Sunday, September 27, 2015

Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week begins today, September 27 and continues through October 3.  It is a week I truly look forward to each year!

Yes, we CELEBRATE Banned Books Week in my library.

Every year since beginning as a librarian (7 years now), I've made a special point to teach a lesson, make a display, and talk to students about their freedom to read.  Each year, my students are amazed as they look through the piles of books available in our library that have been challenged or banned in other schools and libraries.  We also discuss what banning means and why we have these books available in our tiny, rural school library.

In our library, I have a large sign that reads:

 It is the policy of RMHS library to support the right to read, not restrict it.

I explain to students that this statement comes directly from our board approved collection development policy which also says "No parent has the right to determine the reading, viewing, or listening material of students other than their own." This policy and statement gives us much to talk about as we debate why certain books might be challenged. Students usually are quick to discover that some of the very titles that are required reading in English classes are often found on the list of frequently banned and challenged books. Other students discover that some of their very favorite books are on the list as well. There is much discussion about who can/should make the decision about what you should and shouldn't be able to read. Discussions also center around how books are like clothes -- one size does NOT fit all and sometimes you have to grow up to fit (into) a book. Our library has books that fit sixth graders through twelfth graders and that is certainly a lot of sizes and shapes!

This year is no different!  I'm looking forward to talking to students about the top challenged YA books from 2014:

  1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
  2. Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon Books/Knopf Doubleday) 
  3. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison (Holt, Rinehart, and Winston)
  4. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini (Bloomsbury Publishing) 
  5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky (MTV Books/Simon & Schuster)
  6. Drama, by Raina Telgemeier (Graphix/Scholastic)
  7. Chinese Handcuffs, by Chris Crutcher (Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins) 
  8. The Giver, by Lois Lowry (HMH Books for Young Readers)
  9. The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros (Vintage/Knopf Doubleday) 
  10. Looking for Alaska, by John Green (Dutton Books/Penguin Random House)
We have 9 out of 10 of these books available in our library currently and will be ordering #7 soon!

I was inspired last week by an amazing bulletin board and display constructed by Jonathan Werner and shared on the Cape Elizabeth Schools LLC blog.

He shared his pdf files on the blog and I immediately printed them out and got busy.  Then I quickly remembered how much WORK goes into a quality interactive display.  (Holy time suck Batman!)

After several days, fails,  and experiments, this is what I came up with:

I added a "photo booth" for students to take their #shelfies to post on our Instagram page.  This was inspired by Nikki Robertson's sharing her cool set up:

We even tested it out at the end of the week...

A photo posted by Rossville Middle/High Library (@rmhslibrary) on
So, thanks to my PLN, we're ready at RMHS to share the love of reading (BANNED) books!

I hope you'll celebrate your right to read and share a (banned) book with someone.  

I'd love to hear about your favorite book that appears on the top 100 list of banned and challenged books!  Leave a comment and I'll be sending a reader one of my favorite banned and challenged books.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Brian Selznick

I thought I would have to wait until November at AASL to be able to hear Brian Selznick speak and possibly meet him, but lo and behold he was in Indiana just last night for his book tour! My family and I drove to Indy for the evening because.. Brian Selznick!  Duh!

Worth the drive would be a mild understatement.

Brian Selznick is not only an amazing illustrator and author, he's also a wordsmith, an entertainer, an actor, a story teller, and a bit of a comedian!  We were entranced by his words, pictures, and stories of inspiration (as well as amazing stories about the filming of Hugo Cabret!)

I know I could never do the evening justice with a recap, but I'm happy to say thank you to Kids Ink, Central Public Library, and Scholastic for making the event possible.

If you have the opportunity to go see Brian during this tour, DO IT!

Be sure and visit The Marvels website and watch the fascinating trailer Brian created for the book:

and of course, if for some strange reason you HAVEN'T yet read a Brian Selznick book, pick one up & devour it soon!

My son recommends Huge Cabret; my daughter, WonderStruck.
Me, I'm going with the new stuff:  The Marvels.

Read more about Brian Selznick here & more about his many, other books here!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

That's (Not) Mine by Anna Kang & Christopher Weyant

That's Not Mine

by Anna Kang
Illustrated by Christopher Weyant

From GoodReads:

Two fuzzy creatures both want to sit in the same comfy chair. The trouble is, they can’t agree who it belongs to. They get madder and madder, until…

With expressive illustrations and simple text, this giggle-inducing tale about (not) sharing and (not) being a good friend features the endearing characters from Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner You Are (Not) Small.   

Hardcover32 pages
Published September 1st 2015 by Two Lions
For more information about That's (Not) Mine and to download a free curriculum guide, visit: Amazon or Anna Kang's website.

A photo posted by Sherry Gick (@sngick) on

When I first received That's (Not) Mine! in the mail last month, I tore into the package and immediately had to read it.  The delightful combination of illustrations and fun words to say made me want to read it aloud! (onomatopoeia, anyone?)  I tore through the book the first time, then devoured it again paired with delicious gelato.  My third read through of the book was to my 9 year old who gave it his stamp of approval with plenty of giggles.

I'm looking forward to sharing this book with students at my school!  I know they too will appreciate the pictures and the story...because I think we can ALL identify with the problems experienced in this story.  

While perusing the book jacket, I also learned that the author and illustrator were husband and wife!  What a super talented couple.!  Read more about both of them below.  Also, keep on reading because there's a giveaway at the end!  (I KNOW you want your own copy of this book!)

Author Anna Kang
Illustrator Christropher Weyant
Husband-and-wife team Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant are the creators of You Are (Not) Small, which won the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award and was named a Notable Children’s Book by the American Library Association. They live in New Jersey with their two daughters, Kate and Lily, a guinea pig named Athena, and a hermit crab named Olaf.

Anna, a native New Yorker, grew up believing everything was hers until one day she realized it was her brother’s, too. She received a master’s degree in fine arts from the USC School of Cinematic Arts, where the visual storyteller in her was awakened, forever changing the way she saw art, life, and everything in between. In addition to writing, Anna loves to read, travel, laugh, eat, and nap. Visit her online at

Christopher is a cartoonist and illustrator. His work can regularly be seen in the New Yorker. His cartoons are syndicated worldwide and have been featured on the Today ShowMeet the Press, and World News Tonight. Christopher likes to share everything but his personal space on the subway. Visit him online at

Be sure to follow them both on Twitter! @annakang27     @chrisweyant05

Blog stops on the tour:

Mon, Aug 31
Tues, Sept 1
Jean Little Library
Wed, Sept 2
Teach Mentor Texts
Thurs, Sept 3
Kid Lit Frenzy
Fri, Sept 4
Unleashing Readers
Mon, Sept 7 
The Children's Book Review
Tues, Sept 8
Wed, Sept 9
The Library Fanatic
HERE! :) 
Thurs, Sept 10
Fri, Sept 11
Bluestocking Thinking

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Thanks to Blue Slip Media for the review copy!

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