So long, 2014-15! It’s been a great year!

On Tuesday, everyone piled into the cafeteria to celebrate our eighth graders’ milestone as they move on to high school next year.  Even though it’s what they should be doing, it’s always sad to say goodbye!  We here in the library will really miss our eighth grade students, and wish them the greatest of success in the future!

Although the library is closed all summer, we’ve got some great resources in our virtual collection that students and staff can continue to access.  See the ebook page for details, and visit to log in!   Many of next year’s Black-Eyed Susan Award nominees are available as ebooks.  Speaking of which, if you want to get a head start on preparing for next year’s voting, here’s the list of next year’s nominees – also available from your public library!

2015-2016 nominees

Meanwhile, if you’re curious about what’s been going on in the library all year, here’s a nifty infographic with some figures for your perusal:

Last but not least, if you still need to return books, the AMS office will be open Monday through Thursday all summer.  We have a bin in there and will be accepting returned books whenever you can get them to us!  Our fantastic financial secretary will also be on hand, armed and ready with a list of students and the books they owe, so if you need to pay for something she’s the lady to see.

In my last post I mentioned a big announcement I had hoped to make this spring.  Due to some unanticipated facility issues, I’m postponing that until the fall, but stay tuned.  We have big news coming!

Until then, keep reading, and thank you all for an amazing, educational adventure of a school year.  I’ll leave you with a quote from the wonderful poet Pablo Neruda:

“The books that help you most are those which make you think the most. The hardest way of learning is that of easy reading; but a great book that comes from a great thinker is a ship of thought, deep freighted with truth and beauty.”

AMS Read-A-Thon

On May 28th we will hold our Readathon at Annapolis Middle School. What is a Readathon?, you may ask. It is a reading marathon in which students, parents, teachers, and community members are encouraged to come and read as long as they can! Leading up to the event, we have challenged students to read 1,400 books  in these 3 weeks. While at the event some serious participants will sit and read the entire time, there will be additional activities for the less-competitive, including Read Alouds, Book “Sales”, and a Reading Café. There will be representatives from our community partners such as the Public Library and giveaways.

One of the highlights is the Read Aloud Room; this will be a great opportunity for all participants to hear selected stories shared by teachers, students, and community members. We would love to have you as a guest reader for any 15 minute time slot from 2:00 until 5:30. Click here to sign up:

We are also in need of parent volunteers to help monitor students, serve food, and direct activities.  Interested in volunteering but not eager for the spotlight?  Follow this link to sign up to volunteer:

2015-2016 Black-Eyed Susan Nominees Announced!!

There’s a fantastic group of titles nominated for the Black-Eyed Susan Book Award this year.  For those unfamiliar with the award, it’s the only kids’ book award that’s awarded by, well, kids.  Students across Maryland have the opportunity to vote for their favorite if they have read at least 3 of the 10 nominees at the level they’ve chosen.  Nominees must be books published in the past 3 years, and are chosen by Maryland school librarians who are also avid readers.  Recent winners include Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper, Wonder by R. J. Palacio, and One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia – just to name a few!

This year’s list includes some familiar authors like Kenneth Oppel, Jacqueline Woodson, Doug TenNapel, and Jennifer Holm, but there are also some exciting first novels like The Crossover by Kwame Alexander and Malala Yousafzai’s autobiography, I am Malala.  It looks like a great set of books at all 3 levels for which AMS students can choose to vote – that’s Grades 4-6, Grades 6-9, or Graphic Novels Grades 4-6.  You can download the PDF with all the levels right here!

2015-2016 nominees

Book orders, and how reading can improve our lives

Well, it’s official – I have ordered new books for this school year.  We have a different focus for ordering each year, which corresponds to our schedule for removing damaged and outdated titles from the library.  So I thought I’d take a few minutes to explain that process.

It often shocks people to hear that we actually take books OUT of our school’s library.  This isn’t something we just do in schools – any kind of library has to periodically reassess its materials in order to respond to the changing needs of its population.  And certainly the 21st century has brought an increased rate of change, as more information is communicated digitally.  We also have to hunt down books that contain information that’s no longer accurate (for instance, books about Germany that talk about East and West Germany).  So each year I go through a section of the library book by book.  It’s  a supplement to our inventory process, in which we scan each book in the library each year to make sure we’ve got the books the computer thinks are there.  The weeding process is a lot more in-depth; I pick up each book, look it over, flip through it, and assess the content based on its currency, accuracy, reading level, and relevance to our curriculum.  I also look at how frequently and when it’s been checked out.  That way, I can cut dead weight out of our collection and make room for new, shiny, up-to-date books.  Something you notice, when you’re weeding, is how much the way we construct texts has changed.  Books from the 1970s and 1980s or before tend to have big blocks of small print, while new materials are broken into chunks and use pictures and text features to help the reader orient her/himself.  It’s amazing to see the contrast, and our readers are very tuned in to those visual cues when they choose a text.  But weeding also changes the overall feel of the library – gradually but surely, our shelves are starting to be brighter and more attractive.

Here’s a brief rundown on what we’ve got coming in the next few months:

  • 300+ new fiction books
  • 100+ new graphic novels
  • 100+ new high-interest non-fiction titles
  • 75+ new poetry collections
  • 100+ new materials on computing, religion, and philosophy
  • 100+ new picture books

Already available are over 100 new eBooks and eAudio books, including some of the novels we read for class.

As always, if you’re a member of the AMS community and there’s something you’d like to see on our shelves, email me!!

Last but not least, you may have seen this awesome article from the BBC earlier this month about the mental health benefits of reading.  It’s a quick but powerful read and I encourage you to check it out!  AMS teachers and students, it will validate the time you spend in your classrooms doing silent, sustained reading or read-alouds!


Happy New Year!

The holidays have come and gone in a whirlwind, and we’re gearing up for some serious research in the winter months!  The book fair in November was a rousing success, with over $3,000 in Scholastic dollars generated to purchase additional library materials.  We’re looking forward to the spring book fair in April, which may coincide with our second annual Read-A-Thon!  More on that later, though!

This month we’re working with eighth graders as they research societal issues.  We’re also talking to 6th graders about sources of information about their community, in the context of their Project Citizen research.  Later, we’ll also do a lesson on evaluating online sources of information – an all-important topic in the digital age.  Spanish classes learned about the Epiphany celebration in the library.  We’re also super excited to see what the 8th graders have come up with during the National History Day expo next week!

Meanwhile, I’m working on bringing useful information from the library’s resources over to the website, and finalizing this year’s book orders.  We have a lot of great new fiction on the way, including a lot of books students have requested like the Monster High and Sisters Grimm series (and yes, TP, I ordered the sequel to Joseph!).  We’re also purchasing new technology and poetry books, as well as some non-fiction that will support common core standards, and some badly needed new picture books.  All that means a lot of sorting through reviews as I work to squeeze as many books as we can out of the library budget!  Students can look forward to shipments of new books arriving in February and March – just in time for Dr. Seuss’ birthday and Read Across America.

Speaking of reading, here’s a great article about the role of school libraries in today’s changing information landscape!