Love for Flight Behavior

That point in a good book when you start reading slow so it lasts longer.

That point in a good book when you start reading slow so it lasts longer.

I recently finished reading Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver. I offered up my thoughts on the book for my work’s blog. I’m reblogging here because there’s not much more I can say. Check out my thoughts on Flight Behavior, my new favorite Kingsolver novel.

“Our online catalog offers this description of Flight Behavior: ‘Tired of living on a failing farm and suffering oppressive poverty, bored housewife Dellarobia Turnbow, on the way to meet a potential lover, is detoured by a miraculous event on the Appalachian mountainside that ignites a media and religious firestorm that changes her life forever.’  I’d simply add that this miracles turns out to be an ecological disturbance that the characters in the books must face.  Kingsolver writes stories that marry down to earth characters with the earth.  Her work weaves in information about plants, bugs and animals and relates them to people.  She gives the environmental movement a deeply human context.  Flight Behavior is no exception.  The character transformation in this novel cannot be emphasized enough.  Dellarobia goes from discontented housewife to budding scientist–all because of an environmental phenomenon that occurs on her mountain.  This tranformation has a lasting impact on her relationship with her friends and family–many of whom experience their own transformations throughout the novel.”

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Thoughts on ‘Fourmile’

My thoughts on Fourmile by Watt Key: A boy must contend with the loss of his father, a failing farm and his mothers shady boyfriend. He finds help and friendship with a drifter (who has his own baggage). They boy and the drifter fix up the farm as his mother’s boyfriend’s faults shine through. Thus story ends in a dangerous and dramatic showdown that you’ll have to read to believe.

Thus book is a fast paced, well written tale with compelling characters. Key trusts middle grade readers with some tough topics–that I’m sure many will identify with. This is a great read for boys and reluctant readers in grades 5-8.

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App, Meet Storytime.

My library has been undergoing some construction that’s made our storytime space unavailable. After a month-long break from storytime, we’re back in business!

I put together a transportation storytime for this week (beep beep, vroom, etc.). I’ve been wanting to try out the use of a book app in storytime for a while…but I’ve been a bit of a chicken. Would I be mobbed by toddlers thirsty for screen time? Would they fight for turns to use the iPads? I’ve been thinking about a process for using the iPad and apps in storytime for a while (more on that below). This week I couldn’t resist using the app ‘Wheels on the Bus HD’, so I got brave and gave it a try.

I’ll admit that this isn’t the best book app ever. The later pages include silly things happening on the bus that I’m not a fan of (e.g. a fish bowl on the bus). But the first few pages are nice and have great interactive elements (moving the bus, operating the doors and wipers)–so I used the first few pages.

I saved the app for the end of storytime, just before the ‘Goodbye Song’–just in case things got nuts. I sat on the floor and the group gathered around. I told the kids that iPads are fun to play with, but let them know that I would operate it for storytime. I promised the group that I would leave it out for them to play with after storytime (based on the advice of a childcare specialist–kids are more at ease if they know the cool thing you have will be available to them later). iPads are also available for on-site checkout in our children’s room if caretakers want to give their kids more in-depth time with a device. They did as I asked, sang along, and had tons of fun!

I can’t wait to use another app with my storytime group!

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Ignorance is Bliss Until You’re The One Being Ignored

I had two great opportunities to think about non-users today. First I participated in the PLA webinar: The Elusive Library Non-User: How Can Libraries Find Out What Non-Users Want? Second, my library is undergoing a strategic planning process with the help of Sandra Nelson. I was privileged to take part in a staff orientation session with her where, among many topics, she discussed non-users.

The webinar I attended defines a library non-user as someone who hasn’t used the library in the last year. Non-users are also people who have never used their library or even folks who bring their kids to the library but don’t use resources for themselves.

Living in library land, it’s easy to overlook or underestimate this group of people. But they’re real. I could share my ideas to reach the non-user–but what’s more important is what I have to say once I have their attention.

In both the webinar and staff training I took part in today, it was made clear that many non-users don’t know what modern libraries do or offer. It’s not that people think, “I love spending money on video games that my kids may play twice– why would I want to check them it for free at the library?” No. Many non-users don’t know that lots of libraries lend stuff like video games (or DVDs, toys, Kindles). The notion of the library as a book museum ran by sushers has to be updated (Note: I know that some libraries are sadly still like this). Our imagery and messaging must reflect the diverse range of services and materials we now offer (and our friendly disposition). If non-users don’t see us for who we actually are (awesome, I think) they’re unlikely to take the leap and walk through the doors.

Sure, there are other reasons why people refrain from using the library–but we are information people. We can’t let people remain misinformed about what we do and who we are.

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My First Book Club

I recently had the opportunity to take on the responsibility of running my library’s 4th and 5th grade book club. Today I ran my first book club meeting. Turn out was less than stellar–but I had a great discussion with the kids who where there–and I learned some stuff about running book group. Origami Yoda finger puppet

The Book: This month we read Darth Paper Strikes Back by Tom Angleberger. DPSB is the second book in Angleberger’s Origami Yoda Series. Middle schooler Dwight is puppeteer to an origami Yoda finger puppet that many kids in his school turn to for advice.  Dwight takes his Yoda antics too far for some, gets suspended and may be sent to a remedial and disciplinary school. Dwight’s friends unite and write a casefile for the school board that documents his acts of kindness at school. Throughout the casefile we see that Dwight is a neat kid who thoughtfully  and effectively helps those around him with the help of Origami Yoda.

My Review: I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars. Angleberger has masterfully created a book (a series actually) that is entertaining and teaches kids some neat things about life (not that all books necessarily need to do that). The casefile portion of the book is written from several characters’ perspective and each has a well developed and distinctive voice. The book is also peppered with fun drawings that add to the story–and are hilarious. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series: The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee.

Book Club: At the top of the hour we set ourselves up with name tags, cookies and juice. Once everyone was seated we started with introductions. I’m still getting to know the kids in the group, so it’s my goal to have a tiny bit of “getting to know you” questions peppered in to each meeting. I asked the kids to tell me their favorite book and favorite cookie. I’ll admit I was also trying to get the temperature on their taste in cookies and books for future meetings. We discussed the book for about 40 minutes. At the end of the meeting we made origami Yodas. Step by step instructions for a simple 5 fold version of Yoda are included in the back of DPSB. We had lots of fun during this activity.

During my discussion prep I got the bright idea to Tweet at @OrigamiYoda to ask for a discussion question. Here’s our exchange:

Ashley K. Wescott ‏@2TheLibrary:

@OrigamiYoda Prepping for a discussion of Darth Paper Strikes back w/4th & 5th graders. Is there a discussion question you recommend?

OrigamiYoda ‏@OrigamiYoda”

@2TheLibrary Imagine there are no jokes or Star Wars references in the book. Now what do you think it’s about?

This question went over very well–and I think the kids thought it was cool that I tweeted to Origami Yoda. Here are a few more discussion questions that went over well:

  • Wonder, our last book, was written from many different perspectives–so is Darth Paper Strikes Back. What do you think of that writing choice? What does it add to the story?
  • What do you think of the brat in Kellen’s skatepark story? Have you ever had a similar experience? What did you think of Origami Yoda’s solution?
  • (Read Harvey’s comment on p. 78) What do you think? Do you think it was Quavando or Origami Yoda’s idea to take donations instead of selling popcorn?
  • What was your favorite chapter in the casefile? Why?
Reflection: I’d definitely recommend Darth Paper Strikes Back for intermediate and middle school book groups. I think kids respond really well to the text and a book as entertaining as DPSB helps to foster a love of reading for the fun of it. My big takeaway from my first discussion is that I need tons of questions on hand. I had about 12 questions total. I could have been really stuck if I had less. With a small group of kids questions can go by fast. It’s kind of like food, I’d rather over prepare and have leftovers than not have enough to serve.

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Reading Around the Room

The Fault in Our Stars Book CoverAs a children’s librarian, I get the feeling that I can never read enough. Sometimes it seems that young patrons–and their parents–think I’ve read every book in the library. Not true. Obviously there’s no way I could read all of the books in my library’s collection and continue to be a functioning adult. However, patrons can expect their librarian to be familiar with all parts of the collection and capable of giving recommendations.

My new tactic for staying on top of the collection is to “read around the room.” Each week it is my goal to select 5-7 books to read, each from a different section of the children’s room. I’m also set on selecting a YA book and adult book to read.

My reads for the past week were:

Middle Grade Fiction
This book has the magic and mystery that attracts many middle grade readers. Horton finds a note from an estranged magician uncle that sends him on a hunt for treasures from his family’s past. 4 out of 5 stars.
Graphic Novel
A picture heavy graphic novel that will appeal to elementary and middle grade graphic novel lovers.  Beaver Brothers must combat a team of evil penguins plotting to freeze their patch of sea-shore. 3 out of 5 stars.
Non-Fiction
This 32 page picture books quickly tells the compelling story of Rachel Carson–author of Silent Sprint (written in the 1960s, about the use and effects of pesticides). 4 out of 5 stars.
Picture Book

This book shows a cave kid who wants a pet–but he must work to find the right pet for this cave family. Heavy on pictures, light on text–great for toddlers transitioning from board books and pet lovers of all ages. 3 out of 5 stars.

Easy Reader

Part of the Fly Guy Series, Fly Guys stows away as his owners go on vacation. He enjoys the trip and saves the day by helping the family find their way home. 3 out of 5 stars.

Young Adult
By far–this was my pick of the week. John Green writes an honest portrait of teens living and dying with cancer. By that description alone you’re probably thinking that this book is terribly tragic–it is tragic–cancer is tragic. Yet The Fault In Our Stars manages to be hilarious, compelling and entertaining (but yes, it also gets sad). A great read for older teens and those looking for perspective on dealing with illness. 5 out of 5 stars.

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Check out my most recent (and final regular) appearance on Hack Library School. Celia Dillon and I co-wrote this Starter Kit for “Pursuing a Specialty in Library Services for Children.”

hls

As library science students begin classes again, school is also beginning for the children we serve as School Media Specialists and Children’s Librarians. In that spirit, Ashley and I co-wrote a starter kit for anyone interested in librarianship related to children. I am currently pursing my School Media Studies degree, while also teaching first grade. Ashley is a certified librarian and works as a Children’s Librarian at a public library. Below are some thoughts on our programs and experiences. Ashley is in bold.

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