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.


Book Face Swap Winner!

We are excited to announce the Book Face Swap Contest winner, middle school student Daniel Berlin! Daniel took a different approach than we expected when we created this contest. He swapped the faces of people on the book cover using Adobe Photoshop Fix —  so well in fact that we had to compare the original to see the swap! Take a close look, can you tell which is which?



Of course we have to give a shout out to everyone who participated. These were made using either Snapchat or Face Swap Booth. The swaps turned out a little freaky and a lot of fun! We even took a shot at it ourselves!


Poetically Creative for National Poetry Month!

To celebrate National Poetry Month, Mrs. Coutts and Ms. Etchison have been rolling up their sleeves to get a little crafty, a little creative and very poetic with Middle School English classes!

There’s something heartwarming about a group of kids sitting on the floor and reading poetry. And even better than that is what grew out of those lessons! A poet-tree in full bloom with original and quoted works, black-out poetry inspired by poetic beauty already on the page … and hopefully some newfound love for the many types of poetry out there.

Come take a look! If you feel inspired, add a leaf to our poet-tree or create your own black-out poetry and we’ll post it!



Book Controversy: Two Boys Kissing

The ALA just released the list of most frequently challenged books of 2015 and David Levithan’s Two Boys Kissing is in at number ten.

Two Boys Kissing is the story of two boys who set out to win a Guinness World Record for kissing, as they try to figure out who they are and what they mean to each other. It’s based on real life events.

This award winning book was challenged for condoning public displays of affection. As Book Rioter Leila Roy put it “I would like to know if the individual who challenged Two Boys Kissing because it ‘condones public displays of affection’ also took issue with… PRETTY MUCH EVERY OTHER BOOK THAT FEATURES A LOVE STORY EVER.”

Read more about why this book was challenged in this article from School Library Journal.

We love the diversity this book represents. Come check it out, read it and tell us what you think.

New Library Contest: Book Face Swap!

book face swap (2)

Here’s what you do:

  1. Find a book with a face on it.
  2. Use whatever face swap app you like: Snapchat, Face Swap Booth, Masquerade … you can even do it yourself with Photoshop.
  3. Swap faces.
  4. Save, print or screenshot your face swap and submit it to Ms. Lewis.

The best, funniest and most clever book face swaps will win a fantastic prize!

Good luck to you all!


Exploring Research Together

Fifth graders in Mrs. Dabrowka and Mrs. Kitchin’s classes visited the Teel Campus Library in February as part of their study of the Arctic and Antarctica. With Mrs. Coutts leading the charge, students went on a team treasure hunt to find information in books and library databases. Back in their classrooms, they assembled display boxes that used recycled material (tissue boxes) to present their findings. Each box is adorned with a creative likeness of the explorer along with details of the adventurer’s life and time, complete with bibliographies!

Parents, students and teachers are welcome to come check out the finished products on display in the Teel Library. It was a great day of sharing and learning for the library team and our fantastic fifth graders!

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.