World Read Aloud Day! #WRAD17

Thursday, February 16 was World Read Aloud Day. I love to celebrate World Read Aloud Day because I feel that reading aloud is SO IMPORTANT at ALL grade levels/ages. I am in an elementary school and I’m certain all of my teachers read aloud to students in their classroom. HOWEVER, I think as kids get into upper elementary grades, classroom teachers start reading aloud more from novels instead of picture books. That’s AWESOME because some students understand more when they listen to books than when they read on their own, BUT I feel like it gives our students the impression that reading picture books is not important or for them (they think they are “too old” and picture books are for “little kids.” Granted, many times this is coming from parents…) SO, World Read Aloud Day gives me the chance to share great picture books with others and to pull folks in who may not typically be a part of a student’s read aloud life.

Over the years, I have asked local celebrities to read (news anchors, local government officials, etc.), but this year I kept it very simple and pretty much left it as an “in school” sort of thing. My guest readers were folks like our Literacy Coach, my intern, and my library other half (I am part time and kids who see me don’t typically see her, so it was like a real “guest”). I also encouraged teachers to pair up – so, maybe a 3rd grade class read to a Kindergarten class or a 1st grade class read with a 4th grade class. It was wonderful seeing students read together.


I kicked off the day by reading a book over our live morning news show feed. To schedule the read alouds, I sent out a Google Doc about a week prior that teachers used to sign themselves up during times I posted. The day before, I pulled a big stack of books that I know are great read alouds. We had readers all day and it was simple and wonderful! Some students and readers brought their own books to share, others used mine. What a great way to celebrate and very easy to do for other reading events, as well! I can totally see this working for Read Across America, Global Read Aloud, etc.!

How did YOU celebrate World Read Aloud Day?


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Mock Caldecott

So, just about every year, I think to myself, “I want to do a Mock Caldecott!” Then….I don’t. This year, however, the stars aligned and two of my librarian friends happened to start talking about how THEY wanted to do a Mock Caldecott on Facebook, so we all decided to do it together! Here’s what we did and what I might change next time –

  1. First, we selected a grade level to work with. 2nd grade seemed like a good choice. They are always up for a good read aloud and they have a little more flex time in their schedule.
  2. Next, we picked our books. We used this list from KidLit experts, Colby Sharpe and John Schu (my heroes!). We did switch A Poem for Peter with Before Morning, but other than that, those were the books we used. We got the books from our school library shelves, the public library, and in a couple of cases…Amazon.
  3. Time to visit classes. I taught an intro lesson to my 2nd graders about what we were doing. We talked about the Caldecott Medal. They learned about the criteria that the committee uses to evaluate the books and then came the fun part…to introduce the list and to tell them they were going to see if they could predict this year’s winner! I read Ideas Are All Around and talked about how they were going to rate the books. They each got a reading log with the book titles and a rating scale for story and pictures. We kicked it off in November and I told them we would wrap everything up by announcement day in January. My other librarian friends were doing the same thing (basically) at their schools.
  4. I divided the books up by our 2nd grade classes (we have 4) and then left it up to them to read and rate the books. Sometimes I would do the read aloud, but for the most part, they read the books and rotated them around the grade level on their own. I sent emails and checked on them throughout so that they would remember to read the books and not wait until January.
  5. At the beginning of January, I sent out a form I made for students to use to input their ratings. This was a simple Google Form. You can take a look at it here.
  6. We added up the totals and then selected one winner and three honor books per class. We shared our winners on our Mock Caldecott Flipgrid so that the other schools doing this could see our results and we could see their results. We protected the Flipgrid with a password.
  7. On the morning of the actual announcement, I recorded the Caldecott announcement using Screencastify. That afternoon, I showed it to each class. Kids were so excited to watch the announcement and even though we did not predict the winner, we did read Radiant Child as one of our choices and we did predict some of the honor books.

I LOVED this Mock Caldecott lesson! There are some things I would do differently next time. For example, I would do a percentage on the book ratings. I know my math was not perfect or totally fair this time around. There were some kids who did not hear some of the read alouds (they were absent or whatever) and so they did not rate the books they did not read, but yet they rated other books, so naturally, some books got more points than others just because more kids rated them, if that makes sense.

One class got so into it, that the teacher used it to jump start a writing lesson where they wrote and illustrated an original story; read them to the class; rated them and then selected a classroom “Caldecott.” Love that idea and might encourage the others to do it too! Then, you could have a little author event where you do book signings and such…so fun!

Great lesson!


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SC Teachers and Students in grades 3 – 12! Poetry Contest!

Jacqueline Woodson is coming to South Carolina on April 1 for the Arbuthnot Honor Lecture and as part of the events for that weekend, there is a poetry contest happening! Check it out at this link! 

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January! 2017 – 2018 School Year

We returned to school on January 5 from Winter Break and it has been fast and furious ever since! I posted the January Newsletter and Lion Cub plans, so you’ve had a taste of the fun.

This month, I have been busy doing a big push for our state book award program (we vote at the end of February for our favorite). Basically, I’ve gone around to classes that were interested and showed the video that our state book award committees made (watch picture book here and children’s book here). After that, I pulled books out for classes to sort through (I called it a book taste, but it was really a book look – there was no real organization to it, just looking through good books for a few minutes to see which ones they might like) and I read one aloud. I checked out all of the book award nominees for this lesson from my public library so that if a student wanted to check our copy out, they could. Most classes got to hear One Big Pair of Underwear because how can I resist reading about underpants?! For the fun of it, I also purchased these from Amazon and they were a BIG hit (get it?!). With Kindergarten and with many of the other classes that heard about the books, we will be reading them as they come in for checkout between now and voting time.

I completed another round of BINGO Book Talks to our 5th graders this month. This time I highlighted electronic resources we have at school they can use to find good books to read (TumbleBooks, EPIC!, public library online resources, etc.) I think that they don’t often think about a lot of those resources as being good for them. I think they think of them as more for younger students, but there are a lot of great upper elementary books on those resources, so I hope they check it out!

We wrapped up our first Mock Caldecott lesson with 2nd graders this month, to go along with the announcement of the actual Youth Media Awards. LOVED THIS! I will write about it in its own post, but I am totally looking forward to doing it again in the future. I even did a much smaller scale version with my USC students.

We have an intern with us from USC’s library school who started this month. I love hosting interns because I often learn a lot from them. Also, in explaining what we do day to day to someone who does not have first hand experience (yet) in a school library, I am forced to kind of reflect on and think about WHY we do things the way we do. I often find that interns ask a lot of great questions that make me think about the way our program runs. He’ll be with us through the month of February and a little into March.

My USC class is off and running…we are already moving into Week 4 with that! We’ve talked about the history of children’s books, award winners, and picture books. Next up is Easy Readers (Biscuit, Dr. Seuss, Henry & Mudge)!

Whew! Looking forward to what February brings!

Is your 2017 off to a good start?



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Lion Cub Story Time! MUSIC!

Last week was Lion Cub Story Time! I read books with a MUSIC theme (although, it was calling for snow in our area, so a “snow” theme would have been better, but oh well…next time!)

This is actually the second time I’ve done a music theme for Lion Cub Story Time, but the first go around was years ago, so it was new for these kiddos…so easy and so fun. Basically, you can sing any song, do any dance, and it fits with your theme. This is a good time to go through your music teacher’s stash of instruments too! Here is the handout we gave to parents.

For Zin! Zin! Zin!, we actually watched a few mintues of it on BookFlix…only has much as their attention could handle. Our craft was tambourines out of paper plates and beans and our snack was fruit snack MEDLEYS (get it?!). With the music instruments, I had them laying out while kiddos came in and looked around, but we also had a little bit of a dance party in the middle of story time where they got to pick an instrument and dance. I selected Billy Jonas’ Who’s Gonna Make Our Music as our dance party tune.



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SLIS 325 – Children’s Literature Autobiography

I am excited to be teaching Children’s Literature again at USC, starting this week. I’ve taught it for years, but took a break to have the baby. Now that she’s almost two, I’m ready to get back to it! She may even make an appearance in class…my first assignment for my USC students is always to write a “Children’s Literature Autobiography.” I want students to write about their experiences with reading – good, bad, whatever. I have never written one about myself, however. So, here is my Children’s Literature Autobiography. Mostly written as a model for my students, but also because I love thinking about how I became a reader. Your reading life is important and interesting. Here’s a little bit about mine –

I remember reading as a child in little flashbacks…it was never really a THING or EVENT or something I was pushed to do, it was just something that I did. I remember my grandfather reading Italian Folktales to me before bed when he would visit and I remember how sometimes, he’d fall asleep reading to me and I would still be awake waiting for what would happen next! I remember my dad taking me to the public library each week to get stacks of whatever books I wanted. I remember visiting bookstores with my mom and buying Babysitter’s Club books. I remember reading The Littles in 4th grade with Mrs. Lee and LOVING THAT BOOK SO MUCH. I don’t remember too much about my reading life in middle school or high school, which makes me think I didn’t have much of one. Except for 11th grade, when Mr. Raven introduced me to The Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird. That kickstarted my reading back into high gear and I sort of never looked back from there. In college, I bounced around from major to major, but was always taking English Lit classes – Postmodernism (LOVED), Victorian Writers (UGH), and a whole class dedicated to F. Scott Fitzgerald, which was amazing. But, nothing hooked me like the Children’s Literature class I took with Dr. Dianne Johnson. This class was held near my house in Irmo, for some reason, which was one of the reasons why I signed up for it, I remember. My MOM would drop me off and pick me up for this class (not sure why…college?!?! If you knew my mom though, this is not a surprise). From the first day of that class, I was IN LOVE with the literature. I had not read a picture book in a long time. I was working at a bookstore at this time, so I’d flip through the picture books or other books in the kid’s section and think they were cute, but I never gave much thought to them. But, after taking that class, I was obsessed. I think a large part of it was Dr. Johnson’s voice, to be honest with you. I could sit there and listen to her read books all day long. But, she really showed us that this literature is important. After her class, I knew my career focus was going to be something with children’s books. From there, I ended up in Library School and to what I do now. I read children’s books because I love them and I think they are important. I also read books geared towards young adults and kids in middle school. I read poetry and books for adults. I read LOTS of board books and books about the potty, at the moment (to my toddler). I share the books I read via social media. I’m on Goodreads and share pictures of the books I read on FB and Instagram. I am constantly recommending books to friends and family and seeking recommendations from others. I am passionate about reading and want others to share my passion.

As for what I want to see in SLIS 325 this semester – I want my students to be engaged. I want them to leave my class in April with a better understanding of Children’s Literature and with a love for books. I know life gets busy, but you make time for what is important. Make reading important. As future classroom teachers, you MUST be a good reading role model. If you do not like to read – start liking it. I hope this class helps you do that. Even if your love is not Children’s Literature, my hope is that you will find the books you will love to read so that you can share that love with your students. Classroom teachers are some of the most important folks in a child’s life and they will look up to you. If you enjoy reading, chances are…they will too.



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January 2017 Newsletter

Check out the January Newsletter for my Learning Commons!


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