Read-Aloud Tuesday: Sep 30, 2014

Welcome to Read-Aloud Tuesday!  It’s my third year of reading aloud in my son’s Montessori classroom (ages 3-6), and the second year of blogging about the books I choose to read aloud.

Rather than a theme, this week’s titles had a connecting thread: LITTLE.  In each story, this word and idea was important.


Little Green Peas by Keith Baker

NEW IN 2014!

The peas are back in this colorful, rhyming concept book.  Baker’s simple rhymes introduce each color, and the little green peas act out relative to each.  Red features leaves falling from trees, while green features a garden.  Interestingly, Baker includes silver among the featured colors but not gold.  No matter, this book is still a winner.  Share with ages 3-6.


Little Elliot Big City by Mike Curato

NEW IN 2014!

Elliot the elephant is, well, different.  But not because he walks on two feet or because he is covered in pink and blue polka dots, but because he is little.  And being little is a challenge.  He’s often overlooked and struggles with his size.  It’s not until he sees a small mouse struggling that he discovers something more important than size: friendship.  Beautiful art makes this story – the first in a planned trio – outstanding.  Share with ages 2-6.


Doctor DeSoto by William Steig

Doctor DeSoto, the dentist, is a mouse that treats the ailments of animals big and small – just not known predators.  When a well-dressed fox with a woeful toothache enters his office, the doctor and his wife choose to help him with reservation.  A fox, after all, thinks that the little mice would make a delicious snack.  What will become of the DeSotos?  With clever problem-solving and cunning creativity, Steig has masterfully penned a tale of outfoxing a fox.   A must-read classic.  Share with ages 4+.

Thinking about Dewey

Thanks to a post from a Facebook friend, I’ve been giving some serious thought to library organization in the elementary school.  As a MLIS certificated teacher-librarian and former public librarian,  I’ve held Dewey’s system sacred for many, many years.  However, this great share at Scoop.It has me in deep thought:


Reading everything in the above post, watching how my students use our library, and reflecting deeply and honestly on the purpose of the library has convinced me to make a (small) change this year.

The I Can Read section – home of superheros, Piggie and Elephant, Fly Guy and more – needs an update.  There are great books here that students just aren’t using…and I’m guessing it’s because they aren’t organized in a manner that works for them.  All the classroom libraries are organized by genre, after all.  As it is, all the superhero books are already in their own area due to different authors.  It was a questioning nightmare before I moved them.  Having students able to find what they’re looking for without having to ask me week in, week out, “where are the superhero books?” is the goal, after all.

Based on this experiment – which I hope to have organized by the end of October – I’ll reevaluate other areas of the library.  Fiction section, you’ve been warned.

It’s been a year…

blog-birthday1One year ago – 365 days – I started blogging at LibrarianArika, a handle I adopted as a grad student at South Carolina long ago.

And what a year it has been.  Over 200 posts.  Visitors from around the US and the world.  A blog where my world – books, libraries, teaching, reading and children – came together.  I truly cannot believe that I pulled this off.

To my friends, colleagues, and library book nerds near and far – THANK YOU for reading what I write.  THANK YOU for your kind words.  THANK YOU for inspiring me to post on days when I just want to be a couch potato.  THANK YOU, ultimately, for caring.  Because I do care – passionately – about the work that I do as a librarian.  

And – because my lovely children, J&H, can’t imagine a birthday without presents – I have a gift for you: a book giveaway! 


Take a look at these goodies.  The winner may choose one of the following: the *signed* in 2004 copy of Walter Wick’s Can You See What I See? Cool Collections, the advance readers copy of Star Wars Jedi Academy: Return of the Padawan!, or the *signed* copy of Ally Condie’s Reached.  Enter via comment which book you’d most like to win, and I’ll email one winner.  Entries end Saturday, 9/27 at midnight PST.

And again, thank you.  Birthdays are lovely, but they’re even better with friends.

Read-Aloud Tuesday: Sep 23, 2014

Welcome to Read-Aloud Tuesday!  It’s my third year of reading aloud in my son’s Montessori classroom (ages 3-6), and the second year of blogging what I choose to read aloud.

I don’t often have a theme, but this week I had some great Bear books that I picked up at the library.  They begged to be read together. Here are this week’s titles:


Chu’s First Day of School by Neil Gaiman

Little panda Chu’s big [sneezing] problem is back, just in time for the first day of school.  Like many new students, Chu is nervous that the other kids won’t like him.  During class introductions, his teacher erases the board and creates a dust cloud just right for tickling Chu’s sensitive nose.  A few wordless pages show not only the chaos caused by Chu’s sneeze but the stunned, then joyous reaction of his classmates.  Perfect for preschoolers and K’s starting school, this worked exceptionally well after reading Chu’s Day last week.  Share with ages 3-6.


Moonbear’s Pet by Frank Asch

Moonbear and his friend Little Bird find a little green fish in the pond, and Moonbear takes it home.  He and Little Bird care for the pet, then observe it grow four appendages.  Bear thinks it is growing legs to be a bear, while Little Bird thinks it’s growing wings to be a bird. This argument puts their friendship in jeopardy until the true animal reveals himself.  A wonderful introduction to the life cycle of the frog for the youngest learners with two characters not afraid to make mistakes.  Share with ages 2-6.


More Bears! by Kenn Nesbitt

The narrator, an author writing the story, is quite clear: there will be no bears.  But wait – who is that asking for more bears?  The children?  Repeated requests for “more bears!” eventually persuade the author to add one, then two, then more-more-MORE BEARS!  When they take over every inch of space, though, what will the author do?  Interactive and zany, this creative circle story will keep audiences engaged.  The ending could lead to a great writing activity for older students.  Share with ages 4-8.

Squirrels: the darlings of children’s lit

Step aside, dogs and cats, bunnies and ponies.  Meet the new “it” animal in children’s lit: the squirrel.  These bushy-tailed tree acrobats seem to be taking over the world.  Not only do my children yell “Squirrel!” as they survey the treed backyard over dinner, but I can’t walk through a bookstore or library without being knocked over by the sheer numbers of squirrel-centric stories.  So why, exactly, is the squirrel getting such attention? And is it deserved? Let’s take a look at some standout tales (tails?), and explore why squirrels are so popular in children’s literature.

My backyard.  Can  you spot the squirrel?  J-girl and my boy H can!

My backyard. Can you spot the squirrel? J-girl and my boy H can!

Over one hundred years ago, Beatrix Potter gave a unique voice to the furry woodland creature in The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin, thus kicking off the squirrel revolution.  It took time for the awesomeness that is the squirrel to catch on, but it has.  Today, there is the protective squirrel (Ol’ Mama Squirrel), the gangster/baseball squirrel (The Mayor of Central Park), the problem-solving squirrel (Saving Mister Nibbles!), and the planning squirrel (Squirrel’s New Year’s Resolution).  Those Darn Squirrels cause mayhem when trying to get into Mr. Fookwire’s birdfeeders, showcasing the attitudes of diligence and resolve that STEM-focused educators so admire.  Ulysses, that award-winning squirrel of Newbery fame, gains superpowers of strength and language after getting sucked into a vacuum cleaner, something that Scaredy Squirrel would have observed from the safety of his tree (while adding vacuums to his list of things to avoid).  The newest squirrel on the block, Jeb from Lynne Rae Perkins’s Nuts to You, tells the adventuresome tale of escaping the grasp of a hawk and saving his entire community from demise with brave ingenuity.

What do these many fuzzy-tailed creatures have in common?  Energy.  Creativity.  Tenacity.  The squirrels of children’s literature delight in a challenge and never give up, attitudes and demeanors that parents and educators strive to highlight and incorporate.  With virtues programs and STEM initiatives in schools across the country, the squirrel has made it easier to showcase desired skills and behaviors using highly engaging stories.  If As it turns out, these literary squirrels really aren’t so different from the squirrels in my backyard that race across fences and dangle precariously in apple trees, never giving up in the all-consuming quest for food.

Library lessons: Sep 15-19, 2014

Week 3


A goal in teaching K is to give students opportunities to think divergently.  Hence, today’s question.  After we read The Deep Blue Sea, I explained that our next story would also take place in water.  “Where else,” I asked, “could the story take place?”  I wasn’t interested in the right answer; I was interested in how many places they could list.  Some great ideas: pond, puddle, pool, hot tub, lake, glass of water, and – yes – bathtub.

Second grade:

A challenge: 3 of the 4 2nd grade classes chose to attend the Mac Barnett author visit.  I wanted for all classes to have an opportunity to respond to Mac via video, hence the alternate lesson.  Students are working on formulating statements and questions, then will work on speaking and listening when they present their ideas on video using Flipgrid.

And: check here if you’re curious about the TAG strategy.  It’s one of my favorite strategies to use when reflecting on a piece of literature, as it forces students to use the text to substantiate their thoughts!

Fourth grade:

An extension of last week’s Destiny review.  White board 1 was the general focus for the day; white board 2 gave the exact expectations of what skills students were being assessed on using Destiny.  More skills could be shown; however, logging in, writing a review, and making a friend were what I expected students to demonstrate.