Summer Happenings

We’re halfway through our summer reading program, so I thought I’d share some of our library’s happenings: passive and active.

Teen Fandom Passive Program:

One of our volunteens made this endcap sign for our teen area. It’s been super fun to see what teens are loving, and as a major Harry Potter fan, I love that Harry is still on the list. The list also includes, Percy Jackson, Shrek and Hamilton.

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Stuffed Animal Sleepover:

One Thursday evening a group of kids came to their library with their favorite stuffed animals, and listened to a bedtime themed storytime. After storytime their stuffed animals stayed behind for an epic sleepover, which was documented. Obviously. The next day, the kids came to pick up their stuffed animals, and some photos. We had some lovely volunteers help us with a display to commemorate the shenanigans.

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Captain Underpants Passive Program:

I found a template online and our volunteens have been cutting them out for us. We have the underpants and crayons/colored pencils available for kids to color in the library. They can take home the underwear or display it in the library. Of course, we can’t keep any of the Captain Underpants books in stock to display with the passive program.

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Teen Club:

Once a month teens gather in the library meeting room to discuss books, get ARCs, play games and enjoy some snacks. While I’m not leading the program, it’s been fun to hear about!
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Readers Advisory Conundrum

Today, I had a more unique readers advisory interview. A young girl came up to the desk, blushing (or maybe sunburned), and asked for recommendations for good books for a 10-year-old. After going through the “what’s the last book you read you like” and “what did you like about it” I learned she likes romance books. Now I read romantic type books too when I was that age (almost every Ann Rinaldi * and Dear America ** book had some sort of romance), but we don’t have many of those anymore. And our young patron would have to be interested in historical fiction to enjoy my pre-teen reads.

I recommended the Wide Awake Princess series by E.D. Baker, Bloomability by Sharon Creech, The Tail of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler (can’t remember any romance, but she did say she liked mermaids), and Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. She seemed less interested in Anne since the first books isn’t very romantic, but I hope she does eventually read the Anne series. Anne and Gilbert are one of my favorite fictional couples. So sweet.

Did I miss something obvious? She seemed on the younger end of 10 so I didn’t to get too crazy with the romance, and certainly not into young adult, but I’m stumped! And this should be my wheelhouse (as opposed to J Sci Fi)! Blerg.

*in 6th grade I read Time Enough for Drums by Ann Rinaldi so many times that we almost bought the book from my middle school library since it was out of print at the time. Lucky for me, it was reprinted by the time I was in 7th grade.

**Voyage on the Great Titanic: The Diary of Margaret Ann Brady, R.M.S. Titanic, 1912A Coal Miner’s Bride: The Diary of Anetka Kaminksa, Lattimer, Pennsylvania, 1896 and The Great Railroad Race: the Diary of Libby West, Utah Territory, 1868 were particular favorites of mine. 

Who Was… Book Club

One of the new programs I’m running this summer is a Who Was… book club. For those of you not in the know, the Who Was series are super popular among elementary readers. They are short biographies of important historical figures (past and present) and they are expanding to significant events and locations. We get so many kids coming in looking for a specific section of the Who Was books, but we have them cataloged and shelved according to their Dewey Decimal number. I’m toying with separating them out, but in my experience, it makes it much harder for staff. And hopefully, readers will find something else in the area near Who Was Michael Jackson? For example that might interest them.
Anyway. Our first book club selection was Who Was Sojourner Truth? Day of, I remembered just how hard it is to discuss a nonfiction book. Oops. This book was also difficult, although important, because it deals with so many hot button issues, including women’s rights and racial disparity. Since I accidentally scheduled the first meeting on the last day of school, only two girls showed up. We discussed the book, and talked about how brave Sojourner Truth was, and how her name is so representative of her and her values. We then read the “Ain’t I Woman Speech” and discussed it, and the women’s convention. Then we mapped out Sojourner Truth’s travels. Overall, I regret not thinking of a better activity. Next month, Who Was Paul Revere? I’m going to plan everything a little better, and hopefully include a craft or larger activity.

I’ve Got Your Number

When I first saw the “book you bought on a trip” prompt for the PopSugar Reading Challenge I knew I had to re-read I’ve Got Your Number. I don’t often think of myself as a “chick lit” person. I don’t particularly like the rest of Sophie Kinsella’s books (the plot of the Shopaholic series annoys me in general) nor do I enjoy Emily Griffin or Jen Lancaster. But, I do like Lauren Willig and her Pink Carnation series is basically historical chick lit and I love I’ve Got Your Number.

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British Cover

I visited a friend of mine while she was living in Mozambique and we met in South Africa to go on a safari. Our safari ended in Durban, South Africa and we had to take a public bus from Durban to Maputo. My iPad battery died and therefore all of my bus entertainment, so I decided I had to have a physical  book for the bus ride instead of reading on my iPad. Off to the local bookstore we went and I picked up the paperback copy of I’ve Got Your Number (side note, I like the British cover much better than the American). I devoured the book on the bus ride and then promptly began it again the day after finishing.

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American Cover

I can’t quite describe what I like about the, because Poppy is such wackadoo. She makes some seriously questionable choices. Yet, I’ve read or listened to this book maybe four times now in the last 4 years. So there is obviously something that draws me into the crazy. Maybe it’s the British-ness. Maybe it’s the somewhat normal-ness of Poppy, even if she is a wackadoo (the plot of the book is wildly unrealistic) or maybe it’s because Kinsella has a way of creating characters you root for, even if they drive you nuts.

Luckily for me, all my other reading challenges have a “book you’ve already read” prompt, so I got to check off lots of prompts with one old favorite.

The Wednesday Wars

I read The Wednesday Wars for the PopSugar Reading Challenge (read a book with a month or day of the week in the title), and it just so happened to also fit in the Modern Mrs. Darcy challenge as well (Newbery Award or Honor book). The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt snuck by me in that awkward time between when I was still reading Newbery Award Winners and going to grad school, so I totally missed it. Until now. While the blurb did not interest me at all (see below), the book ended up totally engrossing me.

Blurb from Goodreads:

In this Newbery Honor-winning novel, Gary D. Schmidt offers an unforgettable antihero. The Wednesday Wars is a wonderfully witty and compelling story about a teenage boy’s mishaps and adventures over the course of the 1967–68 school year in Long Island, New York. 

Meet Holling Hoodhood, a seventh-grader at Camillo Junior High, who must spend Wednesday afternoons with his teacher, Mrs. Baker, while the rest of the class has religious instruction. Mrs. Baker doesn’t like Holling—he’s sure of it. Why else would she make him read the plays of William Shakespeare outside class? But everyone has bigger things to worry about, like Vietnam. His father wants Holling and his sister to be on their best behavior: the success of his business depends on it. But how can Holling stay out of trouble when he has so much to contend with? A bully demanding cream puffs; angry rats; and a baseball hero signing autographs the very same night Holling has to appear in a play in yellow tights! As fate sneaks up on him again and again, Holling finds Motivation—the Big M—in the most unexpected places and musters up the courage to embrace his destiny, in spite of himself.

There seems to be a lot of mixed reactions on Goodreads as to whether or not the intended audience enjoys this book, or will enjoy it, or if it’s a book adults think kids should like and read. I go back and forth on this one, as I tended to really enjoy award winners when I was at the intended age. However, a lot of my peers felt they were automatically boring books.
In the case of The Wednesday Wars, I don’t see most kids picking it up off the shelves loving it, but I do see it as a very meaningful and enjoyable read aloud and discussion in the classroom. Much of the context surrounding the Vietnam War and Shakespeare plots are foreign to 4th graders, but could lead to some excellent discussion perhaps an early appreciation for Shakespeare.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean

Another wrap up to a wonderful series. What I love about Lara Jean is that she’s a young teen. She likes to stay home and bake and scrapbook. She doesn’t drink, have sex or go to crazy parties*. While those aren’t bad, I think it’s important for all teens to see themselves in literature. Whether that’s race or gender or sexuality (which are also incredibly important), but it’s important to note that not all teens are Katniss Everdeen or Blair Waldorf, and that’s okay.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean, by Jenny Han, follows Lara Jean in her last year of high school. She’s worried about which school to get into and will she and her boyfriend Peter stay together and how her older sister will handle their dad remarrying. A lot of stuff is going on!

I wasn’t dating the star Lacrosse player during high school (or dating for that matter) nor was my dad remarrying, but I still saw a lot of myself in Lara Jean in this book. The pressure to chose a college is immense. Especially when you’re not really psyched about all your options and put all your hope into one or two… Despite the realness of this issue facing teens, along with the typical sex and drinking and growing up, I felt the ending of Always and Forever, Lara Jean was a bit rushed. Without giving away too much (I hope), it seemed like Han was going to end it one way, and then changed her mind (or her publisher or agent changed theirs). So the ending fell a little flat to me, and I wish it had ended the first way (or at least what felt to me like was supposed to be the ending).

Talk to me if that makes any sense. I want to hear someone else’s thoughts.

* she definitely becomes a more mature teen throughout the series, through Peter, but she’s still a young teen. It’s also interesting to watch that change throughout the series.

Popsugar Reading Challenge: A book where the main character is a different ethnicity than you

Modern Mrs. Darcy Challenge: A book by #ownvoices or #diversebooks author

Second Grade Visits

It’s that time of year again! Outreach for Summer Reading!

My library happens to be across the street from a local elementary school, and every year the second graders come over for library card signups, a tour, and an opportunity to check out books. During their visit, I talk about our summer reading opportunities and then I read A Library Book for Bear by Bonny Becker.

I am loving how well this books is working out! We talk about library rules (Bear and mouse roller skate to the library, so we talk about appropriate shoes, Bear is loud in the library so we talk about how we have to be respectful to everyone else in the library, but not necessarily silent), we talk about storytimes and activities, and lastly, we talk about fiction vs nonfiction.

Also, every second grade class (so far) has applauded for me when I’m done reading. Whether that’s a sign of how much they enjoy the story, or a cultural thing at their school is a bit up in the air, but I love it! I do think they enjoy the story though, since they laugh a lot. A Library Book for Bear has gone over much better than last year’s Dewey: There’s a Cat in the Library. Although that also led to lots of good conversations.