News From The Stacks


Library Adventures

The library never stops. All day every day this last month we have been making the library an even better space, and a more enjoyable place to be. In this edition of News From the Stacks I'll talk about our new poetry section, a few new books we acquired, our special Guest from Book People, and the Scholastic Book Fair.

A Place for Poetry

Since I've arrived, I've been trying to figure out ways in which the library space can be used most effectively. The big focus is visibility and access. I have been gradually shifting around shelves throughout the library so that they are a bit less cramped- and more inviting. By leaving a space for one book per shelf (or every few shelves per bookcase) to stand facing out of the shelf it came from, students are pulled with curiosity about the books that are facing them, and about the shelf that the book came from. Seeing a showcased book also helps students remember what sort of material is on each shelf. In order to do this some things were going to have to move- especially in our Non-Fiction section, which is our most populated collection, with 6,034 books.

In this last month something fell into place. I had just moved out all of the Halloween related material, and had three empty shelves in the small bookcase that needed something new to highlight. While re-shelving books and straightening the shelves, I realized that the poetry collection (the 811s) took up about three whole shelves in the non-fiction section. I had one of those "Aha!" moments, and started moving out all of the books in the 811 section.

Why give poetry its own section? Well, poetry is something that we need (we really do need it, and I will explain later), it is a very specific section within the Literature Category of the Dewey Decimal System (the 800s) and there is no reason not to.

Why do we need poetry in schools? Anyone who teaches English or Language arts might already have these sentiments in the back of their minds, but:

1. Poetry promotes literacy

2. Poetry builds community

3. Poetry opens venues for speaking and listening (click this reason to read an article about how adding Poetry to Language Carts Curriculum can create audience, and give inspiration to reluctant writers)

4. Poetry has space for English Language Learners (click this reason to read about how teaching poetry to ESL students is a great English language learning tool)

5. Poetry builds resilience in kids and adults; it fosters Social and Emotional Learning.

William Butler Yeats said this about poetry: "It is blood, imagination, intellect running together...It bids us to touch and taste and hear and see the world, and shrink from all that is of the brain only."

Life subjects such as death, suffering or even joy can be difficult to express for anyone. Sometimes the words don't come out. Through poetry, however, students can paint sketches of their lives, using metaphor, imagery and symbolic language. Students can find their own voice by breaking the rules of grammar, and develop a sense of creativity and self acceptance in their own work that is also beneficial, by the way, for the "it's ok to make mistakes" mindset needed for successful STEAM program. In poetry and working with your creativity to solve problems, it is ok to work things out in a way that makes sense to you.

So, now we have a poetry section. The poetry section has been carefully put in order by me, so I know that when you or your students go to look for any book in the 811s we will be able to find it (especially in the near future).

The Book People Book Talks

On November 19th, we had a special guest from Book People- Topher Bradfield. He read stories, and talked about books to most of our classes (prek-6th), and we all had a lot of fun.

Here is the list of books that he brought in:

Picture books:

A bean, a stalk and a boy named Jack - William Joyce

Telephone - Mac Barnett

The book with no pictures - BJ Novak

Shh! We have a plan - Chris Haughton

1st Chapter:

Dory fantasmagorie - Abby Hanlon

Leroy Ninkar Saddles Up - Kate DiCamillo

The Life of Zarf - Rob Harrel (Advanced 1st chapter or lower middle grade)

Middle Grade:

The Glass Sentence - S.E. Grove

The Great Greene Heist - Varian Johnson

Tut: The Secret of my immortal life - P.J. Hoover

Greenglass House - Kate Millford & Jaime Zollars

Topher was a hit with the kids, many students walked out of school on the 19th happy, inspired, ready to read , and ready for the book fair. We had a few of these books for the book fair, and, now we have a few at the library.

The Thanksgiving Feast

The Thanksgiving Feast was great! Thank you again to Linda Matyas, Ilene Doyle, and everyone else in the team that made that feast happen!

I took a few pictures of students being creative with the tables and would like to share them with you all.

Book Fair Outcomes

Ladies and Gentlemen! I am proud to announce that we have had a very successful book fair this year! Every single one of our Book Fair events went amazingly (due to the help of our amazing Book Fair Volunteer Committee and again, Linda Matyas and the team).

In short we made 125% of our goal. What does that mean? That means that I set a 1,997 Book Goal, based off of previous years book fair information, and we sold over 2,400 books. That allowed us to surpass our $9,985 goal by $2,460. Our $12,445 in sales earned us 25% back in Scholastic dollars, which is fantastic. Before packing up the book fair books, I got a bunch of books that I thought would be a good addition to our library. We also received quite a few donations from parents!

Friday afternoon you may have seen me processing some of our new books and setting them up on my desk. Over time, all of our new books will be processed and out into our students hands!

More New Titles

Outside of the book fair, we also acquired a few other things for Native American Heritage Month (November). Here are a few more of our new books.

The 2014 Scholastic Book Fair at St. Gabriel's: The Kingdom of Books ("Sir Readalots Castle", or, Allison's Fortress of Books)

Raising Readers, Thinkers and Doers

Since the book-fair, I have been approached by multiple parents and some of our tutors about how excited they are to see their children and students reading. Some students have been inspired to read books, where previously they did not hold interests in reading. I have been working individually with our students in order to hone in on what it is that students are interested in. Students who may have been interested in sports books in the past sometimes don't know that there are novels that have stories that center around a sports playing protagonist, or a protagonist in a sports team. Some students say that they don't know where to start with finding something interesting to read, and just dismiss the idea entirely.

This being said I thought I would share a few articles:

This article focuses on teacher encouragement of leisure reading

This article is directed more at parents for raising children who love to read

I hope that as we guide and teach our students that we can foster a love of reading and learning in each and every student. Every subject is worthwhile, as is every format (including graphic novels). Through our support of each students educational interests and subject interests I am heartened that students, hopefully, will more confidently move towards the paths that God has chosen for them.

Thank you for your support.

Tea and Honey Pairing

Tea is my thing. November and December have been speckled with amazing events (which may burn some of us out sometime), and I thought I would share something that I like that keeps me going with all of you.

  • Nile Valley Hibiscus Mint Tea (Can be found at Whole Foods)
  • Mieli Thun: Melata di Bosco (I originally got this Forest Honeydew Honey from Eataly, an Italian specialty store in New York City)

I recommend letting the tea brew strongly, and put in a heaping spoon of this honey.

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