Monday, June 18, 2007

Summer Reading

Summertime offers most of us special opportunities to get absorbed in a book. The Lawrence School Summer Reading Program consists entirely of encouraging students to read for enjoyment, and to that end we provide recommended reading lists compiled by librarians and teachers in Brookline. Students received copies of the list at the end of the school year along with a Summer 2007 Reading Log on which to write down books that were enjoyed. These lists, with annotations, can be found online at

Enjoy reading this summer! Read on the beach, in a treetop, on a porch or a couch, at a grandparent's, in a cafe, in a car. Read, read, read! It's one of the very best ways to explore your interests and to discover new passions. Have fun!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Can I Get There By Candlelight?

Author Gregory Maguire visited the Lawrence School on June 7, 2007, meeting with students in Grades 3 and 4 during the school day and welcoming an audience of young people and adults in the evening. Masterful in his description of "the writing life," Gregory provided inspiration for the writer in each of us, encouraging us to look at the world around us, write about it from our experience and our imagination, and share our writing with friends. He brought an editorial perspective to examples of our students' writing, suggesting new choices of descriptive words, sequences of thought and "the surprise factor." He also commended highly the obvious discipline students had brought to their writing, as many memorable characters and story lines emerged in the writing samples.

Mr. Maguire showed us slides of the stories he wrote and illustrated in elementary school, and he read a bit to us from his published works such as Leaping Beauty, all of which contained laugh-out-loud passages indicative of his quirky humor. He also described the amazement he felt when first viewing the stage production of the popular musical "Wicked," based on his book of the same name. It was a grand pleasure to host Mr. Maguire!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Where Do Books Come From?

There are several answers to this question depending on what the asker means. What is the creative origin of a story? What is the physical source of a book? To answer the question in a general way: books come from the creative consciousnesses of their authors and are then sent through a rather complicated publishing process -- moving from author to editorial departments (possibly via an agent) to marketing experts to production people to a sales force to bookstores and libraries. Finally they arrive in the hands of readers. Along the way books are often read in "galley" (pre-publication) form by book reviewers and other folks who then comment on the books as a guide for potential readers.

Libraries most often purchase their books from wholesalers (book distributing businesses in the middle between publishers and libraries) so that they can easily place one order that includes books from numerous publishers. Librarians read professional journals (such as the Horn Book Magazine, Booklist and School Library Journal) to learn about new books and view expert opinions of their value for certain readers. They also go to bookstores to hold and look closely at books they are considering purchasing or to be inspired by books they haven't read anything about. At Lawrence School, the library purchases books throughout most of the school year, in order to respond to the needs and interests of teachers and students. The waiting time for popular books can be fairly long; sometimes wholesalers have run out of particular books and need to wait for the publishers to print more! It takes quite a bit of concentration and organization to keep track of the books a library needs. But that is part of the fun for librarians; it's both challenging and satisfying to try hard to make good choices.

I am thinking about putting out a Suggestion Box for readers in our library, though no one is shy even now about requesting books!