Thursday, November 12, 2015

Paper Towns by John Green

"My miracle was this: out of all the houses in all the subdivisions in all of Florida, I ended up living next door to Margo Roth Spiegelman."

What do you do when the girl next door invites you on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure? You follow, naturally. Quentin's not quite sure what Margo Roth Speigelman wants from him when she appears suddenly at his window, but one thing for sure - it will amazing Not really the adventuring type, Quentin has to be badgered along, ending up having the night of his life. But when Margo goes missing the next day, his life is turned upside down. Clues are left behind and Quentin knows that she wants him to be the one to find her. Or does she?

Highly recommended. If you love to laugh and get to know amazing characters, this novel is for you. John Green captures teen life on the cusp of young adulthood with humor and amazing insight.

Check it out @Your Lovejoy Library on Overdrive.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Do you ever feel like no one really gets you, that you're alone even when you aren't? Do you feel invisible at times, overshadowed by those who demand more attention just by being who they are? Sydney knows that she's second best in her family. Not only is her brother Preston more charming and vivacious, he's the darling of the family - and the daredevil. When he gets into more trouble than he can get out of, Sydney's life is turned upside down. Forced to change schools, losing her friends, and dealing with parents who never notice her, Sydney feels more invisible than ever. Starting over is hard, but when she meets an unusual family, hope blooms in Sydney's heart. Maybe she isn't invisible after all.

Beautiful coming of age story that will appeal to anyone who has ever felt misunderstood.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Unhappening of Genesis Lee

"Her memories never fade. They are never forgotten. But they can be stolen."

Who are you without your memories? Are you the same person or do you become someone else?

Genesis Lee is one of the Mementi, a human with the capability of storing memories in perfect detail through Links. To Genesis and the other Mementi, their Links define who they are. Without the Links, without their memories, they only live a half a life. Genesis feels safe and secure in her Mementi community, but is she? When she runs into a Populace boy who seems to know her even though they've never met before, Genesis is tossed into a nightmare of stolen memories and civil unrest that threatens to destroy her family and all of Havendale. Can she trust a boy she's never met over the family she's lived with all her life? Grace and Kalan must work quickly to find the thief before every connection she has to her friends, her family, and her community is broken.

Highly recommended if you love mystery, action, science fiction, and coming of age stories.

Check it out @Your Lovejoy Library through OverDrive.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Keeper of the Lost Cities

There's a secret that Sophie has kept hidden from everyone in her life. She is a telepath. Hearing the thoughts of others isn't just easy for her, it's also painful. Resigned to a life of headaches and keeping out of the limelight, Sophie's life takes a drastic change one day. A chance meeting with a young teen who can also read minds opens her eyes to a new world and the life she should be living. Now being a telepath is the least of Sophie's concerns as she must adjust to her new life with unfamiliar sights, sounds, and intrigue around every corner. For Sophie's mind holds secrets that could unravel the world or help those around her, and there are those who would do anything to get at those secrets.

If you love mystery, adventure, and a little something special, you'll love this first book in the Keeper of the Lost Cities series. It truly is a page-turner and one you won't want to put down.

Highly recommended for 4th grade and up.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Night Gardener

"Stay away from the Sourwoods." 
"Go back."
"That place is not for you."
These phrases follow Molly and Kip as they travel to their new employer and hopefully their new home in a land not their own. Molly knows this is her last and only chance to get her brother to a place where he can heal and where they can restart their lives. But arriving at Windsor Manor is just the beginning for the two orphans from Ireland. Although the day offers no more than hard work and slightly strange behavior from the Windsors, nighttime is a completely different story. Nightmares, strange footprints, and leaves in the hallway offer a mystery that Molly and Kip can't turn away, not to mention the small green door at the top of the house that stays locked. Who roams the house at night? What is behind that door? And why are the Windsors changing into pale ghostly versions of themselves? When Kip sees his sister slowly changing as well, he decides that something must be done. Can Molly and Kip unravel the sinister mystery of Windsor Manor and the Sourwoods before it is too late?

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier is perfect for those looking for a strange and spooky tale that brings delightful chills without causing nightmares.

Recommended for grades 4 and up

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Teen Read Week - October 18-23

Teen Reads Week is coming up and I want to make sure I do something fun to promote it. I used Canva to create a couple of posters to advertise the event. The first is a general promotion and the second describes the details of the activities.

Since this is new to students, and I'm new to Teen Reads Week, I thought it might be fun to do a giveaway. At the elementary level I typically gave away books, but I know that at this point in time a book giveaway is not going to be the most motivating for my high school students. However, gift certificates to the movies or popular places to eat would be very motivating. So, I brainstormed several different activities of varying levels of difficulty and assigned a number of tickets to the completion of each. Students complete an activity and turn it in to me to get X number of red tickets. They write their name on the back of the ticket and place it in our bucket. Every day from Tuesday - Friday I'm going to do a drawing at lunch for 2 students. Those two students come to the library to randomly choose a gift certificate. So that I'm not the one that decides what is given, I'm placing all of the gift cards in an opaque container and students must reach in to grab a gift certificate. Hopefully the event will be a success and we'll be able to expand it even more next year.

I'd really like to have a cake decorating contest, a book swap, and a reveal party for the Teen Top 10 in the future. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough time to really plan out the logistics for those events. We are hosting a book drive with the Key Club throughout the week, a New Arrivals reveal at lunch on Monday, and a Trivia contest Wednesday after school. We'll see how those events go and then plan more for next year.

I did use the resources on the Teen Reads Week website to get promotion ideas, the theme, and activity ideas. If you want to plan out something for Teen Reads Week, I highly recommend checking out the ALA website.

Once Teen Reads Week is over, I'll blog again to share pictures and my thoughts on how it turned out.

Monday, October 12, 2015


This year I created a quick Pow-Toon video to start off my orientation.

I had fun creating it. The challenge was in summarizing everything I needed students to know about the library. However, since there hasn't been a certified librarian in this school for 5 years, I knew I had to go into more detail with the classes. I scheduled every English class to visit the library for one class period so that I could see all students. Starting next year I'll just work with freshmen.

These students have never checked themselves out, so I had to do some training in Destiny to show them the procedures. We also had to look at how to use the catalog because it had been a while since they had even seen the library catalog. My understanding from my library aide is that the library has been a hang-out for students over the past several years without a lot of productivity or book checkouts. I wanted to make a clear statement in my orientation that the library is a place to be productive, not to just hang out.

I also wanted to make students aware of the library website I updated over the summer so that they could easily access the library databases and other resources. Again, students (and some teachers) were not even aware that we had these databases available. I also wanted to introduce the idea of Genius Classes in the library this year. This information is also posted on our library website.

For the last part of my orientation I gave students a fairly easy scavenger hunt activity. The idea was to get them used to the various resources available in the library catalog and in the library itself. I thought that the scavenger hunt wouldn't take students long at all, but was surprised that they all thought some of the questions were difficult. I believe this is because they had not been in the library to use the collections or resources consistently over the past five years. I am hoping that I will need to make the scavenger hunt a little more difficult as students in our district are now being trained from elementary through middle school to use the library catalog and check out their own books.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Beginning a New Library Journey

As a fairly new librarian starting yet another journey, I thought I'd start keeping a blog of my thoughts, ideas, and experiences as I move from the elementary level to the high school level. I'm not the best blogger because I typically get so wrapped up in planning, teaching, and reading that I don't have much time to blog. However, I think it is important to reflect and to share ideas with others, so here I am. I'm scheduling myself a day each week to post at least one blog so that my reflections are regular throughout the year rather than my normal hit or miss strategy.

A little background information might be helpful at this point. I work in a fairly small school district with only 6 schools in the state of Texas. Our high school had been without a certified librarian for at least a year, maybe two, before I started at one of the elementary schools. Unfortunately, the previous librarian had not left a favorable impression and the school administrators felt that rather than take on anyone of that same quality or worse, they'd rather just keep the library open with an assistant, a volunteer, and our district Technology/Library director in attendance every few days. To give them all the credit they absolutely deserve, over a five year period the library was transformed from a very old-school library with tall view-blocking shelves, very little seating, and few computers to an open learning-commons area with tables, a huge bank of Mac and PC computers, some comfortable seating areas, and a "classroom" area.

However, despite these wonderful changes and the warm welcoming atmosphere that was created in the library space, the teachers and students were not being supported and served by a certified teacher-librarian. Databases were not used, research lessons not taught or supported in the library, and circulation dropped to only the most avid readers in high school. Many students commented that they made it through high school without ever once checking out a book from the library or even stepping foot in the library. The administrators decided that it was a priority to hire a certified librarian to provide the additional curriculum, research, and reading support to the school.

Around the middle of the summer I received word that our school board had approved the funding for a full-time certified librarian at the high school and was offered the position. I spent a lot of time looking at other high school librarian blogs, joining YART and other YA listservs to begin gathering ideas and information, and began brainstorming ways to get student attention from the beginning of the school year.

A sci-fi geek at heart, I decided to play my nerd card and embrace it completely. My husband and I spent a day painting a giant TARDIS on the library windows as a statement that the library was changing. The message...The Library is Regenerating. Now, for those of you who are not Whovians, the main character of Dr. Who is The Doctor. When one actor decides to leave the role and another comes on board, the Doctor regenerates. That is, he changes into a new person. Thus, our library is regenerating since it has a new librarian and is undergoing several new changes. At the beginning of school I got lots of comments about it and a couple of hugs from kids right off the bat. It certainly let them know that changes were on the horizon.

The next addition was a fish tank. I had inherited an aquarium at my previous elementary school and wasn't too happy about it. But, they grew on me over time and I knew I just had to have an aquarium in my new library. The fish are a fantastic conversation starter and really uplift spirits. The sound of the water is calming and the fish are eager to see new people. They always swim right to the glass to see the students and teachers gawking at them. It has definitely been a good addition.

Thus, my library journey started down a new path with a regeneration and a tank of fish. The story will continue and I hope to share more changes, ideas, and thoughts that are simply "Librarialicious."