Blogging Won’t Kill You & Summer Reading List

If it doesn’t kill you, blogging will make you stronger. I just wanna be a betta righter!
I decided to blog, blog, blog to become a more fluid writer. So what’s wrong with that? Well, it is about finding interesting things to write about. When I first started, the writing was fun and somewhat pithy. Now? Not so much. Oh well, I will only become a betta righter if I write! So for you, skip the drivel and enjoy the great nuggets that are sure to fall out occasionally. After all, if it doesn’t kill us, it makes us stronger!

First of all, my summer reading list has grown to million books! If you know some of these and I need to take them off the list, please comment and let me know.
The Twin’s Daughter
With or without you
The Bosnia list
Behind the scenes at the museum
Three souls
The secret keeper
The daring ladies of Lowell
And then she was gone
The Kingmaker’s Daughter
The Tenth Son
Flight Behavior
Red Rising
The milk of birds
Random Violence
The Whole Golden World
Gang Leader for a Day
Adam and Eve
Family Pictures
Forgotten Garden
Restless
The Light of Ruins
Maya’s Notebook
I am Mahala
A Far Piece of Canaan
Brothers
The woman who lost her soul
And the mountains echoed
Wise Men
Tapestry of Fortune
Over a 1000 hills I walk with you

Comment on any of the books, please!
Blogging will make you stronger!

The Invention of Wings & The Songs of Willow Frost

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd is the most lyrical and poetically written non-poetry, book I have ever read.  The story is about two sisters who become abolitionists and 2 slaves who finally escape.  (No, not giving anything away.)  It is based in fact and set in Charleston, SC.  The writing is so beautiful that I would not allow myself to read too much each day so that I could savor the book.  Usually I read and do other things at the same time… NOT with this book!  

The characters are so ALIVE they actually breathe!  The women are not your typical mealy-mouths that were the women of the time period, but outspoken women who are able to stand up to injustice and espouse it to the world while handling the negative fall-out from others.

Not intentionally meaning to lessen the impact of slavery or even make a comment on it, but I was a bit put off with the topic and said, “Really another book on slavery?”  BUT it isn’t.  It is about so much more and the research on the treatment of slaves is critical. 

It is on Oprah’s book list and no telling how many other awards that it will win.  Sue Monk Kidd is our modern day equivalent to Margaret Mitchell or dare I say Harper Lee.  She has outdone herself with this book.  The Secret Life of Bees. was an exceptional book, too.

This will go into my favorites list!  Incredible book, well-written, A MUST READ!

Another MUST READ is The Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford, which is another book that I wouldn’t let myself read too many pages a day… I love his writing! The characters are completely whole. He must get Divine inspiration from the Universe. I love Jamie Ford’s artistic writing abilities! His first novel called Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet was an excellent must-read. This book is about American-Japanese interment camps and the lives of the people including the American-Chinese who were thrown into the camps. Both of these stories will linger with you. Jamie Ford can’t write books fast enough for me.
I must say that this was so eloquently written in my head right before I fell asleep and forgot all those beautiful words! Aw, hell!

Teachers change the school environment

The very thing that upsets teachers about the classroom is something they created by turning a blind eye and saying “It’s not my problem.” When a building is so full of people, it is hard to even know faces much less names; it becomes easier for a teacher to say, “That’s not my problem!” The “personal touch” is no longer effective. Without personal touch – student learning is difficult.

To make an experience personal is the only way to make a caring atmosphere. When rules are sensitively enforced, people feel loved and safe. Without safety, no learning can occur.

The only way to ensure student learning is to make it “my” problem. The heart of the school means: we all care, we all work hard for student success. We are all responsible. Students feel loved and safe – how do they many of them even get to school with the odds so against them? They come back because they are well-liked and cared for by all of the school’s family. Not just a few, not just a couple – we all have to work for the benefit of the student. I BELIEVE and that makes students trust that I have their learning and welfare in my heart. Because where I work – It’s Just Better!

Why AR?

From elementary to high schools, Accelerated Reader is still in our schools! How many book lovers have been murdered and left bleeding by the book stacks because of AR? For those who don’t know AR, it is a program that has students reading books and taking tests over them. BUT the fact is, they usually don’t read the book. They Google the book and take the test from that information. Or in the case of my friend’s son, they share the info – two students read two different books and tell each other about theirs, and they each take the test and they get two books out of the way. My nephew is now a BIG HATER of books because of A.R. My niece will only read manga… HOW MANY STUDENTS HAVE TO DIE OF BOREDOM BEFORE AR GETS THROWN OUT?

So much money has been invested in public education for the AR system! We talk about a new millennium, so maybe this is when we should drop it! Many students hate it and end up “living” through it in elementary, intermediate and junior high. In high school, the students are book haters because of it.

AR is touted as helpful for teachers to get students to read or “Reading Management Program.” The books are chosen from various award winners and tests are created to see if the student read the book. One enticing thing is that students get to choose their own books from the list and read above grade level. Librarians are off the hook for book recommendations because there is a list to look at. Librarians become paper pushers instead of reading specialists. What hooey!

I don’t think that “one size fits all” applies to reading. Limiting is the least of the problems with AR. AR doesn’t take away a parent’s responsibility for monitoring what their child is reading. It seems like it might even lull a parent into giving someone else the responsibility. Using rewards is a whole other posting… You want to run a race with others then do so, but don’t use books to create competitiveness among readers. AR is one giant punishment for those who really like to read and it makes non-readers hate reading! It makes cheaters out of honest students who split reading or share answers or do lots of other shady things.

What might have been a good idea in the past has turned into a mess. It would be great if we all read or learned in the same way, but we don’t. Cookie cutter ideas rarely work in our world. I want students to tell me what they loved about a book. How they want to read more by that author. What THRILLED them about a book. Taking a test to punish a child for reading is like killing a mockingbird.

Genre set up

No doubt we would all agree that going to a bookstore is a great place to go. What happens in the bookstore when you can’t find the book you are looking for because you don’t know the genre? Sometimes you stumble upon it. Other times you settle for something else. Sometimes you look it up on their computer system or ask someone… AND sometimes you cry out in frustration!

The genre set up is too limiting for school age students. Especially with a younger audience. I have seen a student who wanted sci-fi reach over and grab an historical fiction just because the books were next to each other on the shelf. When a library is set up by genre, the possibility of a sci-fi lover to go to historical fiction is slim. If books are on the shelf together in alphabetical order by author, students stand a better chance of becoming more rounded readers and branching out to other genres. Genre book tags are somewhat limiting but less so than by genre. What about books that might be two or more genres? Do we waste our limited funds buying the same title so that they can go into different genre places? Our chances of creating life-long readers grows exponentially if the books are together.

I remember as a young reader in school looking for a book “just like that one.” I found many different genres because our library was set up by author. It made me look at certain genres that I would never have looked at if the books had been by genre. My public library has changed to genre and I find that I am running around like crazy looking for books.

This really isn’t about change. I don’t mind change. In fact, I embrace change because it’s healthy. This is about book access and crossing genre lines. Happy Reading!

Pollyanna lives

I have always looked on the bright side of the world.  Through the years, students would ask me why I was so happy.  When I was a young girl, my daddy said that it takes as much or more energy to wake up on the wrong side of the bed as it does to wake up on the right side of the bed.  He said that we choose how we are going to feel each morning when we wake up.  From that moment on, I decided to be a “right side of the bed” riser.  I have pretty much lived a positive life and positive things flow my way.  The world has become a bit negative and students seem to be so downtrodden now, that they have a hard time with the concept that we make our own world or environment.

 

I am eager to share books with students, as well as my excitement about life. The students can’t help but catch the “happy” bug when they are around me. I tell them all the time- It’s about the attitude! You will get so much out of life if your attitude is a good one. You will “sell” a lot more books to students if you are excited about them.

I was at a librarians’ meeting today and a few of the librarians were bemoaning Manga as junk instead of a jumping off place for new readers. I had to say, “It doesn’t matter WHAT you read; it only matters that you DO read.” I told them that we rarely read classics and the same is true for our students. I mean, really how many classics have you read in the last few years?
Quite often, life-long readers are created by the “Pollyannas” in the world! We get people all hopped up on reading and they get addicted, and voila! they become life-long readers. Reading is how people become smarter and they don’t even it know it! All of the sudden, a new word makes sense and they hear it everywhere! Or a new idea has formed and they didn’t even know when the seed was planted.

This Pollyanna has to say it again and scream it to the mountaintops across the world – “IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT YOU READ; IT ONLY MATTERS THAT YOU DO READ!” Can I get a Hell yeah?

Judging books by their covers

It took a year before I would read Bloody Jack by L A Meyer and now I have read all 11 of the books! It is a Young Adult book about a girl pirate, and the first cover was hideous! It looked like a silly cartoon and I wouldn’t touch the book for an entire year. The books are wonderful and the books on CD are even better! The Cockney accent in the beginning is a bit tough for students to read at the start, but then the book takes you for an adventure! They also give a history lesson through time. I love all 11 of the books. Can you believe a book about a “girl pirate” would be so much fun?
We all judge books by their covers, so I asked students to find books with awful covers that made them just want to put them down and create new covers. Some students really enjoyed it and created some beautiful pieces. Those book jackets are now enticing, and students want to read them.
As a librarian, you have to stay one step ahead, so reading the young adult novels is imperative. When a student brings back a book, I ask, “Did you like this book?” If they say yes, I have a new book to tell them about. If they say no, I ask them what their favorite book was and find them a book along those same genre lines. If they don’t know, I have a book for that, too!
They students really get excited that I have a new book for them. Whatever gets them to return and check out another book, is what’s important. Students are never a number at my school and Never do they leave the library wishing they had never come in.
Years ago I had an assistant who wasn’t very nice to the students. The students would come and tell me, “I want you to help me find a book, because she isn’t very nice.” I constantly corrected my assistant and she would say, “But I am nice to them!” That wasn’t the students’ perceptions. I would tell her, “It doesn’t matter what you think. It only matters what our patrons think, and they think you are mean.” I would have to have this conversation about 4 times a year with her.
I don’t know why librarians and assistants have to make students feel like they are “bothering” them! The whole idea is to get students INTO the library and keep them coming back. But once “judged by the cover,” most won’t read the book.