Sunday, January 31, 2016

#IMWAYR ~ Library Love!

After a long and VERY busy week, I have truly enjoyed my weekend ~ I have been able to sleep in, nap, spend time with my family, enjoy nice long walks in the warm sunshine (55 degrees in January, in upstate NY is a rare treat!) with family and dogs, and of course, read!  

My reading time was spent catching up on reading online articles and blog posts, professional journal reading, the reading of book reviews, picture book reading, browsing through my book piles to determine my next few reads, a professional book browsing/rereading, and the reading of a wonderful middle grade novel.  

I awoke this morning with fond memories of days gone by and time spent at my public library.  I must've been having a dream about being in the old downtown Binghamton, public library.  The library is now in a new space but my fond recollections were of the beautiful, old building.  

It was where I spent many happy hours browsing the stacks in the little children's room, at the top of the stairs of the beautiful, old Carnegie building.  The memories that I am speaking of, are from my college days as an Early Childhood Education student.  I can recall browsing through the dusty, old Hap Palmer records, deciding which ones I would borrow to use in my lessons and activities that would teach various concepts, set to the musical genius of the amazing Hap Palmer.  

I also browsed through many wonderful picture books that I would check out to read with the young children that I was working with.  Most importantly, I remember the conversations that I had at the little check out desk with the two lovely librarians.  Both of whom, would chat with me about books and storytelling with young children.  How I loved those conversations!  

Later, as a new teacher, I continued to visit the quaint, little children's department, browse and borrow books, and chat with the same librarians.  I would also borrow professional books on the topic of storytelling.  After reading up on the topic, attending some professional development sessions on the topic, and putting my research into practice, I volunteered to do some storytelling during the summer.  I would tell traditional and newer stories in a small gathering room, in the children's department.  I had such a great time!  And the next year, the librarians hired me to conduct the story hour for the preschoolers at all the smaller branch libraries.  Sadly, these little branch libraries no longer exist in my community.  I loved conducting those weekly story hours.  
Looking back at these times, I know that they played a critical part in what would later influence me to become a school librarian.  I have always had a fondness for libraries books, and reading but sometimes special memories find their way back to you and help you realize that they had a greater impact on your decisions than you had ever imagined that they would.  

So, here's to libraries and librarians!  Some of my favorite books celebrate both! 

Caroline Feller Bauer's New Handbook for Storytellers (豆瓣)

I wrote a post about the wonderful Caroline Feller Bauer and her influence on my life, here.

One of my favorite books about books!  I love to revisit Judy Freeman's books often! 

A NYSRA Charlotte Award Primary Ballot book ~ very popular in my library!

Middle Grade novel that I haven't been able to put down. 

Stop by the other blogs that participate in #IMWAYR, discover what others are reading, get out your reader's notebook and jot down some things you'd like to read next, and celebrate books! 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 

Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts  and Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, help share and spread book-love, by hosting this fun meme.  Check out their blogs for links to others who enjoy celebrating their reading weeks.  

Sunday, January 24, 2016

#IMWAYR ~ Memories from the Heart: A Special Book & a Special Bus Ride

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 

Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts  and Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, help share and spread book-love, by hosting this fun meme.  Check out their blogs for links to others who enjoy celebrating their reading weeks.  

I've been blessed to have connected with and made a lovely friendship with author/illustrator, Salina Yoon ~ all because of her beautiful book, Be a Friend!  I've continued to share this lovely book with many children and educators, most recently by opening a booktalk session by reading it aloud to about 50 educators.  Through the course of little snippets of conversations (via Facebook, Twitter, and blog comments), Salina has helped me realize something very important about my reading life (both personally and professionally).  

Because of her and her encouragement for us all to be, "Bold, Brave, and Shine," I've come to know that my niche in writing about books and reading is what I have been feeling all along in my heart ~ and that's exactly it, writing from the heart!  Making connections in the wonderful world of reading and writing, to myself.  How books and authors and illustrators impact me.  

After the announcements of the YMA, I attempted to get a copy of the Newbery Medal winning, Last Stop On Market Street written by Matt De La Pena and illustrated by Christian Robinson.  I was unsuccessful.  Fast forward to this past week and I was luckily able to get a copy of this most amazing picture book!  

2016 Newbery Medal Winner

Upon my first reading of this important picture book, I instantly felt my heartstrings being tugged.  The first connection that I felt was the memory of riding the city bus with my own grandmother.  Walking from her house to the bus stop, waiting on the busy street to climb aboard the bus, climbing those big steps to put money into the coin collector, finding a seat, sitting by the window but looking around at all the others who were already on the bus and as we rode closer into town, those that got on and off, and oh, the buzzer cord that was tugged to sound the signal for the bus driver to stop at the next stop, and finally, to getting to pull the cord so that we could descend the steps onto the downtown streets.  Memories of walking on the downtown streets, peering into store windows, and eventually, heading into Woolworths (or as Grandma called, it the Five and Ten), to sit at the counter to order lunch.  How I wish I could remember what I ate ~ my guess is that it might've been a Patty Melt (those were one of her favorite diner/lunch counter delights).   


Of course, like many others I’m sure, I loved that so many of the characters on the bus, not to mention, CJ and his nana, are so real and so many of us can relate to them on a personal level, for one reason or another. 

Last Stop On Market Street is a picture book that I know will be an important read for many children.  It's a story that Matt De La Pena has told that will help many of its readers see themselves in a different way.  It will tug at their heart for one reason or another.  Most importantly, it is a book that will turn children into readers because through the reading of this picture book, readers will begin to realize that they can find what they need in the words of authors. 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

#IMWAYR ~ Long Weekend Reading

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 

Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, help share and spread book-love, by hosting this fun meme.  

In my library, I've been reading and sharing some of the YMA award winning books. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

My Reading Week ~ #IMWAYR

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, help share and spread book-love, by hosting this fun meme.  

Today's reading plans were to read and reread picture books that have been receiving Caldecott buzz and start a middle grade novel or two that has been receiving Newbery buzz.  But that didn't happen.  My heart was stolen by a lovely new picture book.  One that I had planned to read but hadn't planned to have it steal my heart.  

I read constantly.  I mainly read children's and young adult literature.  I read all genres and all formats.  I write reviews both professionally and for me personally.  So, I read critically and examine the story as well as the illustrations.  I think about who would be the right reader to share a particular book with and what audience I might read a particular book to.  But sometimes, I read a book and it is pure magic - Sometimes you read a book and it touches your heart and soul more than you could've ever imagined.  This is what happened to me when I read the much anticipated, Be A Friend, written and illustrated by the amazing, Salina Yoon.  I read and reread this book many times.  Each time I read it, I discovered something different, both about the book itself and about myself.  

As I write this, on the evening before the ALA Youth Media Awards and the announcements of the latest book awards, I am thinking about the feelings of the many authors and illustrators that had published books in 2015.  Are they wondering if their books will receive a much coveted award?  Was it considered for one?  What did the committees think of it?  

I personally am grateful for all those brave souls that put their books out into the world!  I can only begin to imagine what it must be like to pour your heart and souls into a story or into the art or in some cases, both.  And then to wait for the response of its readers. 

As I thought about writers and artists, I realized that Salina Yoon's heart is visible within the breathtaking pages of Be A Friend.  Dennis isn't afraid to be who he is meant to be and Joy shares joy when she decides to be a friend to Dennis, the boy she sees herself in.  

This New Year, Salina shared an image of Dennis and informed us all that we were free to use the image as our Facebook profile, as long as we agreed to "Be Bold, Be Brave, and Shine!" in 2016 (and always).  This is exactly what Dennis and Joy do in Be A Friend.  I want to say a special thank you to Salina - for inspiring me to do exactly these things.  Her inspiring picture book is helping me on my own journey, as I continue to strive to be bold, brave, and always shine.  Each day, with words I read, artwork I admire, and my own words that I write, I am closer to telling my own story.   

My feelings for this book go very deep.  I know this book will be a very important book for me both personally and professionally, as I share with my students and colleagues.  I will be reading and sharing it with all of classes within the coming week.  And I know it will be one that recommend often this year and in years to come.  It will be a book that I give as a gift.  It will be part of my special collection of picture books that are near and dear to my heart and are located in a special, prominent location in my personal book collection.  

Salina touched my heart and brought tears of joy to my eyes when she sent me this most special heart pin.  

If you have not already, you must read the very important, Be A Friend . . . 

Make sure you visit Salina Yoon's website.  

You'll also want to watch the trailer for Be A Friend. . .

Thank you Salina Yoon . . . for Being a Friend.