Sunday Morning Reads

Have you been following #WeNeedDiverseBooks on FB or Tumblr? They’ve been coming up with spot on books pairs this summer.


The WNDB Team has most recently been joined by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton. the Cake Literary Ladies!

You know everything is bigger in Texas, including the state’s annual library conference. TLA has got to be the most popular state library conference in the nation. Call for papers is currently open.

The Américas Award created a list of selected Américas Award titles that highlight issues surrounding children and the border.  This and other thematic guides can be found on the Américas  Contribute your activities and titles on our Facebook page:

Children’s laureate Malorie Blackman, authors, illustrators, poets in the UK are part of a movement demanding the government insure a presence of good libraries in all schools.

And in the US? Well, the schools in Chicago all have libraries, but half of them have librarians. The Mayor’s CEO says they can’t find librarians to fill the positions. That reminds me so much of publishers saying they can’t find authors of color. Numerous schools around Indiana have lost librarians, most often in elementary schools. I’ve heard of some schools in the state relying upon the public library to come in and provide library services. Not all librarians are created equal! While both a public and school librarian would be familiar with children’s and young adult literature, the public librarian would work more on programming and not be familiar with the curriculum as a school librarian would. Librarians provide technology training for students and staff, often teaching classes and providing professional development. I don’t know how we think schools can do without them.

Kate DiCamillo is our current National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.

BrownBookShelf continues the “Making Our Own Market” series with an interview of self published author DuEwa Frazier.

 Eventually, I taught myself how to self-publish. There was no one there to hold my hand through the entire process but I did receive support. I took writing workshops with the late, great poet, Louis Reyes Rivera and was mentored by Abiodun Oyewole of the Last Poets. I attended many of the Center for Black Literature’s National Black Writers Conference’s early panels and workshops. I later took children’s writing and non-fiction workshops at other centers in the city. I became a part of a community of writers who had academics and cultural consciousness in their backgrounds.

We’re already talking Back to School. Summer here has been slow to warm and it feels like it hasn’t really started yet. Slow to warm and high humidity here makes me wonder how in the world June 2014 could have been the hottest June on record. Ah! To get out of my little bubble! #WeNeedDiverseBooks






White House Petition for School Libraries

This morning, Carl Harvey (president of the American Association of School Libraries) posted a new White House petition about requesting funding and recognition for school libraries in the re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.  For it to become searchable we have 24 hours to get 150 signatures.  It is easy to sign the petition.   You will need to create an account (if you don’t already have one) to be able to sign the petition.  If you’re having problems with the site, sign in using Explorer.

The URL for the petition is:

Once the petition crosses the 150 mark and it is searchable, efforts will double to get the additional signatures.   I hope you will take a few minutes right now to go to the website and sign the petition so we can quickly cross that 150 threshold and begin building toward the thousands still needed.

Thanks for supporting school libraries!


Back in September, School Library Journal ran an article suggesting to new school media specialists/school librarians what they can do to get their career off to a good start. The recommendations were really pretty good and several I couldn’t write better myself. There were just a couple with which I didn’t agree, but my experience is different for the person who wrote that is. We have to find what works best for us and for our school.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece which appeared as part of the Women Doing Literary Things series and in doing so, I took a rare opportunity to look at my profession from a feminist perspective. I realized that one reason librarians are seen as a dying profession rather than as a profession vital to every citizen in the 21st century is because we’re a majority female profession. We’re seen as quiet, mousey ladies who refuse to give up books, never go out into the world and who think a mouse is a critter that lives in the stacks. Nothing could be further from the truth! Librarians are all about 21st century literacy skills!!

I often read advice that says the librarian should be on every school committee, stock every oddity that anyone in the school may or may not need at sometime and I think in getting caught up in being everyone’s everything at school so that we seem relevant, librarians lose focus and dilute our purpose. I’ve been asked for everything from Christmas wrapping paper to paper  plates.  I don’t have most of  those things. I do have a Masters degree, hours upon hours of professional development training and the mission to prepare students for the 21st century. I’m a teacher!

I’ve been thinking about the advice I’d give to new librarians. I’ve been working on ideas and I’ve decided to put pen to paper before I forget all my wonderful advice. The advice I have comes from stuff I’ve experienced over my short career in the school media center/library and most I’ve learned the hard way. I’ll print this list and put it where I can read it, I mean please don’t think I’ve mastered all this or feel that I am the model librarian. I am a work in progress. I would hope my colleagues could say that I am so much better at being a media specialist than I used to be. In fact, I think the key to my advice is to know that there is always more to do, more to know, more to experience as a librarian. It’s a career that compels you to keep learning!

  •  It’s your job that keeps getting in the way of you doing your job. All those little interruptions, the people asking questions, the phone calls and seemingly requests for you to perform a clerical duty? That’s your job! I learned this while working on my Masters and it has stuck with me.
  • Read materials that your patrons read. If you’re a teen librarian, then read teen books. Corollary: Know what online tools and sites your patrons/students use and advance your skills.
  •  Routinely evaluate your services. Have students and staff evaluate your performances, use data to evaluate your effectiveness and share the results.
  • Keep learning. Keep learning new online tools, master new technologies, read articles from a variety of disciplines and attend conferences. Sticking to the library journals, information technology blogs and education literature won’t help you when students are researching the effects of human interaction in Yellowstone.
  • Join professional associations, including listservs. Listservs are easy ways to exchange information and build professional learning communities; however they should be used wisely. As a school media specialist, you should know how to research to find data comparing Nooks and Kindles. If you want to know what to name your teen book group, or what they might want to read, then ask your teens! (pet peeve, sorry!)
  • There is often little to no training when you begin working in a school district so get to know librarians in you district and know who can help you with policies and procedures. Network locally!
  • Know that you’re the most important resource in you media center. This doesn’t mean you have to know everything, but you should know where to find solutions.
  • Respect your patrons. They’re not always going to look like you, read what you read or listen to your advice, but they’re who we serve in the library. For some, this may be their only spot of comfort so accept them, help them and friend them! Get to know what your regulars like and share new items with them. Embrace diversity and prepare your students for with whole wide world!

The links really are interesting and I hope you click them all. But, if you only click one, go for the last one!

Supporting School Library Month

I’ve interviewed a few bloggers and authors in celebration of School Library Month.

First up: Nathalie Mvondo of Multiculturalism Rocks! Nathalie is developing a wonderful, strong network devoted to diversity. She keeps us informed and she keeps us smiling! She provides a very interesting interview while providing insights into libraries in her Cameroon.

Thanks, Nathalie for Supporting School Libraries!


1. Librarians are people we either love or hate. Which was it with you and your librarian? Explain please!
This is a tricky question. In Cameroon, my elementary school couldn’t afford to have a library, so books, a rare treat, would circulate from hands to hands. Lending a book also meant saying “good bye” to it. My high school library was empty and closed all year long. So, my first warm memory is about the person at the front desk of the French Cultural Center in Douala. He was impossible to hate. We could borrow up to five books at once. A few times he forgave my voracity and let me get away with more.

Fast track to high school in France: the librarians were really kind, and helped me the most with thematic research related to newspapers. I am ashamed to say that I remember the books I read more than their names… :$

2. What is your strongest memory about your school library?

An escape and a safe place. Wood all over the place, the tables, the chairs and the shelves. The place was about 200 hundred years old (old school). I would pick a book after my class or during lunch break, would lose myself into a Dumas, Chester Himes or Asimov, and lose track of time. All pain or fears would go away. A loud ring would remind me that it was time to leave, and I still remember vividly the screeching of the chair when I pulled it back to leave.

3. School libraries are changing a lot! What is one thing you think should never change?

Nothing against e-books, they hopefully save lots of trees; my first impulse was to answer “books in print.” I’m trying to be good and stick to the question, to give only one answer. ONE thing that should never change is a librarian in flesh and bone. He or she should never be replaced by a computer terminal. I remember some of my conversations with my high school librarians, and remember observing one in particular. They do not only advise about books, but they truly, really care about kids and listen to them. It is a detail that matters; teachers do not always have time to do so in between classes, things might not always be so great at home for kids, and the smile and kind words of the librarian sometimes makes all the difference int the world.

Thinking about libraries today
4. Should students be taught to use print encyclopedias and dictionaries?

I believe that learning to read and write should be coupled with learning how to use in print encyclopedias and dictionaries. Not all school libraries have the same budget, and in print material, especially if it has been donated, is often times more affordable than electronic material. I do not think that, despite the technological progress, kids should be encouraged to look down on print media, as if they are outdated.

5. Should students be fined for overdue books?

Yes. That is learning to be responsible, learning put into action. They should also know how to handle a book (i.e. return it in good shape: not tomato sauce from the pizza, no chewing from the dog and no ripped pages).

6. You’ve got enough money to buy three classroom sets of books to donate to a high school. What would they be?

I would make sure that cultural diversity is represented in the sets of books, as well as some of the so-called banned books dealing with controversial topics. Classics are a given. Books offer a platform to talk about all facets of life.
My set of books would include:
Eight Grade Super Zero, by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich. The setting (high school) and the subject matter (social issues and bully-ism), the humorous writing makes this book a perfect pick for teenagers.

-Diary of a Part-Time Indian
, by Sherman Alexie

-Fat Hoochie Prom Queen
, by Nico Medina. It’s about popularity contest, drunken parties, gayness and more high school related topics. The book es excellently written and Margarita, the main character, memorable.

-A big fat encyclopedia

-An equally fat English dictionary, and several bilingual dictionaries: English- Spanish, English-Mandarin, etc… according the languages taught in the school and the population.

7. Complete the following: “Every school library should have culturally diverse books. ”
As obvious as it seems: some school librarians barely have enough books. They need books.
It is enriching for a child to see his/her culture accurately represented in a book (as opposed to stereotyping characterizations), and fun and enriching to be exposed to something bigger than his/her cultural world as well.


Show your support for school libraries by sharing your opinion on the polls that run here this month. Final results for all polls will be posted at the end of April.

AH!!!  I cant fix the typo  in the poll!!


April is.  .  .    

National Poetry Month Alcohol Awareness Month Stress Awareness Month Mathematics Month Donate Life Month National Jazz Month National Garden Month School  Library Month

Know why you should care about school libraries. Find out what’s going on in your local school library and find out what support you can provide. Donate bookmarks or pencils for giveaways. Donate your time and talent to help with activities. Talk the the librarian to find out how the library is funded (how much do they receive per student for books?) or staffed. Find out what their donation policies are and donate a book.  Attend school board sessions or write school board members to make them aware of what goes on in the libraries you visit.

And support public libraries, too! I love this meme which I recently found on BookNut blog, originating @ Reading Adventures. It’s simple: post the button and list your library loot!

I’ll be posting all month to support school libraries, so come back often!


Most of my online time today is going to be spent updating my links. Let’s call it spring cleaning since it is getting close to spring break. I’m looking forward to getting away for a very short while and visiting my daughter in Atlanta. In the mean time, just a few things to get you reading today!

Or maybe to get you writing! The Asian American Writers’ Workshop has a short story competition open to all writers of Asian descent living in the US or Canada.  The contest will name 10 finalists and one grand prize winner. The deadline for submission is 31 March.

If you have time for reading and are looking for something really good, check out these adult  reads.

And if you’re viewing, CSpan recently announced that it will give online access to all its video files collected since 1978. What a wealth for educators!!

If like me you’re spending more time reading YA, be sure to read Greg Neri’s Chess Rumble if you haven’t already! Neri is the 2010 winner of the Lee Bennett Hopkins/International Reading Association Promising Poet Award for Chess Rumble, published by Lee & Low. CONGRATULATIONS!

School libraries continue to fight for funding. While Education Secretary Duncan admits that library’s are underfunded, he as yet offers no remedy. Does he realize there are school libraries that exist with no budget?? I just realized this myself through a thread on my local listserv. That’s right, there are school libraries that have no monies appropriated for books, magazines, technology, professional development …nothing! nada! rien!!  While certifying authorities often mandate that a specific amount of dollars per child be spent on the library, school administrators will be cute with the funds and include salaries as the amount spent on the library when the dollar amount is clearly meant to address how much should be spent on books.

Have you visited a school library lately? Go and visit on this week! Notice how busy it is! Find out if the librarian’s position will be funded next year. Ask if s/he has a budget for books, professional development and technology tools. If they can’t by print books, you know electronic resources aren’t even an issue! The students we’re educating today are our present and future leaders. Find out what they’re getting in the library, the hub of the 21zt century school!

Have a reading filled week!