Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The 2017 Printzbery is coming!

Next month, HVLA and School Library Journal's Someday My Printz Will Come are hosting our fifth mock awards event at LREI - Little Red School House & Elisabeth Irwin High School. We lovingly call our mock the Printzbery, coined two years ago when we added a Mock Newbery to our existing Mock Printz. At the close of that year’s event, everyone agreed that we wanted to have heard or participated in both discussions, so we joked that we should just have a Printzbery—a single discussion group that would consider Printz books, Newbery books, and those could-go-either-way books.

For this year's Printzbery, we have once again compiled a list of books separated into those three categories:

Freedom Over Me by Ashley Bryan
Makoons by Louise Erdrich
The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz
Garvey's Choice by Nikki Grimes
The Best Man by Richard Peck

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
Vietnam: A History by Russell Freedman
Ghost by Jason Reynolds
Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry
The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge
We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson
Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina
Lucy and Linh by Alice Pung

After lunch, which will be catered by Dig Inn, attendees will gather at our (mock) committee table to first vote down the list to 10 books. Discussion will kick off for each book with a "nominated" from someone at the table. Every year I've come away with fresh insights on books I've already given a lot of thought to, and I always leave excited to read the books I never got around to reading.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the day is the voting. I'll never tire of that moment when we finally crown a winner because I've never been disappointed with the result. I might walk in with a favorite, but occasionally someone points out some major issues with the book I've never considered before. The conversation allows us to get multiple takes on a single work, which means when we vote, we're all voting based on the same information, knowing perspectives outside of our own.

Are you interested in joining us this year? Go ahead and register now! Here are all the details:

WHO: All HVLA members and their book-loving friends/colleagues! HVLA membership is not a requirement. Please feel free to share this invite with anyone who would like to be a part of our mock committee.
WHEN: 11:30 am - 5:00 pm on Saturday, January 14, 2017 (Lunch and snacks will be served.)
WHERE: LREI - Little Red School House & Elisabeth Irwin High School, 40 Charlton Street


Do I need to have read all the books before the Printzbery?
It’s up to you. It’s way more fun if you’ve read the books, but also way more work, so attendees at all levels of readership are welcome.

I’m not an HVLA member, can I still come?
Yes, of course! Interested readers of all stripes are welcome. Please feel free to spread the word and share with any librarians, educators, and general book enthusiasts who might be interested.

Is there a registration fee?
Nope! This event is made possible through the support of the Hudson Valley Library Association, SLJ's Someday My Printz Will Come, and LREI - Little Red School House & Elisabeth Irwin High School.

I’ve never been to an HVLA book club meeting.
You’ll probably want to attend after this, but there is no prerequisite for the Printzbery. We'll start our 2017 reading in February. Keep an eye on the listserv for the dates and titles. You can also join our Goodreads group, where we post what we're reading and solicit suggestions for future book club reads.

Still have questions? Leave a comment or email me (jpiedmont [at] lrei [dot] org).

—Joy Piedmont, LREI

Monday, December 5, 2016

A recap of the December HVLA + NYCIST meeting

Since 2014 HVLA has partnered with NYCIST (New York Consortium of Independent School Technologists) to host meetings that bring our two groups together. Collaboration between librarians and technologists is increasingly vital for any school that wants to innovate and remain current with the constantly changing information and technological landscape. These meetings have been a wonderful way for our two departments to share and learn from each other outside of the busy school day. Our most recent joint meeting took place on December 1st at my school, LREI - Little Red School House & Elisabeth Irwin High School. Saber Khan, Director of Educational Technology at The Browning School and current NYCIST President asked our library and ed tech department invited us to host and we planned an a quasi-unconference style afternoon.

Before I give you an overview of the meeting, some background: Karyn Silverman, High School Librarian at LREI and I led a workshop called, "It's LIT: Librarians and Tech Integrators in the Future" at last January's NEIT (NYSAIS Education & Information Technology) Conference. Our goal was to have a productive brainstorming session to understand where we are now in order to map out the future. We came away from that hour with a Venn diagram of our roles in the education ecosystem of our schools.
The "beautiful" Venn diagram we created during "It's LIT" at NEIT16.
Those of us who attended this session felt like we had created a solid foundation for future conversations about collaboration between library and ed tech departments. This was the first thing that came to my mind to frame our conversations on December 1st.

The next step was to gauge what attending members wanted to discuss. In the RSVP we asked, "Librarians/Technologists what would you like to discuss with technologists/librarians?" We also wanted to know if anyone had stories of successful collaboration that they wished to share. Based on these answers, I created a word cloud to visualize our questions and ideas.
As it turns out, "research" was the word that bubbled up as the most cited topic for discussion. Using the word cloud, as well as the full responses from members, we came up with four main discussion topics that seemed to address the various interests of attendees: research, information/media literacy, STEAM and design thinking, and equipment (1:1, fixed resources, etc).

After some snacks and mingling, introductions and announcements, we broke out into four groups to discuss our main topics. I joined the information/media literacy group and we had a great conversation that generated ideas as well as questions and resources. Matthew Moran, Director of Technology and Innovation at Dwight School created a Google doc with our notes. Feel free to take a look, use and/or add resources.

Before we parted ways, we had a quick share to wrap up. Listening to each group, I was struck by how we all approached these topics with various professional experiences, but we were meeting on common ground because both librarians and technologists have roles to play in developing curricula and programs for these issues. As Sarah wrote last month, our departments are stronger when we learn together and from each other. Keep an eye out for future meetings with NYCIST and please invite your ed tech counterpart if they aren't already on the NYCIST listserv. The upcoming NEIT conference at the Mohonk Mountain House is also a great opportunity for professional development with fellow librarians and educational technologists from New York. 

—Joy Piedmont, LREI

Monday, November 28, 2016

Literary Events Around Town: December 2016

Even though literary goings-on might not be the first thing to come to mind when you think of December, here are actually some interesting events you might want to catch.

Books of Wonder (18 W 18th St, New York, NY 10011)
There are always so many amazing authors and events here but these ones especially caught my eye.

  • Meet R. L. Stine on Saturday, December 3rd - 1:00pm-3:00pm
  • Pop-Ups and Interactive Books Celebration on Saturday, December 10th - 1:00pm-3:00pm
  • December Picture Book Bonanza on Sunday, December 11th - 1:00pm-3:00pm
  • Fantastic Teen Reads on Friday, December 16th - 6:00-8:00pm (three authors including Neal Shusterman)

Barnes and Noble (Central Plaza, 2614 Central Park Avenue, Yonkers, NY 10710)
Chris Grabenstein presenting Home Sweet Motel at 6:00pm  (to be followed by the Harry Potter Magical Ball)

Children’s Books on Tour: NYC - Literary Networking Event on Thursday, December 1st 6:30-8:30 pm
Join the German Book Office of New York on December 1 at the Goethe Institut NYC (30 Irving Place, 4th floor) for a panel on translating children’s books, followed by a networking session.
  • Daniel Slager (Publisher and CEO of Milkweek Editions and renowned translator of German)
  • Emily Clement (Editor at Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, Inc.)
This event is free and open to the public. Please RSVP to Riky Stock (stock@newyork.gbo.org) by November 28, 2016.

Barnes and Noble, various locations, on Saturday, December 3rd - 9:00am on
Educator Holiday Shopping
Pre-K through 12 educators are invited to a special holiday shopping event --- just for you! Educators will receive a 25% discount on books, toys, games, movies, music and more. Plus, 10% off Café consumables and select NOOK® devices. 

Sarah Kresberg, Library Director
The Allen-Stevenson School

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A First Experience With a Writer-in-Residence

To be honest, I had never considered sponsoring a writer-in-residence before I attended the AISL conference in Florida a few years ago. One of the sessions was a writing workshop with the children’s author Adrian Fogelin. As I was going through the experience I kept thinking about how much the boys at my school would get out of attending a workshop like that. Further, I realized that teachers observing the workshop could take the ideas and implement them themselves in future years.  As happens with many big ideas at conferences, however, many of the details of this one got pushed to the back of my mind as I got on with the daily activities of being a school librarian. And yet, the seed had been planted.

Later that year I was fortunate enough to go to Columbus for the AASL conference. At a session about the Coretta Scott King Award, I heard talk about the poet and photographer Charles R. Smith Jr. Several people spoke with great enthusiasm about what an amazing presenter he was. Intrigued, I looked him up online and saw that not only did he do school visits, but he also gave writing workshops. The idea of a poet with dynamic presentation skills coming to my school to teach writing was irresistible. I had to look into it.

I’ll say it upfront; booking a writer-in-residence is no small undertaking. First, of all there is the issue of cost. I happen to have a healthy budget for visiting authors but even so, committing my entire author budget so that we could have three full days with Charles R. Smith, Jr. made me hesitate a little. In order to get a second opinion (and some much needed reassurance) I invited my department to join me for a Skype visit with Mr. Smith. On the video call we talked for about half an hour about what a visit to my school could look like. At the end of the call I got the thumbs up from my team and felt confident to proceed.

The next step was a flurry of emails with Gillian, Mr. Smith’s wife, since she handles his bookings. We negotiated the dates, fees and program, ending up with a commitment to teaching eight writing workshops, as well as four large group presentations. Once everything was locked in place we showed a video of Mr. Smith performing a poem and asked which teachers would like to have him teach a class. Before the video was even over, teachers were passing me notes (actual notes) asking to be involved! It was late winter and we had the main elements worked out in time for his visit in November.

Early October saw me working on the visit again, this time doing what proved to be the hardest thing of all; scheduling all those workshops and presentations. I had twelve events to schedule over a three day period and umpteen things I had to avoid if I didn’t want to mess stuff up for other people. I laid it all out with post-it notes which I kept moving until things ceased to be problematic. The next task was easy; sharing Mr. Smith’s poems with our boys during library class. My 4th and 5th graders especially loved his biography of Mohammed Ali that he tells in verse. They also got a kick out of Hoop Kings and, since chorus is very popular at our school, the poems about the Boys Choir of Harlem.

November 14, the long-awaited first day of the residency arrived and with it came a feeling of relief - our author showed up on time and, as evidenced by the first classes and presentations, was going to be great! His workshops were highly engaging and I say that with some authority as I actively participated in them five times! Most importantly, this was the kind of guy our boys could look up to. They soaked up his message of looking after mind, body and spirit and were riveted as he described his personal fitness goal of taking part in American Ninja Warrior as the Poet Ninja.
Our culminating event was a workshop for faculty. The residency was taking place during our annual Allen-Stevenson Book Week and the library traditionally organizes the faculty meeting that week. We could think of nothing we would want more for our teachers than a chance to experience the workshop for themselves. We regaled our faculty with prosecco and home-baked treats and then settled down to learn from Mr. Smith. At the end of the session Mr. Smith shared his teaching resources so that teachers could implement his lessons after he was gone. Given what has been happening in our country of late, many teachers were enamored of the idea of creating a book along the model of Mr. Smith’s book I am America.

With the residency over, we still had two more days of Book Week to run. Without doubt, extending the traditional one-day author visit to a three day residency added to our exhaustion by the end of the week. If we had to do it again, would we? If we find a writer that is a great fit for us again, absolutely!

Have you ever had a writer-in-residence? How did it work out? Do you have any tips to share? Would you do it again? Leave a post and let us all know.

Sarah Kresberg, Library Director
The Allen-Stevenson School 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Realizing a Different Sort of Bucket List: A Librarian Travels to England By Way of Narnia, Middle Earth and Wonderland

Every librarian has a literary bucket list: places they wish to visit because they are connected to a favorite book or author.  My list is nowhere near complete, though I did manage to make headway this past summer.  British children’s literature has a special significance for me; they are the pioneering classics that serve as touchstones for the genre as a whole today.   I was fortunate to spend two weeks examining the origins of the stories so many of us have grown to love.  The experience was a balance of structured didactic and self-directed exploration. 

The first week was spent as a participant of the Oxford Teacher Seminar, in a course entitled “Literature and the Fantastic.”  It was an analysis of the forefathers of fantasy fiction--Lewis Carroll, C. S. Lewis, and J. R. R. Tolkien, as well as two of their modern successors, Philip Pullman and J. K. Rowling.  The course itself was relatively rigorous and informative, but the in vivo experience of walking down the streets and through the halls that these authors used to weave their stories added a new dimension to understanding their novels.  Indeed, to see the landmarks that figured imaginatively into their tales gave historical and contextually creative meaning to their works. The second week was spent in London experiencing various aspects of the cultural birthplace of notables such as J. M. Barrie, Michael Bond and Beatrix Potter, as well as sampling icons of British history relevant in children’s literature. 

Upon applying and being approved for a travel grant to undertake this study I quickly realized that, while I have read all of these stories, I was little prepared to optimize the opportunity before me.  In preparation I reread the titles I had not read in a long time including Alice In Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass, the Chronicles of Narnia, both Lord of the Rings and His Dark Materials trilogies, selected titles from J. K. Rowling, Roald Dahl and Beatrix Potter.  I was fortunate to find Mark J. West’s book A Children’s Literature Tour of Great Britain, which helped me to establish realistic goals for my two weeks from what could be an exhaustive exploration if one had unlimited time. Another serendipitous finding was Charlie Lovett’s NY Times article "Finding Alice's Wonderland in Oxford," which essentially provided me with a step-by-step guide for the Lewis Carroll portion of my trip.  Finally, in my prep work I discovered the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre.  This was an invaluable resource for locating information about Dahl’s life as well as his writing process, which prepared me for my day trip to the author’s hometown, Great Missenden.  I left the museum with a treasure trove of ideas to share with my students for celebrating Dahl’s centennial anniversary.

Even though my luggage has long been unpacked, I continue my self-study of British children’s literature, by exploring women writers of fantasy, particularly E. Nesbit and Philippa Pearce. My long-term goal is to be able to add to my reader’s advisory repertoire of authors of different ethnicities and cultures dedicated to writing fantasy for children.  On a more personal note, I continue to indulge my childhood love for Dahl, the author that inspired my literary bucket list, as I read the latest biography, Love From Boy: Roald Dahl’s Letters to His Mother

Angela Perna
Librarian, St. Hilda's & St. Hugh's 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Presentations and Resources from the Fall Meeting

What a terrific turn out we had for our Fall meeting last night on the theme of encouraging reading! I'll be posting any resources presenters share to this blog entry. I hope you all find something of use here.

Presentation: Allen-Stevenson Book Week Celebrations and Back to School Book Club

Monday, November 7, 2016

Partnering With the Technology Department

For several years, one of my workplace struggles has been how to integrate the library with the technology department. For starters, I couldn’t figure out what integration would look like for us. Also, I didn’t see, given our traditional modes of operating and the various personalities involved, how it would be possible, even if I did have the vision. The definition of integration means to put together parts or elements and combine them into a whole. Deep down I sensed that an integrated whole would be greater than the sum of its parts and that, if we could pull it off, it would be highly beneficial for our school community. With this in mind I began to wrestle with the dilemma.

My first step was to reach out to the HVLA listserv to find out which schools had already merged their library and technology departments. I phoned some of the librarians who responded to my question to see what I could learn. In the meantime, our two departments began to meet every other week. In all honesty, it was pretty awkward in the beginning, like a first date that never got any better. I blame this partly on the fact that we had no clear overall objective other than to ‘get closer’. Some weeks, people even forgot we had a meeting! Clearly, this was not a promising start. The following year the administration put the meeting on everyone’s schedule and this helped to solidify the expectation of attendance.

I realize now that what we needed were projects, a chance for us all to pull together! Opportunity knocked when the school decided to introduce a one to one laptop program and a learning management system in the same year. Suddenly our meetings had a purpose, as we began to plan together how to roll out these new initiatives to the faculty and the boys. Meanwhile we ran an event together on our professional day where we showcased tech tools, including library databases and ebooks.

The capacity of the team increased greatly when the technology department gained two extra people, both with Apple Genius experience. At around the same time, the library and technology departments  became neighbors. Previously, members of the technology department had been scattered around the school but with the advent of construction work in preparation for an expansion of the facility, they were relocated to our library classroom. What we lost in teaching space, we gained in collegiality and serendipitous conversations. The impact proximity had on our relationships really cannot be overstated.

Another benefit of the current construction and subsequent expansion of the school is that we will be turning the library into a Library Tech Commons. This will allow us to gain a tech office, a maker resource area,  and some new teaching spaces. As part of the planning process we had a series of meetings after school in which we developed a shared vision of this new Commons and deepened our connection further.

Our most recent venture is the launch of Tech Tuesdays, a monthly series of presentations/discussions with parents. As of yet we have only done one but it was a strong start. Our topic was Apps for Education: What Educational Tools Can Do For Your Boys. We started the meeting by doing a Kahoot so that parents could experience the excitement our boys always feel when they play. Next we showcased some tools we find really useful such as Ed Puzzle, Explain Everything and Kahn Academy. Parents shared some of their favorites too. We laid out chairs for about twenty parents but had more than fifty attend! Afterwards we built a webpage to share the minutes from the meeting for those who couldn’t attend and to bookmark all the tools. You can check it out here. Next week we have another Tech Tuesday which will be on the topic of screen time and that will be followed in December with a session on coding.

It’s fair to say that things are now going very well. We have plenty of items on the agenda at our meetings now and I always break the ice by bringing cookies from different part of the world. Some of us have started to attend conferences together and on Wednesday we are going on a night out to an escape room (after a few drinks!) We didn’t end up merging; we are still two departments but we are one library-tech team and it feels like this is just the beginning.

Have you experienced success in partnering with your technology department? It would be great if you could share any ideas or thoughts you have on the topic below. 

Sarah Kresberg, Library Director - The Allen-Stevenson School