My #Whylib? Inspiration

20140402-232644.jpgI stumbled across a discussion on Twitter on how librarians found their way into libraries through a multitude of different routes. You can find more stories at the “Why We Became Librarians” padlet or by searching Twitter for #whylib. This is my story.

Reflecting over my decision to become a librarian, I’ve decided the heart of my decision comes down to two words: My librarians.

My mental movies of librarians, those memories forged by my earliest childhood libraries experiences, are undeniably positive (aside from a traumatic teddy-bear forgetting at the library during a winter storm-apocalypse when I was three).  My librarians inspired wonder, kept me awash in books and their libraries were like homes.

The journey began at the Middleton Public Library. Back then, the public library was one small part of the first floor of city hall. Storytime and other programs took place in the basement, complete with carpet squares on linoleum. My public librarian then was Sharon Grover (@sharongrover2), now at the Hedberg Public Library. I loved her summer reading programs.  Summers were a stream of bag lunches, presenters, musicians, reading auctions and heaps of books to read. I was in elementary school when work began on a new library building across the street. Kids helped raise money for the project through a Walk-a-thon at the high school track. I still have a button that proclaims “I helped ‘foot’ the bill” from that event. It was fun to rediscover that lost item while in library school.

From kindergarten through sixth grade, I was blessed to have Evelyn Weible as my elementary school librarian at Northside elementary. This library was the physical heart of the school. Built in 1976, Northside was laid out on an open concept. The library could be entered from every angle. This was pretty fantastic when you were a book-addicted student; it was probably less fantastic when teaching in the library as sound carries.

Mrs. Weible made the library come to life. She had book character animals around the library, and a great reading voice. With her I traveled to Where the Wild Things Are. We had geography bees in the LGI next to the library, readathons where we traveled the stars in the hall and a visit from Kevin Henkes where I can still remember him drawing Lilly and her plastic purse.  More than anything, Mrs. Weible had a vast knowledge of books. She always had recommendations for me. She first put Lloyd Alexander in my hands in that library. It is where I first read Lord of the Rings.  Each visit, we could pick up to six books to take home (and there were times when six was not enough!). I have a list of suggested titles from her still tucked away.

Not only was my library a book haven, it was also a place with some pretty cool technology for the 1980s with our first school computer lab mixed into the library as well. The first time I ever saw a screensaver was in that library (flying toasters). Mrs. Weible introduced me to Storybook Weaver, which could make some pretty fun illustrated stories.

Mrs. Weible passed away last summer. I wish I had been able to tell her that I too had become a librarian and that in many ways she still sets the standard for me on what an excellent librarian should be. My supervisor at my first library job did give Mrs. Weible a high school paper of mine about how much Mrs. Weible’s library meant to me once upon a time.

From those early experiences to my first job as a library page, creating a school library independent study in college to my decision to start library school after several years as a classroom assistant, school libraries got in my blood. I hope to work in libraries for years to come.

What are your favorite childhood experiences in libraries?


Categories: Uncategorized

It’s Monday! What are You Reading from Picture Books to YA?

What's On Your Reading Radar?

What’s On Your Reading Radar?

Last Week’s Reading Adventures

Young Adult Literature:

Watching Divergent last week in the theater inspired me to read some titles from my massive to read list.

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer – Book 2 of the Lunar Chronicles – The dystopian take on fairy tales continues. In addition to Cinder’s ongoing saga, this book follows Scarlet as she tries to locate and rescue her grandmother, a pilot with ties to Cinder’s past. This book has loose elements from Little Red Riding Hood.

Cress by Marissa Meyer – Book 3 of the Lunar Chronicles – Cress, the Lunar Queen’s imprisoned programmer, is the featured heroine of this book. Loved the ending two chapters of this book and am now impatiently awaiting Winter (Feb 2015). This book has loose elements from Rapunzel.

Maze Runner by James Dashner – An unsolvable maze. Boys with tattered memories of their past. Monstrous creatures. A society with strict routines thrown to the wind with the arrival of Thomas and then Teresa to the Glade.

Picture Books:

Max for President by Jarrett J. Krosoczka – The class election is coming up. Who will win?

Annie Was Warned by Jarrett J. Krosoczka – A fun twist on a Halloween story.

Categories: Uncategorized

It’s Monday! What are You Reading From Picture Books to YA #IMWAYR


Last Week’s Reading Adventures

Ice Dogs by Terry Lynn Johnson – A young adult adventure where a fourteen-year-old girl discovers an injured snowmobiler and must try to keep them both alive in the Alaskan wilderness when the injured teen’s directions back prove incorrect. This tile can also work for middle grade audiences though there are a few more mature jokes/references.

Hi, Koo! A Year of Seasons by Jon C. Muth – This delightful read looks at the seasons and their changes through a haiku narrative. Not surprisingly, I loved the cat in the snow.

Here Comes Destructosaurus! by Aaron Reynolds – This upcoming picture book (April 2014) is going to be perfect for a friend and her toddler. Destructosaurus lays waste to his surroundings and it turns out something dear to him and to many children is the root cause of his tantrum.

Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts – This nonfiction picture book provides insight into some of the women of the American Revolutionary War period. I enjoyed learning new facts and stories in this collective biography, but I would have loved to see some sources as well.

The Price of Freedom: How One Town Stood Up to Slavery by Dennis Fradin – The community of Oberlin, Ohio takes action when an escaped slave that was part of their community is captured. It was a fascinating episode I had not heard of before.

Categories: Uncategorized

Anderson’s Children’s Literature Breakfast Recap

This weekend I attended a wonderful book event sponsored by Anderson’s Bookshop. The Children’s Literature Breakfast is an annual event that I was privileged to attend for the third time.

Maggie Stiefvater, Aaron Reynold, Jon Muth, Laurie Keller, Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver were the featured speakers at the event. Aaron Reynolds recreated the publishing process for picture books with some help from the audience. Jon Muth created a crane as we watched. Maggie Stiefvater emphasized the power of story for both readers and gamers (while coining the term “pathological reader”) while Henry Winkler shared some of Hank Zipzer’s experiences that overlap with his own.

Don’t miss these newer titles by these authors:

Hunted by Maggie Stiefvater (Book 2 of Spirit Animals)
Here Comes Destructosaurus by Aaron Reynolds
Hi, Koo! by Jon Muth
Arnie the Donought: Bowling Alley Bandit by Laurie Keller
Here’s Hank by Henry Winkle rand Lin Oliver

Different Illinois authors travel between the breakfast tables to share about their writing. The first one to stop at my table was Fern Schumar Chapman. Fern’s books are inspired by her mother’s experiences as part of the One Thousand Children project that brought children out of Hitler’s Germany. I am excited to read this book as several sixth grade classes are just starting World War II novel studies.

I am also excited to try out Stacy Kade’s The Paper Doll Project series. Part of the first book in this dystopia series is set in Wisconsin.

By the end of the event, I had a bag bursting with books for school. Check out the Vine below to see what titles I’m taking with me to work. I’m excited to share these with the teachers and staff at my school.

Beyond the authors and books, another reason I love this event is that I get to see some of my favorite reading champions from Twitter. This year I traveled down to the event with fellow Wisconsin librarian @librarygrl2. We enjoyed briefly connecting with @akgal68 @daydreamreader @100scopenotes and @mrschureads while there as well.

No journey to the Children’s Literature Breakfast is truly complete without a visit to Anderson’s Book Shop itself. Now if only I could spend the next week reading all these wonderful books.

Categories: Uncategorized

Remembering Read Alouds

What is my earliest or fondest memory of being read aloud to?

I have many fond read aloud memories including afternoons being cuddled up in the blankets of my parents’ bed listening to my mom read Winnie-the-Pooh aloud as I “rested my eyes”. I cannot remember not being read aloud to, but what I would like to share today a favorite place where I was read to.

What was that favorite read aloud place? My local public library. Back then, my public library was inside city hall. For larger children’s programs we had to down to the basement with its linoleum floors and carpet squares. After one winter storytime, my favorite teddy bear was once left behind at the library and my dad had to brave the icy roads to retrieve it so I would actually sleep.

I once shared my favorite read aloud titles for listening and reading on on Nerdy Book Club.

Being read aloud to is an experience every child should have again and again. Yet that isn’t always the case. Yesterday at the wonderful Anderson’s Children’s Literature Breakfast, Aaron Reynolds, one of the authors speaking at the event, mentioned the first time he could remember ever being read aloud to was by his fifth grade teacher.

World Read Aloud Day is coming on March 5, 2014. World Read Aloud Day is a wonderful time to connect with other classrooms and libraries to read aloud. One World Read Aloud Skype activity I loved from last year was reading Amy Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld’s Exclamation Mark as a reader’s theater.

This was my contribution to the World Read Aloud Day “Raising Our Voices” Blogging Challenge. You can find more out about the challenge on The Busy Librarian.

Categories: Uncategorized

It’s Monday! What are You Reading From Picture Books to YA?

Recent Reads

My Recent Middle Grade and YA Reads

My Recent Middle Grade and YA Reads

After Iris – From the safety that being behind her camera provides, Blue chronicles the life of her ziblings, their college au pair Zoran and the troublesome boy who moves in next door.

Counting by 7s – The sudden loss of her parents thrusts Willow Chance into an uncomfortable new world where she must live with virtual strangers in unforgettable settings. Poignant.

Virals – This young adult science fiction novel is about Temperance Brennen’s grand-niece. An attempt to rescue a small wolfdog has unexpected consequences for Tory Brennen and three of her friends on Morris Island.

Better Nate than Ever – Desperate to make his musical mark, Nate sneaks off to New York to audition for the musical E.T. He is aided in setting up this scheme by his best friend, but it is his estranged aunt who must step in when he is in the big city.

Wig in the Window – A mystery that is part comedy of errors. When Young and Yang are on the case, everyone else in their community should look out!

Currently Reading

Other Worlds edited by Jon Scieszka

Other Worlds edited by Jon Scieszka

I have so far enjoyed the Rick Riordan and Shannon Hale stories from this Guys Read anthology. The beginning of Percy Jackson stories do have the tendency to make me laugh. I also like the courage of Spark in Shannon’s story.

Categories: Uncategorized

Library Intro in a Box


I wanted to change up my library introduction a bit this year. I thought back to a book talk I did back in library school where I had token items in a box to bring out at different times to help capture people’s attention and raise curiosity. I decided I wanted to apply that method to my intro.


Inside my box, I placed two hats to represent the many different roles of a teacher librarian. One item was my reading hat, which I used to talk about my role in promoting and selecting books. The other is my Google hat to represent helping teach staff and students about Google Drive.


I knew I wanted to hit the hours the library is open, how students check out, how many items they could check out. To simulate our check out keypad, I put in a calculator. I covered a trading card with genre stickers as a reminder to talk about our brand new fiction genres.

clockcheckout items genres


The public library is within two blocks of my school so I included a library card in my box. I promoted them as another source of books and a resource for different activities. We also have a display about public library events in the library.

For each class I then remove a small stack of books that I then promote to the class. For many classes, I spoke about one battle title and then books from our general collection.

booktalk books

Next week, new books will be placed inside the box to share as well as items related to The Dot as we start our Dot Day celebrations next week.

Categories: Uncategorized

It’s Monday! What are You Reading from Picture Books to YA?

Teach Mentor Texts started a weekly meme about what people are reading and reviewing in children’s and young adult literature.

Last Week’s Reading Adventures

Middle Grade:

Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham – Theo Boone is an addict, an addict to the court room to be exact. This aspiring lawyer is from a family of lawyers. While only thirteen, his classmates seek him out for legal advice. He is caught up in the biggest courthouse event in Strattenburg in a long time – the trial of Pete Duffy, who is accused of murdering his wife. The legal scenarios were well described and it was interesting to meet the different characters working at the courthouse. The end of the book felt more like an ending of an episode than the end of a book (and not in a cliffhanger way). I can see why some of my students really enjoy the series. It is a battle of the books title at my school this year.

Young Adult:

The Enchanter Heir by Cinda Williams Chima. I read this book as an ARC through Netgalley. This is a companion novel to The Warrior Heir, The Wizard Heir and The Dragon Heir. This book explores what happened to children who survived the Thorn Hill Massacre, which twisted their magical talents in unexpected ways. It is the story of Jonah, whose touch can kill, and Emma, who has spent much of her life immersed in music with her grandfather. When he suddenly dies, Emma is startled to learn her father is alive. The musical element of this book is strong and the end leaves you itching for the next book. Action and darkness are both found in this read.

This Week’s Reading Adventures

Jump Into the Sky by Shelley Pearsall – At the end of last week I started this title, another one of our Battle of the Books reads. Set during World War II, this is the story of Levi Battle. It seems like people have been leaving Levi all his life. His mother returned to singing, his Granny died, and his father is constantly on the move with his unit. Now his Aunt Odella has sent Levi to join his father on base after caring for him for the better of three years. Having lived in Chicago all his life, Levi’s journey to North Carolina is eye-opening. I’m curious to see where the book goes from here.

Categories: It's Monday What Are You Reading, Uncategorized

Operation Fiction Genres: Part 1

Mystery was the first fiction genre we pulled together.

Fiction genres are coming together as summer ends.

Last school year some of the most common questions in my library were genre-related. “Where are the mysteries?” Where are the historical fiction books?” The students asking those questions looked disappointed when I told them they were all throughout our big fiction areas. I’d show them where a few different titles were. I’d tell studies how to search for the genres on Destiny. I would recommend titles. The library assistant would recommend titles. All the while I kept reading posts about libraries undergoing genrification.

I decided that for 2013-2014, the library would have genres in fiction. During our last library lesson of the year, the fifth grade classes helped brainstorm what genres and groupings they would like to see in the library. Between the twelve sections, we had some pretty good ideas.

A list of suggested genres from one fifth grade class.

A list of suggested genres from one fifth grade class.

The genres I knew I wanted ready for sure by the start of the school year were mystery, historical fiction, science fiction and fantasy.

Mystery was our easiest starting point. Many of the mysteries already had stickers from when the previous librarian worked at my school. My library is blessed to have a strong group of parent volunteers. They assisted in preparing a number of the historical fiction books and some of the fantasy books before the end of the year.

I selected genre stickers from Demco to use for this project.

I selected genre stickers from Demco to use for this project.

As summer began, I pulled the rest of the fantasy and science fiction. For now, these two genres are intermingled. I find fantasy doesn’t really get genre borders. At some point, they may be separated. Genrification is definitely an ongoing work in project. During summer school, the summer school library assistant did a wonderful job in labeling the books after I identified them.

Science Fiction Fantasy took up the middle of the library as got this combined genre ready.

Science Fiction Fantasy took up the middle of the library as got this combined genre ready.

With three big genres taken care of, we moved on to some smaller areas. Sports fiction has its place as do scary books. The scary short story collections made their way out of nonfiction and over to the novels. Animal fiction and interactive fiction (choose your own adventure style materials) have a spot as well. The newest genre taking shape is adventure, which is home to 39 Clues, The Genius Files, Gallagher Girls and more.

Historical Fiction and Interactive Fiction

Historical Fiction and Interactive Fiction

Labeling the books was only the first step. For the new system to work, Destiny also had to tell students the correct part of the library to look in for their books. I am so thankful for the batch update feature! My summer took an unexpected turn in July so I was very grateful when some friends volunteered to come in and help with this part of the project. Armed with a handful of laptops and two barcode scanners, we went to work. Each genre got a document file that we scanned barcodes into. We then uploaded the lists into Destiny and changed the call number prefix.

I’ve started pulling together some different genrification resources over on Pinterest if you are interested.

Categories: Uncategorized

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading from Picture Books to YA

This Week’s Reading Adventures

Lawless by Jeffrey Salane – This fast-paced book was just the adventure I needed the morning I read it. M Freeman’s rather secluded homeschooled life comes to a screeching halt after her interview to attend the Lawless School. Uprooted from her home, tutors and mother, M is partnered with the impenetrable Zara. During her first class, her classmates are assigned to lift M’s possessions. This forces her to break into the first school assembly through an airduct. This could be a fun foil to the Gallagher Girls.

The Bully Book by Eric Kahn Gale – Sixth grade goes terribly wrong for Eric. It begins when one of his best friends refuses to speak with him, let alone sit next to him. Three boys in the class have decided to make Eric the Grunt. They manipulate events so Eric looks bad to everyone, students and adults alike. He becomes the scapegoat of the weekly class vocabulary activity, the one without any close friends. It all has something to do with a book, a book that’s been at the school for a long time. This story provides an interesting look at bullying and peer relations, without an ‘everything made right again’ moment. Eric’s first person stories are interspersed with sections from The Book.

Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea – I remembered a student loving this book last year. I picked it up last week while searching for a good all school read aloud. Told from the perspective of 7 different students in Mr. Terupt’s fifth grade class, this book might fit the bill. I loved learning more about the characters and seeing how their year unfolded. A winter accident changes everything, giving all of them something to wrestle with.

Categories: Uncategorized

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: