So, I now get to say that I am a SECOND year librarian! Looking back, I wish I would have had a year round list of MUST-CELEBRATE events that center around reading at the beginning of the year; it would have avoided much scrambling and burning the midnight oil! I am grateful for the amazing #PLN (Professional Learning Network) I have developed on Twitter, it was a lifesaver! I found out about most of the events I will include in this post through the amazingly innovative Texas librarians that participate in the #txlchat (Texas Librarian Chat) every Tuesday from 8:00-8:30 p.m. starting in September on Twitter. Without further blabbing on my part here is THE list, according to my humble opinion, that will help any and every elementary and middle school librarian put reading in the spotlight for the whole school:
Texas Bluebonnet Awards – Read 5 Then Decide -Yearly Campaign
- Website to get all info: http://www.txla.org/TBA
- Date: Year round after the current year’s list is announced in October. VOTING DEADLINE: January 31st.
- The skinny: The Texas Bluebonnet Award Committee selects twenty books that include novels, picture books, and graphic novels as nominees for the award. Students must read at least five titles from the list in order to have the right to vote come election time at your school. The website provides a PLETHORA, yes, that’s right, PLETHORA, of resources to promote the books, including book trailers on their YouTube channel to get kids excited and help them decide which to start with. You make the celebration as simple or as royal as you wish it to be!
- Ways to Connect: It’s important to KNOW that you must pay a registration fee in order to have your votes officially counted, it’s a nominal amount, and will give you access to their online voting tools which makes the voting process so much more exciting! It also prints off a variety of reports that will help you analyze the impact of this initiative. Post pictures and news of your events using the hashtag #TBA17 (for the 2017 election) on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also tag @TBABooks on Twitter.
- How we celebrated last year: I shared with grades 3-5 the online book trailers and went on about how all of these authors were fighting to get their vote. Some of the picture books I shared with classes, but the brunt of the reading was done by students. I only had one set of book nominees so we had waiting lists which students were pretty good at managing. They kept a tally of the books they read with the TX Map created by TBA that has all 2o covers of the nominees. I kept the classes’ maps together in a pendaflex accordion to avoid any loss of maps, or asking teachers to keep up with them. When January came around I created voting booths using science fair boards, and set up iPads for voters to cast their votes on. I made a Voting Registration Card for each student, and hole punched it as they went to their voting booth to vote. There was a cup of goodies for each voter that included a silicone bracelet, a button, an eraser and a pencil that had reading messages on them.
International Dot Day – Celebrating Bravery, Creativity, and Self-Expression
- Website to get all info: http://www.thedotclub.org/dotday/
- Once you sign up you will get a downloadable educator’s guide
- Date: September 15th-ish! (Sometime during that week is my interpretation)
- The skinny: Share with your students the book The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds and then become a dot do-er! There are ample ways that go from simple, almost no prep, to complex ways to celebrate the themes of this book: bravery, creativity and self-expression. This is a reading celebration that will appeal to those who have discovered their reading identity, and those who are still on the hunt for it.
- Ways to connect: Share pictures and how you celebrated on the website, Twitter, and Facebook.
- How we celebrated last year: Sigh…I learned about this one too late and didn’t get to celebrate it, but believe you me, it will be a part-ee of self-expression this year. I will cover the hallway with dot creations, I plan to have the older kids write a script for The Dot and perform it for our younger students, I hope to have a Parent-Dot-Night where we all get to collaborate on a huge dot!
- Website to get all info: http://www.thedotclub.org/dotday/
Power Up at Your Library Day
- Website to get all info: http://www.poweredlibraries.org/
- Date: September 15th
- The Skinny: Showing off your library as the technological stage it is! This day will be used to celebrate all the virtual, innovative, 21st Century offerings you provide. Think in terms of Makerspace, Learning Commons, Technology Hardware, Databases, etc. A guide with ideas, marketing tools, downloadables, and printables can be found on the website.
- Ways to Connect: Social Media! Press Releases, and surveys are among the ideas mentioned.
- How we celebrated last year: This is a brand new initiative so we will all be learning from each other as we celebrate the power of our libraries!
Global Read Aloud – One Book to Connect the World
- Website to get all info: https://theglobalreadaloud.com/
- Dates: Early October through almost Mid November. (This year it will run from October 3rd to November 11th)
- The skinny: GRA comes up with a yearly, grade level specific, list of books that all participants read during the designated dates. Longer books have a suggested schedule that you follow in order to be on the same page as readers across the globe. You connect with other classrooms and share your reactions and other reading products over different communication platforms (Skype, Google Hangouts, HaikuDeck, even snail mail!).
- How do you find classrooms to connect with? The GRA website will provide all the links to the Edmodo groups created by book/author. From there it’s up to you to connect with another class or library.
- How we celebrated last year: K-2nd went through the Amy Krouse Rosenthal Author Study. We created pictures, wrote questions, used Apps to share visuals with classes across the country. We Skyped with a class of 1st graders and talked about our favorite book and shared a visual of our fave book. We reacted to the HaikuDeck of a second grade class on what they felt the author’s message of one of the books we read was. Another class participated in a real mail postcard exchange offering one fact about their state and which was their fave book for GRA. This year I will include the upper grades and I hope we create trading cards to exchange based on the stories we read.
National Ninja Day Story Time
- Website to get all info: Celebrate Ninja Story Time – Corey Rosen Schwartz soon to be moved to http://www.ninjasread.com (Follow @ninjasread on Twitter to keep up with the change and developing events.)
- Date: December 5th
- The Skinny: Who doesn’t love ninjas? (If you don’t, I advise against sharing your views, kids love ninjas, and your coolness factor will diminish if you don’t too! Trust me on this one, okay?) December 5th is International Ninja Day celebrated all over the US. Authors who have written Ninja picture books teamed up to create #NinjasRead and give kids another reason to dress up and read! The authors have kindly created printable resources on the website and also plan to offer Skype sessions for this year’s celebration. Want to get your at-promise readers excited about reading? Take a chance on National Ninja Day Story Time, they will be lured by all the ninja coolness and leave ninja readers!
- Ways to connect: Check the website regularly for updates on Skype sessions and hashtags for social media.
- How we celebrated last year: Double sigh… this is another one I was late to the party for but this year: ………… You will have to imagine the ninja moves I just did because ninjas are silent, no onomatopoeias can describe them. DOLLAR TREE has Ninja stars, vests, nunchucks, masks. I will definitely dress up for the day and read Ninja picture books all day, write Haikus, teach students how to fold paper Ninja stars, share ninja jokes,and use the resources the authors have so graciously provided. I will try to get a Skype session with one of the authors because connecting with the outside, greater community will make this day even more special and memorable.
World Read Aloud Day
- Website to get all info: http://www.litworld.org/wrad/
- Date: Every February (the 2017 date has yet to be announced, last year it was February 24th, 2016). Register on their website to receive the updated date for 2017 as soon as it becomes available.
- The skinny: LitWorld is a non-profit organization that is committed to spread literacy across the globe to children. Their work goes way beyond World Read Aloud Day, but they have created this one special day to celebrate literacy globally. We read for those who cannot read, we read to enjoy the power of reading, and the organizers provide an Educator’s Guide with activities for every day in the month of February, leading up to WRAD. Amazing resources in the educator’s guide will have students thinking about many important themes in literature while indulging in the amazing gift that being literate is.
- Ways to connect: Register at their website to show your library’s support. Promote the event using the marketing tools and different calendars and suggested reads with parents and teachers. Share your pictures and news on the organization’s website, FB page and on Twitter with the #WRAD hashtag. Ask librarians on Twitter if they would like to collaborate with you and your students. That is how I learned of the event and also got to collaborate, like I said, #txlachat is the bomb diggety!
- How we celebrated last year: I was late to this party, but I got to celebrate nonetheless! I connected with a librarian in South Texas and her middle grade theater students read The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt to our whole second grade level via Google Hangout. Our 2nd graders had never connected live virtually with others and were so incredibly excited! It took them a while to comprehend that we were not watching a movie! The teachers loved the experience and it provided my students with a global experience and connecting virtually gave them a glimpse into what collaborating with others who are far away feels like. I also made sure to read aloud to my upper elementary students on this day. Throughout the month I also used the WRAD calendar to read and highlight the character strengths they were promoting and classes created mini-murals that were displayed in the hallway of what they thought represented the strength we read about.
NEA Read Across America – Dr. Seuss’s Birthday
- Website to get all info: http://www.nea.org/grants/886.htm
- Date: March 2nd, 2017
- The skinny: “You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read with a child.” – Dr. Seuss NEA has many initiatives to help build a nation of readers, but this just might be the most recognized. Celebrate reading by having an everything Dr. Seuss Day to celebrate this influential author’s birthday! The website has incredible resources, including ideas to celebrate, press releases, printables, and Reading Pledges. You can celebrate for just one day, or the whole week!
- Ways to connect: Use the hashtag #neareadacrossamerica (I know it’s so long!) when you post on Twitter, Instragram, or Facebook.
- How we celebrated last year: THIS WAS THE BIG ONE! We celebrated every day during the week of Dr. Seuss’s Birthday and it was embraced by the whole school. I’m going to make a bulleted list here, because like I said, we celebrated big time.
- Dr. Seuss daily dress up
- The main hallway’s glass was painted with a Dr. Seuss mural and the library was decorated with character plushies
- Dr. Seuss daily dress up
- On Dr. Seuss’s Birthday we had over 15 guest readers from the community come visit our students and read a Dr. Seuss’s book of their choosing. I started making calls at the end of January in order to ensure every classroom had a guest reader. We had a museum facilitator from The Dallas Museum of Art and a Half Price Books assistant manager come read to our students. From our city we had firefighters, police officers, the city’s mayor, and the city’s judge come and read with our students. From our own district I invited the superintendent, one of the assistant superintendents, one of the members of the district’s board of directors, and many of the district employees that used to be in the classroom, but are now in administrative or other positions. They enjoyed being back in the classroom and the kids loved the attention!
- I read Dr. Seuss’s books to all the classes I had that week and we created a Cat in the Hat/Thing One bookmark with a blue pompom made out of yarn.
Children’s Book Week
- Website to find all info: http://www.bookweekonline.com/
- Date: May 1-7, 2017
- The skinny: Celebrating the stories students love and the love of reading. Each year authors are highlighted for this event so you can choose to introduce them as part of the activities for this week. Also, this is super cool, they have a Children’s Book Choice Awards!
- Ways to connect: Get your school excited and involved with the beautiful posters you can get for free by sending a SASE to the address on the website in April. Like their Facebook page and post your pictures.
- How we celebrated last year: This was our second biggest celebration of the year! Here’s what we did.
It has been a marvelous first year and although all of these celebrations are, I won’t lie, a LOT of work, they successfully placed reading in the spotlight as much more than words per minute, answering comprehension questions, or something you “have” to do in school. Reading was enjoyed as the gift it should be to all of us!