Sunday, October 30, 2016

Louisiana Book Festival 2016

Last year, I had planned to take members of Bookmarked to Baton Rouge for the annual book festival. The predicted rain storms kept us away which was a good thing because the festival closed early due to the rain, and the book tents had ankle deep water. For 2016, I again planned a trip to Baton Rouge for the festival, and the day was glorious with sunshine and warmth.

Cooking Demonstration Tent 
Four students met me on the steps of the State Library of Louisiana to begin our day. We started in the cooking demonstration tent where Shelly Rushing Tomlinson was reading a story from her cookbook. She is a humorist, but I don't think her funny family stories were appreciated by the teens. They did eat her crackers and pimento cheese, though. 

Susan Vaught and Rita Williams-Garcia
 Next we went to hear authors Susan Vaught and Rita Williams-Garcia. This was so cool. We walked into an almost empty room where Susan was sitting and waiting to begin. When she started, it was like we were getting a very personal presentation. Rita Williams-Garcia walked in a few minutes after the start time, and a few others filled the seats of the audience. Both authors were talking about their books that were set back in time and could be considered historical fiction. However, the stories were personal to their own childhood. Vaught lived in Oxford during the Meredith Riot at Ole Miss in 1962, and she had family who worked at the university. Williams-Garcia's mother was a member of the Black Panther Party in the 60's. Both women felt that they could tell the stories best because of their personal connections to the place and time. Though many writers will conduct hours of research for their fictional work, in the case of these two authors, they actually lived it. 

Williams-Garcia and Vaught

Two things about this panel made it fascinating to me. One was the idea of the story within the story that both authors used in their work. In both cases, the authors needed to write much of the fictional work that is referenced in their book. In the case of Vaught, her main character had written a book that had won the Pulitzer Prize which put much pressure on her to carefully construct the excerpts included at the beginning of each chapter of Things Too Huge to Fix by Saying Sorry. The discussion at the end about what constitutes historical fiction was also very interesting to me. Some in the audience thought a book would need to be about time before and up to World War II. One of my students thought anything written about a time before September 11, 2001 was historical fiction. There is certainly no hard and fast rule, but I am curious how other librarians view works in the genre of historical fiction and appropriate dates. 

We took time off to buy books to get signed, eat lunch, and sit down under a shady tree for a rest. 

Tessa Gratton and J. L. Mulvihill
The panel we attended after lunch panel included authors Tessa Gratton and J. L. Mulvihill. I had seen Gratton when she visited the book festival two years ago. She even remembered me and that was very cool. I am very familiar with Gratton's fantasy work, but not with Mulvhill's. They both talked a lot about world building, and the importance of knowing how a character would behave in the world before beginning to write the story. Gratton is planning a new book right now and doesn't think that she will be able to actually begin the book for 18 more months. Mulvihill still has a day job as a paralegal. She must set aside specific time in her day to think and write because she must stay focused at work. Both authors were very personable and engaged in conversations with me and my students after the panel discussion. 

As we walked around the festival grounds, we spotted many teens wearing a shirt that said, "Books Make Muggles into Wizards." On the sleeve was a thunder bolt with THS Library. We found out that the library club at Thibodaux High School made the shirts. I am sorry that I did not get a picture of thet shirts to share. I didn't know this is a common saying that my students had seen before. It gave us some ideas about shirts that we should create for Bookmarked. 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Book Fair and Teen Read Week are Both a Memory

 2016 Book Fair
I really did myself in by planning a book fair one week and Teen Read Week the next. Unfortunately, both weeks were out of my control. We now schedule the book fair during the two days that the grandparents visit the school for breakfast. This has proven very lucrative for the library, and I like promoting a fund raiser that promotes books and reading. The grandparents like buying books for their grandchildren. It is a win win situation. This year we grossed $300 more than last at the book fair, and the library received a net profit of $1500 plus just over $300 in Scholastic dollars to spend on new books for the library. This is the only fund raiser that the library holds during the year. I also raise a few hundred dollars a year in fines which I strongly believe in. More on fines at a later date.

I always try to schedule Teen Read Week (TRW) during the week that YALSA has it on the calendar. I know that really isn't crucial, but it is what I like to do. Most of the TRW activities take place during the lunch periods. After the switch last year to three lunches, I had to rethink my planning. Actually, what I needed to do was simplify. With two lunches, the high school students could supervise and monitor my many games. Now I tap the older students to help me plan, but I am the one who has to take control of all the activities. That is not an issue if I only have one thing going on each day. 

Librarian, Natalie Juneau, vists from Jefferson Public Library

I think that it was very successful this year. I scheduled a public librarian to come and give book talks. All three of her sessions were well attended. My students tend to be public library users and almost all said that they had library cards. We always watch an episode of the Twilight Zone that fits the theme of TRW. Since the theme was Read for the fun of it, I wanted to find a funny episode. I chose one with black humor, and the tweens through the teens just loved "Escape Clause." We had some good discussion about the episode after all three showings. I think that this episode was beloved by more students than other one that I have shown during TRW. One student returned the next day telling me she went home and watched more episodes. She had heard of it, but never seen it before. We always play a guessing game based on books and movies as well as a craft. Daily, I had 25 to 35 students during 6th and 7th grade lunch, the same for high school, and about 10 to 15 during 8th grade lunch. That is not bad in a school of 600. Also, some students saved some money on fines, as we always have fine forgiveness week during TRW. I am still waiting on entry forms for our annual bookmark contest. The prizes for that contest are $20 Barnes and Noble gift cards. Though I might not get many entries, I always get some outstanding illustrations. 

Waiting patiently to play the guessing game

Transforming Ninja Star

You can see more pictures of the week on the library website here. As soon as the bookmark contest winners are selected, I will add pictures of the bookmarks on that webpage. During TRW, I like to get students to make some book recommendations. I have posted many of them here on the library website. Hopefully, I can add some more of those pictures next week. The kids liked selecting an appropriate hashtag to put with beloved books. 

2016 Book Recommendations

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Students Weigh in on Banned Books and the Freedom to Read

Every year, for Banned Book Week, I prepare a lesson for our 8th graders. It was always teacher directed with discussion until last year. The English I teachers and I created a lesson for the students that included research and writing. I pulled the materials that I wanted them to read, and the students would write a very short essay declaring their belief in the need for teens to be able to exercise their freedom to read what they want to or the need for certain books to be taken off the shelves of the library or pulled from the English curriculum. 

Above is the slide presentation that I have made for the students. Included in the slides are several videos that I thought would get the students thinking. There are slides with links to specific articles that we want the students to read and use for the concrete evidence to support their stance. A rubric is included at the end so the students know exactly what is expected. The teachers and I want the writing to have a real world application. We ask the students to post their short essay as comments to this blog post. Please feel free to place your own comment among the students. I am sure that they would be interested in having some feedback. 

Dear English I students,

There are many people out there who would like to restrict what books you can read at school. There are also many people out there who believe that the constitution grants you the freedom to read whatever you want. Please decide if you believe either that censorship in school is necessary or that access to books should not be restricted in schools. Use the resources linked in the slide show for your research to back up your beliefs. Write in a paragraph why students should either have the option to read what they want or why schools should keep some books off the shelves of the library or out of the curriculum in English. You will need to support your stance with at least two concrete details. Please follow the rubric and post your paragraph anonymously in the comment section of this blog and follow the directions on how the teachers expect you to sign your paragraph.

Remember you are sharing your comments with the world! Have fun with this. Ms. Kahn

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Getting Ready for TRW 2016

When October nears, I know that it is time to plan for Teen Read Week. We have been celebrating this YALSA sponsored festivity in the PFTSTA Library from the first year I was there back in 2006. We started very small with one or two activities until it has grown to be a big deal at our school. However, I have developed a game plan that we use yearly for this activity so that I don't have to start from scratch each year. When I ask students, if we should make changes they let me know that they like things just the way they are. Some of our events are passive and can be completed any time during the week, but we also have a special event each day during lunch which requires active participation. Sure the regulars visit the library, but this is also an opportunity to have visitors who don't usually walk through the library doors. That is a very good thing. Visit the library website for more info and pictures after the fact. Want to know what we are doing? Read below.

Looking for fun? Read a good book!
Teen Read Week October 11th —14th

Text Box: Look What’s Happening @ PFTSTA Library for TRW 2016

1. Annual Library Book Mark Contest: Two winners, one from middle school and one from high school, will receive a $20 Barnes and Noble gift card, and their bookmark reproduced to give away to the PFTSTA community. You can visit the library for a hard copy or open here: to print out from the web.
All bookmarks are due in the library by Wednesday, October 26th at 2:30PM. 

2. Visit from the Jefferson Public Library: Teen librarian, Natalie Juneau, will be in the library during lunch on Tuesday, October 11th to talk to you about great books available in the public library. You will have a chance to ask lots of questions.

3. Now showing in your libraryVisit the common area outside the library at lunch on Wednesday the 12th to watch “The Escape Clause” an episode of the television show The Twilight Zone. In this episode, considered full of black comedy, a man wishes to live forever and forges a deal with the devil to make it happen. A treat will be served.

4. Fun of it Guessing Game: On Thursday the 13th, visit the library to get a clue about a book or movie that is fun to read. If you answer the clue correctly you will receive a prize. If you miss one, you will have a chance to try again.

5. Get Crafty: Visit the library on Friday the 14th to create paper stars made from the Sunday comics. The instructions and materials will be provided for you.

6. Fine Forgiveness Week: You may return any overdue book/s during Teen Read Week without having to pay a fine.

7. Guess the Number in the Jar: See if you can figure out how many Laffy Taffy candies are in the jar. To win, your answer must be closest to the correct number without going over. Guess the correct number of candies in the jar and win the jar of candy.

8. Vote for Teen’s Top Ten:  Help select the top ten best books of the last year. Vote for up to 3 of your favorite books:

Voting ends Oct 15th.

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