Posts Tagged ‘librarians and libraries’

Library Let Down ~You Had Your Chance, and You Blew It

Posted on May 1st, 2013 by Carolyn Hart


image of a sign on the exterior wall of a libraryAlmost three weeks ago, I drove forty five minutes from my home and met up with my eighteen year old nephew. He had just disembarked from a forty minute ferry ride. Our purpose in meeting was to spend the day together and make progress with his online Communications 12 course work. My nephew is a remarkable young man. Orally, he uses words like ‘pristine’ and ‘colleagues’ but, when he comes to writing those words on paper or typing them into a computer, he is challenged. Working his way through Communications 12 has not been easy. It is not offered at his high school. He is forced to work independently, completing assignments online.

When I say that graduating from Grade 12 in June will be a spectacular achievement and one that the entire family will celebrate joyfully, I really mean it.

To my nephew’s enormous credit he has persevered with the online course and even came and stayed with me over Spring Break so we could work together on it. We managed to make a good deal of progress during Spring Break but there was still a long way to go. We decided to meet in a Monday.

I drove to the ferry terminal and picked my nephew up. Because we needed WIFI and a place where we could optimise productivity, we drove to the nearest public library. It was not “my” public library nor was it “his” public library. It was the closest public library to the ferry terminal.

Although I had been to this library previously, it is not one that I know well. When we arrived, we explored the first floor, looking for a suitable place to work together. There were “Quiet” rooms and individual study carrels but we didn’t find anything suitable for the two of us. We walked up the stairs and found the Children’s Section to our right and the Teen Room to our left. Just beyond the Teen Room, we could see a group of four people who occupied a glass-enclosed meeting room. The Teen Room was empty and we decided it would be a good place to open our laptops and get to work.

We settled ourselves at a counter, signed into the WIFI and got started. It probably would not surprise you to know that the Teen Room was lovely and quiet on a Monday morning. In fact, the entire time we were in the Teen Room, we did not see another patron. We worked our way through a couple of Communications 12 assignments and were surprised when a librarian approached us and informed us that we were in “THE TEEN ROOM.” We explained that we knew we were in the Teen Room, that my nephew is 18 and that we were working on Communications 12. Seemingly satisfied, she left us.

We got back to work and continued to make progress with his coursework. We were completely alone. Not one other person came into the Teen Room until, a half hour later, another librarian approached us. “This is The Teen Room,” she said. It was pretty clear that she knew we had already had a similar discussion, “We don’t allow anyone who is over 18 into this room. Not parents, not tutors.”

It was not even worth mentioning that I am neither a parent nor my nephew’s tutor. I am just someone who loves him and will do anything to help him succeed. We were told to move downstairs or into the Children’s Section.

We packed up the laptops and moved to the Children’s Section where preschool-aged children happily chattered about picture books and distracted an eighteen year old who was desperate to get as much work done as possible.

I would not have minded being asked to move out of the Teen Room if either librarian had offered encouragement or support. In my opinion, rather than ensuring that no adult ever steps foot into an otherwise unoccupied Teen Room, librarians ought to be delivering a message of support: ‘We are here to help you,’ ‘If there is anything you need, please let us know,’ ‘Congratulations on your upcoming Graduation’ would all have been great messages under the circumstances.

It may not be immediately apparent to a librarian, but my nephew’s upcoming graduation is a momentous, life changing accomplishment that has been earned the hard way. The fact he is choosing to spend a day, holed up in the library, with his aunt is also awesome. You could have made that day brighter. You could have made that day more productive. You could have delivered a message of support. Instead, your disapproval was clear. Your lack of enthusiasm was clear. Your lack of interest in a young man who is admirably dealing with challenges you have never known was clear.

Regrettably, I left feeling that I would rather not visit your library again. How sad.

Read Alouds for 7-10 year olds, approved by a difficult-to-please 8 year old boy

Posted on August 19th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


Storytime Standouts Suggests Read  Alouds for 7-10 Year Olds

Finding great books for 7 – 10 year olds to enjoy can be enormously rewarding. The initial learn–to-read phase is complete and we hope our children will chose to read for pleasure. When, as parents, we check to see why things are so quiet and discover our children with a book, it is indeed a special ‘a-ha’ moment.

Just as reading picture books aloud is important to very young children, it is vital that mom and/or dad continues to read aloud to emergent readers. Long after your child reads independently there are books worth exploring together. Sharing wonderful chapter books with your child will motivate him to read more challenging books. There are marvelous fantasies, legends, and mysteries for you and your child to discover.Charlotte's Web

A grade two teacher recently wrote to me, hoping for some read aloud recommendations. She had already shared James and the Giant Peach
by Roald Dahl, Freckle Juice by Judy Blume and Charlotte’s Web
by E.B. White with her class. I replied to her and shared these suggestions – I have personally tested each and every one with a difficult-to-please eight year old boy.

Here are my suggested read alouds for 7-10 year olds

Follow this link for many more chapter book suggestions for 7-10 year olds

image of cover art for A Mouse Called WolfA Mouse Called Wolf written by Dick King Smith
Chapter book for 7-10 year olds published by Yearling, an imprint of Random House

When looking for books to share with this age group, I would encourage you to take a look at Dick King-Smith’s books. King-Smith wrote Babe: The Gallant Pig and Ace: A Very Important Pig and numerous other wonderful animal stories. A Mouse Called Wolf is one of my favourites. It explores the love of music and also the loneliness that sometimes accompanies old age.

Reading one of Dick King-Smith’s books might launch a reader into his entire booklist.

A Mouse Called Wolf at

A Mouse Called Wolf at

image of cover art for The Legend of Spud MurphyThe Legend of Spud Murphy written by Eoin Colfer and illustrated by Glenn McCoy
Chapter book for 7-10 year olds published by Miramax

My 8 year old and I enjoyed Eoin Colfer’s Legend of Spud Murphy and Eoin Colfer’s Captain Crow’s Teeth together. Both were good fun and will be enjoyed by 7-10 year olds. The Legend of Spud Murphy has a very good message about reading and books therefore, I chose it as my favourite. Eoin Colfer is the author of the Artemis Fowl series (for older children).

Eoin Colfer’s Legend of Spud Murphy at

Eoin Colfer’s The Legend of Spud Murphy at

image of cover art for The Seven Wonders of Sassafras SpringsThe Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs written by Betty G. Birney and illustrated by Matt Phelan
Chapter book for 7-10 year olds published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

For something completely different, I like The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs . Here we have a young boy who reads about the Seven Wonders of the World and longs to explore the world outside his hometown. His dad agrees to send him on a trip but first he must find The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs.
There are all sorts of opportunities for extention activities, possibly building an entire unit around this book. Perhaps your students could be encouraged to find a ‘wonder’ all their own.

The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs at

The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs at

image of cover art for Truly Winnie Truly Winnie – written by Jennifer Richard Jacobson and illustrated by Alissa Imre Geis
Chapter book for 7-10 year olds published by Sandpiper

Winnie, Vanessa and Zoe are off to their first overnight camp! They’ll be away from home for two weeks – swimming, climbing, boating and making new friends. Winnie, whose mother died after she was born, knows all too well that she is different from other girls. When she is assigned to a tent away from her closest friends, she is forced to make new friends. When getting to know her fellow campers, Winnie tells of her mother’s many accomplishments and before long is caught in a web of deception.

I read Truly Winnie aloud to my eight-year-old son. When I suggested we give it a try, I thought he might resist because the main characters are all girls (imagine!) In fact, the camp theme and compelling story made the Truly Winnie a good choice for both boys and girls. Nominated for the 2004 Rhode Island Children’s Book Award and chosen by the School Library Journal for their annual Children’s Curriculum, Truly Winnie offers many opportunities for discussion including

How it feels to a be a ‘third wheel”
How being away from home changes the campers and
Why Winnie feels she must invent a mother

Truly Winnie at

Truly Winnie at

The Boy with Lightning Feet – written by Sally Gardner and illustrated by Lydia Corry
Chapter book for 7-10 year olds published by Orion Children’s Books

Timmy Twinkle has lived with his grandfather since his mom left the family and moved to Spain. The loss of his mom leaves Timmy feeling empty. He tries to fill the void with food and before long he is chubby, friendless and a target for bullies.

Timmy dreams of playing football (soccer), but his weight problem renders him clumsy at sports.

When a friend comes to stay with Timmy and his grandfather, she shares her passion for physical fitness. Before long Timmy is lean and ready to discover the magic in his toes.

Part of Ms. Gardner’s Magical Children series, The Boy with Lightning Feet will hold a special appeal for football (soccer) players and children who lack confidence in their own magical qualities. It was a definite winner in our household.

The Boy with the Lightning Feet at

The Boy with the Lightning Feet at

Sir Gadabout Goes Barking Mad – written by Martyn Beardsley and illustrated by Tony Ross

Sir Gadabout holds the dubious title of Worst Knight in the World. When King Arthur dispatches him to collect Merlin and deliver him in time for the Magic World Cup, Gadabout and company encounter Demelza and Morag, two decidedly wicked witches. Before long, Gadabout is convinced that the witches have turned Merlin – reining world champion wizard – into a talking dog.

Great fun here for young readers and their parents to enjoy together. Read it aloud and enjoy the inside jokes.

Sir Gadabout Goes Barking Mad at

Sir Gadabout Goes Barking Mad at

This year we won’t sign up for the Summer Reading Club – but I still want the boys to read

Posted on June 26th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


image of cover art for Pirateology

When the boys were younger, we always joined out local library’s Summer Reading Club. Each evening we recorded the books we’d read that day and once a week we stopped by the library. In addition to enjoying some great books, the boys were rewarded with stickers, praise and medals.

We all agreed that this year we won’t sign up for the library’s Summer Reading Club but nonetheless I intend to take them to the library once a week during July and August. Friday, the first day of our summer holiday, we ventured into the main branch and the vast children’s section of our local library. My eldest boy was soon engrossed in a book about World War II. My youngest boy was equally engrossed – he was watching other kids play computer games online.

With both kids occupied, I scooped up an armload of books – I was determined to find some for my nine year old even if he didn’t want to look. I picked up a little of this and a little of that – some short mytery stories for him to solve (these can be great for reading comprehension because usually kids have to be read very carefully if they hope to pick up on the critical clues), some ‘how to’ books (do I really want to build electrical circuits and make stuff from paper mache this summer?), Nick magazine and Pirateology.

We returned home – my eldest son with two books, my youngest with no books and me with twenty-five! My youngest son flipped through my pile of books. He declared all but two books ‘interesting.‘ (YAY)

Friday night we had a look at Pirateology and yesterday the two boys read each other mysteries and tried to figure out who did it.

Some children can easily deal with the library environment. They know what they want and how to find it. For some children, there are too many distractions and too many books. As well, we often focus on chapter books and ignore information books. Don’t give up on getting kids to read – stay involved and make suggestions. I’m learning that I will need to cast a wide net if I want to keep both of my kids reading this summer.

Pirateology: The Pirate Hunter’s Companion at

Pirateology: The Pirate Hunter’s Companion at

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