African American Read-In 2017

In November 1989, the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English came together to set the first Sunday of February as a nationwide Read-In to promote diverse reading habits. Fast forward to February 2017, and libraries are still participating in African American Read-Ins. Librarians can choose any day in the month of February, and we at Severn decided on February 17th.


Collection of Books By African American Authors

Let’s Get to Reading

The event was open to any teacher, student, or staff member looking to read works by African American authors throughout the day. Poems, short stories, magazines, and novels were offered, featuring authors like Walter Dean Myers, Maya Angelou, Sharon Draper, and Langston Hughes. Some popular choices included Life Doesn’t Frighten Me At All, Twelve Rounds to Glory, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and MLK: Journey of a King. Students cozied up on bean bag chairs while snacking on cookies and listening to John Coltrane. Afterwards, they shared their readings in the forum, giving them the chance to discuss with peers.


Students Reading and Sharing Ideas in the Forum

Reflections from the Day

“One of the things librarians love to do is to help students find books they love. I heard a sixth grade plop down into a comfy chair this morning and exclaim “what a cool book!” If students don’t have the opportunity to sit and relax with a book of their choosing, they are on track to be an adult who does not enjoy reading later on. So this is part of our effort to help students become lifelong readers.” – Mary Coutts, Head Librarian

Students and teachers alike reveled in the chance to read something new and relax in the welcoming atmosphere of the library. We would certainly call the African American Read-In a success!


Library Decorations Included Poems, Author’s Last Names, and Quotations

Research Tip: Website Credibility

Successful researchers know easy tricks to evaluate websites at first glance. Follow the acronym ADAPT to evaluate any page you think might be useful.

A: How accurate is the information? Can you verify it elsewhere? Is the site free of typographical or spelling errors?

D: Depth matters. Does the site offer a sufficient depth of information or just pieces that can be misleading?

A: Who authored this site? Can you contact them for more information if needed? Can you verify the site owner’s authority on the topic?

P: What is the purpose of the site? Is this a blog or a fact based page? Check the domain extension (.edu and .gov will likely be legitimate). Be skeptical of sites with big or varied fonts, multiple bright colors, or excessive punctuation.

T: Time is important. How new is the information? If there are no dates listed, look for other clues. Don’t mistake the date the page was created for the date that the information was obtained.


Still not sure? Check out this helpful website credibility guide from EasyBib!

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!


Speak Up for Banned Books

Looking for Alaska, written by acclaimed young adult author John Green,  was taken out of classroom libraries in New Jersey after a parent complained of sexual content.  One parent. The superintendent removed it immediately after hearing the complaint.  No process.  No vote.  He just removed it.

This award winning book had been on the shelves for years before this happened.

Other parents and students spoke up and it’s now back on the shelves.  What does this say about the importance of your voice? What about your freedom to share it?

Want to know more? Check out this article from the National Coalition Against Censorship.

Read the book then tell us what you think!

Looking for Alaska original cover.jpg

Source:(WP:NFCC#4). Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

The Absolutely True Story of the Most Challenged Book of 2014

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie is the most challenged book of 2014. Folks think it’s inappropriate for students because (according to them!) it contains violence, sexual content and offensive language.

What do you think? Is it right to keep people from reading books because some people don’t agree with the content? Should you be allowed to decide for yourself? Why or why not?

Come check it out, read the book and tell us what you think!

Want to know more aobut how and why are books banned and challenged? Here’s a nifty little infographic from the American Library Association.

Teens Top Ten 2014


It’s that time of year again… the nominations for Teens’ Top Ten 2014 have been made and voting is open! We’ve got all of the nominated books on display in the library.

Read one, read two, read as many as you can and then vote to make your voice heard!

Which books will make the cut? Stay tuned for the results- we’ll post them as soon as they are available. Vote here.

The House at Pooh Corner: Student Book Review

poohFor my free read, I read the book, The House At Pooh Corner, by A. A. Milne. This book was a wonderful story about friendship and the bond between a child and their toys. Having already read the first book in the Hundred Acre Wood series, I was anxious to read how the story continued.

Each chapter is a different adventure between the characters. All of the chapters begin with the words, “In which”.In the beginning of the book, I did not enjoy it very much, but by the middle I was reading it every day. The stories are captivating and sweet, too.

Ernest Shepard’s illustrations were very beautiful and allowed me to see the characters differently. My favorite character is Pooh, because he is interesting and makes lots of funny songs. Pooh is much smarter than he believes. Pooh often refers to himself as “a bear with little brain”, however his creativity allows him to come up with smart solutions to the problems that he and his friends face.

I enjoyed listening to Eeyore complain and Piglet worry, but my favorite part of the book, by far, is the relationship between Christopher Robin and his toys. In one of the chapters, Christopher Robin leaves a note telling his toys where he has gone. Christopher Robin has always loved his toys and looked after them. Reading the stories of Winnie-the-Pooh has allowed me to think in a different depth. The way that Christopher Robin believes his toys are real, and that the book is technically from the perspective of Christopher Robin, even though he only appears a few times.

In the last chapter, the writer expresses how something is troubling Christopher Robin. I can feel the self-conflict with himself. Christopher Robin is getting older and he is confused about his toys. He is starting to realize that his toys might not be alive or even real. At the end of the book, Christopher Robin says, “Pooh, promise you won’t forget about me, ever. Not even when I’m a hundred.” He knows that his friendship with Pooh might not last forever.

But, Christopher Robins wants to remember Pooh, as well as the other way around. The author wrote Pooh’s response to his question with this’ “How old shall I be then?”


“Pooh nodded. ‘I promise,’ he said.”

The House at Pooh Corner is a well-written book that has with held the test of time since 1926.

-Annie Bennett, grade 7