2019 Summer Reading Challenge Round Up

Summer is officially over, so it’s time to round up my Summer Reading Challenge.

Total Books Read: 44

#OwnVoices Books Read: 23 (52%)

LGBTQ+ Books Read: 7 (16%)

Graphic Novels Read: 10 (23%)

My goal was 76 books, so I didn’t get there, but I’m pretty happy with 44! I also have a lot of great books to recommend and talk about with students and teachers.  I would like to have read even more #OwnVoices and LGBTQ+ books, but I’m fairly happy with the diversity of books I read as well.



Book Fourteen: Trace

trace Trace is a perfectly balanced mix of realistic fiction, mystery, and a ghost story that brings in a piece of history that was new to me: the draft riots in New York during the Civil War and the burning of  the Colored Orphanage in the city. Trace is a wonderfully written character, but my favorite person in the book is probably his Aunt Lea, who I would love to meet one day. (I know, she’s not real, but if she were…)

This book has an appeal to readers with many interests, and I would definitely recommend this to any of my 7th-9th grade students who enjoy mysteries, realistic fiction, or historical fiction.

2019: Week 19

Well friends, it’s happened.  The last Friday of the 2018-2019 school year is here! Faculty will still be here for another week with meetings, but the kids are officially done next Tuesday. So here we go with my final weekly roundup for the library.

6th grade book club had our last meeting of the year this Thursday, to talk about the awesome book Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly.  It’s the story of a girl who is deaf striving to connect with a whale who sings his song at a wavelength none of his fellow whales can understand.  I asked the kids if they thought it would be a good book to read in a science class for all the science tie-ins and they enthusiastically said yes.  Something to think about for the future…

We also wrapped up our 4th quarter reading challenge and had the most students to read 9 or more books out of all 4 quarters.  Sadly, there just isn’t time for the usual pizza party celebration, but we still had some nifty prizes to choose from.

On Tuesday, we got word that we were accepted to bring four of our students to the ALA National Conference this June in DC, where they will get to have lunch with YA authors and give their feedback on the YALSA Best Fiction for Teens 2019 nominees. We can’t wait!!

We’ve been exam study central all this week as well, as our Upper School students take their finals. So it’s by far the quietest days we’ve had all year! I even had time to READ A BOOK. What??

Happy Friday!!!

2019: Week 17

Mea Culpa! I have missed some weeks of blog posts, but it’s only because this past month has been BUSY.  So even though the blog hasn’t had much activity, the library definitely has!

A run down of the highlights:

Steven Sheinkin visited us on April 22nd! He met with a group of 13 of our middle schoolers for lunch, and then gave an awesome presentation to all of the 6-8 grades during our afternoon meeting time.  It was really interesting to hear his story of how he became an author (from aspiring movie director to text book writer to now), as well as how he comes up with and researches his ideas for books. (Everything that was too interesting to be included in the textbooks.) Read more about it here.

Steve with kids

On May 2nd, we headed up to Baltimore to take on other schools in the annual Battle of the Books.  This year was hosted by Gilman. (Shout out to how awesome the event was run!)  We took two teams – one 5th and one 6th.  Both teams did an amazing job, and our 6th grade team took home 1st place!! They are total rock stars!

We’ve seen a lot of juniors in the past few weeks as well.  Two weeks ago, the US History yearly term paper was due, and we had students joining us for Term Paper Boot Camp.  Many footnotes were made and papers revised; everyone survived. This week, we’ve had our AP US History classes coming to the library for a post-AP exam research project.  They’ve been exploring topics that range from the influence of Rachel Carson to the building of the Atomic Bomb to Hollywood during the Cold War. It’s awesome to see so much great research going on.

Happy Week 17!



2019: Week 9

It’s Friday!!! This week has gone by so quickly. We started off Monday by helping our lower school librarian take the 3rd graders to the public library. They were ADORABLE.  Oh my gosh – they are just so excited about everything! I love it! Every kid left with a library card if they didn’t have one before and the love for reading was real.  (I left with four books, including one where the main characters are pugs.  I am so excited for reading this weekend.)

Tuesday my coworker and I prepped for our Book Tastings presentation, which we gave to faculty and staff Wednesday morning.  Our upper school guidance counselor has since asked about doing a book tasting around mental health, which I am so on board for. We also floated the idea of doing an end of year book tasting for adults, so people can get something to read over the summer (when there is finally time!).

Wednesday afternoon I headed up to the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore to talk about a presentation we are giving together at the upcoming AIMS diversity conference.  That place is really cool! They have so many primary sources and artifacts of Maryland history, and their Civil Rights program is robust.  I think it would be a great field trip for our 7th and/or 11th graders to take as they study the history of the United States. I also had my post, Riverdale Reads, published over at The Hub. (Rest in peace Luke Perry. So sad.)

Thursday we met with our three Battle of the Books teams to make sure everyone was on track with their reading and got any books they needed for over spring break. I also found out that the ALA annual conference is happening in DC this summer, and checked out the sessions.  There are a ton of really good ones, plus George Takei and Tomi Adeyemi (Children of Blood and Bone) will be speaking, so I’m crossing my fingers there will be the budget for me to attend.

Today I’m going to try and read some historical fiction to prepare for 6th grade book talks next week, and just enjoy the fact that reading is a legitimate part of doing my job.  I get to cap off the week with a baby shower for a coworker this afternoon, which of course, means giving books. Perfect ending to good week.

Happy Friday all!

6th Grade Scavenger Hunt

The start of the school year brings creative, yet informative bulletin boards, plenty of plagiarism lessons, but most importantly new customers! In an effort to get our 6th graders off on the right foot loving the library, we hosted an introduction class with a scavenger hunt. After introducing ourselves and attempting to learn every student’s name, we got to work with the online catalog. Students got their first glimpse at Destiny Discover and the possibilities of requesting new books, putting books on hold, and renewing before the due date. New this year is our single sign on for ebooks through our Destiny catalog. Some students actually prefer using their iPads to read, so we had some takers. Then we went over the layout of the library as well as a few general housekeeping rules to remember. To bring back the excitement of the library, we talked about book club and our reading contests, then set them loose on a goosechase.

Literally – we used the app Goosechase, available for free through the Apple store.

Since some students didn’t have Apple IDs and others required parental permission to download, only 1 student per group downloaded the app. Our 5 groups of 3-4 students were each named after a genre, which later came into play for a mission. With Goosechase, teams can only submit photos or videos (something we set up ahead of time) to complete missions within a certain amount of time. Our missions included:

  • Team selfie in front of your genre
  • Picture of a book by an author whose last name starts with the letter M
  • Video of a team member logging onto the computer (and logging off!)
  • Snapshot of a book search in the catalog
  • Picture of a graphic novel by a particular author

Our 6th graders zoomed through the stacks racing each other to finish. They learned how to use the catalog, where to find books, how to use the library computers, and how the library is organized. Once the scavenger hunt wrapped up, they used these skills to find a book to read and explore a little more. Based on the silliness and number of books checked out, we’d call it a success!

Battle of the Books 2018

5-8 BOB 2018

Back before winter break, we introduced the idea of Battle of the Books to our students to gauge interest and form teams. Since every grade level is allowed only 4 participants (and 1 alternate), we had to have a quiz-off to see who made the cut. Students read 2 of the books on the sanctioned Battle of the Books list and were tested to see who read more carefully and thoroughly. After a valiant effort by all, the final roster was determined.

With the teams settled, students got to work reading! 5th and 6th grade had the same list, and 7th and 8th grade had a different set of books to read. Leading up to the big day, we had a test run so students could get a feel for the types of questions and what it would feel like on competition day.

5th/6th grade books

  • The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity by Mac Barnett
  • The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
  • Everything for a Dog by Ann M. Martin
  • Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
  • Ms. Bixby’s Last day by John David Anderson
  • The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin
  • Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer Holm
  • Ungifted by Gordon Korman
  • The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
  • Wild Robot by Peter Brown

7th/8th grade books

  • Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
  • Bluefish by Pat Schmatz
  • Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan
  • Eighth Grade is Making Me Sick by Jennifer Holm
  • Ghost by Jason Reynolds
  • House Arrest by K.A. Holt
  • A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen
  • Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt
  • Peak by Roland Smith
  • Ravens Gate by Anthony Horowitz

Last Monday we grabbed 2 mini buses full of students and headed to the Battle of the Books competition. Each grade level had 17 questions to answer on their whiteboards. Questions began with the phrase “In what book did ….” and students answered with book title and author. Teams received 5 points for the correct title and an additional 3 for the author’s name. Should the students disagree with the answer, they had 2 challenge opportunities. During challenges, the team members had a set amount of time to locate the answer to the question in the book of their choice. If they came up empty handed, there was no penalty. However, if they did find text supporting the question, any team on stage that used that book as an answer received points.

We are incredibly proud to announce that 5th grade tied for 1st place, 6th and 7th came in 4th place respectively, and after a nail-biter, 8th grade came in 2nd. Can’t wait for next year’s battle!