My vision for school libraries

Perhaps you’ve come to my page as you consider your vote in the Iowa Association of School Librarians election.  Great!  Glad to have you.  I hope you will follow my blog and come back routinely.  I try to blog at least a couple of times a week.  If you blog, too, please comment and link back to yours; I’ll reciprocate.

I believe that school libraries should be the center – symbolic, if not physical – of the school.  Schools are places of learning, and libraries are repositories of the learning of all mankind.  Of course, access to that learning has changed tremendously in the decades since I graduated from high school (Dike High School, Class of 1988).  And yet, libraries still serve an important function in our schools.  

One thing that I’ve done in my time at Manson Northwest Webster Schools is to work to create Learning Commons environments at both the elementary and secondary centers.  This week at the Barnum center, third graders came into the library and used the space as an extension of their classroom as they did their Daily Five literacy stations.  Also this week, students brought their parents into the library after their conferences were done, to proudly show them the many changes that we made this summer.  Our guidance counselor, Pam Bleam, said, “The changes to the library make me ask, ‘Why didn’t we do this twenty years ago?’ It’s hard to believe what paint, talent, rearranging, and fresh new energy can do to a familiar space.”  It really is true.  We’re not done yet, either – my associate, Donna, and I are looking at genrefying the fiction, and bookstore-modeling the nonfiction.  Next summer!  (Granted, we are blessed with a generous gift from a benefactor, and a tremendously supportive administration.)

Changes at the high school are no less exciting.  In fact, it was the library in Manson that was first tackled. What has happened since, though, is more exciting – students come in to the library each period to study, to collaborate, to relax, to talk about the latest game or current events.  That reminds me – I need to count students!  I’m sure, though, that we’ve gone from about fifteen students a day at the beginning of last year to over a hundred these days.  Mondays often find students coming in, checking out new books or magazines.  There will be even bigger changes soon as the FCCLA makes the finishing touches on – what used to be my office – a coffee bar, once a week serving not just flavored coffees, but breakfast pizza, cinnamon rolls, smoothies, and more.

Another thing I think we need to do as teacher librarians is to reach out to new teachers.  If elected as IASL vice-president/president-elect, I will reach out to our teacher education programs across the state and seek to put teacher librarians on their radar.  When I was in UNI’s 2+2 program not too long ago (I was a non-traditional student), there were many opportunities for collaboration with teacher librarians, although it seemed I was the one, as a student, who repeatedly mentioned that.  I had several professors who, when pressed, sort of romanticized teacher librarians, as if we belong to some idealized past.  Perhaps we are part of their memories – which is great! – but we must be part of their realities, too.  Teacher education programs have a lot to focus on, yes, but I believe teacher librarians can help.  

At any rate, one thing that I’ve done at MNW is to hold “Lunch ‘n Learns” (last year) and now “Teacher Investigations,” both dedicated time in the library for new and seasoned teachers to learn about new technology, to share what is working in their rooms, and to help each other in educating the children at our school.  This is exactly the vision I have for Iowa’s teacher librarians.  I know I already do this through Twitter, through reading librarians’ blogs, through the IASL convention – learn about new technology and ideas, share what is working at my library, and, with other teacher librarians, work together to educate the children of Iowa’s schools.  

It’s so easy as a teacher librarian to feel isolated, but it doesn’t have to be.  IASL is there to help.  

I humbly ask for your vote as IASL vice president/president-  at large elect (that’s what you get for blogging at 5 a.m).


Book party

I went to visit my mom on Saturday, and we went to the annual Lions Club book sale at the mall.  It was completely unorganized!  Still, I found several good books:

A Short Guide to a Happy Life by Anna Quindlen – I already own this, but I’ll keep it for my daughter’s college graduation in the spring.

Barron’s 501 Russian Verbs  – I was going to give this to my daughter who took 2 years of Russian at college, but her brother, who was with me, said he wanted it.  He’s learning Chinese and wants to learn Russian, too.

Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix – Haddix is very popular at the elementary school (her Beyond the . . . series particularly) and we don’t have this one, so hopefully it will get read.

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell – the cover is pretty dirty, but it will be easy enough to clean.  I don’t know if I own this or not; if I do, I’ll donate it to the high school library.

Questions Children Ask, from 1968.  Check out an interior page next . . .]

Loved the part about the moon – one year before man first walked on it.

The Girl on the Floor Will Help You, by Lavina Russ – 1969.  “This is a wise, witty, and wonderful book about people who are concerned about books – children’s books, chiefly.”  Sounds like it’s meant for my vintage books about libraries collection.

Oh, also this for $1, Frank Sinatra Beginnings.  My favorite Pandora station is Michael Buble, so I do listen to quite a bit of Frank!

Then we went to the public library’s bookstore.  It’s a lot easier to find books here, but where’s the challenge in that?

For Everything a Season by Philip Gulley – I enjoy his Harmony series about a Quaker minister and his life in a small town, so I figure I’ll like this.

The Well-Educated Mind:  A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had by Susan Wise Bauer.  I’ll read this as soon as I’m done with my Greek and Roman Mythology class – I probably will be able to check off several items from this book with that course!

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead.  These are very popular at the high school, so it won’t hurt to have an extra copy.

Wildlife Preserves:  A Far Side Collection by Gary Larsen.  I remember cutting out the cover cartoon from the Sunday paper when it first was published and bringing it to my typing teacher.  I thought it was very funny – preserves, preserves, get it?  She sighed philosophically and said, “Yes, that is just so true.”  I guess I was the one who didn’t get it!

Another Gary Larsen – Cows of our Planet.  I’ll put this and the previous collection at the high school library.

The Children’s Book of America by William J. Bennett

The Children’s Book of Heroes by William J. Bennett. 

Exploring Energy – a National Geographic book.  This is for the elementary library.

Calvin and Hobbes’ There’s Treasure Everywhere – this will go to the elementary library, too.

Oh I see I forgot two books (New Junior Cook Book and Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck).  But not a bad haul for $18!  (And the weekend isn’t even over yet . . . )

#itec12 wrap-up

Cross-posted on the Iowa Teacher Librarians Ning.

#itec2012 was held this week and what a fantastic experience it was!  It began for me on Monday, October 15, with so many good choices of conference sessions to choose from, it was a difficult decision.  Sessions were plentiful and varied, with options for teachers at all grade levels, technology coaches, technology directors, and administrators.  Sessions ran the gamut, from things for the most novice to very advanced, and for both the PC and Apple crowd.  

The sessions I attended:

  • Andrew Fenstermaker, “Tech Toolbox, K-2.”  Right away I learned something – I loved how he shared resources he uses in his classroom, with a mindmapping tool called Pearltrees.  I’m going to use this to keep track of options in different curricular areas and building levels.  Here’s his Pearltree – isn’t that cool?!

  • TL Karen Lampe, “Bringing history to life with primary source documents.”  I was already familiar with the Library of Congress resources – although she taught me some tricks there – but really taught me about the resources from the National Archives and how those can be used in classes.  Thanks, Karen!  (Here are her resources.)

  • Stacy Behmer, “Using Chrome in the Classroom.”  This was perfect for me as MNW has implemented 1:1 Chromebooks at the 4-6 grade level.  (Her resources are available here.)

  • Aaron Cook, “Recording better video for educators.”  This was extremely timely for me, and he was flexible enough to change his presentation to address the things the audience needed to know.  He had a pretty intimidating set-up – TV station looking cameras, professional lighting, etc., and yet, I went away more confident in my ability to do video with students.  (Here are his resources.
  • Roundtable discussion for technology coaches and integrationists.  The slated presenter was unable to come, so her friend and fellow tech coach stepped in.  This was a great experience to get ideas, ask questions, and network with people who do the same things we do.  That’s what conferences are for!  (Are you going to #iasl13?  You should!)
Round table – get it?


  • Layne Henn, “Free your students from the bondage of school boredom!”  A fun way to start a new day at the conference,  He gave us the mantra, “Technology is good, but people are better.”  Technology is just a tool, but it’s a tool that we can use to engage students and to build relationships with them.
  • Leigh Zeitz, “Readings, watchings, listenings, and doings:  Making learning meaningful for your Millenial students.”  He stated there are 5 Rs to engage the students born from 1984-2001:  Research-based methods, relevance, rationale, relaxed, and rapport.  Are you doing this in your library?  (His resources can be found on his blog here.)
  • Denise Krefting, Lynn McCertney, “Changing teaching with TPCK and Bloom’s.”  More than other session, I wasn’t sure what I was going to learn here.  The ladies did a nice job of making us work, delving into the Iowa Core and doing some backwards design.  

There were two amazing keynote speakers: 
  • Marco Torres, a social studies teacher from California who spoke about how technology can help empower students in their own learning, even in impoverished areas like his own.  He asked questions that really make me think, like, “What does YOUR evidence of love of learning look like? Is it love of learning or love of schooling? “  He took the old paradigm of learning (sorry, didn’t get that in my notes) and turned it own its head:  love of work + curiousity + access + multimedia (multipled by your PLN) = success.  Do I create remarkable moments for my students?  I’m going to work more on that.  

  • David Pogue, technology writer for the New York Times.  He showed us examples of “disruptive tech” – like the retina app (fix your wardrobe missteps before they happen), Twitteround (tells where people are that use Twitter), and Word Lens, an amazing language translation app that I’ve already downloaded.  He was the most dynamic presenter I’ve seen in ages – at the end, he played two songs with original lyrics for us on the piano, “I Write the Code that Makes the World Go Round”  and “Don’t Cry for Me Cupertino.”  Classic!  I should see if anyone has put it on YouTube yet!

Other fun:
  • Lunch was excellent, and it was great to meet and talk with librarians from around the state.  Many were talking about Shannon Miller’s Monday presentation which sounded amazing.  One said, “They could have put her in the biggest room here and every seat would have been taken!”  Thankfully, she and many others have put their presentations on the ITEC website, available here.
  • Checking out the vendors in the exhibit hall.  There was a great variety here and it was fun to catch up with some I hadn’t seen in awhile.  I needed to charge my computer so I didn’t get much swag . . .
  • Looking at the exhibits and purple ribbon winners in the exhibit hall
  • Finding new folks to follow on Twitter
  • Catching up with old friends and making new ones
I can’t wait until next year!

Top Ten Picture Book Authors

This week it’s top ten authors in x genre.  I’m actually not a big genre reader.  I’ll read any – after I took a Readers Advisory class and had to read a novel a week in different ones, from romance to horror to literary nonfiction (that was an amazing experience) – but I can’t pick any genre in which I have ten favorite authors.  Realistic fiction comes the closest, I suppose, but that seems sort of lame.  So picture books it is!

10. Brian Selznick

Normally, I wouldn’t call Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck picture books, but the Caledecott Committee did, so that’s good enough for me.

9. David Wisniewski 

I just discovered Wisniewski’s work when I was reshelving picture books.  His work, Golem, for which he won the 1997 Caldecott, is an artistic wonder of paper craft.  It’s a little dark for my picture book readers, though, so I added this title, Tough Cookie, to my fall book order.

8. Kevin Henkes

I know that Henkes has done a lot of other more popular work, like Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse and Kitten’s First Full Moon, but A Good Day is my favorite.  If there’s any book that I’d like to go cut up and make into gift wrap or posters, this is it.  

7. J. Klassen

This is a new favorite author.  This is Not My Hat continues the hat theme after the hit of 2011, I Want My Hat Back.  I feel a preschool storytime theme brewing . . . 

6. Jan Brett

Jan Brett’s books are an intricate delight, and truly a must-have for any children’s library.  I especially love that Brett has created signs for libraries and distributes these free on her website:  “Print as many as you wish.”  How cool is that!  (Smart too – get the librarians on your side, and they’ll buy all your books.)

5.  Quentin Blake

Although I’m featuring picture book authors, I have to include Quentin Blake here, just for his illustrations.  I wasn’t aware that he’s author/illustrator of many books in his own right.  I’ll have to check those out.  Blake, of course, illustrated many of Roald Dahl’s books, including most famously, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  Check out his Rights of the Reader poster (with Daniel Pennac) – free for download here.

4.  Chris Van Allsburg

Van Allsburg’s portfolio is very deep – Jumanji, The Garden of Abdul Gasazi, and The Mysteries of Harris Burdock.  The one above, though, is my favorite, for its almost ethereal images that evoke the exact emotions of the story.

3. Tad Hills

Truth be told, I’ve never read one of Tad Hills books – they are always checked out!  But after hearing of his generosity to a great cause – creating an original Christmas card for free – he has to be included on this list.  

2. Kate and Jim McMullan

This is a favorite book of mine to read out loud.  And how could it not be?  Know what I do when you’re asleep? / Eat your trash, that’s what.  I will say, though, they get to the near top of my list also for the reminder of another of their books popping up in my Amazon feed, with me just seeing the title.  I wondered what sort of book Amazon was suggesting I buy!

1.  David Wiesner

I’ve already talked about Wiesner, winner of the 2007 Caldecott for Flotsam, and before that, one in 2002.  Although there are other wordless books that have a less intricate of plot and perhaps are better choices for younger students, you have to hand it to Wiesner for boldly going where no one had gone (much) before.  Word is, Wiesner is working on a new book, called Mr. Wuffles.
  • Runners up:  Mo Willems, Eric Carle, Ludwig Bemelmans
  • What I don’t like:  Curious George, and most picture books published by a famous person who isn’t a writer – actor, television news anchor, singer, etc.  With a few notable exceptions.

Top 10 rewind: Top 10 books that make me think

10. Botany of Desire: A Plant’s Eye View of the World by Michael Pollan – This made me think, “Genetic engineering is dangerous.”  Also how great Johnny Appleseed was – he’s not exactly what you think!

9. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson – This made me think, “Being teenager isn’t always great.”


8. My Life in Dog Years by Gary Paulsen – This made me ask myself, “If I named a handful of events to symbolize my life, what would they be?”  Also, how absolutely great it is to share your life with dogs.

7. Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith – Even if I’m mad at Grahame-Smith for how he ruined this book for the big screen (with that said, I’ve already pre-ordered the DVD), his book definitely made me think, “What if it’s true?”

6. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls – This made me think, “I have no idea what my students’ lives are like at home.”

5. The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer – This made me think, “Are we already on the road to El Patrón’s world?”

4. Night by Elie Wiesel – This made me think, “How can man do this to man?”  Also, “How did a generation live through these horrors?”

3. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich – This made me think, “I really have no idea what life is like for those around me.”  And it made me a better tipper.

2. The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore (obviously) – This makes me think, “What one decision have I made that changed everything in my life?”

1.  The Giver by Lois Lowry – I refused to finish this book the first time I tried, it made me so angry.  I finished it eventually, and it makes me think, “Be careful what you wish for.” 

It’s Monday – What are you reading?

It’s Monday!  What are you reading?
Sponsored by Sheila at Book Journey
I have been busy reading this week – I finished The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (I was really surprised by the book, in a good but sad way), but most of my reading has been for my Coursera class.  I’ve suspended reading Tomatoland until my Kindle reappears as it’s gone missing in our house!
So this week, I’m reading:
The Odyssey, Fagles translation, chapters 9-16.  I plan to get this done before Sunday so I can actually watch all the videos before the quiz is due.
The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling – I told my(adult) daughter she can read it when I’m done so I best hurry up on this one.
Anna Quindlen is one of my favorite authors so I was happy to see this available at the public library.
I love to read cookbooks!  I have Ree’s first book, The Pioneer Woman Cooks:  Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl.  Although I do find the step by very slow step (“Here’s an egg,” e.g.) a bit annoying, I will say her cookbook gave me the courage to try chicken fried steak, one of my favorite dishes when I go out to a restaurant, and it was fabulous.
We have a stack of new books to add and this is one I definitely want to read.  I’m going to a couple of meetings in the next two weeks, so when I am here, we’re doing technology things with the classes, so no picture book reading for me with the students.  But this one looks great – I don’t want Donna to get all the fun!

Weekly Update

Here’s the last to-do list I posted here:

*Book orders at elementary & high school – I did half the order at the elementary, and have the HS one ready to go the next time I’m in the building (the office puts it through).  This week!

*Finish article for newsletter – Check.

*Wednesday teacher exploration meeting – We had that which went pretty well, even if the projector was had a funky TV from 1978 vibe (the display was purple for some inexplicable reason!).  The elementary principal asked me to go to the SAI meeting this week about integrating technology, and we’re going to decide how to proceed with these meetings after that.

*Year-end report infographic – Chirp, chirp, chirp (cricket sounds).  That would be a no.

*Create ebook information page on website – I did this – can’t link to it because whenever I seem to blog (at night), the site is under maintenance.  TLC – it doesn’t need maintenance every stinking night.  FYI.

I did lots of other things too, though, including hosting an anti-bullying assembly on Monday, having two Technology Club and one Book Lover’s Club meetings, and hey, catching up on my RSS!  Hmmm, it felt like a lot of other things even if it doesn’t sound like it.

Oh!  And I got the greatest email from a bestie who said, “I love teaching but no one I know has a passion for their job like you do. You’re awesome.”  How cool is that?!

So, what’s new on the list?

*Order video camera for Technology Club.  We’re making a news program video for Literacy Night next month.  We don’t need to start filming yet – still in the planning stages – but need to do so ASAP.

*Meet with Reading Coach about reading incentive program.  My para and I did a fun program last year, Read Around the World, but it was soooooo heavy on our end with work.  We’re going to change things up so the record keeping is more on the kids.  Students have been asking us what we’re doing this year, and how soon we’re starting.  They really liked the competition aspect of it.  I think it’s a balance to encourage reading for reading’s sake with putting in prizes and such.  Things to consider.

*Make a list of magazines available online.  An English teacher wanted this, and for now, I was able to placate her by giving her a bunch of magazines (like a 3′ high pile!) that we got over the summer.  But I would like to expand that a bit with an online presence.

*Portfolio.  I’m in my second year of teaching, and so my portfolio is due in February.  I have my portfolio online right now and expect to expand on that.  I bought myself a domain and hope to put it there, using Iowa Core standards.  

*Keep up with my Coursera course in Greek and Roman Mythology.  I was done a day early last week, but am reverting to my old habits and finished this week’s work twenty minutes early.  (And only because I did the quiz before I watched all the videos . . . )

By john.schultz, from Flickr
Used with permission under Creative Commons license

Things I love Thursday

5.  O, the Oprah Magazine

I’ve subscribed to a lot of magazines over the years – Martha Stewart Living, Everyday Food, Cook’s Illustrated, Cook’s Country, Newsweek, Fitness, National Geographic, etc. etc. etc.  But the one that I will always get is this one.  Yes, the clothes are terribly expensive, but it was in this magazine I learned about the store Steve & Barry’s, where everything was under $10 (which sadly has gone out of business).  It was in O that I read about Valer Austin, an amazingly rich woman who has changed the world with her philanthropy.  I love that you open the cover, turn one page and then there is the table of contents – rather than having to look through twenty pages of perfume and makeup ads.  I haven’t watched Oprah’s show or channel in decades, but I do love her magazine.
I just started a class with Coursera in Greek and Roman mythology.  So the first week we had some videos about mythology in general, and now we’re reading this classic.  I read it a decade ago when I was a student at Austin Peay State University.  I had a class in World Literature and here I was, a good decade older than my classmates, and we read this and Gilgamesh and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.  Pretty much all of my classmates were too cool for school, having read a lot of these in high school.  (I read A Separate Peace and The Old Man and the Sea when I was in high school – I’m glad it was saved until I could really appreciate it.  Thanks, Mr. Blaine!)  Now I’m reading The Odyssey again with a different translation (Fagles translation, where before I’d read the Fitzgerald one), and it’s just as amazing.  I simply cannot wait to get to “Test of the Bow” scene!
3.  Fall leaves
Image by mksfly, used under Creative Commons copyright; Available on Flickr

It’s that time of year where the air gets cooler and I’m definitely wishing we’d bought a new dryer this summer.  (I put clothes on the line yesterday, but I think we’ll have to go appliance shopping this weekend.)  I hope we have as mild of a winter as we had last year, though!
I came upon this Twitter feed when someone online said Honest Toddler was their form of birth control.  I had to see what that was and my goodness, is it hilarious!  Here are his tweets from a trip to the library:
Not participating in library story time. How will learning animal sounds make me successful.
I’m only here because I heard there would be a snack. So far no sign of refreshments.
How am I supposed to learn on an empty stomach. Librarians don’t care about anyone but themselves.
Cow says moo who care WHEN IS THE SNACK
When my brain is this hungry it can’t keep the knowledge.
Dog says woof I already knew that what’s your point
Cat says meow when are we eating
I hope we didn’t pay for story time because it’s not worth a red cent and libraries don’t keep their food promises.
Snack Time! Lining up with all my best friends I love this place!!
This lady just handed me a box of raisins and a sticker. I can’t…I just can’t.
This is so hateful. Volcano coming.
Tried to push over a bookshelf and break a chair with my teeth. On our way home.
Ate my sticker.
Enjoy cleaning up my mess library I won’t be back because I can’t trust you.
1.  My kids

My kids are so. much. fun!  I love hanging out with every one of them.  That’s not to mean one or another or all of them don’t get on my nerves from time to time – they definitely do!  But if I’ve done anything in the world, I’ve raised some pretty cool kids.

Top ten "older" books I don’t want people to forget about


10. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
I read all the time as a kid, but I don’t remember many specific titles.  I do this one, though.  I came in the living room, weeping a bit, and said, “Don’t mind me, I just finished the best book.”  My siblings just rolled their eyes – I was the youngest and was always weeping – or crying, or bawling – a little bit!  Still, I should push this a bit more in readers’ advisory.

9.  The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden

I read this when I was trying to read all the books on the National Endowment of the Humanities Summertime Favorites book list.  The thing is, they have a new list – with some fun new books like Ivy + Bean, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, etc.  But to take out one like this?  I’m going to go through the lists later today and see what else they took out.  So disappointing!
With that said, I am struggling on where to put this book.  The copy we have is a large one, more like a picture book, but it’s obviously not a picture book.  But put it in fiction, and who will read it?  Perhaps my juvenile fiction for early chapter book readers.  (Go to this link to see what the earlier – about 2001? list looked like.)

8. Holes by Louis Sachar


A few years ago, I asked my kids to suggest the one book they would have me read, above all others.  My oldest daughter suggested this one, which she had read when it first came out several years before.  After reading it, I said, “Why didn’t you tell me to read this years ago???”  It really is a great book.  I try to book talk it to students and succeed about half the time – the other half, kids say, “Well, I already saw the movie.”  For some books that wouldn’t make a difference, but this one, it probably would.

7. The Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald

I talked about this book in last week’s list (Top Ten eight series I haven’t finished).  This and Summer of My German Soldier are the only books I remember reading as a kid – and yes, I was always reading!  (I do remember a lot of Jackie Collins as a teenager . . . that’s so sad, I know!)  I’m in the midst of doing my fall book order at the elementary; I need to order this as it’s not in my collection.  How can I really mean that I don’t want people to forget this book if it isn’t even in my library?

6. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card


This is the book my oldest son said that I needed to read, and boy, am I glad I did!  I’m not a sci-fi aficionado by any means, but this is a great book.  It’s one of the few that I remember audibly gasping at a scene (the other is Sandra Dallas’ The Persian Pickle Club).  I’ll have to check if this is in both elementary and secondary libraries.

5. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
This is another that has gone off of the NEH list.  Boo!  I read this as a teen, and though I certainly didn’t understand the symbolism (I guess it’s about British economic policy of the 18th century), I was glad I read it.  It’s one of those things where the characters and plot are in our cultural conscious (like The Odyssey or Alice in Wonderland), so if you read a Newsweek article there will be some mention of Gulliver and it certainly helps to have read it. 
4. 1984 by George Orwell
I read this as a teen also, in fact, in 1984.  (So obviously, it did not have that cover, but I think that’s awfully fun.)  The NEH has taken 1984 off its classic book list, too.  How is this possible?  Oh like we have no fear of government surveillance or censorship, right?  Please.  (The previous school librarian had kept lots of clippings of important events.  Some aren’t so important anymore as others – sniff, sniff, I guess I see the point of culling the list, NEH – but I definitely kept the ones FROM 1984 ABOUT 1984.)
3. Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski


I read this from the NEH list – thankfully, it still makes the cut.  What amazes me about this book is that the setting is really not that long ago in American history – about 1900.  By then, most small towns in Iowa were formed, and we were certainly on the way to progress.  But in Florida, it was still very much a backwoods sort of place.  It’s amazing how fast the state progressed in the 20th century!  I love the colloquialisms in this book, too. 

2.  The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin
I love Ben Franklin!  I think of all the folks in history, if he were to time travel to our age, he would totally get it.  Air travel, antibiotics, the internet, 3-D printing, all of it.  He is a genius.  (And the NEH?  Ben isn’t on the list?  You’re dead to me.)
When I was a nontrad student a decade ago, I had to write a paper comparing two of the works that we had read in American Lit.  I chose this one and The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.  I said that they both had served time in servitude, both were American heroes that many still looked up to, and that both were quotable.  My favorite one for Franklin? 

And when you are criticized, as you will be, remind your critics that you have the right to speak your mind. And if they shout you down, as they probably will, then inform them that since they insist on being asses, you will henceforth communicate with them with the appropriate part of your own anatomy. And turning to face them from the posterior, let them know where you stand. Let every fart sound as a peal of thunder for liberty. Let every fart remind the nation of how much it has let pass out of its control.


It is a small gesture, but one that can be very effective—especially in a large crowd. So fart, and if you must, fart often. But always fart without apology.


Fart for freedom, fart for liberty—and fart proudly.

I obviously got an A.
1.  Millions of Cats by Wanda Gág
Want a classic book that is still on the NEH list?  Check.
Want a book that changed children’s book illustration forever, by pioneering the double-page spread?  Check.
Want a rhyming, cute picture book, that features cat genocide?  Check, check, and check.
For the record – if you want to get blogging done in a hurry and not fiddle-fart around with it all day – do it when you don’t have access to your charger!  You will get it done in no time.