"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Friday, June 22, 2018

Top Ten Circulating Books of 2017-2018

It's always interesting to look at which books captured readers' interests. 

Below are the top ten titles in various categories. 

It's not surprising that graphic novels took the top three spots in overall circulation and hold five spots within the top ten.
 Top 10 Titles Overall
I can see the impact of reading Sharon Creech's Love That Dog during Poetry Month.

 Top 10 Fiction Novels

It's either that BJ Novak has solidly captured my students' funny bone three years running or it's his very cool status as alum, or maybe it's both, but The Book With No Pictures continues to snag the top spot.
 Top 10 Picture Books

Mo Willems seemingly has the lock on the early reader neighborhood, but, wait, look, James Burke has grabbed the number five spot! Go Bird and Squirrel!
 Top 10 Early Readers

So happy to have Shannon Hale capturing the top spot and Jacqueline Woodson coming in at number three. 
 Top 10 Biographies

This list look eerily familiar to last year's list. Lunch Lady is a perennial favorite in our school library. There was an extra bonus this year, Jarrett visited with our third and fourth graders. Holding strong is Roller Girl, which has stayed at number two for the last two years. Owly and Sidekicks have also held strong.

 Top 10 Graphic Novels

 Top 10 Nonfiction Titles
The "make and do" area of our Wonder Wall continues to remain popular.

Wonder Wall Breakdown:

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Assessing the 2017-2018 Library Statistics: Top Borrowers and Circ Stats

It's that time of year when the data geek in me loves examining the collection and circulation statistics of the preceding 180 days of school. 
Looking at the statistics from the last three years, I can see that circulation has dropped by about 2,000, which is a lot, which could be due to a number of factors: my reduced time in my school building this year, which impacted my ability to send out reminder notices and therefore books were not being returned in a timely manor and then available to borrowing by another students; planning and instruction of library classes that did not allow for enough time for browsing and borrowing; an aging collection that doesn't not hold as much appeal to students, specifically students in the older grades; and/or a small collection.

I weeded the fiction section last year and hoped to see a jump in circulation for this neighborhood. There was a jump, but only by 200 and a 3% increase, which is lower than I was hoping, but an improvement.

Nonfiction circulations fell by 2,000, which is really surprising, but possibly related to both the fact that I was not able to send out reminders for overdue books and the weeding that I did. There were many books dating back to the seventies, eighties, and nineties that I weeded last year, so there were just fewer to browse.

The jump in biographies is exciting and a direct correlation to a few biographies lessons and projects that I integrated into the curriculum. It's good to see the impact projects can have on the books students choose to borrow.

Picture books and early readers both dropped, which is again surprising. I'll have to think about this for a bit. I didn't really participate in Picture Book Month, so maybe that's the reason.

Graphic Novels increased, which is a result of the new books that I purchased this year. This area is always heavily used and if I had even more graphic novels I know the circulation would continue to increase.

You can take a closer look at last year's information in this post: The Collection Statistics Tell a Story of Their Own or two years ago in this post: The Who and What Edition of Reading in the Library.

I also ran statistics for the top borrowers and top homerooms. I love what this grid shows. We have a fairly even distribution of both girls and boys in the top borrowers for the year.  I like this data. It tells me that students see themselves as readers in this library regardless of gender. 

That all four third grade classrooms made it into the top ten of our twenty-two classroom is fabulous. I have been thinking about this information. I see third grade on Monday, which is sometimes hard because of the Monday holidays. Also, these classes run back-to-back, so there is no wiggle room for browsing and borrowing. On the plus side, the curriculum this year has also been more literature focused. Also, we have 106 children in this grade level, so they are the largest grade level (the others are between 95 and 100. All interesting things to think about.

All three of the second grade classrooms made the list as did two of the three first grade classrooms. These students have an extended library class, so it makes sense to me that they would rank this high.

I love that fourth grade outlier class. I tend to lose some 4th and 5th grade readers from this library for a number of reasons: parents who support their learning habits by buying books; a public library just down the street; and, a smaller and aging collection that isn't quite meeting their needs.

Top 10 Homerooms

 We'll see what next year brings!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

ReedALOUD: Harbor Me

I read Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson and I can't stop thinking about it. Woodson has created a novel that allows the reader to focus in and become deeply connected with the characters while also forcing us to to look outward, seeing the impact of economic, cultural and societal forces on these characters. Harbor Me is a poignant and timely story whose characters' stories both break and break open our hearts.

Haley, Holly, Esteban, Amari, Ashton, and Tiago know they are different. 

"Learning felt like a race we were losing while the other kids sped ahead."

They are placed into their own classroom with their own teacher. Oh, but what a wonderful teacher Jacqueline Woodson has provided for them. Ms. Laverne is affirming and empowering.

"The words you miss just tell me what you don't yet know, Ms. Laverne always said. It says nothing about who you are." 

What Woodson does so importantly is allow the reader to experience the students' sense of themselves as learners, reminding readers that learning style has nothing to do with intelligence, which these students demonstrate time and time again throughout the story and come to understand about themselves. 

Another thing that makes Ms. Laverne a fabulous teacher is that she sees what her students need. She pushes Haley, Holly, Esteban, Amari, Ashton and Tiago from their comfort zone and into the unfamiliar. The six are given time within the school day, without any adult supervision, to find a way to help each other by talking about the things they would not talk about in front of a teacher. 

"Ms. Laverne said every day we should ask ourselves, "If the worst thing in the world happened, would I help protect someone else? Would I let myself be a harbor for someone who needs it? The she said, "I want each of you to say to the other: I will harbor you."

At first they are afraid and unsure of this unsupported and unstructured time, but slowly, as they open up, they find solace and strength in each other's stories. The six push each other to think more deeply and more broadly. 

Their weekly time in the ARTT (A Room to Talk) becomes a time of healing and growth as well as a time of hope.

"Like that thing Ms. Laverne said about how we have to harbor each other, you remember?" I nodded.
"I feel like your story does that. You're my same age and you have to be strong for your dad. It makes me feel like I can be strong too."
"And everyone else said, Yeah."

This story is by Jacqueline Woodson, so not only is it written beautifully, it includes some thought-provoking poetry. Esteban's father, who has been taken away and detained, sends him poems. The poetry is Esteban's, but in sharing it, he cements his bond with the other five students. The students also realize how much they do know and understand as they explore the poems. 
"Maybe this mountain sings of promises and families broken. Maybe 
it holds inside it a beautifully remembered dream. 
Tell him to hold inside himself 
all good memories - hugs. Friends. Laughter. 
Tomorrow holds no promises but now is not the time for tears.

As Haley, Holly, Esteban, Amari, Ashton, and Tiago learn to trust each other, they delve into tough conversations about illegal immigration and deportations, bullying, racial profiling, family financial insecurity, and family members serving time in prison. These six middle schoolers are having the types of conversations we should all be having. 

Where Jacqueline's characters find safe harbor in each others words and stories, so too will readers, all readers, but especially those who feel marginalized, disenfranchised, bullied, and scared. 

Haley, Holly, Esteban, Amari, Ashton, and Tiago. 

Remember these names because they will will harbor you.

I received an advanced copy of the book, so you will have a wait a bit for this one, but the wait is worth it. Put it on your book order. Now.

The advanced reading copy has uncorrected text, so any quoted text may not be the same in the final copy. 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Fifth graders reflect on Kate Messner's Visit

The incredible Kate Messner visit my school last week. I thought the visit was fabulous and very much enjoyed preparing the students for the visit, but what did the students think? No surprise here, they loved it as well. 

One student's reaction lead her family to email me about how much she loved it!  "____ LOVED Kate Messner's visit today! She told us all about it over dinner., from how Kate researched the breakout story to how she had some inspiration from the musical Hamilton. I loved hearing how Kate spent a day in the Bronx to develop a character better. Anyway, just wanted to let you know that the visit was a success in _____'s book. 

I thought it would be interesting to give the students an option to share their reactions to Kate's visit by using any of the formats she used to write BREAKOUT. You will see examples of lists, letters, text messages, comics, recipes, and I added Six Word Memoirs. Check it out!