I have turned into a Bob Shea Fan Girl, for reals! 

By coincidence, while accompanying my dear husband to compete at a Fine Scale Modeler Competition in Grapevine, TX, I was pleasantly (let’s get real I was ecstatic) to find that the Grapevine Convention Center, where his competition was being held, was exactly next to the Grapevine Public Library, (SALVATION!) So as soon as I helped him set-up his entries I walked (more like sprinted!) to check out the library.  What a beauty! Here are some pics:

So I decided to do some browsing and as part of my pile I grabbed four Bob Shea picture books.  I had read Ballet Cat Totally Secret! Secret! and Dino vs. Santa, but my absolute favorite of what I had read was Big Big Plans! Illustrated by Lane Smith, it is such a fun read aloud especially during an elections year.  Anyway, as I read and reviews the following books, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud eventhough I knew it would garner some weird looks, the library is kicking off their Summer Reading Program and was packed, but as I have had many embarrasing experiences where books have made me laugh, or worse, cry in public, I lolled to my heart’s content. Here’s why I am now part of the Bob Shea Screaming Librarians Club, which I am also the founder, president, secretary, vice president, coffee girl, etc. you get the picture.  FYI Membership is free and open to any reader!
 I’m not going to lie, any type of potty humor is going to make me LOL! But…..there’s a bit of a plot twist here which will have readers making predictions that are pretty off the mark! This is a great readaloud, a fun read-2-yourself-and-laugh-out-loud, even if you are 46 and at the public library.
 Shark is soooooooooooooooo brave! Except when it comes to spiders! Bob Shea is fastly becoming one of my favorite authors, super funny and gives the reader some food for thought, right after they’ve laughed their pants off! Pairs awesome with I’m Trying to Love Spiders by Bethany Barton for some more giggles and interesting facts about arachnids!

 Again, I have to say, I am becoming a BOB SHEA FANGIRL!!!!!!!!!!! Dinosaur makes everyone he encounters turn into a roaring roarer, but then… He visits the library and is faced with the challenge: can he roar-it-in and listen to storytime! Excellent first read during library orientation for elementary school librarians!

 After reading four books in a row by Bob Shea, it’s official, I am in ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️! So Goat is envious of how awesome Unicorn is, and in his mind believes Unicorn is such a show off! Then, Unicorn takes the first step towards getting to know Goat and many wonderful things happen! A story about how first impressions are deceiving and how we all should give each other a chance.

When faced with a fascinating new project…”Just Do It!”

Everyone has a different way of approaching a new idea, project, or risk.  When it comes to implementing a new project in the library, which is now my classroom, my approach mirrors the famous Nike campaign “Just Do It!”.  There are usually at least ten reasons why not to do something, there’s always more research that could be done, more plans to be laid out, the timing could always improve, but here is my reasoning behind following the philosophy of a company who adopted the name of the Greek Goddess of Victory: I won’t necessarily have the kids I have today, a week from now.  In planning amazing feats for the future, I cannot forget that there are children that need to be impacted today, for it might be the last chance I receive to make them discover the power of reading, the love for it, the spark that will set them on their path through literacy successfully.With that mission and the vision of the children I get to serve today, that might not be there tomorrow, this first year as a librarian I have (among other things):

  • Celebrated Global Read Aloud Day 2015
    • Students from Lubbock, TX discussed their favorite book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal with students from our School via Skype
    • First grade postcard exchange with schools in various states and Canada
  • Campaigned the Texas Bluebonnet Awards Vote “Read Five Then Decide” and had voting ID cards, voting booths, and electronic voting.
  • Had fourth graders share a Google Hangout with author Kate Messner
  • Had third graders Skype with author Jennifer Ward
  • Offered afterschool MarkerSpace with Lego, Engineering and other challenges
  • Coached two Battle of the Books teams
  • Formed a Library Assistants Club
  • Offered Toddler Storytime
  • Planned two parent Literacy @ Home Nights where parents received practical activities and created manipulatives with my good friend and Early Childhood Specialist Esmeralda Ramirez
  • As part of World Read Aloud Day students from Houston, TX read via Google Hangout “The Day the Crayons Quit” by Drew Daywalt to all of our 2nd grade classes.
  • Celebrated Read Across America FOR A WHOLE WEEK
    • As part of Read Across America Celebrated DOCTOR SEUSS’S BIRTHDAY with over 15 guest readers from the community to read in our school to our classes
  • Hosted a Pumpkin Book Character Contest
  • Celebrated Children’s Book Week 2016 FOR THE WHOLE WEEK:
    • Dressed up as a different character every day
    • Students had a daily dress up activity to celebrate their favorite books and stories
    • Milk and Cookies Family Reading Night with more than 12 stations to craft, have fun, and listen to stories
    • Organized our First Book Swap- an opportunity to get rid of the stories you no longer read and find new ones at no cost
    • Hosted a Pringles Book Character Contest
    • Hosted a Grade Level Teacher Book Character Dress Up Contest
  • Wrote and got funded a DonorsChoose.org grant.
  • Received a Ford of North Texas and First Book Grant of 200 books for our library.
  • Wrote an Innovation Grant (still waiting to hear from this one!)
  • Celebrated Lunch Hero Day with letters, balloons, paper food with student messages, and posters.

Here is something I jumped into most recently as part of Children’s Book Week, and you know what, I was wearing my Nike sneakers! 

BOOK CHARACTER PARADE!– Was I stressed? Holy cow, totally and absolutely! I invited parents to watch from the sidewalk and prayed that they would respect the boundaries I set for the safety of all our kids.  Did I wonder if maybe myself and 12 more kids would be the only ones dressed up and parading?  I truly did.  But you know what? IT WAS AWESOME! Many of our teachers participated, some had their classes dress up as a book for example: Pete the Cat’s Groovy Buttons: the teacher was Pete and each child was a button!  We paraded once around the school, many parents came, the students who didn’t parade had fun watching, the kids that did parade, were waving as if they were being pranced around on a float, and boy did we have fun and showed that our love of good books, good stories and cool characters is cause for celebration!


The goddess Nike has had my back this year, it’s been amazing to create so many opportunities for my students to see the library as the hive for many of their interests and as a place where reading is for everyone and having fun is pretty much a given.  Just “doing it” also provides a wealth of information for future, improved events while allowing me to care for the children I am responsible for impacting NOW and in the FUTURE! 

Photo taken from: http://sneakerhistory.com/nike/nike-just-do-it/

Hold On (Cue Triumph, yes the Classic Rock Band!)

This month of May,  it will be ten months into my new role in education as a librarian.  After more than a decade in the classroom, working at amazing schools, collaborating on grade level teams with amazing educators such as Esmeralda Ramirez, Karla L. Vargas, and Gustavo Pinoargote, I have been feeling…isolated.  See, as a classroom teacher, you share your daily EVERYTHING with your teammates. You have this mind-blowing, crazy idea? You holler at a teammate which is lining up for something or the other at the same time as you, and you share, you plan, you put the wheels in motion STAT!  As a librarian… well I’m the only librarian on campus. We can go on about grade level planning meetings, and many other instances when you collaborate, coplan, coteach, but I’ve spoken to other librarians and they feel the same way: isolated.  It’s the nature of the position, the  job, the day to day operations.

There have been little glimpses here and there that hint at a possible support network that could make the isolation less so, but nothing compares to TODAY, Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016; the first Reading Night I plan, organize, fundraise for, set up, and see through as a librarian.

 I desperately needed teachers to run the stations I had created and was in a panic when I sent out an email asking for help and less than a handful answered.  I asked our feeder high school for volunteers and found some that would help, but not enough to ensure that Reading Night would run smoothly. My best friend and co-educator Esmeralda Ramirez, who doesn’t work in our district, not only volunteered, but told me repeatedly to “breathe” (she tells me this often, but that’s a whole other post) that it would work out.   

Here’s how it went down:

– Marie, one of our custodians, offered to pick up a cookie donation from Schlotsky’s before her shift started at 2pm.

– Amy, the Kinder TA, showed up at 3:45, more than one hour before Reading Night started, and took over setting up the Pringles Can Character Contest (about 30 of them, by grade level), so I could run and setup other stations.

– Ms. McCoy, kinder teacher, had come in to make her teacher book fair wish list and told me she was “mad” I didn’t ask her for help.  I asked her to please pick up cookie donations at two McDonald’s locations and she did! She also came in way early and helped me set up more than one station, then worked the BookWorm Buddy Station.


-Mr. Alvarez, art teacher, did some heavy lifting and when I said “Aaaahhhhh I haven’t made the numbers for the Book Walk!”, went into the office printed the numbers and laminated them.

-Ms. Allen, music teacher, donated yarn (which I had forgotten to buy!) so we could have our Library Spy Maze and was also the sweetest it’s-time-to-go-home door bouncer ever!

-Mr. Stovall. I texted him to please help me create the library maze because I knew I wouldn’t have it on time for the start of Reading Night and although he had a previous commitment, he stopped by the library and set up the maze which was awesome, before he left. The maze station was ready for kids as soon as they walked in.

-Ms. McClendon, kinder teacher, tirelessly read If You Give a Mouse a Cookie… to groups of kiddos and made eating chocolate chip cookies and sipping chocolate milk part of her interactive storytelling.
IMG_9281-Ms. Ramsey, kinder teacher, ran the Book Walk in a way that puts Cake Walks to shame, getting kids and parents to play too.

– Ms. Nguyen tallied votes for the Pringles Can Characters the old school tally mark way because yours truly didn’t have time to come up with a more efficient way to vote. She was a champ for sure, writing down votes like a stock trader takes orders on the floor of Wall Street.
IMG_9271-Ms. Smith handled the Book Swap like a Mergers and Acquisition Pro, making executive decisions as to what a fair exchange was and leaving everyone happy in the process.

-Ms. Grisham who I’m pretty sure single-handedly donated at least 200 of our 500 books for Book Swap, and then proceeded to work the Walk in Pete the Cat’s Shoes Scooter Race.

-Ms. Dewberry surprised me today by telling me she would stay and help. She shared the Pete the Cat Station with Ms. Grisham AND kept the sixth  graders busy when they were getting restless. (Personally, I think they just like having some extra time with their teacher!)

-Mr. Freeman finished his bus route and helped with the outside Minute-to-Win-It Genre Sort Station which wasn’t the easiest of stations because it was outside, it had an obstacle course, and kids were soooooooo excited to be running, hurdling and screaming during Reading Night.
IMG_9309-Ms. Chen, I know testing is coming up and she’s been stressed, but she made the Fairy Tale Sketch-Who? super fun and gave kids a chance to try out a Pictionary-type game which most of them have never played before.
IMG_9396-Ms. Anderson, first grade, got kids excited about the book character button making station AND was so excited to see families from her class spending time at Reading Night.
IMG_9274-Ms. Wemple worked tirelessly, next to Ms. McCoy, at the Bookworm Buddy Station, and didn’t bat an eyelash when we ran out of “worm” beads and I found…LETTER BEADS!, which brought a new wave of “beaders” to their table.

-Ms. Rodriguez and Ms. Gayle, fifth grade, had little pre-schoolers and big sixth graders weaving through our Library Spy Maze to win posters which they presented with such flair they made it seem kids were getting a Royal Proclamation.

-Coach Mac let me borrow his P.E. equipment and tie-wrapped together hula hoops to make our obstacle course fun and familiar for our kids.

-Mr. Pierotti, assistant principal,  expertly cleared the crowd when it was time to go and get ready for PTA and Orchestra Performance.  He also transported over 30 Pringles Character Cans without breaking a one from the cafeteria back to the library.

When it was all said and done, everyone pitched in and pick up was over in a heartbeat!  
This is the”feeling” I want to “Hold On” to, although the isolation will probably always be there, when it really counts, when it’s for our kids, I am not an island, I have a group of loving, caring, dedicated teachers and staff that will stand united with me to make the love of literacy grow in our children.

(To listen to Triumph’s Hold On click here. )



First Year Librarian Blues

I have completed the very first semester of my career as a Teacher-Librarian and I wanted to document some of my feelings.

I moved to the library in order to have the opportunity to impact more than a homeroom of students each year.  I believe with my whole being that if we love to read, if we see its purpose, if we make it part of our daily life, most of our academic struggles will decrease exponentially.  The idea of being part of the goals I just mentioned was what strengthened my resolve to make the switch, not only would I have the opportunity to influence all of the students at my school, I would see many of them throughout their whole Elementary School careers.  

So, what “blues” am I referring to?  The homeroom-family blues.  When I was a homeroom teacher the relationships I developed with my 20-27 kids was deeper.  I learned about them as learners, as individuals, we grew together, we shared our family history with each other, we became partners, family, community.  I also developed a relationship with their family, visiting all of their homes at least once (one year up to three times!), and seeing them in their day to day environment offered me a wealth of information to help students achieve and the opportunity to offer suggestions to make learning at home more productive.  I miss that, I miss it a lot.  When I refer to my students as “my”, ask anyone who knows me, just how fierce I am in protecting and helping my children grow holistically.  I miss this so much that sometimes my heart physically aches.

It’s the little things I also miss dearly.  On our Holiday Classroom Parties day; I had no class to prepare activities for, to wrap gifts for, to welcome parents to, to take pictures with.  Our Holiday Christmas Sing Along was a blast, teachers were so proud of their classes caroling in front of the whole school after weeks of practice. I didn’t get to experience the little nervouseness of watching them get up on the stage and hoping they didn’t forget the words to their song, hoping that my goofy kids would not use 100% of their goofiness skills while performing.  Yes, I high fived as many as possible as they exited the stage, yes I cheered, sang along, clapped, and loved every performance, but their was a little piece of my heart that was unfifilled, the piece that my homeroom kids used to fill.  I am not going to lie, I spilled a few tears when no one was looking.

To feel a little less blue I visited my favorite kinder class, and took pictures with them and told each one, when they asked, that their Rudolph nose was still painted on, I listened to their explanation of what Santy, their Elf on the Shelf, had done and took pictures with them.  I was also lucky to mand my morning duty post during the Holiday Classroom Parties time, which allowed me to wish a Merry Christmas to the families of many of our students and to squeeze in a hug here and there as they left early to start their holiday break.  

My friend, my shoulder to cry on, Esme, endured my melancholy, offered suggestions that made lots of sense, reminded me of the bigger picture, and was actually the one to suggest I go to Ms. McClendon’s Kinder class to have some “family time” with her students.  I love her dearly because after all that, she was still comforting when I told her that her suggestions were great but I had no “babies” to call my own, and my heart hurt.  Will I ever get over this need to have my own close-knit “student family” ?  I hope not, as an educator it’s part of what makes me passionate.  Will I find some sort of solution to fill this need? I am confident I will, I just have to give it some time and more thought. I love being a teacher librarian, but the teacher part will always long for a class of my own.

Reading…more than for the love of a great story

I began reading Harry Potter long before my daughter Erika ventured into it. She felt that these books would be too scary for her and that the time commitment would be too great considering all she already had on her To-Read-Pile.  She would however ask me about it, what part of the story was I on, so she allowed me to share my passion for HP characters which was an amazing gift; no one else I knew was reading the series at the time.  

Then one Saturday morning in October, out of the blue, she woke up and told me she was ready to be part of  the world of Hogwarts, and that was that.  In three months time  she had read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.  This was amazing for various reasons; first, how in the world did she devour those books while completing all her schoolwork (forget about chores, reading beat chores every day of the week and twice on Sundays in our household!); it was amazing because I had the chance to relive my first five years at Hogwarts, and reread many passages, because my daughter loved to argue that I was wrong about this or that event.

After Erika caught up to where I was currently at, we griped together about how long it was taking for the next book to come out.  We went to all the release parties, waited till midnight to get our copies, then raced home to start reading.  We would holler at each other from our rooms, “Oh my God! What page are you on?  Hurry up! I need to talk to you about what just happened!”  Her friends would call our house to ask what chapter we were on, and again, someone was always behind and we would groan “Come on! We’re getting together on Friday, you need to catch up already!”

When Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince was released I cannot put into words the foul mood that enveloped our household.  Harry was being so mean, so despondent, so…. dare I say, almost evil? It took us a while to figure out that Harry was making us grouchy, and when we did, nothing really changed, we kept on being cranky until we finished reading the book.  When Dumbledore passed, my husband, looked at our daughter and me, crying our eyes out and thought something awful had happened.  It had! Dumbledore was no more, how do you go on without the wise, understanding, tender, funny, father figure you had been living with for the last seven years?  It took us a few days of grieving to try and move on, it took us a few weeks to continue reading, we couldn’t fathom more bad news, after the loss of our beloved headmaster of Hogwarts.

I am a reader, if you look at my Pinterest board  Books, Books, Books, you will find many quotes that reflect my love for the written word.  But, one of the biggest reasons I love and feel melancholy, happiness, and fulfillment is thanks to the beautiful memories I treasure, and think of when I’m having an off day.  The memories that include my precious child and my amazing dad, and one more way that our lives are intertwined.

Wait…did you say free books? Free?

As a first year librarian the Library Department Directors meet with all newbies every week to share policies, procedures, and to answer any questions and offer encouragement.  Today was…the BEST meeting ever!

We met at the Library Services Processing Office where I was introduced to the two lovely ladies that make all of my books shelf-ready when they come to our library.  Here is where the BESt meeting ever part comes in: I learned that we have a REVIEW LIBRARY.  What is this, you may be wondering.  It’s shelves of books that publishers send to our district to preview.  In exchange for a written review the books become…OURS!!!! Hello!

I tried to be still and not show my excitement at the possibility of acquiring new books, but I don’t think I was 100% successful.  You see, we were standing in front of the shelves listening to our processing center experts telling us about the process; I tried to not let my eyes wander over to the shelves, but  I glanced, and tried to make out the titles of some of the books, five times.  I did my best I promise you, but the opportunity to find new treasures for my students for FREE, was a lot to handle.  I’ll try to do better next time, or better yet, I’ll just mosey on down to their office when we are not meeting, that way I won’t have to fight my impulse to POUNCE on all those gems!

Now, the ladies at the processing center, they already know who I am because I’ve worked to get the library, book donations which they have to process, so when I started my tour down the shelves they kindly placed a BOX next to me.  They know me well, I couldn’t resist, I hugged them several times!

How amazing was this discovery! I will now have a wider selection and know personally books that might be the perfect fit for many of my readers.  Today was a good day, bless all the publishing houses who want our opinion about their books so much that they are willing to gift us with them!

This is what a library lesson looks like; or not.

This week I shared with an Early Childhood Specialist, who is also my best friend, the library lessons I had planned, and students had enjoyed.  They were all centered around picture books, and had an extension activity to create personal meaning for my readers.

Just because she is my best friend, don’t think for a minute she will not critique extensively, the work I’m doing.  Guess what?  She loved all of my activities! But…(you knew this was coming I’m sure), she felt that my lessons played out like  classroom lessons.  She added that she hadn’t the experience of witnessing a librarian do an actual lesson, the schools she visits don’t seem to have a solid library program,  but that she envisioned the library lesson as being something “else”.  @_@

I’ve been giving this much thought.  Have I yet to let go of the classroom teacher mindset? Was I doing the Librarian thing wrong? If you know me, you can imagine how much of a hole this burned into my mind.  I’ve mostly watched librarians do a read aloud, followed by a discussion, followed by check out.  These are great librarians that are appreciated by the faculty and administration of their respective schools. So what was I doing differently that could be anchored in my classroom mentality?

I began my search for answers by going back to what I believe MY mission is as a librarian.  This is my own goal, which is aligned with my district’s, department’s and governing association’s goals and missions, as I interpret them (wink, wink!).  I am working towards creating a culture of readers in our elementary campus.  What does this look like?  It’s a community of readers that finds adventure, love, answers, or refuge in between the covers of a book.  It’s readers sharing recommendations and talking about books like they talk about video games, television, or their favorite celebrity. It’s students finding kindred spirits, kids they never thought they had common interests or struggles with, because they discover they love the same books.  It’s reading becoming a necessity instead of a drudgery.

How can I create this culture?  By sharing my passion and love for books.  By reading engaging books to my students during library time and somehow relating it back to who we are, what we’ve been through, what we wish for.  I hope that what we do after sharing a book doesn’t taste like schoolwork to my readers, and the feeling I get from them is that it doesn’t.   Any extension activity, paired activity, or however you might want to call it is a way to make the book ours, and that takes different forms for each reader.  Do they write sometimes? Yes.  Do they color sometimes? I wish they did this more often.  Do they discuss the story, create a new story, or search for books with similar content? Yup. Do they start growing an interest in the authors I expose them to? Totally.  Do they order from their teacher’s Scholastic Book Club Flyer some of the books we’ve shared? Yeah! Do they ask to check out the book I just read out? Mm-hm.

Acquisition Selection Committee pouring through book catalogs.
Acquisition Selection Committee pouring through book catalogs.

Reflecting over my mission and what I’ve done so far to begin the hunger for reading and becoming part of a community of readers, I don’t have an answer to the thought that got this whole post started.  When I plan, am I planning with my classroom teacher brain or with my teacher librarian brain? Ummm not sure.  Do my lessons look like a classroom lesson? Perhaps. Do my readers enjoy it? I believe so, I measure it by their engagement and also by their need to share what they’ve come up with.  Are my readers taking chances with the authors I expose them to during library time? Many have.  Does this seem like steps in the right direction towards creating a culture of readers?  My 83 days as a teacher librarian, my years of experience as a reader, my knowledge of pedagogy and children afforded to me by the classroom, and my gut all agree that ABSOLUTELY, we are taking solid, forward steps towards becoming hopelessly and irrevocably in love with the written word in whatever format we choose to read in and that, is all that matters.

Marketing, who knew it would be part of my Librarian Life?

I have been a librarian for 83 days!  Now that I have gotten some semblance of routine and programming down I’d like to share my BIGGEST concern so far: getting students, and their families and significant adults to come to workshops, activities, and well all the fun stuff the library has to offer.  What are these fun activities?  Here’s a list:

  • -Story Time for Toddlers Wednesdays at 9:30 am
  • – Makerspaces after school
  • – Character Pumpkin Decorating Contest
  • -Literacy @ Home Workshops for parents of children in Pre-K and K in the evenings
  • -Battle of the Books

-Acquisitions Committee aka Cannaday’s Book Nerds

How have I gotten the word out?

  • Paper and digital flyers sent home
  • Pictures on twitter and our website so families can “see” how fun it is
  • Talking it up during students’ library time
  • Morning announcement during well…Morning Announcements
  • Standing at the curb handing out flyers to family members while they wait to drop/pick up their children

What else can I do to entice families to give it a chance, to come and have some fun at their library?

This is the new action plan so far:

1- During students’ library time I will show a clip or other visual of what we are doing during Makerspace

2- My first family night will be this week, I will place over tables all the activities that students will have to chose from when they come.

3- This idea is going to take more strategic planning than the others: visit homes for a quick greeting/invitation.  Maybe I could do it by grade levels or start with the streets in our neighborhood that have the greatest amount of families with children at our school.

If you read this and have any ideas that will motivate our families to come to their library please, share it with me.