Monday, December 6, 2010

Pocket Books

After Liz Garton Scanlon came to the library, some of our first graders jumped into writing "pocket books." Be sure to read some of these on the tall shelf behind the aquarium. A visit from an author is just so inspiring!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Recipe for Writing an Autumn Poem

I was so lucky to see Georgia Heard, a gifted poet and poetry lover, two years ago at the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) annual conference in San Antonio. Her new collection of list poetry, Falling Down the Page, was just about to be released, and she talked about the making of it. I knew that this was a book that we needed in our library. It's great for read aloud, and it is a wonderful mentor text for the writing workshop as students create list poems. This is one of Georgia's poems that appears in this collection.

by Georgia Heard

One teaspoon wild geese.
One tablespoon red kite.
One cup wind song.
One pint trembling leaves.
One quart darkening sky.
One gallon north wind.

We used Vocaroo to record the poem read by the second grader who also created the illustration.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Liz Garton Scanlon Visit

Author visits are always exciting and fun. Some are inspiring and energizing. That's what we had when Liz Garton Scanlon came to meet with our kindergarten and first grade today. We were all looking forward to her visit, and we wanted to welcome her to Parish. We hoped that this "All the world is all of us" banner would let her know that we were thrilled to meet her.
Liz described her life as a writer. In her slippers, with her dog at her feet, sipping a cup of tea, she works hard doing the thing that she loves. She reminded us that sometimes it takes time and thought to make writing just right. She invited and encouraged the children to think, wonder, and share ideas. Hands were waving and heads were nodding as the children related to her message. Liz helped us notice details in the words and illustrations as she read All the World and A Sock is a Pocket for Your Toes. She even gave us a sneak peak of her newest book, Noodle and Lou, which is scheduled to be out in the spring. It was a fabulous morning with an outstanding author.

Recycle a Book!

We celebrated America Recycles Day with our first "Recycle a Book Day." All kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd graders were invited to bring a book that they had finished reading and that they thought a friend would enjoy. They traded for a book that they would enjoy reading. We set up tables in the gym, and students shopped for a new book during lunchtime. Everyone found something that they were excited to take home to read. Books are the perfect things to recycle! If you forgot to bring a book this time...don't worry. We'll plan more book recycling days this year.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Secrets of Droon

We need to put Secrets of Droon books on speed dial on our library catalog. These books have been spinning on and off the shelves. Second graders are ready to meet the author, Tony Abbott on Wednesday. You can see for yourself...they have found a series that they like!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Authors are Coming!

Charlotte Walker was the beloved great grandmother of Emory and Sydney, two of our Parish students. She was also a school teacher who shared her love for literature with the children she inspired. A generous donation given in honor of Charlotte Walker has provided us with the incredible opportunity to bring some fantastic authors to Parish this year.

Liz Garton Scanlon will visit with the kinders and 1st graders on Monday, November 15. She is the amazing author of All the World which was the 2010 Caldecott Honor Book, a New York Times Best Book of 2009, a Kirkus Best Book of 2009, a School Library Journal Best Book of 2009, and a Parent's Choice Gold Award winner. Her new book, A Sock is a Pocket For Your Toes promises to be a favorite read-aloud in our library.

Second graders have ALL been reading and loving books in The Secrets of Droon series. After the classroom teachers read the first book in the series aloud, the students each chose another book in the series to read and discuss with a Friday afternoon book club in one of the classrooms or in the library. The book talk has been very lively! The books are full of so much fun excitement and adventure. The author, Tony Abbott, will be at our Midway campus meeting with the 3rd - 6th grades on Wednesday, November 17. We will join the presentation and conversation via Skype from the Hillcrest library.

Susan Stevens Crummel, the author of Cook-a-Doodle-Doo!, winner of the 2001 Texas Bluebonnet Award, The Great Fuzz Frenzy, winner of 10 state book awards, and Help Me, Mr. Mutt! one of Time Magazine's Top 10 Children's Books of 2008 and winner of the 2010 Texas Bluebonnet Award is scheduled to visit with the kindergarten, first and second grades in January. Some students from the Midway campus may join that visit via Skype. Susan is an amazing author who excites and energizes children about books.

Visiting with authors makes a tremendous impact on readers. I can't wait!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Texas Book Festival

If you're a book lover, the Texas Book Festival in Austin is the place for you! The Texas Book Festival began 15 years ago to support library literacy programs around the state. Every year, authors with new books from all around the world gather inside and outside the Texas Capitol. I spent my festival time in the children's "Read Me a Story" tent where I met three-time Caldecott winner, David Wiesner and listened to him read his newest creation, Art and Max and his incredible book, Flotsam. I loved meeting and learning from authors Keith Graves (Chicken Big), Sara Pennypacker (Clementine, Friend of the Week), Anna Dewdney (Llama Llama Holiday Drama), Bonny Becker (Bedtime for Bear), Chris Barton (Shark vs. Train), Tim Tingle (When Turtle Grew Feathers), and Peter Brown (Children Make Terrible Pets). A highlight for me was the 2011-2012 Texas Bluebonnet Master List Announcement Party led by brilliant authors Michael Buckley and Dr. Cuthbert Soup.
I bought a lot of new books for our library and the authors autographed them for our Parish Readers. Fun!

Create your own video slideshow at

Friday, October 22, 2010

Little Mikey

Little Mikey, the popular library pet tarantula, lived with us at Parish for over 15 years. Mikey died last week. Mikey had a VERY long life for a spider. Over the years, many, many Parish students watched Little Mikey quietly sit under his log and shivered when he occasionally climbed the glass to the top of his home. The children, teachers, and parents have been writing some of their thoughts and memories about Mikey in a book that we'll keep in the library. Little Mikey inspired wonder and fascination for years and years. He will be missed!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Surprise Skype Reader

Our surprise reader was REALLY a surprise for one of our Pre-K friends. Her older sister, a student on our Midway campus, joined us in the library via Skype. The third grade sister had a spellbound audience as she told Mo Willems's story of Leonardo, the Terrible Monster. It was so much fun! I hope that we'll see many more of our Midway friends with us at story time back in the Hillcrest Library!

Illustration Study

The kindergarten and first grade are immersed in an illustration study in writing workshop in their classrooms. They are learning about how an illustrator makes decisions about pictures and how it is very much like making decisions about words as a writer. In the library this week, we looked closely at Emily Gravett's books. We noticed some of the techniques that she uses in her illustrations to show time passing and movement through different spaces. Her pictures capture expressions and reveal so much more of the story than the words alone provide. Her books are just fun to see and read! I bet some young writers will experiment with some of the illustrator's craft that they noticed in Emily Gravett's books as they work on their own books.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Happy Birthday, Spot!

There's always so much excitement around Blessing of the Animals at our school. I always look for favorite books about dogs and cats to read in the library. This year, Spot books by Eric Hill celebrate 30 years. The Pre-K loved looking at his books and exploring the Fun With Spot site on the SmartBoard. Happy birthday, Spot!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Boys Read

There's so much excitement for reading happening with the second grade boys this year, and they are coming to me and initiating the most fun conversation about it! I keep hearing, "Mrs. Maher, have you ever read...?" As they describe in detail the series that they've discovered, their eyes twinkle, and it is obvious that they've found books to love. Here's what they're saying...

Trading Cards by BigHugeLabs

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Destiny and Dinosaurs

There's always something to celebrate in the library! This month it's dinosaurs. Did you know that our library has 210 books about dinosaurs on the shelves? Look for yourself. Our Parish libraries recently upgraded our software to Destiny. Click here and take some time at home to explore and look for books that you might want to read. The 2nd graders are doing a great job finding books in the library!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tour of Our Library

Months ago, an elementary librarian in Bangkok had an idea that I loved. She posted a tour of the library in her International School and suggested that other librarians do the same. I used our Flip camera in a walk through our library. I'm excited that other librarians and visitors might see this place where so much happens at our school. Thanks, Tara, for this great idea and so many others!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Bruce Coville and Story Book House

I was so lucky to meet and chat with the talented and wildly successful author, Bruce Coville, this weekend at The Story Book House. Bruce has published more than 100 books. I loved visiting with this phenomenal author because he so obviously loves writing for and talking with children. His Moongobble and Me series is one of my favorites. Dragon of Doom is the first book in this fun-to-read series. Moongobble is a magician who has a lot of trouble casting his spells. Edward is a neighbor boy who works as Moongobble's apprentice. Together, they face the fearsome Dragon of Doom. This fast paced series has the magical feel of Harry Potter, but it is written for younger readers. Be sure to look for these and other Bruce Coville books in our library.

I have often dreamed of owning a children's bookstore and imagined what it would be like. The Story Book House is that bookstore of my dreams! Not only are they located in a wonderful 100 year old house that is home to a fantastic collection of children's books, they also have an amazing gallery of original illustrations from children's picture books. The owners have a commitment to literacy and so obviously share a love and excitement about reading. Their events calendar is full of fantastic author visits. You will want to plan a visit to this independent book store. You'll love it!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

One Read-Aloud

Ask anyone in kindergarten, first grade, or second grade about the book that they are listening to at read aloud time in their classrooms, and you'll hear all about a little boy's quest to rescue a baby dragon from Wild Island. Everybody's reading My Father's Dragon, the 1949 Newbery Honor Book written by Ruth Stiles Gannett. Having a common read-aloud at the beginning of the school year is really a fun way to build excitement and encourage conversation about reading. Does anyone know how chewing gum, toothpaste, and hair ribbons helped the boy get closer to the dragon? How could the boy use SIX magnifying glasses? Be sure to ask a Panther reader!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Baby Panthers Read

Do you have a little Panther Cub at your house?
The Hillcrest Library is beginning to build a collection of books just for our youngest Panther Cubs (little brothers and sisters of our Pre-K - 2nd grade students.) Study after study reports the benefit of reading with our children from the time that they are babies. Check this PBS website for a great description of reading milestones for babies and toddlers. It’s never too early to begin to grow baby bookworms. Babies begin to show an interest in books at about four months. They might prefer chewing on them to listening to them at this age, but over the next few months they begin to enjoy the stories that they hear over and over again, and they especially begin to enjoy hearing the language and experiencing the closeness and routine of sharing books.

These happy baby booklovers drop their toys and come crawling to hear Charise Mericle Harper’s Good Night, Leo as part of their nightly bedtime routine. Making books a fun part of each day is the best way to encourage a lifelong love of reading.

I hope you'll find a comfortable spot to sit together and enjoy some of these new books with your little ones. Happy reading!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Audio Books and Literacy

The road to becoming a reader begins with hearing stories and books read aloud. Research shows that when children listen to reading that it fosters the process of phonemic awareness and provides a model for fluent reading. It also provides an opportunity for the reader to be exposed to new vocabulary. Audio books can be a fantastic tool for developing literacy.
Today I cataloged and bagged over 40 new audio books for the library. These will be available for checkout when school begins. I know that the students will love being able to listen to reading and to read along with these terrific books. They'll be a perfect way to spend some of that driving and waiting time in the car.
Members of the Screen Actors Guild read books aloud to children at Storyline Online. You'll want to explore this site.
Our subscription to Tumblebooks is also being well used! Already, almost 800 books have been listened to or read! If you've missed seeing and checking out this resource, click here to go directly to the site:

User name: parishreads
Password: tumble

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Exciting New BooksFor Teachers

I'm so excited about these new books for teachers in our library. Take a look at them, and I know you'll be inspired by what you read!

Recently, several people have twittered or blogged about The Third Teacher: 79 Ways You Can Use Design to Transform Teaching & Learning. It's all about using imagination and creating the ideal learning environment for children. It asks what the school of the future will look like. Environment...that's "the third teacher." Get a taste of the book at the website - I've started reading this book, and you're going to have to pry it from my hands.

The Cafe Book by "The Sisters," Gail Boushey and Joan Moser presents information about ways to integrate assessment into daily reading. It is the complement to The Daily Five, a book that has been read and dogeared by many of our teachers.

If you liked Reading With Meaning, you'll want to check out Debbie Miller's Teaching With Intention. Stenhouse wrote, "Teaching with Intention offers a compelling reminder that truly transformative teaching is built from the ground up, and is rebuilt every year, by every teacher, in every classroom, with every new group of students." She will have you thinking!

Katie Wood Ray says, "If teachers show children how an illustrator’s decisions about pictures are a lot like a writer’s decisions about words, they form a bridge of understanding that nurtures children as writers." Her newest book is "In Pictures and In Words: Teaching the Qualities of Good Writing Through Illustration Study." Katie is one of my favorite teacher mentors. We'll all be talking about this book...might need more than one!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Summer Reading

Summer! It is the perfect time for reading! I've been building a pile of books for three months to savor this summer. We've been talking about setting reading goals for the summer this week in the library. The first and second graders brainstormed specific goals that they might work toward this summer. It may be to find a new book series or to try a new genre. It might be to read more books in a series that is already familiar and fun. This week all of the first and second graders will write one goal on a summer sun. I'll save the first graders' suns and pass the second graders' on to Mrs. Wilson, the librarian at Midway. It will be a perfect starting point for book talk in August and a great way to look back at our summer reading accomplishments.

Kim Maughan, the fantastic children's librarian from our neighborhood Fretz Park library, treated the first and second graders to a lively reading of Wild About Books, and then she described the summer reading fun planned at the Dallas libraries. There are many fun and free programs being planned for children.
Bookstores also offer incentives for young readers in the summer. Here are a few:
Barnes and Noble
Half Price Books

Our Parish summer reading lists are posted on our school website. Remember that these lists are only a starting point for ideas.

Parents, if you are looking for a summer reading challenge of your own, you might like to scan the new Lariat List of recommended adult fiction created by the Texas Library Association.

Happy summer reading!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Parish families now have access to TumbleBooks, a collection of online animated talking picture books. Have fun exploring all of the books, games, and features on the site. TumbleBooks are designed to be experienced in either automatic or manual mode. In automatic mode, the pages turn by themselves and are narrated. In manual mode, the narration is turned off and users turn the pages at their own speed. This might be a fun resource for summer reading for our children. Be sure to let me know your thoughts! Just click on the link below. Happy reading!

User name: parishreads
Password: tumble

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Student Book Creations

Don't miss reading some fantastic books created by our second grade writers and artists. The students took their learning about writing and combined it with their artistic creativity in the art room to produce wonderful books that are being read and enjoyed by many of the visitors in the library. Look for them on the tall shelf by the aquarium. You'll be delighted and amazed at the learning that has happened in the classrooms!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

One Read

Parish readers proved that books have the power to bring people together. NINETY FIVE first and second graders and twenty nine teachers and staff signed up to read and stay after school to talk about 7 X 9 = Trouble! by Claudia Mills. The meeting and celebration began on the playground with an ice cream cone similar to the ones that the book's characters enjoyed. Loads of book talk, fun, and reflection took place in small group breakouts.

We gathered together in the library with one of our extremely talented and beloved Parish seniors for a fantastic storytelling.

We unveiled an incredible new reading poster created by one of our amazing eight graders that will hang in our library.
The afternoon ended with a very special video created by author, Claudia Mills, just for our Parish readers. She congratulated them on their reading and gave them some of the background for writing this book. She also described the upcoming sequel.

Books have the power to bring people together. A community of readers and thinkers...that's what we are!

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Book Fair - Looking Back

What a whirlwind of a week! It felt like Christmas when the dozens and dozens of boxes and shelves full of books were delivered to the library on Tuesday. The volunteers, who are truly "friends of the library," spent hours sorting and arranging those books so that when the students arrived early Wednesday morning, they found a book wonderland. I loved listening to their conversations about the books. They encouraged each other to try new authors and gave reviews of books that they recommended to their friends. They delighted in finding familiar titles and showing them to their parents. They made many return visits just to browse and fill in wish lists. For me, this week offered the perfect chance to read new books that we could add to our collection. I bought several that are sure to be story time favorites. Next week, the young ones will meet Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes. with its downloadable song. We'll be reading, singing, grooving and remembering that, like Pete says, "It's all good!"

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Book Fair - Looking Ahead

This week is our Book Fair. The excitement starts on Tuesday afternoon when the books are delivered and the fabulous volunteers help set up. The shoppers arrive on Wednesday morning. The children's enthusiasm about books and reading fills the library. I can't wait! Hope to see you there.

I couldn't resist making this Google Search Story in anticipation of our Book Fair! Thanks to Mary Lee for the inspiration!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Poetry Month

Our Children's Poet Laureate, Mary Ann Hoberman, has loved and written poetry for most of her life. She writes about everything...the simplest fun ways. She emphasizes that poetry is really about thinking about words and playing with words and how they sound. Her poems are full of rhyme and rhythm, but she tells children to focus on the kind of poetry that they like, and poetry doesn't need to rhyme. She believes that when children memorize poems that they will have them for all of their lives and never lose them. We spent the week looking at this wonderful poetry ambassador's books and poems. We even got to watch parts of videos of her reading some of her poems. What a treat! Our students and teachers are sharing some of their favorite poems with each other on our bulletin board. Be sure to pick a poem for your pocket as you pass through the library this month.