News & Views

Morris County School Media Association

From the President

Hello Everyone,

Irish you all had more time to read!

The most recent issue of School Library Journal (SLJ) has a cover story that is near and dear to me, “Reading Levels Unfairly Label Learners, Say Critics. And Then There's the Research” by Wayne D'Orio. Since library school I have been an opponent of leveled reading, and please don’t allow me on my soapbox with my dislike of making children choose independent reading using Lexile leveled reading.

Part of my frustration with the use of reading levels is the fact that using these “tools” have helped discount the necessity and contributions of librarians within the school community. If teachers can direct students to “just right books” based on leveled reading programs. They may have never read or become familiar with the titles in their classroom “libraries.” This is a challenge to administrators. Are they asking themselves is it a necessity to hire an expert who is in tune with fostering students reading and learning and personal interests when a classroom teacher can do it just as well? Can I reduce my budget by hoisting an additional task on my classroom teachers? Our students and many parents do not understand the disservice this for our students.

However, we School Librarian Media Specialists know it is impossible to select a “just right” book based solely on a reading profile provided by a reading system. Our students are unique and we must foster and grow their love of reading like tending a garden. If you are feeling the constraints of a leveled reading program at your school try fostering a discussion with your teachers and administrators keeping the newest research at the forefront of the discussion. ALA offers a wealth of articles supporting the good librarians do and how leveled reading programs can limit our students when not used as a tool but rather implemented as directive.

It was a pleasure seeing so many of you all at Best Books Presentation in January. I hope more of you can join us for our upcoming Grants For Your School Library presentation/workshop at the County College of Morris Library on March 19 (snow date is March 21).

Looking forward to seeing you all soon,

Tara Collins President, MCSMA

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Next Meeting: Grant Writing For Your School Library

Thursday, March 19th, 4-6pm

214 Center Grove Road

Randolph, NJ

If you are attending on March 19, please print and display the parking permit. A parking permit can be printed from our website at This meeting is free for members and $10 for nonmembers.

You will find directions and a map to the college at

The library is on the 2nd floor of the Learning Resource Center, which is Building 5 on the map.

If you arrive at 4 pm or later, please go to the back entrance (facing P8 parking lot) and Lynee will let you in. It is Spring Break week on campus, and the main entrance will close at 4pm.
Any questions or issues please call her at (973)-328-214 x1726
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MCSMA CELEBRATES MRS. SUE PLOCH - 2020 Educational Specialist of the Year Hardyston Township Public Schools

Sue has been a library media specialist in Hardyston Township for the past nine years. Currently she works at the Elementary School as well as teaching STEM to all students and gifted and talented to our 3rd & 4th graders. When her daughter was in elementary school, she enrolled at Pratt Institute in New York City in their Master of Library Science program.

"During my program, I met many great librarians who worked in public and private schools as well as public libraries. These people continue to inspire me today." Sue Ploch.

Sue is a board member of MCSMA for many years and has attended most of the NJASL conferences where she continues to learn so much from our great librarian community. Sue explains "I love my chosen profession because I connect books to children every day and I help to foster a love of reading."

A favorite quote of Sue’s comes from Judy Blume. “Librarians save lives by handing the right book to a kid in need”.

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2019-2020 Executive Board Officers

President: Tara Collins

Vice-President: Steve Cullis

Corresponding Secretary: Vera Borum

Recording Secretary: Susan Ploch

Treasurer: Nancy Bosch

Membership Form

Please complete this form and bring it to the next meeting with a check for $15 or mail to:

Roxana Caivano

Roxbury High School

1 Bryant Drive

Succasunna NJ 07876

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Book Review Resources

Do you find yourself overwhelmed by the number of blogs, podcasts, email lists, Facebook groups which focus on children’s books? I subscribe to quite a few different ones but find myself going back to the same few more often than others.

Every day, a book review from Janet Dawson arrives in my inbox. Ms. Dawson is a K-8 librarian from Massachusetts. Her book reviews are straightforward and easy to read. There is always a cover photo and usually a page or two from inside. She writes a brief summary including number of pages and suggested grade levels. My favorite part is the pros and cons where she lists highs and lows, especially with nonfiction (lack of index, no references). As she explains on her website, she usually only posts books that she can review positively. I have purchased many books based on her recommendations and usually circulate well. You can find her blog at

I met Betsy Bird when I was a graduate student at Pratt Institute and she was working at New York Public Library. A few years ago, she moved to Evanston, IN and I continue to follow her blog - Fuse #8 (one of the SLJ blogs). Her reviews are longer in nature and include more opinion. She compares some of the books with others by the same author or within the same genre. On her website, there are also links to many book lists, book trailers and lots of other fun materials. On January 1, 2020, she posted “Children’s Literary Obituaries: What we lost in 2019” and reminds us of the authors, illustrators and other publishing people who passed during 2019 with a quote released after their death. You can find her blog at

The Yarn Podcast with Colby Sharp & Travis Jonker is a podcast I listen to while commuting to school. I find their interviews highlight authors and illustrators who I may admire or who I have never read. When I have a few minutes, I wander over to his website and get lost in his awesome book lists from the last few years. He is the father of five and a fifth grade teacher from Michigan. I find his lists to be very complete and include quite a few award winners. His lists are divided into picture books, nonfiction picture books, middle grade fiction, middle grade nonfiction, graphic novels and young adult titles. He edited The Creativity Project, which is a story collection of over 40 children’s book authors and illustrators. He coauthored Game Changer: Book Access for All Kids with Donalyn Miller which advocated book access initiatives within communities. You can find him at

Mr. John Schu was the opening keynote at NJASL last month in New Brunswick. He was a classroom teacher and school librarian and is now Ambassador of School Libraries for Scholastic. He is full of energy and motivates me to find new ways to encourage my students and teachers to discover new authors, new series and new books for their hearts. His blog Watch.Connect.Read is filled with book recommendations for students of all ages. He includes cover art as well as some book trailers. His best of lists are very complete and I find a new book to love from his tweets and blog posts. “He works diligently to put the right book in every child’s hand.” You can find his blog at

Sue Ploch SLMS Hardyston Elementary School Franklin NJ

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