Posted in Ask the Librarian

Jennifer Barber

Name of Library East Clayton Elementary School @ecereads 

Media Center’s Website

What kind of librarian are you? Definitely not a traditional one..The library is the heart of the school where children feel welcomed and loved. At my school, the kids want to stop in and get a book. As they are getting new books, they are chatting with me about the ones they want me to purchase or telling me their likes and dislikes about the one they just read. As a librarian, my main goal is providing quality literature for the students to enjoy! When they visit the library, they get a book that they absolutely love so in hopes they go home or back to class to read the book! My school library is twenty-three years old and my drive is to keep it updated as much as possible with the little money that they give me! So as a librarian, I have to advocate for a place that I feel may disappear which makes me so nervous! With the updating of books and resources for not just the kids but the teachers also, my library gets the opportunity to be enjoyed and appreciated! So when kids grow up, they hopefully will know what a library is and take their kids to the library to enjoy books! When the students arrive, we have community time in which we may share some of the books that we have read, read a picture book together that deals with a concept or standard that connects with the grade level that I am working with, and the students will head into stations such virtual reality, Legos, Merge Cubes, 3D printing, green screen recording, or Apps on the ipad. All the stations are centered around the book that we are concentrated on. WHile students are working on their stations, we rotate through to check out books! 

How long have you been a librarian?  This will be my third year in the library however my 18th year in education! Prior to becoming a librarian, I taught 12 years in second grade, 2 years in third, and 1 year in 5th grade! 

What lead you to wanting to be a librarian? So this is an interesting story on how I became a librarian..I have always had a love for books as a classroom teacher, parent, and even growing up as a kid. Three years ago, our school librarian retired two weeks before school started. My principal emailed the staff on a Sunday night, letting us know that the librarian was retiring and she would begin looking for someone to fill her position. When I read the email, I asked myself..”I wonder if I could do that job?” The next morning I visited the office of the principal and the assistant principal was with her at the time. I inquired about the position and she asked me if I wanted the job. The words were YES and she turned to me and gave me the job position. I remember asking her..”Do I have an interview?” She replied, “No, if you do all the amazing lessons and get the kids to love you like you do in your regular classroom; I do not have to worry at all that I gave you that position.” My main goal is helping our youth enjoy reading. I hate that the kids think reading is homework. I couldn’t see myself heading back into the regular classroom. I love having the opportunity to work with over 700 kids weekly.

How do you pick books for your library? You shared that your library was in desperate need of updating! So my first priority is making sure that the resources match the curriculum. When I entered this position, my nonfiction collection was a 2002 collection. A priority for the collection was updating the nonfiction to have books that have current facts and books that the kids could relate to and enjoy in nonfiction. My Donors Choose Projects are fiction books and graphic novels. The kids love them and we did not have any graphic novels in the library when I became a librarian. With the help of Donors Choose, Grants, and Donations, we were able to put a whole new section in the library of graphic novels! We had a successful book fair which allowed me to purchase new picture books. Unfortunately, the library is an older library so there is constant upgrades in our books. This year throws another challenge with a budget cut in our state money. So I will have to write a few more grants to get the kids their LOVES! I also work at purchasing books that showcase ALL types of cultures, ethnic backgrounds, and topics. I want the children to have a diverse thinking and reading can help form that thinking! 

Do you have a favorite author? Oh..this is a challenging question! There are so many! For chapter books, Alan Gratz! I absolutely love historical fiction so his books have that and a wonderful message tied together! In October, he is coming to Raleigh and I am counting down the days! For picture books, my favorite would be Dan Santat. After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up) is my ultimate favorite! 

Can you suggest a new or lesser known author to check out? When I entered into this position, I started to follow a lot of authors on twitter. Ame Dyckman and Josh Funks’ books were not in my library! They are amazing! I have placed a lot of their books into the library and my teachers use their books for instruction also! 

How do you decide what book to recommend to a specific kid? Surprisingly with 700 kids, I am able to personalize in helping them find books. If a kid likes Pokemon, I show him/her the Pokemon books! After he/she is finished reading those, I might encourage a book that takes in a video game world. In my lessons, I often teach about authors and showcase all their books that we have in the library. With the centers in the library, I can take small groups and assist them in finding their book. It does help to have read a lot of books so I can chat with them about the book to know if they are interested in it. The catalog on the computer is a great help so I can type in a subject area and it will populate the books that are related to that subject. 

-If you could portal into any book, which would it be? When I was little, my mom always read me the book, Cloudy with the Chance of Meatballs. The book was way better than the movie! I would portal back into that book as a kid! 

Posted in Book Review

Keep it together, Keiko Carter

By Debbi Michiko Florence


Book Source: Provided by author for fair review

Book Status: Comes out May 5, 2020

This book is unique because it’s on the few book were stuff doesn’t end ok and stuff does. It also shows real life, and that’s an important thing.

1. It’s about a Japanese-American girl and some of the ways people are not nice.

2. It’s about how friendships Change. And sometimes kids try to hold on to them.

3. It’s about how people change because of others even when they don’t realize it.

4. It shows how sometimes people are mean even though the act like an angel.

5. It’s set in real life not a world were everybody’s either nice or evil and they’re just that and not everything works out.

Posted in Book Review, Lil Bro's Fabulous Fridays

My Furry Foster Family: Buttons the Kitten

By Debbi Michiko Florence

Illustrated by Melanie Demmer

Book Source: purchased

Book Status: two of series available now. More to come

For the first review in my new weekly reviewing, I am sharing about a new book about foster cats. It is part of a series about foster animals. Buttons is a foster kitten and Truman is a foster dog.

I think kids will like this because it is about pets. It is about saving animals and has a girl who gets to take care of them.

I have four rescue cats. They were fosters at someone else’s house but now they live with us.

This was one of the first chapter books I read all by myself. I want you to read it yourself. My favorite part is at the end and I don’t want to spoil it.

It is a pretty good book. I want to read more of the series. I have the book about Truman the Dog and hope to get the other two when they come out.

Cooper’s review 😹😻🙀

Code:

😺 makes you happy 😹 Makes you laugh 😻 makes you love it 🙀 surprises you. 😿 makes you sad. 😾 Makes you mad

Posted in Meet the authors

Miranda Paul

1. When you were my age (10), did you have a book inspire or impact you?

There were several books that inspired me when I was young. One of them was Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes. The book spoke to me because—believe it or not—Miranda was NOT a popular name where I lived in the 1980s. People always messed it up, misspelled it, or called me Amanda or Melinda (in fact…I got an email from a friend addressed “Dear Amanda” just last week). As a kid, I wanted to change my name so badly to Michelle or Kristen. Today, I wouldn’t give up my name for anything.

2. Have you read anything recently that inspired or impacted you?

On the kidlit side, I read two books that made me cry! One is called Hand in Hand by Andria Warmflash Rosenbaum, and the other is called A Map Into the World by Kao Kalia Yang. I’m also a huge fan of anything written by Aisha Saeed and Jacqueline Woodson. On the adult side, I like to read nonfiction. I find myself impacted by true stories and facts. I’ve recently read books about genetics, astronomy, and people’s life journeys (called memoirs). I also read a book about how to deal with difficult people, and though it wasn’t my favorite, it did help me to think about how to be polite and kind but still address my concerns or needs. Speaking up was something that was hard for me as a shy kid, but I have grown up to become much better at communicating. In fact, I have a book coming out next year called SPEAK UP that is all about the ways we can find our voice and make a difference.

3. Can you share what your usual day as an author looks like?

That’s a tough one. My writing days don’t always look the same. I used to think that was a bad thing, and when I became a “real” writer I’d have a daily schedule and stick to it. Then I learned that when life has its ups and downs, its interruptions and moments of peace, I’m living my life rather than watching life pass by. Adventures and changes help keep me sharp physically and mentally, and because of those things, I’m a better person. When I’m a better person, I’m a better writer. If all I did were write, if I didn’t experience life or interact with people, what would I write about? Would my writing be ordinary or dull? I try to do a lot of writing in summer and winter, and I do more school visits and revising in spring and fall. When I’m home, I write more in the morning—I get tired pretty early at night. It’s a good thing to establish habits and routines, and some people need them to stay motivated or finish their work, but I guess I’ve mostly had enough passion and motivation to find ways to write on planes and trains and even in the shower.

4. Is there a newer or less know author you think kids should know about?

Oh, there are so many! There are several newer voices—especially Chrystal D. Giles, Sylvia Liu, and Carole Lindstrom—who have published a poem in a book I edited called Thanku: Poems of Gratitude. Marlena Myles illustrated it, and I think everyone should be on the lookout for more of her art. There are so many more I’d like to name, but this interview could get really long…

5. What is a cool thing about being an author?

Working in pajamas! Meeting kids (kids are pretty cool)! Getting to bring my cats to work! Getting letters from readers! 

6. Is there anything hard about being an author? I know it is not rainbows, cupcakes, pens and a pot of gold.

There are cupcakes and pens, and occasionally rainbows. I haven’t yet found a pot of gold, but I’m holding on to hope. Seriously, though, there are tough things. It’s not always easy to make a living, even if your books sell well. There’s also a lot of hard work and rejection. Every book I’ve made has taken years, not months or weeks like some people think. Some authors really struggle with staying motivated to finish a project, because you often work alone and don’t get paid until you’re completely done.

7. Book access and diversity in books is a big topic. As an author what do you think your role is in this topic?

I’m a co-founding member of an organization called We Need Diverse Books (www.diversebooks.org). One of my upcoming books, Thanku: Poems of Gratitude, benefits the organization with every sale. I think everyone’s role is to think about diversity and try to be inclusive. We can examine our own thoughts, words, and actions. We can be readers, supporters, sharers, buyers, and even writers of books. I run a Mentorship Program for WNDB that pairs new or upcoming voices in children’s literature with an established mentor, usually an author, to help guide them. So far, I’ve been able to help pair 37 mentees with a mentor, and many have gone on to sign with agents or publish books. It’s satisfying to be a small part of the big work that needs to be done. But we can always do more.

8.  If you could portal into any book which would it be?

Either IN THE CANYON by Liz Garton Scanlon and Ashley Wolff, or GRAND CANYON by Jason Chin. I loved my visit to the Grand Canyon a few years ago and I’d absolutely love to visit again.

If you wanted to ask about books coming up next, I’m extremely excited for an upcoming book called Little Libraries, Big Heroes. It’s about Little Free Library cofounder Todd Bol and how he spread his idea of sharing books all over the world. The book releases on September 3 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books) and is illustrated by the incredible John Parra. I hope everyone will check it out, and maybe put their copy inside a Little Free Library!

Posted in Book Review

My secret guide to Paris

By Lisa Schroeder

Book Source: purchased
Book Status: available

One day on Twitter I saw an author commenting on reviewers and especially how influencers pick their subjects. It made me curious about the author so I looked up their books. Imagine my surprise to find out I had started but not finished one of their books. So I decided to finish it… Especially because it was about Paris, which is one place I really want to go.

1. It’s a treasure hunt.

2. It’s in Paris.

3. At the start of each chapter it teaches you French.

4. It’s about fashion too.

5. It a very nice story of how family stuff can get in the way of love.

Posted in Book Review

More to the story

By Hena Khan

Book Source: ARC shared by my librarian

Book Status: Available September 3

I saw on Twitter about a very outdated reading list for kids. I bet Little Women is a book recommended but I don’t get it. Lucky me I got to read MORE TO THE STORY first!! It is a modern retelling of the same story and so much easier for a kid to get.

The characters are dealing current issues and represent the diversity of schools. Plus the book touches on a big issue at schools called “microaggression”. As a kid, let me tell ya this is an issue in the middle grades.

Middle grade teachers and librarians should plan to add this book to their library.

Heck this would be a fantastic way to start a new TV show for kids. I mean they are rebooting everything so why no Little Women but from Hena Khan perspective. Can you imagine how much kids could learn about Muslim culture???