… and scene

How perfect that this week is the final week of the #edublogsclub blogging challenge (a few weeks shy of a full year) and this past weekend I completed the Rae Carson Gold Seer trilogy. Into the Bright Unknown’s book birthday was Thursday, so I dutifully went to the bookstore to pick it up and read as quickly and slowly as possible because I knew it was the end. Likewise, when Edublogs announced several weeks back that they would be finishing out the challenge on week 40, I couldn’t help but be sad too. So I savored prompt 39 and now write slowly for my last one, knowing it will be the last.

IntotheBrightUnknownCarson’s book was a riveting ending that didn’t quite have the explosions and bang bang shoot ’em up that book number two did nor was it the magic of being introduced to a strong female character, Leah Westfall, in the first (you can never get back that first-read feeling). This book felt mature. It was about each of the ragtag group that trudged through the American west to set up Glory together, all while the pains of prejudice and lawlessness reigned. Carson was so vivid in her descriptions of the west and then California where most of the third book takes place that I actually dreamed of the west.  It was a fitting ending and I won’t spoil it for you here, but there is hopefulness for the future of the fictional characters and a completeness to their story.

There is also hopefulness for the future of my blogging. I flexed the muscle of talking more about education rather than just books and it felt good. While I won’t always post about education and libraries in the future, I will incorporate those thoughts when necessary and in the context of my own professional interests around being a dutiful librarian. And for me, that means reading way more than I could possibly recommend so that I always have something to recommend to every reader. It means coming up with unique programs that keep students engaged and thinking. It means listening to and connecting with the students, our future. Edublogs did rev that engine and I thank them for that. I also connected with another school librarian named Alicia who works at a high school library whose initials are also AHS. You know, same thing: Edublogs inspiring me to be a better educator through blogging and also setting educators up on blind dates. Totally equal.


So, thank you Rae Carson for writing yet another fierce trilogy that made me sad to have to walk away. Luckily, I’ll have the books on my bookshelf as a memory of the good times we had. And thank you Edublogs for inspiring thoughtful dialogue among its practitioners and giving me tons of posts to look back on including these which are my favorites from our time together: 1) Folders, folders everywhere, 2) Creative expression, 3) “So, professional development should…”, 4) The swinging pendulum, and 5) Worth a thousand words.




I’ve written before about completing Riotgrams Instagram challenges– a photo each day for a month around the prompt set forth that usually aligns in part with holidays, seasons, and suggestions from Book Riot‘s followers. I thought I’d share some book recommendations based on the prompts and my pictures so far this month. Keep in mind it’s only October 15th, which means there’s still a half of a month to go!

2017-10-14 08.43.42Tales of the Peculiar by Ransom Riggs is an addition to the Miss Peregrine’s series. This book is a collection of short stories written under the guise of a historian for peculiars and tells the tall tales that only another peculiar can tell. Some are light-hearted but some are downright depressing. But it brings out the best in Riggs’ creativity and is a perfectly natural (see what I did there?) addition to the family of books.

This post’s inspiration was “books in nature”.




2017-10-09 11.40.35The Round House by Louise Erdrich is an adult novel written in 2012 that is a multi-layered and emotionally-draining portrayal of a family torn apart on the North Dakota reservation of the Ojibwe tribe. This is the kind of book you dive into with every fiber of your being and continue to think about after you’re finished. It’s likely a book I will re-read when I don’t often do that.

This post’s inspiration was “Native and indigenous reads.” 



2017-10-10 19.19.47-1Into the Bright Unknown by Rae Carson is the final book in her Gold Seer trilogy that I finished about fifteen minutes ago. I bought it on it’s book birthday because I had to have it and finished it within a few days, though if I could ignore adulthood, I could have been done the following day. Carson demonstrates the facets of immigration and race relations in the 1850s during the Gold Rush though it began years before that in the south after Leah’s parents were murdered and she needed to run, hiding herself in plain sight as a boy and meeting up with a band of interesting people all pushing their way west. If I can provide more encouragement to read the series, know that I had at least one night of dreams set in the wild West myself that demonstrates Carson’s command of setting.

This post’s inspiration was “books & candy”.

2017-10-04 08.01.19Dear Fahrenheit 451: A Librarian’s Love Letters and Break-Up Notes to the Books in Her Life by Annie Spence is a must-read for librarians (duh) and avid book lovers. Her uniquely humorous style provides glimpses into her reading habits and her life. Her and I are kindred spirits because we share an all-time book favorite The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides. Her approach had me laughing and smirking making for awkward public interactions. But readers certainly can find ways to incorporate this style– a love letter to your books– into some epic internal conversations or as part of your next book group meeting. Love, Alicia.

This post’s inspiration was “current read.”

2017-10-03 16.03.30-1And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard has one of my favorite covers. So while it’s not winter and I wasn’t going to dress in all-black, you get the point. This young adult novel features poetry and inspiration from Emily Dickinson in one of the ways I appreciate contemporary YA authors– bringing back the old by incorporating it into the new. The main character has experienced something tragic and is now at a boarding school and channeling Emily Dickinson to heal. The mystery unfolds over the course of the book and readers get to go back in time and revisit some of Emily Dickinson’s best poetry while Hubbard flexes her own poetry muscles and has Emily writing her own which is just as beautiful.

This post’s inspiration was “three word titles.”

2017-10-11 15.34.27Lab Girl by Hope Jahren is an adult biography that I have recommended widely since reading. While I will never know what it’s like to be a scientist, I felt like I understood the life of one, with the added benefits of chronicling Jahren’s personal life alongside her academic one. Without a doubt, it is eloquently written and organized in a studious manner, with three sections being named for plant life weaving these plants into the story of her own life and her lab partner. It’s as serious as it is cerebral with commentary on mental health, family, friendship, and science itself.

This post’s inspiration was “underrated read”. 


The essentials

As part of the #edublogclub year-long challenge to blog on education, this week’s topic focuses on an article of interest.

I read widely because of my job and because of my interests. I find Pocket, a Chrome extension to be useful in curating the articles that I want to save, read, re-read, or remember for the future. This Huffington Post article is one such article about why libraries remain essential for school.

LifeIsShortAfter a short but very fruitful week this week, I’d like reflect on what Williams’ shared and specifically their quote from Timothy Healy that “the most important asset of any library goes home at night– the library staff.” Whether it’s my drive home, the moments before I fall asleep, or even during the work day, I’m constantly reflecting on my purpose. And now re-reading Healy’s words, it’s likely the most important thing I do each day as we celebrate student success and fill our cups with positive human interaction for our young learners.

Like today, I spent two periods with AP Language classes of thirty students each booktalking and then zeroing in on a narrative nonfiction or informational text for their outside reading project. I was buzzing with adrenaline sharing my favorites and seeing the light in their eyes as they made a connection with what I was sharing or what they found.

I also use the library’s social media to share what we’re doing, but my personal social media to recognize the importance of my work to me. My mother even recently commented on a Facebook post I had made during my presentations and attendance at School Library Journal‘s Leadership Summit that I epitomize the saying that when you find a job you love, you don’t have to work a day in your life. That is true.

So yes, libraries are essential. In the public sphere in and in public education. But ultimately, what moves you in your own position?


Posted by on October 13, 2017 in Blogging, edublogsclub, Librarian Life


You remember the good ones

Dear Mrs. Clark,

Here’s what I want to thank you for

  • Bunnicula and Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.
  • Sesquipedalians by the week– how else would I learn awesome words like ambidextrous?
  • Kindly smiling and (hopefully) loving the homemade canned pickles that my mother made and we lovingly gave you each year for a holiday treat that you then received two years later… then two years after that since you had both of my younger brothers.
  • An energized classroom that valued writing
  • Your kindness and love for quirky eleven year olds in all their shapes, sizes, and attitudes
  • And the most important was a love of the news and information. You did riddles. I can’t remember now whether they were daily or weekly but I began reading the paper every morning because sometimes they were about current events and I needed to get the answer right. From that year on I have NEVER, ever, ever stopped reading at least one newspaper daily. It’s a habit and a need that you created.

Thank you for being one of the handful of teachers I will always remember fondly. Yes, I do remember the chain that dangled from your reading glasses and your mid-calf skirts, but I will also remember enjoying fifth grade because of you.

Happy World Teacher Day.


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Posted by on October 5, 2017 in Blogging, edublogsclub


Quoth me

As part of the #edublogclub year-long challenge to blog on education, this week’s topic focuses on quotes. 

If you read my blog with any regularity, you’ll see that many of my posts are accompanied by several pictures and often, a quote. As a reader, I am fond of words. I have my favorite tattooed on my body in another language. And I use quotes often: to laugh when I want to cry, to entertain and amuse, to stay humble yet often to empower, and to know myself. But I’ll share the one that I actually just shared with students today doing a book tasting in the library, showcasing the magic of books in all of their forms and formats:

DifferentCombinationDoesn’t that absolutely capture the magic of books? Twenty-six letters and so many books that I have fallen in love with. How is that even possible?

With the advent of technology to make things faster and easier, let’s never forget the power of words. Spoken or written in the past or in the future. Use bigger words, don’t use abbreviations. Find a substitute for “that’s interesting” and say what you really mean. Buy books by authors you love to support their art. It may be easy to forget, but that’s why I keep this reminder around. Words are power.


Bad, difficult, and nowhere

Over the last several weeks, I’ve read titles that deal with girls in bad places, girls taking a stand as “nowhere girls”, and an adult essay collection by Roxane Gay called Difficult Women. To say that #shepersisted would be an understatement.

GirlinaBadPlaceThe first, Girl in a Bad Place by Kaitlin Ward is a copy I’m reviewing for VOYA, so you can read the full review there, but suffice it to say that when a girl is in trouble, sometimes she finds the path of least resistance and when that path leads to dangerous individuals, it’s important to have a girl friend to keep it real.

TheNowhereGirlsAnd keepin’ it real is what a group of girls in The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed does when a new girl moves in to the house formerly housing another student who moved after a traumatic rape. The school and community’s lack of justice for her and subsequent girls who have tolerated this behavior are ready to stand and fight led by three very unique girls who empower others’ voice. Erin’s autism is useful as she continually discusses how she is underestimated by others. Rosina’s pressures include the conservative Mexican-American expectations of her family as she explores her sexuality and sense of duty. Then there’s Grace, the new girl, who provides fresh perspective couched in a liberal church community that her mother heads. What is admirable and respected in the story are the richness of the voices, but the very real conversations Reed has with her readers.

DifficultWomenAnd while the third book is an adult essay collection with a great deal of sexual content, the rawness of the approach is what won me over. I hadn’t read any of Gay’s other works that include Bad Feminist and Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body so I cannot speak to those but each story while sometimes with similar character profiles or development allows for reflection. I’m the first one to admit I love dark books and this one fits the bill as Cornelius Nepos says “after darkness comes the light.”

So, explore womanhood in its many forms in these three newer books.


Past, present, and future

As part of the #edublogclub year-long challenge to blog on education, this week I’m combining two prompts into one on interviewing and something that you wouldn’t see in a classroom today that used to be learned or used. 

I regularly blog for our local newspaper’s Books Blog contributing with other locals on what else… books! Two years ago, I wrote a June post entitled I’m the lucky one around five seniors graduating who I hold dear to my heart. One of those seniors I have kept in touch with regularly and decided to ask her a few questions about her high school experience and life post-graduation.

What were your expectations for high school and were they met?

I don’t think anything has wasted my time as much as high school did. I guess what I really expected out of high school was that it would really prepare me for the “real world” or for college at least. But it didn’t do that. It just genuinely was complete nonsense. It wasn’t reality and I’m glad I realized that early on unlike my peers who were really consumed in all that rubbish. My expectations weren’t met until it was finally over. Because I was happy it was over because high school just wasn’t for me.

Are you where you thought you’d be after graduation?

It’s been two years since I’ve graduated, and although it has seemed like time has flown by. I think I need more time to be where I really want to be. I think I settled for too much after graduation and now I just need to figure out where I really want to be.

What goals do you have for your future? 

I have many goals for my future. I plan I being a Radiologist at some point in my life so that if my current goal that I’m working on. But I don’t want to settle on one thing so another main goal for after I get my life started as a radiologist is to learn photographer and just photograph people from all over the world.

How did the adults in school have an impact (or not) during high school?

Personally, every adult in this school has had an impact on me whether it being negatively or positively. But one adult who’s impact really has stuck with me forever is Ms. Lawyer. She really impacted me in a positive way. Her devotion and passion was really inspiring. She was really there for me when I struggled the most around my sophomore. She just made me feel like there was someone who genuinely cares and who will listen to whatever I had to say. I really felt heard.

What is one thing you wish educators would know or learn when teaching youth? 

One thing that I think educators should learn when it comes to teaching the youth is to actively listen to some of the things students have to say, I guess it shows that someone actually cares to listen. I’ve seen teachers really shut students down and that makes me upset to see that. I just think that really listening to a students feedback makes a difference and makes class less miserable.


EducationFireWhat she speaks to several times over leads me to respond to the second prompt around what used to be used or learned in schools that might be missing today. I could talk about filmstrips or the pro/cons of teaching cursive in elementary schools, but I’d rather address teaching the whole child. What my former student refers to about the connection with Ms. Lawyer is an emphasis that she was listened to, not “put in her place”. There are still teachers and certainly not all, who would rather sit and spit, getting through their lesson for the sake of sanity and the upcoming state test than stop and talk about a topic affecting a student emotionally or greeting the class with a smile and a handshake.

Every educator needs to be reminded that it’s not always about being right, it’s about people-building. I am guilty of letting frustration or anger getting the better of me, but upon reflection, I try to rectify that directly. That’s more of a lesson than ignoring it could ever be. Let’s remind our colleagues and ourselves that we need to continue to remember that these little or big bodies (at 5’1″, many high school students tower over me!) are as much in need of kindness as ourselves and that everything is a learning opportunity to grow ourselves.


Posted by on September 21, 2017 in Blogging, edublogsclub, Librarian Life