Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Bud's top 5 Books of 2011

Yesterday I revealed Cupcake's favorite book of the year, today it the Bud's turn.

The Bud has always been a book lover, but over 2011 he has gone from "reading pictures" to reading words - it has been a pretty amazing year.

Here's what this 6 year old picked as his top 5 favorites of 2011:

1. Cat Secrets by Jef Czekaj

Blogged earlier this year here.

2. Missile Mouse #2 by Jake Parker

(Book Trailer for book #1 from 2010 - also a favorite of the Bud)

3. Frankie Pickle and the Mathmatical Menace by Eric Wight

2. Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke

But hands down his top book of 2011 was....
1. Sidekicks by Dan Santat

Happy New Year!
and Happy Reading in 2012!

Friday, December 30, 2011

#nerdcott photo update - 1

Woo hoo! My first photo update!

Current Status: 10 (not counting those I will re-read) out of 306 (until Jan 23rd when the 2012 winners will be announced!)

I have added a few comments and reviews for the titles on Goodreads. 
I love the conversations that are starting there.

Click here for more information about the Caldecott Challenge.

If Cupcakes chose Caldecotts

With all of the talk of best books of 2011 and 2012 award hopefuls, I've been thinking about my kids' favorite books from 2011.

My two year old, Cupcake (her online pseudonym) is an avid reader and very vocal about what she likes.
And there is no doubt that Cupcake's favorite from 2011 is Squish Rabbit by Katherine Battersby.

We have checked it out from the local library multiple times. When she knows we are going to go to the library, she asks to check it out again. After the most recent checkout, she asked if we could buy our own copy! Yes, she is a precocious one.

Here she is "picture reading" Squish Rabbit in reverse. (transcript below video).

"thought he was playing...he kicked his little legs"
"tantrum - argghhhh!"
"they broke all the rules!"
"passed him by!"
Squishing sound for when Squish gets stepped on

How to guide: Goodreads Lists & the Caldecott Reading Challenge

If you would like to add all of the Caldecott Medal and Honor Books to a shelf on Goodreads, first you will need to get to a list or shelf already created:

Through group effort we are making the full list include all the 306 books - if my count through 2011 is accurate - however any one person is only allowed to add 100 books to a list.
As of this post it should include all the books up through 1961 for Honor books, and all of the Medal books through 2011. Thanks to those who are helping to add more honor books to this list.

Once you add them to your to-read shelf, you can use the Goodread's batch edit feature to get them on your own shelf labeled whatever you like. Watch the video below for a quick demonstration:

Ready, Set, Go - #nerdcott!

So when I was first imagining myself reading for #nerdott, I thought I would be a purist reading year by year starting with 1938, and then going to 1939, and so on.

 Looking at how I will be getting access to the early Medal and Honor books, I am thinking that it will take me a long time (and add more stress) to wait until I have the books for each year before reading on.

So since there really are no rules to this challenge, and I am trying to be as stress free as possible, I am going to start with reading what I can from the first decade as I get books in hand.

 To make things feel a little official, I did want to start with the first Medal Book:

 As I am reading I am trying to keep the criteria for the Caldecott award in my mind and be looking for examples of "distinguished illustrations in a picture book and for excellence of pictorial presentation for children."

I like to document with pictures, so expect lots of photo posts.
My pal and co-host, Anna of A to Z Library, is much more of a writer that I am, so I think we will make a great pair on this journey.

With that... ready, set, go #nerdcott!

Interested in joining us on the Caldecott Medal and Honor Book Reading Challenge? Find out more here.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Am I emotionally ready for #nerdcott?

#nerdcott has only been official for about 24 hours.

And in that time I have gone back and forth between complete excitement and thoughts of "H...E...double-hockey-sticks, what was I thinking?" I have 2 kids, I work full time, I have myriad other responsibilities... but to have read them all and know them - what a journey to take as a reader, a librarian and a lover of picture books.

Some of my favorite books can be found in the list of Caldecott Medal and Honor Books. I look forward to the announcement of the new winners each year. I love showing students my copies of Caldecott's books and looking at his illustrations that were used for each side of the medal (yes, there is an image on the back side - I would love to see it in person!), as well as finding his face in the cat.

Link to: Project Gutenberg's R. Caldecott's Picture Book (No. 1)

Last night I worked on the logistics of being ready - how will I get my hands on copies of the titles?

But this afternoon I have been thinking about my emotional readiness for this #nerdcott journey.
I like to imagine myself cozied up with beautiful treasures awaiting me behind each cover I open.
But since I am starting very soon with the oldest titles and working to the present, I need to be prepared.

There are reasons, very good ones, why some of the early Medal and Honor Books are no longer found in school libraries.

There are reasons why the Milestones collection, the reference collection of children's literature at the Minneapolis Central Library (from which I am borrowing many of the early Medal and Honor books) is described as representing "the landmarks, both high and low, in the history of Children’s Literature."

I know there will be plenty of examples of stereotypes that make me cringe and want to scream.

So knowing this... why do I still want to read these titles?

I value knowing what came before, understanding how that connects with what is happening now, and where things might be in the future. I hope to grow, gain perspective and understand more about this award that is so revered.

I also hope to enjoy some beautiful treasures on the way.

I think I am nearly ready.

Join us on the journey. Find out more about the Caldecott Medal and Honor Reading Challenge here.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Caldecott Challenge - 1938 to present

John Schu of Watch. Connect. Read. recently announced The Newbery Medal Challenge - 1922 to Present, that got me and a few other folks on twitter thinking about a Caldecott Medal Challenge.

Recently Travis Jonker of 100 Scope Notes attempted to read all of the Medal Books in one day (73 books)

...but what about all the Honor Books? That's over 300 picture books.

My plan starting this January is to read through all of the Caledecott Medal Winners and Honor Books by year starting with 1938 and working my way to the present blogging about my progress here, tweeting about it using the hashtag #nerdcott, and tracking the books on goodreads.

Awesome librarian and pal in real life Anna of A to Z Library has agreed to co-host this challenge with me. Thanks, Anna!

Like The Newbery Medal Challenge - 1922 to Present THIS IS A STRESS FREE CHALLENGE. It is intended to be fun! You are invited to participate in this challenge at your own pace and at your own level of "strictness" to the list of books. Some of those older honor books may be difficult to get your hands on. You may choose not to re-read titles. You may make this challenge about what works for you!

Click here to download a Caldecott Challenge badge.

#nerdbery & #nerdcott - two great reading challenges that go great together.
Just remember if you choose one or both... the theme is STRESS FREE!

If you are participating in the Caldecott Challenge, you may link to your blog or goodreads shelf using the widget below:

Monday, December 5, 2011

Picture Book Month

November was Picture Book Month.
A fabulous idea turned into a wonderful month of celebrating - find out more here:

In our library we celebrated by...
  • Reading lots of picture books! (including some for the 15 Books Award)
  • Sharing staff favorites:

  • Skyping with friends in Illinois, Wisconsin and Hungary.
    Thank you @MrSchuReads, @PageInTraining, and @sducharme!
  • and making bookmarks to exchange with other schools:

Thank you to everyone who made Picture Book Month a possibility!
Looking forward to November 2012!

Wednesday Wars

One more Book Trailer for a Maud Hart Lovelace Nominee:
Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt

Go to for more trailers and author interviews for the nominees.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Anything But Typical

Another book trailer for a Maud Hart Lovelace Nominee:


Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Book Trailers for Maud Hart Lovelace Nominees

With the help of Anna from and a few of my other colleagues, we've been making book trailers for the 2011-2012 Maud Hart Lovelace Nominees that didn't yet have one.

I've linked and embedded all of our work here:

Here are two I just finished:

Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel by Nikki Grimes

Football Genius by Tom Green

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Celebrating Picture Books & Native American Heritage

November is Picture Book Month and it's Native American Heritage Month.

To celebrate both, here are three fabulous picture books I love reading out loud that celebrate Native American Heritage:

Muskrat Will Be Swimming
by Cheryl Savageau

What it's about: Jeannie is teased and called "Lake Rat" at school, but her grandfather helps her discover that being a lake rat - a muskrat - is really something to be proud of.

My favorite line - "I know who I am, and I know about the lake, that we're part of it, and it's part of us."

additional teacher resources

Jingle Dancer 
by Cynthia Leitich Smith 

What it's about: Jenna doesn't have enough jingles for her dress to dance in her first pow-wow, but if she borrows a few from different jingle dancers she knows, she may have enough.

My favorite part - each time Jenna borrows enough jingles to make a row, but doesn't take so many that the original dress loses it's voice.

Sky Dancers
by Connie Ann Kirk

What it's about: John Cloud is proud of his father and uncle who are working on the tallest building in the world - the Empire State Building.

My favorite line - When John is thinking about what he will do with his own life: "There was time to listen to the music of his heart. For now he was content to walk beside his father... one step at a time."
I love to pair this with Pop's Bridge by Eve Bunting

More about Native American Heritage Month at

Monday, November 7, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Rain School by James Rumford

What it's about: In the country of Chad, Tomas arrives for the first day of school, and the the teacher says their first lesson is to build the school.

The Kindergarteners, 1st and 2nd graders at my school recently read this book as part of the 15 Book Student Choice Picture Book Award ( 

Here is what they thought:

Monday, October 24, 2011

New Book Week 2011

A big fall celebration in my library is
New Book Week!

I buy new books throughout the year, but I tend to purchase a larger order in the spring which arrives close to the end of the school year. That order combined with new books I purchase over the summer and at the start of school, are the items I use for New Book Week in early October.

This does mean that I don't put out a new book displays for the first weeks of school. But it also means that my assistant and I have a little time as school is starting to finish processing the many new books we have, allowing us to give a little more attention to some of the many other details of getting up and running for the first weeks.

This fall was my 9th year of running a new book week celebration, and it has become a big deal for students at my school.

The core idea is that every student in the school has a chance to come and browse all of the new books before they get checked out. 

For the week I set up 5 big tables with a mix of books (nonfiction, fiction, picture books, comics, etc.) If I have multiple copies, I spread them over a few tables.

My school is a K-8 school of around 750 students. I schedule times for each class to visit and browse. For the younger grades, students spread out at the tables, and we treat them like stations, rotating every few minutes so that they get to browse at all the tables by the time they are finished. The oldest grades do fine with milling about on their own (but many have "grown up" with New Book Week and understand the expectations). 

For grades 3 and up I ask them to bring pencils, and I provide bookmarks for them to keep. They are extremely un-fancy and really just a place for them to write down books that they are interested in for the future. Some students have told me that they keep them all year as a to-read list.

Lots of Booktalks:
My tables are next to a projector and Smartboard. Over the years I have tried a variety of ways to enhance the speed book talking I do while the students are browsing. This year I made a youtube playlist of book trailers for books that were on the tables. I was able to quickly sort the order of the videos based on what grade was visiting next. I had the trailers playing in the background - and kids held up the book if it was at their table when the video played. Then I was able to go around and give more personal book talks at the tables. A side benefit to playing the trailers was they also acted as a management tool. The videos were my timer for when to switch tables, and they also helped to keep the noise (from excitement about books) down to a more appropriate level.

The Finale:
The very last day of New Book Week, after everyone has had a chance to browse, check out starts! 
We have two bells at the end of the day, and after the first bell students may come to check out a new book from the tables. It is wild and crazy excitement in the library that needs staff for traffic management and multiple check out stations, but it is so worth it.

New Book Week 2011

Teacher Event:
Many teachers browse when their classes visit, but I also plan a New Book Week Open House after school one day during the week. I have snacks and "hold lists" for teachers. I pull items from the hold list for teachers to use in their classroom before students start checking out with the idea that if a teacher is sharing it, a whole classroom gets to enjoy it. This is also a time for me to share items I have purchased specifically to connect to certain curricular areas.

Other Tips & Things I have learned:

  • Before New Book Week, especially with my younger students, I pre-teach about how to browse. I also create an awareness of what the library staff does to get a book ready for check out.

  • Have students put their bookmarks on the table (not on top of a book) to write down the title. My first year all of our new books had indentations of writing all over them making them look not so new anymore.

  • Since I have such an age range from Kindergarten to 8th grade, I see my youngest browsers on the same day and pull the books intended for my oldest readers off the tables for that time. That way Kindergartners don't have to dig through lots of things that are really not appropriate for them to get at what they would like to look at. I often have the last group of older students before those primary browsing times put things on carts at the end of their visit. This saves me from putting my hands on every book again.

  • New Book Week has really created motivation for students to put books they want on hold. Last school year we had over 2,300 holds placed by students - that's an average of over 3 holds per student during the year.

If you are interested in more logistics of how I run my New Book Week - please don't hesitate to comment, email or DM on twitter.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

AASL 2011 in Minneapolis!

I am thrilled to be attending AASL in Minneapolis ( - truly spitting distance from my house, were I a better spitter.

There are so many places around the Twin Cities that make me happy to live here. 

Here are just a few that you may want to explore if you are coming to the conference from out of town.

Books and Comics
Children's Book Stores
Minneapolis and St Paul are known as the Twin Cities, and we are so lucky to have an amazing children's bookstore in each one.

Minneapolis: (around the corner from a Sebastian Joe's location and next to Linden Hills Yarn shop - see below)

Big Brain Comics
I cannot tell you enough how much I love this shop. The owner Michael Drivas is so wonderfully knowledgeable and helpful. He was instrumental in helping me develop a core collection of comics and graphic novels in my library back when reviews were scarce and it seemed like uncharted territory for an elementary library. Don't let the lack of online presence fool you - this is an amazing store.

While you are there, be sure to stop next door to the Open Book:
And if the weather is nice... take a walk over the river on the Stone Arch Bridge:

Pizza, Beer & Ice Cream
Three very important parts of life!
Multiple locations around town - until recently only available in the Twin Cites (a new site just opened in Duluth). 
Favorite Pizza: Ruby Rae - a delicious upside down pizza pie with the red sauce on top. Spinach, bruschetta tomatoes, Italian sausage, and extra mozzarella cheese. Sprinkled with parmesan cheese and spicy crushed red pepper.
Great local beer on tap: Surly -

My new local favorite brewery. 
Sample the beers when they are open - check their website to see when they are open for growler sales.

Or visit for an unbelievable selection of craft beers, both local (Steel Toe & Surly) and from around the world. 

Ice Cream flavors change daily!
A few local favorites, like Pavaroti (Caramel, bananas, and chocolate chips), are always available. 
So many interestingly wonderful flavors like Roasted Garlic Almond Chip.
Ask for samples!

Sculpture Gardens
The Spoon Bridge and Cherry has become a symbol of Minneapolis. 
Included in the same sculpture park are many other fabulous sculptures along with the amazing right next door. 

A bit out of the city, but totally worth the drive for fans of outdoor sculpture.

Classical Music
I play viola with a wonderful group of string players called the Roseville String Ensemble.
If you are still in town Sunday at 3:30, I cordially invite you to join us for an afternoon of Handel, Britten, and Bartok.

Some of you may know me not only as LibLaura5, but also as my alter ego Orinda5, knitter and lapsed knit-blogger ( I can't post this list without mentioning the many fabulous yarn shops around the Twin Cities.
If you are a fiber enthusiast, search ravelry ( for yarn shops near Minneapolis for a list. (When I search my zip code, there are 14 shops within 10 miles of my house!)
This is my go to yarn store - great selection of all types of yarns and notions.
The closest to walking distance from the Convention Center.
Simple and beautiful store - filled with lovely, luxurious yarns displayed to make a yarn lover sigh upon entering.
Next Door to Wild Rumpus (Children's Bookstore from above), and around the corner from Sebastian Joe's (Ice Cream from above)

That Really Big Mall
The Mall of America seems to be a big draw for many who visit... if you go, bring your school badge. The Aquarium ( is free for teachers (technically your badge gets you a free single membership for the year). From downtown you are able to take the light rail all the way there:

Google Map of all the places mentioned above: Liblaura5's Favorites for AASL 2011

I know I am leaving out all sorts of fabulous local places.
Locals, I would love to know your favorite haunts that you would recommend.
Out of towners, I hope to get a chance to say hello next week!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

3 Great Picture Books About Wangari Maathai

It saddened my heart to hear of Wangari Maathai’s recent passing.

There is no better example of leaving a legacy.

There is no better example of how the dedicated work of one person toward a vision can change landscapes (both figurative and literal) for future generations.

Through the simple act of planting a tree, Wangari Maathai fought for the environment, the rights of women and peace.

TAKING ROOT: The Vision of Wangari Maathai

Wangari Maathai address to Earth Day NY in Times Square - April 22, 2010

Three beautiful books that share the work and life of Wangari Maathai:

Wangari's Trees of Peace: a True Story from Africa
by Jeanette Winter

Mama Miti
written by Donna Jo Napoli
Illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Seeds of Change 
winner of the 2011 Coretta Scott King John Steptoe Award for New Talent
written by Jen Cullerton Johnson
illustrated by Sonia Lynn Sadler