As summer begins, we are excited about opportunities to participate in several local outreach events and we need your help! Would you consider donating a like-new or gently-used book (or two) to help ensure we have enough books? Specifically, we need books that boys (and girls) will enjoy.
Here’s what kids are asking for when we host an event:
Big Nate series
Dog Man series
Diary of Wimpy Kid series
I Survived series
Ranger’s Apprentice series
Gordon Korman Everest or Island series
Harry Potter series
Secret Agent Jack Stalwart
New Kid by Jerry Craft
If you have a book (or two) to donate, please contact Mal at email@example.com. We can pick your books up or you can drop them off. Thanks so much for your support!
We have been waiting. Patiently waiting. Sifting and sorting. Boxing and bagging. Thankfully, as COVID cases have dropped and vaccinations have become available, our A to Z team has finally been able to get out into the community to promote the love of reading and get books into kids’ hands this spring!
To be safe and socially distanced, we created A to Z Books in Bags. With several baby board books in one bag and intermediate boy books in another, we loaded up a variety of bags with children’s books to give away at a local food pantry and family health clinic. There were primary book bags, middle school book bags, and intermediate book bags. Sure, we wish kids could have self selected their books at these two events, but the books in bags were a hit!
We also had the opportunity to host a Ready For Summer Reading free book fair at a small school in Elgin. Each student was able to self select two books to jump start their summer reading. Watching kids browse the book selection brought me true joy, and even better, was to listen to the conversations among students as they made their decisions: I love that guy! He’s so funny…It’s so hard to choose…This was one of my favorites from my childhood (said by a 4th grader)…Did you see any books about cicadas?
As an organization, we believe in supporting the reading lives of kids, helping to build their at-home libraries, and promoting the love of reading with these small local outreach events. If you have like-new or gently-used children’s books that you would be willing to donate, please reach out to me (firstname.lastname@example.org). We are currently accepting preschool through middle school books for summer literacy events.
A group of ladies, a monthly meeting and books. Established during the spring of 2010 when we realized that the only time we seemed to see each other was at kids’ sporting events and the ladies of FRG wanted more. We sat on the bleachers watching our kids games and started talking to each other about what we were reading. Baseball was the best game, 10-year old boys just learning to pitch. Those were long games, but at least we could talk about books. From those bleachers the book club was born.
It has certainly grown over time. From eight women to more than 30 now as new families moved in and heard about “book club”. The invite went out once a month, the host choosing the book. Back in 2010, we easily passed around the jar containing the questions about the book. We all knew that tangents would happen and there was a good chance we would stray from the topic which is why everyone was welcomed whether you had read the book or not. Conversation flowed easily and we always returned to the book. Now the same jar of questions is passed but there are reading glasses “cheaters” included. 🙂 Life moves forward.
The December book club was always the one everyone moved heaven and earth to get to. A lighter read for that month as we would need time for the book exchange. The book exchange was an opportunity to get a book but there were rules. All the books were placed in a pile, numbers were pulled from a jar and that was the order people picked a book from the pile. But there was a catch. You could “steal” a book that had already been picked by a member. If that happened then the person whose book was stolen could pick from the wrapped pile again. Books were carefully watched during the exchange, difficult decisions were made because a book could only be stolen 3 times. Third steal was final. Although being a small town there was a good chance that when the book that you wanted but was no longer available for stealing was going to end up on your porch in another week. That’s just the way things worked
For over 10 years now the members of this book club have met, talked, and laughed. We’ve read books that were far too relatable and created conversations that stayed with you for days. We’ve read books that we still talk about today. When going through family hardships, you could always count on book club. You could count on a good book, great conversation and support. Through the past 10 years the ladies of the book club have supported each other through childhood cancer, divorce, new jobs, moves, cancer diagnosis and deaths of husbands all by meeting once a month to talk about a book.
Then the pandemic struck and book club was cancelled. At first we thought it would just be for the spring we could handle that, it would be fine. Then summer came and still no book club. It will still be ok we will meet again in the Fall. But then Fall came and still no book club. During this same time cancer and death appear; texts are sent with words of support and condolences. And one text stands out: we need book club.
Books bring us together. Books can be shared in a way nothing else can. Books help us laugh together, cry together, and talk to each other in a way nothing else can. Books connect us to each other.
And now we have realized that book club like so many other gatherings can happen on Zoom.
(Thanks so much to Kate Hatfield for this week’s blog post.)
There’s something about living through a pandemic that brings about reflection–especially about places we frequent (or used to be able to frequent more often). Book stores are one of those places. They are the places we routinely frequent to feed the mind and the soul–they hold memories in our hearts.
When I began teaching twenty years ago, I was fortunate to become a member of the Illinois Reading Council. Through the support of my principal and the curriculum department, I was able to attend the yearly conference in Springfield, IL. It was there that I developed a love of book talks. Becky Anderson, from Anderson’s Bookshop, continues to deliver book talks at the annual conference. She also hauls a plethora of books to the conference hall for us all to indulge. Over the years, I have collected several of my favorite books and had them signed by the authors at the conference. They were the gifts I brought back to my children, my students, and my colleagues. They were gifts that opened us up to the world and brought a dialogue into our homes and community. The authors were also the ones we invited to visit the schools to talk to the children: Ben Mikaelsen, Neal Shusterman, and Jordan Sonnenblick were a few of my favorites.
Upon returning from Springfield the first year, I started my long treks to Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville. My love of the store and all it has to offer began. The events they offer are off the charts: from small author talks to full day conferences. I’ve attended several over the years with my children and my friends. One of my favorite memories is Emma meeting Suzanne Collins during her middle school years: she was infatuated with the Hunger Games. Because of these experiences, you can imagine my excitement when Anderson’s opened in LaGrange, just a few miles from my mother’s home.
While I truly love Anderson’s Bookshop, the time it takes to do the round trip is difficult to fit into my schedule. During my early years of teaching, independent book stores in McHenry County were hard to find. It was a true celebration when Read Between the Lynes opened on the Woodstock Square. It became my new favorite place to routinely stop. Arlene, the owner, has been a wonderful support to our schools: helping us arrange author talks, offering author visits at the store, giving educator discounts, and ordering books for our students.
Bookstores aren’t just part of my routine at home. My home away from home is our family cabin in Northern Wisconsin: a place I have frequented since birth. The closest town to our cabin for shopping is Minocqua. Growing up, Book World filled our summer reading lives. Of course, the tradition of the trips to the cabin continued, and I brought my children to Book World. You can imagine my devastation when Book World closed in 2018.
Our traditions of traveling to the cabin as adults has changed a bit. We began a new tradition of traveling to the cabin for Thanksgiving with our children. To kick off the holiday season, we attend the Boulder Junction Christmas Walk on the Friday after Thanksgiving. The walk through The Shade Tree is always my favorite. You can imagine the joy I felt when The Shade Tree moved to Minocqua to fill the void of Book World. With that, the selection of books has changed (and my spending budget increased!).
I’ve come to realize that book stores are part of my reading life. I’m drawn to them wherever I go. On my last vacation to Key West, FL, I wasn’t disappointed. After a stop at Hemmingway’s, Mike and I headed to Books & Books @ The Studios of Key West. I purchased Full of Beans by Jennifer L. Holm, the sequel to the book my dear friend, Terry, gifted me to read as I traveled to Key West. After reading it while lounging in the ocean, I found myself in need of another book the next day. And so my routine of heading to the bookstore every morning while on vacation began . . .
As I reflect on the independent bookstores I have frequented, memories with my family and friends flood my mind. Each bookstore is curated by a local expert, and each one offers us an opportunity to indulge in books that offer us windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors into the world around us. Each independent bookstore opens a dialogue and experience to fill our minds and our hearts.
Special thanks to Dr. A. Gruper for this week’s blog post.
For kids everywhere, this past school year ended with virtual goodbyes and feelings of uncertainty around what will happen in August. Teachers and students tried their very best during the remote learning, but at times, it was challenging to stay motivated and engaged. So now with summer in full swing, I believe one great way to support kids, academically and emotionally, is through small neighborhood book clubs.
With a selection of four different books to choose from, I invited my 4th-grade neighbor to join me in some fun summer reading outside on the patio. We are currently reading The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani which is a fantastic story of a girl traveling from Pakistan to India during the partition of 1947. Like any good book club, we have enjoyed snacks while reading favorite parts, and of course, have gotten off topic with conversations about getting your ears pierced, picking out the right cat from the local shelter, and discussing the importance of why people are protesting in the world right now. Sure, the book has supported Penelope’s reading comprehension, but more importantly, our conversations have generated connection which will elevate her social emotional skills and promote the love of reading. And more good news–my book club partner has invited two more neighbors to join us in our next book, Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed.
(Thanks to Dr. Mal Keenan for the blog post this week)
When helping a reader pick out a book, I often feel like I’m working a buffet line- trying to offer the student a variety of choices. “Realistic fiction is always a good Go-To. Nonfiction is what some kids really love. How about something in the Sci-Fi genre? Have you read a mystery this year? Ever try Historical Fiction? You know… Graphic Novels are all the rage right now and fantasy is super fun. What sounds good today?”
As teachers and parents, we need to remember what hooks one reader might not be what another reader wants. And as a teacher and parent, I have to remind myself that my fourteen year old is really enjoying a combination platter of sci-fi, realistic fiction, and fantasy, while my younger son is all about the shorter, nonfiction, high interest reads about rock climbing, surfing, and fighting forest fires. Taking the time to peruse the buffet of books at the local library or bookstore will pay off. It’s worth the time to ask questions and help kids to make the right choice.