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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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Secret society of Readers at Navasota Intermediate

O’ Fancy French and the Secret Society of Readers

This blog is for teachers, principals, and even parents that struggle with motivating their students/children to read.  I have been trying to come up with an idea that would entice our young learners to want to read more, and get together and talk about what they have read.  On our campus, we have developed a pretty perfect plan to get students to read more…nominate students to become a part of the Secret Society of Readers.

Kids meeting at the weekly secret society of readers meeting  The Secret Society of Readers is an organization that is TOP SECRET.  Students may not join the society, but must be invited.  I thought about how religious movements, civil rights movements and most societal upheavals began, and they share common threads, these movements began with small secret groups of people gathered together for a common goal.  Today I will share with you the TOP SECRET implementation plan that we will be using with our intermediate readers,  you may find yourself ready to accept an invitation to the Secret Society of Readers, if you are brave enough to undertake the challenge…

 

Reading is fun bird logo

Secret Society of Readers

Welcome to the Secret Society of Readers.  You were nominated to join our secret club for these reasons:  you love to read, you recommend books to others, you talk about the books that you read with your friends.  Once you accept this nomination to the Secret Society of Readers, you will be on a mission to secretly discover other readers, and persuade them to join the club.  Remember that this is a secret club, and not everyone will be invited to join because not everyone is passionate about reading.

Once you decide to join the Secret Society of Readers, you will be invited to attend the secret meetings that are held in the library on Friday mornings between the times of 8:30 to 9:00.  Only your parents and teachers need to know where you are going on Friday mornings, these meetings are TOP SECRET, and remember not everyone is invited to attend.

New invitees will be inducted into the Secret Society of Readers by special ceremony. (No cameras or videos allowed, we are after all a secret society.)  Upon arrival on Friday mornings you must bring the most current book you are reading, and be prepared to speak with others about your book.  You must also sign the secret, sacred SSR reading log. The meetings will be lead by the founders of the secret society, and their identities shall not be named.  Founders will travel far and wide to speak to the members.  Members should understand the importance of this society, and pass on the love of reading to future generations of people, thus ensuring a literate society for years to come.

Inductees will be given 3 invitation cards to deliver to 3 people, young or old, those cards will serve as an invitation to join the Secret Society of Readers.  Remember to choose your candidates wisely, for not all people are “True Readers.”  There are many dishonest readers roaming the world, and we only want the most loyal and devoted to be inducted to our secret society.  In order to receive an invitation people must:  love to read,  recommend books to others, talk about the books that they have read with other  friends.

The Secret Society of Readers truly hopes that you, as an inductee are prepared to accept the responsibility of belonging to such an important club.  You must attend meetings with an open mind and caring heart, and most importantly, keep this society safe from others that might corrupt it.   Your responsibility is large, are you prepared to accept the challenge?

 

Signing your name below indicates that you WILL accept this invitation to SSR.

 

Sign your full name: ___________________________________________

Date: _______________

Teacher’s signature: ___________________________________________

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