Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Geeking Out with Author, Claudia Gray

Two seniors designed this amazing welcome sign inspired by the book cover below

Book 2 in the Constellation series

That's me on the left

The young adult author Claudia Gray lives in the New Orleans area, and Patrick Taylor is located in the New Orleans area. Over the last few years, every time that I would see Claudia at a book event, I would ask if she would do a school visit. She always has said yes, but she is a busy writer and getting a time set on the calendar has been a challenge. On Tuesday, November 27th, the sophomores and juniors finally had a chance to meet her. I actually set up this event because I knew that the members of the high school book group, Bookmarked, would love her, but since this event was a long time in the making, I decided that every student in those two grades would benefit from hearing what she had to say. I was not wrong. The students were a great audience, and I think they all took a little something away with them at the end of the hour. 

Claudia came prepared to talk to aspiring writers, but when she realized that we were a STEM school, she switched gears. Members of Bookmarked had written questions for her on Monday at our regularly scheduled meeting. She decided to go with the questions as the outline for her talk. She took the questions created by the students and arranged them in a flow that made sense and worked beautifully for her presentation. The students were curious about how she got started writing the Star Wars' books and if she preferred writing her original characters and stories or someone else's, how her life changed after becoming a published author, if she based any of her characters on people that she  knew in real life, and what inspired her to become a writer. We did learn that when she was young she decorated her closet to use as an X-wing flight simulator. Though she never had a chance to leave Earth, you wouldn't know that from reading her sci fi series that begins with Defy the Stars. You can read the answers to these questions and see more pictures of the day by visiting the library website

We want to thank Claudia for taking time out of her schedule to talk to the students at Patrick Taylor Academy and to Octavia Books who helped make sure students could purchase books to be signed by the author. 

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Teen Read Week 2018 Brought a Crowd into the Library

Why do I bother to celebrate Teen Read Week (TRW)? 

Student interpretation of "It's Written in the Stars"

I have a steady stream of students in the library every day at all three lunches, and I do not need a special week of programming to encourage students to walk in the doors of the library. But TRW is an annual event, and I want my kids to have fond memories of all our TRW activities over the years that they attend this school. I like tradtions, and this tradition started when I came to the school, so it means a lot to me to keep it going. 

Playing the guessing game

Over the years, my students and I have developed programming for TRW that is altered and edited every year but always has the same components. As such, planning is pretty simple. We look at the theme set by YALSA and adjust all our activities to fit that theme. 

Crafting tissue stars

These are the events that are always scheduled: showing of an episode from Twilight Zone with treats, a simple craft that can be completed in about 30 minutes (length of a lunch period), a literary guessing game with sweet treats as prizes so many can win, some sort of picture taking to recommend books, guess the number of candies in the jar with the winner getting all the candy, a bookmark contest with a winner from middle school and one from high school, fine forgiveness for the week, and voting for Teen's Top Ten. Some years we have added events that included special visitors or authors, but that list is our general plan. It works for us, and the kids here seem to love it. I always ask members of my book groups to help with the planning and to give me ideas. If I need student helpers for any event, then I call on them. 

Below are just a few pictures to highlight the fun that was had during TRW 2018, but you can see a lot more on the library website here.

Focused on the video

7th grade helpers for the guessing game

Even the high school students like playing the game

Few came close to the number of candy stars in the jar

The tissue stars were easy but looked beautiful hanging in a window

We used star ratings to make book recommendations

High School Winning Bookmark
Middle School Winning Bookmark

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