Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Third grade

Third grade researchers -- click HERE for your African Animals custom search!

Not enough information on your animal there? Try Ask for Kids at www.askkids.com for good information that's kid-friendly and less overwhelming than Google.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Welcome to the new school year!

A great big welcome to our new and returning Emerson students, families, and community members! It was so wonderful to see all of our students yesterday as we kicked off the new school year.

The library was open first thing for the PTA's new parent tea. More than 40 new and returning families spent time in the library after saying goodbye to their Emerson students. Parents heard Ms. Carlson talk about the fun and importance of reading as a family, and got a check-in from Ms. Hodge -- all those kindergarteners had already settled in and were doing well. Finally, I let everybody know that the Emerson Library would love to check out books to parents, grandparents, and other family members as well as students. (More on that in the next post!)

A little while later, our enthusiastic readers lost no time in getting reacquainted with some old favorite books during recess...

... and enjoyed the library's newly renovated Reading Nook!

But that comfy purple new-to-us furniture isn't the only major change in the Fiction section: we've rearranged our book collection to support students in finding "just-right" books, and brought in wonderful new titles, too.

I hope that you'll come visit the library: introduce yourself, curl up and read with your child, check out a book or two, or chat with me about new and old favorite reads in your family. Check out all the exciting things that are happening here at the heart of Emerson School!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Keep Ms. Claire Reading This Summer!

Hey, Emerson students (and families) --

Now that it's summer I've got tons of time to read... and I want to hear from YOU about what you've been reading and what I should read next! Did you just finish a great book or a graphic novel that you really enjoyed? Wondering what to read next and want some recommendations from your favorite school librarian? Send me an email or write about it in the comments! I can't wait to hear from you. And maybe I'll see you in the public library this summer too.

Ms. Claire
claire_scott @ berkeley.k12.ca.us

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Cabinet of Wonders, by Marie Rutkoski

*Ms. Claire's note: we hope that great book reviews like this will continue to trickle in during the summer! Students (and parents), if you read something you like, write something about it and send it to me - I'll put it on the blog for everybody to appreciate.

The Cabinet of Wonders, by Marie Rutkoski
Genre: Fantasy
Review by Maria, Grade 4, Ms. Weddle's class

I read a book called The Cabinet of Wonders. It is about a girl named Petra Kronos. She lives a simple, happy life. But it is not ordinary at all. Her pet, Astrophil, is a tin spider who gives her advice. One day, her father is called by the prince of Bohemia to build a very special clock. However, he returns home without his eyes! The Prince has stolen them. Petra decides to secretly go to Prague alone, destroy the dangerous powers of the clock and steal her father's eyes back. She makes friends with Neel and Iris who help her. Will Petra ever get her "normal" life back like her father?

This book is full of magic, fun, and heroism! Five stars!

Thanks to Mrs. Dalloway's Books at 2904 College Ave for their generous donations of review copies to our intrepid readers! Look for more reviews coming soon, and please support the community independent booksellers who are supporting our Emerson community!

Books that reflect new readers

Enormous thanks are due to the Berkeley Public Education Foundation for their grant to the Emerson Library this year. The grant allowed us to purchase nearly 70 sturdily-bound Readers, or books that are just right for students in first and second grades, and for struggling readers up through fifth grade.

These new books gave our Reader section a desperately-needed facelift. The books we purchased with the grant reflected the lives of many of our students, written by authors of color with characters living in neighborhoods much like our own Bay Area ones. As we brought in the new books we were able to discard old, battered, dated books and give them new homes in classrooms and with students.

Our students have only just begun to enjoy their wonderful new Reader section, as the books arrived at the end of the school year. We look forward to many more years with these wonderful books.

Monday, March 9, 2009

DEAR Day 2009

On Friday, the Berkeley Public Education Foundation hosted the annual Drop Everything And Read (DEAR) Day celebration at every school in the district. Coinciding with Dr. Seuss's birthday, this year's celebration was fabulous: nineteen readers from the community came to Emerson to share their favorite books with students. These readers had a particular challenge because we chose to celebrate DEAR Day in our Emerson Families this year: so our visitors had to find a book that would be just as exciting for a fifth grader as a kindergartener! They were all wildly successful, as you can see from the photographs below.

Our readers included Berkeley City Councilmember Gordon Wozniak; Glenda Rubin and Devin Woolridge from Community Relations at U.C. Berkeley; Emily Davidow, Emerson parent and supervisor of the Berkeley LEARNS after-school program; BPEF Board Member Carol Olson; Terri Waller, former Emerson parent and spokeswoman for Assemblywoman Loni Hancock; several members of U.C. Berkeley's Kappa Kappa Gamma; and some of our Emerson extended families: Ms. Perenon's sisters, Ms. Gray's dad, and Ms. Parisi's fiance. Plus our own Mr. Lou and Ms. LaKisha from the Mentor program starred again this year, reading hilarious stories that kept their listeners engrossed.

Many thanks to BPEF for this marvelous event and their ongoing support. We're already looking forward to next year!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Extraordinary Women's Museum

This week, in honor of International Women's Day, the Emerson Library is hosting our Emerson Extraordinary Women's Museum. Fifty students contributed posters and exhibits about women that they consider extraordinary, from their grandmothers to Bessie Coleman. During their library time this week, each class has the opportunity to appreciate the exhibits.

We hope you'll have time to drop by as well! The museum will be up in the library all week, open to families from before school until Kids' World closes at 6:00. But in case you can't make it, or if you want to relive the museum at home, check out the slideshow below. Congratulations to all students for their great work!

Feel free to leave impressions (and compliments) in the comments!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

family conversations about cybersafety

On February 4th, parents gathered in the library to eat delicious food and have some good conversations about online safety. It can be hard to imagine that elementary school is the place where those conversations begin, but studies have shown that getting into the habit of talking to your child about their online activities should start early.

Before the presentation, I asked fourth and fifth graders some questions about the internet, including their perceptions of danger and their favorite things to do online. Click here to see their answers.

For those of you who wanted to make it but weren't able to, here's the powerpoint part of the evening, with resource links below.

To find out more:

"My Pal, My Bully: greatest internet threat to teens may be teens themselves," an article from the L.A. Times about the recent Harvard study on online safety.

iKeepSafe Internet Safety Coalition

Cyber-safe kids, cyber-savvy teens by Nancy Willard, a practical and thoughtful book and web resource for parents, with guidelines for kids of all ages. I based much of my presentation on principles and suggestions from this book.

Many of you had suggestions and recommendations, some of which we were able to include in the presentation above. I will be putting more resources together on our Emerson School wiki. Please leave other suggestions in the comments or email them to me, or even drop by the library. I will add your suggestions as I get them. Together we'll be able to come up with great resources and tools to share with our community!

Bring an author home to dinner!

All the kids at Emerson know that February is my favorite month: it includes my birthday, a long weekend, AND the opportunity to feature African-American authors and illustrators nonstop. We read books by African-American authors and illustrators all year, but in February librarians really get to go wild with displays and the chance to feature our favorite books even if they don't directly connect to the curriculum.

This year, Emerson School is participating in the African-American Read-In, a national celebration of African-American literacy coordinated by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English. Millions of readers across the country -- in schools, libraries, churches, and homes -- are joining in the Read-In! In celebration of its 20th year, the Read-In is extended for the entire month of February.

At Emerson, this means that students will be reading and honoring African-American authors in the library, in classrooms, at Kids' World, and at home. It also means that was inspired by my favorite blog, The Brown Bookshelf, to create my best display ever. In February, the wonderful folks at The Brown Bookshelf interview new and vanguard authors and illustrators who identify as African-American... and share those interviews with their readers.

If you stop by the library, you'll see that I've created a Read-In calendar featuring a new or noteworthy African-American author or illustrator for each day in February. Underneath the calendar is a basket filled with envelopes. In those envelopes are interviews with each of those authors or illustrators, with new interviews daily. Many of the interviews come from authors featured on The Brown Bookshelf this month; others come from other places, like TeachingBooks. Students, teachers, and parents get to take the envelopes home to share with their families... like a virtual author visit right at your dinner table. Don't worry about losing or damaging the envelopes, because we can always print out more.

Happy Read-In!

--Ms. Claire

Friday, January 30, 2009

Monday, January 12, 2009

What do librarians do in their free time?

Read, read, and read! And, if they're lucky, talk about books.

That's what Ms. Claire did this weekend at a Mock Newbery discussion hosted by two wonderful librarians from the Oakland Public Library. What's a Mock Newbery, you ask? Good question.

When we talk about finding a great book in the library, one of the things older Emerson students sometimes look for is a fancy foil circle that shows a book has won a big award. You may remember that students vote for our own award each year, the California Young Reader Medal. But the biggest awards we look for are given by librarians and others who read children's books for a living, like:
  • the Newbery Medal for excellence in American children's literature
  • the Coretta Scott King Award, which " is given to an African American author and an African American illustrator for an outstandingly inspirational and educational contribution. The books promote understanding and appreciation of the culture of all peoples and their contribution to the realization of the American dream."
  • and the Pura Belpre Medal, which "is presented to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth."
In just two weeks, a committee will announce the winners of these awards for 2009. But sometimes librarians and other eager readers just wish they could make the decisions themselves. So they get together to have a "Mock," or pretend, Newbery.

This year, a group of thirteen readers gathered at the Oakland Public Library to talk about some of the most distinguished books of the year. We started with five hours, eight very different books to choose from, and a whole lot of coffee. We ended with a clear winner and two wonderful Honor books.

And the winner is...
The Porcupine Year, by Louise Erdrich!

Our two Honor Books were:

After Tupac and D. Foster, by Jacqueline Woodson (an Emerson favorite author!)


Alvin Ho: allergic to girls, school, and other scary things, by Lenore Look and illustrated by LeUyen Pham

I'm looking forward to writing more about these great titles later - for now, I'll let you know that I'm pleased and proud that the "Mock" committee came up with such great choices. Keep an eye out for all three books, coming soon to our Emerson library!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Sometimes a book comes along that is short, sweet, and still packs a real punch. My Name Is Maria Isabel by Alma Flor Ada is a book like this. It's the story of a little girl who finds her voice by standing up and saying her name, proudly and bravely.

Click on the player below to hear Ahmirah's great booktalk about this beautiful little book! If you like realistic fiction and stories about kids standing up for themselves, this may be the book for you!

Elijah of Buxton

One of my favorite books of 2008 was Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis, the story of the first child born in a community of freed and escaped slaves in Canada. But as one of my favorite readers says: you don't have to take my word for it!

Listen to Nazeeza's fabulous booktalk by clicking on the player below.