My Summer Reading Check-In

Summer reading at my library is moving along swimmingly, but this check-in is about the online summer reading program I’m participating in this summer. I’ve already blogged about my goals for the summer. So, how am I doing?

Books Read (if you click on the link, it will take you to my full Goodreads review):sphere

Sphere by Michael Crichton. I can’t believe I haven’t read any Crichton before! I thought the science-y stuff was really interesting, and am definitely planning on reading a few more of his books–Jurassic Park and Andromeda Strain–very soon.

Texts From Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg. Funny, fast, and literary all at the same time.

P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia. I adore spending time with the Gaither sisters, and I think I liked this book even better than the first one, One Crazy Summer. I listened to it on audio–a great listen! Print

To Dance With Kings by Rosalind Laker. If you’re interested in the history of Versailles, or in epic family sagas, this book would be a good one to check out.

The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove. An interesting concept about a world where different places are also different ages. Listened to this one on audio, as well.rithmatist

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson. I generally listen to Sanderson books, but this one had quite a bit of drawings in it that were central to the plot so I read it. While it took me a while to get into it, once I did I was completely sucked in. It has Sanderson’s trademark interesting, complex magic systems, as well as great world-building.

Quiet Leadership by David Rock. I read this for my CALLI final project, where we are going to talk about “tough conversations.” I’m really excited about digging more into this topic. So, while this wasn’t exactly fun summer reading for me, it was interesting.

Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith. A really fascinating mystery/thriller set in Soviet Russia.

I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest. A mystery/thriller for teens featuring really cool comics throughout. The cover is one of my favorite new book covers I’ve seen lately.i am princess x

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella. One of my favorite chick lit authors writes a YA book! It’s more serious than her adult books (although still with her trademark humor)–it’s about a girl with an anxiety disorder and her road to recovery. I enjoyed this quite a bit.

Spoiled by Jessica Morgan & Heather Cocks. I have been meaning to read this one for a while, and also have The Royal We (their new book) on hold at the library. This is good, easy, light summer reading. I personally was less excited about the Hollywood angle in this book, but am excited for the royalty angle in The Royal We. fad mania

Fad Mania by Cynthia Overbeck Bix. A YA nonfiction book that talks about various fads in America throughout the 20th century.

How I’m doing on my goals: Well, one of my goals was to read 12 books, and this list is exactly 12, so I’ve definitely already fulfilled that goal! Since this reading program goes until the end of August, I will probably read closer to 20 books over the summer, although we’ll see. Some of the books I’m planning on reading are longer, and may take a while to get through.

Another goal: to start on my project of rereading all of Jane Austen’s books. I haven’t started on that yet. Once I get through the last few library books I have at home, I may try that next.

Another goal: to read books that have been on my to-read list for a while. I’ve definitely been doing that: Child 44, Spoiled, and To Dance With Kings have all been on my to-read list for a log time, so I was excited to read them all.

Last goal: To pick books that sound fun and get into the spirit of summer reading. I’ve definitely been doing this–I haven’t let myself get too concerned about genres or anything like that–I’ve just been picking up books that I want to read and savoring them. Yay for summer reading!

Currently Reading:

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler. I’m listening to this one–it’s my first Anne Tyler. Apparently I’m really into family sagas this summer!

Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff. One of my favorite children’s authors just came out with a new book and I’m tearing through it. It’s really heavy, but so far beautifully written and gripping.

How’s your summer reading going?

School Visits and Books We Booktalked

I previously blogged about how our summer reading promotion school visits work, and the books we brought to read to K-2nd graders. For grades 3-5, we bring books to booktalk. We brought a lot of books this year, and most were successful. Here are the books we talked about, and the reactions to them:

snicker of magicA Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd. This was asked about by pretty much every class, and was one of the most popular books we bought. And obviously the booktalk worked–I just had to buy another copy of this for the library because we had so many holds on it! A fun cover, a magical town, and a girl who moves super often were all elements that intrigued the kids.

drizzleDrizzle by Kathleen Van Cleeve. This was also asked about by every class, which surprised me. I didn’t realize how compelling that cover was! And even though booktalking this book shows how strange it is (a magical rhubarb farm?!?!), it’s another one that has so many holds on it I just bought another copy for the library. So obviously a successful booktalk!

treatires trenchesTreaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood by Nathan Hale. Another very popular cover–it was asked about in every class we had it out for. This series continues to be popular in our library (our graphic novel collection is generally just insanely popular, as I assume it is everywhere), and this was no exception. It was the only book where after our presentation, a child actually asked me to write down the title so he wouldn’t forget it.

Tricky Vic by Greg Pizzoli. I think what always surprises me the most about booktalking to classrooms is which covers the kids are interested in hearing more about. This one got asked about a lot, and I have had a few kids come in the library since and ask “what was that book about the conman, again?” This is a great picture book nonfiction, that I loved, but I didn’t expect it to be as popular with the kids as it was.

absolutely almostAbsolutely Almost by Lisa Graff. Another cover that surprised me–it was asked about a lot. I LOVED this book, but realized it’s actually kind of tricky to booktalk. I think my booktalk rambled on a bit the first time I tried to booktalk it, so I ended up just reading a chapter from the book, which seemed to work better.

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick. This book reminded me that I can’t wait for The Marvels to come out soon. I love Selznick! A lot of the kids had already read this one, and they loved sharing with us that it was a great book. It is đŸ™‚

greenglass houseGreenglass House by Kate Milford. I love the cover of this, but it always seemed a little adult to me, and I wasn’t sure it would appeal to kids. I was TOTALLY wrong about this. This one got asked about a lot, and I still have kids coming into the library wanting to put holds on it.

Waiting for the Magic by Patricia MacLachlan. The animals on the cover of this made it a big draw. And the kids all liked the fact that this was about a family that owned a lot of animals.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. Another book that both my coworker and I loved, but found somewhat difficult to booktalk without rambling. We brought the audiobook, rather than the physical book, which meant we couldn’t just read from it. But it was asked about a lot, and the kids definitely seemed intrigued by it, and our copies aren’t staying on the shelf, so I think this will be a summer hit! Continue reading

Summer Reading for Me!

texts from jane eyreI’ve decided to join an online summer reading program at At work, it’s fun to encourage kids in their summer reading, and now it will be fun for me to keep track of my own reading, as well. My goal from now until August 29th is to read 12 books. I’ve already read two (Sphere by Michael Crichton and Texts from Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg), so I’m guessing I will exceed my goal, but I have some longer, classic books on my list, so wanted to give myself plenty of time to read them.

My personal summer reading goals (beside the 12 books):

  • To at least start on my goal of rereading all of Jane Austen’s books.
  • To read some books that have been on my to read list for a while, but that I haven’t gotten a chance to read because they are adult books and I mainly read children’s books.
  • To pick books that sound fun and get into the spirit of summer reading!

dance with kingsThe next book on my list: To Dance with Kings by Rosalind Laker. I heard about this through one of my favorite podcasts, The History Chicks, and it’s been on my to read list for a while. It’s a huge, multi-generational saga–exactly what I love to read in the summer! Happy summer reading, everyone.

School Visits and What We Read This Year

It’s the craziest time of year to be a children’s librarian! Summer reading is almost here! In the past few weeks, I’ve spent a significant amount of time on school visits, promoting our library’s summer reading program and getting kids excited about reading over the summer. I love school visits, and it has been great to meet with kids, and have them come into the library later and say, “You were at my school!”

We have been lucky enough this year to meet individually with different grade levels at most of the schools we visited. This makes for a long day (at least 3 hours at the school, sometimes most of the day), but means we can tailor our presentations to each grade level. For grades K-2, we read a story and talk about the summer reading program. For grades 3-5, we talk about the summer reading program and bring a bunch of books to booktalk. I’m planning on posting our booktalk books next week, but wanted to share the books we chose to read aloud this year.

A question that comes up a lot on Facebook groups of children’s librarians is: “What picture books can I read to school age children?” I’m going to make a list sometime soon with all my favorite school age readalouds, but here’s a short one with what worked this year:

snip snapSnip Snap, What’s That? by Mara Bergman. We read this to kindergarteners on most of our visits. They loved it! It’s the perfect amount of suspense for kindies. All the classes picked up on the “You bet they were” refrain very quickly and loved yelling it with me. I also love reading this book in storytime with preschoolers, and it was fun to see that it worked with a slightly older age, as well.

I'm boredI’m Bored by Michael Ian Black. This was a great pick for 1st grade classes. They thought it was hilarious. There were so many giggles during most of this book. This is another book that I’ve read with preschoolers before (and they’ve liked it), but I think the ending works better with the older kiddos. Preschoolers are sometimes a little confused by the ending, but on the school visits, they thought it was so funny.

extra yarnExtra Yarn by Mac Barnett. I love this book. I love the gentle fairy tale feel of it. This was another great 1st grade book. They were entranced by the story, loved watching the colors change, and loved predicting what was going to happen. I always like to ask if they would sell the yarn to the archduke, and it’s wonderful how many kids yell, “NO!!!!” There’s just something magical and timeless and lovely about this story. Continue reading

On Self Care, Librarianship, and Blogging

I read this really fabulous post from Kendra a few weeks ago about taking “self care Sundays,” and loved the idea. It also reminded me that I hadn’t blogged in a while, certainly not weekly, as is my goal. But I realized that taking a bit of a blogging break was my own version of self care. With summer reading coming up, and with all of the amazing things I’ve been doing in my CALLI program, as well as my commitments as a steering committee member for CLEL, my life has been full, full, full of thinking about libraries, leadership, and my day-to-day work tasks. I truly love everything I’m involved with, but having all of these commitments has left me with very little energy to spend on blogging after the work day is over. (If you’re in a similar boat, I also highly, high recommend Mel’s awesome post about knowing when to say no.)

The good news is, taking a little blogging break left me feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, and I have a BUNCH of things I’m planning on blogging about over the next few weeks. The goal for today is to get some posts scheduled and to catch up on talking about some great things I’ve been learning through CALLI. So look for new posts coming as soon as tomorrow!

But all of these thoughts of self care left me thinking about how librarians spend their off hours on getting rejuvenated and ready to bring their best selves to work. For me, I read, crochet, cook, and take my dog on long walks. What are your self care strategies?

Storytime Picks of the Month: March

In this monthly feature, I pick my favorite storytime reads of the month–one from my baby storytime, one from toddler storytime, and one from preschool storytime.

we've all got bellybuttonsBaby Storytime Pick: We’ve All Got Bellybuttons by David Martin. I love this book, for both babies and toddlers. Our copy is falling apart and it’s out of print, which is always so sad. This is a great, interactive book to read in baby storytime, and it rhymes! What I like most about it is that this book encourages parents and babies to identify different body parts (hands, necks, etc.) and move them along with the book. For wiggly babies with short attention spans, this book is an excellent choice! Plus, the illustrations are adorable.

sheep in a jeepToddler Storytime Pick: Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw. Another favorite that I use quite often in toddler storytime. The rhyming makes for a good read aloud, and the kiddos like the illustrations. There’s always a toddler that says, “Uh oh!” when the jeep gets stuck. And parents love the joke in the last line, “Jeep for sale–cheap!” so it’s a good parent pleasing book, as well. Just a fun read aloud that combines animals and vehicles–always favorites for toddlers!

hungry henPreschool Storytime Pick: Hungry Hen by Richard Waring. I just love this book. It’s short enough to read with toddlers, which I’ve done before, but preschoolers really get the joke at the end. I read it as part of a bird themed storytime, and it was fun to watch the tension build with the kiddos until they couldn’t wait to know what was going to happen with the hen. They were so worried about her! And then when (spoiler alert) she just gobbled the fox right up–they loved it. So many giggles. This is a fun book to read with preschoolers that is always a hit (as a bonus, parents always find it funny, too!).

Storytime Picks of the Month: February

In this monthly feature, I pick my favorite storytime reads of the month–one from my baby storytime, one from toddler storytime, and one from preschool storytime.

This is an extremely late Storytime Picks of the Month! So without further ado, here are my favorite storytime books from February:

brown bearBaby Storytime Pick: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr. This is a classic for a reason. It just works! Whenever I read this in storytime, I know that a bunch of babies are going to run up to see the book, point things out, and just generally get really excited about it. It’s also a great book for encouraging parental and baby participation. We can all say together what the different animals and their colors are. It’s just a book that works, and one that my babies always love. Definitely a go-to for baby storytime.

spots feathersToddler Storytime Pick: Spots, Feathers, and Curly Tails by Nancy Tafuri. This book hits all of the fun notes for toddler storytime. There are animal noises and guessing the animals, and just a bunch of fun. Toddlers love to guess which animal is coming next. Basically, this is at the perfect level for toddlers and their development–it seems like all toddlers love farm animals and it’s a participatory book that all my toddlers are able to participate in. Another go-to for me for my toddler storytime.

where's my teddyPreschool Storytime Pick: Where’s My Teddy? by Jez Alborough. This book has the benefit of being both adorable and allowing you to read it in a crazy, over-the-top way which is always fun. I love yelling “Where’s my TEDDY?!?!?!” dramatically. Also, we have a big book of this book in our storytime collection, which also always makes for a fun experience for everyone. We used this as part of an opposites storytime this month (which was a really fun theme if you’ve never done it), and it was a great choice for preschoolers.