What Is Banned Book Week

Banned Book Week, the American Library Association’s annual event which celebrates intellectual freedom and an individual’s freedom to read, has taken over Ottauquechee School!  Before I post photos of what’s going on at OQS specifically, I wanted to be sure to share the thought process behind this event.

One of my greatest privileges as a librarian is the knowledge that I am making information of all types available to students with open hearts and inquisitive minds.  I do not censor what books are purchased for the library, and I hope that all viewpoints and perspectives are present in all areas of the library, from fiction to biographies to picture books to the non-fiction.  My job is to help guide your students in their inquiry, not to decide which information is “right.”  Besides any question of age-appropriateness, I can’t think of any reason to keep a book out of the hands of a person who is seeking knowledge.

And the American Library Association agrees with me.  Learn more here.

I already had a rousing discussion with fourth grade today about why a book would be challenged, how they would feel to have information censored from them, and whether or not this kind of censorship exists in this country.  All amazing and thought-provoking questions and answers.  Why not ask your student what he or she is learning about banned books this week?

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Where’s My Latte?

With many, many thanks to a local furniture-maker, Mark Benson, the library now has its own “internet café,” if you will, for its research area!  This new seating arrangement, with awesome purple stools, is just what the computer area needs.  Now I just need to wait until the novelty wears off and the kids stop twirling in their seats and raising them up and down!  My bet is another month. With an internet cafe vibe and comfy chairs, who would want to leave? It’s practically Starbucks!

As Dr. C said when she saw them before our staff meeting yesterday, “Oh, they’re beautiful!  Where’s my latte?”

Scavenging

Let’s see how well the students remember what they learned during their tour of the library at the beginning of the year…Nothing like a scavenger hunt to get them excited on a Monday morning!  Will they be able to locate four new books in the stacks using the library’s online card catalog?  We’ll see who the lucky winners will be, and maybe they will win some of the awesome free swag I received when I went to visit Jeff Kinney (author of The Diary of a Wimpy Kid)’s bookstore, An Unlikely Story, this weekend.  Click on the hyperlink to see my photos on the OQS library Facebook page! Be sure to follow along with us there, as well!

Happy hunting!

Update:

The students are excellent Dewey Decimal hunters!  Any brave soul who tried to find one of the clues was rewarded with a pin (courtesy of my trip to the bookstore, as stated above), and the student who was able to find his or her book the fastest was given his or her very own Captain Underpants cape!

Check out the slideshow to witness the winners of epic Dewey Decimal Domination!

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“Fortunately, The Milk”

Grades 2-5 have been surprised, intrigued, confused, entertained, and absolutely engaged reading Neil Gaiman’s short illustrated novel, Fortunately, The Milk.  It segues nicely from the poem we read the first week of school, which invites students to be “wishes, dreamers, liars, pretenders,” as the students don’t know until the very end of the story whether the story the main character is telling is true or not.  It also continues the momentum from reading Dinosaur Vs. The Library, since both of them are laugh-out-loud funny, and lets the students know it’s okay to laugh and have fun in the library.  Overall, I’d say the library has been a funnier place than ever before!

Seriously, ask your students to explain the plot for you.  Make sure you have some time on your hands and an open mind!

Some classes took longer discussing the story than others, but if we had time, the students then generated a cooperative story (as ridiculously outlandish as Gaiman’s!), which was a blast to read as well!  Here is 4S giving collaboration a shot.

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Open-mindedness, creativity, a sense of humor and teamwork are all part of the learning that happens here in the library!

Welcome Back!

Oh, what a wonderful week to kick off a new year in the library!  The students were so excited by the many changes they couldn’t help but notice right away, and I had them absolutely salivating to get their hands on the books once they had a chance to look around (if I do say so myself).

One thing everyone agrees on is that the library just feels bigger now that we have our new carpet, not to mention so beautiful!  With some strategic movement of furniture, and the windows letting in the sunlight, it feels like a brand new space.

I started each class discussing the Shel Silverstein poem “Invitation,” which I hung in the window by the door of the library, hopefully “inviting” students to enjoy the library as often and as thoroughly as possible.  The students made some very astute observations of the imagery in the short 8-line poem, and our brief discussion to kick off each class felt like a wonderful way to begin the year.

I also began each class with the hilarious read aloud Dinosaur vs. The Library by Bob Shea, with Mrs. Whitney actually (gasp!) ROARING in the library!

This led to a conversation about expected and unexpected behaviors in the library (i.e. unexpected: roaring expected: using our inside roars).  The students seem to understand what behavior will make for the safest, most productive, and most fun experience in the library. Let’s hope they still remember after the long weekend!

Finally, we had a tour and a celebration of all the changes (like all those awesome new genre labels on the Fiction books!), as well as a discussion of some of the fun to come!

Why not ask your student if they saw any of the cool new books to be displayed next week, or what’s all the fuss about the Makerspace?  I bet you’ll be surprised by all the fun in store!

Thank you again for sharing your students with me!  I’m so happy they’re back!

End of the Year Wrap-Up

Well, the end of the school year has arrived and as I pack up the library for the summer, I am feeling immensely pleased with the way that my first year as OQS librarian played out.  The students reflected on their favorite things about library in their journals last week, and the response was so broad that I was happy that I was able to personalize the library so that it was enjoyable to so many.

We read oh so many books and dabbled in technology.  I now know for sure which books must be ordered for next year and which ones are surprisingly not so popular.  I have a plan to combat the surprisingly low interest in fiction, though, which will be coming later this summer!  I piqued their interest in the Makerspace and since we every grade will have one hour dedicated to STEAM next year, I am glad they are intrigued!  We made connections to what we read to our lives and other stories, and studied genres and the elements of fiction.  We had lots of fun and adventures, and now that the kids know me, I think it’ll just pick up right where we left off in the fall.

To all of you, thank you for sharing this journey with me, and for parents, thank you for sharing your children with me!  Enjoy your summer and keep your students reading! I’ll be helping with the summer reading program at the Quechee library on Tuesdays at 4 pm.  I hope to see you there!

Help Support Our Makerspace!

donors

We have a very exciting endeavor to announce! OQS wants to make sure our students have the materials they need to succeed, so Mrs. Dumont and I created a DonorsChoose.org classroom request.

STEAM and Technology Supplies for Makerspace

Give to our project within the next seven days and your donation will be doubled thanks to DonorsChoose.org. Just enter the code LIFTOFF during checkout and you’ll be matched dollar for dollar (up to $50).

In return, you’ll get awesome photos of your gift in action and our heartfelt thanks.

Thank you so much!

P.S. If you know anyone who might be interested in supporting public schools, please feel free to pass this message along.