2nd Quarter Reading Party

Today we were joined by 16 intrepid readers, who finished nine or more books during the second quarter of school.  They were treated to a pizza lunch with Capri Suns and chocolate chip cookies.  Congrats to these readers, and everyone else who participated in the reading challenge.  Can’t wait for next quarter!

img_20190122_123526143 (1)

img_20190122_123541558 (1)


Banned Books Week 2016

Banned or Challenged?

When someone feels that a book should not be read by others in a school or library, they can challenge the book and asked to have it removed. When that happens, librarians and school officials follow a procedure to decide whether or not that book should be removed. The book is actually banned when it has been removed. If a book is banned or challenged in one library, school, county or school district, that does not necessarily mean that it will be banned in other areas. Here at Severn, we don’t believe in the practice of banning books from our library, but some books have been challenged in the past.

A Shift in Why People Ban Books

infographic-diversityFor years, books have typically been banned or challenged for controversial language or sexual themes. But according to James LaRue, Director of the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom, “there’s been a shift toward seeking to ban books focused on issues of diversity—things that are by or about people of color, or LGBT, or disabilities, or religious and cultural minorities.”

Why is this happening? Could it be that books that focus on diversity simply weren’t on the shelves before? And now that they are, they are subject to censorship? Which is worse?

How Can I Help?

img_1217Read banned books! Read diverse books! Start a conversation. Share stories of diversity in your own lives and encourage your friends to do the same. Speak up for what you believe is right. Talk to your parents! Talk to your teachers! Find out why these books are banned or challenged, then READ THEM and make your own choice.

Get thinking! Think about the difference between your personal choices or opinions and more general rules for everyone. Is it right for someone who doesn’t like ideas in a book to prevent other people from reading it? Why or why not?

Upper School Read Recap: Fahrenheit 451

What is the Upper School Read?

Upper School Read day is an annual Severn School tradition that brings our community together to dive into relevant and often controversial topics in literature. A committee of students and faculty choose a book for the read that inspires critical thought and reflection. All Upper School faculty and students then read it over the summer and participate in engaging workshops to investigate themes represented in the book. This year we read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and it was a huge success!

The Book

Themes represented in Fahrenheit 451 center around technology and censorship.  Bradbury said to his own biographer, “Fahrenheit 451 is less about Big Brother and more about Little Sister.” It’s as much about society’s lack of interest in reading and critical thought as it is about government control. Who is to blame, us or them? Most likely both. Some critique that Bradbury flip flops in his interpretation of his own work. But maybe that’s what good literature does. It grows and changes as our world does the same.

The Day

The day was shaped by exciting and thought provoking workshops where teachers and students explored topics in censorship and technology. The biggest hit was our 451 Scavenger Hunt where kids worked in groups to solve puzzles and find hidden banned books all the while holding onto a jump rope fire hose (use your imagination folks!).

Each year the Upper School Read brings a new opportunity for students and teachers to explore their own interests and opinions, while learning from each other. For a look back at previous Upper School Read days, check out the summaries on our library website.

March Madness, Library Style

It’s that time of year again … time for School Library Journal’s annual Battle of the Kids Books! March Madness, library style!

Stop by the library during March to track the progress of this tournament-to-end-all-tournaments! We say this every year, but the books selected for the 2016 competition are really outstanding! There’s a little bit of something for every reading taste. Don’t rely solely on our opinions though, grab a book (or five) and judge for yourself.


Third Annual Teen Grab Bag Event!

As with years past, we selected our (and hopefully your!) favorite books and wrapped them up with goodies and a bow for students to grab and read over winter break.  Thanks to the hard work of our Student Library Advisory Board (what would we do without them?), we had even more bags than ever for this year’s event.

We are always pleasantly surprised at the enthusiasm of Severn Students when it comes to reading a surprise selection of books.  One student stated simply, “I’ve been in a reading rut. This is perfect to get me out of it!” That’s the idea … and music to our librarian ears!

This can be a grueling time of year as many students are under pressure to wrap up semester-long projects and prepare for exams. We’re happy that we can add a little fun with these grab bags.  Until next year, happy reading!


Take a YA-cation!

Summer vacation is fast approaching, do you know what you’re going to do with all of that fantastic free time? Take a trip around the world on a YA-cation with some of our favorite books!


  • Sekret by Lindsay Smith (Russia)
  • Stolen by Lucy Christopher (Australia)
  • Behemoth by Scott Westerfield (Turkey)
  • Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (France)
  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (Czech Republic)
  • The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan (Chile)
  • Boundless by Kenneth Oppel (Canada)
  • The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson (Brazil)
  • Thunder Over Kandahar by Sharon E. McCay (Afghanistan)
  • Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharenow (Germany)
  • A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman (India)
  • Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor (Nigeria)
  • Diamond Boy by Micheal Williams (Zimbabwe)
  • Golden Boy by Tara Sullivan (Tanzania)


A New Perspective on Black History Month

February is Black History Month. It’s a time to consider the lives of African Americans throughout US history and today.  What does this mean for you and the library?  We’ve added materials to our collection to support learning about the social, historical and cultural experiences of black Americans.  This means reaching beyond the traditional to offer a viewpoint you might not have considered before with graphic novels, CD’s, DVDs, and more. We’ve also got a display of quotes outside the library that can really get you thinking about your role in in the developing history of our culture as Americans from all different backgrounds. Come take a look and find your perspective.