bullied out of the classrooms, however, we need to fight to stay in them. How we do it is an age-old adage: actions speak louder than words. One very important and creative way to show our importance to classrooms and academic achievement is through linking literature to the classroom. While state standards are the ruler by which lessons and academics are measured, creating personal connections between students and the subject matter enriches learning and achievement. We can do this by using literature to link students to subjects they study. Here are a few ideas to ponder for increased linking. Continue reading “Linking Literature to the Classroom”

Meeting Rock Stars

Rattner_StaceySummer is a time when many of us finally find time to travel. Stacey Rattner’s new Leap into Reading column from the summer issue of School Library Connection gives you ten compelling reasons to make sure your next road trip includes a book festival.

The next time there is a book festival within a three-hour drive,* grab your pocketbook, make sure your phone is charged and has extra storage for pictures, gas up and go. Believe it or not, book festivals could be your ticket to success in your library. Just one example—I wouldn’t have had the talented, multiple Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King award winning illustrator, Bryan Collier, to my library if we hadn’t met at a book festival.

The Top 10 reasons to clear your calendar for a book festival near (or not so near) you:

10. You get to meet your favorite authors. Yes, authors equal rock stars in our minds. How lucky are we that we have book festivals to meet these creative folks we’ve been admiring from afar for so long? Ever hear of a movie star festival where you could get this close to dozens of stars?

Continue reading “Meeting Rock Stars”

Author of the Month: Don Tate

April is National Poetry Month. Don Tate’s new book, Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton, received a highly recommended rating in our April issue of School Library Connection/reVIEWS+.

Don Tate

Bill Traylor and George Moses Horton were two men born into slavery; one taught himself to draw, the other taught himself to read and soon after began to write poetry. In two beautifully illustrated books written by Don Tate, you can introduce these inspiring individuals to your elementary grade students.

If you’ve never heard of either Bill Traylor or George Moses Horton, you’re probably not alone. As Don Tate suggests, “So often with books about historical figures, the same stories get told time and again. I think publishers realize that a story about Abraham Lincoln or Dr. Martin Luther King or Harriett Tubman will sell well. But,” he reminds us, “there are a lot of equally inspiring stories out there that haven’t been told.” Continue reading “Author of the Month: Don Tate”

From the Archives: Speed Dating with Books!

Here’s a fun idea from Tish Carpinelli for getting high school students to try reading something new.

“Oooh, book speed dating, I remember that. It was fun!” It made me smile to hear a senior boy pass by and say those words as I was setting nullup the decorations for a group of freshmen. It’s always great to have students think a program is fun, but it’s an added bonus when that program gets books into their hands that they really enjoy and actually finish. For our high school, speed dating with books is an effective approach to pairing up students with “the perfect match” of a book!

WHEN BOOKTALKS AREN’T THE ANSWER

When students used to come to the media center with their English classes to select a book for an outside reading, I would usually give booktalks. If I nullshared a dozen books and half of them were actually checked out, I was happy. For the rest of the period, students would browse the stacks in search of a book, find one quickly, and then sit down and chat with their friends until the bell rang. They often didn’t read a word of the book they checked out before they left! As the deadline for their projects approached, some of them returned their original choices to exchange for another book because the one they had was “boring.” Sadly, some students never even completed the assignment because they did not have a book that appealed to them.

GETTING “COMMITTED” TO A BOOK!

I first heard about book speed dating on the LM_Net listserv and decided to give it a try. After reading how other media specialists set up their programs, I came up with a plan that works well in my library. With some modifications, I have used this basic procedure with all grade levels, from freshmen to seniors, from resource classes to advanced placement students. In addition to being fun, book speed dating gives the students a chance to get to know a book before forming a “committed relationship” with it. They must read the cover, front and back flaps, and begin reading the book during the dating period. This results in their making an informed choice before they check out the book, and the book they choose will be one they enjoy reading. Continue reading “From the Archives: Speed Dating with Books!”