Mini Libraries Near You

A dozen miniature book exchanges are headed to Chattanooga area neighborhoods by end of year | timesfreepress.com.

I have been thinking about doing something like this ever since Bookcrossing and other similar programs came out years and years ago.  Then my daughters discovered the mini library outside of Chattanooga’s Children’s Discovery Museum when we moved to the city and my interest in free book swap programs was renewed.  What a great way to get books into hands of children whose families might not be able to afford, or might not value, home libraries!  I dreamed about starting something like that where I live, but I didn’t think it’d be much used, since we have our own town library, a local bookstore, as well as the well-stocked libraries in our schools.  But, too often, we assume that just because we live in a nice neighborhood or send our kids to a good school that every child has the opportunity to own books or visit the library…this is simply not true!  More and more I am realizing what a luxury books are to some families, and how much I’ve taken my book collection for granted.

So, if you are passionate about reading and fostering the love of reading to the young people in our community, send me a message and let’s start brainstorming about how we can install a mini book exchange or two in our neighborhood.  I would love to hear from those of you who can build one of these exchanges too, because I have to admit, I am not that handy!

 

Booktalk: Level Up by Gene Luen Yang

bookcover  geneyanglevelup dream in pixelseat bitterness

Level Up

Author: Gene Luen Yang

Art by: Thiem Pham

Awards/Best Books/Honors:

Cybil Award, 2011 Finalist Graphic Novel (Young Adult) United States
Choices, 2012 ; Cooperative Children’s Book Center
New York Times Notable Children’s Books , 2011 ; The New York Times
YALSA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, 2012 ; American Library Association

Target Audience: Grades 9 and up

Booktalk

What are you passionate about?

What do you dream of doing with your life?
What if this dream clashes with everything that you’ve been brought up to be or do?

What if following the dream means derailing from a path that others have planned for you?

Ever since Dennis saw his first arcade video game, his dream has been to become a professional gamer.  His friend calls him the Good Will Hunting of video games, as if his brain were made by Nintendo.  Imagine playing and testing video games during the week and competing in tournaments on weekends, getting paid big bucks and meeting beautiful groupies while doing so.  Life doesn’t get much better than that!

Unfortunately, Dennis’ parents have an entirely different idea for his life.  Having sacrificed everything when they immigrated to America, they wanted Dennis to learn how to “eat bitterness”.  To them, he has only one path: get straight A’s in high school, go to a great college, study medicine, and become a gastroenterologist.  Nothing that even comes close Dennis’ idea of a happy life.

Which road will Dennis choose?  Will he be the “good son” and follow his parents’ wishes, or will he define his own happiness?

Find out in Gene Yang’s Level Up.

Tech Tool: Smore

smore screenshot

I read about Smore on AASL’s page for the Best Websites for Teaching and Learning 2013.  Smore, according to AASL, is a media sharing tool that supports two standards from the Standards for the 21st-Century Learner[1]:

  • 3.1.4 Use technology and other information tools to organize and display knowledge and understanding in ways that others can view, use and assess.
  • 3.3.4 Create products that apply to authentic, real-world context

In addition to those, I believe it could easily support the following standards as well:

  • 4.1.8 Use creative and artistic formats to express personal learning.
  • 4.3.1 Participate in the social exchange of ideas, both electronically and in person.
  • 2.1.2 Organize knowledge so that it is useful.
  • 2.1.4 Use technology and other information tools to analyze and organize information.
  • 4.1.7 Use social networks and information tools to gather and share information.
  • 1.3.4 Contribute to the exchange of ideas within a learning community

One of the reasons I chose this tool is that it allows users to beautiful, attention-grabbing products with little effort.  There are hundreds of virtual flyers one can use for inspiration[2], but Smore’s many templates, styles, pre-coordinated colors, and other design features mean even those who might not be the most artistic or computer-literate can create a professional-looking flyer within minutes.  (The website suggests this tool for 6th to 12th graders, but it is so simple my second grader was able to create her own flyer without much direction.)  In addition to text and pictures, one can add links, audio, video, and other components to the flyer.  The finished product can be shared via social media or email (to an individual or to a distribution list); viewers can post comments according to flyer settings.

I would recommend this tech tool for use in classrooms and school library media centers – it’s a fun way to communicate information as well as showcase student learning.  Due to concerns for privacy and appropriateness of ads/featured flyers, I would recommend an upgraded educator account ($59/year).  It offers unlimited flyers, education-themed and custom backgrounds, as well as enhanced privacy, no ads, 5,000 monthly emails (free version has a monthly allowance of 200), and analytics for the flyers.

Possible uses in classrooms/school library media centers:

  • Classroom newsletters: teachers can create these as way of communicating with parents/guardians (newsletters can be sent via email)
  • Book posters – these can be created by a librarian, teacher, or student to promote a favorite book and support reading/literacy; finished product can include a booktalk, booktrailer, book reviews (text or video), images (book jacket, perhaps), links to author interviews, etc.
  • Student research projects – rather than traditional research posters, students can make virtual ones to present their findings and reflect on their learning
  • History, geography, science posters; “mock business” posters for math/economic classes
  • Virtual “show and tell” – students can create a virtual “show and tell” about their activities/hobbies, heritage, vacations, etc. and share with their classmates
  • Event announcements: can be created by a librarian, teacher, school staff, or student to announcement upcoming events
  • Flyers for clubs, extracurricular activities, etc.

This is a sample product that I created, as if I were a 4th grade student, about the state of Tennessee: https://smore.com/usqf

This is a flyer my 2nd grade daughter created, with minimal direction and help from me, about pumpkins, which she and her classmates are learning about right now: https://smore.com/seae


[2] I contacted a Smore customer representative concerning the possibility of students being exposed to age- or content-inappropriate flyers while using the site.  I assume that flyers featured on the free version are “ads” and are therefore absent on an upgraded educator account, but I have yet to hear back from the Smore team to confirm this.