News & Views

Morris County School Media Association

Letter From the President

When day comes we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade? - Amanda Gorman, The Hill We Climb, 2021 Presidential Inauguration

The Inauguration of a new administration is always a great time to consider new possibilities. This year I am especially hopeful of change on the horizon. The availability of a vaccine provides some hope that we are moving in the right direction and we will be able to begin integrating some family activities come fall. Amanda Gorman's poem was also an unexpected but helpful bright light in January. It set a tone that I dream we will see come to fruition.

A new administration is also on the horizon for MCSMA. We have our bi-annual elections coming up at our Spring meeting in May and we are looking for new members and new leaders. There are several committees with open chairs on the executive board and even the office of President & Vice President. All who may be interested in becoming a member of our board, please review the committee descriptions provided later in this newsletter contact by March 25, 2021 with a short bio and any positions that you would like.

Find some inspiration, check out the North Texas Teen Book Festival on Youtube March 5th & 6th. They will have over 90 writers and illustrators coming to the virtual festival.

Join MCSMA on March 24, 2021 for an innovative PD “Shake up your Shelves” - Diversity infused in your library presented by Laurence Gander - LMS, Woodcliff Middle School, Woodcliff Lake.

Mark your calendars and save the date May 6, 2021 for a socially distanced General Membership Meeting/Paint Afternoon. Electronic voting for eBoard positions will open our meeting and we’ll have a little fun both virtually and in person.

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Shake Up Your Shelves!

Wednesday, March 24th, 4pm

This is an online event.

How to incorporate LGBTQ+/Diversity at any age/grade level and why you need to!

Think about your students and your book collection. Are all your students represented? Do your books offer a mix of mirror books and window books in which your students see themselves reflected and in which they can learn about others? Perhaps you are unsure how to verify authentic authors or just aren't sure where to begin. Join us as Laurence Gander, Media Specialist & Adjunct at William Paterson University, shares her approach to a balanced collection, including how to approach classic literature, verify author authenticity and stay abreast of what's new. Attendees will receive access to the presentation and a hefty list of vetted resources.

Register online for this event

This meeting is free for members!

Follow Morris County School Media Association on social media!

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World Read Aloud Day

This year, I participated in World Read Aloud Day for the first time on Wednesday, February 3, 2021.

From LitWorld’s website “LitWorld founded World Read Aloud Day in 2010 in celebration of the power of reading aloud to create community, to amplify new stories, and to advocate for literacy as a foundational human right. Over the last eleven years, World Read Aloud Day has evolved into a global movement of millions of readers, writers, and listeners from communities all across the world coming together to honor the joy and power of reading and sharing stories, and continue expanding the definition and scope of global literacy.”

Author Kate Messner coordinates many of the author volunteers and distributes the list of authors on her blog.

I heard about the free author visits at the NJASL conference and also from other school librarians. Carrie Finison shared her book “Dozens of Doughnuts” with our Kindergarten, First & Second Graders via Google Meet. I set up a Google Classroom with a brief bio of the author and a link to her website. The day prior to “meeting” with the author and worked out any tech issues. Students clicked onto the Google meet (Wednesday is our all virtual day) and over 50 students and a few teachers joined to hear her read her book aloud.

One of the best parts of the day for me was seeing all of the siblings watching together.

Mark your calendars for World Read Aloud Day 2022 - February 2, 2022!

Sue Ploch

SLMS, Hardyston Elementary School

Franklin, NJ (Sussex County)

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Before the Ever After - Coretta Scott King and National Book Award Winner

Zachariah Johnson wishes to return to life “before the ever:" a time when his family had picnics in Central Park, a time when Daddy drove to Village Ice Cream, a time when Daddy’s hands did not tremble. Jaqueline Woodson’s 2021 Coretta Scott King Book Award winner Before the Ever After is a novel in verse narrated by 12-year-old “ZJ”, who witnesses his professional football player father's physical and mental decline from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease generally found in sportsmen who have suffered repeated blows to the head. Football players suffering from CTE were also brought to light in the movie Concussion starring Will Smith.

Before the Ever After is a short novel (under 200 pages), but it packs a punch. You cannot go wrong with reading Woodson, for she has the ability to write in a poetic manner that forces you to connect with the plight of her characters. My heart broke for ZJ because while his father continues to change, ZJ never stops loving his father and he uses some of their best memories to keep himself going.

Great secondary characters are present, including ZJ's friends and his mother. It was the epitome of friends supporting another friend that was going through a tough time. They were capable of supporting ZJ without bringing up specific details about his father, which was great because ZJ was not in a place where he felt comfortable talking about it. It was great to see him so supported without ever having to directly ask for it. There was also an element of familial support. ZJ’s mother, a strong woman, encourages ZJ to connect with his father through music by writing songs and playing on his guitar.

Woodson’s emotional realistic fiction novel illustrates the theme of loss of dreams, the role of the sports hero in society, loss of innocence, race relations and friendship. Middle grade readers are sure to connect with and empathize for Zachariah Johnson in Before the Ever After.

Kimberly Luppino

Cybrarian/ LMS

Instructional Technology Specialist

Pequannock Valley Middle School

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Caldecott Winner - We Are the Water Protectors

In We Are Water Protectors, the author introduces the importance of water. The illustrations are truly worthy of the Caldecott Award; however, the story creates a tribute to Mother Earth and the importance of water. The story highlights the fight by Native Americans to protect their water and introduces the black snack that poisons the water and makes it unsafe to drink, referring to the Dakota Access pipeline.

This is a fabulous book for all ages – toddlers to 1st grade will enjoy the story and love finding hidden animals in the pictures, 2nd grade and up will learn not only about the importance of water but can also incorporate lessons on protest and working together to protect our basic needs.

The repetitive theme is: We stand with our songs and our drums. We are still here.

Mary Szoke

Washington Avenue School Librarian

School District of the Chathams