December 31, 2016

My Top 5 Blog Posts in 2016


I love the blogging community and reading daily posts from my PLN of inspirational educators, librarians, and specialists.  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.  This year my most popular posts surrounded my work with Little Free Libraries and makerspaces, and my participation in the 10 for 10 reading community.  Here are my top 5 blog posts in 2016:

1- My #pb10for10 - Picture Books for a Makerspace

2- Tips to Start a Little Free Library

3- Tips to Manage a Little Free Library

4- My #nf10for10 - My Favorite Nonfiction Picture Books from 2015

5- Books for Your Makerspace

December 17, 2016

The Challenge Continues . . . The 2014 Buckeye Book Award


And the reading challenge continues!  As stated in a previous post, my librarian friend Ashley Lambacher of the Book Talker and I are hosting the Buckeye Book Award Reading Challenge.  Our goal is to read all the past winners from the children’s book category in chronological order from 1982 to the present.  I will read the K-2 picture book winners and Ashley will read the 4-8/3-5 chapter book winners.  Today I continue my challenge by reading the winner of the K-2 Buckeye Book Award in 2014, Carnivores by Aaron Reynolds.

Carnivores is a humorous story with a good message.  It starts by introducing three carnivore animals, the lion, great white shark, and timber wolf.  They are all experiencing an identity crisis.  Since they’re carnivores, the other animals don’t seem to like them.  Upset by the social stigma formed against them, these three form a support group.  Their first initiative is to go vegetarian, however this plan is doomed.  To fit in, they try wearing disguises but friendships formed never seem to survive.  When the wise owl attends a meeting, he convinces the animals not to feel guilty about being a meat eater.  This book teaches kids to be happy with who they are, not to worry about criticism over characteristics that can’t be changed.  The illustrations are classic Dan Santant; detailed and colorful, capturing each animals expressions perfectly.  In my library, students ask for this book a few times a week!  So, it’s no surprise it won a Buckeye Book Award in 2014. 

Ashley -  Do your students enjoy Carnivores as much as my students?  Your upcoming 2014 book is a really good one, Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library

Would you like to join Ashley and I as we read through Ohio’s award winning books?  We welcome any and all who are interested in participating in this fun reading challenge.  For more information, click here.

December 11, 2016

Steps to Host an School-Wide Hour of Code Event


Are you an elementary school librarian interested in hosting a school-wide Hour of Code event?  Here are some suggestions to organizing a coding celebration at your own school.

What is Hour of Code?  For those who don’t know, Hour of Code is an annual coding event started by code.org, a non-profit organization with a goal to teach computer science to children all over the world, especially girls and students of color.  Hour of Code was launched in December of 2013, with 20 million students participating.  It continues to thrive today with over 300 million students participating in Hour of Code in December of 2016.  

Why should students learn to code?  Today’s students need to learn to code for future job success.  Coding is a type of literacy that students will be reading and writing for their future careers.  It will be the basis for every job in any field - like entertainment, medicine, education, agriculture and beyond.  The technology our students will create in the future will solve problems and make life easier and more enjoyable.  

How can school librarians and teachers learn more about coding?  To educate yourself as a teacher and advocate of coding, I recommend taking a code.org class.  Free courses for educators can be found on their website.  This one day class taught me coding basics and how to teach coding to my students.  


Why code.org?  This is a great place for students to learn the basics of coding and move towards more complex algorithms written in JavaScript.  Plus their activities are high-interest involving characters from Angry Birds, Star Wars, and Minecraft to name a few.  Their Code Studio teaches coding through Blockly.  Students simply drag and drop blocks in a particular order to write a program.  Hour of Code allows students to apply the basics learned in Code Studio in a variety of engaging projects.  Many start with Blockly and advance to writing JavaScript.  All levels are self-paced with tutorials and hints instructing students what to do.  Most of the time, students feel like they’re playing a video game rather than learning computer science!

Get your school involved in Global Hour of Code  The annual global Hour of Code event takes place the first full week of December.  To prepare, in October I asked my principal to support my efforts to bring this exciting event to our school.  With his consent, we chose one day during the week of global Hour of Code to host our school-wide event (we chose the Friday of that week).  I went to code.org and signed up my school to participate in the event - you’ll want to do this because the organization will send you fun promotional posters and stickers.  Also in October, we told staff the date explaining that their classrooms would engage in Hour of Code at some time during the day, but they could choose when and for how long.  There are wonderful promotional videos on code.org that I used to educated, encourage, and excite people (principal, teachers, parents, students) about the Hour of Code event.  I highly recommend checking out these videos and using them to your benefit.


During the week of Hour of Code in December, students were told at a town meeting they would participate in a coding event - they were pumped!  This same week, I taught students coding basics during library lessons.  I even held a ‘Lunch and Learn’ for teachers to learn coding while they ate lunch.  Armed with the basics, every classroom teacher in my building allowed time for students to participate in Hour of Code.  I freed up my schedule allowing teachers to sign up with me if they wanted my assistance.  Kingergarten and 1st graders did Code Studio on code.org, learning to code through Blockly.  Students in 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade did Hour of Code on code.org, many were coding with Blockly while advanced coders were coding with JavaScript.  No matter their age or experience, all students were engaged and loved every minute of coding!

Looking towards 2017  I plan to host Hour of Code at my school again next year in December.  My hope is that students and teachers will continue to visit Hour of Code throughout the school year.  Hour of Code has four courses for students to work and advance through.  Hour of Code isn’t the only place to learn coding, the code.org website lists suggestions for other locations to learn coding.  Apple has Swift Playground and there are a ton of apps that teach coding as well. 

In the end, it doesn’t matter where students start . . . getting them involved is what is most important.  If you’ve considered hosting an all-school coding event, I encourage you to give it a try.  It’s easier than you think, and the benefit to students are great.  


November 12, 2016

The Challenge Continues . . . The 2013 Buckeye Book Award


And the reading challenge continues!  As stated in a previous post, my librarian friend Ashley Lambacher of the Book Talker and I are hosting the Buckeye Book Award Reading Challenge.  Our goal is to read all the past winners from the children’s book category in chronological order from 1982 to the present.  I will read the K-2 picture book winners and Ashley will read the 4-8/3-5 chapter book winners.  Today I continue my challenge by reading the winner of the K-2 Buckeye Book Award in 2013, Creepy Carrots! by Aaron Reynolds.

Creepy Carrots! chronicles the journey of Jasper Rabbit.  Jasper loves carrots, especially the ones from Crackenhopper field.  But one day, as Jasper is about to help himself to another snack, he hears the sinister sounds of carrots creeping.  From there it goes from bad to worse.  Paranoid Jasper sees the carrots everywhere: in his bathtub, in the garden shed and even in his bedroom at night.  Or is he just suffering from an overactive imagination?  The illustrations fit the harrowing tone of this book perfectly.  Each page has just a touch of orange, either as the carrots or as the objects that Jasper thinks might be carrots.  It helps paint the story and keep the reader guessing if Jasper really IS seeing carrots or just imagining them.  The ultimate massage is greed isn’t good.  For Jasper, his greed for carrots proved to be his own undoing.  My elementary students love this book!  Especially the 5th graders, which is a difficult audience to capture with a picture book.  Because this book is well-loved by many, it’s a perfect win for the 2013 Buckeye Book Award.

Ashley -  What do you think of Creepy Carrots?  Your upcoming 2014 book is a really good one, Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library

Would you like to join Ashley and I as we read through Ohio’s award winning books?  We welcome any and all who are interested in participating in this fun reading challenge.  For more information, click here.

October 15, 2016

The Challenge Continues . . . The 2012 Buckeye Book Award


And the reading challenge continues!  As stated in a previous post, my librarian friend Ashley Lambacher of the Book Talker and I are hosting the Buckeye Book Award Reading Challenge.  Our goal is to read all the past winners from the children’s book category in chronological order from 1982 to the present.  I will read the K-2 picture book winners and Ashley will read the 4-8/3-5 chapter book winners.  Today I continue my challenge by reading the winner of the K-2 Buckeye Book Award in 2012, We Are in a Book by Mo Willems.

We Are in a Book is classic Elephant and Piggie.  This series highlight’s best friends Gerald and Piggie.  In this edition, the two realize someone is watching them.  Is it a monster?  No, it’s the reader! They realize their power and understand they can make the reader say anything out loud.  Piggie decides upon “banana” making Gerald and the reader crack up.  Then they realize that books end!  Piggie says the book is moving too fast and insists he has more to give.  Then they cleverly realize that books can be reread and ask the reader, “Will you please read us again?”  Willems’ illustrates fun visual gags as the characters hang on speech bubbles, block words, and lift the corners to reveal the pages that remain.  I’m a big fan of books by Mo Willems and the Elephant and Piggie series, and my students love them as well.  It’s no surprise that this book won the 2012 Buckeye Book Award. 

Ashley - Your upcoming 2013 book is a good one, Brian Selznick’s Wonderstruck. Remember when we saw him at the AASL conference last fall?  

Would you like to join Ashley and I as we read through Ohio’s award winning books?  We welcome any and all who are interested in participating in this fun reading challenge.  For more information, click here.

October 8, 2016

Taking the Global Cardboard Challenge to a New Level



What can you make out of cardboard?   Many have heard of the Global Cardboard Challenge inspired by Caine’s Arcade.  It asks children all over the world to build anything they can dream up using cardboard, recycled materials, and imagination.  It’s held annually on the first Saturday of October.  Students and their parents visit their school’s event for a few hours on a Saturday and build something together.  However, participation is optional, and it often conflicts with children’s extracurricular activities and time with their families.  This year, I took a new approach to the Cardboard Challenge and hosted it on a school day.

To allow all students in my school the opportunity to participate in the Global Cardboard Challenge, I hosted it on a Friday in October.  It was wonderful to see all students enjoying the event as they created spectacular creations and collaborated together.  Parents were invited and volunteered by helping students with cutting difficult shapes with box cutters and tearing duct tape for little fingers.  The event was connected to learning as teachers provided extension activities including pre-designing and post-reflections.  

Ultimately, hosting the Global Cardboard Challenge on a school day took the event to a new level.  We had 100% participation and classroom connections.  This new twist on the Cardboard Challenge is sure to make a big impact on my school’s culture for the remainder of the year as we embrace a maker mindset and encourage creative problem solving.


September 11, 2016

The Challenge Continues . . . The 2011 Buckeye Book Award Winner


And the reading challenge continues!  As stated in a previous post, my librarian friend Ashley Lambacher of the Book Talker and I are hosting the Buckeye Book Award Reading Challenge.  Our goal is to read all the past winners from the children’s book category in chronological order from 1982 to the present.  I will read the K-2 picture book winners and Ashley will read the 4-8/3-5 chapter book winners.  Today I continue my challenge by reading the winner of the K-2 Buckeye Book Award in 2011, Shark vs. Train by Chris Barton.

Shark vs. Train is a head to head competition between two toys.  Two boys dig through a toy box.  One pulls out a shark, the other selects a train.  It is shark vs. train, but which very determined toy is going to win the fight?  Of course if they are under the ocean waves, the shark has the edge, but if they are on some railroad tracks, the train is going to win hands down.  What do you think if they are on a seesaw or in a hot-air balloon?  The two go head to head in all kinds of contests. They bowl, shoot baskets, take a flip off the high-dive board, sell lemonade, go trick-or-treating, go on carnival rides, play games, and hide-and-seek.  When Mom calls out, "BOYS! LUNCH!!" it's time to for a little break . . . until next time.  Tom Lichtenheld's artwork is colorful and fun, capturing each competition and the intense expressions on each boys face as they face off.  I’m a big fan of books by Chris Barton and illustrations by Tom Lichtenheld, so I’m glad to see they won the 2011 Buckeye Book Award.  

Ashley - Your upcoming 2011 book is not a chapter book this time, it’s Bill Thomson’s Chalk wordless picture book.  I love this book’s portrayal of the magic that can be created by sidewalk chalk.

Would you like to join Ashley and I as we read through Ohio’s award winning books?  We welcome any and all who are interested in participating in this fun reading challenge.  For more information, click here.

August 21, 2016

The Challenge Continues . . . The 2010 Buckeye Book Award Winner


And the reading challenge continues!  As stated in a previous post, my librarian friend Ashley Lambacher of the Book Talker and I are hosting the Buckeye Book Award Reading Challenge.  Our goal is to read all the past winners from the children’s book category in chronological order from 1982 to the present.  I will read the K-2 picture book winners and Ashley will read the 4-8/3-5 chapter book winners.  Today I continue my challenge by reading the winner of the K-2 Buckeye Book Award in 2010, Rhyming Dust Bunnies by Jan Thomas.

The Rhyming Dust Bunnies introduces us to Ed, Ned, Ted, and Bob.  As they like to say "We rhyme all the time!"  On this particular day Ed starts them off with wondering "Hey! What rhymes with car?" Everyone puts in a vote except for Bob.  Bob is sort of staring in the distance and saying things like "Look!" and "Look Out!" instead of words that rhyme.  The other bunnies are confused by Bob's seeming inability to rhyme, but his name is Bob while they’re names are Ed, Ned, and Ted - maybe he’s just different.  Even when he says "Look out! Here comes a big scary monster with a broom!" they're not quite catching on.  Finally he screams out "Run for it!" and the troop run and hide under a dresser.  However, when they attempt to restart their rhyming antics, "sat" "pat" and "rat" are completed with Bob's timely "vacuum cleaner!" and with a mighty "Thwptt" off they go.  Thomas’ digital images are colorful, simple, and appealing to young readers.  I celebrate all Jan Thomas books, and I’m pleased Rhyming Dust Bunnies won the 2010 Buckeye Book Award.

Ashley - I know you are a fan of Jan Thomas, right?  Your upcoming 2010 book is Zoobreak.  This is a cute series but I think book #1, Swindle, is the best of the bunch.  I consider Gordan Korman one of my favorite authors, so I’m pleased to see that one of his books won a Buckeye Book Award.  

Would you like to join Ashley and I as we read through Ohio’s award winning books?  We welcome any and all who are interested in participating in this fun reading challenge.  For more information, click here.

August 10, 2016

My #pb10for10 - Picture Books for a Makerspace


I’m thrilled to be joining the picture book 10 for 10 fun again this year!  I enjoy the challenge of creating a meaningful list for my self and others, as well as reading all the wonderful lists posted by the community.  

The makerspace movement has greatly impacted my role as a school librarian within the past year.  I’ve created a list of picture books to support staff and students as they engage on makerspace activities and challenges.


1. The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

This book is about a young girl who enjoys creating things and decides to build something truly special.  So, after drawing diagrams, hiring an assistant, and collecting materials, she establishes her sidewalk workshop.  But, alas, bringing vision to fruition isn’t easy.   From her efforts, children see the importance of planning, gathering supplies, building, and not giving up when a good idea doesn't initially work out.  I tell my students this is a “maker mindset.”  Try your hardest and don’t give up, even when things are confusing, difficult, or frustrating.  


2. What to do With a Box by Jane Yolen & Chris Sheban

This story is about all the things that a cardboard box can be.  It can be a library, a sailboat, or a race car.  This is a great book to kick off the Cardboard Challenge’s Global Day of Play in October.  I love reading this book and following up the video from Cane’s Arcade.  They are a powerful combination to motivate and inspire students to imagine and create.


3. Hello Ruby: Adventure in Coding by Linda Liukas

This tells the story of Ruby who is determined to solve any problem.  This book is a great introduction to programming and coding concepts like computational thinking, how to break big problems into small ones, create step-by-step plans, look for patterns, and thinking outside the box.  It can be accompanied with and coding activities within your makerspace like hour of code, code.org, and scratch.  


4. Franky by Leo Timmers

This book is great to encourage makers to dream big, use their imagination, and embrace engineering skills.  Sam is obsessed with robots.  He’s convinced they live on another planet in outer space.  His family laughs at his idea.  He builds his own robot, keeping it hidden from his family for fear of being ridiculed.  Eventually, his robot friend is rescued by outer space robots to return to his home - leaving his family in shock!  This book teaches maker students to dream big, don’t listen to others, and believe in your vision.  


5. Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty

This is a story of creativity and perseverance, both important to successful tinkering in a makerspace.  Rosie Revere constructs great inventions, but she gets laughed at and becomes afraid to show them to others.  Then she finds encouragement from a great-great aunt who teaches Rosie to celebrate both her failures and successes. I love the overall message that projects that don’t work initially shouldn’t be discouraging.  Things may not always go as planned, but celebrate your successes and learn from failure.


6. Marvelous Mattie: How Margaret E. Knight Became an Inventor by Emily Arnold McCully
This is a great book to inspire girls to embrace engineering, STEM, and makerspace activities. Mattie lived during a time when it was believed that women couldn’t understand the complexities of mechanical equipment.  Yet she sketched and created inventions to help her family, mill workers, and even designed a machine to fold square paper bags like the ones we still use today.  It’s a great message encouraging girls to dream big, create, and invent.


7. Young Frank Architect by Frank Viva

Makers need to think outside the box and look at things differently.  This is the story of a young and old architect, both named Frank.  Young Frank designs and creates a chair from toilet paper rolls and a curvy model of a skyscraper.  Old Frank is a traditionalist and says Young Frank’s creations are incorrect.  Until they visit the Museum of Modern Art and Old Frank discovered unique creations and begins to appreciate Young Frank’s creations.  This book celebrates the ideas of young designers and encourages them dream and think creatively.  


8. What Do You Do With An Idea? by Kobi Yamada

I’ve taught maker students the design process and encouraged them to start with an idea.  This book is a wonderful accompaniment to this lesson.  It inspires students to take an idea - whether little, big, odd, or difficult -  and give it space to grow.  With a little encouragement, an idea can become something amazing.  


9. Awesome Dawson by Chris Gall

Everything can be used again!  That’s Dawson’s motto.  He takes trash and creates cool inventions like a hot tub on wheels for a motorboat.  Until one day, he creates a machine to do his chores but it goes on a rampage instead.  This book is great to encourage students to recycle junk and repurpose everyday items - a common theme in a makerspace.  


10. Different Like Coco by Elizabeth Matthews

Sewing was a very popular activity in my makerspace last year.  This book about Coco Chanel will inspire young fashion designers both experienced and novice.  Coco designed comfortable clothing for women of all classes.  Soon a new generation of independent working women craved her sleek and practical designs.  Coco was always different, and she proved that being different was an advantage - a wonderful message for young makers, creators, and designers.

August 1, 2016

The Great Egg Drop Challenge


Are you interested in promoting STEM with an egg drop makerspace challenge?  Here are some steps to get you started.  

Last spring, I helped my elementary host an all-school egg drop challenge.  In April, a colleague and I drafted the requirements and sent it out to teachers.  The K-5 teachers chose to have their class participate or not.  Most students who participated where from grades 2nd to 5th.  Teachers chose when and how their students would work on their egg drop challenge.  Many teachers taught relatable science curriculum on momentum, pressure, air resistance, and gravity.  Some teachers required students to design a project on paper first, while other teachers gave students materials and had them create as they go.  No matter what was done, the basic requirements for the egg drop challenge were the same for all.  Here are the challenge details:

Students will design and construct an egg protective device.  They may work alone, in pairs, or in a small group.  Each project will be given one raw egg and limited materials to choose from.  Students can test their devices in the classroom prior to dropping them at the test site.

Students can choose 12 items from the following list materials:
  • 12x12 piece of cardboard
  • 5 elastic bands
  • 8 popsicle sticks
  • 1 meter of tape
  • 2 sheets of construction paper
  • 1 plastic bag
  • 10 straws
  • 1 styrofoam cup
  • 6 cotton balls
  • 8 Q-tips
  • 1 meter of toilet paper
  • 30cm string/yard
  • 1 paper plate
  • 5 pieces of tissue paper
  • 2 12inch sheets of plastic wrap
  • 2 12inch sheets of aluminum foil
These materials will be provided to all:
  • scissors
  • rulers
  • pencils
  • Elmer’s glue
Here are the specifications/rules:
  • The project can not be wider than 12 inches or taller that 12 inches.
  • No parachutes allowed.
  • The egg must be easily placed and removed from the project.  
  • An area the size of a quarter of the egg must be visible at all times.
  • Only the allowed materials provided at school (not home) may be used.
  • Only raw, store bought chicken eggs may be used.  You may not change the egg in any way (no tape on the egg, no boiling the egg in water, or soaking the egg in vinegar).
After the challenge specifications were provided to teachers, classrooms got signed up, and students began working on their designs.  Within a few weeks, the entire school gathered in the gym to watch the preliminary dropping of devices.  The egg projects were dropped from a 12 foot high scissor lift.  There were oohs and aahs when eggs broke and created a mess, and loud celebrations when eggs survived the fall.  The students were captivated, and really got into the glory and defeat.  Projects with eggs that survived moved on to the final round.  


The culminating event for egg drop challenge involved a visit from the local firefighters.  The whole school gathered outside to watch the egg project finalist be dropped from the firetruck’s bucket lifted 25 feet into the air.  Once again, their were screams when projects landed with a loud crack and eggs spilled onto the blacktop and wild celebrations when projects landed softly and eggs were held up intact.  In the end, there were 19 students with eggs that survived and winning project designs.  These winners were featured on the district webpage as STEM master builders.  

If you’re school supports STEM and a makerspace mentality, implement an egg drop challenge.  It can be done within a classroom, grade level, or the entire school.  The students will learn a lot and most of all, have fun!

July 28, 2016

Schools and the Public Library Partnering for a Library Card Drive


As my district embraced 1:1, students were encouraged to use their learning device more and more.  As a librarian, I saw this as an opportunity to teach integrated technology and blended learning.  I wanted to provide students with access to quality online resources and collections.  In Ohio, we have Infohio.  It is a wonderful electronic resource that’s available to all students within our state.  Another local facility that provides access to electronic resources and ebooks is the public library.  However, users need a library card to acquire and use any public library resource, print or electronic.  So I set out to form a partnership between my school district and my local public library.  My goal - to provide every registered student in the district a public library card.  Here are the steps we took to achieve this goal:

1 - Get all parties on board.  I took my idea to the librarians at my local public library.  They loved the idea and were thrilled to be have a partner within the school system.  Next, we met with central office administrators in my district.  Sold on a platform to help students as we they move to 1:1, they loved the idea.  

2 - Get student information.  While my district supported our cause, they were unwilling to provide the public library with student names and birthdays.  While we tried to convince them that the public library protects their patron’s identity and information in the same way the schools do, but they were unconvinced.  We asked for an opt out option for families - all students would get a library card unless a parent said no.  They didn’t like this idea either.  So we all agreed to do an opt in option - parents interested in getting a library card for their child completed an online form to provide us with the necessary information (name, birthdate, school building).  Starting in March, the online form was pushed out by CO to all parents for a few weeks straight.  It was promoted to families as a way to help their child access electronic resources for 1:1.  The online form was pushed out again for a few weeks in April and May to promote the public library’s summer reading program, since all participants now need a library card to get signed up and participate.  I wrote these promotional messages and reminder CO to put them out often.

3 - Generate mass library cards.  Week by week, the forms began rolling in and the public library staff went to work assigning library cards.  The librarians at my local library worked feverishly to issue card after card.  Personally, I got cards for almost every student in one of my buildings.  I worked with the classroom teachers to email parents for permission and submitted student info the the public library.  We told parents the students need a public library card for summer reading and to used in class to access ebooks.  Then I taught many lessons showing students how to use their library card to find and download ebooks.  

4 - Distribute library cards to students.  When the library cards were created, the public library called me to deliver them to the schools.  They’d give me a bag full of envelopes, each stuffed with a public library card and labeled with the student’s name and building.  I received permission to take an hour every few weeks to distribute the public library cards.  Some I would send to librarians in other buildings, and some I drove personally to each building.  This was no small task considering our district has 15,000 students in 22 school buildings.  

In the end, I wasn’t able to provide every registered student in my school district a public library card.  But I was able to get library cards into many student’s hands.  Hopefully these students are using these cards to participate in the reading program over the summer, and will use them to access quality online resources with their device when in school.  As a librarian, it’s a small act that makes a big impact.  

July 20, 2016

The Challenge Continues . . . The 2009 Buckeye Book Award Winner


And the reading challenge continues!  As stated in a previous post, my librarian friend Ashley Lambacher of the Book Talker and I are hosting the Buckeye Book Award Reading Challenge.  Our goal is to read all the past winners from the children’s book category in chronological order from 1982 to the present.  I will read the K-2 picture book winners and Ashley will read the 4-8/3-5 chapter book winners.  Today I continue my challenge by reading the winner of the K-2 Buckeye Book Award in 2009, The Chicken of the Family by Mary Amato.

I had never read Chicken of the Family, so this award winner was new to me.  This book is about a gullible little girl named, Henrietta.  Her two older sisters Kim and Clare were always teasing her, but when they told her a big fib she fell for it.  They told her she was a chicken!  At first she didn't believe it, but the more information the girls gave her, the more convincing they sounded.  They told her she had long toes like a chicken and yellow legs.  On and on they went and she began to think she was a real chicken.  In the morning when she got out of bed she saw an egg and two feathers.  So she ran away to Barney's farm to find her chicken family.  To fit in, she flaps her arms and rolls in the dirt. When her sisters come to take her home, they work hard to convince Henrietta that she is a real girl.  The cartoon-like illustrations are bright, busy, and appealing to kids.  I shared this book with my four year old daughter and she loved it!  This adorable book is an understandable winner of the 2009 Buckeye Book Award.

Ashley, are you familiar with Chicken of the Family?  Your upcoming 2009 book is Found by Haddix.  I love this book and series, and everything Haddix writes.  To me, this is a true award winning book!

Would you like to join Ashley and I as we read through Ohio’s award winning books?  We welcome any and all who are interested in participating in this fun reading challenge.  For more information, click here.


July 7, 2016

Ways to Keep Students Reading Over the Summer


Every year, teachers tell students to read over the summer months.  They tell them summer reading keeps their skills sharp and prepares them for the next grade level.  Beyond talk, do teachers take any actions to motivate students to read of the summer?  Here are some ideas!   Over the years, I’ve cultivate a variety of ways to keep students reading all summer long.  


To provide greater access to books, each spring I allow students to check out books from the school library to take home for summer break.  It’s a waste for the books to sit on the library shelf all summer long.  The books should be in the hands of readers, taking them on wonderful adventures!  Students interested in participating need to return all their library books by a certain date and complete a parent permission slip.  Then the last few days of school, these students checkout four books from the school library to read over the summer months.  There are exchange days in June and August when the school’s library is open.  During these times, students return their books and get four new ones.  To provide excitement, I offer cookies and put out makerspace activities for students and their families to enjoy.  All books checked out over the summer are due back the first day of the new school year.


Little Free Libraries provide another way to provide students with increased access to books over the summer.  I run three Little Free Libraries for my students.  One library is located in my neighborhood, which serves the students who live near me.  The other two libraries are located in front of each of my schools.  Little Free Libraries are a book exchange.  Students give a book they’ve already read, then take a new book they want to read.  During the summer months, the books in these libraries move quickly.  They are a wonderful way to support reading outside of school, especially during the summer months.  For more information on how to start and manage a Little Free Library, visit my blog at http://thepageturninglibrarian.blogspot.com.  


To encourage students to visit the public library and participate in their summer reading program, I organize Teacher Tuesdays.  Every Tuesday during the summer, there is a designated time for teachers and students to gather at the public library.  Teachers visit with students, encourage summer reading, and make reading suggestions.  Teacher Tuesdays is a wonderful motivator to get students into the public library, checking out books, and reading all summer long.


Books on Bikes is another exciting way to provide increased access to books.  On an evening in July, some teachers and I rode our bikes through the school’s neighborhoods.  We visited with students, giving them free books and a popsicle.  I used Scholastic book fair points and funds to acquire books to give away to students.  Books on Bikes was started in Charlottesville, VA.  For more information, go to http://www.booksonbikescville.org.  


If students read over the summer, I reward them when they return to school in August.  I ask students to write down the titles of books they read over the summer, get their parents to sign the list, and return it to me by a certain date.  Students who did summer reading are invited to a summer reading party!  They enjoy extra recess, music, popsicles or ice-cream, and a free book of their choice!  This party is always a blast and a wonderful motivator to encourage kids to summer read.

Studies by Krashen (2004) simply state, ‘More access to books results in more reading.’  I truly believe that if you increase access to books and provide a little motivation, students will read over the summer months.  For the most part, these are easy ways to encourage summer reading.  Next year, I’d like to start a Book Mobile! I  welcome any information or suggestions to get this started.  Good luck and best wishes getting students to summer read!