Books to movies

If, like me, you stayed up too late last night watching the Academy Awards, maybe you’ll be interested in knowing which of the nominees started out in a printed format. Paste Magazine has a run-down of the 2018 films based on books.  My favorite books on the list: Boss Baby by Marla Frazee, Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis, and, of course, Wonder by RJ Palacio (on top of the list of most circulated books so far this year). I also love the book Ferdinand, but just don’t feel like the movie version does the book justice – feels more like a very loose adaptation. I also love all things Marvel and X-Men so Logan was fun for this comics fan.

Read Across America

This week leads up to Read Across America day on Friday, March 2. This has traditionally been tied to a celebration of Dr. Seuss’s birthday and, while we will talk about Dr. Seuss this week, we will also use this as an opportunity to talk about books we love and why we love them. If you happen to read this, ask your child(ren) what book(s) they love and why. And, if you haven’t already, read a book based on that recommendation. It’s empowering as a reader to have our recommendations taken seriously and, who knows, you may discover a new author or book! Happy Reading!

Fifth Graders have a way with words

I have been reading Death by Toilet Paper by Donna Gephart to the fifth graders. In the book, the main character Ben enters sweepstakes in an effort to win a grand prize, which could bring a large cash grand prize and help his mom pay back rent owed on their apartment and stave off the looming threat of eviction. Ben’s dad, the primary wage-earner, passed away, and his mom is trying to her earn CPA in order to get a better job than her waitressing gig; she has one last exam to take in order to earn her certificate and take a job at an accounting firm waiting for her. Ben is gifted at writing catchy slogans and has found a new contest from the Royal-T Toilet Paper Company where the winning slogan promises a $10,000 cash prize, enough to pay their rent and fill their mostly-empty fridge. 

As a way to connect the fifth graders to Ben’s way with words, I broke up each fifth grade class into small groups and charged them with creating a slogan for a new bookstore that was opening in the area (the fictitious House of Books). Then each class had to figure out how to present their slogan to the rest of the class. Finally, I had each class judge the slogans of another fifth grade class to find a winner in each class. The winning group got to select a free library activity for their entire class. 

The assignment: 
There is a new bookstore opening called The House of Books and they need a slogan. The hope is that the slogan will stick in people’s minds. In 25 words or less, come up with a slogan. The focus of this project will be: 
Creativity: You will show this by focusing on what makes House of Books different, what sets it apart. 
Relatability: What is your target audience (the other fifth grade classes/readers).
Memorability: Is this slogan one that can be easily remembered and will it stick in people’s minds?

The description of the space: House of Books is a new bookstore. The building is a large, old house. It is located right off a highway and there are no other shops in the immediate area. House of Books has a cafe serving coffee, drinks, baked goods, and sandwiches. There are several reading areas with comfortable seats. The focus of the bookstore is new books and there will be authors visiting and other events held there. Hopefully, it will become a destination for those passing through town and also for local townspeople. 

I was impressed with the level of creativity and level of cooperation exhibited by the groups. A (mostly) fun time was had by all.
The winners from each class: 
House of Books: When You Walk Inside, The Books Come Alive
House of Books: The Place Where Imagination Lives
Get a Hook On Your Book, Come on Down and Take a Look at House of Books
Open Your Eyes and R(adical)E(xtraordinary)A(wesome)D(iscover)!
House of Books: Read It, Eat It, and Enjoy It!
Grab a Bookie, Eat a Cookie at the House of Books
House of Books: Read, Eat, and Repeat 
Get That Coffee, Get That Book at the House of Books

Comic Books Can Make You Smarter

If you have a minute on this quiet, snowy day, this video is an amazing explanation about the power of comic books (which many people call graphic novels). I have had many students at HBS explain that they are “not allowed” to read graphic novels from either a parental edict or at the gentle suggestion by their teachers that they can read “better” books. I do understand this inclination to dismiss this medium of content delivery, but listen to Gene Luen Yang, a former Ambassador for Children’s Literature (it’s 4 minutes of your time) and maybe ask yourself, when did we start putting a qualifier on reading? And what does that tell the child/reader before you about the reading choices to which he or she is gravitating if the books that they LOVE are being defined by people that they respect as “less than”. All food for thought. 

Maine Reading Awards

Throughout the month of January, all HBS 2nd and 3rd graders will be listening to or reading many of the books from the 2017-18 Chickadee Award List and talking about quality picture books. After hearing at least three titles, all students will be invited to vote for her/his favorite one and HBS will submit a ballot with our votes to the Chickadee Award Committee in March. 

Similarly, the 4th and 5th graders have been reading or listening to the Maine Student Book Award books. There will be a voting party for any 4th or 5th grader who has read at least three of the books and filled in a short summary form (located in the library from Mrs. O’Connor, Mrs. Veilleux, or Mrs. Reiche) by mid-March. 

Happy New Year!

I hope that everyone had a fun and relaxing winter break and that you all received at least one great book to read. Can’t wait to see you in 2018! 

Some new books that just published or will publish soon that we’ll have in the HBS Library:

Dog Man and Cat Kid (Dog Man #4) by Dav Pilkey – I bought 6 copies!!!!
Hilo Book Four: Waking the Monsters by Judd Winick
Phoebe and her Unicorn in the Magic Storm (Book 6) by Dana Simpson
Notebook of Doom #13: Battle of the Boss Monster by Troy Cummings 
The Bad Guys in Intergalactic Gas, (The Bad Guys #5) by Aaron Blabley
The Bad Guys in Aliens vs. Bad Guys (The Bad Guys #6) by Aaron Blabley
All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson
Learn to Draw: How to Draw Five Nights at Freddy’s
The Princess in Black and the Mysterious Playdate (Princess in Black #5) by Shannon Hale
Chill of the Ice Dragon (Dragon Masters #9) by Tracey West
Dory Fantasmagory: Head in the Clouds, Book #4) by Abby Hanlon
Weird But True #8 and #9 by National Geographic
Minecraft Guides by Mojang, Guide to Creative, Guide to Redstone, and Guide to the Nether & the End
Owl Diaries: The Wildwood Bakery (Book #7) by Rebecca Elliott
The Honest Truth and Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart
The Leviathan Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld 



I can’t believe that it’s November, and not just November, but almost Thanksgiving break! It’s been fun getting to know all of the students, learning what they like to read, and seeing them learn about different parts of the library. Second graders are learning about different genres and have already earned their Mystery Expert badge. Third graders are working on becoming Dewey Decimal System detectives. Fourth graders have been listening to Maxi’s Secrets by Lynn Plourde (a Maine author and a title from the Maine Student Book Award list) and working on a name project. Fifth graders are listening to Death By Toilet Paper by Donna Gephart and will start their slogan-writing contest when we return from break.

Thank you to anyone who donated a book from the Scholastic Book Fair to our library collection. And to those who have donated puzzles. We are always on the lookout for chess/checkers set and additional trivia games and puzzles. 

I thought it might be of interest to let you know what our top circulating books are so far this year:
10. The Baby-Sitters Club: Kristy’s Great Idea (book 1) by Ann Martin. A graphic novel update of the popular chapter book series from the 80s! This is book 1 and has been freshened up by illustrations from Raina Telgemeier. So good!
9. Smile by Raina Telgemeier. A autobiographical graphic novel about Telgemeier’s experience prematurely losing her two front teeth and the trauma and drama that ensued.
8. Minecraft Essential Handbook – a guide to this wildly popular building game. If you haven’t watched your child play this or seen all of the capabilities, take some time to do so; it’s fascinating.
7. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling – yup, kids still read these!
6. Dog Man: A Tale of Two Kitties by Dav Pilkey – third book in this hilarious graphic-novel series
5. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: the Third Wheel by Jeff Kinney. Ever-popular series that mixes line drawings with the everyday observations and hi-jinks of an ordinary kid. 
4. Captain Underpants and the Invasion of the Incredibly Naughty Cafeteria Ladies from Outer Space (and the Subsequent Assault of the Equally Evil Lunchroom Zombie Nerds) by Dav Pilkey
3. The Baby-Sitters Club: Dawn and the Impossible Three (book 5) by Ann Martin – the newest book in the re-issued graphic novel series.
2. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Greg Heffley’s Journal (book 1)
1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth by Jeff Kinney (book 5) – we have 12 copies of this book, the most of any title in the HBS library. And  it is NEVER on the shelf. Kinney gets what makes kids laugh and has hooked more kids into reading than any other author writing today. 

As you can see, there are many graphic novels and humorous books in the top 10. This is what kids want to read. They are the types of books that engage them and make them want to lose themselves in a story! If you find it difficult to support the reading of these comic books, maybe I could gently suggest that we shift our thinking from, “these are not “real” books” to, “oh my, kids are reading! And they like it!” If we can find ways to support what they want to read, they will keep doing it and, eventually, they will pick up weightier, more nuanced books. The ability to choose their own reading materials and have success with them is essential. Trust me; I was that reader! I fed my love of reading with a steady diet of comic books and today, I read everything that I can get my hands on. I am happy to talk about this further, or to provide great research that shows that letting kids have choice (and this totally includes all the graphic novels they can devour) is what will hook them as life-long readers. Food for thought!

Happy Reading!

First Week!

Well, the first week of school is over and what a week it was! There are so many new faces and names to learn, but it was great to meet the students and to get them all into the library. I still have all of the Monday classes to meet, but I’m impressed with how excited everyone was to be in the library and to get to check out books.

As you might have heard, we have increased the lending limits this year so second graders can check out up to 2 books, and third, fourth, and fifth graders can check out up to 3 books. I felt like I was announcing free candy on the circulation desk when I announced the new lending limits. Pretty excellent!  Second graders didn’t check out books this week, but will start next week after we talk a little more about where everything is in the library and how to care for our books after they leave the library.

I also let the fourth and fifth graders know about the Maine Student Book Award books and program and by the end of the day on Friday, EVERY MSBA book in our library was checked out! 

I look forward to meeting parents at Open House this week and to continuing to work with the students to inspire them to find great books for themselves and to increase their library skills.


Looking forward to a great school year!

Hello, everyone! Mrs. O’Connor here and I am beyond thrilled to be joining the HBS team this year. I can’t wait to share all of my favorite books with students and to continue fostering the library love started last year whether at Coffin School with Mrs. Soule or here at HBS. 

Five facts about me:
*I played rugby in college. Because of this, I sported the occasional black eye. I also learned to run fast, “if they can’t catch you, they can’t tackle you!”

*Every summer I read every book on the Maine Student Book Award list. I love to see the great titles that the MSBA committee selects. I look forward to sharing these books with the HBS MSBA Book Club!

*I am a huge baseball fan. Portland is a pretty great place to live when you’re as enthusiastic about baseball as I am; close to the best minor league team, the Sea Dogs, and only two hours from my favorite park, Fenway.

*The first movie that I saw in the theater was Annie, the original one with Aileen Quinn. That spunky orphan was so brave and funny. I cried when she was being chased by her money-hungry uncle and I cheered when she was adopted by Daddy Warbucks. I still think that “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow” is a pretty good mantra. 

*I think that graphic novels are the bee’s knees. The first one that captured my attention and transformed my like for reading into a full-blown love for reading was Elf Quest. I was pretty sure that I was part-elf and that if I wished hard enough, my own wolf companion would come and find me even in my suburban neighborhood. Graphic novels combine vocab and illustration and are a phenomenal way to boost reading success and truly stoke that reading fire. 

I can’t wait to meet everyone this year!