Friday, December 19, 2014

Books make great gifts!

Last weekend, I went to the Wake County Library Annual Book Sale at the State Fairgrounds, thinking that I would casually browse for some books for the library. Little did I know the enormity of this book sale! There was no way that I could simply meander through the aisles of books - I needed a plan, a strategy!

Unfortunately, I didn't have one, so I picked up a couple armloads of books, and a couple hours later headed to the checkout table. The books were in great condition and dirt cheap, so I'm excited that I was able to find some gems for our library!

As you are shopping for your loved ones this holiday season (or anytime, really!), consider these fantastic Best Books of 2014 and book-buying guides:

BCCB Guide Book to Gift Books: An Annotated List of Books for Youth 2014 is my absolute favorite go-to guide for gifts. Created by the Bulletin for the Center of Children's Books out of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (my alma mater!), this guide includes the best of the best children's books from the past few years and is the most organized and thoughtful that I've found. 

If you've ever visited the Brain Pickings site, you'll appreciate Maria Popova's Best Children's Books of 2014 list with detailed descriptions and tons of illustrations. 

Finally, every newspaper and news website/blog likes to chime in with these Best of lists, too. Here are a few:
We have some of these new and noteworthy books in our library and would welcome any as gifts to us as well! :) 

Happy holidays & happy reading!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

How we celebrated Picture Book Month

Recently, Jenni (Forest class teacher) and I hosted a "Celebrate Picture Book Month!" Discovery Group for third and fourth year students. Discovery Groups took place during two Fridays in November for an hour and fifteen minutes each.

For our first meeting, we all found cozy spots in the library to read some of the library's new picture books. Books were passed around from student to teacher to student ("You HAVE to read this book!") in a flurry of excitement. This got us talking about our favorite parts, things we didn't understand, and parts we may have missed the first time. Book lovers united in this short time of reading and sharing books!

But we wanted to celebrate picture books beyond the library and our own reading. We wanted to promote these books in BIGGER ways! So, students chose to create book trailers using iMovie or create a poster display for the library. Here are the fruits of our labor!  

Oliver Jeffers author/illustrator door poster 

Chris Van Allsburg author/illustrator door poster

The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak window poster (Okay, yes, it doesn't have pictures in it, so technically, it's not a picture book. But we still call it that anyway!)

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

Journey by Andrew Becker

Quest by Andrew Becker

The Dark by Lemony Snicket (warning: this one's spooky, folks!)

Once Upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers

We loved celebrating Picture Book Month and can't wait to do it again next November! 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Deborah Wiles author visit!

Yesterday was a fabulous and BUSY day in the Lower School! Deborah Wiles, children's book author and National Book Award finalist for Each Little Bird That Sings and Revolution, spent the morning with us! 

(If you missed Deborah yesterday, you can see her at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh TONIGHT at 7pm and the Chatham Community Library TOMORROW at 4pm!)

In her first session with River and Sky classes, Deborah began with a yoga breathing exercise ("the yoga of writing") to illustrate that every story has a beginning, middle, and end. She shared photos of her writing life and let us in on her process of gathering ideas and turning them into stories. Deborah explained to students that all stories come from "what you know, what you feel, and what you can imagine." She also encouraged students to use their five senses to record their surroundings and ideas when brainstorming. Deborah led students in song and dance to her lullaby counting book One Wide Sky. She then read aloud Freedom Summer, offering insights into how and why she wrote the book, an especially salient topic as it was written about the summer of 1964. She concluded with the message that stories have the power to change lives and bring peace to the world.

 After chatting with teachers at snack time, Deborah returned to speak to Forest and Mountain classes. Students brought their writing notebooks with them and rapidly jotted ideas down as Deborah asked questions like "Do you ever visit relatives in the summer? Who are they and where do you go? Write it down!" As in the earlier presentation, Deborah shared pictures of her home and writing spaces and talked about her chapter books Love, Ruby Lavender and The Aurora County All-Stars. When showing photos of her inspirational places and people, students eagerly raised their hands and connected Deborah's real-life stories to the made-up ones in her books. We were all so impressed with how engaged and thoughtful our students were (as was Deborah!). Deborah emphasized that as writers, we should always be paying attention, asking questions, and making connections. Her writing tips and insights were well-received by students and teachers alike, and we so appreciated hearing such honest and thoughtful stories and advice.

 I could write on and on about how much we loved having Deborah visit our school and share her stories with us. She's an exceptional author, fantastic teacher, and a lovely person. If you ever have the chance, go see her speak!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Sneak peek - new books!

New books, new books, how I love me some new books! One of the BEST parts of being a librarian is that I get to preview and buy tons of fabulous books for our library. I'm always on the lookout for what's new and exciting in children's literature - I read book blogs, watch book trailers from publishers, browse the book stores and public libraries, read professional reviews, and gladly take book suggestions. Here are some of the new ones coming to our library next week - I've read them all and LOVE each and every one of them!

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
In a mostly autobiographical tale told in verse, Jacqueline describes growing up in the North and South in the 1960s and 1970s. She always wanted to be a writer, but living in her sister's shadow, she never knew she could until someone saw it in her. This is a beautiful story about family, life, and going for your dreams. And it's a National Book Award Finalist for Young People's Literature!

I was so lucky to hear Jacqueline speak last weekend at NCSLMA (Jenni and Justine were there too!), where she recited parts from her books to make them truly come alive. If you haven't seen her in person, now is your chance! She'll be at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh on Wednesday, October 22!

Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla written by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by G. Brian Karas
Have you ever read a book so lovely that you wanted to hug it and hold it close to your heart? That is what Ivan is to me. It all started with The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, which won the Newbery Award in 2013, and told the story of the incredible silverback gorilla who spent most of his life in a glass cage in a shopping mall. Applegate's novel told Ivan's story through his perspective, but this new picture book tells his story through an informational lens.

Fans of Ivan, you will love this book!

The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak is hilarious. Just watch the video below for proof:

Finally, Sam and Dave Dig a Hole written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen (what a dynamite duo!) had such a delightfully surprising ending that I can't wait to see what others think about it. Here's the trailer:

Enjoy the new books!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

If you like Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, try...

Are you anxiously awaiting the release of the newest Wimpy Kid book? The Long Haul comes out in ONE MONTH!

Until then, here are some books that you can check out that are similar to the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. They're mostly funny school stories with great characters! Enjoy!

Big Nate series by Lincoln Peirce
Supremely confident middle-school student Nate Wright manages to make getting detention from every one of his teachers in the same day seem like an achievement.

Stink series by Megan McDonald
The shortest kid in the second grade, James Moody, also known as Stink, learns all about the shortest president of the United States, James Madison, when they celebrate Presidents' Day at school.

Spaceheadz series by Jon Sciezcka
On his first day at Brooklyn's P.S. 858, fifth-grader Michael K. is teamed with two very strange students, and while he gradually comes to believe they are aliens who need his help, he has trouble convincing anyone else of the truth.

Alvin Ho series by Lenore Look
A young boy in Concord, Massachusetts, who loves superheroes and comes from a long line of brave Chinese farmer-warriors, wants to make friends, but first he must overcome his fear of everything.

Wayside School series by Louis Sachar
Humorous episodes from the classroom on the thirtieth floor of Wayside School, which was accidentally built sideways with one classroom on each story.

Hank Zipzer series by Henry Winkler
Fourth-graders Hank, Ashley, and Frankie are excitedly preparing for a magic show at the Rock 'N Bowl when Hank's creative alternative to an English essay lands him in detention and grounded the week of the show.

Clementine series by Sara Pennypacker
While sorting through difficulties in her friendship with her neighbor Margaret, eight-year-old Clementine gains several unique hairstyles while also helping her father in his efforts to banish pigeons from the front of their apartment building.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Celebrate Banned Books Week!

Hey, it's Banned Books Week! Hopefully, you are unlike our Pigeon friend and know what this means...
Sorry, Pigeon, but Banned Books Week is actually a time to celebrate our freedom to read! You can read more about it here and here.

Dav Pilkey, author of the hugely popular Captain Underpants series has created a fantastic video about Banned Books Week:

And if that wasn't enough, his recent post on the Huff Post Books Blog made me smile and cry a little. And this made me cheer:
As grown-ups, we need to respect our children's rights to choose what they want to read. Kids who have fun reading are making a connection in their brains that reading is valuable and rewarding. That very connection is what turns ordinary kids into lifelong readers.
Well said, Dav!

Happy reading - whatever it is your heart desires! -

Monday, September 22, 2014

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


Welcome to the Lower School Library!

I am thrilled to be your new librarian this year, and I so look forward to getting to know all of you wonderful students and CFS families.

To learn a little bit about me, check out the About Natalie page, follow me on Twitter, or check out what I'm reading on Goodreads!

This year, students will visit the library weekly for book checkout. I will don my reader's advisor cap to assist students in finding their perfect next book! Here you'll find the library schedule.

I will also see classes on a flexible basis to collaborate with teachers when students are engaging in research projects.

On this blog, I'll keep you posted on what's happening in the library and around the Lower School!

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