Category Archives: Authors

Talk at home about…reading our way through the week!

We are just getting ready to begin our third week of school! We’ve already experimented with our new “Creation Station”, listened to Dorothy Canfield Fisher Book Award book talks, explored the library to find books that will inspire us, and read – LOTS! I’ve found a few books to read aloud as we think about the skills and habits of mind we need to support our learning and big dreams. Here are the titles we shared that prompted discussions about our hopes and dreams.IMG_4961 (1)

My Pen by Christopher Myers is a celebration of individuality and the power of our imaginations. My students worried at first about the black and white illustrations, then realized the words made the colors come to life in their minds. This is what I call a quiet yet powerful book. Some books get my students jumping out of their seats. Some, like this one, still their bodies as they really focus on what they author is trying to say.  This was the best story to read aloud as we are getting ready to implement a ‘Creation Station” maker space in our library!

What do You do With an Idea? by Kobi Yamada, ill. by Mae Besom encourages readers to think about the bravery it takes to have an idea and share it with the world. Ideas, once nurtured, can grow beyond just ourselves. My students particularly loved poring over the illustrations in this book, thinking critically about what they meant and how they related to the text and the author’s purpose. I can easily say this is one of the best books I have ever shared to get them thinking out loud about what they see and how it relates to each of them as individuals.

How to Read a Story by Kate Messner, ill. by Mark Siegel is the perfect book to share the joy of reading. It falls under the “why didn’t I think of that idea” category! It is simply brilliant. It takes readers through the steps of choosing a book that is just right, sharing it with a friend, and gives reminders about how to read the words and give voice to the characters. I loved reading it, and my students created a wave of bodies with outstretched arms afterwards. They couldn’t wait to get their hands on it!

These authors and illustrators have truly inspired us. I can’t wait to see where that inspiration takes us!







Leave a comment

Filed under 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, Authors, Books, Booktalks, Elementary, Kindergarten, Readalouds, reading

Talk at home about…authors’ journeys via @steverswinburne

“Libraries are filled with authors’ journeys.” This was something that Vermont author Steve Swinburne shared with my students last week. We are so fortunate to have authors like Steve who share those journeys with students!

Hands-up, lean in!

Hands-up, lean in!

I’ve said before that Steve’s books prompt the “lean-in” effect when read aloud. He weaves the power of story into all of his books, fiction and nonfiction alike. Even facts have a story to tell!  You may read Steve’s thoughts on this yourself on this blog post “How to tell the story of sea turtles?” Seeing him in action, interacting with my students, made me realize that it’s really his words that have that effect, because he completely captivated his audience.

A little help from a friend!

A little help from a friend!

He incorporated movement and music while teaching students about his research and writing process. He encouraged students to think like scientists as he talked about how he researched his books, highlighting Turtle Tide and Sea Turtle Scientist. They were participants, not just listeners.

He left them with five reasons to love nonfiction. My favorite? “You may discover your passion.”

Signing our sea turtle!

Signing our sea turtle!

High fives for everyone as they left the library after the presentation left my students feeling connected and kept them thinking as they went through the rest of their day.


Thumbs-up selfie!

The best part of this story is that Steve not only got my students thinking, he motivated them to take action. By the end of the day, I had a teacher telling me to expect persuasive letters from her 3rd graders. They were making the case for CCS to support the conservation efforts of  WIDECAST, The Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network. Now that’s passion!I met Steve at a conference the following day, and he donated the first dollar toward the students’ efforts.

A huge THANKYOU to our PTO group for making this author visit possible. This event provided the opportunity for  an author’s journey to inspire our students’ journeys. I couldn’t make this happen without their continuous support!


Filed under 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, Authors, Books, Kindergarten, Learning, Nonfiction, reading, Research, Writing

Talk at home about…collections, curation, and #shelfchallenge

SwinburneDo you know how teacher librarians spend their time? My time is filled with so much more than just checking books in and out. The major part of my day is, of course, my students! This week alone, lots of learning is happening. Classes of K-4 students are learning all about the author Steve Swinburne, who will be visiting with them in a few weeks. His books are providing fuel for the minds of CCS young writers and scientists. They prompt what I call “the lean-in effect”. I know a book is a winner when I see their little bodies lean in to just get closer to the words and pictures. It’s a good thing. We are busy collecting our connections and questions to share with Mr. Swinburne on the day of his visit. And his website? Totally awesome and kid-friendly!

6th graders are getting ready to embark on a new integrated unit of study on the Industrial Revolution. Reading, writing, research and media literacy skills will combine in this unit inspired by the book Counting on Grace by Elizabeth Winthrop. In addition to collecting enough copies of the book for each student, I also prepared a pathfinder to help students gain some background knowledge and explore materials for research. Curating resources for students and teachers is a part of my job that is not easily seen, but it is so crucial. I couldn’t do that part of my job without having classroom teachers and administrators who see me as an instructional partner. I can’t wait to visit classrooms next week to begin teaching about primary sources!

7th graders are also practicing their media literacy skills! Yesterday’s activity in the classroom allowed for conversation about media resources, particularly those that abound via social media. My favorite part of the visit was overhearing pairs of students investigating websites using their critical thinking skills and using some pretty great language while doing so:

“This site has adds, it’s distracting”
“Oh look! This one has citations – three of them, right here!”
“I can’t tell who the author is, only who edited it last.”
“This one is a .com. That might be bad. We might need a .org.”
“What’s a site map?”
“This is pretty one-sided.”

So that covers my week in direct services to students. shelf challengeNow I’d like to talk about something else that teacher librarians are ALWAYS doing in the background for our students. We’re like ninjas, really; sneaking around all quiet-like in the before and after school hours. We are constantly assessing our collections and determining where we need to add, refresh, or take away. That nonfiction book from 1963? That’s just gotta go. Every year during School Library Month, I participate in the Shelf Challenge. I found this through my twitter PLN a couple of years ago, and have used it ever since to keep me motivated to always be thinking about what resources will best meet the needs of my school community. This year my challenge was the 973 section. U.S. History. I found some things that really had to go. I found some that just needed a little refreshing; new covers perhaps. I began looking at this collection and comparing it to what I have available for students in a digital format. Do we need both? Not necessarily. Finally, I touched every book in this section! I found myself saying “Oh yea, I forgot about this one!  I’ll need to remember to share that the next time that unit happens.” I’m happy to say I made it all the way through the 973s and my students are better for it, whether they realize it or not. All these little things that happen in the background lend strength to their learning.

Oh, and we’ve got our Arbor Day celebration coming up, so I couldn’t forget to build a display for easy access to those books celebrating the goodness of trees. And hey…the week isn’t over yet!

Leave a comment

Filed under 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 6th Grade, 7th Grade, Authors, Book Groups, booklists, Books, Collaboration, InformationLiteracy, Kindergarten, Middle School, Nonfiction, Pathfinders, reading, Research, ShelfChallenge

Talk at home about…cream puffs & collaboration!

photo 2 (6)I love so much about my job, and one of my favorite things is the joy of sharing an outstanding book with my students.  My favorite novel for older readers is Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt. Here is a review written by author Tanya Lee Stone for the New York Times. I really can’t say it any better! I can add that I love to share this book with students because it exemplifies excellent story-telling. Schmidt’s writing brings vivid pictures to a reader’s mind, and the voice of the main character is strong and true. In addition, Schmidt gets students curious about Shakespeare before they even realize it!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

You might be asking yourself where cream puffs and collaboration play into the sharing of a favorite book. One of the other things I love about my job is the collaborative relationship I have with our public librarians. Cheryl Sloan, the Youth Services Librarian for the Charlotte Public Library, joined forces with me over the past few weeks in offering a “lunch bunch” book club for students. Together, we read The Wednesday Wars and explored Shakespeare’s work as it related to the story line. Students were able to bring their lunches, sit around a table from one another, and just talk about what they were reading. This was voluntary for them, and included no formal scripts  on our part. What we found was that the students who participated enjoyed just having this time to talk about a book in a “no-strings-attached” kind of way. Their questions led the direction of our discussions, and we enjoyed watching them discover something new.

Cream puffs play a role in the book club because Cheryl and I always provide dessert for our participants. Of course, we like it best when we can use the desserts or snacks to tie into the themes of the book we’re reading. Tricky of us, right? Believe it or not, cream puffs are very important to The Wednesday Wars story. Of course, I cannot tell you how. I must leave you guessing. And let you know that you, too, can borrow a copy of the book to read on your own!

Leave a comment

Filed under 5th Grade, Authors, Book Groups, Books, Collaboration, Fun, Learning, Middle School, reading

Talk at home about…school and community collaboration!

Last week, CCS celebrated Reading to End Racism. LabanThe goal of this annual program is “to raise awareness of the harm racism causes and to help develop skills and strategies to actively counter racism in order to create a supportive and welcoming environment for all children.” Each year, we work together as a school and community to help the event run smoothly. Our school and public libraries gather great stories, and teachers and community members work together to give our students the best experience possible. We were so happy to be able to access the resources available from the awesome “We Need Diverse Books” Campaign.

Our classrooms welcomed volunteers from the local community to share stories with them. Volunteer readers chose books to share that had personal meaning to them. The books then became the vehicles for sharing their own  stories. There are many things to celebrate about this event. It shows our students how much their neighbors care about them. It makes print and paper stories come to life through the sharing of our own personal narratives. And this year, I noticed that other communities around the state of Vermont are spreading the Reading to End Racism message. The Central VT Reading to End Racism community has great resources to check out!

This year, we were fortunate to have award-winning local author Laban Carrick Hill read aloud from his book Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave. I cannot think of a better way to begin the week. Each classroom followed along  on their very own autographed copies of the book. This was pure magic. Laban’s sonorous voice carried not just the words , but somehow also his Davethepotter-330excitement for the story directly to the students’ ears. Many teachers said it was like he was right in the room with them! We thank him so much for sharing this story of art, words, and the power of hope.





Leave a comment

Filed under 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade, Authors, Books, Collaboration, Kindergarten, reading

Talk at home about…author love and flying pigs!

Lost Children of the Far IslandsIt is National Library Week! In true “Books Live On” fashion, we kicked off the week with talking about books and writing. Today, CCS 5th and 6th graders welcomed author Emily Raabe to our school.

Emily is the author of several nonfiction books for younger readers, as well as a book of poetry for adults. Today, she spoke about her first novel for younger readers, Lost Children of the Far Islands. This page-turner has action and adventure woven through with elements of magic, folklore, and kid power. You can read more about the book at The Flying Pig Bookstore’s website. I was hooked after chapter one!

Students were ready with lots of questions after having listened to the first chapter or two read aloud last week. There’s little better testament to an author’s ability to hook their readers than finishing a chapter and hearing a chorus of “Wait….What?!? You’re not going to keep reading?”; “Awwwwwwwwaaaaa…you can’t stop there!”; and “Just one more chapter…pleeeeaaasssse?” All part of our master plan for engaging the parts of their brains that spark wonderings.

Emily Raabe VisitAfter explaining to students how she got the idea for the story, Emily led students in a question an answer session that illustrated her creative process as well as hinted at what we might read from her in the future! I love that our students were asking questions that writers would ask. I love that Emily has such a warm and generous personality. I love that teachers of the Alpha team worked together with me to make this visit happen. I love that our students benefit from our wonderful relationship with local independent bookstore, The Flying Pig.

Thank you Emily, for sharing your day and your story with us. Thank you, Josie and Elizabeth for getting great books into our students’ hands, for inspiring them to be authors now and into the future, and for knowing that their librarian will always say “Yes” to working with you!


Leave a comment

Filed under 5th Grade, 6th Grade, Authors, Books, Collaboration, reading, Writing

Talk at home about…author power!

Last week, 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders welcomed author and illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka to CCS! Mr. Krosoczka is the author of over 20 titles, including picture books, chapter books, and his hugely popular Lunch Lady graphic novel series. Mr. Krosoczka began by celebrating the fact that our students are already authors. He shared some of his own books that he wrote when he was their age, and explained that he used to write when he got home from school every day. I’m sure his writing supplies will seem familiar to many of you; plain white paper and a couple of staples. That’s all you need to make a book! What a nice connection.

Mr. Krosoczka spoke about how he writes and illustrates his books now. He uses something called the story mountain to organize and outline his stories. This is something he learned when he was in elementary school. Wow! He even showed us how to draw Lunch Lady! The part of the presentation that I loved the most, though, was his story about how he got published. It took a lot of hard work and patience! The message was simple, yet powerful. Do what you love, and persevere through the tough times.

Take a look at the slideshow below to see how we prepared for his visit! We read his books, explored his website, created our very own Lunch Lady inspired “Gadget Gallery”, and brainstormed questions we wanted to be sure to ask him about his writing. Our very own school lunch crew joined the fun by dressing up in true Lunch Lady fashion and creating a gadget-themed lunch menu. This week, we have worked on thank you notes and processed all the great things about the visit. Some of my favorite student quotes:

“I like that he gave us a sneak peek at his new book!”
“I thought he was super funny!”
“I like that he was our teacher for a little while!”
“Today was the best day of my life!”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I would like to thank Mr. Krosoczka for inspiring us! I have heard through the grapevine that there is some writing happening after school these days. I would also like to thank the Flying Pig Bookstore for making this visit happen. They consistently amaze me with their support of our local community and it’s youngest readers. Three cheers for the power of author visits!

Here are some links to explore:

Jarrett’s website has a wealth of resources for both students and parents. It’s worth a visit! 

Publisher’s Weekly “ShelfTalker” Blog has an article written by Elizabeth Bluemle of the Flying Pig Bookstore about Jarrett’s visit.


Leave a comment

Filed under 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, Authors, Books