Archive for June 2011

Thou Shalt Not Hoard Books

June 28, 2011

“Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.” − Sir Francis Bacon “And some books are meant to be discarded.” − Cathy Stefanec Ogren

The books you see on the bookshelves in our basement are books I’ve been hoarding for years. These bookshelves are an extension of our home library because there’s not enough room upstairs to store them all. On these shelves are reference books, writing books, books that I’ve used for teaching, books from my daughter’s childhood, cook books, history books, biographies, really old books, and new books. You name it. We have it. Books. Books. Books. We’ve moved these books to several different houses, packing and unpacking them. After bringing more books home from my dad’s house, I decided it was time to act like a librarian and weed my own books. My husband cheered.  

I started. Some books went right into the garbage, some books I set aside to donate, and some books that should have been discarded got a reprieve for the time being. Getting rid of books is a difficult task for me.

In the hours I spent weeding, rereading, and making decisions what to do with them, I realized books should not be hidden on bookshelves, collecting dust. Books need to be read and reread. Books need to be shared or donated to those who don’t have the pleasure of having books of their own. Books need to be loved until they fall apart. When that happens, then it’s time to say goodbye.

Throwing away a book is a sad moment for me. It’s like saying goodbye to an old friend. The good thing about discarding a book is that there are always new books to meet and begin new friendships. You are never alone with a good book.

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Shake, Rattle, and Rumble

June 24, 2011

When I said “Summer Rain” was one of my favorite summer tunes, I didn’t mean it was one of my favorite weather patterns. Since the first day of summer, wind, rain, hot temperatures, cool temperatures, and wicked thunder and lightning have been hanging around. Zeus, the Greek god of thunder and lightning, must be getting some grief from his wife about his affairs, and he’s taking it out on us!

The first flash of light warns me thunder will follow. I’m not particularly fond of thunder and lightning – especially when they arrive in the middle of the night and put on an earsplitting blazing light show.

In years past, when thunder and lightning filled the darkness of the night, I’d awake to find a little someone staring down at me and clutching her rag doll, Jenny. My husband and I would fix a bed for our daughter on the floor next to us, and she’d camp out for the rest of the night, feeling safe.  

I still cringe when I hear thunder in the night. When lightning flashes and thunder rumbles the entire house, my heart beats faster. I’m wide awake until the last sound of thunder fades into the distance. As an adult, my daughter loves thunderstorms. In fact, she looks forward to them. It must be because of the safe haven we provided her when she was young. Of course, she still has her Jenny doll to keep her safe.     

I say rain is fine in moderation. It’s Mother Nature doing her work. But enough of these wicked thunderstorms!

Some books to shake, rattle, and rumble you.

Picture Books:  Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco (Puffin, 1997), How Thunder and Lightning Came to Be by Beatrice Harrell and illustrated by Susan L. Roth (Dial, 1995), The Storm Book by Charlotte Zolotow and illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham (HarperCollins, 1989) 

Nonfiction Picture Books:  Rumble, Boom! A Book about Thunderstorms  by Rick Thomas and illustrated by Denise Shea (Picture Window Books, 2006), Flash, Crash, Rumble, and Roll by Franklyn M. Branley and illustrated by True Kelley (Collins, 1999)

Summertime and the Reading is Easy

June 21, 2011

Summer! It’s official – the first day. It’s time to enjoy some of my favorite summer tunes and catch up on my reading. So roll out Those Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer because it’s Summertime and the reading is easy.

What book am I reading now that there is no more school, no more shelving library books, no more overdue notices, and no more students? It’s The Fabled Fifth Graders of Aesop Elementary School by Candace Fleming. (It seems, no matter how hard I try, I just can’t get away from school.) This is a sequel to Fleming’s book The Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary School, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Mr. Jupiter is back as the plucky teacher who has agreed to move with the fourth grade class to the fifth grade and be their teacher because no other teacher is willing to take on the challenging group of students. The cast of peculiar characters is ready to amuse you as the school year moves along, and, as in the previous book, the ending of each madcap chapter has a moral. That’s all I’m going to tell you because I haven’t finished reading the book, but if you like clever humor and just plain silliness, this book is a great choice for any young reader. And if you’re a teacher, you will definitely enjoy the humor!

It may be a hot town, Summer in the City, but where I am there’s a Summer Breeze that makes me read fine. And reading on Summer Nights in the Summer Rain is like a sweet dream. Summer means music to my ears and a feast of books for my eyes!

Summer Reading

June 17, 2011

“To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.” — Victor Hugo

This summer you’ll find me with my nose in a book.

Bruins Fans Quack Me Up

June 14, 2011

“Ice hockey is a form of disorderly conduct in which the score is kept.” ─ Doug Larson

I readily admit I’m not passionate about sports – especially baseball. But I do take a moment every day to glance at the sports page so I can pretend I know what’s going on.  

What I am passionate about is children’s books. Robert McCloskey’s Make Way for Ducklings stole my heart the first time I read it.

So when Mrs. Mallard, Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack were seen in Boston Public Garden donned in Boston Bruins gear to support the hometown team in the Stanley Cup Finals, I took notice.

And when George Washington was spotted in the streets of Boston wearing a Bruins jersey, that’s history!

I realized it was time for me to reevaluate my thinking about sports. Tomorrow night I’ll have my television tuned into the Bruins/Canucks Stanley Cup Final. I’ll probably be asking a lot of questions, but, who knows, I may find that I have a “Nack” for understanding the game of hockey!

Go Bruins!

Here are two books I’m going to check out:  Hat Trick Counts:  A Hockey Number Book by Matt Napier and illustrated by Melanie Rose (Sleeping Bear Press, 2005), Z is for Zamboni:  A Hockey Alphabet by Matt Napier and illustrated by Melanie Rose (Sleeping Bear Press, 2002)

Free at Last!

June 10, 2011

Victor Hugo may have been right when he said, “He who opens a school door, closes a prison.” I’ll bet at this time of year there are quite a few students that would say, “He who opens a school door, steps into a prison!”

Yesterday was the last day of school. No more teachers! No more books!   The “prison inmates” were released for the summer, and the “prison guards” breathed a sigh of relief. Sometimes it’s hard to tell who is the happiest – teachers or students.

The last day of school is always a bittersweet day. For me, the end of the school year means I’ll miss the teachers who retire, I’ll miss the students who move on to other schools, and, for just a few moments, I’ll miss those students who challenge my ability to maintain patience while they try my patience.  

Let us bow our heads in memory of the last day of school.

The morning of the big day.

After lunch, looking like a pizza food fight had ensued!

Then end of the day.

The book covers are covered in the library.

 The cafeteria is empty.

The halls are silent.

Classrooms are shut down for a few months, and the electricity of young learners surging through the school is gone…

Gone…

Gone…

And I’m gone too. Oh, the rapture of it all!

Celebrate Summer:  READ! READ! READ!

Nothing

June 7, 2011

“I love talking about nothing. It is the only thing I know anything about.” – Oscar Wilde

A picture of nothing.

Today is about nothing. Nothing is all I can think of. My mind is blank. Nothing is there.

I’ve looked around and found there’s a lot of nothing going on. There’s nothing but trouble, nothing but the truth, nothing but perfection, nothing special, nothing much, nothing at all, nothing left, nothing is certain, nothing in excess, nothing is impossible, nothing to offer, nothing to say, nothing to buy, nothing to eat, nothing in the mail, nothing to do, and good for nothing.

As Mark Twain said, “Apparently there is nothing that cannot happen today.”

I have nothing to offer you. So under the circumstances, I am going to do nothing but read about nothing.

 Nothing by Jon Agee (Hyperion Books CH, 2007), Let’s Do Nothing by Tony Fucile (Candlewick, 2009), The Gift of Nothing by Patrick McDonnell (Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2005), Nothing But Trouble:  The Story of Althea Gibson by Sue Stauffacher and illustrated by Greg Couch (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2007), Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume (Puffin, 2007)


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