Books That Give You the Feels


This bulletin board display was inspired by one of my favorite young patrons, who loves to read realistic fiction that tugs at her heart.

There are a substantial number of 4th-6th grade students who aren’t interested in books with magic, time travel, unicorns, mermaids, fairies, or dragons; they want to read books that include angst, confusing dilemnas, tragic family circumstances, kids facing big life challenges, and equally big disappointments. They want books that elicit strong emotions, and allow them to experience intense scenarios they may never encounter in their real lives, in a safe way: on the pages of a book.

With suggestions from one of the online librarian groups I am a member of, I printed and laminated small covers of the books in the school library that make eyes water and hearts ache.  I placed a book rack under the bulletin board with all the available books, to make picking one up to read just-that-much easier.

These are stories that demonstrate the importance of empathy, perseverence, overcoming adversity, and deal with tough topics–often more than one–such as disfigurement (Wonder, Firegirl, The War that Saved My Life), cancer (Ida B, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes), neglectful/absent/abusive/alcoholic parents (Rain, Reign, True…Sort of, Because of Winn-Dixie), disabilities of all sorts (So B. It), orphans and foster children trying to find their place in a world that seems not to care about them (Echo, Counting by Sevens, Pictures of Hollis Woods, Missing May), financial hardship (Faith, Hope and Ivy June, Out of the Dust), families that are separated by death, distance and grief (A Dog Called Homeless, Walk Two Moons, Our Only May Amelia, Chasing Redbird, The Boy on the Porch), friendships that are strained or severed (The Thing About Jellyfish, Breadcrumbs, When You Reach Me), mistreated animals (One and Only Ivan, Flawed Dogs, The Underneath, Shiloh), and lots of dogs that die. Lots and lots of dogs that die (Where the Red Fern Grows, Old Yeller, Love That Dog, Marley and Me, Sounder).

Are there any popular books in your library that belong on this bulletin board too?  Leave me a comment!

And pass the tissues, please.

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Book Graveyard – Books That Have Had Their Final Checkout

Here is a book graveyard display, made with books that have met an awful end.

At the beginning of each school year, I give a book care talk, and usually hand out damaged books to random students, and let them guess what happened to them–spilled on, chewed by a dog, little sister colored in it. They enjoy guessing what befell the unfortunate books.

This year, I decided to try something different, and let students pay their last respects to these books on display. Nothing too fancy, just some gray construction paper and a Sharpie marker for the headstones. 

I found inspiration from fellow blogger and Assistant Library Director, Rebecca, at http://hafuboti.com/2014/10/20/the-book-graveyard/. Thank you for sharing your ideas.

   
    
    
    
    
 

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It’s Always Time to Read

FullSizeRender-1I’m getting bulletin boards ready for the start of the new school year. Here’s one I finished today. Each book title has a number between 1 and 12 in it. Lily, a student volunteer, did a great job of searching the Destiny catalog and locating the books needed for each number.

The titles I used were: The One and Only Ivan, The Two Princesses of Bamarre, Be a Perfect Person in Just Three Days, The First Four Years, Across Five Aprils, Now We Are Six, Counting by 7s, Ramona Quimby, Age 8, Dreams into Deeds: Nine Women Who Dared, Ten True Animal Rescues, Eleven, 12 Again.

I always allow kids to check out books even if they are part of a display (isn’t that the point?), so I have a few back-ups handy: One Came Home, Eight Keys, etc. (I am secretly hoping no one checks out 9; I have no replacement in my collection.)

Below is a picture in progress. I used four T-pins to affix each book stand to the bulletin board.  Even though they are aligned when empty, they required adjusting after books were added, to account for size differences.

IMG_8973I’m all ears, if you can suggest other back up titles with numbers in them in the comments.  Especially nine!

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Eats, Shoots & Leaves

Third grade students’ sense of humor, their growing knowledge of punctuation, and developing awareness of nuance make them the perfect audience for Lynne Truss’ witty book, Eats, Shoots & Leaves, Why, Commas Really DO Make a Difference!

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You may recall the #1 New York Times bestselling book that Truss also authored, Eats, Shoots & Leaves, The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation.

Eats Shoots & Leaves1I started out the lesson with sharing both the hoax and actual magazine cover that went viral a few years ago, picturing Rachael Ray. The hoax version, sans commas, seems to declare that she engages in cannibalism and eats dogs. Talk about an immediate attention-getter!

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rachelray02Then I asked two students to each read one of the following statements, being careful to pause for the commas. Everyone listened intently to detect the subtle distinction. The power of the comma is exquisitely demonstrated, as poor canines once again become food, if commas are not properly used.

IMG_7081a IMG_7081With only two sentences on each two-page spread, the book relies on it’s simplicity and highly amusing illustrations to make it clear just how important commas can be when conveying meaning in writing. Students eagerly volunteered to stand up and read some of the pages to the class.  The page spread that had the biggest reaction in every class? A combination filling station and store illustration:  “Eat here and get gas,” vs. “Eat here, and get gas.”

I passed out laminated bookmarks that I cut out of black construction paper, shaped like giant commas, and suggested that students take special notice of all the commas in the books they are reading. I also included a link on the back to a comma game students can play later, and test their commas skills.  (Note:  Requires Flash, and does not work on iPads.)

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One 3rd grade boy came up to me right afterwards, and rattled off a series of sentences he made up on the spot that would be catastrophic without the comma, such as, “We’re eating Grandma!” vs. “We’re eating, Grandma!” He cracked himself up!

A 4th grade student was so entertained by it last year, that she has asked me several times to re-read it to her class again this year. I believe I will.

Book Displays

Sharing a few book displays from the past and present.

IMG_1255What’s better than a picnic with books?  I used green indoor/outdoor carpet, a picnic tablecloth, picnic basket, some napkins and plastic ware, and made a few Styrofoam and pipe cleaner ants.

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I wanted to showcase the many sports-themed books I have in the elementary library, with authors like Matt Christoper, Jake Maddox, and Mike Lupica, among others.  I used my Silhouette Cameo to make a volleyball, baseball, volleyball, football, soccer ball, and basketball.  I printed a couple of referee shirts, and then added a base of green construction paper with yardage lines.

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A little something pink and girlie.

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Genre Identification Game

The free website, www.classtools.net has a selection of pre-made game templates that can be easily tailored for library learning activities. I used the “Random Name Picker” option, which creates a colorful spinning wheel with names or a word list that are entered.

I tried it for the first time last week, and made this literary genre identification game.  Before 3rd grade classes entered the library, I set books of various genres on every chair.  Students investigated the book on the chair where they sat down, and looked for clues to determine what genre the book was.  Either I or a student touched the iPad screen to spin the wheel, and students who felt they had the genre that was selected stood up to tell why they thought their book belonged in that category.

Could you do this activity without a spinning wheel?  Of course, but I think the fun and suspense of wondering what  genre it would land on next kept students more alert and engaged.

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The game also has the option to remove a name once it has been used,
which is ideal for this activity, so that genres aren’t repeated.

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Check out the ClassTools website and see what games you are inspired to create!