Monday, February 27, 2012

Literary Happenings NYC

Here's a selection of book related events happening over the next few weeks. Feel free to list any additional ones you might know about in the comments.

Silent Film Series: Rin-Tin-Tin in Clash of the Wolves
Sunday, March 4 @ BPL Central Library
Have you read Susan Orlean's Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend and wish you could see one of Rinty's original films? Brooklyn Public Library will be showing his ninth feature in this 1925 classic, which will be hosted by Ken Gordon.

Monday, March 5 @ Greenlight Bookstore
With the advent of digital publishing, opportunities are arising for new and unusual formats, from 150-character short stories to not-quite-book-length articles. Brooklyn-based Armchair/Shotgun, a literary magazine available only on paper moderates this discussion on the changing shape of fiction and journalism from the writer’s conception of a piece to publication, distribution, and marketing.

New York Review of Science Fiction Readings
Tuesday, March 6 @ Soho Gallery of Digital Art
Created in 1989, these readings are held the first Tuesday of every month and have showcased some of the most prominent and upcoming authors in the genre. Their commitment is to provide a venue open to all works of speculative fiction, whether they be works of fantasy, magical realism, horror, or science fiction.

Edith Wharton and New York City
Wednesday, March 7 @ New York Society Library
Part of a series of lectures by Dr James Kraft and offered in conjunction with the current 2012 exhibition, this lecture traces Wharton's interest in New York City society through a reading of her principal New York books, a selection of her New York stories, and her autobiography. More great NYSL events here.

New York City Spelling Bee
Thursday, March 8 @ Housing Works Bookstore Cafe
Part of Geek Week NYC, this is a grownup spelling bee with all proceeds going to Housing Works, which benefits homeless New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS.

McSweeny's Presents Diane Williams, Ben Marcus, and Deb Olin Unferth
Monday, March 12 @ Housing Works Bookstore Cafe
Diane Williams will read from her new book of stories, Vicky Swanky Is a Beauty, with Ben Marcus (The Flame Alphabet) and Deb Olin Unferth (Revolution).

Irish Arts Center Book Day 2012
Friday, March 16
Irish Arts Center will kick off St Patrick's Day weekend with their second annual Book Day. Keep an eye out for Book Day volunteers handing out 10,000 works by Irish and Irish American authors, free, at subway stops and transportation hubs across all five boroughs. If you're interested in volunteering, you can contact Jen Browne at You can also read more about World Book Day here

Fading Ads of Greenpoint Walking Tour
Sunday, March 18 @ Word Bookstore
Get a glimpse into Greenpoint’s history with a walking tour, led by author and photographer Frank Jump. His book, Fading Ads of New York City, is a study of time and space, and of mortality and living, as Jump’s campaign to capture the ads mirrors his own struggle with HIV. During the walking tour and book-signing, Jump will offer a glimpse into Greenpoint's commercial advertising history through remnant fading ads.

Downton Abbey
Now through March 31 @ Mid-Manhattan Library
Through the end of March the NYPL Mid-Manhattan Library Picture Collection will have an exhibition on display inspired by the show, highlighted with memorable quotes. The Picture Collection has well over one million circulating images filed under 12,000 different subject headings.  Whether you are researching the sinking of the Titanic, British soldier’s uniforms from World War I, photographic depictions of "weekends", or the daily life of servants and the upper class, we can help you with all of your visual resource needs.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Irma Black Award

Last week the four finalists for this year's Irma Black Award were announced and my students and I were thrilled. That's because it is 1st and 2nd graders who are the final judges for the award, which is given to an outstanding book for young children. This year's finalists are I Want My Hat Back, You Will Be My Friend, All the Way to America, and What Animals Really Like. Over the next six weeks, we will be reading and discussing each of these books, voting on their favorite, and on April 9 the winner will be named and given this year's award.

Beginning in 1972, Bank Street College of Education established the Irma Simonton Black Award for Excellence in Children's Literature in honor of Irma Black, who was an influential teacher, editor, and author of more than twenty children's books, as well as non-fiction books for adults.  The award process begins with the children of Bank Street, where Irma Black spent part of her illustrious career. Students in the 4th and 5th grade are given 16 books to look through that have been determined by a group of librarians, teachers, and other committee members. These students eventually, narrow these 16 books down to 8, which are then given to the 3rd and 4th graders. These students then spend time reading and discussing the 8 semi-finalists, until the final four list is determined. At this point, registration is opened to schools all over the country and 1st and 2nd grade teachers and librarians can begin reading the books to their students. The fantastic Bank Street librarian and HVLA member, Lisa Von Drasek has an Irma Black Award Blog on School Library Journal's website, chronicling the whole process.

This is the first year that I am doing this with my students and I am extremely excited about it. The finalists were just announced on February 14, so we read our first book this week. Before this week, we began preparing by talking about other awards, who Irma Black was, looking at the semi-finalists, and reading last year's winner How Rocket Learned to Read. This week, I explained the process to them and thanks to Lisa's blog, got to show them great pictures of the kids at Bank Street, making it really come to life. We read our first book I Want My Hat Back and then gave them each a few minutes to write down some of their own thoughts about what they really liked about the book. Then we read it again and had a group discussion, sharing their thoughts on chart paper.

The kids are really excited about the process and taking it really seriously, with lots of thoughtful comments. It was wonderful to see how diverse their opinions were and how critically they were looking at the book. It's been a great way to encourage kids to explain the Why? behind their reasons for liking or not liking something in a book because in this case they feel like it really matters. I'm also looking forward to integrating math into this project because we are going to be collecting data and making bar graphs about the process to tie in with their classroom studies.

You can read in detail about the history of the award and the curriculum on Bank Street's website. You can participate by registering your school here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

HVLA Book Club: A Big Success!

Many thanks to those of you that were able to make it out to our inaugural YA/Kidlit book club last Tuesday.  We had lots of fun discussing John Green's The Fault in Our Stars.  Also, a big thank you to Karyn Silverman at Elizabeth Irwin High School for hosting.

Save the date for our next book club...

Date/Time: Tuesday, March 6th at 5:30pm rescheduled for Wednesday, March 14th at 5:30pm

Elisabeth Irwin High School
(btwn 6th Ave & Varick)

What We're Reading:
Beneath a Meth Moon: An Elegy by Jaqueline Woodson

What Else We're Reading: The Lions of Little Rock by Kristen Levine

Due to the fact that our main title is very short and so many of you are naturally voracious readers, we wanted to offer a second (optional) title that has been getting lots of great reviews.  For those of you who are ambitious and interested  please join us!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Member Spotlight: Marianne McShane

Marianne McShane is Middle School and PreSchool librarian at Brunswick School in Greenwich CT.  Born in Northern Ireland, she grew up with a love of story and continues to share her passion for storytelling with her students.  When not telling, reading and talking about stories, she enjoys playing harp and dancing at ceilis. If you would like to start a similar book club she will be happy to answer any questions.

Get Them Talking…About Books!
As Middle School librarian at an all boys school,  I am continually searching for ways to generate a buzz about books and to encourage the boys to read outside their normal “comfort zone.”  I love creating excitement about books the guys might not pick up on their own.  This fall I decided to try a Parent Son Book Club.  Not only might this entice students to expand their reading horizons, but it would also provide families a shared reading experience.

With the enthusiastic support of my principal, I picked a date and chose the book.  The club would meet in a month’s time to talk about Trouble by Gary Schmidt.  I ordered multiple paperback copies, displayed posters around the school, and emailed an announcement to all the Middle School parents.   Asking for an RSVP allowed me to compile a list of participants and, more importantly, send out a reminder a few days before the first meeting. 
 The very next day replies were already popping up in my in-box.  Parents were excited about participating in a program with their sons.  Boys from all grades wanted to take part.  Twelve families and three faculty members, including a math teacher, signed up.  I began to worry if I had ordered enough copies!

The Club Meets
It was the day of our first meeting and all was ready.  Refreshments were available, chairs arranged in a circle around our cozy library couches, and a list of discussion questions prepared.  Would boys come back to school with their parents at 6:30 in the evening to talk about a book they had shared?  That was the big question, but I needn’t have worried.  In they came – boys with fathers, boys with mothers, a couple of teachers, and the principal.  After chatting over tea and cookies, we sat down to talk.  I started by asking each boy whether he would recommend the book to a friend, and why or why not.  Everyone had a contribution, and an impassioned, informed discussion began.
Students listened respectfully to one another, acknowledging each comment.  Parents were impressed at the level of insight and delighted at this opportunity to connect with their sons.  Teachers enjoyed seeing their students in a less formal setting.   The hour flew by and we were still talking. Not only had I achieved my goal of sparking interest in a particular book, but I had helped create community around reading.  As one mother wrote the following day,

   “Every parent, especially a mother, wants to find ways to share things with their 
     son. Offering a book club is a terrific opportunity for me to stay connected to
     him and his school.”

Families engaged in discussion.

Moms, Dads and boys examine trail maps of Mt. Katahdin, the peak featured in Trouble
The popular display for Left for Dead, our second book, featured a model World War II Destroyer.

Tips For Success
Inviting parents to participate in a book club with their children is a terrific way to highlight the power of reading together and to promote your library. Students, parents, teachers and administration will see your program in a new light.  Give it a try.   Pick a great book, provide sufficient copies, and pull out that favorite cookie recipe.  Promote your program.   Check publishers’ websites.  Many provide discussion questions you can use as a guide.   Now sit back, enjoy the book and wait…
Meanwhile I’m busy narrowing down choices for our book for the third meeting of the year.   Brunswick’s  book club was so successful that it is fast becoming a once- a-trimester tradition.
If you plan it they will come!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Using Google+

When Google+ was first announced over the summer, I immediately wanted an invitation and within a few days I had my profile set up. Now, like everyone else, I was left to figure out what this was and how it was different than other social networking services. I first thought this would be the perfect opportunity to leave Facebook behind and start over since I had pretty much stopped using that site and I thought lots of other people would join me on Google+. However, early on it was reported that it was pretty much only geeks and young men flocking to the site. I found a lot of my friends from Facebook had created accounts, but never posted anything to the site and then pretty quickly abandoned their profiles. As a geek though, I was determined to stick with it and am glad I did because I have found it extremely useful professionally.

I right away found several tech teachers and librarians that I knew from HVLA and NYCIST, who were on Google+ and while I probably would not have felt comfortable adding them on Facebook, I felt fine adding them to specific circles that I created because I'm able to manage what content they see. I also really like that your page is all content generated by you that you have chosen to share with others, as opposed to people coming to your Facebook wall and putting random stuff there that you may or may not agree with. After I added those people, I started seeing who they were following and discovered a plethora of insightful resources. I really like this format because it seems like a manageable medium, to me at least, between Twitter and Google Reader (or however else you would follow tons of blogs).

Here are some people, who I have really enjoyed following and who you might want to check out if you are getting started:

Mary Ann Scheuer - School librarian, book lover, mom. Creator of site Great Kid Books.
Free Technology 4 Teachers - The Google+ Page for Free Technology for Teachers Written by Richard Byrne.
Jen Robinson - Working in high-tech, blogging about children's books and literacy from San Jose.
Vicki Davis - Educator, Mom, Flat Classroom Projects and Conference co-founder, Digiteen nonprofit, "the Wikinator."
Dave Brown - President of Interactive Elementary, a leading developer of educational iPad apps for the middle school years.

Also, here is a super helpful thread started by illustrator Debbie Ohi to help librarians find each other. If you know of other people on Google+, that librarians should be following, feel free to add them in the comments.

This post was brought to you by HVLA Communications Coordinator, Kerry Roeder