Monday, September 27, 2010

Hispanic Heritage Month

The term Hispanic refers to Spanish-speaking people in the United States of any race. Over the past two weeks, you may have noticed a new display in the front hallway. Hispanic Heritage Month began September 15th, which is the anniversary of independence for five Latin American countries – Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Mexico declared its independence on September 16th, and Chile on September 18th. This official celebration through mid-October, but we can learn about and enjoy Hispanic culture and history throughout the year.

Come to the library to find many great books and resources and learn more about Hispanic Heritage! You may search the Destiny catalogue for the subject or take a peek at our Hispanic Heritage Resource ListYou might also check out these great websites with more information about Hispanic culture and history:

Brooklyn Expedition: Latin America
A collaborative project of the Brooklyn Public Library, the Brooklyn Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Children's Museum, this site is a springboard to discussions to ancient and modern Latin American cultures, history and animals.*

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage – Scholastic
Scholastic’s Teacher site offers information on famous Latinos and Hispanic history and culture. Check out the Piñata Concentration Game and practice your Spanish!

Hispanic Heritage Month – Fact Monster
This page, by Fact Monster, offers information, games, quizzes, and statistics about Hispanic Heritage. 

The Little Blog, or los bloguitos, is a web log for young boys and girls who speak and read Spanish. Here they will find stories, poems, rhymes, pictures, and much more. Los Bloguitos es un blog para niños y niñas que hablan y leen español. Encontrarás cuentos, poesías, adivinanzas, dibujos y mucho más.*

* Source: ALA | Great Web Sites for Kids. (n.d.). ALA | Home - American Library Association. Retrieved September 26, 2010, from

Be sure to check out our front hall display!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Finding Fiction

Where does a student find a good fiction book to read these days? It could be any number of places: the family bookshelves, borrowed from a classmate, the public library, a yard sale, the classroom, uploaded to a Kindle or iPad, in audio format... and of course the school library!

One of the most important goals of a school library program is to highlight for students good strategies for finding the materials they want. So, just how is the library organized? Indeed there is a system even though at times the library may look a little chaotic! In second grade students make maps of the library and up through the grades they learn more detail about its organization. Once a student learns where various sections of the library are located (picture books, early readers, nonfiction, reference, fiction, etc.), how do they find a particular book within a section? Well, sometimes by topic and sometimes by author, and the catalog's call number is the important key to location. This process is both digital (finding material on the electronic catalog) and analog (writing down the call number, going to the bookshelf and actually following the call numbers along the shelf until the desired book is found).

In this instant-online age, patience becomes a virtue when an actual reader seeks a physical book: first look up the topic, title or author on the catalog, make a note of the call number, and then find it on the shelf! It is a skill that needs teaching again and again, a skill that needs encouragement and support all along the way. It may take a few minutes to locate the right book but boy is it worth it. A reader can hold the physical book, read the physical book, relish the typeface and fabric of the paper, turn the pages back and forth with ease, use a favorite bookmark from Grandpa to mark one's place, leave it comfortably on the couch or bedside table to return to the next night. Hooray. Thank goodness.

No modern librarian could possibly be opposed to books in any form, and most probably own a Kindle or other electronic device for reading. But the loyalty to the analog process of locating books on library shelves and to reading a book with no bells and whistles runs strong and is unlikely to diminish. Just ask a librarian you know!

Lane Smith's delightful new picture book It's a Book says it all. Check it out. Read it through; it ends with Smith's slightly provocative humor!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Library Stories

At the beginning of the school year I often turn to books that feature a library as the setting, to welcome back young readers on their visit to Lawrence School library. Among my favorites are Brook Berg's What Happened to Marion's Book? (perhaps a bit didactic but kids never forget the episode involving raspberry jam and the washing machine), Daniel Kirk's Library Mouse (good readers can become good writers too) , and Barbara Bottner's Miss Brooks Loves Books (and I Don't). I save Michelle Knudson's Library Lion until later in the year after students are thoroughly settled in. Wonder why? Maybe I'll tell you down the line.

What's a librarian to do when society and literature are full of librarian stereotypes -- the bespectacled, controlling old maid who would rather hold on to and organize books than share them with enthusiastic readers, etc. etc. My answer has always been just to be what I am and have some fun... and choose books that don't reinforce unnecessary stereotypes. Yes, libraries need to stay organized (at least mostly) and quiet (at least moderately as there are usually various groups and individuals sharing our space). And it is important to take good care of library books because they are resources held in common for the use of a community! We want to be able to find the right book when it's needed and welcome all visitors equally. So, join us often this year in the Lawrence library space. It is chock full of good materials.