Reading Challenges

J. Kaye of the Home Girl’s Book Blog has issued the 2010 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge.  The rules of participation are simple:

1. Anyone can join. You don’t need a blog to participate.

–Non-Bloggers: Post your list of books in the comment section of the wrap-up post. To learn how to sign up without having a blog, click here.

2. There are four levels:

–The Mini – Check out and read 25 library books.

–Just My Size – Check out and read 50 library books.

–Stepping It Up – Check out and read 75 library books.

–Super Size Me – Check out and read 100 library books.

(Aim high. As long as you read 25 by the end of 2010, you are a winner.)

3. Audio, Re-reads, eBooks, YA, Young Reader – any book as long as it is checked out from the library count. Checked out like with a library card, not purchased at a library sale.

4. No need to list your books in advance. You may select books as you go. Even if you list them now, you can change the list if needed.

5. Crossovers from other reading challenges count.

6. Challenge begins January 1st thru December, 2010.

7. When you sign up under Mr. Linky, put the direct link to your post where your library books will be listed. Include the URL to this post so that other viewers can find this fun challenge. If you’d prefer to put your list in the sidebar of your blog, please leave your viewers the link to the sign up page. Again, so viewers can join the challenge too.

****You do NOT need to review your books. That is optional.****

(excerpted from the Home Girl’s Book Blog)

What a great way to promote your library and resources!  Imagine using this as a contest in your own library.  Create fliers with the challenge’s image and post throughout your school.  This would be a great advocacy tool to share with your school community.

J. Kaye has other reading challenges listed on the website.  Encourage your students to choose one or more of them.


What Do I Read Next?

Summer time.  A delicious respite from the hectic bell schedule we library media specialists and teachers must adhere to during the rest of the year.  Time to relax and read.  I have a “To Read” list that I occasionally add to, but often don’t see anything on it that tickles my fancy when I am in-between books.  Here are several  free Web 2.0 Readers’ Advisory tools that I’ll use and recommend to my faculty and students.

The Book Seer

Type in the title and author of a book you recently read on The Book Seer site and get recommendations from Amazon and LibraryThing (although I received no recommendations from LibraryThing with several different books including Twilight – gasp!).

screen capture of suggested reading site












Teacher Book Wizard

Scholastic has created a site that offers multiple options.  The Teacher Book Wizard’s Book Alike helps you locate similar books based on reading level.  Great for creating those Readers’ Advisory lists.  The List Exchange page provides lists of books in many categories including awards, grade level, author recommended, and themed. 


teacher book wizard screen capture











To learn more about this teacher created site for teachers, take the tour.

What Should I Read Next?

What Should I Read Next asks you to enter the title and author of a book you recently enjoyed.  The results returned are from a database created by the users of the site. 

what should i read next screen capture

And the Winner Is…..


Recognizing Excellence!

The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences bestows the Grammys (short for Gramophone), the American Theatre Wing and the Broadway League recognize achievement with Tony Awards, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognizes excellence with Oscar winners.

Excellence in literature is recognized with myriad awards.  There is the Pulitzer Prize  for newspaper journalism and literature, the Edgar given by the Mystery Writers of America, and the Newbery Medal given by the Association of Library Service to Children just to name a few.

Recognizing Excellence?

Then there are the awards that no one wants to win or awards won for negative reasons.  There’s the FBI’s Tne Most Wanted Fugitives list,  Mr. Blackwell’s Top Ten Worst Dressed Women list  which acknowledged* celebrities’ fashion faux pas, and  the English Department at San Jose University’s Bulwer-Lytton Fiction contest that  encourages bad writing (recognizing “winners”  and dishonorable mentions for the opening sentence to the worst possible novel).

The MUSTIE Award

Librarians and school library media specialists are charged with developing their library’s collection. The obvious way to do this is by purchasing materials which will meet the needs of the library’s users.  But the not so obvious way is to pull and dispose of materials which are no longer meeting the users’ needs.

Librarians have been known to pull and dispose of these materials in the dark of night so as not to raise the ire of bibliophiles everywhere:  “What?!!! Throw out books?  Preposterous!”  I propose a new award to add glamour to the fine art of weeding:  the MUSTIE.

The term “MUSTIE” is defined by CREW: A Weeding Manual for Modern Libraries  in this manner:

M =  Misleading (and/or factually inaccurate)

U=  Ugly (worn and beyond mending or rebinding)

S=  Superseded (by a truly new edition or by a much better book on the subject)

T= Trivial (of no discernable literary or scientific merit; usually of ephemeral interest at some time in the past)

I=  Irrevelant to the needs and interests of your community

E=  The material or information may be obtained expeditiously Elsewhere through interlibrary loan, reciprocal borrowing, or in electronic format

 The 2009 Boiling Springs High School Library Media Center’s MUSTIE award goes to:

2009 MUSTIE Award Winner








Arnold, Robert ,Harold Hill, and Aylmer Nichols. Modern Data Processing (Second Edition). New York:  John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1972.

 Although this book obviously was cutting edge for 1972, it now easily fits the MUSTIE criteria:  misleading, ugly (although it could be mended), superseded, trivial, irrelevant, and up-to-date information can be found elsewhere.

Now, how to celebrate the book’s winning the MUSTIE Award?  Keep it on display as an example of outdated material (keeping the bibliophiles happy), or send it on to book heaven?  After all, it has earned a jewel in its crown there now! 


*Richard Blackwell, fashion critic, died on Oct. 18, 2008

Dean Koontz Video Blog

My favorite author – hands down – is Dean Koontz.  He is a master of characterization and storytelling. 

Imagine my joy today when I opened an email from Barnes and Noble and found out that Koontz’s newest novel Your Heart Belongs to Me was released today!  Yes! 

Now, multiply that joy by, ummm, about 1000 times.  Dean Koontz has a video blog on the Barnes and Noble site where he answers fans’ questions.  I knew he had to have a great sense of humor from the wonderful characters like Odd Thomas that he has created.  To watch him talk about books and characters that have brought me such pleasure must be like what teens feel about watching their favorite actor discuss a recent movie and role on a show such as Entertainment Tonight.

Book Trailers

For more than fifteen years I have been using booktalks to encourage teens to try new books and authors.  Booktalks work, plain and simple.  Advertising a book sells it just as advertising shampoo or jeans sells them.  Presentation is everything in grabbing a reader’s interest.

So last spring, my media center showed the book trailers produced for the 2006 Teen Book Video Awards during the kick off for our READissance program.  The three trailers included the one above as well as The Book Thief and How I Live Now

 Not only did these beautifully crafted videos spark student interest, they lead me to purchase two of the titles for our collection.  As our students raptly watched the videos, I thought, “Why not have our students create book trailers?”  This idea never came to fruition as life, work, and grad school seemed to crowd out my fleeting moments of free time.  Luckily the world was not depending on me to provide new book trailers.

How else can my media center increase the use of Web 2.0 tools for book advertisement? 

 Joyce Valenza, media specialist extraordinaire, explored the use of book trailers, vodcasts, and podcasts in October 2007’s issue of e-Voya.  Her article, entitled “Booktalking 2.0”  provides links to many professionally and student-produced podcasts. These can be used in conjunction with your already prepared booktalks to encourage your students to read.

Now, another set of book trailers have been honored by the Teen Book Video Awards,  doubling our small arsenal of high quality book trailers to entice readers to try new books. Many other book trailers can be found on video hosting sites like Youtube, Teachertube, and Google Video

Here is another trailer for a newly released young adult book that looks interesting.

 The Adoration of Jenna Fox (from Henry Holt and Company)

“Watch. Read. Succeed.”

This is the slogan for, a promising site for students (and teachers) of literature.  The site presents Video Study Guides for many classic works of literature including The Crucible, Hamlet, Pride and Prejudice, and Macbeth.

Here is the description from the site’s home page:

     Rocketbooks are video study guides that provide summaries and detailed analyses of literary works. Our WikiNotes section offers a new user experience allowing fresh viewpoints and expressions from today’s students, educators, and literature enthusiasts to bring these classic works to life.

Advertisements are interspersed among the various segments for each piece of literature,  but the material offers is worth the wait.  Each work of literature is broken down into segments (chapters, acts and scenes).  The site provides a summary, analysis, and quiz for each of the segments.

Using these guides is NO substitute for reading the literature, but the use of this supplement can increase comprehension of each work. Video which incorporates a narrator and illustrations can clarify portions of a text that students found difficult.

The website is offering free MP3 downloads of many of the study guides for a limited time. Downloads for the PDF versions of each study guide are also offered.

Check out the guides to The Great Gatsby, Beowulf, and Othello.  This site is bookmark-worthy.

Image from Flickr:

Poem in Your Pocket Day April 17th

Woo or Woe on the Go!

April is National Poetry Month.  We’ve already had our annual Poetry Festival Week but want to continue the celebration of poetry when I return to school next week. has some suggestions for celebrating this month that will be easy to incorporate (we LMSs have limited time so ALWAYS appreciate simple ways to promote our program).

This site also provides a way to access thousands of poems from your cell phone.  What a perfect way to promote Poem in Your Pocket Day!