For the Love of Children’s Literature

During my fieldwork this semester, I have rediscovered my love for children’s literature. When I was younger, my parents and older sisters were constantly reading to me. A story before bedtime was part of my bedtime ritual. These stories and picture books were magic.

Now, the older sisters who read to me are reading to their children. My niece is turning three this April, and already she has a nice collection of books. She will come up to me and ask, “Can we read this book?” She will sit for hours in her bedroom turning the pages and looking at the pictures. Already, some of her favorites are my favorites when I was small. She loves Corduroy and Angelina Ballerina.

A few weeks ago, one of my sisters told my family she and her husband are pregnant. I’m so excited to start buying and reading books for the new baby. I appreciate my parents and older sisters for instilling a love of reading into myself. It’s honestly one of the greatest gifts they could have given me.



Where does one literacy end and another begin? This is quite a topic of debate in today’s schools and media centers. Today, the 21-st century learner is literate in a number of areas: Web 2.0, print resources, computers and technology. I don’t think that one literacy necessarily ends and another begins, but most literacies are now intertwined-it seems they have to be to keep students motivated and engaged in learning.

Students have cell phones, laptops, e-readers, iPods. Most students will have some kind of computer/technology item, if not multiple items. Children and young adults have made these items part of their daily routine outside of school. There has to be a way to incorporate new ways of learning with traditional methods. This hybrid would contain the best of both worlds to produce a student who is literate in multiple levels and areas.

Though students now use the Internet and computers for research and assignments, it doesn’t mean print resources are completely obsolete. Print resources still have a place in the library, but they are no longer the sole provider of information. These print resources now cohabitate with electronic and digital resources.

One article mentions that technology is rapidly incorporated into classrooms around the globe. Because of this, schools are beginning to modify curriculum to meet these changes. They are not throwing away old methods of learning, but mixing technology with the current standards.

Advocates of Reading

How is it possible to show librarians are advocates of reading, and how do you show students this enthusiasm for it? By simple showing and talking about books and reading.

There are a number of simple projects and ideas librarians can incorporate into school media. The best thing to do is to create an environment that highlights reading and books in the school media center.  Get the books off the dusty shelves and place them all over the library. Monthly book displays show students what books are available to check out. Create theme each month, and select books around those themes. I created a book display for the library I’m completing my field work for the month of February: Take a Read on the Wild Side. I selected more than 50 fiction and non-fiction books to display on the bulletin boards and shelves. Students had to complete an animal research project for a science class, and the display books began to circulate and the fiction ones were checked out. It was encouraging to see students excited about the animal-book theme.

Here are some other ideas to show enthusiasm for books and reading:

  • Create a blog that reviews books and highlights or shows new books in the collection
  • Write on a white board what book the librarian is currently reading
  • Use Shelfari to create book lists for students to learn about new books and write reviews
  • Provide more creativity to book talks-show book trailers, or read a blurb from the book (or have students give some book talks)
  • Provide students with a list of “hot” titles each month
  • If your school has access to Kindles or iPads, let students read e-books

Athenaeums, Not Quite a New Concept

I was looking at news stories on my NPR news app this past weekend,    and I came across this story: Athena’s Library, The Quirky Pillar of Providence. The library in this news piece is an athenaeum, a social library.

More than 100 years ago, athenaeums were popular, with people packed out visiting and socializing in these buildings. Books were available to checkout, but social and civic engagement were important characteristics of these unique libraries. Athenaeum’s would hold theater performances, art collections, literary lectures, regular lectures and so much more.

This type of library is about community, and providing a social space for people to share ideas, learn new information and collaborate with one another. The Providence Athenaeum is open to the public, but a membership is required to access certain materials of the library. For an annual fee of $160, an individual can borrow any materials from the library and attend all events at the athenaeum, among other privileges (college students can join for $35 a year). At first I thought charging people to use the library’s services went against library values, but it’s not such a bad idea. It’s a way to receive funding for the library to maintain collections and provide events.

Reading about this library made me aware that “new librarianship” characteristics were present long before my time. It seems now that these qualities that made athenaeum’s are now loudly waking up and leaping into the 21st century.

*Photo courtesy of

Claddagh Ring 101

You see Claddagh rings everywhere. Or at least on people who  of Irish descent. I have had my Claddagh ring since I was in elementary school, but I never knew the history behind the ring. How you wear the ring can tell a story about your love life.

The design for the ring was created in a small Irish village called Claddagh in the 1600s. The design of the ring includes two hands holding a crowned heart. These features symbolize friendship (hands), love (heart) and loyalty (crown). Claddagh rings are commonly worn to symbolize friendship, Irish pride or a relationship status.

If the ring is worn on the right-hand ring finger, with the heart pointing toward the fingertip, the individual is single and not romantically involved with anyone. If the ring is worn on the same finger, but the heart points away from the fingertip, the person is romantically attached or involved with another. When the ring is on the left-hand ring finger, the individual is engaged or married.

Irish Love

Some people love Thanksgiving, filled with Mom’s homemade pumpkin pie and stuffing. Others love the BBQ smell of the Fourth of July. My go-to holiday has always been St. Patrick’s day. There’s something about the music, festivals, parades, culture, the greeness and the beer, of course.

I start to listen to The Coors, Cranberries, U2, Van Morrison and Snow Patrol. Simple Celtic instrumentals send shivers down my spine. One of my favorite pastimes is listening to Celtic music at the local bar near my apartment, Coleman’s Authentic Irish pub.

Three of my favorite authors are Frank McCourt, Oscar Wilde and John McGahern. Reading Wilde’s plays in English class always provoked laughter. My favorites include The Importance of Being Earnest and An Ideal Husband. McCourt’s style of writing is flawless. Though he writes memoirs, his style and descriptions make me see vivid pictures of Ireland and America in my head. I was introduced to McGahern’s writings in an Irish Lit class at Brockport. Amongst Women is still my favorite work by him.

I load up on movies with Irish influences:

  • Angela’s Ashes
  • Darby O’Gill and the Little People
  • Boondock Saints
  • P.S. I Love You
  • Circle of Friends
  • Michael Collins
  • Far and Away

My friends and I browse Irish shops in the area to find gifts for my friends and family. I have the traditional corned-beef and cabbage, soda bread, Guinness Irish stew and Irish breakfast stew.

The beer is another favorite of mine. A tall pint of Guinness, Harp or Smithwick’s. Bailey’s is a good addition to any coffee, as well.

I also love the parade that Syracuse hosts every year downtown. Thousands of people decked in green waiting to see Irish dancing, music, bagpipes, drums and everything Ireland-related.

So, folks, let the countdown begin!

Blog ideas for the library and classroom

To put it plain and simple-blogs are easy to use. There is no coding you must know, and you do not need to excel at graphic design. Websites such as Blogger or WordPress have easy-to-use templates and application features that could encourage students to use this tool.

Here are some areas where blogs might be useful in the classroom and school-media center:

  • Posting journal entries for class reading assignments in ELA
  • Create a book club or discussion area for summer-reading programs for ELA
  • Use it to promote a school club’s activities and updates, or videos or photos from an event
  • Promote library services and updates
  • Gather feedback from students to discover what they want in a library

Where to use an RSS Feed?

I have not really thought of incorporating RRS feeds into school media centers until now. Before I mainly used them for personal and professional development. I would subscribe to Twitter handles I followed, as well as news websites and other blogs.

In an educational setting, wikis and student blogs could be a beneficial place to add RSS feeds. Some wikis have RSS feeds to alert members when content has been added or edited to the wiki. Instead of constantly looking for updates, the RSS feed can now do that for students and teachers. Blogs are another place to use RSS feeds. Students in an English class may each haveindividual blogs, and they could be required to post and comment about the book they are reading. An RSS feed is a way to inform students about new posts as they become available.

Right now, I think RSS feeds are more widely used on a personal or professional level, rather than in schools or libraries. But I think that once the current generation of school-media students graduate, there will be an increase in the schools and students who use RSS feeds; the teacher-librarians will bring that technology to school-media centers.