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Author Archives: Alicia Abdul

About Alicia Abdul

I treasure my reading time while obsessing about family, food, fitness, and librarianship

Sometimes the HS library world and parents don’t collide

The varied posts topics that #edublogsclub provides are great ways to sit and reflect on topics that we don’t talk much about. And this one, parents, at the high school level, is rarely talked about without the ubiquitous comments that parents are no longer invested or connected at the high school level with their students and their teachers.

Yet, we find ways to keep them connected. In our high school, parent-teacher conference day is held on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving break and is for K-12. This was implemented a few years back and has become a positive event at the high school. This day coupled with Open House at the beginning of the year are two times we try to really make the library shine and be welcoming.

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For Open House, usually some activities are held in the library to showcase certain activities that wouldn’t otherwise have a place and my colleague and I stand at the doors (wide open) with information to help, ready to talk, and a smile. I have had more positive interactions with parents looking like a doorman than at many other points in the school year. Whether it starts with how different the library looks since they have attended or the fact that they love that their kids come to the library, we’re always quick to share what programs we have going on and how they as parents can stay connected along with reacquainting them with the library and what we can offer to their students.

It may be difficult to engage parents at the high school level, but we try with

  • newsletters,
  • occasional physical mailings home,
  • fervent activity on our library social media,
  • invitations to be chaperones or volunteers for library-related events
  • posts to the school’s notification system, and
  • visitations to parent-orientated meetings like the school’s Coffee Klatch through our Parent Information Resource Center or PTSA meetings

Yet it all starts with being present. We try to be as visible as possible, whenever possible because we know that “just showing up is half the battle”… for both sides.

 

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2017 in edublogsclub, Miscellaneous

 

Videos help with time management

Even with two full-time librarians at a high school for 2,500 students, there are times we can’t get to every class, especially when trying to marry our schedule and the teacher’s timeline. The easiest fix is to send ourselves digitally and that might be in the form of a video tutorials, which we generally use Screencastify for, a Google extension that allows you to record using your computer’s video camera or broadcast your screen.

This was part of a lesson I gave each year to a group of students for a particular teacher:

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2017 in edublogsclub, Librarian Life, Research

 

Dear Nic Stone

DearMartinOh, how I love thee. Let me count the ways or at least count down the days until you visit our high school library this coming fall. After reading an advanced copy of your book, Dear Martin, which will grace the shelves on October 17, 2017, we are highly anticipating our students reading it en masse. It’s the timeliness of the topic and the historical significance of Justyce writing to Martin Luther King, Jr. It’s the rich character development and the realistic situations. It’s the deceptively simple writing that is anything but simple. In a nutshell, it’s exceptionally accessible.

Memorable character: Readers are endeared to Justyce right from the beginning and his issues are our issues. But it’s when he begins to dig deeper both with his friends, family, and himself that the learning commences. We are living with and through him. What would we do in situations that he’s in? If we would be in them at all because of our skin and age. Stone eloquently posits these injustices as Justyce writes to Martin Luther King, Jr.

Memorable scene: There are several significant scenes, but the ones that stick out to me are the conversations that happen in Doc’s classroom. They read similar to a transcript and further incorporate alternative formats like Justyce’s letters to King and the narrative itself. These telling scenes provide insight into necessary conversations in understanding a variety of viewpoints: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Memorable quote: Though, one of the most memorable quotes doesn’t come from Justyce’s class discussions, instead one that takes place between him and his mom after a class discussion as Justyce is awakened to the thoughts and feelings of others: “‘Yeah. We had this discussion in class today, and… I don’t know, Ma. Everything I’m doing right now feels like a losing battle.’ She nodded. ‘Hard being a black man, ain’t it?'”

In addition to following her on Instagram, I advise teen readers to read and re-read the book, stare at the phenomenal cover, and pressure your librarians to order multiple copies to share with your friends.

 

The opposite of long

LongWayDownIt only took me half of the train ride from New York City to Albany to devour Jason Reynolds’ newest YA Long Way Down that will celebrate its book birthday October 17, 2017. Yes, we will be ordering multiple copies for our HS library. Yes, we continue to be in awe that our HS library hosted him a month after the release of his co-written All American Boys. Yes, I will read everything that this guy writes. So what’s so special about this book? I’ll start with the most..

Memorable character: By far it’s each person that walks into that elevator with Will and no, I don’t want to explain anything more other than to say that they all have their own agendas, all have their own histories, and add a deeper layer before he makes his weighty decision. Which leads to the most…

Memorable scene: Which is clearly the ending. My favorite kind of ending. The kind that ends similarly to Wink Poppy Midnight by Genevieve Tucholke or The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton, which is to say darkly with a big question mark around what will happen next and, that you’re fairly certain as a reader that the author should never/could never/would never write a sequel that answers the question.

Memorable quote: And when Reynolds’ pulls off an ending like this, it’s true that the entire book was tragically and beautifully written to build the suspense and provide the motivation to do X. And surprisingly, the book is verse. I’ve followed his poetry posts on social media and know he’s gifted, so creating a novel in verse seems like a natural extension of this talent. Rather than ruin it with in-line text, here is a full-page spread in which Dani is asking Will a valuable question:

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So, what’s my advice? If you aren’t lucky enough to land an advance copy, be sure you’re the first in line on October 17th to get your own copy from your independent book store. And if you’re in charge of ordering for a YA collection, I advise you to order multiple copies. You won’t regret it.

 

Routines

Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a policies and procedures type girl. There’s a reason that I’m a ISTJ also known as the duty fulfiller. So it won’t surprise anyone that I have routines. Not only to make me sane, but to make our household run smoothly, and work manageable. Here’s a basic outline of a typical day:2017-06-02 07.56.25

Clearly this isn’t everything and it shouldn’t be because life is isn’t always organized, but it sure makes it easier. In a separate post about my love of folders, I share an image with Martha Stewart’s quote that “life is too complicated not to be orderly.” This perhaps was my personality from birth and why I became a librarian. It’s also why I have baskets and bins around my home andboards on Pinterest that I continually re-organize. I’m also lucky enough to have married a man who also believes in organization, tidiness, and schedules. He was also born with it and probably why he joined the military and is self-employed: an intrinsic motivation for order and a get-it-done attitude that comes with it.

Likewise, it’s also why we have policies and procedures for everything in our HS library. Students know what to expect. My favorite line is “Miss, I know X, but…” to which my reply is “Yes, you know X, so…” Because we see between 20-60 kids or more each period, nine periods a day, plus before and after school, routines make it more manageable. Then, we can focus on the students and staff.

Maybe that’s why I find routines comforting and necessary. They allow me to take the thinking off of certain items and be able to really ponder the more important aspects of life. Routines are the opposite of making my life mundane, they enrich it by allowing me to focus on what matters.

 

 

 

SLJ’s day to shine: librarian love

It is the best and worst kept secret. The fact that School Library Journal changes venues each year for it’s annual Day of Dialog but never increases its footprint means that they like things just the way they are. But, once a librarian experiences Day of Dialog, they have torn feelings: do I tell other librarian colleagues about the most amazing professional day of our life so they can enjoy the same awesomeness or do we keep it a secret so that it’s mine, all mine (cue villainous music)? Yet, here I am, writing about it because it’s hands-down my favorite professional day of the year.

2017-05-31 17.44.32The format is simple– opening, lunch, and closing keynotes by engaging authors with something to say. Then, four ingeniously organized panels of authors and illustrators centered around a central idea. Interspersed within that are a few breaks for vendor time while publishers panels stump for their top five picks from their publishing houses. Then, putting the cherry on the sundae, there is an announcement by The Boston Globe/Horn Book on their award-winners.

I have come to love each portion of the event for its varied purposes: you can only keep up with publishing so much before it’s nice to have a little help, you can only love so many authors and illustrators before falling in love with more after each panel like the capacity to love each new child as they’re born into your family. You imagine yourself one of the moderators engaging them in dialog, especially the ones who just have a knack for it (I see you Deborah Taylor!). And, you also enjoy collecting galleys for giveaways for your students. Because, well, we know that librarians give it away for free…

So if you ever find yourself in need of somewhere to go to remember why you’re a librarian, be sure to take the day to attend Day of Dialog. I was able to spend a train ride from Albany catching up with fellow colleagues, see IRL the librarians I admire from social media, and laugh, cry, and sigh with prolifically talented authors and illustrators. And even as long as the day was and I devoured Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds like Thanksgiving dinner on my solo train trip home, I can’t help but appreciate the hard work and dedication of my professional magazine in bringing valuable insight into the publishing world.

 

Books with memories

For the last several years, I have only had a small (for a librarian) bookshelf in my home. This is not to be confused with the TBR stack that is stored in a footstool in the living room. The books that are on the bookshelf have been read and are there for very specific reasons. I’ll share a few of the backstories.

DeathwatchDeathwatch by Robb White is there because it was the first book, as a seventh and eighth grade English teacher that I recommended to a student who came back within days to tell me that it was the best book he has ever read and to thank me for recommending it. Could that have been the first inkling that I would make a good librarian? Perhaps.

Patrick Doyle is Full of Blarney by Jennifer Armstrong is shelved because it was a humorous gift received by my mentor as a middle school English teacher dealing with a particularly challenging parent and child in my first year teaching. Ah, memories I don’t wish to go back and relive, but absolutely learned from.

ThingsTheyCarriedThe Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien is sentimental as it was a book that a group of people spent one full year planning and implementing as a city-wide read. I am particularly proud of the months-long activities that accompanied the the book including a day at our high school library that included local veterans, art installations, and learning activities.

Stolen Lives by Bill Heller. This book has a dedication to me and another employee at the school I work in because we helped him find some answers to the questions he was seeking related to the second book in a series of investigations about a higher incidence of a specific cancer affecting graduates of our school after nuclear fallout during a rainstorm.

HarrisandMeHarris and Me by Gary Paulsen and Belle Prater’s Boy by Ruth White are both great examples of laugh out loud readalouds showcasing that not all stories have to be about dead parents and addiction. Instead, both are wonderful romps about kids being goofy.

And last, I would be remiss not to showcase the dozens of books I’ve amassed (and will continue to amass) when our high school library host author visits. Signed copies are the memories of a job done right and fantastic stories that highlight all that’s perfect in young adult literature.

So while I can do lists upon lists of great YA literature, which I do on this blog, I’ll highlight some of the special copies of books on my shelf.