News From the Library–April 26, 2010

This week I started reading this provocative book.  The title alone caught my attention and I’m glad it did.  For the past several years, I have been trying very hard to balance technology and books in our library.  Not always an easy task.  The technology, especially our one-to-one laptop program, is exciting and seductive.  Students sitting at the tables, fully engaged, finding up to the minute information, learning how to evaluate it and use it in amazing diverse and professional- looking communication products isn’t altogether a bad thing.  But I kept thinking that surrounding them on the shelves were all those wonderful books.  Time after time after we’ve had a great session of research or a project using the laptops I feel a little guilty that there just didn’t seem to be enough time for browsing for books and reading.  So I vowed this year to make a change.  After suggesting to the teachers in grades 3-6 that their entire class come to the library for the entire hour, I reserve no less than the last 20 minutes of each time for silent (and I mean silent!) reading.  At first it was a little difficult to close those laptops and replace them with a book but as the year has progressed I have seen a wonderful change.  Circulation is way up and I see students reaching that wonderful “reading zone” where they are so completely lost in a book that they are shocked when I tell them it’s time to go.  With all the technology, the push to “multi-task,” and the scepter of testing, there isn’t a great deal of time left for teachers in the classroom to let children just read–read for pleasure, read to get information of personal interest….in short, just read.  No questions to answer, no test to take.  Just read.  Last week the fourth graders had a short library time and several students were shocked and dismayed that we didn’t have our silent reading time.  I’m going to take that as progress.

With what I’ve read so far in Readicide, I think it’s a call to action and an important one.  We need to teach our children (and ourselves) to unplug from time to time from the computer, the cell phone, the video game, the TV……and just read.  I highly recommend you take some time for yourself to read this book.  (No test will be given at the end!)

In the Library this week…

Kindergarten–Sometimes you find a picture book that has it all–great story, fantastic illustrations, humor, and teachable moments.  Muncha, Muncha, Muncha by Candace Fleming and illustrated by G. Brian Karas is one of those books.  Besides being a very funny story about a man who plants a garden and tries to keep the bunnies out, it is a great way to talk about prepositions.  And the theme is one that Kindergartens could easily recognize–it’s better to share even though it seems hard at first!

First Grade–First graders are learning about the history of our community and I had the pleasure this week of showing them some of the amazing historical documents that we have.  Several years about I found a stack of old school registers in the corner of the paper room.  This is one of the oldest rooms in our school.  It still has oak floors and it really smells like a school room (not in a bad way!)  These registers date back to 1894 and show lists of students and their attendance, daily schedules, and lists of school equipment like hatchets, stacks of wood, pens and ink bottles.  The handwriting is absolutely amazing and very beautiful to see.  There is a book with a handwritten list of 319 books in the school library and little marks that told when they were checked out and checked in.  We also have some photographs of the school when it was a one room schoolhouse, and others from the 1920’s when it was built at the current location.  The students were fascinated by it all.  They did wonder if I had been there back in 1894…..

Second Grade–Once again I was delighted that students today are still transfixed by those old fairy tales.  Second graders heard Rumplestiltskin this week from a beautifully illustrated version by Caledecott medalist Paul O. Zelinsky. We talked about some of the different versions of this story and one student suggested that maybe J.K. Rowling got an idea from the way Rumplestiltskin rode on that spoon!

Third Grade–In honor of our Science Fair this week, third graders heard Science Fair Bunnies by Katherine Lasky.  This is a great little book about the necessity for flexibility and improvisation when doing a science fair project.  When their bean plants die, Clyde and Rosemary use their own lost teeth for their experiment and end up winning the fair.  A few students liked this so much they are already planning their Science Projects for next year!  With teeth!

Fourth Grade–Continuing our discussion of plot, this week I read Smoky Mountain Rose: An Appalachian Cinderella by Alan Schroeder and illustrated wonderfully by Brad Sneed.  Knowing from the title that the plot would be a Cinderella tale, students listened for similarities and differences between this one and the one they are most familiar with.  They are discovering that in may ways some of these other versions are far more interesting.

Fifth Grade–We played a game of  “Name That Book” this week and had an interesting discussion about the possible future of reference material.  As more and more of this type of information goes online it becomes important to really know the source and be sure that it is accurate, current, and reliable.  Knowing some of the print versions helps in finding those versions online.

Sixth Grader–Sixth graders wrote their essays about their god or goddess this week.  Their plates have been fired and will be photographed next week.  The last part of our project will be to combine these photos with their essays on our Research Blog.

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