Friday, August 22, 2014

Build a Library Book Shower

We've all been there. We get our first teaching job. Our first classroom. We can hardly contain our excitement about the upcoming year...and then we walk into that new classroom for the first time and reality hits us square in the face! If we're lucky, we are replacing a teacher and so we find furniture, teaching manuals, math manipulatives, textbooks, maybe even school supplies ordered by the previous teacher. For some of us, our position and classroom may be a new addition to the building to address an increase in enrollment. In that case, we *might* find furniture and that's about it. In either situation, one thing we are less likely to find is a well stocked classroom library. More often than not, the bulk of a classroom library is purchased with our own funds, maybe some Scholastic bonus points and various donations. But the bulk of the collection goes with us as we move on to another teaching  assignment.

The latter was the exact situation my friend, Katie, found herself in this summer. She has landed her first classroom and I'm so excited for her and the students who will be blessed to be in her classroom. I saw her one evening back in late June, right after she had made her first visit to see her new teaching space. Excitement was overshadowed by panic as she shared with me that she only found student desks, chairs, and a teacher desk in her new space. I remember the look on her face as she asked me, "What am I going to do about a classroom library? There are no books!"  The look on her face and those words kept replaying through my mind as I drove home that night.

The library has always been the heartbeat of my own classroom. It is essential to every single aspect of the learning environment. It is also always the MOST expensive part of the classroom to build. Right away I started brainstorming ways I might be able to help Katie build a library for her 3rd grade classroom. I knew I had some multiple copies of books that I could certainly donate, which got me thinking. Maybe other friends and family would like to help with some donations also. I'd seen a few pictures of "book" themed baby showers and an idea of a Build a Library Book Shower started forming in my mind. I called a mutual friend, Sarah, who is also a teacher, to ask if she would like to co-plan and host the event with me. The key was that we wanted it to be a surprise for Katie. 

The planning was SO much fun! I have to say, if I wasn't working in education, I think I would LOVE being a party planner. We planned a menu where each food item was tied to a picture book appropriate for 3rd grade. I created book banners for decorating and Sarah made adorable Book Worm goodie bags for the guests. In the invitation, we made suggestions for 3rd grade appropriate series, author studies, and read alouds to assist guests with ideas. We suggested that books could be new or gently used, and also welcomed gift cards to a local independent book store or Amazon. All the picture books we used on the Food Table were also given to her at the end of the evening.  We pulled off the surprise and Katie left with over three boxes of great books and several gift cards to grow her classroom library!
Coconut Curry Chicken Skewers 
Pasta Salad
BBQ Meatballs
Garden Veggies and Dip
Cheese and Crackers
Mini No-Bake Blueberry Cheesecakes
Southern Sweet Tea
Pink Lemonade
Super cute Book Worm Goodie Bags
Watching Katie go through the boxes was SO much fun! Of course I had to keep stopping her with book talks and gasps of "Oh I love that book (or series) SO much!"
The guest of honor with the party hosts! Love these two girls so much! Students in their classrooms are so, so blessed!
Wouldn't this be a lovely way to welcome a new staff member to your building? You can change up the menu based on the grade level the new staff member will be teaching. Add fun bookmarks or book plates as party favors. Another idea would be to have staff members had their favorite read alouds, favorite quotes, or words for wisdom in a nice journal. The teacher could use the journal to write daily reflections from their first year of teaching, or their first year in a new grade level, building, or district. The possibilities are endless...and the rewards are far reaching as we encourage our new staff members and support well stocked classroom libraries!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

2014 Picture Book 10 for 10

Welcome and thanks for stopping by to see my 2014 10 for 10 list! This has certainly become one of my favorite days of the year!I can't believe another whole year has passed and we are once again celebrating this wonderful (and expensive) day for a FIFTH year!  It's so fantastic to have a day where picture books are celebrated across grade levels and contents. 

In the past four years I've highlight my top 10 picture books for Kindergarten readers, top 10 picture books for intermediate readers, top 10 picture books for building character & community, top 10 Maine picture book authors/illustrators, and top 10 picture book book trailers. This year I had a lot of themes swirling around in my head and finally decided on my drive home from New York today to highlight my top 10 picture books about books and/or reading.  All of the titles have become favorites that I love sharing with readers of all ages. 

(description from Publisher's Weekly) With a pinch of the tWith a pinch of the tongue-in-cheek and a pound of perseverance, this droll wolf story is a charmer. When a hungry, nearly penniless itinerant wolf decides to make a meal of some barnyard animals, he finds that they won't even look up from their books. "This is a farm for educated animals," they tell him. The wolf is caught so off guard that he forgets about his appetite and enrolls in school. When he takes his newfound knowledge back to the farm and proudly reads, "Run wolf! Run!" the animals go on "reading their own books, not the least impressed." Not until the wolf makes repeat visits to the library and buys his own storybook (with his last coins) can he read "with confidence and passion," entrancing the cow, pig and duck with story after story.

(description from Goodreads) Cal is not the readin' type. Living way high up in the Appalachian Mountains, he'd rather help Pap plow or go out after wandering sheep than try some book learning. Nope. Cal does not want to sit stoney-still reading some chicken scratch. But that Book Woman keeps coming just the same. She comes in the rain. She comes in the snow. She comes right up the side of the mountain, and Cal knows that's not easy riding. And all just to lend his sister some books. Why, that woman must be plain foolish; or is she braver than he ever thought? That Book Woman is a rare and moving tale that honors a special part of American history; the Pack Horse Librarians, who helped untold numbers of children see the stories amid the chicken scratch, and thus made them into lifetime readers.

(description from Goodreads) With the help of Miss Brooks, Missy’s classmates all find books they love in the library—books about fairies and dogs and trains and cowboys. But Missy dismisses them all—“Too flowery, too furry, too clickety, too yip pity.” Still, Miss Brooks remains undaunted. Book Week is here and Missy willfind a book to love if they have to empty the entire library. What story will finally win over this beastly, er, discriminating child? William Steig’sShrek!—the tale of a repulsive green ogre in search of a revolting bride—of course! Barbara Bottner and Michael Emberley pay playful homage to the diverse tastes of child readers and the valiant librarians who are determined to put just the right book in each child’s hands

(description from Goodreads) One sunlit afternoon, a bear discovers a mysterious fragment of paper that leads him to a cabin and to an unlikely friend. Although he can't understand her words, he returns day after day all summer to hear the woman read to him. Each night he carries the sound of her stories--of sailors and goddesses and far-off lands--back to his cave. The stories are from another world, but their sound touches him

(description from Goodreads) Bear found his friend Mouse, but Mouse was busy gathering seeds and didn't have time to listen to a story. Then Bear saw his friend Duck, but Duck was getting ready to fly south. What about his friend Toad? He was busy looking for a warm place to sleep. By the time Bear was through helping his friends get ready for winter, would anyone still be awake to hear his story?  This endearing story of friendship and patience is a worthy companion to Philip and Erin Stead's last collaboration, A Sick Day for Amos McGee, winner of the 2011 Caldecott Medal.

(description from Goodreads) Elizabeth Brown doesn't like to play with dolls and she doesnt like to skate. What she does like to do is read books. Lots of books. The only problem is that her library has gotten so big she can't even use her front door anymore. What should Elizabeth Brown do? Start her own public library, of course! With charming verse and watercolors Sarah Stewart and David Small celebrate one of America's oldest and finest institutions.

(description from Goodreads) Like many children, Henry loves books. But Henry doesn’t like to read books, he likes to eat them. Big books, picture books, reference books . . . if it has pages, Henry chews them up and swallows (but red ones are his favorite). And the more he eats, the smarter he gets—he’s on his way to being the smartest boy in the world! But one day he feels sick to his stomach. And the information is so jumbled up inside, he can’t digest it! Can Henry find a way to enjoy books without using his teeth? With a stunning new artistic style and a die-cut surprise, Oliver Jeffers celebrates the joys of reading in this charming and quirky picture book. It’s almost good enough to eat.

(description from Indie Bound) Tomas is a son of migrant workers. Every summer he and his family follow the crops north from Texas to Iowa, spending long, arduous days in the fields. At night they gather around to hear Grandfather's wonderful stories. But before long, Tomas knows all the stories by heart. "There are more stories in the library," Papa Grande tells him. The very next day, Tomas meets the library lady and a whole new world opens up for him. Based on the true story of the Mexican-American author and educator Tomas Rivera, a child of migrant workers who went on to become the first minority Chancellor in the University of California system, this inspirational story suggests what libraries, and education, can make possible. 

(description from Goodreads) Alia Muhammad Baker is a librarian in Basra, Iraq. For fourteen years, her library has been a meeting place for those who love books. Until now. Now war has come, and Alia fears that the library--along with the thirty thousand books within it--will be destroyed forever. In a war-stricken country where civilians--especially women--have little power, this true story about a librarian's struggle to save her community's priceless collection of books reminds us all how, throughout the world, the love of literature and the respect for knowledge know no boundaries. 

(description from Amazon)  Playful and lighthearted with a subversive twist that is signature Lane Smith, It’s a Book is a delightful manifesto on behalf of print in the digital age. This satisfying, perfectly executed picture book has something to say to readers of all stripes and all ages. Granted I only use this one with adult learners, but I love it SO much! 

It's been so fun to participate in #pb10for10 from the very beginning. I am always excited to see what spin others will take with their lists. Thank you to Cathy Mere (@CathyMere) atReflect & Refine: Building a Learning Community and Mandy Robek (@mandyrobek) atEnjoy and Embrace Learning for continuing to host this fantastic celebration of picture books!