A is for Apple

We went apple picking despite the mist and the cold because it is fall in New England. And apples must be picked. Especially with friends like these.

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My Librarian Is A Camel

A year ago I wrote about how much reading we were going to do be doing at Match Next (and how much I missed my favorite readers in India).

What is the best way to get better at reading? READ MORE! It’s not enough to read smarter. Reading has to be enjoyable. Which brings me to what is going to be my favorite part of the day: Independent Reading. This is a 45 minute chunk of time where students can read whatever they want. Comic books? Those have words. Anything is fair game as long as students are engrossed in a series of words on a page (or a Kindle screen) and my job during that time is to help students find a book that will inspire them to read. Towards the end of my time in India I decided my dream job would be to be a personal librarian for kids. I would get to know each and every child at a particular school and pick books specifically for them – sparking love affairs left and right and sending kids off into worlds of wonder and excitement.

Well, this year my dream came true. In the spring my boss and I had a vision to turn Independent Reading into something more than kids sitting at their desks reading on Kindles. We wanted more options for kids and a more systematized way to get them reading books at their level. So we needed to take our small collection of physical books and make it grow. We called public libraries around Boston to see if they would donate any books, and the response was amazing. What started out as a few shelves of books quickly turned into almost 2,000 titles. And then there we were in June, sitting in the middle of a room surrounded by thousands of uncategorized books. Daunting, but exciting. It took three weeks of coffee, Beyonce, circular stickers, and amazing friends who were willing to perform repetitive tasks, but we categorized every book by genre and reading level. And this is what the kids saw on the first day of school.

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Fiction, nonfiction, humor, fantasy, adventure, mystery…..I haven’t memorized all of the books that we have, but after pawing through these buckets so many times, I feel pretty darn close. Each student is building a wishlist of their favorite books, and we have been previewing titles with them when they come to the library every day to read Wonder, a book we read last year about a little boy with a facial deformity who starts 5th grade at a new school. There are so many books I know they will love, and I hope they find comfort in this soft, colorful space to grow as readers. And, of course, while digging through the boxes of donated books, we found several hidden gems. Including the book that inspired the title. It’s going to be a fun year.

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Little Lists [17] – Summer

Today was the first day of school, which means summer is officially over (though the 90 degree weather and my many bug bites would beg to differ). The 5th graders were wide-eyed and the 6th graders were – for the most part – taller and more confident. It is scary to be in middle school, but at least they aren’t the babies of campus anymore. Today we tested some boundaries, ate some half-assembled lunches, and powered through a long day of getting-to-know-yous. Which when you are ten primarily consists of your favorite color/book/movie/ice cream flavor/animal and what you did over the summer. I condensed mine to: I went home for three weeks to sleep and hangout with my parents in Florida and then went to Canada with my best friend. There was no time to go into the million tiny memories between the lines. But here are some pictures.

Miami colors

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I rested and read and studied for MTELs. And then Chantal came to Boston, and we hit the road.

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We stopped in Maine, Quebec, Montreal, and Toronto. Most of the pictures looked like these, so I’ll spare you.

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I did make a video though. Three minutes is probably better than hundreds of selfies.

 

And now I am back in Boston, finally beginning to feel like I have a home here. I have a room of my own with a rug, friends I can count on for anything, the lay of the land and a few favorite haunts, the emotional energy for hobbies, and an unspoken sense of steady.

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But the most exciting part about this year is going to be getting to know these new kids and (hopefully) getting more letters like these (I sent them pictures of monkeys every day for a little while – I didn’t think they cared, but apparently they did).

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Aaaaannndddd the Match Next library is FINALLY (mostly) finished. I forgot my phone on the first day of school, so I didn’t take pictures. I will tomorrow. Day 2. I’m ready.

2016 Reading Challenge Update: Books #18-29

This has been the year I say to myself – Turn off the TV and read. Find the books you never finished and read. Build a list of every book you’ve ever dreamed of reading….and read. I anticipate grad school will make reaching 53 (a book a week and one for good measure) a bit difficult, but I’m going to try. So in no particular order, these are the books I have read since my last reading update in April.

The House on Mango Street

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“When you leave you must remember to come back for the others. A circle, understand? You will always be Esperanza. You will always be mango Street. You can’t erase what you know. You can’t forget who you are.”

The Road to Character

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“Joy is not produced because others praise you. Joy emanates unbidden and unforced. Joy comes as a gift when you least expect it. At those fleeting moments you know why you were put here and what truth you serve. You may not feel giddy at those moments, you may not hear the orchestra’s delirious swell or see flashes of crimson and gold, but you will feel a satisfaction, a silence, a peace—a hush. Those moments are the blessings and the signs of a beautiful life.”

Lost Cat

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“You can never know your cat. In fact, you can never know anyone as completely as you want. But that’s okay, love is better.”

One Crazy Summer

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“We all have our la-la-la song. The thing we do when the world isn’t singing a nice tune to us. We sing our own nice tune to drown out ugly.”

For Her Own Good: Two Centuries of the Experts’ Advice to Women

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“In this first century of a new millennium, women can attain the critical mass needed to take their equal place among society’s decision makers. As they do, they will prove that it is possible after all to create a better range of options for women, men, and children – a world where expressions of community and caring, once considered the womanly values, move decisively from the circle of the family to stand at the center of society as the most respected human values.”

Lily and the Octopus

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“I have to be better about living in the not knowing.”

The Namesake

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“That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.”

The Thing About Jellyfish

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“There are so many things to be scared of in this world: blooms of jellies. A sixth extinction. A middle school dance. But maybe we can stop feeling so afraid. Maybe instead of feeling like a mote of dust, we can remember that all the creatures on this Earth are made from stardust. And we are the only ones who get to know it.”

Writing Workshop: The Essential Guide from the Authors of Craft Lessons

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“We should never forget that the central kernel of our work is not writing but real kids – their voices, passions, imagination, their original slant on the world.”

The Gutsy Girl

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When Breath Becomes Air

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“You can’t ever reach perfection, but you can believe in an asymptote toward which you are ceaselessly striving.”

Glass Sword

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“No one is born a monster. But I wish some people were. It would make it easier to hate them, to kill them, to forget their dead faces.”

The House on Mango Street had poetry in every sentence. The Road to Character and When Breath Becomes Air made me want to be a better person. Books are magical things and I cannot wait for the rollout of the brand new Match Next library this year. More to come!