Friday, August 30, 2013

Great Reads! - Picture Books

Several people teachers have been asking me to recommend some new titles for their classroom libraries.  In my library these are the titles I can't keep on shelf. (It's a great problem to have!) A few weeks ago I posted my student's favorite chapter books. Here's my list of favorite picture books and author/illustrators.

(I have about 1500 picture books in my library. It was really hard to narrow the list down to my favorites. I just love books.)

1) Tried and true: It's hard to go wrong with the following:

My favorite author/illustrators of picture books and their websites:

Eve Bunting
Jan Brett
Eric Carle blog:
Doreen Cronin
Denise Fleming
Mem Fox
Kevin Henkes
Pat Hutchins 
Helen Lester
Arnold Lobol
Jonathan London
Mercer Mayer
Robert Munsch
Laura Numeroff
Cynthia Rylant
Dr. Seuss
David Shannon 
Janet Stevens
Audrey Wood

Most authors/illustrators have a website or blog, but not all. Don't forget to check YouTube. A few can be found there reading their books.

2)  Books that have been published in the last five years that I can't teach/live/work without:)

Tad Hills - Love the Rocket stories
Eric Litwin and James Dean - Pete the Cat
Chris Raschka - (Ball for Daisy) 
Judy Schachner - Skippyjon Jones
Melanie Watt - Scaredy Squirrel
Mo Willems (Only wish I'd found him sooner!)

These are just a few of my favorites. It's really hard for me to "meet" a book I don't like.
I'll be posting more about my favorite "new" picture books as I introduce them to my darlings.

Keep Reading!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Book Fair - Need I Say More?!?

It was here and now it's gone! My annual book fair.

For every librarian, who needs to raise money, a book fair is a necessity. As a former teacher, book fair was place for me to find some new books for my classroom. As the librarian, it's a lot of work. In the past I used Scholastic's book fairs. They have a really good book fair, but it's a LOT of work. Then, I found Backyard Book Fair. I'm in love. They arrive the Friday before my fair starts and set it up. Yes, they set it up. Then during my fair, they staff and run the fair. All I have to do is bring the students. (Oh yeah, and take their check at the end of the week!) I have serious library love for this company. If I have a book request, they try to find it for me. Love it! Can you tell I love Backyard Book Fairs? Ha.

If you are interested, give them a call. Be sure and tell Aaron he owes me a free book!!!

Keep Reading!

Monday, August 26, 2013

What Was I Thinking? #IMWAYR for August 26

"It's Monday! What are you reading?" hosted by Teach Mentor Texts.

I did it again. I read a book that was NOT book one in the series. I hate it when I do that. Now I'm going to drive myself crazy until I find book one and of course order the next couple in the series. Which series? I'm so glad you asked. This weekend I read book 2 of the Dreamhouse Kings series, Watcher in the Woods by Robert Liparulo.

It gets a 5 stars for my middle schoolers. It's a great little horror read. Yes, I said horror. Something I normally would never read. It's a really great "freaky creepy"! Just the right mix of scary, mystery and lite on the gross factor. It does mention mutilations  so for your younger readers, be wary.

Basically the King family move into a house where the dad lived as a youngster. The house is home to a time portal.  (Mom is snatched by a time traveler in the first book.. AWWWW I've got to read the first one!) In this book the Dad and kids try to figure out how the portal works and take a couple trips to the past looking for their mother.  I don't want to give away too much. It was REALLY good.

That's it. That is the only chapter book I read all week. I feel like such a bad librarian! I did read 2 Pete the Cat books. Picked them up at book fair. Do I need to say anything about Pete? Groovy!


Keep Reading! I will. I have a challenge to meet.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

I Love a Great Challenge!

I almost always know what my students are reading. Either they are checking out books from the school's library, my domain, or they're reading books from their classroom libraries. I still know what they are reading. My darlings talk to me about their books! I hear all about the good ones, the bad ones, and the so-so ones. (I can always cheat and look at their Accelerated Reader records.)  I really know what my students are reading. Most teachers and librarians do. It doesn't require super powers. But, do my students know what I'm reading? I feel it's very important for my students to see adults read, especially their teachers. We are all the time asking our students to read and there are some students who believe it's just to keep them quiet (as if that would work...)!

To balance out that reading equation, I've implemented a couple new strategies to promote school-wide reading. The first strategy I'm trying in the library is my currently reading sign. (Click here to read that post.) My teachers are also encouraged to do something similar in their classrooms.

The second strategy came in the form of a reading challenge. The very first day of school I was discussing new books with my 5th graders. I read about 150 books over the summer break. Of course someone asked if I had read every book in the library. No, I haven't. I read one Goosebumps..... Why read another? My brain can only handle so much garbage! Then one of my darlings wanted to know just how many books I've read. I replied honestly, "I don't know." Do you know how hard it is for a librarian to admit not knowing something? AWWW.... Then, "How many books do you read in a year?" Gees! This little big question brought on a challenge. My fifth graders challenged me  to read 300 books during this school year. (They wanted me to read 500 books, but I reminded them I do have a life outside school books. I really do:) Oh course there were rules. I can not count books I've read before August 1, 2013 or any book I read out loud to any of my classes. I do get to read a mix of books. They don't all have to be chapter books. I can count new picture books and non-fiction books that I purchase for the library. Yes, I'm counting any book I read for personal pleasure as long as it's the first time read. I can only count Agatha Christie's if I find one I've not read before. There are a couple out of print I don't own....

In honor of the challenge, I wanted to create a visual for the library. Every year there are various non-profits that post their fund raising goals all over town. My first thought was to create a large poster I could color or add stickers to, but that idea didn't mesh with my library d├ęcor. Earlier this summer I had purchased some cute reading clipart from Srappin' Doodles. Time to put it to use! Thus, my School Reading Chart was born.


I tried to get it finished before the great BTS sale, but I wanted to test it first. If you are interested, it's here in my TPT store. I added a few books to demonstrate in the pictures. No, I'm not already up to 120 books. I need a little sleep. Otherwise my boys insist I'm cranky!

What crazy things do you do to get your students to read?

Keep Reading! I will.....

Monday, August 19, 2013

Reads of the Week! #IMWAYR for August 19

One of my goals this school year is to post regularly on "It's Monday! What are you reading?" hosted by Teach Mentor Texts.  So here goes:
One of my favorite things this summer was reading all the great book reviews/suggestions and getting my lists ready for purchasing books this fall. I found this series, Secret Agent Jack Stalwart by Elizabeth Singer Hunt, this spring and they had been in my stack to read all summer. Well, my summer is gone. My stack - at least it greatly decreased. I finally managed to read these three over the weekend. #12 Fight For The Frozen Land, #13 Hunt for the Yeti Skull and #14 The Mission To Find Max

For my students who have aspirations of being the next James Bond, this will be right up their alley. In a nut shell, Jack "Courage" Stalwart is a 9 year old spy. His older brother, Max, is also a secret spy who disappeared four months before Jack's adventures began. For whatever reason, I started reading book #12. (I'm guessing I had a student request these three titles! Now I'm probably going to get requests to order previous books) The series ends with book #14 The Mission to Find Max. My favorite thing about the books, other than the action/adventure theme which will definitely appeal to my boys, was the sprinkling of history and science facts found in the stories. I love the fact that my students will be reading fiction and could still learn something. Kind of like eating a Hersey's bar and biting into a delicious almond!

If you have young readers in your library (second - fifth graders), they'll love them.

Keep Reading!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

I'm Just A Meanie!

I'm just plain mean. No, not really. More of a tease. This summer I won this little book from Kit Lit Frenzy  and I've been driving my students crazy.

I've been seen reading it and reading to them just little tidbits. Now I've had about 20 hold requests for the book. (It also helps that the author signed it "Watch out for subway zombies!")

Some days I'm just plain mean.

Doing whatever it takes to get my students to read,

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

I Got Mail!!! Well, My Blogger Exchange Box

To get to know my fellow bloggers a little better, I signed up for The Blogger Exchange hosted by Katie of Adventures of Ms. Smith and  Jessica of Covered in Glitter and Glue.

I was paired with Crystal from My Kinder-Garden. It was loads of fun finding things for her "Wild about Learning" classroom, while I was out picking up a few red things for my library. As I was working on a couple projects for my library, I made her a few things. Hint I used the same zebra print that's on my school's main entry board!

My package went to my school address. With this crazy weather I wasn't sure if it would be safe for the mail carrier to leave on my porch. (Depending on what kind of mood my border collie would be in, I might not have a package when I got home! :)

I was all excited when the secretary came into the library about lunch with a "special delivery". Had a Mr. Roger's moment.  Hey, it was Monday and things get a little crazy around my school. (I sometimes think the little gremlins break invent extra things for me to trouble shoot... I do enjoy a challenge. )

I will admit it was after school before I had time to open my box.

The large rubber bands are just what I needed. As a library gal, I use them all the time in book repairs. I go though sticky notes and sharpies like there's no tomorrow. I can't decide what's my favorite thing. Love and will use it all.

Thanks ladies. I had a blast. Yes, Crystal, I am loving what you sent me.

Keep Reading, You know I will!

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Little Library Love with MMI

I missed last week's MMI!  I've loved reading the Monday Made It's this summer. Even when I don't post, I still go and check out everyone's projects. Thanks Tara for hosting a great linky. You never know when someone will have an idea that I might "borrow"!

In the last couple days of craziness before the students arrived, I added a couple little things to the library (my classroom). The biggest project involved my desk. It needed a major face lift. The teacher before me had it painted with red and white strips like "the cat's" hat. It was cute BUT the white strips were starting to look dirty. We won't even mention the clips on the drawers. Did I remember to take a picture? Nope. Besides, I'm going to have to add a few more coats. Anyone painted anything red lately? You will understand my pain. Just trust me, put enough paint on an old teacher desk and it will look better. (It might be holding it together! It's probably the same desk my grandmother used when she taught at my school.) See, you got it with out a picture!

On a few of the many blogs I read this summer, fellow teachers had been jazzing up their pocket charts with duct tape. I had a little zebra print that I thought would look cute. Nope, overkill. Then I found a couple rolls of white with black polka dots ribbon at Wal-Mart. Ribbon + hot glue = Library Cuteness! (And to think Mrs. Taylor thought I wasn't paying attention in Algebra. HA.) Thought it turned out near perfect. Now my objects/standards will be displayed with class! It looks great under my read banner.

I posted last week about my new social media bulletin board. Due to the number of requests for the buttons, I put them in my Google drive. If you are interested, click here. (I missed the Monday Made It's so some of you didn't see it.)

I've been adding the last of my crazy projects to the library this summer with new labels for the shelves. I found a double handful of wooden rulers and painted them red. (Don't fret. They were advertisement rulers that I'm sure came from the fair last year. My State Farm agent would have laughed and maybe sent me more.) I added Dewey labels with some cute clip art. I really want my students to read more non-fiction. I'll try it for a while and see if it works. When I am totally happy with them, I'll load the file to TPT. I like to test everything first.

Is my room/library ready for students? Not totally. The new computers are supposed to arrive sometime this week. No problem. It's close. Not that it really matters at this point. My students started back last week. So far they like all the changes.

Check out Tara's blog for more Monday Made It's!

Keep reading! and have a great year.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Where is Mrs. Brown?

No, I didn't fall off the end of the Earth! School started. Yep, I'm back. (Having flashbacks of Poltergeist!) I've been working really late. You would think that getting ready to start the school year would be easy for librarians. Sometimes. I decided to do a little redecorating and organizing this summer. If you've seen my Monday Made Its, you will have seen tidbits of my madness. I'm so not a girly girl, but now the library has some new book baskets, shelf markers, and shelf labels. Hey, I'll try almost anything to get my darlings into a great book.

As I have mentioned before, I teach at a really SMALL school. Because of our size, I have other jobs besides librarian.  For example, I'm our Technology Support Teacher. (This year our district is renaming my position to Technology Coach. I get to do less fixing of computers and more helping my teachers use technology in their classrooms.) As my school's techie, I help my teachers get their computers set up and make sure everything is running smoothly for the first day of class. Usually this is a one day job. Not so this year. I broke down a lab and moved those computers to the classrooms. We're getting a new mobile lab which I really believe will be better utilized. This resulted in my working a few late nights this week. (I really started a week ago Thursday.) We've also had a couple teachers switch classrooms so I've been trying to help by moving their computers. (And anything else they need. I'm really too nice. Ha!)

In between all the moving around I did get a couple bulletin boards finished. I worked on the main entry way board last week and finished it Wednesday afternoon. My teachers, principal, and kids (so far) have loved it. Of course I used my favorite red. Had to add a little animal print. I thought it looked pretty good. Whoop! Whoop!

To introduce internet safety, I created a THINK bulletin board. I had pinned this from a couple sites back in the spring and knew I wanted to "borrow" the idea. This one took a little bit of time to create because I couldn't find all the social media buttons I wanted to place on my board. With a little time and persistence I created the following buttons for my board. If you can use them, comment below and I'll send you a copy. Make sure your reply by email is on so I'll be able to see your email. Otherwise just email me on my gmail account. (easttennesseebookworm)

Hopefully I can get the last two classrooms set up tomorrow. I'm waiting to see if we get to hire another teacher. Our numbers are sooooooo close.

Keep Reading.... I'll have a little time this weekend.

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