Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Try It Tuesday: Graphic Novels

Stop by our BOGO Scholastic Book Fair and try purchasing a graphic novel for your child today!  Let them have one to start reading today and put one away for Summer reading!  Or, get one graphic novel, one fiction chapter book! 

Graphic novels are a great tool for engaging the reluctant reader or a reader who has lost their drive to read!  They're like the comic books we read as children in a longer format.  Once they learn to love reading they will move on to more difficult chapter books!  

Book fair hours today are 7:45-8:25 am, 11:00 am -1:00 pm, 3:05 - 6:00 pm.

Monday, April 29, 2019

More for Your Money Monday: BOGO Sale on Books!

Today is the first day of our Scholastic BOGO Book Fair!  Buy one item, get one at an equal or lesser price.  Our theme this year is Dinomite Books.  Stop by North Elementary today to buy books for your North Star, your preschooler, your SMS and SHS students too!  

Today's special event is Muffin's with Momosaurus, before school 7:45-8:25 am.  Stop in with Mom to shop the book fair and have a muffin.

Want to pick up an eWallet for your child because you don't have cash?  Just visit our book fair home page and pick one up any day of the fair with your credit card here.  

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Set Up Sunday; Dinomite Scholastic Book Fair

It's been a busy weekend setting up for our Spring Scholastic Book Fair.  The theme this year is Dinomite and all things dinosaur.  I got on Pinterest as soon as I had the theme last fall and began pinning all sorts of ideas, but I could not think of an idea to cover my ugly pole. 

At some point I had an idea to make a dinosaur leg coming out of the ceiling, and I got back on Pinterest to find images.  Above is the photo that inspired my leg.  

So, if you want to create your own dinosaur fossil leg, follow the steps below.

Carpet Rolls from Carpetland (donation)
Shoe Boxes
10-12 Toilet paper rolls
6 Paper Toll rolls
4 Paper Christmas tree cones (Michaels)
News paper cut into strips for paper mache
Glue Gun
Glue Stick

  1. Determine the size of your bones.  I took measurements from the photo and the length of my pole.  Using the photos measurements, I determined the portion and applied it to my pole length.
  2. Cut the bones to length.
  3. Cut any tubes you wish to hide a pole in, along the length to slip them over the pole when finished.
  4. Cut toilet paper rolls in half and snip every half inch along the length about a half an inch deep on both sides.
  5. Using a glue gun, adhere these to the end of the toe bones.
  6. Cut the paper towel rolls in half and snip every half inch along the length about a half an inch deep on both sides.
  7. Using a glue gun, adhere these to the end of the smaller leg bones.
  8. Cut shoe boxes on an angle from the top of one side to the bottom of the other side.
  9. Glue the cut shoe boxes to the largest carpet tube with the glue gun.
  10. Apply newspaper strips to the bones, covering the ends with paper so they are not open for the toe bones, and the bone at the top of the toes, and the smallest leg bone.
  11. For the bones that will be wrapped around the pole, try to cover most of the ends of the bones.
  12. Allow paper mache to dry and make two coats of paper mache over the ends of the bones.  
  13. For the claws, cut wedges out of one side of the Christmas tree cones every 1/2".
  14. Glue the cone openings together, to create a curve to the claw.
  15. Cover the ends of the claws with paper mache as well.
  16. Paint.
  17. Cut into the tops of the bones that will go around the pole so that there is a round hole and make snips from the hole to the edges.  
  18. Begin assembling the leg using the glue gun.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Maker Space Monday

Have you heard of Maker Space?  This a newer trend in libraries, especially school libraries, where children are encouraged to work with tools to learn collaboratively and develop problem solving skills.

Last year, when we had 40 minute library special, every grade has time for maker space.  We were able to create maker space lessons for kindergarten building letters with Duplos and teaching them letters and CVC word reading.  We used Legos to create clock faces and teach telling time skills, and had building challenges for our older students.  We often centered the maker space challenge around the read aloud book.

This year, our 20 minute library special has made checking out a priority for Kindergarten through 3 grade.  For 4th and 5th grade we have limited maker space time and teachers send in students during walk in hours for checking out books.  I do like the walk in hours, as this gives me more time for individual time to help students find books, and make suggestions for new authors and series.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Single Saturday: One Hit Wonder Children's Book

You know those music hits that are one hit wonders?  The song you wish had a been followed up by more hits by the same artist?  Well, today, I am sharing an author whose book writing should continue!  Robert Hoge, please don't make this a single!

"Ugly: My Memoir" by Robert Hoge.  Currently on this years Bluestem award list, all of our Battle of the books students have read this and enjoyed it.  It starts off very sad, but stick with it and you'll find the reward of a wonderful story, well written.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Frugal Friday: Scholastic BOGO SALE is Almost Here

If you're like me, you woke up this morning and realized that it's Good Friday and you have nothing for your children's Easter basket yet. Well, I can help with that!  Get your child an eWallet for a 
Scholastic BOGO book fair!  We all love buy one get one sales, and we want something in the Easter basket that is good for our kids!  

Many of us miss having a local book store, so a Scholastic book fair is perfect for shopping for books!  Because this is a BOGO sale, we'll have books for all ages, so you can get an eWallet for your preschool, middle school, and high school students too!  And it will soon be summer, so you can prepare for their summer reading now at half price!  

You and your child will love the convenience of not having to carry cash or check to school.  Forgot to get cash for your child?  You can purchase an eWallet during the fair too!  And any money NOT spent, is returned to your credit card account.  North Elementary parents can find a link to our eWallets here.  

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Thankful Thursday for My Scholastic Field Rep

I am a year and a half into my news job as a grade school librarian paraprofessional.   Along with my paid job, I have taken on the volunteer position of the book fair chairperson.  So, today's post will be about Scholastic book fairs and how thankful I am for my field rep:  Sharon Looby.

I am just under two weeks away from our next book fair and this is my third book fair.  Each fair get's easier, and I enjoy the decorations, planning and event.  I love my Scholastic Field Rep Sharon Looby and hope Scholastic knows what a gem she is!  She has a way of taking problems I view as obstacles and making them opportunities.  For example, we really need 3 registers in the morning before school.  This time is our busiest time for sales, but when the bell rings, I must send the students to class and they often promise to return and don't.  So, when Sharon said, we would only get two registers and I told her of my concern over lost sales, she gave me a solution.

Sharon told me to set up a third check out line for the new Scholastic eWallet students.  They can leave their books with a post it note that has their name, class room teacher and we can check those students out after the bell has rung and they have gone to class.  This will allow us to check out cash, check and credit card purchases before the bell. Now, if I can just get the parents to purchase the eWallet, I will be all set.  

Along, with her great ideas Sharon is my best volunteer on set up day.  Yes, she's paid by Scholastic for the day, but I'm not paying her.  She arrives for set up and is a wiz at merchandising the books and product to their best advantage.

She is a creative director for our d├ęcor.  This year's spring theme is dinosaurs.  I told Sharon about a vision I had to make a huge dinosaur leg coming out of the ceiling that was inspired by the photo above and found on Palentogy's Facebook page.  I have a very ugly pole in our library and I think it should be covered with something for our fair.  I then told Sharon, that I didn't know how to make my dinosaur leg on  zero budget.  She directed me to Carpetland USA for some carpet rolls and I began the process of paper mache to create bones.  At the top of the post you can see my dinosaur claws.  The final product has get to be revealed, but I am felling confident I will have a wonderful center piece to hide that ugly pole and create buzz.  Below you can see last book fairs center piece, created by some wonderful parents.  Stop by next Thursday to see how thankful I am for my parent volunteers!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Finding Your Child's Gateway to Reading: Writer Wednesdy

If you're a reader you can can probably think back to your childhood and name a book and writer that lead you to become a reader.  This book and writer who created a passion for reading has created a new term in reading circle called "gateway books."  All gateway books create a passion for future regular reading into adulthood and academic success in reading, so finding this gateway book is important for your child.  Here are my tips to helping your child find his or her gateway book and author:

  1. Provide good material.  If you want your child to eat well, you buy them good food.  Start where you can get good books:  libraries, book fairs, books stores, and even your own bookshelves! 
  2. Start with what you know.  What books and authors were your favorites growing up?  Share these with your children with read alouds, or discussions, check them out or buy them.
  3. Provide variety.  You might be a mystery fan, but your child might like action adventure, fantasy, or science fiction.  It's all about letting them try different genres!
  4. Graphic Novels can plant the seed.  A graphic novel is a graphic illustrated novel much like our childhood comics only longer in format.  Allowing your child to read graphic novels is okay because it can create a love of reading and they will move to chapter books as they mature.  I cannot tell you how many people have become readers because of Dav Pilkey's "Captain Underpants!"  My students will probably remember "Dog Man" also by Dav Pilkey as their gateway book.
  5. Peers can provide help.  Find ways to your child to get recommendations from their friends!  It may be as simple as asking them, what is so and so reading?  Or look into summer reading programs and take them to the library with friends.  Join a Battle of the books program, or send them to teen activities at the library with friends.
  6. Ask the librarian!  Your school and local librarians are wonderful resources for what books are currently hot.
  7. Check out and look for books with good ratings in genres your child likes and find out if the book fits your child's reading level.  With the Internet, it is easy to determine if a book is appropriate for your child's age, grade and Lexile level.
  8. Check out Amazon and look at books you know your child likes.  Then look for the "people who bought this, also purchased these books."
Helping your child become a reader is as important as training their good eating, sleeping and exercise habits!   Today's child has so many distractions from reading, so make an effort to keep them engaged in reading and it will pay off with future success!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Try it Tuesday: Battle of the Books

This is my first year at a Battle of the Books coach and I cannot say enough about how well I love this program!  Here are 10 reasons you should have your child check out Battle of the Books and become a participant:

  1. Good Books!  The books used in our local Battle of the Book program are all Bluestem Readers Choice Award recipients with a few exceptions this year to make questions easier for our library to write.  They often have great lessons in empathy and are fun and interesting to read!
  2. Reading is critical!  Reading is critical to your child's success and this program is a wonderful way to get them reading and keep it fun!
  3. Social Activity.  Get your child out of the house and away for screens for a fun activity that involves friends and classmates!  They'll meet new friends that they will soon be attending the same middle school.
  4. Fun!  Our Battle of the Books team meets after school for an hour usually once or twice a month for practice.  We play games, have a snack and socialize.  Once a month we have a battle that is often attended by parents, grandparents, siblings, friends and classmates.
  5. It gets whole family to read!  This is a wonderful opportunity to take the whole family to the library or a book store and get everyone reading!
  6. It creates a better bedtime routine and good nights sleep!  Now, you may be wondering where this came from but studies have shown that reading before bed can lead to better sleep.  Use the BOB to create this pattern for your child because it will create a routine that tells their body to shut down, reduces stress, and gets them off their screens (screen time before bed produces lack of sleep).
  7. Prevents a summer slide in your child's reading test scores.  You want a reading plan for your child's summer that will keep them engaged and reading?  Well this is it!
  8. Teaches good sportsmanship.  Just like an athletic team, this teaches them good sportsmanship lessons, like supporting your team members, accepting judges calls, acceptable competition behavior, shaking hands after a battle, taking pride without rubbing it in, helping a team mate who has given the wrong answer with confidence and accepting a loss.  If you have a child who is not an athlete, they can still learn these skills here!
  9. Creates a love for the public library.  Some of our students are not in the library system and have not had an opportunity to visit the library.  Or maybe, you've just been busy with sports and activities that have kept you from visiting the library, but every child should know what libraries can offer them and understand their importance and value!
  10. Creates a desire for future academic competitive teams. Your child will have so much fun they will consider joining future academic competitive teams in middle school and high school. 

So bring your child to watch the North Stars compete in our next Battle on April 22, 2019, at the Sycamore Public Library!  Battles will begin at  5:15 pm.  Or see us on May 4, at 6:00 pm same location for our final battle.  Contact Mrs. Parsons, Mrs. Jordan or Mrs. Dempsey for more information.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Memoir Monday What Makes This Genre So Good?

Memoirs are one of my favorite genres for reading and it is popular among students as well.  What is it about memoirs that make them such good books?  Authenticity!  

If you have every written a story for school, you were probably encouraged to write about something you know.  It is in writing what we know that our writing sound most natural and authentic.

Children's books that our memoirs are often wonderful stories that create empathy, and teach valuable lessons.  Above are two memoirs available at North Elementary Library that are wonderful books that can teach empathy, and valuable lessons about intolerance and overcoming adversity.  Stop by your local library and check out this genre for your child!

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Sell the Series Sunday

Because of our shortened 20 minute library special, I have made an effort to make book selection quick and easy for my students.  I also want them to find books that will interest them.  So, I have tried to chose a series every week and highlight it.   I call this strategy Sell The Series. I start with a book series talk and display the rest of the books near the front desk.  As a librarian and as a parent I love series books, because once a child finishes a good book, they have their next read all picked out just by reading the next book in the series.  And I like to remind my students that often good books are made into series because they are so well loved.  

As a librarian, sharing these book series talks has had a side benefit I did not anticipate:  peer promotion.  When I share a series, students often pipe up with their love of the books and this generates more check outs for for students new to the series.

To make these book easier for my students to find, I have made small signs with logos or graphics that make these series books easy to find in the library.  I then display the sign on the shelves.  We also have many series books in book bins for quick and easy access.  Our children are often times visual learners and so many today, are getting screen time!  So, I feel these signs are helpful to navigate our book shelves.  My hope is to create readers, and I hope they will move to books with no sequels after they do so!

Series books can also be a wonderful option for reluctant readers!  These books are usually well known by peers, so they are valued by these peers and often times this will move the reluctant reader to read them.  You can also, get the first book in a series as an audio book, and play this for your reluctant reader.  Once your reluctant reader is involved, hand them the next book to read!  You can also play a portion of the book, and swap to the book mid-book!

Friday, April 12, 2019

eWallets Available for Scholastic Book Fair at North Elementary

eWallets are now available for our North School Scholastic Book Fair starting today.  They will be available for purchase through Friday, May 3, 2019.  As the flyer says below it is "a secure digital payment option."  This is the perfect Easter Basket gift idea!  And I love that our sale is a Buy One Get One Free Sale just before Summer!  Get some Summer reading options on the cheap.    Here is our link for adding funds to your child's eWallet.  You can also donate to your classroom teacher's library, buy creating an eWallet for them too!

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Thankful Thursday: Children's Books Worthy of Adult Reading

As a parent I had the privileged of reading to my children and discovering new books and authors I love.  However, my boys are 19 and 15 and the days of reading to them has gone.  So, I am so thankful for my job as an elementary school librarian paraprofessional.  I am once again reading children's books that I love and might never have found had I not started reading books in the North School catalog.
So today I am sharing some of my favorite fantasy young adult and early childhood books I have read this year that I think adults will enjoy too!  So, I encourage you to check these books out and read them aloud to your children!

"The Graveyard Book" by Neil Gaiman.  Listed as young adult fantasy, this is not a genre I favored in the past, but books like this are giving me a new fondness for the genre and plenty of new material.  

"The Blackthorn Key" by Kevin Sands.  I would describe this as a historical fiction mystery, with a fantasy flair.  I couldn't put it down and as the mother of boys I so enjoyed and understood the trouble Christopher got himself into.

"Powerless" by Matthew Cody.  A Caudill award winner 2012, this was a book I couldn't put down.  What would happen if children has superpowers, but lost them when they turned 13 and forgot they ever had them?  

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Word Wednesday: If I only had time or More Volunteers!

My creative brain often goes faster than my body.  On top of my creativity, I subscribe to media that I believe will help me be a better librarian that provide more ideas to make the library a fun place to be and a destination for our students. I also have some very involved parent volunteers who make suggestions.  I would love to implement this suggestion, but have no time. So, often ideas I would love to implement, go on the Pinterest board for another day.  
Here is an idea I would love to implement and it would only take a volunteer a few minutes each week to choose a word and change a board with the word and it's definition.  Parents, get involved in your school library with something that you are passionate about in small ways!  You will:

  1. Show your child that reading is important and a priority for you!
  2. You can teach your child the importance of volunteering.
  3. You can get to know your school librarian and teachers while you volunteer.
School librarians, need help with shelving, book fairs, bulletin boards, displaying books, helping students find books and so much more.  Just contact your school librarian and see how you can help!

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Try it Tuesday: Subscribe to Brightly

When you become a parent you begin to set goals for your child.  Some goals seem small and easy, like teaching them to walk, and some goals seem large and more difficult, like a college degree.  And some goals you set are goals you have for their life long habits, like manners, empathy and being a good person.  One of my life long goals as a parent is to raise a reader.  It is also, one of my goals for the students in my grade school library.  That's why I love the website Brightly!  

In fact, this week they had an article on how reading to your children can help them develop a Yes Brain.  It's a wonderful article about how reading creates empathy, resilience, insight and balance in your child.   If your a parent who hopes to raise a reader, I encourage you to try Brightly!

Not only do they have wonderful articles on raising a reader, but they have sections for age groups:  Pre-K, Growing Readers, and Tweens.  The site gives book recommendations too!

Monday, April 8, 2019

Movie Monday Night: Because the Book is Always Better!

Movies inspired by books are a great source for your child's next book to read!  My students love to find the book that inspired the movies and read them.  So, this is a go to for library displays at our grade school library!
Make this inspiration for reading an event at your home using the following steps:

  1. Start a Movie Night tradition.
  2. Have your children choose a movie they want to see.
  3. Check out the book and read it together at bedtime before you watch the film.
  4. Talk about both, what you liked or disliked, what was better in both, what differences were there between the book and the film.  
  5. Ask, do you want to read the next book in the series or see the sequel?  
Here are some great books that have become movies your child will enjoy reading, available for check out at North Elementary:

  • A Series of Unfortunate Events:  The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
  • Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
  • Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Montgomery
  • The Babysitter's Club by Ann Martin and Peter Lerangis
  • Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
  • The BFG by Roald Dahl
  • The Bridge to Terabithia by Katherin Paterson
  • The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Suess
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  • The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
  • Coraline by Neil Gaiman
  • Ella Enchanted by Gail Levine
  • Eragon by Christopher Paolini
  • The Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl
  • Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Suess
  • The Guardians of Ga'Hoole by Kathyrn Lasky
  • Hoot by Carl Hiassen
  • How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Banks
  • The Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
  • James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
  • Judy Moody by Megan McDonald
  • The Littles by John Peterson
  • The Lorax by Dr. Suess
Stop by the blog later this month for more book made into to movie titles from Authors M-Z.  North School parents you can view which books are available for check out via our online catalog link here.  

Since our library special has been cut to 20 minutes this year, you may place books on hold, by emailing me.  Just find my email address on the district website under Mary Dempsey, and list your child's name, teachers name, book title and author's name.  North students may check out books during library special on Monday, or any other week day during morning zones.  

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Simple Sunday: Graphic Novels for Prime Members

Just a quick post today to share some graphic novels available to Amazon Prime members in Kindle format, for FREE this month.  

What is a graphic novel?  Well, some of us think of them as comic books, but they are much more.  They are fictional stories much longer than comic books, with graphic illustrations that my students love!  

Why should I allow my child to read them?  This book format is fabulous for engaging the reluctant readers, They tend to be more engaging than some fiction, and they provide a more stress free reading option for the child who struggles to read.  Graphic novels are also wonderful for building vocabulary.  Your child's class room teacher, will provide reading that is more traditional, but it is important for every child to have the option to choose the books they love in order to form a love of reading.   So, get them reading and then allow them to mature in their genre selections!

And, this genre, can also keep a tween engaged in reading.   As parents today, we see all the competition for our children's attention, with TV, YouTube, video games, and smart phones.  As, my children grew older and had more independence we bought them phones for contacting us from band camp or after school activities.  Graphic novels can keep the child who once read chapter books, engaged in reading until they are older.  So, keep them engaged in reading with graphic novels and they will return to a more traditional genre later!  Keep up your trips to the library and book stores and keep them reading!  

Saturday, April 6, 2019

The Problem with Shortened Library Special

This is my first full year as a library para-educator at a school in northern Illinois.  Our school district, in an effort to comply with the states requirements for physical education has cut our grade school library special time from 40 minutes to 20 minutes a week.  
All our grade school librarians were very concerned about this shortened library special time, but after living it for over half a year, I have found more reasons to express concerns.  Here are the reasons why we need 40 minutes for library special!

  1. No Time to Find books:  Most of our class sizes are 18-36 students each.  Since the librarian must check these students out, he or she has NO time to help students find a book.  Some times a student doesn't know what they want to read, sometimes they cannot see the call number, or they need books for reports in class.  There is no time in library special for this help!
  2. No Time to Read Aloud:  I actually read books on days I have parent volunteers in the library, but there are always 6-10 students who are still looking for books and checking out while I read.  These students are disappointed to miss the books or miss checking out to hear the books.  They should not have to make a choice between the two options!
  3. No Time for Teaching basic Library skills!  To teach students to use our online catalog, I use Chrome books.  If I cover how to use the catalog in a 20 minute special, students cannot check out that day, because their is no time and no librarian at the check out desk.  And children need the call number lessons several time over the year, and over non-fiction and fiction categories, not to mention where to find these items in the library.
  4. No Time to Get to know readers and their preferences!  I would love to get to know every child's favorite genre, author, and books, but there is no time for discussing and showing them more of their favorites when we are struggling to check out.
  5. No Time for the students to develop good library browsing habits.  When I was a child, my family visited the library once a week and we had an hour on our own to find books.  I learned to find my favorite genre:  fiction and wandered the stacks, pulling books and reading covers.  I found book displays, and browsed the card catalog for more books by the same author, or on the same subject.  A 20 minute special does not allow children to develop any skills for making good selections that will lead to a good book match and more reading!
  6. No Time to create a love of reading and libraries!  How can we create love for a room they are rushed through and they only have time to view things they always check out.
  7. No Time to find variety!  Some of the things I have done to prep for our shortened library special, is to pull books and put them out on our work tables, I have added more labeling to our shelves for popular series with graphics so these books are easy to find, but because their is no browsing time, students will choose their favorites over and over, or favorites of their peers and not try books and authors new to them.  I find I focus on promoting series books, so I know once a child is engaged they will have ideas for their next book, but what about all the great books with no sequels!?
  8. No time for checkout!  If you noticed the length of the library special and the class size, you will notice we have less than a minute for our students just to check out.  Without the help of volunteers I am unable to check out every child and must  ask them to leave their books and student ids in a pile and then bring the books to them later.  Even on days with volunteers, we are often, both checking students out in order to have them leave with their books.
  9. No time to prioritize reading TOO!  Reading is one of the most critical skills your child needs to succeed in life, so finding them books that create a love for reading is critical too!  
  10. We are the ONLY library some of these students have as some of our populations is NOT in incorporated areas of the city.  These students deserve a rich library experience!
I know our teachers are striving to meet common core goals and they have no time to give, but the school district must find a way to give library special more time.  Let's create a love of, and culture of reading!  Please consider asking our schools for more library special time for your child!

Friday, April 5, 2019

Future Friday: Using digital Books with Your Child

Have you tried digital books for your child?  I would encourage parents to give this a try and determine if digital books fit their child's need and reading habits, and I have listed some pros and con below.


  1. Easy to acquire!  I love that I can down load a book at bedtime for my children or myself and don't have to leave the house.
  2. Long books don't discourage the reluctant reader.  I have students who would like to read books like Harry Potter, but they see the size of the books and refuse to take them off the shelf or check them out.  Children who check out or buy a digital book don't realize how long the book may be.
  3. Portable!  As a parent I often would check out 8 books hoping my child would choose two.   Carrying 8 books home or on vacation can be heavy, so I love the digital books portability factor!
  4. Cheaper Books!  Kindle books are usually much cheaper than hard copy books.
  5. They may promote reading.  Some children will be excited about reading on a tablet and you may find that is one of the only ways they will read.
  6. Small size.  You can now keep a large library without needing to make space in your home!


  1. They may inhibit reading.  Research has shown that children prefer physical books, so this may keep some children from reading enough.  Digital books shouldn't be the only source of reading for your child, just an option for certain needs and or circumstances.  Watch for beginning readers with older siblings who regularly hear chapter books.  These children may find entry level readers boring and struggle to get started reading themselves.  You will need to find entry level readers that capture their interest and are enjoyable.  I found this happened with my youngest (because I read chapter books to them and we used audio books) and worked with my local librarian to find some great early readers.
  2. They may change your child's and or family's reading habits.  I was so exited to have an e-reader a few Christmases ago that it took me several months to realize, it stopped me from taking my children to the local library for their books.  Keep your library visits going even when downloading digital books!
  3. Selection is limited.  Not every book is available in audio form at your library or through your subscription service.  Be sure to keep reading a variety of books not available in digital format.
  4. Your child may be distracted by games and apps on the tablet.  If your child reads digital books on an iPad or Amazon Fire tablet, there are other apps on these tablets, so your child may be tempted to play instead of read.  Consider a reading devoted tablet like the Paper White Kindle from Amazon to prevent this.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Thrifty Thursday: Children's Book on the Cheap!

I always encourage parents to treat their child's reading like they would their eating habits.  It's important to provide choices and variety.  But, many of our students are in an unincorporated portion of our city and do not have library cards.   Buying a variety of books is not always affordable, so I would love to share some tips on how to get books for your children for free or cheap today.  Let the book thriftiness begin!

  1. Check out local resale.  Our local PTO holds a Children's clothing and toy resale twice a year, and there's one coming up on April 13, 2019 in Sycamore, IL from 8:00 am to 2:00pm, with most items listed half price from 1:00 pm -2:00 pm.  This is a fabulous place to buy children's books too!  Find more info on the sale here.  Sale regulars, know to bring a laundry basket to collect their find and for easy check out.
  2. Little Free libraries!  Our town has little libraries all over.  As a parent, I loved to take my boys on bike rides to our town's little libraries and get exercise and reading!  Find your local little libraries here.  Then get your bikes, your helmets and back packs and head out with the kids!  Please remember, these are libraries and you should return the book or replace it with one of your own.
  3. Thrift stores such as Salvation Army and Goodwill.  Our Local PTO will take all the items from our thrift sale over to the PTO after our sale, so if you cannot make a local PTO sale, visit your local thrift shop the next week for great finds you may have missed.
Check back later this month for more tips on finding children's books cheap!

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Wizard Wednesday: Before or After Harry Potter

If you have children, sooner or later your child will probably bring home Harry Potter books.  I have students in every grade checking out Harry Potter.  So I am calling this post Wizard Wednesday and I am sharing wizard books for those too young and for the older child who has run out of HP books!  Here are some of my favorite Wizard books available at North Elementary's Library:

1st-3rd Grade
The Rise of the Earth Dragon (Book one of The Dragon Master's Series photo at topby Tracey West Published by Scholastic.  This series is a Scholastic Branches book.  Branches books are written for the child who is ready to move up from easy books, and not quite ready for chapter books.  A five star rated book about an 8 year old boy named Drake who is snatched away to train with dragons at the kings castle.

3rd-5th Grades
Midnight for Charlie Bone (book one in the Charlie Bone Series, photo above) by Jenny Nimmo.  The story of Charlie Bone, who discovers his magic at 13 and his struggle to keep his evil family from misusing or taking his powers.

Magyk by Angie Sage (book one in the Septimus Heap Series photo above).  The story of a magical seventh son of a seventh son, stolen as a baby.  Another 4 1/2 star book.

The Hidden Stairs and the Magic Carpet (book one in the Secrets of Droon Series) by Tony Abbott.  A four and a half star book about a boy named Eric and his friends, who enter a new world through a staircase in his basement.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Try it Tuesday: Audio Book to Spark Reading

One of the strategies I have used to spark reading as a parent is to check out the same book as an audio book and a physical book.  Play the first disk or portion of an audio book for one night, then replace the audio book with the physical book for the next night.  You can also, let children listen to the first book of a series and then swap to the physical books in the rest of the series.  And finally, you can check out an audio book for a great author, and then check out other books by the same author, but not in the series as the audio book.  

Here are some books at our North Library you can check out in both formats:

The Secret Kingdom:  Book One in the Chronicles of the Red King by Jenny Nimmo
The Stones of Ravenglass:  Book Two in the Chronicles of the Red King by Jenny Nimmo
Charolette's Web by E. B. White
The Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems

Here are some audio books we have from authors we have in our library:
The Naughty Nork by Bruce Coville

Our North Library selection of audio books are very limited and your school library's selection maybe limited too, so here are some other options for finding audio books for free or cheap:

  1. Visit your local library
  2. Add the Amazon audio app to your phone or tablet.  You get one free audio book just for downloading the app.
  3. Sign up for a free trail of Amazon's audio service.
  4. Visit your libraries book sale and look for resale audio books.

Monday, April 1, 2019

APRIL is National School Library Month

Welcome to National School Library month!  For the last year and a half I have been the librarian para-professional at an elementary school in Sycamore, IL and I love my job!  

As a parent, I know how critical reading is to the success of our children, so being apart of that journey in other children's lives in an honor and a privileged.  I also feel a great responsibility being the grade school librarian.  Reading must be enjoyable for a child to become a reader.  And in our current society, their interests are being consumed by video games, smart phones, TV and more.  Along with this competition for reading time, many of our student body are not part of our local library system, and our grade school library is the ONLY library they know and use.  So, this month I am devoting my blog to posts to engage our school parents and students.

Our library is in the middle of a fund raising campaign for new shelving, tables and chairs and more.  The current shelving is sagging and some even broken (see photo below).  Our new vision includes mobile shelves that can be rolled to the side for events and speaker visits (see photos at the top of the screen).  We also hope to update our technology, and create a Maker Space.  Find out more about this fundraising campaign and donate here.

Help me celebrate National School library month, and share the love of reading with our community!  We must treat reading like other priorities in our children's lives, make sure they under stand the value of reading, provide them with variety and abundant good reading choices, make reading part of their daily routines, and keep it fun!  Even if you're not part of our community, you will enjoy great tips about raising a reader and engaging your child's love of reading.  So, check back daily and see what's going on as part of our celebration!


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