Friday, April 25, 2014

A Visit With Grace Lin!

How lucky were we to have award winning author and illustrator, Grace Lin, spend two days with us at Memorial School! Grace spent some very special time with each of our kindergarten and grade 1 classes recently. To get ready for the visit, students were introduced to Grace's books (picture books, easy readers and in some cases, chapter books - yes, she does it all). We explored her website and even read a biography written about her. We talked about the major awards Grace has won: The (Theodor Seuss) Geisel Honor Award, for Ling and Ting, Not Exactly The Same and the Newbery Honor Award for Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.

Students in Mrs. Pollock's 1st grade class made fabulous posters to welcome Grace:
There was an excitement in the building leading up to the visit.  And the kids knew exactly who she was as she walked down the hallway to the classroom she would be presenting in. BIG smiles, whispers and a few brave ones who came right up to say hello!

Grace read from her newest Ling and Ting book, Ling and Ting Share a Birthday.

She explained the process of having a book published. Did you know that at least 8 people work on each book that is published?


Grace also taught our students how to draw Chinese dragons and Chinese Tigers!

The week our visiting author comes is always a highlight of the year for all of our students and staff. It gets us even more excited about literacy, which is such an important part of what we do at Memorial. We cannot thank our CSA enough for supporting this program each year. Extra special thanks goes to CSA President and one of our Literacy Committee Chairs, Claire Shield, who made sure that every student who ordered a Grace Lin book, received one. Our young students were thrilled with their autographed books. What a very special treat!

Sunday, April 6, 2014


One of the ways school librarians are celebrating School Library Month is by sharing our stories of the path/s that led us to this amazingly fun, creative, challenging and always changing profession. Because many of us are very active learning and sharing on twitter, a hashtag, #whylib, was created. I've loved reading many of these posts and I thought I would share mine.

I had written a bit about how this very topic in a blog post I wrote for the WRAD14 Blogging Challenge:
Week 1: February 10 - 16
What is your earliest or fondest memory in which someone read aloud to you?
How fun to travel down memory lane for this purpose....  I have very clear memories of visiting our local public library in Fair Lawn, NJ.  It was always a highlight of the week for me.  I loved going into the small (at the time) building and finding the children's section.  I don't remember her name, but I have very warm memories of the children's librarian. She read us wonderful stories and helped us find great books to read. And, she was kind. I loved being surrounded by so many books and having the freedom to choose whatever I wanted. It was heaven to me.  Spending so many hours in the library and loving being there so much must have had a huge impact on me, because when I was in 6th grade and wrote my autobiography (which I came upon a few years ago!), I wrote that I wanted to be a children's librarian when I grew up. Dreams do come true!

Well, the truth is, that sometime after 7th grade, the idea of becoming a librarian was no longer what I thought about. When I finally got around to choosing a major in college, I decided it would be English Education. I especially loved the literature courses I took and was excited to do my student teaching in a "Model" High School in Columbia, Maryland. The building, curriculum and philosophy of this school was very modern and forward thinking. The media center (what the library was called) was in the very center of the building with classrooms all around it. Oh, and there weren't any walls so the media center literally was part of all learning.  It was such a vibrant and exciting place to be - talk about noisy and engaging learners! I was hooked. I received permission to do my big curriculum project on a unit where students would use the media center and it's many resources - print and non-print. I loved everything about the media center and knew it was where I wanted to be.

I applied to Rutgers School of Library and Information Science and was accepted. The program was really intense. I had never worked so hard. Most of us full-time library students would be in the library until it closed every night and then we'd go home and work even more. I felt I was getting a great education.  We were challenged and engaged at every step.  Even though our field has changed in so many ways since my time in library school, it provided a strong foundation that has always stayed with me. 

After graduation, I went to Philadelphia where my soon to be husband was finishing up his studies. In the few months I spent there, I had the opportunity to be a substitute librarian in the Philadelphia Public Schools. Some of those inner-city schools were tough in those days. One day a middle school student started a fire in the library stacks -YIKES. Luckily, a police officer was in the building. It was an eye-opening experience to say the least.

Soon, my new husband and I moved to Boston so he could continue his training. I was lucky to land a job in a great school system. Not long after our move I visited my parents and went through some of my childhood boxes. Guess what I found?  Yes, that autobiography I wrote in sixth grade. I had completely forgotten my childhood dream of becoming a children's librarian. How could I have been so smart?  How could I have known what a great profession this would be for me?

I don't have the answers to that question. I've worked in a couple of different school districts. What I do know is that this is the perfect profession for a life-long learner because our field is constantly changing. We constantly need to be updating ourselves and the libraries we work in. We constantly need to be learning and reinventing. What and how we teach changes (think CCSS and technology as two examples). Not only are walls coming down in our school libraries, they are opening up to the world. I love connecting with others. I love connecting students with others outside of our building. I love sharing great books and authors. I love sharing how to access information. I love being a librarian. 

Happy School Library Month everyone :)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Happy April!

Did you know that April is School Library Month?

To help celebrate, we have some very fun activities and learning opportunities planned for our students. Here are some of them:
  • First grade classes are beginning their very first research projects. We are calling them Inquiry or Wonder Projects and are very excited to be using our new PebbleGo data base created for young students. Read about one of the projects (from a previous post) here.
  • Many thanks to our CSA for funding our visiting author, Grace Lin. We are thrilled to welcome Grace back to Memorial School. She will present a special program to all of our Kindergarten and first grade students over a two day period.  There is already a buzz in the school  about her visit! It will be so inspiring for our young students to meet a famous, award winning  author and  illustrator. To learn more about Grace visit her website. 
  • April is also National Poetry Month. We will be celebrating with our popular Poetry Break program the week after vacation. Students can look forward to having surprise “Poetry Breakers” pop into their classrooms to read poems throughout the week.
  • And, if this isn’t all, Donna Knott (our excellent library assistant) and I will be participating in the 2014 Shelf Challenge in honor of School Library Month. We are joining many, many other school librarians who will be reading an entire shelf of books in their libraries. We hope to find some new favorites!