Freedom to Read Week 2015

 

Freedom to Read 2015Freedom to Read Week in Canada was February 22-28 this year, so this post is a little bit late, but I still wanted to write about it.

At my school this last year, I had a high counter right beside the main door that I used for a book display, which I changed weekly. I used different themes, genres, holidays, and once a month I asked a grade to pick out their favourite books for the display. I tried to combine fiction and nonfiction and different reading levels so there was usually something for everyone, and I’d often select the books I read to the younger grades for storytime from that week’s display, unless the teacher had made a special request. For Freedom to Read Week, I wanted to display challenged books but to also give some of the reasons they were challenged and encourage the students to think about not just why were they challenged, but why were they defended, and did they, the students, agree with either side?

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I put up a Freedom to Read poster that I got from the OLA Super Conference and added two sheets above outlining what Freedom to Read Week was about and a copy of the Ontario Library Association Position on Children’s Rights in the Library.

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The sign above says:

FREEDOM TO READ WEEK

Freedom To Read Week celebrates the fundamental right of ALL Canadians (including children!) to think, believe, and express their own ideas and opinions, and to have access to materials that express different ideas, as guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Challenging a book means that someone complained and thought a book should be taken out of a library and nobody should be allowed to read it. All of the books on this display have been challenged at one time, because people thought they were bad books for children to read.

Can you guess the reasons? Look inside the book for the answer!

Do you agree with the reason? Do you want to read it?

 

I searched for lists of commonly challenged books online and the arguments both for and against them, and then I searched the school library to see what books we owned. I made a large bookmark for each book I selected for the display with the title, author, original publication date, arguments for and against each book, the source I’d found the information from, and ended each one by asking “What do you think?” You can somewhat see the bookmarks sticking up from the books in the display photo above.

The books I selected were:

  • The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  • The Wizard of OZ by L. Frank Baum
  • Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  • Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
  • The Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
  • Thomas Snowsuit by Robert Munsch
  • Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  • Walter the Farting Dog by William Kotzwinkle and Glenn Murray
  • Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
  • Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  • The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
  • The Sissy Duckling by Harvey Fierstein
  • The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Road Dahl
  • Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak by Deborah Ellis
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

The Snowy DayAnother challenged book that I read during storytime that week was The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, published in 1962 and awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1963 among controversy. The story is about a little boy who wanders around his neighbourhood exploring after a snowfall. I read it to 2 classes, around 35-ish kids or so (I usually let the kids vote between 2 books for storytime, and the other classes wanted to hear Where the Wild Things Are), and at the end I asked them why they thought some people would not like the book and think that it shouldn’t be in libraries and at children shouldn’t be allowed to read it. The kids suggested all kinds of things from the story, how Peter didn’t tell his mother where he was going and went out without a grown-up and shouldn’t have knocked down snow with a stick and shouldn’t have thrown snowballs with the bigger kids and shouldn’t have tracked snow inside and a lot of reasons that probably say a lot about our helicopter parenting society, but not one of them guessed the real reason, nor did some of the older students who tried to guess what was wrong with it. Every adult I asked looked at the cover and knew right away.

The Snowy Day was the first full-colour picture book with an African-American protagonist. All of the kids, regardless of race, thought this was a bizarre reason to object to the book. It gave me an excellent opportunity to point out how attitudes change over time, and what some people find objectionable others have no problem with or want to promote, and all of those people use the library and deserve to have books.

You can find the bookmarks I made here: Reasons for challenged books .

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Welcome to the Kingdom of Books!

On March 24th of this year I found out I was running a book fair–on May 1st. I admit, when I opened that box and found out, there was a lot of “I’m doing what? WHEN?” I’d never run a book fair before, or even a major event by myself, though I’ve been part of running conventions for years, so it was a little intimidating, especially since the Battle of the Books was already coming up in April and my teams had to finish training.

I began by immediately signing up for the Scholastic book fair webinar, and I should say here how helpful Scholastic was, especially my liaison Vanessa. They have webinars, guides, online reproducibles and forms and letters and web art that you can use, and all sorts of bonuses and promotions and sample boxes of books. They make it as easy as they possibly can for someone to set it up and start selling.

The theme Scholastic had decided on for the book fairs that year was the Kingdom of Books, and I love fantasy so I was perfectly happy to run with that (plus, why do extra work to come up with a new theme when all of the signage, web art, etc. had already been made?). I started planning out what needed to be done, what I wanted to do extra, what materials and help I would need, and when everything needed to be done by. I had a million ideas, but only so many could realistically be done. And of course, everything had to be done in between my regular work, and the Battle of the Books, and the normal school operations.

To promote the Book Fair, I got some of the students to make posters which we scattered around the school, as well as putting up the official posters that Scholastic had sent. I wrote short scripts that the students read over the announcements in the morning, talking about different books that would be sold at the book fair. I gave the Book Fair details to the office to be included in the newsletter home to parents. I read the sample books provided by Scholastic to the classes during their regular storytimes. I ran four art and story contests, with the winners picked by a panel of teachers and myself. They each got to pick out one free item from the Book Fair, from a promotion allowance that Scholastic provided.

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Book Fair contest winners (on right)

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More Book Fair contest entries

 

Everything was delivered on May 1st, and I had to completely transform my library. I received both rolling bookshelves that could be opened with the product was already on it, and boxes full of books that had to be arranged on table as well as setting up the signage. My thanks to the grade 8 students who helped me move tables and drape tablecloths and put out books and get everything set up (they were so sad to miss French, of course). I put up the poster display, arranged the display of bookmarks, highlighters, pens, erasers, etc., and set up the checkout tables with the credit card machines, reorder forms, signage, etc. that they needed. I created a playlist that I had running during the Book Fair (mostly Heather Dale and Loreena McKennit, with the Wicked, Shrek: the Musical, and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella soundtracks mixed in. They were the most fairy tale-ish music I had).

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The Book Fair when you enter the library

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Impulse items table

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Minecraft! and other stuff

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Poster display

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Activity center

I also set up a small activity center for the kids to play in. My sister donated a cardboard castle, and I purchased some fairy-tale themed dress-up items (inside the red treasure chest in the pictures) using my own money–tiaras and fair wands, a knight’s armour set, a wizard’s hat, etc. I do have pictures of the kid playing with them (especially the bigger kids), but the school’s photography policy means I can’t post anything here with the kids’ faces or names. But you can take my word for it, they’re pretty funny. And I may or may not have gone around for the week wearing a crown. Hey, if the crown fits…

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Activity sheets and storyboard

I set up a small table with colouring and activity sheets and crayons. I also made a storyboard set. I printed off the web art that Scholastic had created, found a background image I liked on Google images and printed it too, coloured them, laminated them, cut them out, then stuck everything on a whiteboard easel with sticky tack. It came out quite nicely, and other than the sticky tack it was all materials I had around the library.

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Storyboard I made

All together, the Book Fair was open for one week, with a teacher preview on the Friday it was delivered, the next Monday and Tuesday were viewing days so the kids could make a list of what they wanted and show their parents before bringing in money, and the Wednesday and Thursday were the main buying days (though if anyone wanted to purchase their books before Wednesday, I certainly didn’t turn down money). Friday morning everything had to be packed up and ready to return. I opened early Wednesday morning for parents who dropped off their children in the morning, and Thursday night was the school open house, so I held a family event then for parents to come and shop for books. I actually ended up being at the school on Thursday from before 8 in the morning until after 10:30 at night (less the half-hour I took to go get a pizza, of course. Gotta have fuel). I had recruited a parent and a teacher and more than 20 students to work during the family event, to keep everything tidy and answer questions and cash people out, and it was still  insanely busy.

Book Fair money nonameBut at the end, I was very pleased with the results. We passed the goal I set! I set a goal of $5000, and we made $6296.15 gross. Hooray! Lots of new books for the library, and lots of new books that the kids got to keep! Talk about a win-win!

Looking back, there are things I would do differently if I had to do it again. While the kids were excited to volunteer and help out, I really needed an assistant to help watch them and make sure everyone was doing their designated job instead of goofing around. I could have emphasized a little more that they were there to work. The organization of the announcements could have been a little tighter. The classroom wish list program wasn’t terribly successful.

That said, I’m very proud of what I accomplished. I surpassed my sales goal. I planned, organized, promoted, set up, ran, and tore down the book fair, and I did most of it by myself. I think everyone who attended had fun, and most of the students bought something. It was definitely a challenge, but one I met, and ultimately it was a great experience. Now let’s see what my next challenge will be…

 

The Easiest Way to Increase Participation in the Library (and Get Great Feedback)

I recently completed a contract for my first library job (yay! but now I need another one, boo!). This is why it’s been so long since I did any updates to this blog–I just didn’t have the time, between work and volunteer work. However, since I’m now job hunting and finished with volunteer work for the summer, hopefully I’ll have some time now to work on my large backlog of reviews. But for now I’d like to talk about one of the things I did while I was working as a school librarian.

One of my challenges was getting to know the kids–all 500+ of them, and getting to know what they wanted to read. I knew something about kids’ books, I could see what was on the shelves, but what books were the kids of that school in particular hungry for? How could I get them to talk to me, a brand-new adult in their school lives? How could I express my attitude that it was their library and that I was there to help them, and that I really wanted some honest feedback about what they wanted? How could I make them excited about books and reading?

My answer was pretty much the easiest, cheapest thing I could possibly do, but I found it really helpful, especially when my first book-buying trip came up. I wrote questions on chart paper and stuck them on the counter for the kids to answer. I know, it sounds a bit lame–out of all of the creative, technological, informative things I could do, and I went with chart paper? But they actually really enjoyed answering the questions. I don’t know if they liked being asked, or if they liked the idea that they got to write on the chart paper instead of the teacher always writing–I didn’t ask. I just put it up and let them write.

I will add that it was mostly the middle grades who answered the questions. And I was pleasantly surprised that I really didn’t have a problem with anyone writing inappropriate things on the paper, which had been a concern. I put a new question up each month.

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September 2014: What was your favourite book that you read this summer? Mine was Viminy Crowe’s Comic Book.

Answers:

  • The Land of Stories
  • Bad Kitty
  • Lego Ninja Go
  • Wethers fairs
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid
  • The gray eyed goddess
  • Whatever after
  • Laly the fairy
  • Rainbow Magic
  • Rainbow magic these books are good
  • Baby mouse
  • Diary of a wimpy kid
  • Dork Diaryis #5
  • Captain Underpants
  • Dork Diary #5
  • Diary of a wimpy kid dog days
  • Ivy + Bean bound to be bad I read a lot of great + exiting books this summer
  • Rainbow magic fairy coco suger and spice

At first, the kids signed their names fairly often, but that trailed off as time went on. I’ve removed the names from my transcript for privacy reasons. I’ve also duplicated the spelling, as best I could. There tend to be a lot of repetitions of answers, for the more popular items. These were a big help when I was buying new materials, since it gave me a good idea of what genres and new items in series to keep an eye out for.

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October: I wish the library had more books about ___________.

  • Dork diaries
  • Drama!
  • Avengers
  • By raina T get it NOW
  • Dear Dumb Diery
  • Judy Moody
  • Frozen books
  • Art books
  • Cooking books
  • Dear Dumb Diaries
  • Magic series
  • I spy
  • Sparky the Dog
  • Geronimo Stilton
  • Dragons!
  • Popularity pappers
  • Candy apple
  • Dork diries book
  • How to make your mom nice
  • Ancient Greek + Rome
  • One Direction
  • Dork diareies
  • Pirate technology + cooking recipies +knock! Knock jokes
  • Sisters
  • Mitholgy + Gods
  • Lego books
  • Ivy and Bean
  • Ever After high book 2 and 3
  • The Giver series
  • Sisters by raina t.
  • Candy Apple
  • Pigy and gerld books and other mo wliums
  • Dr. Suess
  • Soccer new additions
  • History books
  • the popularity papers
  • top ten
  • ever after high books (book 2)
  • halloween
  • copy of dork diries
  • Cupcake Diaries + how to dral
  • Anne Frank
  • Lord of the Rings
  • The English Roses
  • Amulet #6
  • World record books
  • Car books

November: Who is your favourite fictional character?

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  • Amulet #6 I read 1-5 please 6
  • Rachell Russel
  • Sleeping beaty
  • The hungry caterpillar
  • Scooby doo
  • Niki from dork d
  • Bunnicula
  • Raina by raina t
  • Niki Maxwell
  • Nikki
  • Harry potter
  • Neil Flambe
  • Mackenzie and Carson
  • Nikki
  • Nikki = dork direrres
  • Land of Stories
  • Christmas
  • Mackenzie and Nikki from Dork Dairys
  • Which oerson
  • What grade?
  • Bad Kitty v.s. uncle meray
  • Nikki from dork diaries
  • When santa lost his HO! HO! HO!
  • Ry
  • Niki in Dork diries
  • Barbie I can do anything
  • Barbie I can be a vet
  • Alex and Connor + freggy from the land of stories.
  • Juie + Lydia -> Popularity Papers
  • Duck
  • Candy Apple
  • Sleeping White
  • Olaf From Frozen
  • Jason Grace
  • Percy Jackson
  • Thea Stilton
  • Geronimo Stilton
  • Kas
  • Please exit
  • Quack Duck

December: What book would you like to find in your stocking on Christmas morning?

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  • Land of stories
  • Any Christmas book!*
  • Dork diries 3
  • Weird but true 3
  • Magic puppy’s Christmas
  • Spirit animals
  • Dork Diaries (golden book 1 or 4)
  • Nancy Clancy
  • Rainbow Magic
  • Dork Diaries
  • 6th book of spririt animals
  • Dork Diaries
  • Peaguses 2
  • Dork diaries #6
  • Guiness world records 2015 gamers edition
  • Divergent series J
  • Dork diaries (all of them) -> exept for ke princess J
  • Dork diaries #6+3
  • Nancy Clancy
  • Dork diaries #1
  • Sisters
  • Nancy Clancy
  • Dofl Diaries
  • Rainbow Majic (Special Editions)
  • Dork diaries

January 2015: Did you get a book for Christmas? What book did you get?

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  • I live in a mansion
  • I got an art & doodling book. -> not a Book
  • Spirit animals
  • Peagus
  • What ever after!!
  • Ever after high
  • I got advetrue time
  • A book-> tittle Book ->about what -> what book
  • No books at all
  • I got a pokemon book! (the dark tower)
  • Minecraft
  • Ever after high
  • Dork diaries
  • A game
  • Dork diaries # 6 + 5
  • Dork diaries
  • Ever after high!
  • I got the hunger games
  • Please get Drama
  • Smile, Sisters, Drama,
  • Once Upon a time and Cold as Ice
  • Books about skating J
  • Nacy Drew
  • Nancy fancy
  • Madeline the cookie fairy
  • No books at all !!
  • I got Amulet 6 J
  • I don’t know pooh pants 6
  • Dear dumb diaries
  • A book of Christmas stories in Spanish
  • Dork Diaries #5 + 6
  • What ever after #1
  • Dork Diaries 7 and 8
  • Madilline and the cookie fairy
  • Rainbow majic
  • Lago book

February 2015: What is your favourite Non-Fiction book? What Real Things do you like to read about?

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  • ABC Hockey
  • I like the Diffent Maple leaf player’s like Sidney
  • The player’s
  • Maple leafs Book
  • Hockey
  • I like hockey
  • Football
  • I Like to read abourt Panda’s!
  • Beathany Hamboltin
  • Soul surfer
  • I Like reading Smile, Sisters
  • I Want a sister!!
  • Giraffe
  • Like to read about animals
  • Why dose it run
  • Exotic Animals
  • I like to read about Animals
  • I like to read about animals
  • I like to read about Hamster’s or Gunie Pigs
  • J.R.R Tolkien=Sillmarion/Chrildren of Huron X
  • Soul surfer!

March 2015: What Book do you think would make a good Movie?

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  • Cupcake Diaries
  • Land of Stories
  • Diary of a wimpy kid and parrots!
  • Leonardo the terrible moster
  • Magic tree house Theo
  • The last dragon cronicles
  • Rainbow magic
  • Dork Diarys
  • Thea Stiltons
  • 22 Jump Sttret
  • Land of Stories
  • Dork Diaries
  • The pigeon series
  • My weird school days
  • Smile
  • Star wars
  • Star wars
  • Drama
  • Sisters
  • Makayla the pop star fairy
  • Robet mu????
  • Aaliyah the bunny fairy
  • Rainbow magic!
  • Rebecca the famous singer
  • Whatever after
  • Spirit animals
  • Ranbow magic
  • Oddrey joins the team
  • Thomas’s snow suit
  • Dork D
  • Anne frank
  • How to train your Dragon (already a movie)
  • The south of the Emire
  • Teammates
  • Uhhhh

April 2015: What is your favourite graphic novel or comic book? Or comic book character? I like Fray and Runaways. And Iron Man.

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  • Percy Jackson
  • Dork diaries
  • Cuckcake diriya
  • Phone bone from bones
  • Dork Diaries
  • Batman
  • Harry Potter
  • Sisters-comic
  • Dork diaries
  • Persy Jackson J
  • Dork Daries
  • Dear dumb diary
  • Dork Daries
  • Rainbow magic
  • Dork diayrs
  • Rainbow mica
  • Conner from The wishing spell (Land of Stories)
  • Dear dumb dorks
  • Dork diary
  • Supermon is I latterly like ❤
  • Sonic
  • The Silver Six/
  • Rainbow magic
  • Percy Jackson
  • Zoe from Dork diries
  • Bady mouse
  • Paper crafting
  • Rainbow MAgIC
  • Dear dumb diary
  • Ever after high! <3<3
  • Raina- smile & sisters by Raina telgemeier
  • Rainbow magic
  • More lego books
  • Raina telgmeier
  • Raina smile, sisters, drama

This one was interesting, because I wouldn’t have classed things like Dork Diaries as graphic novels, but they literally are since the illustrations are an integral part of the book. Books like Dork Diaries, Popularity Papers, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and Big Nate were tremendously popular with the middle grades, boys and girls. But when I tried to put together a readalikes page for them, I really wasn’t sure what to call them, as a genre. Graphic novels? Illustrated novels? If anyone has a suggestion, I’d love to hear it in the comments.

May 2015: My favourite thing at the BOOK FAIR was…

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  • The Erasers and the book marks
  • Being super BAD
  • Fash in dish in
  • The Posters and the book
  • The Posters!
  • Books
  • the posters! !!!
  • Ever after hig
  • Fancy! -> contact book
  • Posters
  • EVeything
  • Word search book
  • The penes.
  • Everthink
  • smile
  • the Bookmarks

May was our book fair, the first one I’d ever run. I’ll write separate post about that later.

June 2015: What was your favourite book that you read for the first time this year? Mine was The Rule of 3.

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  • Stick Dog!!
  • PERCY JACKSON The LiGHTNING THEIF
  • Confadensha
  • Spy school
  • Thea Stilton
  • Smail, Sisters + and drama
  • The lighting theif
  • Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins J
  • The hunger games
  • Dragon breat
  • Geronimo stilton
  • Geronimo stilton
  • Dear Dume Diary!
  • I FUNNY, I even FUNNIER
  • Mine is dairy of the wimpy kid hard luck
  • Big Nate
  • Sisters and Smile and drama
  • Smile
  • Bob the cat!
  • Soccer-books- Messi etc
  • Clash of clans
  • The land of story’s Enchantress returns
  • Spy Camp Catboy The Hunger Games!
  • Spot
  • Smile or sisters
  • Simile and and drama
  • SquishJ J Smile J
  • Sisters, Smile, and DRAMA

So something so simple gave me some great feedback and let the kids feel like they had a voice in the library and what I bought for them. Another advantage I’ll mention is that the kids would often write their answers down together–multiple people would sign their names to the same answer, or they would group around the paper together and discuss what they were writing. I ended up being really pleased with my simple idea.

Roald Dahl display

Dahl Display

This is a display showcasing the work of Roald Dahl that I made for class. I’ll confess, I chose the topic just so I could include the quote from “Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf”. One of my favourite versions of the story.