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Kathryn-French-Educator

The Best Worst Librarian Ever

An open letter from the best worst librarian

Dear Big Wide World,

The 2014-2015 school year ended with me beginning and ending my career as a librarian.  It’s true… I will not be the librarian at Navasota Intermediate anymore.  I have switched schools and changed job positions. I will now be the Chief Literacy Advisor, aka the Literacy Cruise Director, as I like to call it, for a PK-5 elementary school!  I have spent the last couple of weeks packing all my stuff and moving schools, and that my friends is no easy feat.

After finishing this year, along with this move, I found myself simply exhausted, bone-weary, maybe even a little fragile.  My family and I took a beach vacation to find our repose, and I finally am able to reflect about the past year of school and  my job as the librarian.  Here’s why I think I was truly the worst librarian ever!

As you may, or may not, have heard, I kidnapped the entire Diary of a Wimpy Kid series from the library.  I was tired of the students fake-reading the books, and then coming back to the library day in and out to check out yet another book they would never read.  By kidnapping the books and holding them out of circulation, students checked out books that were on their level that they would actually read. Reflecting back, that was shameful. But, with a little help from this, the worst librarian ever, every child found a book they could… and more importantly would read. And it made them want to read the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books even more!

Kathryn-French-ShelvesThe second reason why I am the worst librarian is that I am terrible about shelving books.  It was just a fact that the library had stacks and jumbles of tumbling books, that were in constant need of reshelving.  I just could not find the time to organize books in their proper places.  All those days running in and out of classrooms, and rocking on the big purple bench with my little friends does gobble up a bunch of time.  The sweet lady, Sarah Martin, who helped me last year, would walk through the door of the library and would audibly moan, while rolling her eyes at the stacks of misplaced books.  I am truly sorry, Mrs. Martin.

The custodians must have thought me horrible. The library carpets were often covered in pink glitter trails and chalkdust.  I promise we tried to clean up after our games and poetry readings.  To the custodians, and our principal, thank you for being forgiving. The students and faculty really had some good times in our little library.

I am most ashamed of my inability to keep library secrets.  Even though I knew that our Friday Secret Society of Reader meetings were a secret, I posted, tweeted, filmed, and shared our events every chance that I had. And you know what? I am secretly so glad that I did!  So students, please forgive me for having so much fun with you this year.  #SecretSocietyOfReaders

I know without a doubt that I will miss you because I already do.

What I also know without a doubt, is that I will remember you.  You made my FIRST and LAST year as the librarian magical.  For all of those that I had interaction with, please forgive me. I am truly sorry and I humbly repent.

Kathryn-French-KidsI guess that what I have learned this is year was that, although I might have been the worst librarian in certain stereotypical ways, maybe I became the best librarian that sought out the right books for students… and even for the staff.  Maybe instead of falling into the traditional librarian role, I found my true calling helping others learn to love reading and also to find a love for writing.  Perhaps I was not the worst librarian in the world, after all. Just maybe I would call myself a little quirky, and a little thoughtful, and full of love for kids and books. And hey, that’s not so bad… Is it?

I send a warm thank you to the district, our administrative staff, faculty, and teachers, for trusting me to mind and mentor these incredible kids.  Here’s to another year, in a slightly different role!  I’ll try my best to make you proud!

Also be reminded that I shall remain the head librarian at www.labibliotecafresca.com. Come visit me anytime for fresh books and literacy chats. I hope to see you there!

Sincerely,

The Best Worst Librarian, Chief Literacy Advisor, aka the new Literacy Cruise Director,
Ms. Frenchie-Fry

Kathy French

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ofancyfrench-book-prom

Book Prom 2015 Was a Success!

As you may have heard, we hosted a Book Prom in Navasota last Friday, and man, did we HAVE FUN!

Fun at Book PromThe #SecretSocietyOfReaders decorated the library and moved out the tables and books to create a dance floor for our readers.  When the students arrived to the library, they signed in with their “book date,” and strutted down the royal blue carpet.  Students were dressed in their finest clothes, and some students dressed up their books too.

Students and teachers were invited to attend Book Prom, and even the Mayor of Navasota, Texas attended the celebration!  After walking the carpet our kids had their Book Prom, posed pictures taken in front of a city backdrop.  Guests were then treated to a donated breakfast, and after eating settled themselves for the welcoming ceremony presented by:  Sarah Martin, Kevin Bradford and Kathryn French.

Talking StickEach student was given the talking stick, to introduce the book that they chose to take to the prom.  Some parents and visitors, even shared their favorite books that they would take to the Book Prom.  It was indeed a splendid moment to hear adults from our school district, and community, speak about their love of literacy with our student learners.

After the book talks, students voted on which book they thought deserved to be the Book Prom King or Queen.  While volunteers scrambled to tally the votes, students danced and did the “Wobble “with their books.  I was one happy librarian to watch kids dance, the library was alive with positive energy, and  celebration!

Students were so excited to have a Skype chat with the wonderful librarian, artist, explorer and book lover!  We discussed our favorite books and what we wanted to be when we grow up.  Ms. Miller was kind enough to encourage our students to keep reading.  She introduced our students to fresh new books, books that we had not heard of before.  Our kids had a blast!

Book Prom 2015 King and QueenWhen the moment arrived to crown the Prom King and Queen…we all waited, quiet with anticipation…the winners were for:  Prom King was the book, Wonder, written by RJ Palacio and the Prom Queen was Divergent, written by Veronica Roth!  Of course, those were the MOST popular books in the library this school year!  We were all excited.

Tomorrow is Friday, the second to last Friday of the 2014-2015 school year.   So many of our #SecretSocietyOfReaders have asked if we will be meeting tomorrow, they want to get together again before summer vacation to talk about what they are reading.  I will miss our secret meetings that are no longer a secret, but I do not believe that I can beat our Book Prom Friday.  The readers will just have to wait until next year, which I guarantee you, will be BIGGER and BETTER than this year!  Book Prom 2015 was a success, my hope is that readers will be inspired to host mini Book Prom in their classrooms in celebrations of literacy.  It has been a wonderful year. -K

ofancyfrench-book-prom

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Book-Prom-Invitation

Book Prom 2015!

Just Tag It—#BookProm

Summer is almost here! And let’s be clear, these students and teachers want to have some fun. What better way to have fun—and sneak in some literacy—than to have a Book Prom?

With my favorite book and fancy dress, I will be attending prom this year… #BookProm!
Many of our students have older siblings who went to prom this year, and their parents posted pretty pictures all over social media of prom-goers in all of their finery. I thought that a Book Prom would give parents the chance to dress up the little ones, and give us a chance to talk about books while getting some incredible photographs, too!

The first step in attending the prom is to find your date. Your date is not a person. At Book Prom, your date is your favorite book from all the books you read this year. In our school, students have kept reading logs, so remembering what they read throughout the year is a snap. The book selection process offers an opportunity for kids to engage parents and teachers about literature. In those conversations, teachers can prompt students to think about characters, settings, and conflict. It’s a great chance to help bring literature to life for them. Our kids will be working through an end of year literacy review, and they won’t even know it!

After students decide who to take to the prom, they must be able to discuss their date with others and try to convince fellow students to vote for their date as Prom King or Prom Queen, depending on the gender of the main character. Students will discuss with the prom participants the parts of the book that were memorable to them. After discussion, I write the book titles on a poster, and each student gets to cast one vote for their favorite title.

I have learned over the years that the best way to help kids read is to get their peers to recommend what they like, just like I am always interested in what the coolest and smartest adults are reading! A peer-to-peer book suggestion is a better method for getting kids to read and for helping them grow their literary interests. When the students have finished all their presentations, the kids dance while I tally the votes for king and queen.

Follow the dress code

Please follow the dress code 🙂

I am so excited to say that the Book Prom will be the most stylish event of the school year. Students are encouraged to dress up in their fanciest attire, and the best dressed student will be recognized at the end of Book Prom. The dress-up piece of the prom celebration is my favorite part, because the students look so handsome and beautiful! Teachers don’t normally see their students sharp-dressed, and believe it or not, the majority of students love to dress nicely! When discussing student/teacher attire, I always include the school disclaimer: “All clothing must adhere to school dress code policies. These policies will be enforced.”

As a librarian and teacher of reading, I am always looking for ways to incite a passion for reading within students. Putting together a prom party to celebrate books was just another sneaky trick to coax students to read more books. I love the prom celebration preparation process. Students get the chance to talk with family and teachers about what they read and analyze what they have read over the course of the year. They prepare themselves to speak persuasively to others about their favored book, and then they get to use what they learn about books they may or may not have read to vote for the title of Prom King or Prom King. For me it’s the perfect storm for literacy circles.

You’re Invited!

Want to see how Book Prom works in real life? Well you’re in luck! Show up at my little library in Navasota, Texas this Friday, May 15, 2015, at 8:30 am and bring your best book of the year as your date!

Use the Tag #BookProm!

Book Prom is centered around helping build literacy and love for reading. This prom will be a memorable way to end the school year, and celebrate our kids. If you can’t make it to my little library in Navasota on Friday, you can easily host your own Book Prom wherever you may be. Make sure to use the hashtage #BookProm on your pictures, posts, and tweets. That way we can all enjoy each other’s awesome celebrations of literacy!

Using #BookProm will allow students and teachers all over the world to see your innovative ideas in action! See you at the Book Prom on Friday. I CANNOT WAIT!
#BookProm rocks!

Invitation to Navasota Book Prom

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photo of Kathy French, ofancyfrench, from Navasota ISD

The Navasota Intermediate Librarian Kidnapped the Diary of a Wimpy Kid Books!

The librarian at Navasota Intermediate kidnapped all of The Diary of a Wimpy Kid books from the library shelves and has hidden them away!  Surely she has gone insane, the kids love those books!

It is true, the librarian did kidnap all of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books at Navasota Intermediate and is holding them hostage until a handsome ransom will be paid.  The librarian is not insane or pro-censorship, rather she is tired of students coming in every other day returning these books to the library, to be re-shelved again and again, without being opened.  How do I know how she feels, because the “she” is me, long time reading teacher and newbie librarian.

You might say that the students did open the novels and were reading during their Silent Sustained Reading time, or maybe they were even reading at home.  But I ask you, can students read novels in two days and brightly smile as they return their books to the library, and have truly read their novels with an intensity that allows recollection?  On our campus I am sad to say, there are very few, and when you spot those readers, you know who they are because they are telling you about their book and why they loved it, or didn’t.

The Diary of a Wimpy Kid book series are the most often checked out titles in my library.  Man, I love the author, Jeff Kinney, he is a smart man.  Its hard to convince reluctant readers to enjoy books, but Mr. Kinney does that so well.  Through the success of the series and the success of the movie, kids are exposed to the wonderful work of Mr. Kinney.  I celebrate him and his work today in this blog, even though I kidnapped his books.  I just want my students to read something different, perhaps a series that they have not yet read…

Now here is where the reader gets to the good part, what price will the students pay to gain access to their beloved Diary of a Wimpy Kid books?  Students asked me what they could do today to get them back, I said, “I dunno, what do you think you could do to get them back?’  One kid responded, “I could read 20 books this week!”  Really, yes please I thought, read 20 books this week!  Another student said, “I could write a book report proving that I really did read my chapter book!” I thought in my head, WHAT?  Maybe this kidnapping of books would end happily ever after after all.

Now students at Navasota Intermediate School are coming up with their own “handsome ransoms” to rescue their beloved books from the librarian, and I couldn’t be more delighted.

Students are being exposed to new authors and new book series.  Students are now talking in the hall, restrooms, and playgrounds about what they can do to save their books.  (When was the last time you heard kids talking about books on the playground?)  Our students are thinking about how to talk about what they read, in non-teacher led, authentic conversations with their peers.  Also, students that cannot read the Kinney series will now have an excuse to check out books that are nearer their independent reading levels and not have to pretend to read the larger chapter books.

For me the kidnapping has been a win, win decision.  I cannot wait to see the handsome ransoms that will be paid to set these books free.  I have never been so happy to take books off the library shelves!

As for Greg Heffley, Rodrick and Rowley… move over, more characters will soon be visiting!

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