Showing posts from 2014

"I'm just browsing"

Browsing in a library has some similarities to browsing in a shop. Sometimes our customers want help or advice and sometimes they don't. The trick is knowing when to approach the customer and then figuring out what you can offer to help them.

For the upper elementary students I encourage them to use a variety of strategies. The library catalogue is the usual first 'go to' and students know how to search by genre, theme, character or author as well as use filters to adjust the results to their interest or fountas and pinnell reading level. For students that already have 'something' in mind, this is most effective.

Now for my customers that won't let that favourite series go and are lost as to what to do next I direct them to my library websites 'What to Read' tab. Under the tab I have the links listed below.

Book Wizard  I really like the 'Find Similar Books' on Scholastics book wizard, it works for mainly American titles. The kids really like seein…

What Do Kids Want?

Teachers know that the best way for our students to learn is to make it enjoyable. Sometimes, this is a challenge since not everyone likes the same thing. This video, What Kids Want Out of School?, of middle school students shows what our leaners would like. The answer to this is we attempt to make tasks inquiry based, meaning we allow students to make guided choices about what they want to learn. We also like to ensure our students have an authentic voice in the process.

This links to my former posting about reading contests. For the Golden Dragon Book Award I'm using Google Classroom to stay organized. To further motivate my students and encourage them to build a reading community I'm giving my students different options to share their opinions.

Currently, the students are expected to evaluate their books using criteria set by myself and I created a template for them to use and an example video (seen below). They need to discuss the genre, characters, author's style, conne…

Something Old, Something New

Book Contests are not new on the library block. They are a great way to motivate kids to read books outside the genre comfort zone as well as incorporate authentic reviews that other kids will read. The students will be inquiring into what makes an award winning book.

Google classroom, well that's new and I'm going to attempt to keep the kids and myself organized using Google Classroom. This contest is spread across 2 grade levels and will have approximately 40 kids. Students are expected to complete a google form that is a brief review that will help me to track which titles are being read. The brief review includes title, genre, a scale rating and a couple of sentences to inspire others to read it, or not read it. Also included in the classroom are some videos about the contest, book trailers and the contenders. Eventually, mini assignments about character, theme, plot, connections and perspective will be posted.

Hopefully, this combination of old and new will inspire the stud…

Why Halloween is a Librarian's Dream Come True

Halloween, a holiday filled with creative characters and storylines that will haunt readers of all ages. The books were flying of the shelves this week. Creepy character discussions were rich and diverse, topics included different characteristics of vampires, how witches can be good and evil and how to do skeletons talk.

Students love the suspense found in Halloween tales and there's many great books at appropriate levels to introduce the concept of the horror genre. It's also the time of year when I practice my oral story telling by sharing my personal ghost story, it is suitable only for upper elementary and leaves them guessing as to whether I'm telling them the truth. The wonder if they should be believers, which I think is a sign of a good ghost story!

Many sneer at this American tradition but I'm thankful to be back in a place where you're allowed to embrace this fun occasion. School spirits were high and the library was definitely a participant. Students found…

Preparation for Character Day

The students of all ages were challenged with finding a book of their favourite characters, and it could match their Halloween costume. This twist meant that students had to do a little more searching and allowed me to assess their skills on using library signage and the catalogue.

We had many happy customers, although I soon discovered that I don't have many devil books in the collection and was pleasantly surprised that I wasn't overwhelmed with princess or superhero requests. Many students got creative and took skeleton books from the Dewey section or a Sleepy Hallow Book from the Fairy Tale section. There was quite a diversity!

Character Day: Celebrate Great Characters and Build Empathy

Children love to talk about characters, whether it be from a book, movie or TV show. They make those great connections to themselves, others, books and the world.Conversations about how characters face problems helps children to build empathy. Not just any book will do this, it needs to be quality literary fiction with complex characters . 
Sharing quality books with characters experiencing a range of emotions reassures a child that challenges in life happen to others and they are not alone in feelings. Topics that seem frightening shouldn't be shied away from, but rather embraced since it helps children to realize and be prepared for the emotions that come from life's little upsets. There's a theory that raising children to be readers will result in a more peaceful society. Seeing the world through a character's eyes helps children to have a broader picture of the world than their own personal community.
Librarians have various tricks to help students explore great lite…

Books that All Kids Can Enjoy

A while ago I attended an IB webinar on International Mindedness. Webinars are a great way for teachers to get some quick professional development from the comfort of our living room. And, you can join them even if you're not currently at an IB school.

The course I attended was run by a fabulous PYP Coordinator/ Vice Principal / Friend Andrean Holmberg Strachan and her elementary librarian, who I forget the name of (forgive me!) and the work at the Canadian International School of Singapore. The librarian generously shared her list and I've since added titles that I found in my current library.

These titles create great discussion during knee to knee or think pair share chats. Students of all ages can relate to the different perspectives and learn that inclusion and appreciation of differences is important.

My Top 5 Favourite International Mindedness Books (in order of age appropriateness)

Showing Off Our International Community

In honour of the UN's International Day of Peace our English as an Additional Language team helped our students to create a great Museum of Culture.  The students discussed aspects of their country and culture and many brought in items from their home to share and display.

As a librarian, I helped by getting some books and the books aren't limited to books about countries or maps, there are cookbooks, craft books, fairy tales and celebrations.

It was a great way for students to really delve into 'Who We Are' and to feel pride about where they are from. Well done AISB!

Benefits of Audio Books

Audio books are a great way for children to expand their vocabulary, especially for students who are learning English as an additional language, as well as improve their listening skills. Comprehension is another area that improves since the child can focus on the story's structure rather than focusing on reading or decoding the words themselves.

We have many new books with CDs available in the library. Children get the benefit of hearing a fluent English speaker, and  it is a professional story teller who reads the book in a very engaging manner. Children also begin to understand how to read with expression. And many are song books so you may find your child singing along. Audio books will help your young reader become more fluent.

Visit us in the library and check out our great selection!

Read Aloud: It's Powerful

Reading AloudSit down
Curl up
With a book
With a puppet
With your tiny little muppet.

Take a breathe
Let the stress
Easy away
And enjoy
This special moment
of your day.

Do you love reading aloud to children as well? Are you a parent at AISB and have some free time? I would like to start mother tongue read aloud sessions during the students morning nutrition break. Children from different classes and grade levels could come listen to a story read in their mother tongue. If you want help support this initiative, please contact me at

Do you want to try a new way of reading aloud. See below for some online books:
1. Tumble Books
2. Multilingual books
3. International Children Digital Library
4. Symbaloo - National Geographic,
5. Symbaloo - Barnes & Noble Online Stories

Nonfiction - more than just animals and space

The library has many new titles available, especially in our nonfiction section. Nonfiction books have much to offer children, and they are much more than books on planets, history or animals.

Children love creating. In the library we have many different kinds of 'How To' books: cooking, crafts, origami, drawing, music, magic and sports. Featured below are some new titles in the library: click the link to find out more about them.

There is a wealth of research out there that encourages children to read nonfiction books for pleasure since the reality is as the move up in grades more and more of their reading will be nonfiction. If they develop good nonfiction reading habits now, it will improve their comprehension later.

Creating a Happy Reader

Enjoying entertainment is a component of being human. We are born to laugh, cry, learn and connect. Reading is one of form of entertainment that requires some teaching, and not just the mechanics of it but the enjoyment. Even pediatricians acknowledge that loving books make for a happier healthier child. Also, it is important that children read in their mother tongue, as well as practice their English. Parents should encourage their children to read and/ or discuss books in their home language. As children learn English, they often still think and comprehend in their mother tongue and then translate to English. Students also benefit from reading in their mother tongue language since they understand how grammar and language structure works, and then they can transfer these skills to understanding English grammar and structure.

Here are some tips to help your child become someone who loves literature!

Below is a short video about some 'Back to School' books that are available in t…

Graphic Novels are a Good Thing

Why should kids read graphic novels or comics? Simply because children want to read them.  There are some truly fantastic tales that have complex story lines and strong characters.  And they are not just for boys, a couple of my favourties feature powerful girls like Zita the Space Girl and Amelia Rules.

These novels come in a range of genres: humour, mystery, fantasy, adventure, wordless, biography, myths, historical fiction and science fiction.  They do help reluctant readers but they can be enjoyed by all. Even as an adult, I enjoy reading them for a change. Think of it as a throw back to your youth!

Like any book, there are some that are only appropriate for older children. This has been a struggle in the library since different parents have different views on violence in literature, much more so when it is visually represented rather than in text. What one parent considers as a rather chaste picture of violence in a classic TinTin another parent may find offensive. Often for young …

Why is Maya Angelou a legendary icon?

As an educator I wish I could use words as powerfully as Maya Angelou. She weaves tales that can be straight forward (tell it from the hip) that there is no misunderstanding her meaning, which the children love. In her adult literature, messages are shared symbolically, beautifully so, and her book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings she be required reading for any student of life.

Ms. Angelou's values are solid; she encourages young people to be strong, stand up for their beliefs, to be honest, understand their fears, follow their dreams and be the power behind change.

In our libraries we have a handful of her work. The elementary has a wonderful book called 'Life Doesn't Frighten Me'.

My hope is our students of the future will continue to be inspired, empowered and enthralled by her words.

Life Doesn't Frighten Me
by Maya Angelou

Shadows on the wall
Noises down the hall
Life doesn't frighten me at all

Bad dogs barking loud
Big ghosts in a cloud
Life doesn't frighten me …

Books, Könyvek, 서적, Bücher, 书籍

Children love picture books, and this is not surprising but what may be surprising is their fondness for books that are in different languages.

We discovered that children were interested in checking out books that weren't in English or their mother tongue. They happily sat and made up stories of their own and pointed out other features of text like sentence length, word endings or how the words looked. 

Dual language books are a wonderful thing, and in an international school it helps children to learn about another language and their culture, thereby creating tolerance. There are some really interesting blogs and articles about the power of dual language books. I wish there were more available, somebody should be making a fortune of translating favourites into dual language tales. 

The Roller Coaster Ride of Being an Integrationist

As a 21st century librarian I spend only half my time in my library space, the other half I spend in classes working in the virtual world. My role is to integrate. The goal of integration is ensure that the same research and literacy skills are taught both through a grade level and differentiated vertically along grades.

Integrationists are not a new fad in teaching but colleagues are often unsure where I fit. The American Association of School Libraries has done it's research. Leading librarian Melissa P. Johnston stated in her work that integration is   "... leading to uncertainty concerning how school librarians enact this role in practice."

Building a shared vision  is a challenge and takes time.

Here's a brief summary of my feeling and thoughts of my journey thus far. Check back in a year to see the differences!

Scholastic Book Fair

Our PSA is hosting a Scholastic Book Fair next week from Tuesday (Gr. 3, 4, 5), Wednesday  (Multiage, Kindergarten, Gr. 1, Gr. 2)
Friday ( 1pm - 4pm everyone). Books are set at reasonable price of 500 - 2000 HUF. This is a perfect time to expand your personal libraries.

The Stacks is a great website sponsored by Scholastic and gives students the opportunity to browse digital books in different ways. Students can look browse through different genre tabs. The video tab has a treasure trove of goodies like book trailers, interviews with authors and features some celebrities. 

Visit the site to see what Scholastic has to offer and then come to the Book Fair to see if you can find some new books!

What Happens When a Group of Librarians Get Together?

Librarians are definitely a form of tech geek and my last teacher librarian workshop was a good example of this. I've developed refined my focus and I need to better promote the great digital resources we already have: get more ebooks into the minds of our young readers and encourage our students to use the research tools like Webpath express and OneSearch before they even think to try Google.

Watch this space for  little reminders of some of the goodies we have to offer.

TUMBLE BOOKS Why is this an awesome tool? It reads books online aloud and students can follow the text.
1) Log into
2) Open the Library and Technology tab - There's a link to the library website and below there's a list of logins for our subscriptions
3) Open the blue 'Read Aloud' tab - click on Tumble Books Library and then explore

We need you

Our students are eager readers and we try to keep them satisfied by quickly getting popular titles back on the shelf. 

It is wonderful that we have enough books that each student can have 10 books on their account but in order to maintain that number we need help getting titles back into their place on the shelves.

Shelving is a simple and relaxing task. You just need to know the alphabet and how to count. It is rather satisfying to empty a cart full of books and see things organized and in their place.

If you have a half an hour before picking up your child or after dropping them off we would love to have some help shelving books. If you're interested please stop by the library and speak to Ms. Cooper or Ms. Ildiko. Thank you.

Boys + Reading = Challenge

Boys will be boys, is this old adage true? As an educator of more years than I wish to count and from conversations with colleagues we know that boys and girls learn differently. It's hard to pinpoint when it starts, and whether it's nature vs. nuture. As a librarian, I have to balance having a selection of what students want to read with quality literature that you believe students should read.

Scientific studies share conflicting answers and girls and boys. Brains studies that have analyzed  brain matter  at a nearly cellular level states that differences in how the brain connects and processes information doesn't become apparent until after the age of 13. As a teacher, and now parent, I have hard time believing this.

My parental guilt has already begun and I know I'm already influencing my son, the nuture route, since I'm sharing my favourtie genres which are fantasy and science fiction.  On I read an interesting post about comparing what girls read …

Crisp Paper and Shiny Covers

Can you smell it? New books smell as good as freshly mown grass. We have
a range of titles available, from baby board books to young adult. I'm looking forward to hearing or reading your opinions on the new titles.

We have been discussing the criteria we use to decide if a book is good. It's important for students to think deeply about why they make choices and support their opinion.

The Silver Knight and Golden Dragon books have arrived as well! Our older students will share their opinions using Destiny Quest Book Review and they will be expected to use criteria to support their thinking.

Come and check out something new!

Books Change Lives

Tomorrow is World Book Day

We are celebrating by hosting a Book Drive! Sharing is caring, so let's share a love of books.

Our library world language collection needs new titles. If your child has books in a different language and you're finished with them please donate a couple.

English books will find a home in Africa.

Thank you for your support!

Book Drive

To celebrate World Book Day let’s share the love of reading by sharing books.
Our library’s world language / mother tongue collection needs new books. If you have books in good condition in another language and are finished with them, we would love to add some to our collection! 
Any English books will also find a good home. We are working with some of the upper school students to support literacy in Africa, both the elementary and upper school library donates old discarded books.

Please drop off your gently used books at the elementary library on Thursday March 6.
Thank you for your support!

Visiting Author: David Greenberg

Getting peoples back story is always interesting, and entertaining a visiting author is often filled with surprises.  Mr. Greenberg is a laid back fellow who is a funny as his books. My husband and I went out for dinner and during the usual ebb and flow of conversation we discovered that his book 'A Tugging String' was based on his father's experience as Martin Luther King's lawyer.  And his anecdotes translated well to a younger audience.

Students were rolling with laughter and chanted along during an assembly. Teachers and students alike were inspired by David's workshops. Students were encouraged to write poetry based on what they notice in life. David's message was simple, write what you know or notice. He helped students make those connections and gave them tips and tricks to start out

Duck! Rabbit!

Duck! Rabbit! Is a fun way to talk to students about perspective or points of view in a book. We had some very lively discussions about how the animal is both! Check out the drawings for the childrens opinion as to whether it's a duck or rabbit.

Reading Olympics

Reading OlympicsStudents in grades 2, 3 and 4 will be encouraged to participate in the library's Reading Olympics.
The events are different reading genres so the students will read a wide variety over the next few weeks. In library we will discuss different genres as well as look at how to choose 'just right' books. We've talked a lot about choosing something that is the correct level using the 5 Finger Rule (read a page and if you make 5 mistakes then it's too hard). Now, we will explore how to find books using websites like the Book Wizard  or the Stacks
To help our Olympic spirit along we will have a 'Character Day' on Thurs. Feb. 13 were students will dress up as their favourite book character, as well as a book drive on World Book Day in March. And, we will have a visiting poet that will inspire us to not only read but write poetry!

Parents can help their child in many ways.