June is GLBT Book Month

ImageIn late June 1969, LGBT patrons and neighbors of the Stonewall Inn –  a popular bar that catered to the LGBT community of the Greenwich Village neighborhood in Manhattan – protested and rioted in the streets after police raided the inn. These protests and riots became the catalyst for the modern LGBT rights movement in the United States, and thus June became the month chosen to celebrate LGBT Pride.

June – as of 2015 – was also appropriately declared GLBT Book Month by the American Library Association. Authors and literature reflecting the experience of the LGBT community are highlighted and celebrated. I’ve included a visual menu of the 2019 Rainbow Book List for elementary age students, as well as some additional titles I recommend as you build your collection to represent LGBTQ students and families in your community. You can download it by clicking here.

Unfortunately, many of these books have been or will be challenged by parents or even other teachers within schools deeming them inappropriate. In turn, this makes many teachers and librarians nervous about including these books in a classroom or school library collection. But if you are nervous, take a minute to ponder these three portions of the American Library Association’s Bill of Rights which also apply to school library programs.  Perhaps after reading these statements – particularly the underlined portions – you will become more confident about including LGBTQ literature in your school or classroom library:

“Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.” From the ALA Library Bill of Rights

“Intellectual freedom, the essence of equitable library services, provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question, cause, or movement may be explored. Toleration is meaningless without tolerance for what some may consider detestable. Librarians cannot justly permit their own preferences to limit their degree of tolerance in collection development, because freedom is indivisible.” From the ALA Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights

“Librarians and governing bodies should maintain that only parents and guardians have the right and the responsibility to determine their children’s—and only their children’s—access to library resources. Parents and guardians who do not want their children to have access to specific library services, materials, or facilities should so advise their children.” From the ALA Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights

To further celebrate Pride month, I’m offering a set of FREE posters and bookmarks featuring quotes from the first openly elected gay official, Harvey Milk. You can display them and hand them out in your libraries or classrooms this month, and every month. Click here for the FREE posters and here for the FREE bookmarks.

Happy Pride!

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National Parks

Screen Shot 2019-05-18 at 12.27.36 PMSummer is right around the corner. Part of my summer plans include a trip to Yosemite National Park; we’re staying in the new airstream auto-park. Other than the Grand Canyon, it will be the only other National Park I’ve visited which got me thinking how much of the USA there is to explore. I searched our library for books about National Parks – you know, because that recent Jeopardy champion, James Holzhauer, says part of his strategy for success includes reading kids’ nonfiction books because children’s books are filled with “infographics, pictures and all kinds of stuff to keep the reader engaged.” And he’s right, I learned a ton about Yosemite in a short amount of time by reading some of the books we had sitting on our shelves. One book I would highly recommend for your collection is National Parks of the USA written by Kate Siber and beautifully illustrated by Chris Turnham. The book takes readers on a coast-to-coast journey through all of the national parks exploring plant and animal life as well as the spectacular and varied landscapes of the United States. Another title I’d offer as a recommendation is from the biography shelves: John Muir: America’s Naturalist by Thomas Locker.  I enjoyed reading about the founder of the Sierra Club and discovered much about this conservationist’s passion for nature and wildlife through excerpts from his own writings and accompanied by Locker’s stunning illustrations which capture the natural beauty of our country of which Muir was so fond. I put together a few freebies you may want including three bookmarks, a checklist/poster of America’s 61 National Parks, and a visual book menu of other suggested titles about these National Parks that double as national treasures. Download them all for free here. Screen Shot 2019-05-18 at 12.13.04 PM

Scan Me: Bookmark

Screen Shot 2019-05-06 at 6.28.47 PMI made these bookmarks to give away in these final weeks of school as another way to lead kids to their next great read. Scanning the QR code with the camera on your smartphone or tablet will take you to a YouTube playlist of over 100 official book trailers (like movie previews except for books). Grab them here in color or black and white. I print two pages on one page so that the bookmarks are smaller and gives me 6 per page instead of three per page. Enjoy sharing them with your students however you decide to print them.

National Poetry Month

IMG_8602April is National Poetry Month so I’ve put together a few ways I share poetry in the library. Anyone else a Shel Silverstein fan?  It was little surprise to find both Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic in various stages of disrepair; falling apart, but well loved. I ordered new copies to start their own journey in what will likely be constant circulation, but I couldn’t bear to toss out the hilarious, thought provoking, and sentimental poems and artwork that are uniquely Shel Silverstein. Instead, I cut out the poems and illustrations, mounted them on card stock, laminated, and decorated the circulation desk for the month of April. It was especially nice to find a first-grader sitting down at the book return reading a poem out loud this morning as I was readying our self-checkout for the day ahead. I enjoy the incredible craft of sneaking in reading wherever I can, even waiting in line to check out a book; reading while waiting to read more.

IMG_8589I also printed out one of my favorite poems – Kids Who Are Different by Digby Wolfe – and rolled them into tiny scrolls which – with kids for some reason – makes them instantly more appealing. I created a sign to attract and encourage patrons to put a poem in their pocket after their book check out. Hopefully these will be unrolled and used as bookmarks, found in pockets and read by moms or dads when doing laundry, or shared on the car ride to soccer or around the dinner table. Per the request of one student, I even had it translated into Spanish because she wanted to share it with her non-English speaking/reading parents. Regardless of the situation, I hope the poem clearly conveys the important message – it’s your difference that makes you unique. You can grab the sign and poems for FREE here.

Screen Shot 2019-04-11 at 7.40.19 PMA fun activity to do in the library is book spine poetry, but pulling books off the shelves can be a bit of a pain and prevent some books from being checked out if they’re being used for the activity and then put on display. Instead, I made paper book spines with popular children’s book titles that students can manipulate and move around to create poems as seen here. Printed on card stock and laminated they can be used again and again so that you’re not wasting paper. Students can record their poems on recording sheets or take a photo with a device and then share it on social media or school websites, or they can even be printed and hung in hallways or on bulletin boards. Grab a set in my TeachersPayTeachers store by clicking here.

Happy National Poetry Month!

Let’s Draw! Directed Drawing Guides

Screen Shot 2019-03-19 at 5.21.16 PMI’ve had many people ask me where I’m getting the directions for the directed drawings I have been doing with my kindergarten students, and the truth is I just make them up. Since there’s been some interest I have started what will be a new line of products in my TeachersPayTeachers store called Let’s Draw. These guides will provide step by step directions for the drawings. My first set focuses on 10 influential women in history. Not only do you get a step-by-step illustrated guide for each portrait, you also receive a suggested book to read aloud to your class that highlights each woman’s life and accomplishments as well as a page of frequently asked questions and their answers.  If you’re interested in purchasing a set you can click here to find them.

Directed Drawings

IMG_7288This is my first year as the school librarian, and prior to this role I had not worked with students younger than third-grade. So, to say the least, I was (and still am) very inexperienced when it comes to working with kindergarten students. I was completely clueless to what a student in kindergarten could do as far as reading, writing, drawing, coloring and following directions. After a few visits, I finally fell into a rhythm that seems to work well. Each week I visit with my kindergarten students on Fridays. They are housed at a separate campus this year so I start my day with them until about 11:00. I see four classes one week and the other four classes the next week. The class period is 30 minutes, during which I do a picture book read-aloud (we talk about the parts of a book, fiction vs. nonfiction, and book care during this time too), lead students in a directed drawing that accompanies the book, and allow time for students to select a new book to take back to their classroom before leaving. Directed drawings are great for so many reasons: learning shapes, following directions, practicing hand-eye coordination, developing spatial and size awareness, fine-tuning those fine-motor skills, building vocabulary (I say things like parallel lines and intersect), and building confidence as budding artists. I’ve actually done directed drawings with students in grades three, four and five, and it tackles all the same skills for older students too. They start to realize that they can draw, and that drawing is just putting together simple, basic shapes. Typically I use books like Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book of Faces, Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book of Animals or Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book of Weirdos which are great for showing even amateur artist how to assemble an image out of basic shapes.

Screen Shot 2019-03-10 at 5.03.56 PMThis month, we are reading about famous women for Women’s History Month and then drawing their portraits. Typically I can search Google for “Directed Drawing of Polar Bear” or “Directed Drawing of Penguin” but nothing existed for “Directed Drawing of Frida Khalo” or “Directed Drawing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg” so I decided to attempt it on my own. I typically show students how to draw step by step. That is, I draw a circle, then they draw a circle. I’ll give directions like, “Let’s add an ear which is the shape of the letter C, and then a backwards C on the other side.” I found it was important to also have a completed, fully colored drawing hanging up next to the one I complete with them so they have a sense of what the final product will look like. It also gives them some sense about how big the shapes should be on their paper since I’m drawing a much larger version on chart paper. I have to say, I am always pleasantly surprised with how they turn out. Now, not every student is completely successful, and some perfectionists go through about four sheets of paper, the majority of students end up with a pretty good representation of what or who we were drawing. There’s a real sense of accomplishment and pride when students see their work on display. Happy drawing.

Books are Magically Delicious

IMG_7228My feature book display for the month of March all started with St. Patrick’s Day. I thought of leprechauns and how they hide their pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. In a children’s library, you’re likely to find many award-winning books all stamped with a gold foil replica of the Newbery medal or the Caldecott medal and thus my pot of gold was born. But of course this pot of gold called for a rainbow, and I wanted it to make a strong visual impact when kids entered the library. The idea of using paper chains came to me from a window display I spied in town during the winter holidays; it would be cheap yet pack a powerful punch. Following the R-O-Y-G-B-I-V color motif, I linked twenty strips of construction paper to create a chain and made four chains of each color to make it more impactful. I then hung the strips from the ceiling using these hooks. With the bookshelf centered under the cascading chains from the ceiling, I had myself the end of a rainbow hovering over a pot of literary gold. For extra sparkle, I created large two-sided copies of the medals and doused them with glitter and glue. Attaching coffee stir sticks, I randomly stuck them in various titles on the top shelf. IMG_7229Additionally I scattered these gold coins among the books on display to give it a little extra bling that a pot of gold needs. Finally, I made a sign: Books are Magically Delicious featuring Lucky the leprechaun from Lucky Charms cereal. If you want the oversized Newbery and Caldecott medals you can download them here. If you want the Books are Magically Delicious sign, you can click here. Finally, I’ll leave you with some of my favorite St. Patrick’s Day read-aloud picture books: The Gingerbread Man and Leprechaun Loose at School by Laura Murray and How to Catch a Leprechaun by Adam Wallace. Both lend themselves to creating traps for leprechauns; a great STEM or STEAM activity to do in your makerspace.  Happy St. Patrick’s Day!