Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Toward a Less Stressful Season of Peace

The last few weeks of fall semester are high stress times for high school students. Seniors are either hearing back from early college decision or pressed to meet December & early January application deadlines. All students are wrapping up 17 weeks of learning and study with papers, quizzes and presentations, and then there are 3 days of finals, which start tomorrow. It's holiday time for many, which though ideally offers peace and joy, often just adds more stress and hustle to the days.

The Paideia community has for some time been incorporating occasions of "mindfulness" into daily life. Mindfulness isn't quite meditation, though can include it. It's more of a remembering to pay attention to "right here, right now" -- being aware of one's surroundings, physical and emotional feelings, without worrying or dwelling on them. As research has shown the negative effects that stress can have on learning and neurological development, an increasing amount of research demonstrates the benefits of the opposite, that a deliberate, intentional calming of the brain and nervous system has overwhelmingly positive effects on student behaviour, resilience and ability to learn.

In October, we brought educator and expert in social and emotional learning Linda Lantieri to Paideia for a couple of days, working with student groups and speaking to parents and faculty. Linda's book Building Emotional Intelligence, is a guide for parent and teachers to help young people develop mindful habits. Parents of teens, you are in luck! This book is especially valuable because it includes different approaches for different ages, including middle ages/young teens and older teens (often left out of active parenting books). After Linda's visit, we have had faculty meetings about our students and their stress levels, how school practices might be adding to it, and what we might do to help students manage or reduce stress. Counselor Thrower Starr has held mindfulness sessions during activity period for interested students.

In response to requests, I've expanded elementary librarian Natalie Bernstein's work on a collection of books, links and audio resources related to mindfulness practice. We have a "Mindfulness at Paideia" tab on the Paideia Library start page -- this page pulls together book descriptions, websites and links to online guided meditations. On the Library catalog, there is a Mindfulness reading list including all our books in both the high school and elementary libraries, and several audiobooks and audio guided meditations. The reading list entries even show which items are currently in and available -- e-mail me to hold one for you.

I encourage everyone in the Paideia community -- faculty, staff, parents, students -- to explore these resources. The research is solid, the effects are positive. In this busy season, making a little time to slow down, notice and appreciate right now, and breathe, will pay back much more in emotional time and freedom to enjoy everything else. I hope to see you here soon!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Conundrum

This is what the library looks like for much of the day. This is when high school students should be in class.

Most students who have a study hall in their schedules, have it 4th period. The computers are full, and a few students are working at their books.

And then there's before school, break/activity period, lunch and after school. This is when most students have free time, and can come to the library to study. These pictures show a typical Wednesday activity period -- chock-a-block with kids, at the tables, in the carrels, on the floor, talking and noisy, but by and large they really are studying.

One of the results of the library's popularity as a group study space is that some students, especially those in the younger grades or who study solo, don't feel comfortable in the midst of the activity. No librarian likes to see 9th graders come in, take a quick look and then leave. But how to meet the needs of students with different study styles?

Since the elementary library moved to its new space, I've been able to offer an alternative for students who find the library Great Room too noisy and distracting.

This was the scene in the Quiet Study space last Wednesday activity period. Eleven students, quiet as eleven studious mice. Spartan, but it works.

So what do you do when you really need extra, differentiated and divided room, but only for part of the day, and there are many other folks who also need space at school? Is there a way to meet multiple needs in the same space? There are many many possibilities and many many needs, but until our campus "musical buildings" settles out, a nice, cozy Quiet Study is a welcome place to have.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wednesday Websites:
Free Online Movie Sites

Now that you've seen Salvador Dali on "What's My Line" and at the High, are you interested in finally seeing Un Chien Andalou, a bizarre 16-minute surrealist film created by Dali and Luis Buñuel? Maybe a student missed school the day you talked about Robert McNamara and showed The Fog of War, and needs to watch it over the weekend. Or do you just want to watch the original 1968 zombie flick Night of the Living Dead? Lots of folks go to Hulu or YouTube to see TV shows and pop culture videos, but there are hundreds of professionally produced documentaries and classic films available to watch online for free.

The Moving Images Archive, a subset of the Internet Archive (also home to the Wayback Machine web page archive), is a library of thousands of video files, either in the public domain or uploaded by the copyright holder. Most of the films are downloadable -- some have been edited or enhanced by users, and those versions are also available in the archive.

"Thousands of feature-length documentary films are produced every year, but almost nobody gets a chance to see them. A few dozen are shown to small audiences at major film festivals, and a handful make it into theaters. For every blockbuster, there are hundreds of documentaries that never find an audience," Walter Mossberg wrote in a review of Snag Films. Snag Films was created by a documentary filmmaker frustrated by the "distribution bottleneck" that prevents most documentaries from ever being seen by a wide audience. The website offers a collection of over 1,600 documentary films, both short and full-length. Several of these films were released commercially to great success (Super Size Me, for instance), and there are PBS and National Geographic documentaries that have been seen on TV, but there are also hundreds of shorter or indie-produced documentaries and labors of love.

Snag Learning is a subset of Snag Films that features selected documentaries for middle and high school students. The web page for each Snag Learning selection includes discussion questions and information about a related non-profit organization. Some include teacher-submitted lesson plans, and teachers are encouraged to contribute their own materials for the film. Recent additions to the Snag Learning site are The Danish Solution, a 58-minute documentary narrated by Garrison Keillor, about the citizens of Denmark who stood against Hitler's plans to exterminate Danish Jews, and Bridge over the Wadi, about Jewish and Arab children learning together in a bilingual school in Israel.

Of course there are dozens, if not hundreds, of free films scattered across the web, some on individual sites, many on YouTube and Google Video. The fabulous site Open Culture created a list of "200 Free Movies Online" to get learners started off in the right direction to see Russian epics, indie films, the weirdness of David Lynch, and the original slapstick of the great Charlie Chaplin.

The Gold Rush

Monday, November 22, 2010

Too Good To Miss:
Dali on "What's My Line"

Again, Open Culture rocks! Here's an online freebie to round out your Salvador Dali experience at the High Museum -- a 10 minute clip of the flamboyant artist as mystery guest on the TV game show "What's My Line."

27 January 1957

Friday, November 5, 2010

When You're Driving By At Night,
Look Up to Your Right . . .

Autumn has definitely arrived. Just a few minutes ago I looked out our front windows to see glorious sunlit red, yellow and green leaves whooshing about in a chilly strong breeze. Nature is some kind of talented artist.

But I have been completely remiss in not celebrating the wonderful, custom-made art given to the library by Paideia grandmother and library volunteer Leah Wini Steiner. Anyone who's been in the library greatroom knows that, while it's a gorgeous lofty space, it's not exactly designed for sound control, and the high walls are spartanly empty. Last spring I mentioned wanting some "monumental" art for those high spaces, and right away Wini, an artist, crafter and Paideia Quilter, volunteered to create a quilted hanging specifically designed for our library walls.

You can see the personalized touches in the photo -- our dictionary stand, the globe, a floral nod to our gigantic coffee table art book on Georgia O'Keefe, complete with white book easels. Never fear -- the sleeping python in a basket is only symbolic. We do NOT have an actual live snake in the library!

What doesn't show in the picture are the hand-lettered titles on all the book spines. This textile library includes The Language of Life, Emma, Candide, and Do Penguins Have Knees? (actual titles we own!)

The beauty of this quilt that's not apparent to the daily users of the library, even those who appreciate the natural art on display through the front windows, is how great it looks from the outside. On these fall and winter evenings, the building is still busy and brightly lit after dark, but for years passers-by who looked have seen an expanse of pale green nothing. Now, there's a vibrant spot of color that adds life to the scene.

If you see Wini, or members of her family (Moey, Mindy Stombler or Nate Steiner), thank her for everything she gives. We all gained when Wini joined the Paideia family.

Friday, October 29, 2010

"The Case of M. Valdemar":
Another Big Read Film Showing Tuesday

A small but excited audience watched "The Black Cat" last week (one student even read the story the night before to get ready!), so next Tuesday we'll screen another of the Tales of Terror vignettes.

Come at lunch on November 2 to watch "The Case of M. Valdemar," 25 minutes based on Edgar Allan Poe's story "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar," which brings together Vincent Price as a dying gentleman and a wicked Basil Rathbone, also known as the original Sherlock Holmes actor, as a mesmerist (hypnotist) with evil intentions. This story has an interesting history, as it was taken to be a scientific report for some time before Poe admitted it was a work of fiction!

Curious but can't make it to the library on Tuesday? Sample this theatrical trailer for the 1962 release instead.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Big Read

We've been focusing on Edgar Allan Poe this week in the library. Of course, black cats and ravens go nicely with Halloween too.

On Monday at lunch, we showed the 1962 short film The Black Cat, a campy horror piece starring Vincent Price and Peter Lorre. This morning, John and Sydney's class came in for a creepy bit of library time featuring a "creepy story" book talk (zombies, vampires, Windigos and the like), and the animated short, "The Tell Tale Heart". They'd read the story to prepare, and we talked a bit about the film and how it amplified or differed from Poe's original.

The horrific face on display next to the Poe books is student Theodore Davis' original interpretation of "The Masque of the Red Death," which he was inspired to create after reading Poe's story. Several high school students have stopped short to take a closer look, with one clear opinion -- "that's creepy." Yup, and that's the point!

Next Tuesday at lunch - another one of the "Tales of Terror" shorts. Maybe The Case of M. Valdemar . . .

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Full Month

What do you get when you cross Hispanic Heritage Month . . .

top right: Ellen Ochoa, first Hispanic female astronaut

with Gay and Lesbian History Month?

bottom right: Juan Julio Diaz, first openly gay man to run for public office, 1961

The opportunity to learn about a LOT of amazing people!

top left: Emmanuel Xavier, spoken word artist
bottom right: Michelle Bonilla, actor

top left: Gloria Anzaldua, activist; top right: Marisa Demeo, judge
middle right: Ramón Navarro, silent movie star
bottom left: Guillermo Diaz, movie actor; bottom right: Marga Gomez, comedian

For some reason, October is always jam-packed with events. The Metro Atlanta Big Read starts Thursday. At Paideia, October started with possibly the best-ever BBQ & Dance and another successful Library Donation Sale. Last week we had two days with mindfulness educator Linda Lantieri, this week ends with Fall Break (yay!) and then we're on to the October 30 Day of the Dead celebration sponsored by the Latino Parents Group. Come by the library to see how we're celebrating all the wonderful things happening in this autumnal month.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Reading Big!:
Metro Atlanta Reads Edgar Allen Poe

The Big Read is a nationwide literacy program of the National Endowment for the Arts, with the goal of bringing back literary reading (as opposed to People magazine reading, I suppose) to American popular culture. Cities and towns across the country have chosen annual Big Read books, then sponsored a month of parties, readings and other participatory events to highlight and celebrate adult literary reading.

Metro Atlanta has celebrated The Big Read for three years now, spearheaded by the Atlanta History Center's Literary Center at the Margaret Mitchell House. This year's reading is The Stories and Poems of Edgar Allen Poe, appropriately creepy for the Halloween month. The kickoff event is a Masquerade Ball at the Atlanta History Center on October 14, and a ton of free events for all ages are happening in following weeks, including several book chats at intown bookstores and library branches, and a Poe film festival (The Fall of the House of Usher and The Masque of the Red Death). The NEA has produced a fascinating podcast about Poe's writings featuring Richard Wilbur, Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) and others -- click the Play arrow next to Edgar to listen now, or download it from iTunes.

The Edgar Allen Poe radio show on The Big Read

I haven't quite decided how we'll celebrate The Big Read here in the library, but I'm thinking maybe a lunch of Poe film shorts, poetry reading (MMM, maybe) and definitely a raven or two. Watch for details by October 14.

Until then, I'll leave you with this short film of The Tell Tale Heart. Guilt, my friends, is hard on the psyche. Life a clean life, and stay sane. Or not . . .

Read more information about this short film on its Vimeo page.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Banned Books Week in the Junior High

Paideia Junior High students, under the inspired leadership of teacher Sydney Cleland, have really run with their Banned Books Week investigations.

The ground level hallway sports 3 new bulletin board displays featuring covers and information on nearly a hundred books that have been challenged or banned in recent years somewhere in the United States.

In a stroke of genius, Sydney also included brown paper comment walls with leading questions for student response.

Tough question . . .

Which one would YOU save?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Caution: These Books May Be Dangerous

For many years, the American Library Association has designated the last week of September as Banned Books Week,
"an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment . . . Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States."
Most of the books highlighted weren't actually "banned," but the alliteration of banned books week sounds much better than banned or challenged books or books somebody tried to get removed from the library week.

So this is Banned Books Week! I've created an eye-catching display of books in the library's collection that made ALA's "Top Ten Banned or Challenged Books" list at least once in the past five years. Lots of students, parents and teachers have stopped to read the information, and several have asked more about it.

I'd say we proudly own about 75% of the 40 or so books in those lists (a few repeat often, as they get challenged somewhere every year), and many many more that have been challenged somewhere. Many of them are popular books for teenagers -- a subversive group if there ever was one, and only the popular books (the Twilight series, Lauren Myracle's TTYL series, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and good ol' Catcher in the Rye) get enough notice to inspire opposition. The most recent firestorm erupted just last week over Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak, popular since its publication in 1999.

The nature of our school is such that (knock wood) we've never had a formal challenge to any of our materials, though from time to time a parent will question why a certain book is in the collection, or why it's taught. We do have a materials collection policy that states why and how we add items to the collection, and should it ever be needed, a formal challenge policy and procedure.

The whole issue of censorship, the Freedom to Read, and the First Amendment is complex and tricky. As a private school library, we have a lot of freedom to select and not select, and a specific, well-defined community to serve. I spend time thinking about the "right" mix of ideas and viewpoints for our students. The Paideia community and approach to education means that many of the books challenged in more conservative communities are books that are perfect for our collection, such as those that present sexual orientation and identity questioning in a positive light. Author Lauren Myracle, whose TTYL books have hit the banned big time (on the Top 10 List 3 years running, #1 in 2009) has twice visited Paideia to talk to students.

But we don't have a collection of Christian fiction, or memoirs of notable conservative politicians, or more controversial and "other" side books like Holocaust denials or anti-global warming treatises. Should we? Where is the line between the librarian's responsibility to create and maintain a diverse range of viewpoints, and the responsibility to develop a collection that reflects the community's values and information needs? Many many kids have checked out The Geography Club, but not once have I ever had a request for Ann Coulter's books. Is it an appropriate use of school resources to buy a book if it won't ever get checked out?

This last week of September is a good time to be thinking about the freedom to read widely and diversely, how best to serve a diversity of opinion among a community, the courage to confront opposing and possibly repellent points of view, and the challenges of supporting everyone's Freedom to Read with the responsibility of upholding the rights and safety of the community.

Some of the library's most recent additions will be available in the Library Donation Sale this Saturday during the Fall BBQ & Dance. Please come visit, or browse the entire library collection using the online catalog. See you there!

More Banned Books Week reading:

15 Iconic Movies Based on Banned Books (Huffington Post)

Twitter: Banned Books New Best Friend
(NY Times)

Banned Books: Does Censoring a Kid's Book Remove Its Prejudices? (Huffington Post)

The Dirty Dozen: Twelve Books Guaranteed to Turn (Almost) Anyone into a Censor

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Read This Book:
Into the Beautiful North
by Luis Alberto Urrea

Into the Beautiful North is one of my favorite books from the last school year. It was on the 2010 Rainbow List, which is where I first heard about it, and was nominated for the 2010 Alex Award list. It also came up when I was looking for Latino novels for a class.

I'll tell you about the book using the question prompts from the School Library Journal I wrote about earlier:

Into the Beautiful North features a cast of eccentric characters, including a couple who live in a Tijuana dump, a young American missionary worker, and a burned-out immigration officer, but the central story follows four friends who travel from their tiny village in southern Mexico to the United States (the "Beautiful North" of the title). Having realized that all their men, her father included, have abandoned their village to go north for work, 19-year-old waitress Nayeli, with Tacho, Vampi ("la Vampira," the only goth girl in town), and Yolo, sets out on a quest. The plan is to find seven worthy Mexican men in Los Yunaites, and smuggle them back across the border to reclaim Tres Camarones from drug bandits. We meet all the main characters before page 25, and the plot moves steadily along throughout the book. They meet many colorful characters along the way, the good ones more fleshed out than the bad, but not so many that your head begins to spin.

The novel reads almost like a fable, but never quite crosses the line into the mystical. The telling style is low-key, with wonderful dry humour (or maybe it's just me that thinks a wildly boastful dump warrior with a deadly staff and a Hello Kitty backpack is hilarious?), some sad bits and some wacky bits (but they could happen). There are surprises and disappointments, for the characters and for the reader.

What I like most about this book is the characters (including some amazing women), and how the good guys ultimately triumph through inner strength and the kindness of strangers.

There are other themes along the way, of race, discrimination, poverty, hope & dreams, the differences between north and south of the US-Mexico border. The Rainbow List included the book because of Tacho, gay taco shop proprietor and Nayeli's boss, a steadying influence who experiences his own epiphanies during the journey.

Read this book! I recommend it to everyone in high school and older, male and female. Rejoice in the inspiration of the noble quest, and proudly proclaim "I am Atómiko!"

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cool Class for Teens
at Decatur/DeKalb Public Library

So, smart kids use all the resources available to them, right? You may go to a private school, but your family still pays their taxes. And taxes support one of the greatest inventions of the modern world -- the free public library! If you're a DeKalb County Public Library card holder, take advantage of this one hour class on using a new presentation software product called Prezi. It's on Wednesday afternoon, September 22, from 4:30-5:30 pm at the downtown Decatur branch (on Sycamore Street next to Decatur Rec).

I, for one, would be thrilled never to see another boring PowerPoint presentation as long as I live. Especially one where the presenter gives you a paper copy in advance (thanks for the handout, and now can I leave?). I've heard about Prezi but never seen it in action until now. Check out this presentation by Elisabeth Harris, Decatur branch Youth Services librarian (and Paideia parent).

I can't take the class (it's for teens aged 13-17), but I will definitely be exploring the possibilities of this software. PowerPoint, beware!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Readers' Advisory:
How to Talk About What You Want
When What You Want Is a Good Book

One of the best parts of any day is when I get to help a student find "a good book." In the library biz, this process is known as "Readers' Advisory." I often call it a "personal consultation," and have a bunch of questions that help me get an idea of what the student is looking for.
What kind of book do you have in mind?
(fantasy, realistic fiction, non-fiction, adventure, mystery . . .)

Robots or dragons (two main branches of sci fi/fantasy)?

Funny? Happy, sad?

Long or short?

If you think of the perfect book for right now, what would be happening in it?

Even when a reader can name a favorite book and wants one like it, it's helpful to go deeper with questions. Two students who love the same novel (say, I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter) may like it for different reasons -- one may enjoy the action/adventure, and the other likes the characters and the touch of romance. In that case, the Gallagher Girls reader in it for the gadgets and adventure might like Anthony Horowitz's Alex Rider series or Jennifer Barnes' The Squad books, while the reader who loved the strong female characters and the romance might instead go for a Chloe & Levesque mystery, novels by Joan Bauer, or a fantasy like Graceling.

A recent article in School Library Journal has given me a handful of additional questions that I can use to really get at the heart of student reading preferences.
"Are the characters and plot quickly revealed or slowly unveiled?

Is there more dialogue or more description?

Is the story's focus on a single character or on several whose lives are intertwined?

Is the focus of the story more interior and psychological, or exterior and action oriented?"
The answers to these questions give me additional insights into what the student finds appealing in favorite books, so I can suggest books in different genres, fiction and non-fiction, that have similar qualities. Also, just asking the questions encourages students to think about the books they like, and why.

At least one junior high homebase class is planning to develop a group of "class librarians" to coordinate the class book collection and be able to recommend titles to their classmates. I'm looking forward to working with them, teaching them a tool kit of "appeal terms" to hone their Readers' Advisory skills.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wednesday Website:
Open Culture

This one is for all the life-long learners out there. Subtitled "the best free cultural & educational materials on the Web," Open Culture is a project of Dan Coleman, the Director & Associate Dean of Stanford's Continuing Studies Program. As he describes it:

Open Culture brings together high-quality cultural & educational media for the worldwide lifelong learning community. Web 2.0 has given us great amounts of intelligent audio and video. It’s all free. It’s all enriching. But it’s also scattered across the web, and not easy to find. Our whole mission is to centralize this content, curate it, and give you access to this high quality content whenever and wherever you want it. Free audio books, free online courses, free movies, free language lessons, free ebooks and other enriching content — it’s all here. Open Culture was founded in 2006.

There are other sites that pull together great educational materials. Many top notch colleges and universities such as MIT and UC Berkeley post readings, syllabi, and video or audio lectures for many of their most popular classes through Open CourseWare projects or iTunes U. TED posts videos of its inspiring and thought-provoking talks on its website for the world to view. Free Technology for Teachers is an award-winning collection of all kinds of freely available websites, with ideas on how they can be used to benefit student learning. I love them all, but a very nice thing about Open Culture is that it's very inclusive in topics and formats, which makes it an awesome place to start.

Students who want extra help, or to learn a language not taught at Paideia, there are links for you. Want to go further into Roman Architecture than you did in World Civ? Learn from a professor at Yale. Psyched to travel, or catch up on the classics of literature? Open Culture links to 20 different top quality travel podcasts and dozens of free audiobook classics you can download to your iPod. And the blog has daily posts that link to all kinds of just really cool stuff -- on Monday it led to a transcript of a 1939 lecture by Alfred Hitchcock on the art of suspense, a great find for all film buffs with hungry minds.

Being a school librarian is a great outlet for a hungry mind. As we work to satisfy student learning needs, we get to learn at the same time. And then pass it on. If Paideia students graduate into a vocation as life-long learners, we'll have done our jobs well.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Friday, September 3, 2010

Friday Poll:
Junior High Summer Reading Bowl Favorites

Here it is -- the first Friday Poll of 2010-2011! This one is for Junior High students. Y'all, if you haven't read at least 3 of the following books so you can participate in the Summer Reading Bowl, there's still time. The library has copies of each book, and most of the homebases have copies as well. Send me an e-mail if you'd like to get one from the library.

So, of the six books on the Summer Reading Bowl list, which one was your favorite? Vote in the poll, and if you want to elaborate (or let us know which were your second and third faves, or even if you absolutely hated one of them), go ahead and leave a comment below.

Details about the Summer Reading Bowl will be posted as soon as we figure out the date.

After you vote you'll see the poll results so far.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wednesday Websites:
For Journalism Students (and everyone else)

On Tuesday I talked with the staff of The Forum in Jennifer Hill's journalism class, about Internet research, finding reliable web sources, and fact checking. As I prepared, it occurred to me that all of these skills are the same techniques that all students should be using for their classes and for their personal information needs. Teachers and other grownups would benefit from researching like a journalist as well.

In class we went over a few main points:
  • using websites dedicated to verifying (or debunking) political and social rumours, urban legends, chain mail claims, and the like (Snopes.com, PolitiFact.com, and others)
  • Google is fine, but use the power tools (+, - and "") to get better quality searches. Consider that Google hits may be weighted in various ways, and go beyond the first few to find more solid sources. Use clues from blogs or Wikipedia to lead you to the information in quality sources. Double-check all facts by finding the same information in one or more quality source (CNN, US government website, primary source, etc).
  • make sure that multiple sources are actually different sources (not just the same Wikipedia article in different websites). Do your sources all quote the same primary source? Find the primary source yourself.
  • use the Paideia databases (SIRS and ProQuest) as a way to find sources (reports & articles, including AJC archives back to 2002) that have been through some sort of filtering process before being included. CQResearcher has comprehensive reports on current social and political issues
  • questions to ask of any website in deciding whether it's reliable enough to stake your journalistic reputation (or grade) on its content

Links to all of the websites mentioned in the session are on PiLibrarian's Recommended Websites list, with the tag Journalism.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Welcome Back!
(to students and returning books)

Today is the first day of school, and we're in full swing. Yesterday was orientation for all new High School students (reminder -- read your library info flyer very carefully!), and today we've seen groups of junior high students coming to check out a book for a scavenger hunt. Tomorrow and Thursday will be joint Technology/Library FirstClass and library account orientations for all 7th graders, given down in the computer labs.

New book displays are up. After the scorching summer we've had, this theme was a no-brainer:

And this one for junior high students who may be a little behind on their Reading Bowl preparations (check this list to see which titles are available for checkout right now):

And as for all those summer checkouts? The books have enjoyed their time out of the library and they're coming back daily, but no need to rush. The due date for all summer checkouts is not until Friday, September 3, so you're not late yet. Bringing them back next week is fine too. And if there are any that you or your family want to continue reading, just call or send me an e-mail to renew for another 4 weeks (JH students and up).

Welcome back to school!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wednesday Website:
TED & William Kamkwamba

Technology, Entertainment, Design. TED sponsors two annual conferences, one in California, the other in Oxford (UK) to bring together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes or less). The best talks and performances from TED are made available to the world, for free, on TED.com. More than 700 TEDTalks are now available, with more added each week. I like to download interesting-sounding TEDTalk videos to my iTouch, and watch them when I have waiting time (like at the doctor's office).

One of this year's Junior High Summer Reading Bowl choices is The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, an autobiography/memoir by a young man from Malawi, William Kamkwamba. When he was a young teen William had to drop out of school. Unwilling to stop learning, he read science books from his village library and managed to build a windmill that generated electricity for indoor lights and a radio. Five years later, when he was about 19 years old, William first spoke about his achievements with co-author Bryan Mealor at TED Global 2007, in Arusha, Tanzania. He was very nervous.

Two years later, after many more achievements and triumphs, William spoke again, at TED Global 2009. A much more confident and experienced speaker, this short talk tells his story of determination, ingenuity and wonder.

Since 2007, William has been able to attend a pan-African boarding school for emerging leaders, begin a foundation to support similar self-help projects in Malawi, and write a blog. A short film about his windmills is being turned into a feature-length documentary. His book is one of my top books of the year (as well as an Amazon.com and Publisher's Weekly Top 10).

And all because 14-year-old William wanted to read his books after dark.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

More Summer Reading Ideas

If you've been through Paideia's Summer Reading Lists and still need more ideas for what to read next, check out the Summer Reading 2010 posts at the blog Rebecca's Pocket. Blogger Rebecca Blood has put together a list of links to a dizzying variety of reading lists and articles.

How about "Summer Titles that Will Take You Back in Time" from Maureen Corrigan at NPR? Or "Good Books Almost Nobody Has Read," a New Republic article from 1934. Or "Great Expectations: Sixteen Reads the Book World is Betting On," an article from the Wall Street Journal that gets you all excited to read books that aren't even published yet (but will be over the summer).

For kids and younger teens, check out "The Summer 2010 Children's Indie Next List" from the American Booksellers Association (the other ABA), or "Top Ten Summer Reading Lists for Kids and Teens: 2010" from About.com, an annotated list of links to yet more great reading lists.

So many books, so little time. Even in the summer. Happy Summer Reading!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

New for 2010:
Junior High Summer Reading Bowl

At the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year, junior high homebase classrooms will be competing in the Summer Reading Bowl, which consists of questions based on the the reading selections in a quiz bowl format.

To be eligible to play, rising 7th and 8th grade students are required to read 3 or more of the books on this Summer Reading Bowl List.

Students should read a minimum of 6 books overall to fulfill the summer reading requirement. A guide to great summer reading choices is the Paideia Library's Junior High Summer Reading List (link downloads the list as a .pdf file) which includes hundreds of annotated book descriptions, and hundreds more books listed by title.

You can click here or here for links to all three of the Paideia Library reading lists.