This January, I started working at a new campus in a new adventure! I am teaching Language Arts to ESL students. I have 15 sixth graders who are from all over the globe. What is amazing to me is that none of them have English as their native language, but they are all speaking and learning English. Teaching is always an adventure, and I believe this year will be a new adventure for sure!
Last week, I had the privilege of attending the Texas Library Association Conference in Houston, TX! Thankfully, I was able to carpool and attend with my friend and fellow district librarian, Karen Rodgers. It made it so much fun to attend with a friend. We found great sessions to attend, met authors and the best thing is that Karen introduced me to the ticketed lunches! We checked the message board frequently and I was able to buy a lunch ticket every day! So much fun and it was nice to have a seat with adults and converse about books!
One of the highlights of the week was hearing LeVar Burton and singing the theme to "Reading Rainbow" with him and a chorus of librarians! He shared his vision for reading and made some very interesting points about technology. In the 80's television was the medium to reach kids so they developed "Reading Rainbow". Today, the medium is technology including computers, iPads and SMART phones, so they are introducing the "Reading Rainbow" app! It continues with a similar format by sharing a book and taking a virtual field trip. So amazing!
I have loved the book, Snicker of Magic, since the Scholastic Reading Summit in 2014. Donalyn Miller talked about it and as soon as I read it, I fell in love with the town and the characters! Last year, one of our very own sixth grade teachers read the novel as a read-aloud to her students. It was huge in teaching kindness and cooperation for them! Natalie Lloyd was kind enough to SKYPE with us last year after school and the kids had amazing questions, so it was a pleasure to meet her!
My mom has been a huge influence on me and reading. Growing up, she took us to the public library every week during the summer. Because of the Houston flooding, my mom's school district was off the entire week, so she was able to join Karen and me one day at TLA! I loved having her there. While I volunteered in the parking garage, my mom joined Karen and got to hear some amazing authors. Surprisingly, her favorite was the panel of Science Fiction/Fantasy writers. My mom is not a fan of this genre, but she loved the authors because they were hilarious. I'm so thankful my mom got to join in with me and see a bit of what I do. And she got to meet a lot of colleagues and friends too! I LOVED having her there to be a part of the conference.
The highlight of Teen Book Con for me this year was meeting Ruta Sepetys! She wrote Between Shades of Gray, Out of the Easy and her newest book is Salt to the Sea. Besides being an amazing author, she is a kind soul. The teens, adults, volunteers and other authors all spoke highly of her Opening Keynote. What a blessing to have such a talented author visit Teen Book Con. Thanks to Blue Willow Bookshop for bringing amazing talent right to our teens!
There were so many amazing authors this year from all genres and walks of life! 25 talented writers joined forces and answered all kinds of questions. Some questions included, "How many times were you rejected before you were published?" and "Where do you get your inspiration from?" One of my favorite things about Teen Book Con is that it's just that - FOR TEENS! Teens get priority asking questions, sitting in the front of sessions and in general connecting with the authors. It is amazing to see how students connect and come away inspired from the day!
Thanks to Ms. Kaieda, some of our very own Spring Branch Middle School students were able to attend Teen Book Con. (A big shout out to SWHS for letting us share a bus with you guys!)
This is one of our sixth graders and he loved the author panels. The two questions above were his! I was so proud of him for attending panels, asking questions, getting an autograph and this week he is READING! He is already halfway through the book! It's because of events like these that students find a love for reading.
And finally, Teen Book Con would not happen with amazing people and volunteers who spend their time pouring into the festival. On the far right is Lisa Stultz, SHS librarian, who chairs the festival. She is amazing and has poured so much love into Teen Book Con over the years. Kari Heitman, in the middle, helped me organize our volunteers this year. She has serious organization skills! I'm very thankful to know both of these ladies.
Not pictured are the amazing people from Blue Willow. Valerie Koehler, Cathy Berner and their staff who lead up amazing author events throughout the year. Without their love, support and dedication, none of this would be possible! So thank you to Blue Willow Bookshop for all the support and FUN!
Looking forward to Teen Book Con 2017!
I am a fan of Science-Fiction and Fantasy books, but I have to admit that it took me awhile to read the Cinder series by Marissa Meyer. When I heard that Cinderella was a cyborg, I had a difficult time wrapping my head around that thought. BUT I recently read all the novels and finished the conclusion, Winter. These books are amazing! Yes, they have fairy tale characters and elements, but they are not just for girls. Anyone could read them. I would highly recommend them! In the last book, Winter, Ms. Meyer wraps the story up including all of the characters from the series. Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and their companions take an amazing adventure through Luna and Earth. Twists and turns lead the reader through a great journey. If you like adventure, suspense, or drama, check out this series!
I recently finished Orbiting Jupiter by Gary Schmidt. This book is amazing! Gary Schmidt writes with such heart. The story is about a family who has one son in sixth grade. They decide to take in an eighth grader as a foster child...he comes from a rough background and has been in trouble a lot. This story beautifully shows how love can change a family, a boy, a principal and a community. I give this book five out of five stars!
This year I am starting a coding class here one class period a day! It's a new adventure - the journal Ms. Cameron gave me has the perfect quote to start the journey. I am using www.code.org curriculum and so far it's been very exciting! Stay tuned for more information as we progress through the semester!
I kept hearing about this amazing book, The Thing about Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin. She spoke as an author at Tweens Read this fall and her book is getting rave reviews across all social media and librarian word of mouth. Sometimes a book touches your heart in a way that no other can. This book did that for me. It's about a young girl who loses her best friend to drowning between the summers of 6th and 7th grade. Suzy does not know how to cope with this and goes through a lot of difficult times and a "silent" time. I can relate to her in a way because when I was younger, there was a traumatic event that silenced me. The thing that made this book special was that people kept reaching out to and loving on Suzy. They did not give up on her. They kept supporting her through the frustrations and the silence. What a hard thing to do.
November is National Children's Grief Awareness Month. Thursday, November 19th, people everywhere are invited to wear blue to show support of children and teens who have lost loved ones. I have seen way too many students lose a parent at a young age, a friend, or even an uncle. It breaks my heart because picking up the pieces is hard. In Houston, there is an amazing organization called Bo's Place and they support these kids constantly.
So if you have lost someone recently or been through something traumatic, be encouraged. Things will and can get better!
This weekend I finished reading All Fall Down by Ally Carter. I am a big fan of her books and this one did not disappoint! Imagine an island where there are embassies beside one another on one street. Embassy Row. Grace reluctantly returns here to her grandfather's care after her mother is murdered. She faces the stigma of being depressed, institutionalized and generally "crazy" BUT she will not let this interfere with her investigation to find her mother's killer! If you like mysteries and suspense, this is a great book for you!
I am so excited about this book! Mindy McGinnis is a library in Ohio and a writer as well. Her books are amazing and the two times I've met her, she was a pleasure. I can't wait to check this new book out! :)
Ms. Smith, SBMS