Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Great October Reads and Activities

Halloween is nearly upon us and it's a good time to cuddle up with a scary book on a long least for some of us.  If you know a teen who loves great horror, try these books with them.  I mixed fiction series with stand-alones; non-fiction titles that reflect horror; and even graphic novels and story collections. 

The PDF can be downloaded and made into posters, as a handout or used on a website.  There are links for the books with book trailers. The pdf can be found here

And if you're one to do activities with teens, create a murder mystery party and open the library a little later than usual.  School Library Journal also has a great online article that feature Halloween programs for K-12

However your celebrate October, have fun and let readers know all holidays and seasons are a great time to start reading! 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda

Feiwel and Friends, 2018  Pub date 03/2018
compliments of the publisher via Netgalley

     extremely or completely dark"

The year: 2087
Ship: USS John Muir

This ship is part of a group of ships jettisoned into outerspace  during the Exodus.

Tuck wakes up from stasis in a fog of questions.  The first thing he notices is the year: 2433.  Nearly four hundreds year of stasis has wrecked havoc on his physical self, which he desperately needs right now.  Because he has come face-to-face with a horrible bony, twitchy, and deadly alien that looks weirdly human.  The crew of the John Muir have either survived or evolved and a deadly war of survival is happening on a decrepit ship manned by no one but the AI, Dejah, and the ability to speak to each other silently through brain-embedded chips.  And silence is the key to survival against the griefers, mourners, and other monsters lurking everywhere.  Then he meets....

The year: 2435
Ship: Conquistador

This ship is an exploratory vessel aimed at finding viable soil and planets to re-establish humanity.  Earth is now dead, thanks to the terrorist plot Pitch Dark, and this ship, run by the Cruz family with the Smithson family as passengers, is one of their last hopes.

Laura (pronounced low-ra) has no fear except for one: Sebastian Smithson, heir to the powerful family who curates prized artifacts.  Her fear isn't based on him per se, but on the subjugator they have implanted in her, giving them total control over what she does.  But not tonight...she is hacking the system in order to free herself from this technology and tell her family and Mami, captain of the ship, about the mutiny the Smithsons are planning.  They've just found an age-old ship carrying extremely valuable cargo, which holds the key to humanity.  But then she sees the insignia of Pitch Dark appear before collision course between the two ships begins....

Survivors from two very different ships and times, Tuck and Laura meet and form a union to not only save themselves from the horrors within their ships, but also to ensure extinction of their race doesn't happen.  But they must fight not only physical monsters, but also the espionage of the Pitch Dark group, and the power struggle happening between families.  It's enough  to divide, but can they conquer? about edge of the seat reading!!  Alameda creates a interstellar world of two different ages of humanity that still mirror each other in their will to survive and control.  The monsters on the Muir are uniquely embodied human/monsters with destructive power created through the errors of humanity itself.  What makes this novel a standout isn't only the amazing narrative and storyline Alameda creates, but also the diversity she embues in the characters, where the main characters come from a proud line of Latino lineage.  This is a novel that will quickly become part of a lot of "TBR" lists and more.  HIGHLY recommended JH/HS.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Great K-12 library ideas!

I've shared quite a bit on my Twitter feed (@yabooksandmore) of great ideas I've seen in libraries I've visited since school started and I am BLOWN AWAY by the inventiveness of librarians from all grade levels.  As I know some of you may not be on Twitter, this blog post will help you see what I have and perhaps even inspire you to share ideas or even incorporate them into your own library spaces.

A savvy librarian uses bins for Pre-K to check out to save time shelving.  She made them eye-catching, and those are as endless as your imagination.  Even creating an eye-catching table space for them will excite young readers visually :)

Speaking of bins, this librarian used them to separate series so students knew how to grab the next one quickly without having to scour the shelves.  Quick and easy....perfect for readers wanting the next one!

Do your paperbacks get pushed to the back of the shelves only to be lost without as much checkout?  Here again, bins to the rescue!!  This librarian took all paperbacks for that section and put them in bins so they were more visible.  Genius!

Another great way to use displays creatively doesn't always happen in the shelves.  It can happen on top of them as well.  Look at what this librarian did with weeded reference. She used them not only to boost up the signage but also to act as a visual cue.  Get inventive and decorate the spines (bling it on!) or any way you'd like 

All this takes is a little work and a lot of red paper!  I don't think I have to say much about this display.  What's ingenious is that all of the books displayed are books to movies!

What a great way to show school spirit AND cover up some old furniture!  This middle school librarian took old t-shirts and used them to cover stools to update them and make the library more inviting.  Look at your furniture and see what you can cover with a t-shirt and a few DIY tricks :)

If you have a tight library and don't have space for a Lego wall, think outside the box by this librarian and use the backs of shelves to make them.  The shelf space under this can be used for storage and ties the space all together.  I also like that this librarian called her makerspace "I-space" for innovation, imagination, ingenuity etc....

Lastly, sewing machines in the library makerspace!!  LOVE!!!!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Gatekeepers by Jen Lancaster

Harlequin Teen, 2017

North Shore Illinois is picture perfect. Expansive lakefront properties and even neighborhoods have immaculate yards, successful professionals and little to no crime .  North Shore High School is a reflection of that perfection.  Most of the seniors (merit scholars are common) who graduate usually go on to Ivy League colleges.  Families raise their children to be perfect candidates for a successful future.

But perfection comes at a cost.

Mallory knows this all too well.  She's reminded every time she steps into her house and her mother constantaly barrages her about her weight, her grades, her boyfriend, and her applications for early admissions into university.

Liam, NSHS's golden boy and Mallory's boyfriend has seen the cost of perfection.  It's one he's also hiding from others perfectly until his secret overcomes him

Kent and Stephen consider themselves the geek squad.  Both are looking at early admission to MIT.  They both have mothers who hover over everything they do, from what they wear, to what extra-curriculars they're involved in to their grades.

Owen defies the stereotype.  He's the one that enjoys hanging outside, not worrying about tomorrow and passionate about videography.  But he sees the facade and is hit the worst by the ideology of perfection.

Braden's run with perfection may cost him more than he thought.  

Simone is the new girl in town, with successful artists as parents.  She has lived life how she's wanted to.  She wears beads on her wrists, and doesn't look like the other students.  But that's okay because she's going on a gap year after graduation.  Little does she know she's already succumbing to the perfection

What is the cost?  It's something parents can't see or feel, but their children do all too well.  The stress they put on kids may be intended as good, but comes out in ugly ways.  Everyone is still reeling over the deaths of two of NSHS’s students.


That’s also something that makes North Shore different.  The amount of teen suicides far surpasses the national average in just their city’s boundaries.  Work harder, study more, get involved, be a merit scholar, early admissions, look perfect in everything you own or are….it is taking a toll on the community and the students.  Not all of them will be strong enough to overcome and the ones that do decide to do something about it.

They become Gatekeepers.  They are there to guard against the constant stress to obtain perfection and the cost it incurs. 

This novel is inspired from the 2012 incidents of multiple teen suicides in Forest Park, Illinois.   Lancaster offers a glimpse into the lives of those from wealthy families that many teens think have it all, are it all, and wish they could have it too.  Lancaster pulls readers into the intricate and secret details of each of these kids families and how every one of them could succumb to seeing suicide as the only answer.  The topic of suicide is difficult at best in a fictional setting.  Some may embrace this novel while others find it trite and unworthy of the topic.  And although this subject is tough, I found that Lancaster does an excellent job of building intensity from every character so the reader is taking turns down different outcomes and avenues in a myriad of ways.  Recommended for YA.  

Monday, September 18, 2017

Nyxia by Scott Reintgen

2017, Crown Books for Young Readers

The Tower of Babel was created to reach the sky and it could only do something like this because mankind spoke the same language....

In the world of tomorrow, a new world, Genesis 11, has been found that is compatible to earth.  But what used to take years to get there, it only takes months now, thanks to the Babel Corporation.  And Babel has also found a highly lucrative mineral with endless possibilities.  Nyxia, a black substance, is an object that can be manipulated by your mind to create whatever you'd like, from a translator to a bullet-proof wall.

Emmett Atwater can't believe he was chosen.  Not only will he get to go to a new planet, Emmett also has added benefits, including his family and himself being taken care of for life. Coming from a struggling family and a mother who is slowly dying, Emmett does it out of love.  And he boards the ship.

When he boards the ship created and equipped with highly trained Babel Corporation staff, he finds out he's not the only one who has been selected.  There are nine others including Longwei, a highly competitive person; Jazzy, a girl from Georgia; and Azima, a strong girl from Africa and one of the last of her nomadic tribe.  They will be trained to work and survive on Genesis 11 as they mine nyxia during the duration of the space travel.  All ten are put through rigourous tests, including mind and body.  And they are also vying for position...only a few will make it to the finals.  The rest who don't will have most benefits taken away and sent back to earth.

For Emmett, this isn't an option.  He knows he has to make it or his mother will die.  But each member of the group of ten have their own personal reasons to make it as well.  But not all of them will, and some won't even survive the trip....

Another thing they don't know are the secrets the Babel Corporation is hiding from them.  There is a problem with nyxia, one with deadly outcomes.  On top of that are the inhabitants of the planet aren't friendly to outsiders.  But Babel has plans....

And like the story, the tower will topple and create chaos...

This novel is PACKED with action, suspense, and mystery to compel readers to find out what will happen next.  The reader is fortunate to become an outside observer of all the difficult training happening, as well as the mindsets and secret partnerships that are happening behind each other's backs.  The characters have very different personalities, leaving the reader wondering if what they're seeing is the truth or a cover.  Reading this is like taking a roller coaster ride where you never know if the seat belt is secure or not.  AMAZING science fiction read for all secondary JH/HS.  Highly recommended!  A plus?  It's a series!!!  

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Five Ways to Step Up your Advocacy Game

I added the hyperlink where you can buy this...
I do NOT profit from it at all...just thought I'd share it :)

As librarians, we know the importance and impact the library and librarian make to our campuses and districts.  Librarians have always made headway into innovation and we need to make sure this also includes how we share what the library does through advocacy efforts aimed at decision-makers for our campuses and districts.  Here are five small ways we can show librarians and libraries do have an impact.  Best of all, it won't cost you anything but a little time and effort:

1. Change the library environment:  This won't cost any money whatsoever.  Librarians new to their positions or in a new library usually do this, but you shouldn't over look the library you may have been serving.  It's a simple context with a lot of sweat equity.  Sometimes we have so much to do we often overlook how the library design can be REIMAGINED simply by moving things around and creating new spaces.  What better way to capture your campus's attention than to rearrange furniture into different learning commons?  If you have the money, add elements like large screen collaboration stations, a Lego wall etc...Freshen it up, add some dimension, watch what happens next

2. Harness the power of social media:  I love my library PLNs...they show, teach and amaze me everyday.  But I have also noticed that the PLNs I am a part of can be insular.  We need to get outside of our online comfort zones to make a larger impact.  Use your social media to make sure your voice, ideas, impact can be showcased to those decision-makers.  Use hashtags that administrators on Twitter use and become part of the conversation that way.  Create a campus-based social media account such as Instagram so not only students and teachers can see what you're snapping photos of, but admin can too.  Be engaged in district-wide Twitter chats and let the library's voice be heard virtually.

3. Send out monthly newsletter to your campus touting the amazing things the library does and can do to your campus.  Focus your information on highlighting to important parts of the library and use your stats to help.  Include images from your social media accounts (and hyperlink them).  Showcase students interacting in the library with each other, their classes or alone.  Already do this?  How about taking it up a notch and sending this monthly to your district superintendent, curriculum coordinators, technology director or curriculum and instruction director? Don't keep it contained....let this information loose every single time you share it with your campus.  It may not be read, that's true.  What's even more true is that is just might....

4. Harness new and interesting ways to share the successes you and the library have had with (mostly) free webtools.  Turn that paper state of the library report into an infographic.  Then step up that infographic into a video using tools like Biteable.  Use Flipgrid to capture students, teachers and administrators giving video testimonies on how the library has helped them and share this with other librarians and decision-makers.  Nothing speaks louder than a student's voice, and this webtool can definitely help.  Kick it up by doing this monthly from different angles (a teacher's Flipgrid, your book club, a classroom etc).  How about creating a monthly Quizzizz for fun to engage your email recipients with what the library does?  Sharing can be as fun as you'd like, so try out new approaches.

5. Nothing is more loud and clear than your approach.  Be available, be approachable, leave your door open, show people you want to create a relationship with them.  Too often, our administrators see us as checking in and out books...MOVE to another area, DO something different, and SPEAK with your words and actions to prove that isn't the case.  It's easy to get caught in the trap of our office or circulation desk.  The hardest thing you could do is unglue yourself from the areas your feel most comfortable in (even if it's for an hour a day) to be seen differently.  They say it takes 30 days to create a new habit....test out this theory and see if it makes a difference.  It won't cost a thing....

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

Sourcebooks Fire, August 2017

Sal's life is one of stealth and swiftness.  After a war that ruined the lands and completely annihilated Nacea and its people...his people, he had to resort to thievery in order to survive.  But one fateful encounter with a lady will change his path from one of stealing goods to one of stealing lives for revenge....

The queen now rules over the lands and has put an end to dark runes and magic.  But her reign is in  time of shifting and danger, where she must be protected at all costs.  To ensure the safety of the queen four Hands, or assassins are assigned to her:  Ruby, Emerald, Amethyst, and Opal.  But when one of the hands die, an audition opens to replace this position.  Twenty-three people come forward to audition, from noblemen to thieves, including Sal and his thirst for vengeance of those nobles who killed his people.

But realization begins to dawn when the rules of the audition are explained.  Only one will survive and that person will become Opal.  Everyone who auditions will have the opportunity to kill or be killed.  It's a fight to the death and one Sal intends to win.

As the deadly audition begins, trickery and conniving create a cat and mouse game that slowly decimates the twenty-three to three...but who will win and become the new Hand?  And are the liaisons people they can trust or not?

Miller weaves a tale that will enthrall fantasy readers.  Although the book does contain violent episodes, it also contains elements of castles, magic, truth and romance.  Miller adeptly creates a world where even those you think are safe aren't, and those that are evil don't succumb to good. In the events that surround Sal and those he must fight against, lies a small but very unique part of the main character's life.  She introduces the reader to a gender fluid character, but like those assassins and auditioners in this book, she introduces him subtly and without fanfare, making this topic understated instead of in your face. For the more mature fantasy reader, the novel has hints of GoT readers will find and the story will have them begging for the next installment.  Highly recommended.  HS

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Copyright and the Classroom

This was a presentation I created for professional development for teachers.  It's something they really need to understand before school starts, so feel free to use it to teach the importance of copyright, fair use and Creative Commons.  This was created after reading Renee Hobbs's book, Copyright Clarity, a MUST READ for all educators, administrators and librarians!! Click below to get to the PDF of this presentation

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Young Adult Literature Resources and Booklist

Had an amazing day with librarians throughout the Dallas area!!  Here is the presentation I did for the Summit :)

Enjoy and start reading some great books TODAY!! :)

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Smashing Research: Engaging Students and the Research Project

I and my friend, Sue Fitzgerald, had the honor of being chosen to present at the American Library Association Annual Conference in Chicago this year.  When she and I talked about our topic, we thought it would be relevant to not only talk about the importance of research, but also how to make it more engaging and student-owned.  Here is the presentation (which I can't believe I forgot to add!!)
It contains ideas for:
Project-based learning
Smashing apps to create a digital research project
TON of websites
Unique ways to combine sites for projects
Examples of excellent student proejcts