March 1, 2018

Ideas to Celebrate Read Across America Week & Dr. Seuss

Happy Read Across America Week!  To honor Dr. Seuss’ contribution to children’s literature, my school celebrates his work and legacy each year during the week of his birthday on March 2nd.  Here are a few ideas for you to duplicate in your school to celebrate Read Across America and Dr. Seuss.  

Everyone enjoys Dr. Seuss’ books in my building; the young students, the older students, and even the adult teachers!  So we host a Dr. Seuss-themed spirit week.  Below are some fun ideas.  Pick five of them, assign them a day of the week (for example Monday is Fox is Socks day), promote them with your school community, and have fun dressing up that week!


Fox in Socks Day:  WEAR CRAZY SOCKS

Green Eggs and Ham Day:  WEAR THE COLOR GREEN

Cat in the Hat Day:  WEAR A HAT


One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish Day:  WEAR THE COLORS RED & BLUE

Thing 1 & Thing 2 Day:  DRESS THE SAME WITH A TWIN


Another way my school celebrates Read Across America Week is with an all-school D.E.A.R. time (Drop Everything And Read).  For 10 minutes, all students in each grade exit their classrooms with a book in hand, line the hallways, and simply read.  I’ve found that the younger students read aloud and that hallway is a little noisy.  The older students read silently and that hallway is very quiet.  What matters most is the all-school commitment to read.  Students, teachers, and the principal all participate.  It’s a very moving experience and a touching way to honor Read Across America Week. 

February 10, 2018

My #nf10for10 - Girl Power Nonfiction Books to Share with my Daughter

I’m thrilled to be joining the #nf10for10 fun again this year!  Many thanks to the wonderful hosts: Cathy Mere (Reflect and Refine), Mandy Robeck (Enjoy and Embrace Learning), and Julie Balen (Write at the Edge).  I enjoy the challenge of creating a meaningful list for myself and others, as well as reading all the wonderful lists posted by the community.  

My past #nf10for10 book collections are:

As a parent, I encourage my daughter to be kind, positive, creative, confident, determined, resilient, disciplined, hopeful and a dreamer.  These qualities are the toughest to teach; despite my education degrees and teaching experience.  My #nf10for10 is a list of girl power books to share with my daughter.  They highlight female role models with strong character traits.  I will read (and reread) these books to my daughter.  The women in these books accomplished great things, and so can my daughter.  The sky is the limit!

1. Miss Moore Thought Otherwise by Jan Pinborough
As a children’s librarian, I had to list this book first.  It’s the story of Anne Carroll Moore who started a children’s area in the New York Public Library in the early 1900s.  Previously, libraries were only for adults.  But Miss Moore believed children deserved a room within the library with  a colorful atmosphere, smaller furniture, story hours, and borrowing privileges to hundreds of children’s books.  

2. Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World by Susan Hood
This beautiful book highlights fourteen young women who sparked change in the world.  Each trailblazer's story is told through poetry with accompanying illustrations from various female artists.  This book goes beyond the typical women often highlighted in these types of books.  A few new activists who's stories were new to me are Mary Anning, Annette Kellerman, Jacqueline Nearne, Eileen Nearne, Frances Moore Lappe, and Angela Zhang.

3.  She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World by Chelsea Clinton
This book highlights thirteen noteworthy women who persevered in the face of adversity.  It shows readers (both boys and girls) that no matter what obstacles may be in their paths, they shouldn’t give up on their dreams.  Persistence is power!  Be on the look out for the sequel titled She Persisted Around the World: 13 Women Who Changed History out on March 6, 2018.

4. Keep Climbing, Girls by Beah E. Richards
This poetry book is an ode to girl power.  It’s about a young girl’s ambition to climb to the top of a tall tree (despite a boy’s upper hand in this world) in a bid for a girl’s equality.  The overall message is, “Keep climbing, girls, and let no one prevent you!”  

5.  I am Helen Keller by Brad Meltzer 
Helen Keller embodies so much of what parents hope for their own children, and what I dream for my own daughter.   She became the first deaf and blind person to graduate from college, and spent the rest of her life telling her story and helping others.  Her resilience to adversity and determination to overcome challenges is unmatched.

6. Amelia to Zora: Twenty Six Women Who Changed the World by Cynthia Cin-Lee
The book highlights 26 significant women and their contribution to the world.  There is one woman for every letter of the alphabet.  The women are diverse in nationality, profession, race, and religion.  I was familiar with many of the women (like Rachel Carson, Mother Teresa, Oprah), but I was also introduced to many new women (including Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, Dolores Huerta, Nawal El Sadaawi).  One thing they all have in common, words and actions to inspire and guide young girls.  

7. Here Come the Scouts! by Shana Corey
This book is about Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts.  At a time when girls were supposed to be prim and proper, Daisy (as she was called) loved the outdoors, adventure, and service to others.  One hundred years later, the Girl Scouts continues to teach girls they can do anything and make a difference.  

8. Women Who Launched the Computer Age by Laurie Calkhoven
This book tells the story of six brilliant women who programmed the first computer as a secret WWII project.  Their work laid the foundation for the technologies we have today and launched the computer age.

9. Mighty Jackie: The Strike Out Queen by Marissa Moss
When Jackie Mitchell was a young girl, her father told her she could be good at whatever she wanted, as long as she worked at it.  Jackie worked hard at baseball and could soon outplay boys in her neighborhood.  When she was seventeen, she had an opportunity to pitch for Yankees.  She made baseball history by striking out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.  She showed the world that a girl could throw as hard and a fast as boys.

10. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Ravioli and Frencesca Cavallo

This is a collection of short biographies of about 100 rebel girls.  The women are from various nationalities and professions with many that were new to me.  Their stories are inspirational and encourage girls to dream bigger, aim higher, and fight harder.  I love the that end pages are blank for young readers to joint rebel girls and add their own story and portrait.  Also check out the second book titled Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2.

January 2, 2018


I'm pleased to be participating in the must read fun again this year!  Thanks for hosting Carrie Gelson of There's a Book for That.  All the books on my list are new 2018 releases (see publishing dates for each book listed below).  I hope this reading goal motivates me to read more books throughout the year so I can introduce these new titles to my students.  I'll provide updates on my reading on April 5th, September 6th, and December 27th.  Below are my lists of new picture books and chapters books to read in 2018:

Picture Book Release Dates:

1/9/18 - Love by Matt de la Pena and Loren Long

4/3/18 - Sometimes You Fly by Katherine Applegate 

4/24/18 - Dude! by Aaron Reynolds and Dan Santat

4/24/18 - Misunderstood Shark by Ame Dyckman and Scott Magoon

5/8/18 - Square by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

5/15/18 - How to Code a Sandcastle by Josh Funk and Sara Palacios

5/15/18 - The Itchy Book by by Mo Willems and LeUyen Pham

6/5/18 - Drawn Together by Minh Le and Dan Santat

6/5/18- Off and Away by Cale Atkinson

7/10/18 - Princess and the Pit Stop by Tom Angleberger and Dan Santat

8/28/18 - Cute as an Axolotle by Jess Keating

9/8/18 - The Alphabet Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak

Chapter Book Release Dates:

1/2/18 - Fenway and Hattie Up to New Tricks by Victoria J. Coe

1/16/18 - Ellie, Engineer by Jackson Pearce

1/30/18 - The Problim Children by Natalie Lloyd and Julia Sarda

1/30/18 - Smart Cookie by Elly Swartz

2/13/18 - Granted by John David Anderson

3/27/18 - Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi 

3/27/18 - Good Dog by Dan Gemeinhart

5/1/18 - Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead

5/29/18 - Two Dogs in a Trench Coat Go To School by Julie Falatko

6/5/18 - Liars and Lions by Kate Beasleyand Dan Santat

6/5/18 - Breakout by Kate Messner

7/17/18 - The Game Masters of Garden Place by Denis Markell

January 1, 2018

My One Little Word for 2018

I love the “one little word” movement.  It’s the closest thing I get to making a new year’s resolution.  In the past, my one word has been POSITIVE and CATALYST.  

For 2018, my one little word is BALANCE.  This year, I want to practice a healthy balance between my professional and personal life.  After turning 40 last year, I've realized I can no longer ignore myself - the time is now.  I've started taking better care of myself and made exercise a priority.  As a result, I have more energy and a positive attitude.  When I feel better, I perform better.  This positively impacts my work and family time.  So this year, I promise to find balance between myself, my family, and my job.  

December 31, 2017

My Top Blog Posts of 2017


I entered the world of blogging in April 2015.  Since then, I've written a variety of posts about the work I do as an elementary librarian.  Looking back at the blog posts I wrote this year, the most popular ones were about reading and makerspace fun.  Many thanks to my audience of readers!  Stick around for 2018, I have lots of fun posts planned.  Here are my top blog posts of 2017:

1- My #pb10for10 - Picture Books to Promote a Growth Mindset

2- Holiday Gifts for Young Makers

3- #mustreadin2017

4- 10 Steps to Make a Doodlebot

5- Summer Reading Suggestions

6- 5 Steps to Make a Paper Rocket Launcher

December 28, 2017

End of Year Update: #mustreadin2017

Here’s my final #mustreadin2017 update.  Thank you Carrie Gelson of There’s a Book for That for hosting this reading event.  In September, I did a blog post with a list of books I planned to read during the fall months. For me, fall is a very busy time of year.  I was able to get some of my reading goals accomplished, but not all of them.  Here are some of my favorite new books that I read in the past few months:

Want to know more about #mustreadin2017?  Check out this post for more info.  Join the fun in 2018!  Share your reading list on January 2, 2018 with the hashtag #mustreadin2018.  
Happy Reading!

November 19, 2017

Holiday Gifts for Young Makers

Every year colleagues and parents ask me for gift ideas for their little makers at home.  Here’s a list of the most popular items in my school library’s makerspace.  These make perfect gifts for the young maker in your life.  Happy holiday making!


LEGOS - Nothing beats the creative projects kids build with Legos.  Whether building from a kit or making original creations, there are endless possibilities.  Download the Lego Movie Maker app to animate a lego movie, or purchase the WeDo 2.0 to code projects to move like a robot.

KEVA PLANKS - These are modern day Lincoln Logs.  Shaped in a rectangular cube, these planks can be place one after the other to build stunning creations like free-standing buildings, artistic mosaics, and complex obstacle courses to make a marble roll, bounce, and slide.  These are perfect for budding architects, artists, and engineers.

KNEX’S - These are like Legos on steroids.  They are more complex to build with, however their ability to bend (unlike Legos) is a game changer.  Kids can free build with Knex’s or purchase a kit.  My family built a moving roller coaster one year with a Knex kit - it was awesome!


DASH - This is the most loved robot at my library.  He’s adorable and easy to use for children of all ages.  There are multiple apps that can make Dash move and talk, with a few involving coding. Purchase Dash accessories like a xylophone and ball launcher for even more fun!

OZOBOT - This tiny robot can be coded to move with red, blue, green, and black markers on white paper.  The smallest of kids enjoy drawing with Ozobots and older children like the challenge of drawing paths that make it move faster, slower, and spin.  Download a variety of apps to move Ozobot on the iPad screen or use code skills to make it do fun tricks.

SPHERO - This spherical robot has many possibilities.  There are multiple apps that can make Sphere move free style or coded to do tricks.  There are endless possibilities for Sphero fun!  A few ideas are: build a chariot from Knex or pipe cleaners to be pulled by Sphero, program Sphere to draw shapes or outline letters, build an obstacle course for Sphere to maneuver, or creating a painting of boat with Sphero because it’s safe to get wet!

BEE-BOT or ROBOT MOUSE - These little robots are perfect for introducing young kids to coding.  Children can press arrow buttons in a series to make the bee or mouse move to the intended destination.  It’s coding in it’s simplest form served in a fun and engaging robot toy. 


BLOXELS - Kids can create their own video games with Bloxels!  Using pixel-like cubes, children can design their own video game characters and backgrounds.  Using the app they can upload their creations and then play with the characters and worlds they created!  It truly takes kids from video game player to video game creator!  

MAKEY MAKEY - This simple dashboard allows users to connect everyday objects to computer programs.  In my library, kids have played a piano and video games using tin foil, play-doh, and food like potatoes, oranges, and bananas.  Just a heads up, the Makey Makey needs to connect to a computer or laptop to work.  


PERLER BEADS - Kids can make fun creations by arranging these tiny beads into unique designs.  Whether free designing or making with a kit/stencil, children enjoy building and seeing their project come together in the end.  Warning: an iron (and an adult’s help) is needed to finalize creations!  Check out their website and app for fun ideas and tools.

DUCT TAPE - Duct tape creations are a big hit in my school’s makerspace!  Using duct tape, students make a variety of items like bookmarks, flowers, wallets, jewelry, accessories, and even clothing.  Look for fun duct tape prints and find inspirational ideas online and in books.

ORIGAMI - My students enjoy turning paper into interesting objects.  In particular, they like making items that do stuff like a fortune cookie, a cube that inflates by blowing in air, and frogs that jump.  The most popular item is a paper airplane!  For ideas and folding steps, look online and in books.