Wyverncott 2017

reading, Uncategorized

We have a January event at the library called the “Wyverncott” which is our version of the Caldecott award (the Wyvern is our mascot).  I pick four or five picture books from the previous year and my 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade students will read them through the month of January and then vote on their favorite.  The winning illustrator will receive hand drawn Wyverncott medals (created by the 2nd grade) and hand written notes of congratulations from the 3rd grade.  It has become a great tradition that kids look forward too!

Previous winners have been:

Christian Robinson for his work in Gaston


and Alina Chau for her work in Double Happiness


Here are the nominees for the 2017 Wyverncott!


I love all of these books so much, it is hard for me to pick a favorite, luckily I don’t have to vote!  I will let you know how took home the prize!




Reading Challenge

Libraries, Uncategorized


I started a reading challenge at school where students get a prize and entry into an “exclusive club” when they read a fiction series with three or more books.  I thought this accomplishment (easy for some, way harder for others) was worthy of a special prize so I made a logo for the club (Journeyperson Challenge Champions!) using Makr app (7 bucks for a cool logo that you can use anywhere) and made buttons with the help of my coworker/friend/maker space guru, Emily!  So fun!  This picture has two of my favorite non-Hunger Games-esque series: Chasing Vermeer is the first in Blue Balliett’s mystery series that mixes heists, math, art and friendship and Chains is the first in Laurie Halse Anderson’s historical fiction series about sisters who are sold into slavery to a family in New York City at the dawn of the Revolutionary War and become spies for the patriots.

So far I have 5 students who have finished a series and more that are working on it!  I am reading the Harry Potter series for the first time.  Kids are both surprised that I never read it and  jealous that I get to read it for the first time!

Book Fair Best Practices



Last week was my library’s Scholastic Book Fair, a rite of passage for any school librarian. Before I started working at my school, I had nothing but fond memories about the fair.  My mother gave me 10 bucks and a “spend it wisely” lecture and I would immediately blow it all on cool looking bookmarks.

Now I’m on the other side, selling the books instead of reading them in a corner during my library time.  Here is what I have learned during my last three book fairs.

  1. Shamelessly hype the fair! I show a video filled with book trailers a week before the fair, then I give flyers with lots of the books for sale.  Then I have the kids circle the books they want with markers to take home with their parents.  Then I had the kids come to the fair and make another wish list (written or memorized) and THEN a back up list in case they arrived with their grandparents and the thing they wanted was sold out.  I definitely felt like a used car salesmen, but all’s fair in book sales and grandparents!
  2. Rely heavily on your parent volunteers.   I used to feel bad when parent volunteers would show up and there wouldn’t be a lot of customers. I felt so bad last year that I limited volunteer times to only my busiest parts of the day.  That was a huge mistake because I forgot about all the other things that I had to do for, you know, my job and was chained to the register for a week.  Having parents there means that you can go make your photocopies, deliver books, go to meetings and do all the other stuff you have to do without worrying that the fair is going to burn down.
  3. Save some of the toys for the end of the fair.  It will bring old customers back to the fair for one more lap!
  4. Get your teachers to make wish lists. And then post them somewhere prominent. Parents want to support their kids’ teachers, teachers want new books, I want more funds. It is a win-win-win!
  5. Have a fund raising goal in mind before you start. I wanted to start a graphic novel collection my first year and I needed a projector my second year. These goals are helpful for you so you remember what you are working for and also for parents and students so that they know exactly what they are supporting when they are buying out your eraser collection.  This year I am using the money to start an audiobook collection.

So that’s it!  I always love running the fair but I am always happy get my library back in the end!  Do you have any book fair memories??

Library Lesson: Evaluating Websites

Libraries, Uncategorized

I have started a new routine with my Middle School classes, the first two weeks will usually have a demo, either a research demo or something interesting on the web.  We tackled evaluating websites last week! Hi there!  Here is a Google Slide that I have been using to explain how to evaluate websites!

This demo was based on the “CRAAP” test, which I shortened and switched the letters to make the “CARP” test.  I know, I know, I just didn’t need to deal with the giggles!  I even make a fun bookmark, feel free to print out and use at home!



Pine Mountain: Day Two


Getting into the swing of things, its our first few days of classes!  Lots of the kids stayed up way to late so they where near crazy towards the end, the perk is that they got LOTS of sleep last night.  Their chaperone?  Not so much, the WiFi in our cabin started to work so yours truly was up way to late watching Hillary videos, Penatonix videos, Lin Manuel Miranda videos, etc.

Today is the summit hike,  I am making my way up a mountain everyone!  Crazy!


Around the library

Libraries, Uncategorized


I thought I would show you parts of my library from time to time.  I’m starting with a newly sorted “Step into Reading” (SIR) section.  Here you’ll find books for beginning readers. The books go from having just a few sight words on a page to whole chapters and last year, they were shelved in one big chunk.  This was problematic for a few reasons.  First, the books are so thin that they are difficult to shelve and find. Since the books were in order by author instead of level, it was tough for kids to find a book that matched their reading level.

So I decided it would be easier for everyone, the readers and the volunteers, if I grouped the books by reading level.  I ordered some durable bins from Scholastic (using book fair funds) and spent some time sorting the books.  Some things I ran into:

  • How do you know the level of the books?  You would think this would be easy because most beginning reader books have a number on their cover and spine.  Unfortunately, different publishers have different criteria when it comes to what is a level 1 book and level 2 book and so on.  So, in the end, I decided that the best way to sort the books would be to look at how many words are on a page of each book, the complexity of the language is taken in account as well, and sort them with similar titles.  This takes awhile but a benefit is that you will have a better knowledge of what is in your collection.  I ended up with levels 1-4 plus a bin of Non-Fiction (all levels), 2 bins of beginning chapter books, and a bin just for Cynthia Rylant (she is prolific!)
  • How will your volunteers know where to put the books?  I ordered boxes of colored stickers that would match the bins.  Every book has a sticker on it so my volunteers can just drop the book in the right bin and consider that book shelved.
  • Since the books are just dumped in bins, how are you going to be able to find a certain title? The thing about beginning reader books is that kids are not usually looking for a book by a particular author (unless that author is Mo Willems) so having the SIR books in order by author wasn’t very helpful in the first place. Beginning readers are a real big “judge a book by its cover” crowd so it makes more sense for the books to face out so that those beautiful covers can be judged!  I did add which bin the book is in on the catalog to help narrow a search for a certain book.

So there you have it!  This is the first of a few changes that I made of the summer.  My prediction is that it will make it much easier to find right fit books which will (hopefully) lead to more circulation of an often overlooked collection!

DC Day 2: Museums and Mother Ships

Libraries, Uncategorized

Once you get to DC, your days can be pretty cheap because there are 17 free museums in the city.  And these are museums that you can get lost in for days.  We picked two: the National Gallery of Art and the National Portrait Gallery.

That National Gallery of Art is big big big! We got there at the end of the first day actually.  We waited around to take the tour but the tour guide had such a quiet voice that we slipped out and hung out with the 17th century Dutch art for awhile.  There were so many paintings that you see in art books there that it is like spotting celebrities.  I hit a wall when we got to the French Impressionists which was too bad.  We made promises that we’d go back the next day but, alas.  Too much to see!

Frommer’s gave us a good tip.  The National Portrait Gallery is open “late” as far as museums go.  While most close at around 5, this one is open till seven, so you can save it for last and not worry about being rushed.  Two of my favorites were a painting of Toni Morrison that was so realistic I could have sworn it was a photograph, and the iconic painting of the four female Supreme Court Justices, both current and retired.  And speaking of SCOTUS:


We went there!!  Some highlights: the movie you can watch about the Supreme Court.  All of the portraits of former justices, AND RUNNING INTO JUSTICE KAGAN!! We were walking up the stairs, we took a wrong turn and there she was with her clerks.  She looked over, and Trent and I froze with out mouths open and then she smiled and kept it moving.  Which was probably the right choice.  Trent beat me to the FB announcement:


Screenshot 2016-07-02 at 6.53.00 PM

We also visited my mothership, the Library of Congress.


I. Just Can’t.  First of all, the LOC is the most beautiful building I’ve even been in.  Inside and out, it was breathtaking:

Trust, I took a TON of pictures and Trent took a lot too (which were way better and I am using them here!).  Best believe there will be some power points created for my middle school classes, they are going to love it!

The Nerdbery Challenge

Libraries, reading, Uncategorized


Librarians are always trying to think of new ways to promote book awards like the Caldecott and the Newbery.  I was inspired by the book Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller (author of The Book Whisperer) to do a reading challenge called Nerdbery with my middle school students.  Many people attempt to do the Nerdbery challenge, which is essentially reading all of the Newbery winners in a set period of time.  The Newbery award, given by the American Library Association to the best book of the year for children, started in the 1920s so there’s a lot of reading to do!  I gave my school a set time, mid-December to the end of January, and only the books going back to 1965 in honor of my school’s 50th anniversary.  Here is how it worked:

Students picked out a book (or two, or three) that they wanted to read.  It had to be a Newbery winning book (sorry, honor books) and it also had to be a book that they have never read before.  We went with the honor system for this event. When they finished the book,  they would fill out a sheet with their name, the title and author, and a “six word memoir” about the book.


Prizes for finishing a book were a Nerdbery sticker, a membership card (bookmark), and entry for the prize drawing at the end of the month.  Students would also get their picture taken with their book and the picture would be placed on the “Wall of Champions”

Some notes:

  • I had the stickers and bookmarks printed by a great app Makr.  It was very easy to use and my friend used to work there so I got a sweet discount.  In the future, I would keep the year off the stickers so that I can use the leftover materials in the years to come!
  • Some of the prizes were posters that I got from the Scholastic Book Fair, we get one of each poster to keep for giveaways.  I also collect things like, McDonalds Happy Meal prizes, random sticker books, and giveaways that I get from book vendors and keep them in a basket in the library so that I always have prizes on hand.  I also raid Target’s $1 section from time to time.
  • This was a voluntary event.  Kids signed up for it just because they thought it would be fun, or because they wanted a sticker!  We didn’t get all of the books read but more than half of the kids grade 5-8 participated and some faculty and staff did as well.
  • Having the Wall of Champions was a great motivator.  I finally took it down in the beginning of March and some of the kids were sad to see it go, that is, until I let them keep their pictures!

I will keep this tradition going!  It was so great to see the kids excited to try a different genre or something that they never thought to read before!


Libraries, Uncategorized

Bingo has been my go to library game for the last few weeks and it is a hit for all ages!

We celebrated Dr. Seuss’ birthday with Bingo cards made by Megan from Balancing Home.


I’m telling you, this game brought out a kind of eerie silence in my middle school classes.  I told them that I was brought up in a hard core Bingo family, so they knew I meant business.  In my family we play for cash:


That was my gas money home!!

For my littlest kids, we started playing ABC Bingo to practice letter recognition:


This Bingo set was made by Amber at Crazy Little Projects.  We play this game in Kindergarten in between books and I started giving out little erasers as prizes like I did with the middle school.  The only difference is that in Kindergarten I had to promise to give everyone an eraser at the end of March to avoid meltdowns due to unfairness.  I’m sure middle school felt the same way, but kept it to themselves.

I found the Bingo games on Pinterest, where you can find bingo boards covering everything from fractions to Star Wars!


Rad Women

Libraries, reading


One of the best things about working at a school is that your kids are close to being a literal captive audience. That means that once a week, middle school students come to the library for what I like to call, “Ms. Serrano’s feminist-socialist hour.”  This month I am reading them biographies from Kate Shatz and Miriam Klien Stahl’s Rad American Women A-Z.


A student picks a letter and the beginning of their library time and while they are reading and browsing I put together a couple of book talks using the biography from A-Z and supplementary books that I find around the library.  I’m hoping that someone picks the letter S so I can talk about my girl, Sonia Sotomayor!


(images from Rad Women A-Z)