Book Recommendations for the week of 9.16.19

“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which
difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.”

John Quincy Adams

Navigating Early, (2013) by Clare Vanderpool
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Grenade, (2018) by Alan Gratz
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The Sinking of the Titanic, 1912, (I Survived #1), (2010)
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Restart, (2017) by Gordon Korman
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Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus, (2017) by Dusti Bowling
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Have a suggestion on what I should add, please share it! I love putting books and audiobooks on my list; especially ones you recommend!

Book Recommendations for the week of 9.9.19

To begin is easy, to persist is art.

-German proverb

Each week I’ll feature a variety of books. Some new, some old, but all great. I’ll book talk these books in the Resource Center, but they will live here too in case you want to revisit titles throughout the year. If you have books you think I would love, please share them with me too!

Ghetto Cowboy, (2011) words by G. Neri, illustrations by Jesse Joshua Watson
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Middle School The Worst Years of my Life, (2011) by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts
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Squirm (2018) by Carl Hiaasen
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All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook, (2016) by Leslie ConnorGoodreads Summary
The Thing About Jellyfish, (2015) by Ali Benjamin Goodreads Summary

New Year: New Role!

Tomorrow begins my 29th year in education! After more than two decades at The Hubbard Woods Elementary School, I’m eager and excited to begin my new journey as a teacher-librarian at The Skokie School in Winnetka, IL. This unique school is a fifth and sixth grade building in which all of our feeder elementary schools gather for the first time in one place.

I’m moving into the role that was held by a beloved librarian who has excited and ignited the reading lives of students for many years. It is a lot to live up to, but I am ready!

The possibilities of flexible scheduling, deep and meaningful collaboration with classroom teachers and a redesign of the physical space have my mind racing with possibilities.

I look forward to learning and growing with the staff and students. I’ll use this blog to reflect and celebrate our growth together!

Lifelines: Books That Bridge the Divide

When Wendy Garland and I traveled at total of 13,000 miles to meet face to face, we had already spent dozens of hours planning for our presentations at the 2018 ALA International Conference. Our first discussion was about what we had both read on the flight. Wendy had just finished Ann Braden’s The Benefits of Being and Octopus, and couldn’t stop gushing about how powerful it was. I had just finished Wishtree by Katherine Applegate. Being librarians, we connected the books to our communities and our students and our own lives. The next day, we had the chance to experience traditional Emirati culture. We toured the Jumeira Mosque and then attended a traditional Emirati luncheon. We ended our day by taking a walk through a historic section of the city called ‘Old Dubai.’ Our stomachs and minds were full when we encountered this amazing painting.

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We had learned about the cultural significance of the Burqa, or facial covering, that was worn as a symbol of engagement, earlier in the day. I thought the painting showed a woman empowered and I quickly fired off the tweet above. It reminded me of the great new series Meet Yasmin by Saadia Faruqi. that I had just added to our library’s collection.

You can probably imagine how flabbergasted I felt when I received a direct message on Twitter from Ann Braden and Saadia Faruqi asking if Wendy and I would like to be interviewed for an upcoming podcast on the Lifelines Podcast that they produce. Wendy and I couldn’t believe it. Twitter had just connected us with two authors over 7,000 miles away, all because of a photo I’d taken after spending a day learning about another culture.

A couple of months later, we were recording the podcast with Ann reminiscing the incredible opportunity we had to learn from and share with dozens of librarians from the middle east. And now, today, the podcast with Ann Braden and Saadia Faruqi launched.

I love that Saadia brings in the titles that help us as librarians open the eyes of our students. As you’ll hear in the podcast, we all believe in the power of books to empower and enlighten our students. One book, in particular stood out to me from the many that Saadia mentioned. The book, This is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids Around the World, is especially powerful for elementary readers. I like that the author invites the reader into the story and presents each of the cultures as equal and valuable.

I hope that you will enjoy the podcast as much as Wendy and I did. Thank you to Ann and Saadia for inviting us to be a part. Keep up the fantastic work on this podcast!

Cross Post: March Book Madness Picture Book Bracket 2019

We are very eager to start our first ‘official’ March Book Madness participation. We had done it once before, but it was informal and done in house. We are especially proud because this year features books about the ‘character’s journey’ and is supported by the We Need Diverse Books Campaign. To read more, click HERE.


In the words of Matt de la Pena, “It doesn’t matter if you are African American, Asian, disabled, part of the LGBTQ community, we all need to see ourselves in books, because if we don’t see ourselves in books we may not feel as connected to the human experience.  The story of all of us.  At the same time, books are more than mirrors.  They are also windows.  I’ve always believed that reading is the ultimate form of empathy.  Yes, we’d love to find ourselves in books and read about ourselves and our own experiences, but it’s also important to read about people that aren’t like us.  It’s only then that we will have a full understanding of the world around us.”

The STEM Read Podcast Experience

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When Kristin Brynteson and Gillian King-Cargile emailed me asking if I wanted to be on a podcast about making with young children, I, of course, said, “YES!” When she told me that she wanted to come to my school to record it in the IDEA Lab I was thrilled, but I was over the moon when she told me that Andrea Beatty would be joining me for the interview at Hubbard Woods!

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I hope you will take the time to listen to this fantastic podcast by Kristin and Gillian. They have a phenomenal system of show notes that link to just about everything we talk about in the podcast. I hope you’ll check out the podcast and the notes!

Thank you to Kristin and Gillian for a fantastic experience! Thank you, Andrea Beatty, for just being awesome!