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Friday, February 28, 2014

February Top 10

Here are the Top 10 books for the Evergreen Library for the month of February. 

Most of these should not be a surprise:

1. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Yes, still.

2. Divergent by Veronica Roth. The movie will be out in a few weeks and many students are madly reading (or re-reading) the series.

3. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. (see #1)

4. House of Hades by Rick Riordan.

5. Diary of a Wimpy Kid #8: Hard Luck by Jeff Kinney.

6. Insurgent by Veronica Roth. (see #2)

7. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. (see #1 & #3)

8. Swim the Fly by Don Calame.

9. Allegiant by Veronica Roth. (see #2 & #6)

10. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. The ONLY book in the Top 10 that is not part of a series. And is further proof that maybe the students do listen to my suggestions, because I've been promoting this one a lot recently. And having teachers read and recommend it.


Friday Five


Here are the five interesting things about the library this week:

1) Don't Judge a Book by It's Cover was so much fun! And very popular, even in this last week of the challenge. Stay tuned next week to find out what March's challenge will be!

2) Reading is fun! Don't believe me? Just ask our 6th graders. I worked really hard on creating a FUN reading game (which will be used for 2nd semester) with a couple of our 6th grade LA/SS teachers. Well, they worked really hard on putting my vision on paper...I got to be the muse. I love working with people that you can walk into their classroom and say, "this is what we're doing. Ready? Go!" But now the entire 6th grade team is on board which means ALL these kids get to "play" the reading "game." LOVE IT! 

3) Many, many years ago, when I worked at a K-8 school, I took time out of library to read aloud to the middle school classes. Because no one reads aloud to these kids any more, just for fun (I'm not talking about reading aloud the assigned novel/textbook). And you know what? They enjoy listening...and they miss it from their "little kid" days. Read-alouds (or audiobooks) are important for any age, but almost more so in middle school (and high school) so they can be reminded of the magic of books. Last week, I checked out a book to one of our teachers who loves historical fiction. I told her that she had to read this book (Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys) because it was simply beautiful. Well, she took my advice and started reading it. And loved it so much that she decided to read it aloud to her classes a little bit every day until it was finished. YEAH! Of course the kids are enjoying it also, and this week several of them have made a dash for the library to get their own copies (probably because they want to know how the story ends NOW). But it reminded me of the power of reading aloud. And now this will become my next mission with our classes here...watch out!

4) Every book I read last week (and loved) was about a teen with cancer. Ugh. Why do I do that to myself?! But every book I read this week I found to be "meh." Now, I'm sure that they will be read and enjoyed by many of my students, but they just didn't make a connection with me. Meh. Desperately looking for the next great book to fall in love with...because I need a new "favorite" book every week and I just haven't found this week's.  :)

5) 7th graders are currently reading non-fiction titles for 3rd quarter. I really love this unit every year as there are SO MANY good books to choose from. (Yes, I could talk for DAYS about non-fiction books). Non-Fiction...not just for research any more! Want to find some of my past suggestions? Check out these posts:
Favorite 15 (from 2010)

Search all posts with "non-fiction" tag here. Make sure to click on "show all" OR when you scroll to the bottom, click on "older posts" also to get all of them, not just the most recent 10 or 15.
And stay tuned the rest of this year for random "Non-Fiction Friday" posts.

6) Yes, I know, it's called the Friday FIVE. But I couldn't resist this one. We have made some posters to display around school to remind students of important things (charging your laptop, saving your documents, etc.). These posters utilize some popular memes and have been quite the hit with students and staff alike. One student stopped me in the lunch room yesterday to say, "Mrs. Yusko, Mrs. Yusko! THANK YOU so much for making a Picard poster. I love it!" We had fun making them. Here's a sample of my favorites:



 



Thursday, February 27, 2014

Don't Judge a Book by it's Cover!


Do you judge a book by it's cover? It's pretty hard not to. 

All this month we have been challenging students to choose a book to read without looking at the cover.  In order to ensure that they won't sneak a peek at the cover, we had one of our intrepid TAs wrap the books in thick paper. Here's a picture of our display:



I was actually very surprised with how popular this has been. Students have been clamoring into the library every morning and lunch to get their hands on one. We can barely keep the display stocked each day.

Tomorrow is the last day of the "challenge" and here are some of the highlights:

1) Watching students drag their friends into the library and read all the descriptions of the books out loud to each other to help them decide which book to choose. (Each book "cover" simply lists the genre, and 2-4 keywords about the book).

2) Very few students have picked a book that they've already read. I think only the Hunger Games (which, looking ahead to next time, I won't include) had been read by the person checking it out.

3) Students coming in and wanting the sequels and/or another book by the author.

4) When we survey they students (via a quick "review" form included with the book), most have remarked that they would not have checked out the book based solely on the cover, and now that they've read it, they want more of that genre/author/series. YEAH!

5) My favorite was the girl who came rushing into the library Monday morning desperate to read the sequel of the book she'd checked out on Friday. She said that she NEVER would have checked out the book if she'd seen the cover but now HAD to find out what happens.

One student was very sad today when I told her that no, we would not be doing this for the rest of the school year. (They don't realize that the novelty would wear off. And that my secretary would quit if we wrapped up books all year long). We might be convinced to bring it back more than once/year based on how much fun it was. 

In the meantime, we will have another reading challenge for March...stay tuned!


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Tell a Fairy Tale Day!

Yes, it is true, Mrs. Yusko is finally back at school! It has been a long, LOOOOONG road to recovery, and while I'm still not there, I'm finally done with treatments and surgeries (after a year and a half)! So, it's probably time that I get back to blogging about books...

Today just happens to be "Tell a Fairy Tale Day." So, I thought that I would use today's post to share my favorite fractured fairy tales that we have here in my school library.

In no particular order:

1) Beastly by Alex Flinn. Okay, maybe they are in a particular order. I LOVED THIS BOOK. And I was booktalking it LONG before they made it into a movie. This is such an incredible and inventive retelling of Beauty and the Beast from the Beast's point of view, set in modern day NYC. Many of your fairy tale favorites also have cameo appearances. Please rush out and read this book NOW. And then check out all of Ms. Flinn's other titles because they are all terrific. Cloaked; Towering; Bewitching...I just didn't want this list to become the Alex Flinn fan club.



2) Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire. Yes, that Gregory Maguire. Long before Wicked became a SENSATION, this was the book that I liked best. The story of Cinderella told from one of the stepsister's point of view. Terrific!



3) Cloaked in Red by Vivian Vande Velde. Another of my "please rush out immediately and read ALL of her books." This book is a collection of short stories featuring all the characters (and I mean all) from Little Red Riding Hood. The author's introduction to this collection is some of the funniest writing ever!




4) Rumpelstiltskin Problem by Vivian Vande Velde. Okay, I know that I told you to read all of Ms. Vande Velde's books already, but this was the first book of hers that I read and I couldn't let it escape mention.


5) Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George. I will admit (and all my students know) that I am not a fan of books where there's a girl in a dress on the cover. Ugh. Could there be anything worse for me? (Well, yes, there could be a vampire in it, but I digress). But what the author has done with this book (and the succeeding companion books in the "series") is nothing short of clever, brilliant writing. A must read!



6) The Sisters Grimm series by Michael Buckley. I really enjoy this series. I wish that it was more popular in my school, but alas, it has not found a wide readership. But it is fantastic...and there are 11 books in the series so you could be busy reading it all year long.



7) Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock. Okay, I originally read this book (even though there's a girl in a dress on the cover) because the author's "Dairy Queen" series was fantastic. I was won over! You will be too!



8) Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale. Again, this is an author where I am just going to say READ ALL OF HER BOOKS. NOW.



9) Toads & Diamonds by Heather Tomlinson. This book is beautiful. Simply beautiful. Again, not the widest of readership as it takes just the right sophisticated reader to appreciate it. But worth the time if that person is you.



10) Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz. This is the story of Hansel and Gretel turned on it's head and told in a way that would make the Grimm brothers proud. There are sequels also...read them all.



11) Enchanted by Alethea Kontis. I know, I know, there's a girl in a dress on the cover. That's what I said also. And then I listened to this audiobook while going through chemo one day and realized what all the hype (and trust me, there was plenty of it surrounding this book) was about. So unique!



12) Thrice Told Tales by Catherine Lewis. The Three Blind Mice giving writing advice? What could be better?!



13) The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman. Okay, I'll admit that I'm probably drawn to this because the main character works in a library, but it's a library where they keep the "artifacts" from Grimm's fairy tales. And maybe you could check them out???



14) Cinder by Marissa Meyer. I cannot say enough good things about this entire series (Scarlet; Cress; more to come). Completely original world building that gives a nod to their fairy tale inspiration but does so much more. Science Fiction, dystopian, adventure, mystery...these books have it all.
 

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