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  • It’s hard to see the summer end, but students streaming back into the classroom gets our librarians excited to book-talk students and hand-sell their favorite picks to teachers. They know some kids haven’t cracked a cover over the entire break, but these educators have been making stacks of their favorite brand-new titles.
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    The Librarians Recommend…Back to School Excitement

    by Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan
     | Aug 20, 2014

    It’s hard to see the summer end, but students streaming back into the classroom get our librarians excited to book-talk students and hand-sell their favorite picks to teachers. They know some kids haven’t cracked a cover over the entire break, but these educators have been making stacks of their favorite brand-new titles.

    Here are just a few of the books our “Librarians Recommend…”

    Young Readers

    West of the Moon (Abrams, 2014) by Margi Preus has a folk art cover that is appropriate to the story, but it may take some promotion with young readers. In a very unique take on the East of the Sun and West of the Moon folktale, Preus uses a tapestry of Norwegian folktales to tell Astri’s adventure-filled journey toward a new life in America. The book closes with a fabulous author’s note about the diseases and the folktales featured in the book. —CD

    Science Fiction

    News flash! Science fiction doesn’t have to be grim depressing dystopian disasters! It has been hard to find anything but dystopia in teen books but here’s a gem from Cecil Castellucci.  Tin Star (Roaring Brook, 2014) features fascinating aliens, nefarious plots, a space station on the edge of the known universe and a smart young human trying to survive by her wits. Lots of action, great characters, and a twisty plot make this a winner—especially as it comes in at a slim 233 pages! (Gr. 7-10) —LR

    Fantasy

    Dragons, an exiled princess, a forest that walks in the night and lyrical writing add up to an irresistible fantasy called A Creature of Moonlight (Houghton, 2014) by debut author Rebecca Hahn. Marnie lives with her grandfather on the edge of the forest where they grow flowers for the court. She is no ordinary village girl though and when her grandfather dies, Marnie must find her path between the court life of her mother and the magical world of her dragon father. Did I mention there are dragons? (Gr. 8-10) —LR

    Spy Thriller

    It’s Russia during the Cold War and the KGB will do anything to beat the American capitalists to the moon, even if it means developing a secret group of young people who have a variety of terrifying mental powers including reading minds and wiping away memories. Yulia is chosen (coerced) to join the group and yearns to escape to the West. But how do you plan an escape when all around you can read your thoughts? Teens won’t be able to turn read fast enough in this unusual and intriguing page-turner, Sekret (Roaring Brook, 2014) by Lindsay Smith. (Gr. 8-12) —LR

    Environmental Mystery

    The book I am most excited to share is going to be perfect for my seventh grade reluctant readers. Skink No Surrender, (Knopf, 2014) Carl Hiaasen’s new environmental mystery novel teams up an unlikely pair of “secret agent bounty hunters” in teen Richard and Skink, a hermit Vietnam vet and ex-governor of Florida lifted from Hiaasen’s adult novels. Richard and Skink hit the road together looking for Richard’s cousin who has run away with an online boyfriend that is not what he presented. The book is laugh-out-loud funny with some take-away messages about online safety and environmental stewardship. —CD

    Nonfiction

    The end of Romanov Russia— it’s one of the most fascinating yet convoluted stories in history and has sparked ongoing speculation, rumor, and curiosity. Candace Fleming has written a brilliant book for young people, The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia (Penguin/Schwartz & Wade, 2014) introducing young readers to the vivid personalities, rich culture, complex history and desperate secrets that marked this pivotal time. Splendidly researched and documented, the book is compulsively readable with an intimate you-are-there feel that includes outstanding primary source materials and photographs. This will change the minds of any teen who thought history was dull. (Gr. 8-12) —LR

    My schools have a large Hispanic population, many of them children of migrant farm workers, so I eagerly snapped up an advance reader copy of Strike! The Farm Workers’ Fight for Their Rights (Calkins Creek, 2014) by Larry Dane Brimner when I saw it at the American Library Association annual conference this summer. Brimner brings to life the five-year Delano, CA, grape strike, the leadership (and shortcomings) of Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers, and the effect it had on migrant workers and the growers. Archival photos and the inclusion of primary sources will make this great for teachers but I am most eager to be able to share this with my students whose families share some of the struggles presented here. —CD

    English teachers are going to love the new collaboration between Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet called The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus (Eerdmans, 2014). This picture book biography of list-maker Peter Roget is at the top of my list. It is fabulous, amazing, brilliant, gorgeous, stunning, and informative. —CD

    My teachers and students are going to hear my excitement about Pure Grit: How American World War II Nurses Survived Battle and Prison Camp in the Pacific (Abrams, 2014) by Mary Cronk Farrell (Abrams, 2014) and a new entry in Houghton Mifflin’s Scientists in the Field series called Park Scientists: Gila Monsters, Geysers, and Grizzly Bears in America’s Own Backyard (2014). Both are going to be great for classroom use and will also make great booktalks for student free choice reading. CD

    Classroom Read-Aloud

    Lisa Graff’s new book, Absolutely Almost (Penguin/Philomel, 2014) is the perfect book for a classroom read-aloud. The short chapters, sometimes just one page, introduce Albie who is starting fifth grade in a new school. Albie struggles in school. He works hard but it just never seems to be enough. "My whole life I've always been an almost. Almost, Albie, almost,” he says. I defy anyone to come away from this moving endearing story unmoved. (Gr. 4-7) —LR

    Author Visit

    I have an author visit scheduled for the end of September with Lisa McMann, author of The Unwanteds and my students are eagerly awaiting book four in the series, Island of Legends, which publishes Sept. 2. —CD

    In Demand

    Finally, two books that I NEED to read in the next few weeks because once my students know I have them I’ll never get my hands on them again: Sisters by Raina Telgemeier (Scholastic, 2014) a companion to the wildly popular graphic novel Smile. The tag line is: “Three weeks. Two sisters. One car. A true story.” The other book is Jonathan Stroud’s The Whispering Skull (Disney/Hyperion, 2014). This is book two in the Lockwood & Co. series that began with one of my favorite books from last year, The Screaming Staircase. Ghostbusting has never been so much fun. —CD

    Cindy Dobrez is a middle school librarian in Holland, MI. Lynn Rutan is a former middle school librarian and current book reviewer and blogger from the same town. Together, the longtime pals and colleagues write Bookends: A Booklist Blog. 

     
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  • The graphic novel shelves in middle school libraries may be the most popular section in the library. And, happily, with the recent surge of wonderful graphic novels written for elementary students, collections there are getting just as much traffic.

    Like books in any format, graphic novels vary in quality but most offerings from the major publishers offer a complex and challenging reading experience and have the added attraction of being highly appealing. Initially boys were the primary fans but that has changed lately with more books appearing that feature girls as major characters.

    Most graphic novels are published in paperback at a reasonable price, making it possible to include them in classroom libraries. With so many outstanding offerings, the hardest choice is not whether to include them but which ones to add!
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    The Librarians Recommend...Graphic Novels

    by Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan
     | Aug 14, 2013
    As part of our We ♥ Graphic Novels Week, we asked some of our favorite librarians to recommend time-tested titles, fan favorites, and new releases you won’t want to miss.

    CINDY DOBREZ & LYNN RUTAN
    Co-authors of Bookends: A Booklist Blog

    The graphic novel shelves in middle school libraries may be the most popular section in the library. And, happily, with the recent surge of wonderful graphic novels written for elementary students, collections there are getting just as much traffic.

    Like books in any format, graphic novels vary in quality but most offerings from the major publishers offer a complex and challenging reading experience and have the added attraction of being highly appealing. Initially boys were the primary fans but that has changed lately with more books appearing that feature girls as major characters.

    Most graphic novels are published in paperback at a reasonable price, making it possible to include them in classroom libraries. With so many outstanding offerings, the hardest choice is not whether to include them but which ones to add!

    Here are a few of our recommendations. Check out our blog, Bookends, for longer reviews and other great graphic novel suggestions.

    Graphic Novel Every Classroom Library Should Have

    For middle school classrooms, our choice is SMILE by Raina Telgemeier (Scholastic, 2010). Popular with both boys and girls, this may be the most consistently checked out book in our libraries. The basic story is of an accident that results in the loss of front teeth leading to years of dental work and braces but along the way Telgemeier examines entering adolescence, friendship, bullying, a first crush and standing up for one’s self.

    For high school, our choice is the Michael L. Printz Award winning AMERICAN BORN CHINESE by Gene Yang (First Second, 2006). Here Yang brilliantly examines racism, stereotypes, identity, and coming of age through three interconnected stories all laced with Chinese mythology and the American immigrant experience.

    Graphic Novel(s) Our Students Go Crazy For

    With long waiting lists for all five volumes (so far), the Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi is popular with both middle school boys and girls. Beginning with AMULET: THE STONEKEEPERS (Scholastic, 2008) the story features a brother and sister. After the shocking death of the children’s father, they move to the old family home where Emily and Navin’s mother is kidnapped by a horrible tentacled monster and the first of many mysteries begins.

    The Amulet series is prized by Lynn’s three grandsons, too, but another huge favorite with them and their classmates is ZITA THE SPACEGIRL (First Second, 2010) and ZITA THE SPACEGIRL: LEGENDS (First Second, 2012) by Ben Hatke. Whimsical robots and monsters abound in this wonderful funny series about a young girl who becomes an intergalactic heroine after she rushes to rescue a friend captured by aliens.

    New Graphic Novel You Won’t Want to Miss

    For high school this is a NO brainer! Gene Yang’s new interconnected set BOXERS and SAINTS (First Second, 2013) publishes in September and is not to be missed. Yang portrays the Boxer Rebellion from two opposing but connected viewpoints: a young boy who becomes a member of the uprising and a girl from his village who converts to Christianity. The dual books offer penetrating insight into a tragic conflict little known here.

    For elementary and middle school: Comic-world legend Paul Pope challenged himself to write a superhero graphic novel appropriate for kids. BATTLING BOY (First Second, Oct. 2013) is the start of what is sure to be a wildly popular series. If you want to wow your students, read this one soon as possible as kids are going to love this. Lots of humor, terrific art and a 12-year-old hero we can all cheer for in a fun hats-off to the superhero genre. Battling Boy is a VERY recognizable 12-year-old, demigod or not.

    Cindy Dobrez is a middle school librarian in Holland, MI. Lynn Rutan is a former middle school librarian and current book reviewer and blogger from the same town. Together, the longtime pals and colleagues write Bookends: A Booklist Blog.

    JOHN SCHUMACHER
    K–5 School Library Director

    Graphic Novel Every Classroom Library Should Have

    Few things make me happier than giving away books. I wish I could call Anderson’s Bookshop and perform this random act of kindness.

    Bookseller: Thank you for calling Anderson’s Bookshop. This is Jan speaking. How may I help you?

    Me: Hi, Jan! It is John.

    Bookseller Jan: Hi, John!

    Me: Can you please place an order for me? I have the ISBN. It is 978-0375832291.

    Bookseller Jan: Is it Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm’s BABYMOUSE: QUEEN OF THE WORLD (Random House Books for Young Readers, 2005)?

    Me: Yes.

    Bookseller Jan: How many copies would you like to order?

    Me: 68,000 copies.

    Bookseller Jan: Wowzers! Let me see what I can do.

    Wow! Wouldn’t that be amazing? I would have enough copies to mail one to almost every public elementary school in the United States.

    Graphic Novel(s) My Students Go Crazy For

    I chose three graphic novels that I think every elementary school library should embrace and promote. I know my students would agree with me.

    Kazu Kibuishi’s Amulet series (Scholastic, 2008–present)



    I love telling a third grader about THE STONEKEEPER (Amulet Book #1) when books two through five are also available. I always insist she checks out all of them. It is likely she’ll return the next day to thank me and to find out when book six will be released.

    SIDEKICKS by Dan Santat (Arthur A. Levine Books, 2011)



    I can name at least a dozen kids who have read Dan Santat’s SIDEKICKS three times. It is one of those books that I never find on the shelf. [Side note: Dan Santat participated in the July Sharp-Schu Book Club.]

    Jarrett J. Krosoczka’s Lunch Lady series (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2009–present)



    The Lunch Lady series is a total smile fest. Lunch Lady, Betty, and the Breakfast Bunch capture the hearts of readers young and old.

    New Graphic Novel You Won’t Want to Miss

    I spend the summer adding to a list entitled “Books I’ll Tell My Kids about in August.” Book #15 on the list is Matt Phelan’s recently released graphic novel, BLUFFTON: MY SUMMERS WITH BUSTER KEATON (Candlewick, 2013). Listen to Matt talk about BLUFFTON here.

    John Schumacher is a K-5 School Library Director in Oak Brook, Illinois. Read his popular blogs, MrSchuReads.com and TwoLibrariesOneVoice.com for even more book suggestions.

    JESSE KARP 
    Author of GRAPHIC NOVELS IN YOUR SCHOOL LIBRARY

    Graphic Novel Every Classroom Library Should Have

    No eighth through twelfth grade classroom should be without a copy of Gene Luen Yang’s AMERICAN BORN CHINESE. Told with deep intelligence, compassion, and a subtle yet compelling sense of visual irony, no finer piece of literature is available for teens on racial identity, the obligations of friendship, and ancient Chinese monkey Gods.

    Graphic Novel(s) My Students Go Crazy For

    While AMERICAN BORN CHINESE has an aesthetic that proves extremely inviting to teens, looking down the grade levels a bit, one cannot ignore the perennially and deservedly popular Babymouse series by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm. However, if you’re interested in another mouse with some appeal to first through fourth grade boys, have a look at the Missile Mouse series by Jake Parker. My students can’t get enough of the energetic visuals, the clever plotting, the fast-paced action, and the never-say-die protagonist.

    New Graphic Novel You Won’t Want to Miss

    Meanwhile, due out in August is Paul Pope’s much-anticipated BATTLING BOY, a blistering, pulp re-invention of superheroes, manga, mythology, and, incidentally, a compelling look at our social responsibilities and the obligations we have to our family legacies. Reserve this one for any fifth through twelfth graders who are interested in an hour of nonstop enjoyment.

    Jesse Karp is a librarian at LREI, an independent school in New York City. He is the author of the YA novels THOSE THAT WAKE and WHAT WE BECOME, as well as the nonfiction book GRAPHIC NOVELS IN YOUR SCHOOL LIBRARY. He served on the 2012 Eisner Committee and teaches a course on comic books in education at Pratt Institute. Visit him online at beyondwhereyoustand.com.

    © 2013 International Reading Association. Please do not reproduce in any form, electronic or otherwise.


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  • A school librarian’s job description is what the CCSS are all about! This is what we do and have done and I am really excited that the educational pendulum has swung back to an inquiry and process model. It’s a wonderful opportunity for school librarians to step up and do what we do best: collaborate with teachers on units of study, co-teach, provide expertise on materials and resources, assist and instruct students on research skills, and support the learning process.

    One of the things that concerns me is that as school librarians have been marginalized in so many districts, teachers either won’t have a building librarian or won’t have had any experience with the help they can provide. In our district, for example, elementary librarians now spend most of their day teaching technology skills and the secondary librarians each serve two enormous buildings. In many districts, there are no professional librarians at all.
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    What Role Do Librarians Play When it Comes to the CCSS?

    by Lynn Rutan and Stephanie Squicciarini
     | May 08, 2013
    Q. What role do you see librarians play in the adoption of the Common Core State Standards? How can teachers work with librarians as they begin to address the issues the CCSS raise?

    Lynn Rutan: A school librarian’s job description is what the CCSS are all about! This is what we do and have done and I am really excited that the educational pendulum has swung back to an inquiry and process model. It’s a wonderful opportunity for school librarians to step up and do what we do best: collaborate with teachers on units of study, co-teach, provide expertise on materials and resources, assist and instruct students on research skills, and support the learning process.

    p: boltron via photopin cc
    One of the things that concerns me is that as school librarians have been marginalized in so many districts, teachers either won’t have a building librarian or won’t have had any experience with the help they can provide. In our district, for example, elementary librarians now spend most of their day teaching technology skills and the secondary librarians each serve two enormous buildings. In many districts, there are no professional librarians at all.

    I think there is a real danger that administrators who want a quick solution to CCSS implementation will jump to purchased programs instead of supporting the actual intent of the CCSS with training, time for collaborative planning, and resources.

    I think these collaborative efforts are the real key to success with CCSS implementation and I hope librarians and teachers will be given the opportunity to put their joint expertise to work for students.

    Lynn Rutan is a former middle school librarian and current book reviewer and blogger from Holland, Michigan. You can read more of her reviews over at Bookends: A Booklist Blog, which she co-writes with her longtime pal and fellow librarian Cindy Dobrez.

    Stephanie Squicciarini: Speaking as a public librarian, I would say our role is to be aware of the Common Core Standards and educate ourselves on what they mean for students. And communicate with our partner school librarians as the shift continues. While I don’t think we can be expected to become experts on the standards, we need to work with our colleagues to ensure that resources are provided to students.

    For me, it has meant purchasing not just more quality nonfiction, but also multiple copies of titles that seem to fit well with the topics being studied. The YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction, the finalists, winner, and nominee list, will prove invaluable for this.

    School librarians will hopefully communicate with their partner public librarians on shifting topics and titles they find that work well for students and teachers. Public libraries will more than likely not be able to provide all the titles for school curricula as that is not our primary mission, but we should be able to supplement and complement the resources the school libraries provide.

    Communication, I think, will be critical in these early stages of the shift.

    Stephanie Squicciarini is the teen services librarian for the Fairport (NY) Public Library, as well as the founder of the wildly popular TBF Live! teen book festival.

    We want to know: What do YOU think? What role do you see librarians playing in the implementation of the CCSS?

    © 2013 International Reading Association. Please do not reproduce in any form, electronic or otherwise.
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  • I read far and wide. How can I possibly narrow it down to one book? Just ONE BOOK? Really? However, in 2012, I want everyone to ask me the last question. I want to climb to the top of the Chrysler Building and shout at the top of my lungs “Dear World: I am thankful for Katherine Applegate’s THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN. If I were a rich man, I would give away ten million copies.”

    However, in 2012, I want everyone to ask me the last question. I want to climb to the top of the Chrysler Building and shout at the top of my lungs “Dear World: I am thankful for Katherine Applegate’s THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN. If I were a rich man, I would give away ten million copies.” I want to plaster stickers all over my body that read, “Please visit your local independent bookshop to purchase a copy THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN. It will touch your heart.” I want to hoist a billboard above Broadway that advertises Katherine Applegate’s masterpiece.
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    Ask the Librarians: What Books Are You Most Thankful For This Year?

    by John Schumacher, Cindy Dobrez, Lynn Rutan & Stephanie Squicciarini
     | Nov 21, 2012
    John Schumacher

    It is common to ask the following questions:

    • “What’s your favorite song/color/movie/animal?”
    • “Which book did you read over and over as a child?”
    • “What’s your favorite book published this year?”
    The last question usually trips me up and fills me with dread. I read far and wide. How can I possibly narrow it down to one book? Just ONE BOOK? Really?

    However, in 2012, I want everyone to ask me the last question. I want to climb to the top of the Chrysler Building and shout at the top of my lungs “Dear World: I am thankful for Katherine Applegate’s THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN. If I were a rich man, I would give away ten million copies.” I want to plaster stickers all over my body that read, “Please visit your local independent bookshop to purchase a copy THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN. It will touch your heart.” I want to hoist a billboard above Broadway that advertises Katherine Applegate’s masterpiece.

    Above all else, I want every elementary school teacher to share this distinguished and highly satisfying novel. I want Ivan’s story to live on and inspire young readers to be thoughtful citizens and change makers.

    John Schumacher is a K-5 School Library Director in Oak Brook, Illinois. Read his popular blogs, MrSchuReads.com and TwoLibrariesOneVoice.com for even more book suggestions.

    Cindy Dobrez

    I am thankful for books that make my middle schoolers wonder. And this year that is a book by the same title: WONDER by R. J. Palacio.

    August Pullman, 10, is facing his first experience with school as he leaves the safety of homeschooling for a private NYC middle school. Augie has facial deformities that shock and disturb those who look at him. In one of the many strengths of the book, Palacio does not describe in detail what Augie looks like. We are given hints about some of Augie’s features, but mostly it is left to our imagination and that makes the portrayal stronger. And, I was disappointed in myself as I wondered just what he looked like…and then kicked myself for caring. The whole point is that we should not care what someone looks like. Palacio’s strategy did its job.

    Middle school can be a brutal place, especially for those who are different, whether or not they are as different as Augie. But Palacio shows us a path through, a path for beyond middle school too. One of Augie’s teachers, Mr. Browne, starts each month of school with a class precept. He defines this for the kids as “rules about really important things.” The year starts off with this one:

    “When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.”

    The precepts could come off as didactic. But they didn’t feel that way. The book has a raw honesty about it that raises it above the norm of this type of book. And each of the characters learns something about themselves as they learn about Augie. Ultimately, the message becomes one of degree. Don’t just be kind. As Palacio writes, “It's not enough to be kind. One should be kinder than needed.”

    There’s something to think about as we digest our turkey and tryptophan. Something to wonder about….am I kinder than necessary?

    Cindy Dobrez
    Middle School Librarian
    West Ottawa Public Schools
    Holland, MI
    Bookends Blog


    Lynn Rutan

    With the Common Core Standards on everyone’s mind this year, I’ve been thinking a lot about literary nonfiction. What is it, how is it defined, how can we use it with students and what titles fit which curriculum? I’ve been a nonfiction reader all my life, but I know that many of my librarian and teacher colleagues prefer fiction and are uneasy about these new requirements.

    So this year I’m especially thankful for BOMB: THE RACE TO BUILD—AND STEAL—THE WORLD’S MOST DANGEROUS WEAPON (Roaring Brook, 2012) by Steve Sheinkin. This is one of my favorite books of the year for pure reading enjoyment AND it is a book that not only fits the definition of literary nonfiction but will also win over many doubters to the pleasures and of reading nonfiction.

    Sheinkin is also the author of THE NOTORIOUS BENEDICT ARNOLD, which won the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults in 2011. In the stellar BOMB, Sheinkin’s versatility is truly on display as he deftly interweaves explanations of nuclear physics and the history of the early research effort, the history of WWII, a detailed description of the manufacturing processes and facilities required to produce the two bombs, and a lucid recounting of how Soviet espionage was organized and conducted in America. He then mixes in fascinating character studies of key individuals of the time and raises ethical questions which will generate wonderful discussions with teen readers.

    Sheinkin does all this while creating a sense of breathless tension—even though we all know the outcome. My turkey drumstick is raised to this masterful and informative nonfiction that reads like a Ludlum spy thriller!

    Lynn Rutan is a former middle school librarian and current book reviewer and blogger from Holland, Michigan. You can read more of her reviews over at Bookends: A Booklist Blog, which she co-writes with her longtime pal and fellow librarian Cindy Dobrez.

    Stephanie Squicciarini

    The two books from this year that I am most thankful for are THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green and LIFE HAPPENS NEXT by Terry Trueman. While they are vastly different books in terms of their plots and characters, they do each, for me, share some common themes. They both beautifully demonstrate the resiliency of the human spirit. That when you open yourself up to be truly known by another, when you admit that desire to be known not for what people think you should be or feel given your hand that life dealt you, but who you really are, that you might be able to find peace among the chaos.

    Neither book sugar coats the sometimes harsh reality that life is, but both offer a sense of hope, as bittersweet as that hope can be. Both books also show that humor can be a powerful force in one’s life, allowing you to push through even the darkest of days.

    And, to be honest, I am thankful that neither were dystopian, vampire, werewolf, or fallen angel in nature. Every so often we as readers need a good dose of realistic fiction…or at least I (and many teens who have left me comments in our feedback box!) do.

    Stephanie Squicciarini
    Teen Services Librarian
    Fairport (NY) Public Library


    © 2012 International Reading Association. Please do not reproduce in any form, electronic or otherwise.
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  • Normally I would say ask your public library to help, but those budgets are getting slashed too! But together, and with some creativity, you can still make these happen. Here are a few ideas:

    Check with “local” authors. Local can mean anywhere within driving distance, so look beyond your state, too. While gas prices are still rising, it could still be more economical than paying for airfare. And, if they live close enough, they may not require lodging.

    YALSA has an “Authors by State” resource on their wiki. This is one place to start. You can also check with regional writers and illustrators groups.
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    Achieve Author Visits on a Budget

    by Stephanie Squicciarini
     | Apr 04, 2012
    Q. With our budget being cut, we don’t have the funds we used to have for author visits. And some of my colleagues never had any funds for author visits! Any suggestions on how we can fund these types of visits?

    Normally I would say ask your public library to help, but those budgets are getting slashed too! But together, and with some creativity, you can still make these happen. Here are a few ideas:

    Stephanie Squicciarini
    Check with “local” authors. Local can mean anywhere within driving distance, so look beyond your state, too. While gas prices are still rising, it could still be more economical than paying for airfare. And, if they live close enough, they may not require lodging.

    YALSA has an “Authors by State” resource on their wiki. This is one place to start. You can also check with regional writers and illustrators groups.

    Check author websites for their event schedules. If authors who normally are not within your regional driving area will be doing an event nearby, or are on a book tour in your area for a newly released book, they are now local! And you could share the travel and other expenses with their other hosting venues. If they are on an official book tour, there might not be any travel expenses to cover. A win-win for everyone!

    Check with your local hotels, especially the larger chains. Some hotels will offer deeper discounts or even complimentary rooms. They would rather have rooms full than empty. You could, in exchange, list the hotel as a sponsor for the author visit on your internal and external publicity, and/or acknowledge them in any articles published about the visit.

    Partner with other schools. If you can get several schools to pool resources, authors might be willing to negotiate their fee. This partnership could mean either half days at each of two schools or booking several different schools, all within driving distance of each other, in a given week. An author might be more willing to negotiate their fee if they know they will be visiting several schools in the same area. This will also depend on how many sessions you want them to present at each school. So, you want to balance this with not expecting an author to do as many sessions as they might ordinarily do for their full fee.

    Ask your PTA/PTSA groups. While they may not be able to fund the entire visit, they might be able to help with part of it. Or they could cover the cost of your author hospitality (don’t forget you need to budget in meals!).

    Conduct a fundraiser. You can work with your students and/or your PTA/PTSAs on this too. A very successful fundraiser we hold each year for The Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival is a Read-a-Thon.

    Check with your local public library. They can be a partner in your fundraising efforts (your Read-a-Thon, for instance, could be held at the public library and then it also counts as a program for them!) and can also be another event host. Your guest author could visit the school during the day and your public library could hold an event in the evening and together you share the cost of any author honorarium and, if you cannot find a hotel to donate the room, any lodging costs. You will again need to balance this with your expected number of total presentations during the day. If an author normally will agree to, say, five presentations, the public library event will count as at least one presentation (depending on the length).

    Arrange a book sale. You can work with a local book store (or chain) and ask them to donate back a percentage of any sales of the books, or work directly with the publisher. Most publishers will sell books to schools and libraries at a deep discount (usually 40%) for author events. Then you sell the books to students, faculty, and attendees at the cover price. While this may generate be a huge amount of money, it could help cover some of your costs.

    Plan ahead! There are peak author visit times of the year: Teen Read Week and Children’s Book week, for instance. While those are great times to have author visits, authors’ time will be at a premium and, depending on your budget, may be out of reach. Think creatively when planning. For instance, if the author you’d like to invite lives in a colder climate, and you’re in an area that’s warm year-round, this could be an appealing detail!

    Don’t give up even if your budget has been cut deeply! With some planning, partnering, and creativity, you can still have very successful author visits for your students and community!

    Stephanie Squicciarini
    Teen Services Librarian
    Fairport (NY) Public Library

    © 2012 International Reading Association. Please do not reproduce in any form, electronic or otherwise.
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