George, by Alex Gino

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Title: George
Author: Alex Gino
Published: August 2015 by Scholastic Press
ISBN: 9780545812542

Summary: George is a fourth-grader with a secret — though everyone sees her as a boy, she knows she’s not — she knows she’s a girl.  When her teacher announces that the fourth graders are going to put on a play for the school, George and her best friend Kelly see it as her chance to reveal the truth.  She auditions for the role of Charlotte, her favorite character from Charlotte’s Web, but is told she can’t be cast as the spider since it’s a girl’s part.  Will George find another way to show her true self — Melissa — to the world, and will they accept her for who she is, once and for all?

Thoughts: I picked up this book after a recent censorship controversy with Kate Messner‘s newly published The Seventh Wish. In the many letters and reactions that came out of that, I kept seeing the title George being referenced as a prime example of school library censorship.  My local library happened to have all three of its copies available, so I picked it up.  Of course, the topic of the book is so relevant because of recent debates over bathroom laws — whether transgender people should be able to use bathrooms slated for genders that they identify with, rather than born in — and more recently, the tragic targeting of the LGBTQ community in the Orlando mass shootings.

The fact that the main character is a fourth-grader — same as my younger daughter — also intrigued me.  As a mom, am I ready — or knowledgeable enough — to broach the subject matter?  I have always been open with my kids about sex, giving them age-appropriate information as questions come up.  So in a way, a conversation about transgender people is just an extension of our conversations about private parts, gender roles, homosexuality, etc.  We have already talked a bit about the bathroom law and how they felt about it, so it wouldn’t be a huge shock to either of them that there are people who believe they were born in the wrong bodies.

As a librarian, and as someone who believes strongly in intellectual freedom, would I circulate this book in my library even if a few parents protest?  Would I limit borrowing rights to older kids (grades 5 and up)?  Would I require parental consent before letting the kids read them?  (Place too many obstacles though, and the book might never end up circulating!)  Would I recommend this book as a classroom or school read-aloud?  (It certainly deals with a topic that is relevant and prominent right now.)  And how will I handle the parents/administrators who want to censor it — as they most likely will?  (These questions are hypothetical because I am not currently working in a school library, but surely they are the same questions my employed librarian friends grapple with everyday.)

A little bit about the actual book itself.  Overall, it was well-written and an easy/quick read, though it definitely wasn’t light.  I asked myself this key question: What would I do if I were the mom in the story?  George’s mom has reservations at first about her revelation but eventually agrees to let George be true to herself, one small step at a time.  Her acceptance happens quickly in the story, within a week or so of George’s appearance as Charlotte in the play.  I wonder whether real life parents could adjust so fast.  I don’t think I’d love my children any less just because they come out as gay or trans, etc., but I think anyone would go through some natural stages of questioning and denial (“Maybe this is just a phase?”) and sadness (for the pain and struggle the child would have to go through as a trans person in a very judgemental world) and even loss (loss of a child and what you have believed him or her to be), etc.  The book addresses this a little bit, but I would have loved to see more on the inner struggles that the mom must have gone through.  (I guess that’d be in a book based on her point of view, not George’s!)  The same thing could be said about George’s older brother’s reaction and that of her best friend, Kelly (who thinks it’s so “awesome” to finally have a best girl friend to hang out with since she’s grown up with only boys).  I wish Gino would’ve explored their feelings a little deeper, rather than jump straight into Scott’s question of whether George would transition all the way by “snipping” it off, and Kelly and George’s stereotypical girly makeover scene. There’s got to be more about being a girl than just getting to dress up like one.  (That said, that probably would be one of the most important things to a fourth-grader.)

Now that I’m done with the book, I am passing it to my 10-year-old daughter.  I told her to read it and come to me at any time if she comes across words or ideas she didn’t understand.  I am eagerly awaiting her thoughts and her review.  Chances are, she’ll have a totally different take than I did, but hopefully, she’ll come away with a little more understanding of the diversity that is all around her and become a little kinder and more compassionate as a result.  Hopefully, she’ll come to realize that it’s okay to be different, that everyone is in different ways…that it’s important, even if it’s difficult and scary, to accept yourself for who you are, to be brave enough to stand up for what you believe to be true…to BE YOURSELF.

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George resource page: http://www.alexgino.com/george/

Some discussion questions:

  • Why do you think the author chose to use the pronoun “she” when describing or referring to George?  Does this make a difference to the way you feel about the character?
  • How do you think George feels having to keep this big secret inside?  (Use text evidence to support your claims.)  Have you had to keep a secret about yourself — how does this make you feel?  Without revealing the secret (unless you feel comfortable), share or write about this experience and how you were affected.
  • George eventually reveals her secret to those she cares about.  How does this make her feel?  (Use text evidence to support your claims.)  What are some consequences of “hiding” vs. “being yourself”?
  • What do you think it takes to “be yourself”? What are some pros and cons of being who you are?  What are some other examples of “being yourself” that might be scary for kid?
  • Share or write about a time where you had to be brave enough to be who you are.  What made you finally do it, and what effects did the experience have on your life?
  • People reacted differently to George’s revelation. Discuss how they differed and possible reasons why (try to think about this from the person’s point of view).  How do you think you would react if you were each of these individuals?
    • Classmates
    • George’s mom and big brother
    • School teacher/principal
    • George’s best friend Kelly
    • Kelly’s dad and uncle
  • Discuss diversity, acceptance/tolerance, prejudice, bullying, compassion, etc.  Come up with real-life examples. What are some way your classroom/school/family/community could be more accepting of those who might be different from you?
  • Towards the end of the book, the author switches to the name Melissa when referring to George.  Why do you think he chose to do that?
  • Make a prediction about what George’s life might look like in the next year…the next five years…etc.

 

 

 

 

 

The Keeping Quilt: Patricia Polacco

bookcover

The Keeping Quilt

Author/Illustrator: Patricia Polacco

Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Publication Year: 1988

Brief Summary: Patricia Polacco tells the story of her Jewish immigrant family and how four generations have been bound together by one homemade quilt. 

Awards, Honors and Prizes:

Sydney Taylor Book Award, 1988 Winner Younger Readers United States
Best of the Bunch, 1988 Association of Jewish Librarians
Not Just for Children Anymore!, 1999 Children’s Book Council
Recommended Literature: Kindergarten through Grade Twelve, 2002 California Department of Education
Teachers’ Choices, 1989 International Reading Association

Ideas for using this book in classroom or library; brief notes on curriculum connections/content learning standards/Common Core/etc.

  • Why do you think Polacco chose to keep only certain parts of the illustrations in color, while other parts remain in gray scale?  How did she use color in this book to highlight the theme of her story?
  • How has the quilt played a role in the characters’ lives? (Comprehension)
  • This story is a real story based on Polacco’s family.  Traci, Polacco’s daughter, was the last to get the quilt at the end of the book.  Can you make a prediction of who the quilt might be passed onto next?  How do you think the quilt will be used in this person’s life?  (Prediction)
  • What are some traditions Anna’s family keeps? (Comprehension)  What are some traditions your family keeps?  (Self-to-text connections)
  • Does your family have something that has been passed down from one generation to the next?  What is it and why is it important/special in your family?  Write a short story about it and illustrate. (Self-to-text connections)
  • Class Keeping Quilts: Have each student draw or write something that is important to him/her on a piece of square, colored paper. Connect all the squares into a “quilt”.  Have each student talk to the class about his/her square and its significance.  This could be done on actual quilting blocks that can be made into a quilt and given to the teacher/librarian as a gift.  (Art teacher)
  • Individual Keeping Quilts: Have each student make their own quilt (at least 9 squares).  What pictures/writings would they include?  Have students share about the significance of their drawings/writings.
  • Math connection: bring in some quilt samples or show the class pictures of various kinds of quilts.  What geometric shapes do students see in quilts?  Have students create their own quilting patterns using pre-cut shapes.

Jerry Pinkney

kids with Jerry Pinkney

This weekend my family and I were fortunate enough to attend Witness: The Art of Jerry Pinkney at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art.  It is the first major exhibition in the country that celebrates Pinkney’s 50-year career as an illustrator and artist.  We got to see more than 140 of his beautiful watercolors, some from his children’s books, some from works that were commissioned by various clients (USPS, National Park Service, etc.).  I got to attend a lecture, and my kids got to take a picture with him and have their personal favorites autographed.  Pinkney’s artistic genius is indisputable, but I was touched by how gracious and humble he was about his achievements.  He talked frankly about his struggle with dyslexia and how he overcame his reading challenges through art — as he does in this interview below:

Here’s the video that is shown at the exhibition:

It seems like everyone has their own favorite Jerry Pinkney book…or two or three.  For me, it is nearly impossible to pick, but I was especially touched by The Patchwork Quilt (written by Valerie Flournoy) and Back Home (written by his wife Gloria Jean Pinkney) — the pictures and sentiments in those books remind me so much of the times I spent with my grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins.  The Lion and the Mouse, a wordless book, is even more fascinating now that I heard his explanation of the process by which it was created, down to how he and his editor/publisher decided on the ingenious cover.  He felt, after the project was completed, that the work — not necessarily the artist — deserved some sort of recognition, and I wholeheartedly agree.  My 9-year-old’s favorite was Sam and the Tigers: A Retelling of ‘Little Black Sambo’ (written by Julius Lester, with whom he worked on the Uncle Remus series), because she finds it hilarious that everyone’s named Sam and that the tigers melt into a pool of butter.  My 7-year-old loves The Tortoise and the Harebecause she “really liked the moral.”  The geek in me loves that the story consists of one sentence, “Slow and steady wins the race”, but it starts with just one word.  As the race progresses, he restarts the phrase, adding words one at a time until the phrase is complete by the end of the book — reinforcing the idea that oftentimes the process is more important than the result, or the speed at which you achieve it.  I hope it serves as an inspiration to students who might be struggling — whether it’s with reading or something else — that they can persevere through the difficulties as the tortoise has, as Jerry Pinkney has, and find victory at the end.

Other titles to consider for your own Jerry Pinkney collection:

The Ugly Duckling: Pinkney adapts the classic story by Hans Christian Andersen, about an ugly duckling that turns into a beautiful swan.

The Talking Eggs (written by Robert D. San Souci; illustrated by Jerry Pinkney): A folktale with Creole origins tells the story of kind-hearted Blanche, who warms up the heart of an old witch and alters her life, while her lazy sister and mother are punished for their greed.

Little Red Riding Hood: a retelling of the classic Grimm Brothers folktale in which a “sweet little girl”, on her way to deliver chicken soup and raisin muffins to her ailing grandmother, meets a sly, scheming wolf.

Puss in Boots: In this retelling of Charles Perrault’s folktale, a clever cat helps his poor master change his fortune by gaining the respect of a king, taking over a sorcerer’s castle, and winning the heart of a princess.

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi (written by Rudyard Kipling; illustrated by Jerry Pinkney): inspired by the Jungle Book, this book tells the story of Rikki, a courageous mongoose who risks his life to protect a boy and his parents from two evil cobras, Nag and Nagaina.

Black Cowboy, Wild Horses (written by Julius Lester; illustrated by Jerry Pinkney): Pinkney, in his High Museum lecture, talked about his love for old Westerns and his appreciation for horses, and how this was reflected in this book.  In his research, he found that there were many cowboys of African American descent (as well as Hispanic), and this realization inspired this book, based on real-life accounts of Texas cowboy Bob Lemmons, a former slave turned expert tracker/herder of wild mustangs.

Sweethearts of Rhythm (written by Marilyn Nelson; illustrated by Jerry Pinkney): The story of an all-female jazz band, made up of interracial musicians, that toured the country during the 1940s.  Pinkney talked about experimenting with collages and using mixed media for this project.

        

For more information on Jerry Pinkney and his works, visit his website.

Observation: Baby Bounce! at the Chattanooga Public Library

Observation

Program: Baby Bounce
Target Audience: Babies ages 0 to 18 months and their caregivers
Time: Thursday, September 19, 2013 at 10 am
Location: Chattanooga Public Library, located in downtown Chattanooga
Registration: None required
Staff/Librarian: “Miss Emmy”, staff in Children’s Department of CPL; 1st year library science student; appears to be in her late 20s or early 30s

Climate of the Building
The downtown branch of the Chattanooga Public Library is located on Broad St., with plenty of street parking as well as a parking structure across the street from the building. Patrons can also get to the library by bus or on foot. The building has a newly renovated fountain out front, a reading garden on the side, and a newly built café at the main entrance, with tables and plenty of seating. There are “Nothing Quiet About It” signs throughout the library to suggest it’s okay, even encouraged, for patrons to move around and interact with the staff or each other. The general climate of the library is welcoming and non-stifling.

The Children’s Department
The children’s department of the library is located on the second floor, and as you walk upstairs you are greeted by a large mural at the landing of different animals, people, and landscapes (farmland, oceans, mountains, etc.). Patrons can also go upstairs using the elevator, helpful for those patrons with strollers or patrons who are disabled. The second floor of the library is home to the teens and tweens as well, though the children’s section is in its own room, separated from the teens and tweens areas by a set of doors and glass walls. The glass walls leading into this area contain a colorful mural of animals reading, adding to the playfulness of the environment. The information desk is located around the corner from the entrance to the room. Patrons can obtain brochures about different programs offered at the library (and its branches), as well as interact with the librarian on duty.

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Displays & Decorations; Layout of the Children’s Department
The children’s room is painted celery green, and there are tables, chairs, and benches of various sizes, fit for both children and their adult caregivers. The computers recognize the different needs of the patrons as well – there are regular computers with access to educational games, the OPAC, and the Internet, as well as computers with modified keyboards (with larger, rubberized, color-coded keys that are easy to find and press). Each lookup station comes with its own headphones. For the younger patrons, there is a play area with interactive game centers and activity islands, allowing them to manipulate various puzzles and moving mechanisms (gears, wires and beads, etc.). There are also a couple of caterpillar shaped book bins, filled with board- and touch-and-feel books. There are many whimsical decorations and displays throughout: hanging mobiles showing animals reading, window and wall decals (flowers, moon and stars, etc.), stuffed animals small and large on shelves, a tabletop fairyland model, and painted wooden cutouts of trees located outside the storytime/programming room. There are also a couple of tables set up with books on display, though they don’t seem to belong to a common theme. Children’s programs take place in a circular room. The wall is painted in a shade of green and features a mural of children reading in and under a tree, along with a tree house, a tire swing, and animals). The pastel colors lend a calm and dreamlike quality to the room. The circular opening leading into the room is closed off by gates. On the day of the observation, a table was set up in the front of the room with a CD player, a basket of scarfs and egg shakers, handouts, and a plush skunk. There were no books displayed in the room.

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Organization of Books
Picture books can be found on low shelves lining the two walls of the children’s room. Books are also displayed along the top of the low shelves, as well as magazine holders. DVDs and puzzles are located towards the entrance of the room. Juvenile fiction and non-fiction books are arranged on bookcases extending from the middle of the room to the far end of the room. Pop-up books and series such as the American Girl books have their own spots on the shelves, marked clearly with labels. The books are arranged by the Dewey Decimal system.

Children’s Physical/Emotional State; Response to the Librarian
The Baby Bounce program I observed took place at 10 on a Thursday morning. I arrived approximately 15 minutes early to talk to the librarian, Miss Emmy, about the program, as well as to observe the kids and caretakers as they enter. Most of that morning’s participants arrived a few minutes before the start of the program and spent time in the play area/game center. A few babies arrived in their strollers, but some walked/crawled with their caregivers. They appeared alert and happy, though one grandmother mentioned to Miss Emmy that her grandson was particularly cranky that morning because he missed his morning nap. Throughout the 25-minute program, I noticed that he was indeed a little fussier than the other babies. As participants entered the storytime room, they were greeted individually by Miss Emmy, given a colorful scarf and an egg shaker, and encouraged to play with them while they wait for the program to begin. All of the babies reacted positively to Miss Emmy, though during this time there weren’t much interaction between Miss Emmy and the babies/caregivers past the initial greeting. Miss Emmy had told me earlier that she was not very experienced with this age group and joked that she was a little scared of babies, and I wondered if this was one explanation for the lack of physical engagement with them.

The Program – Outline
Here is the outline of the Baby Bounce program, followed by some of my observations.

1. Greeting song: “Hello and How Are You Today?” – Miss Emmy repeats the song for each child in the room, personalizing it each time with the child’s name.
2. Fingers and toes song: calls attention to the baby’s fingers and toes.
3. 2 clapping songs
4. Sign language: Miss Emmy said this is a new segment they are adding to the program, then proceeds to teach 14 common signs. When asked, she provided reasoning for teaching babies sign language.
5. “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” – taught body parts
6. “If You’re Happy and You Know It” – taught body parts (clapping hands, stomping feet) as well as common emotions (happy, mad, etc.)
7. Bicycle song: the babies were placed on their backs and the caregivers moved their legs back and forth, up and down; this was modeled by Miss Emmy, using the stuffed animal, Skunky. Encouraged exercise of leg muscles.
8. “Hickory Dickory Dock”: Miss Emmy asked everyone to use their egg shakers for this song; taught rhythm, and numbers 1 to 3
9. “Ring Around the Rosie”: this song allowed caregivers/walkers to stand up. Pre-walkers are held by caregivers, and “dipped” during the “all fall down” part. This track repeated 3 times, with increasing speed.
10. “Let’s Fly a Kite”: Still standing, the caregivers are encouraged to “float” around the room with a scarf in their hands as though they were flying a kite.
11. Goodbye song: sitting down, Miss Emmy plays a rocking song to signal the end of the program.

The participants were encouraged to stay and play with the scarf and egg shaker longer. Miss Emmy stayed in the room to answer questions, though most participants did not linger.

What I’ve Learned: Observations/Level of Engagement/Body Language, etc.

• Except for the greeting song, the program is entirely done with the help of a CD – with songs selected by the main children’s librarian. The same CD is used for every Baby Bounce session for the year, though the librarian can skip or replay a song depending on audience feedback. Though the songs played one after another, the program seemed well-paced. While I understand the value of familiarizing kids in this age group with the same songs, I would maybe add a couple of books each week – themed or not – so that participants have an additional reason to come back.
• Most songs were only done once, unlike what we have discussed in class about teaching the song (and any movements associated) the first time, then repeating the song as practice. I can think of two possible reasons for this: time constraints and the fact that this program is repeated every week and the participants are likely already familiar with the songs. That said, because the program encourages drop-in patrons, the librarian might want to consider doing the song twice for new participants.
• I felt too many signs were introduced during the sign language segment, especially since this was the first time this segment was introduced. That said, Miss Emmy spent some time explaining the rationale behind this segment, and the caregivers responded positively. There was also a handout showing the words and illustrations of the accompanying signs, which can help caregivers practice at home during the week. These were given out at the end of the program.
• For most of the songs, Miss Emmy used Skunky to model the movements. This was a great way to show the caregivers what to do, as well as letting the librarian take a more active role in the program, especially since the program is primarily run on the CD.
• The children and their caregivers were engaged throughout the program. There were lots of smiles and the caregivers were focused and fully-participatory (i.e. not chatting with each other; not distracted with their phones, etc.). There was one particularly fussy child (the same boy mentioned above) who whined a bit and wandered in and out of the room during the program. Miss Emmy did not seem distracted by him – she simply carried on with the program without calling out the behavior, letting the grandmother take care of the situation. I thought this is a good practice for this age group, since a) the babies are too young to understand library “etiquette”, and b) this is clearly a case of a child being tired (having missed his morning nap), not him being openly defiant, disruptive, etc. It is more important for the librarian to foster a loving/caring/welcoming environment (where it’s okay for babies to fuss) and be flexible.
• I felt that more resources – books, handouts – could’ve been provided to the caregivers at the end of the program. A couple of board books during the program would seem appropriate (especially for the walkers of the group) and it would afford the librarian a way to model reading and the importance of pre- and early-literacy to the caregivers. Since sign language was introduced during the program, I expected some sign language resources available for caregivers to check out, as well. This would have further reinforced the benefits of teaching babies sign language.
• More interaction between the librarian and the participants (both babies and adults) would encourage repeat attendance and be a great first step to build long-lasting librarian-patron relationships. I felt though Miss Emmy was friendly, she could have spent more time with the participants before and after the program.

Thank You, Mr. Falker: Patricia Polacco

Thank You, Mr. Falker

Author/Illustrator: Patricia Polacco
Publisher: Philomel
Publication Year: 1998
Brief Summary: An autobiographical story about Polacco’s struggles with reading and how one teacher in 5th grade helped her overcome her problem.

Awards, Honors and Prizes:

ABC Children’s Booksellers Choices Award, 1999 Winner Picture Books United States
Emphasis on Reading: A Children’s Choice Book Award Program, 2000 Winner Grades 3-5 Alabama
Keystone to Reading Book Award, 2000 Winner Primary Pennsylvania
Parents’ Choice Award, 1998 Gold Story Books United States
Rhode Island Children’s Book Award, 2000 Winner Rhode Island
South Carolina Children’s Book Award, 2002 Winner South Carolina
Storytelling World Award, 1999 Honor Book Stories for Pre-Adolescent Listeners United States
Adventuring with Books: A Booklist for PreK-Grade 6, 12th Edition, 1999 ; National Council of Teachers of English
Best Children’s Books of the Year, 1999 ; Bank Street College of Education
Children’s Book Sense 76 Picks, Fall 2001 ; Book Sense 76
Children’s Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson
Children’s Catalog, Nineteenth Edition, 2006 ; H.W. Wilson
Dealing with Alienation, 2000 ; Bank Street College of Education
Educators’ Top 100 Children’s Books, 2007 ; NEA Survey
Los Angeles’ 100 Best Books, 1998 ; IRA Children’s Literature and Reading SIG and the Los Angeles Unified School District
Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts, 1999 ; NCTE Children’s Literature Assembly
Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 1999 ; National Council for the Social Studies NCSS
Recommended Literature: Kindergarten through Grade Twelve, 2002 ; California Department of Education
Teachers’ Choices, 1999 ; International Reading Association

Ideas for using this book in classroom or library and/or brief notes on curriculum connections/content learning standards/Common Core, etc.:

  • Discuss bullying…how does the bullying make Tricia feel?
  • Discuss different learning disabilities
  • Discuss traits such as hard work and perseverance.  How does Mr. Falker finally help Tricia over come her problem?  What are some things (academically or socially) that you struggle with and what are some ways you can keep from losing hope?  How does Tricia’s story help you?  How can she inspire you or someone who’s struggling to keep trying?

Special features included (if applicable) — index; timeline; author’s notes; further reading; etc.  

Accessed at: Signal Mountain Library

Read Across the Library Challenge

Recently I posted some scavenger hunt ideas for the elementary school library.  I got to test them out with some 4th and 5th graders and most really enjoyed being able to roam the shelves and discover authors and books they have never seen before.  Yes, the “hunt” led to many messy shelves, but some kids ended up checking out cookbooks, books on science experiments, and other serendipitous finds.

I thought it’d be good to pair this kind of game with a reading challenge, to encourage kids to explore genres that they normally wouldn’t read or think they like.  Librarians could offer up different incentives each week, or book-talk various genres during the school year.  The “checklist” could be made into bookmarks or bingo cards (each month of the year could feature a specific pattern for extra challenge), or the entire class could take on the challenge.  Kids could do their own book-talks — in front of the class?  short video trailer?  Book posters?  The possibilities are endless.

Here’s the checklist in its simplest, bookmark form.  Of course, it can be changed to adapt to your library holdings.

My Read Across the Library Challenge

Name: _____________________________

Teacher: ____________________________

Fiction

  • Modern realism
  • Animal fiction

  • Mystery

  • Fantasy or science fiction

  • Historical

  • Classic

  • Multicultural

  • Picture books for older readers

  • Audiobook

  • Reader’s Choice

Biography

  • A president

  • An artist

  • An athlete

  • An entertainer/celebrity

  • An important historical figure

  • Reader’s Choice

Informational, or Non-Fiction

  • Mythology

  • Holidays and traditions

  • Folktales, fairy tales, fables

  • Science; science experiments

  • Geology

  • Plants

  • Animals

  • A book about technology

  • A book about the human body

  • Architecture

  • Graphic novel; graphic histories

  • Poetry

  • Countries/states

  • World history

  • American history

Library Scavenger Hunt (Elementary)

I’ve always loved scavenger hunts and similar games (my family used to watch the Amazing Race together religiously before we got rid of our cable).  This is a hunt I’ve created for 4th- and 5th- grade elementary school students, the purpose of which is to help familiarize them with the library, the Dewey Decimal system, the different resources the library offers, etc.  And hopefully, the kids have fun in the process too!

Notes:

  • Students complete X number of questions depending on time and level of expertise
  • Students can work in pairs
  • You can customize these questions according to the needs and set-up your library

1. Find one of your friends and tell him/her about one of your favorite books — could be a childhood favorite, or something that you just read this summer.

Title of the Book: __________________________________________________________

Friend’s Signature: ________________________________________________________

2. Go to the Biography section in the library and browse the shelves.  Write down the title of one of the books in this area that you’d like to read, and why.

I would like to read _________________________________________________________ because________________________________________________________________________.

3. Go to the Fiction area and find a book whose author shares the first letter of your last name — or better yet, someone who has the same last name! Browse this area and write down the title and author of one book you’d like to read.

Author: ____________________________________________________________________

Title: ______________________________________________________________________

4. Choose a number from 0 to 9.  Multiply it by 100, then browse that section of the Non- Fiction books.  (e.g. 2 x 100 = 200, so I would look at books in the 200s)

a. What is the non-fiction section you chose (000 to 900): ______

b. What are some topics covered in this section? _____________________________________

c. What is the title of a book you might like to read in this section? _____________________________________________________________________________

d. What is the call number of the book you chose? ________

5. Find a book in this library that has been turned into a movie (not Harry Potter!)  

Title: _________________________________________________________________________

I preferred the book/movie (circle one) because ______________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________.

6. Find a riddle or a joke and write it down.

Title of book I found it in:  ____________________________________________________

Author and call number: ______________________________________________________

The joke/riddle:______________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

7. Think of your favorite animal.  Then, look that animal up in one of our encyclopedias.

a. What animal did you choose?  _____________________________________________

b. Volume number and page number where you found the animal: ______________________________________________________________________________

c. Now try finding the same animal in our Non-Fiction section (e.g. animal books are in the 590s).  Write down the title of the book: __________________________________________________________________________

The author and call number :_____________________________________________

Which resource gave you more information — the encyclopedia or the book?  (circle one)

8. Find three books written by Patricia Polacco (hint: even though she writes for older students, her picture books are filed under “easy”).  

Book 1: _____________________________________________________________________

Book 2: _____________________________________________________________________

Book 3: _____________________________________________________________________

9. Find three books written by Cynthia Rylant (hint: she writes picture books, easy chapter books, and novels):

Book 1: _____________________________________________________________________

Book 2: _____________________________________________________________________

Book 3: _____________________________________________________________________

10. Write down the title and author of a MYSTERY series:

____________________________________________________________________________

11. Write down the title and author of a FANTASY series:

____________________________________________________________________________

12. Write down the title and author of a HISTORICAL series:

____________________________________________________________________________

13. Help!  I am looking for a recipe to make for tonight’s dinner.  Please find me a cookbook and a yummy recipe!

Title of cookbook:____________________________________________________________

Author and call number: ______________________________________________________

Recipe name: ________________________________________________________________

Number of ingredients: ____________

Page number: __________

14. I just got a new pet!  Please help me find a book that will show me how to take care of it!

Pet: _________________________________________________________________________

Title of book: __________________________________________________________________

Author and call number: ______________________________________________________

One helpful tip: _____________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________

 15. I am an aspiring artist.  Please help me find a book about a famous artist!

Title of book: __________________________________________________________________

Author and call number: ______________________________________________________

Artist name:  ___________________________________________________________________

Year of birth/death of the artist: ________________________________________________

The title of a famous painting done by the artist:  ______________________________

The artist’s style (impressionism, abstract, cubism, etc.): ________________________

16. List 4 different kinds of REFERENCE books we have in this library, and how you would use them:

1. ___________________________________________________________________________

2. ___________________________________________________________________________

3. ___________________________________________________________________________

4. ___________________________________________________________________________

17. Find a book in the library about the state (or country!) in which you were born.

State:_________________________________________________________________________

Name the states that border your chosen state:  _______________________________

Are there any state parks in your state?  If so, name one: ________________________

An interesting fact about the arts/literature/sports from your state: _____________________________________________________________________________

18. You would like to conduct an easy and safe science experiment.  Find a book of experiments and an experiment that uses materials you can find at home or school.

Title of book: _________________________________________________________________

Author and call number: ______________________________________________________

Experiment: __________________________________________________________________

Page number: _________________________________________________________________

Number of “ingredients/material” you’ll need to gather: ________________________

19. Find the magazine section.  Find a magazine you might enjoy reading.

Title of the magazine: __________________________________________________________

The title of an article in the magazine you might want to read: ________________________________________________________________________________

Skim the article…what is one thing you might learn from it? ________________________________________________________________________________

20. Your school is celebrating World Day by putting on an International Fair.  Which section of the library could you find books about different countries, their customs, foods, etc.? 

Section of the library where country books are located: ________________________

Title of a book about a country you’d learn more about: _____________________________________________________________________________

Author and call number: _______________________________________________________

Skim the book and write down one interesting fact about the country chosen: ________________________________________________________________________________