Monday, October 26, 2015

CASL/CECA 2015 and new beginnings

So this place has been a bit neglected. But after going to CECA/CASL Monday, I want to recommit to this endeavor.  My biggest challenge is setting realistic goals and habits.  

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Children Who Love Reading

I read an article from NPR about author Dr. Daniel Willingham and his new book, Raising Kids who Read.  I have not yet read the book, but was fascinated by what he said about kids and reading.  As a school librarian and mom, instilling a love of reading is something that is paramount to me.
Some tips that he offers include:

  • be a good model of loving to read yourself
  • in your family, make it a family value
  • make it appealing (keep books in places kids typically get bored, like the car)
  • DON'T reward reading
That last one sounds counter intuitive, but in actuality makes a great deal of sense.  What do we reward people for doing?  Usually things they don't want to do.  And, according to Willingham, research shows that if you reward someone for doing something and then remove the reward, they will most likely stop or reduce doing that behavior.  As is said, reading should be its own reward.

So then, how can one begin to instill this love of reading in kids?  Why are some kids more likely to become voracious readers while others could care less?  And most importantly, why should we as educators and parents care?

I agree with Willingham in setting a model for your kids.  I try myself to show my kids how much I enjoy reading, both at home and school.  When I assign quiet reading in the library, I pick up a book and read with them.  Being a reader yourself is the best way to show your kids (at home and school) that reading is something people of all ages do.

But why do some kids want to read more than others?  I would argue that kids have a lot vying for their attention: TV, Internet, games, sports and "necessary" reading (homework).  Reading is passive.  Reading at times does not appeal to "active" kids.  So how can we compete with these other distractors?  We can prove that reading isn't just passive.  Pair activities with reading.  Show that reading can lead to activity.  Read a book about baseball (fiction or non) then go have catch and discuss. Read a cookbook then head to the kitchen to whip up something together.  Show that reading connects directly with life through learning or connections.  It is in reading that we can experience that which lies beyond our own limited worlds.  Show your children that reading expands your horizons and can show you the possibilities.  Build excitement around reading and those who are apprehensive will come around.

Finally, why should we care whether or not kids prefer to unwind with a book or by surfing the web?  I mean at the end of the day, does it really matter?  My answer as a parent first and librarian second is a resounding YES!  As the previous paragraph goes on to say, reading takes us beyond our limited worlds.  Its commonly argued that knowledge is power and learning is what can lift kids our of poverty.  As an urban teacher, I agree, but reading is so much more.  As a child, reading was my escape.  Reading was my relaxation.  Yes, there weren't the distractions that exist today, but reading was a way at the end of the day to just go on a mini-vacation.  As I grew, I realized how rich my own life is because of those mini-vacations.  I never lived in "the big woods" and had to survive without modern comforts.  But thanks to Laura Ingalls Wilder, I knew what that experience was like.  I was never locked up in an asylum, but thanks to Ken Kesey, I got a view into the Cuckoo's Nest.  I can't cast a spell and have never stood by my friends in an attempt to defeat evil, but Harry and his friends expanded my views of friendship and standing up for what I believe in.  You see, it is books that take us beyond.  Its not the knowledge or learning that is most important.  It is the expansion of our own world and the enriching of our life's experiences that makes reading so important in both our and our children's lives. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


Well, it certainly has been a while.  I have definitely let this blog slide and not updated it nearly as much as I'd like.  But hopefully, this PLC opportunity will be the catalyst for change in that.
So, why am I here?  Well, I have an interest in PLCs and, specifically, as a school librarian, in how students use the Internet and all that it can offer.  I am looking for resources, ideas and best practices in terms of teaching students how to effectively and appropriately use the web other than "WIKIPEDIA IS NOT A VALID SOURCE!"  Working in a low socio-economic school, I also run into the challenge of access as well as reading ability.  Therefore, I also look to network and connect with other urban minded librarians and teachers to see what works for them.

Looking forward to all our shared learning!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

New Year, New Commitment

Commitment.  As in vowing to do something.  This year for me professionally, it's adding to this blog at least 2x a week.  I'd like to say daily, but with 2 kids at home, not sure if that's going to happen.  So, what will I be blogging this year?  Lesson ideas, books, projects and of course online tools that I find useful.  So, back to work for me is next Thursday with kids coming the following Tuesday.  What are some great back to school books?  Well, here's some I've used in the past to start.  Feel free to add yours in the comments section!

Back to School Books:

How I Spent my Summer Vacation by Mark Teague
The (teacher, librarian, nurse, music teacher, etc) From the Black Lagoon by Mike Thayler
First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg
Franklin Goes to School by Paulette Bourgeois

Friday, March 2, 2012

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

Dr. Seuss Quotes
Happy Read Across America Day!

Image from

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Reading is fundamental for us too!

Recently, I was reading a blog post (can't recall where and I apologize to the author) about how we need to model good reading habits to our students.  The question was posed: when was the last time you read just to enjoy it?  Think about it, we read blogs, professional journals, memos and many other things that pertain to our profession.  For me, that means reading award winners for children and new books.  Don't get me wrong -- I love it!  But am I challenging myself as a reader?  The last book I read that had nothing to do with work was The Help this summer (see earlier posts).  I (and you dear reader) need to carve out time to read for oursevles for the simple joy of it.  Last night after conferences, the principal, assistant principal and I were talking about how we'd read at night after we had gone to bed.  That "rebel reader" in me that read by the nightlight with books I had tucked under my bed!  Now, I drag myself to bed after watching TV.  Let us not forget the simple joy found in a book and let us make sure to share that with children.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Starting Student Blogging

One of the second grade classes at my school is going to be working with me on their own blogs.  The classroom teacher is very excited about working together and having the students publish their writing online.  I am asking those of you reading this, to please be sure to comment on these wonderful students' blog posts.  I will update this post with the website of the blog as soon as they write their first posts.  Anybody have any good resources for blogging with students?