Thursday, December 29, 2011

Caldecott Challenge

My life as a reader just got more interesting. My friend and fellow librarian LibLaura5 called me yesteday afternoon with another of her great ideas! We were so excited to try reading the Newberys--but being the busy moms and librarians that we are, she knew we needed something a bit more manageable to accomlpish in one year. Thus the Caldecott Challenge was born. Being the friend and reader that I am, when she asked me, I quickly jumped on board to help her cohost a Caldecott Reading Challenge on our blogs.

The goal: Read all Caldelcott Books and Honor books in 2012 and blog (and tweet #nerdcott) about our progress along with other readers.  I invite you to Join the Challenge over on Laura's Blog.

I can't wait to get my hands on some of those beautiful picture book.  It is going to be a lot of fun to read these books.

This is a stress free challenge--so join us--read what you can, or what you want.  Just READ...and enjoy the beautiful pictures too!

Newbery Challenge

I finally got around to signing up for Mr. Schu's Newbery Challenge. Although I am a Newbery Freak (I collect hardcover Newbery winners) I was at first reluctant to sign up.  What if I couldn't do it?  I have two small kids, I work full time, and yikes, I start up my grad classes again next month. And, what about that ever growing stack of books that I need to read so I am current on books to recommend to my students.

Then, the book geek in me took over.  Reading the Newberys has always been a lifetime goal of mine--this challenge, could get me there! Or, maybe it was the challenge itself.  I got that little heart palpatation I did back in elementary school where I worked my butt of to be the top reader.  Because, if there is anything I do well, it is read books.  As I watched Mr. Schu's video of Newbery winners,

I was counting the books that I had read.  Wow--I had already read 48 (only 41 to go if my math skills are correct.) Then, I learned more about the challenge--and found out I could take more than a year and the books I already read could count. whew!

Knowing that there were people out there reading, and reading without me, was absolutely killing me. So, I signed up. Knowing that I can take over a year, has eased the challenge--I was fearful that next December was going to feel like the 3rd grade all over again when I said I could read 26 books in one month (I did--but those last few days were painful, and taught me a valuable lesson). So--READ ON book lovers, READ ON!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

New Book Week

This week, I hosted a new book week in our library.  (Thanks LibLaura5 for the great idea!) I have been having a great time showcasing the books that I have purchased for the school library, and the students have been so excited to see the new books.  Seeing and hearing their excitement about new books has made my job extremely fun this week.

Here are links to some of trailers for sampling some of the new books:

K-1st Grade
2nd Grade
3rd-4th Grade
5th-6th Grade

Preparation for New Book Week:
1.  Purchase about 500 New Books for the libary.
2.  Try to read as many of above books as possible so that I could get kids excited about them.
3.   Create playlists on YouTube (listed above) to have playing as kids looked at books (this did not work for me, as the spinning wheel just spun...but the links will still prove useful).
4.  Create list of "New Books 2011" in Destiny on the catalog for students to view.
5.  Set books out on tables for students to view--at this point in the process, I realized how many books 500 books was--I then split up my the books by age (k-2) (3-4) (5-6).  I found that if I created some tables that stayed for all ages and then swapped out different sections it was much easier in a 5 minute transition time.
6.  Students can come and check out the new books on Thursday before the Winter Break...I wonder how busy we will be?!

I think I have finally gotten this only took a few days for me to work out the kinks.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Chalk--Bill Thomson

If you haven't read Chalk, please do.  Now.  This wordless picture book is one of our 15 Books for the student choice award.  Students loved the story told through illustrations.  They loved the beginning, the middle, and especially the ending.  We all had a great time visualizing a story as we read.  Here are some of the things we loved about Chalk:

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bibliographies--Oh My!

The fifth graders are starting their first research project.  I have been collaborating with their teacher to work on information literacy skills with them.  Citing Sources in the correct format is a new and big skill for 5th graders.  Here is what we did:

  1. During Library time, students learned the parts of a book--including Title, author, publisher, and copyright date
  2. The classroom teacher and I met together and taught the students about citing sources.  I taught them how to cite a book, print encyclopedia, and online resources (like encyclopedias and databases).  I modeled each type of source--and then they tried on their own. With two sets of hands--we were able to check in with each student.  (A surprise parent volunteer helped us speed things along even more!)
  3. The classroom teacher then taught the students note taking skills in the classroom.
  4. Students came to the library to begin their research.  While their teacher helped them take notes--I checked their bibliographies and helped as needed.

Students will continue researching, and later collaborate with final presentations.  I am excited to see this next step!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


This week we are reading Biblioburro for the 15 Books Competition. We learned about Non-Fiction, and non-fiction call numbers.  We talked about where we can find non-ficiton in our library.  Many students checked out non-fiction this week. We watched a video clip and a book trailer about the real Bibiloburro.

Here is what we thought of the book:

Friday, December 2, 2011

Rain School

This past week kindergartners through 2nd grade read Rain School by James Rumford.  We learned how schools around the world are the same and different.  Students discussed that school is a place to learn--but that many schools look different.  The kindergarten classes were excited to see the students in Chad were learning the letter 'A' when it was it was their 'A' week.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Fun with Books

Note--I wrote this a over a week ago, and forgot to post...

This weekend I went with my friend and colleague Laura from LibLaura 5 Loves Books to the Fitgerald theater to see the MPR authors Harris Burdick Event.  Authors Kate DiCamillo and Chris Van Allsburg discussed The Chronicles of Harris Burdick.

It is always fun and interesting to hear authors and illustrators discuss their work.  Van Allsburg discussed the story "Oscar and Alphonse"that he wrote for The Chronicles, and I like it even more now that I see it at an deeper level.  Van Allsburg never let up the hoax that he himself is not the actual illustrator of the book.  Throughout the the entire presentation he talks of Harris Burdick as if he were a real person (which was a bit confusing to the youngest members of the audience).  He mentioned Burdick's perception that he was not a good enough artist to publish--and then he discussed how the girl in the story does not believe in herself and her ability to do physics, and needs the caterpillars to share her ideas.  I got the feeling--that Chris Van Allsburg is very much the same as the little girl in the story.

Before the Burdick event, Laura and I swung by the Minnesota Children's Museum.  I had been there with my kids last weekend and their Story Land traveling display is amazing.  Since we were next door, and we had memberships to the museum, Laura and I swung through so she could see the displays too.  It felt a little funny to be there without kids....but even as an adult, I can't resist that coconut tree that has actual letters that climb it.  The interactive display lets children and parents read books (In English and Spanish), and then interact with scenes from the book.  It also gives adults tips on improving literacy skills at home.  It is fabulous.  If you are in the St. Paul are it is a must see.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I am Thankful For...

Today I am thankful for having a job that I love.  I am thankful for great books to share with children.  I am also thankful for the joy I get in seeing children learn new things.  Thank You 2nd Grade for sharing your research paper with me.  (Notice their citations at the bottom of the page.)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Crazy Busy

2nd graders record their learning and cite their sources.
Today was crazy busy. My 2nd graders are continuing to learn about how research is done.  This week they have been very excited to be "real researchers" as they learned how to use the index and table of contents to do research about Thanksgiving for their Symbol Books.  It was great to collaborate with the 2nd grade team for their S.S. outcome.

Using Guide letters to locate books
In third grade, we have been working on navigating the fiction section, and understanding alphabet order.  This week, we learned about guide letters on the shelf, and how they can assist library users in finding books and call numbers.  My favorite quote, "So... what you are saying, is that the dash stands for all of the letters between  the letters on the guide letters."  Exactly!  Students found assigned books, and then explained to a teacher why it belonged with the guide letters on that particular shelf.

Reading to their pets with teacher/vet Mrs. W.
At the end of the day, one of my kindergarten classes brought in their stuffed pets for "Pet Day."  We read Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown.  I heart Peter Brown stories.  I also heart these kiddos that love reading.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

More Bears!

This week we are reading More Bears! by Kenn Nesbitt for the 15 Books Student Choice Picture Book Award.  This fun story used our vocabulary word author as children try to tell him to add "More Bears!" to his story.  My students loved seeing how to change the volume of their voice in a speech bubble.  I don't know if I will ever get tired of hearing the kids yell, "More Bears!" as they interact with the story.

Here are a few of their favorite parts:

Monday, November 14, 2011

Yeah for Student Choice Awards!

This past week 3rd through 6th graders were introduced to the Maude Harte Lovelace (MHL) Awards.  I explained the award to classes (The MHL is a student choice award for the state of MN).  Students must read at least three of the twelve nominated books and they vote in March.  My coworkers and I have been busy gathering and creating book trailers for both divisions (3-5 and 6-8).  Students marked down which books they were interested in reading on their bookmark.

In fourth grade, students were super excited because they were given their Destiny Quest Loggin and password.  This allows them to place books on hold themselves.  Yeah for them, and yeah for me!  Although the request list this week is exceptionally long (I think they were purposefully looking for books to put on hold)--I am happy that they can use this important library skill.

Fourth Graders with their new bookmarks and loggins.

Friday, November 11, 2011

School Librarians--OH MY!

A couple of weeks ago, I attended my first AASL (American Association of School Librarians) Conference.  It was held in my home state of Minnesota so my district let all of our librarians go!  Yeah!  I learned so much, and I had a great time.

Here are a few highlights and thoughts:

  • Opening session with Nicholas Carr (author of "The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains")  
The Exporatorium
As a mom, and as a teacher this talk gave me a lot to think about.  Carr talked to us about his research on how the brain is changing with the ever present  use of technology.  I couldn't agree more with the idea of teaching children to slow down and explore.  To teach children (especially young children) to sustain an activity is important--and currently our brains are being wired to switch tasks quickly.  As I thought of my own kids--I am working on finding the balance of making sure that they have the same experiences and advantages with technology that others will have.  I want them to come to school prepared to learn--but I also want to teach them to sustain and READ a good book.  Ahhhh another pressure added to motherhood (Thanks Nicholas Carr for the thought provoking talk)

    Me and my pal Shawna from Grad School
    My Swag
  • Meeting librarians from all over the world--and seeing some old friends! 
  • The learning exploratorium--seeing all sorts of new and exciting ideas!
  • One of my favorite places was the Expo Hall--the vendors had a ton of great stuff to show--and give away! 
  • I attended a great session on English Language Learners in the School Library--and have committed myself to purchasing more books in Native Languages. very favorite thing....

Meeting authors and illustrators.  My personal Rockstars. 

Me and Tom Angelberger
Tom Angleberger presented with Nora Raleigh Baskin in my favorite part of the entire conference.  They were an inspiration to hear.  I loved their books and they reminded me of why I do what I do.  Books can make a real difference in the life of a child.  Thanks Tom and Nora, for the great session--for making me laugh and cry. 

We learned how to make Oragami Yoda

Nara Raleigh Baskin and Me
I had a a small moment, when I realized I was sitting at a table with Nora Raleigh Baskin.  I loved her book Anything But Typical.  In fact, I would put it in one of my top ten books.  She was absolutely delightful--after hearing her speak, I like the book even more.
Me and Stephen Gammell
 Ahhhhhhh!  How exciting!  It has been a dream of mine to meet Stephen Gammell--He is one of my all time favorite illustrators.
Me and Nancy Carlson

and....I adore Harriet and George.  What a pleasure to meet Nancy Carlson.  I learned to read with some of her books!


Today, my 2nd graders surprised us with this cheer.  Thanks 2A!  You made my day!

P.S. I shot this with my new iPhone.  pretty slick.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

15 Books!

This week my kindergarten through 2nd graders started a student choice picture book award--15 Books!  We will share 15 picture books and vote for our favorite in March. (sign up on the 15 Books Website to have your students vote).  This week we read Oscar and the Very Hungry Dragon.  Students loved the ending (as well as the beginning and middle)  Here is what they had to say about their favorite parts.

...and here is a look at the 15 books

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Alphabet Order

My third graders have been working on locating books in the fiction section.  Previously, we had learned about call numbers and finding books using the authors last name on a call number.  I noticed that many of the students were having a difficult time with alphabet order out to the 3rd letter.  So, this week students pretended to be librarians.  We first reviewed and practiced together putting different call numbers in alphabet order.  (They thought it was quite cool that the call numbers I made up were the 3rd grade teachers names.)  I then gave student pairs six books (at least 2 of them had call numbers that went out to the 3rd letter) to place in alphabet order.  They did a great job of working together and practicing this important skill.  We still have work to do on using the guide letters on the shelve.  These kids will be pros in no time.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Nothing beats a good story, and A Visitor for Bear is a good story.  Today I read my 1st graders A Visitor for Bear by Bonnie Becker.  I love this story of a mouse and bear that become friends.  My first graders loved it too!  While the book is good, it comes alive during a read-a-loud.

After reading today, I got a round of applause from the class followed by hugs and was told the story was "awesome."  I love reading the E.B. White Read Aloud Winners to my students.  There are typically a lot of voices, and have great pictures.  Earlier, when I said "Nothing beats a good story"--I lied.  Sharing a good story is the best thing of all.

A Visitor for Bear has companion novels that my students are eagerly awaiting to read!


November is our school Read-A-Thon!  Students and staff are reading to reach 1,000,000 minutes of reading.  Last week I taught our students about the event...and this week...we start READING.

Here are some of us that are reading for 1,000,000!

Miss M. with her welcome sign to her students this morning
On a related note--I love new teachers and their enthusiasm for school events!  Thanks Miss McCormick for helping everyone around you get excited about reading!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

High of the Day

My family does highs and lows each day.  Last night, I was happy to report my high of the day.  My Book trailer for The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z had this comment written after it on my YouTube channel:

"Wow!! This is seriously one of the coolest book trailers I've ever seen. It really made me smile. Thank you, Anna!"

~Kate Messner, author of THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z.

How cool is that!!??!!

If you have not yet read The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z., I highly recommend it.  It was a great book!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Wonderstruck--That's Me!

Me and Brian Selznick
If it is possible to like Wondersruck even more than I did when I first read it--I now do.  Tonight I went to see Brian Selznick with my friends and coworkers Laura and Rozzie.  Thanks Laura for the tickets!

I loved the book when I read it yesterday (while thick it only took about 2 hours!)  After hearing Selznick do a reading from the start of the book and talk about his writing process the complexity of the novel made me appreciate it even more.  I loved seeing how he put together words and pictures.  I got the chance to ask a question (thrills!) and asked which he did first--the pictures or the words.  Selznick told us that he first made a narrative and then drew sketches and then later decided how they would best fit together.  He showed a clip from the upcoming film of Hugo Caberet which I didn't even know was coming out (where have I been?!) 

Wonderstruck took three years to create--and every bit of effort shows in the final product!  I was especially facinated that the idea for the book stemmed from a ducumentary he saw on the deaf.  I was intrigued to learn that he created a deaf character in Wonderstruck because after Hugo Caberet was published many people told him that the images seemed quiet or silent to them, and he wanted to encorporate that feel into a part of the story--so that we as readers felt like the character.  I felt this as a reader in Wonderstruck--genious.

As I stood in line to get my picture taken and my books signed--one might say I was "wonderstruck."  Selznick had a great sense of humor, he spoke well, and he is a writer I greatly admire.  What a fun Sunday night!

Rozzie and Selznick
Laura and B. Selznick
**Addition to post:  (Monday) 
I stopped at Barnes and Noble to get a few books on my way home tonight.  I knew that Brian Selznick was speaking there this evening--but I thought I was too late to see if his presentation was any different.  As I was looking through the children's section, I saw him looking at a stack of his books that he had just signed.  I was trying very hard not to spy.  As he was shopping and looking for some books he asked the clerk what the predecessor to "Ok for Now" was.  She didn't know--so I gave a shout out to "Wednesday Wars"--which he then bought (I would have told any customer this information).  On my way out, he was in the line area near me, and I told him that I had  enjoyed his presentation last night--and that I was buying one more copy of "Wonderstruck."  He then asked if I wanted it personalized--so the Brimhall kids got a second signed copy.  Yeah!

Is this how other people feel about movie stars and athletes?!  I get this excited every time I meet an author or illustrator--Yeah for creative people!

Friday, October 14, 2011

It's a Book Fair!

Wow!  What a week..... I chaired my first Book Fair....and I am exhausted! I know that all 700+ students were in here at least once this week, and it seems as though most of their parents have been as well.  Our school sold a lot of books, which is great for the library.  On Day One my excitement was as high as the is slowly fading.  I bought a ton for the library. My stack of books to read is rapidly growing--I can't wait to read The Chronicles of Harris Burdick.  (Which I found out is not being released in stores until October 25th--but was sold at our book fair!)  It looks awesome.  

My little girl F. came to buy some books last night, and then she stayed to help me close down.  As I peeked into her room before I went to bed this is what I saw.   F. sleeping with one of her new books beside her.

If all of our students felt this excited about their new books--all the hard work was totally worth it.  Cheers for new books!

Monday, October 10, 2011

I Love My Job!

Not only do I get to be with books and kids all day...after school, one of my first graders stopped by...just because she felt like she needed a hug from me. Does life get any better?!

Online Bookfair

Order books online, and have them delivered to school.  Books at great prices, and you support our school library!

Friday, September 30, 2011


This past week I read my primary students Swim! Swim! by James Proimos.  It is quite humorous--and yet to me, the humor was in hear the giggles that abounded and the knees that were slapped as Lerch swims with his new lady fish friend.

Along with hearing a great story, and laughing together, the Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd graders are learning about call numbers and how they work in the Everybody Section.

Third through sixth graders are learning/reviewing how to find books in the fiction section.

Working as a team

We found our book!

Using author's last name and alphabet order

Using Call Numbers
UPDATE: I have had so many requests for my powerpoint for this activity, that I am putting a link up on my GOOGLE DOCS. Please note, you will have to download the slideshow. I noticed that much of my punctuation got messed up, and tuned into letters-- so please look it over and fix any errors. The place that says "Super Librarian" is where I have my own name typed in. Please feel free to change any images or wording to fit your own library. After teaching this lesson many times, I have noticed that students have the most difficult time finding books that are represented by a dash on the guide sticker. I would recommend directly teaching this.

Even the books are stacked up!
We miss Mrs. M. (check out this line!)
On a side note, it has been extremely busy in the library--especially when Mrs. M. is gone to help with MAP testing.  This is a frequent scene, as I try to check everyone out.  I am not nearly as skilled as she is as getting the students through the line in a speedy way!  Notice the books piling up to be checked in...yeah for MAP!

I have also been updating my book trailers, and making some of my own.  Check it out!