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    Library Tour!

    Welcome to the library! It’s the coolest (and during the warm months, the hottest) place to be in the school. I got a couple of upgrades this year and finished updating the signage.

    When you walk into the library, the book return bin is on your left and the reference and periodical sections are to your right:


    Reference and periodicals


    The main room has a large carpet for story time, a cozy reading area, pillows for the kids to use, and the nonfiction shelves:




    I added an extra table to the work area. Behind the tables is my desk and the circulation computer:


    Library tour


    And now for the upgrades… tada! Check out the fiction room! Brand new carpet and another set of shelving! I’m so excited. You can also see the student catalog computer on the right:


    Fiction room


    Last year, the picture book shelves were so cramped it was difficult for the elementary students to look through and take out the books. No more! The picture books can breathe now! I tried to keep as many off of the very bottom shelf as possible. It’s a pain to get down there. But also, it leaves room to grow in the future.


    Picture books


    Picture books


    One column of these shelves is dedicated to featuring the new and recommended juvenile books. Another houses the step readers:


    Featured books and step books


    I added these two fiction series shelves last year. Geronimo Stilton, Bailey School Kids, Magic Tree House, Flat Stanley, Series of Unfortunate Events, and The 39 Clues are student favorites:


    Fiction series books


    By the end of this year, we’ll have 10,000 items available for checkout. As you can see, the juvenile fiction section is loaded!


    Juvenile Fiction shelves


    I’m slowly renovating and expanding the secondary fiction section:


    Secondary fiction section


    It’s rewarding to see how much the library has grown. I’m hoping there will be a lot more circulation with the new shelving!


    » See what’s changed by checking out last year’s tour here.



    Organizing Library Duplicates

    Our school has been finishing up the fall semester the past couple of weeks. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow are half days for secondary final exams. My graphic design course is an elective and my students turned in their portfolios on Tuesday, so I was able to knock out a lot of grading early.

    Because I had a couple of extra free periods and the half days, I was finally able to tackle the duplicate book storage in the library. Since the middle of last year, I’ve been checking to see if the books in storage are duplicates and if their shelf copies needed to be replaced. This week, I took everything down and had the cleaners wash the curtain that hides the extra books. It was super nasty and dusty. I started by sorting the books by author last name.


    Book stacks


    Some of my elementary library helpers grouped the series books. (Geronimo Stilton, Magic Tree House, American Girl, Boxcar Children, Junie B. Jones, etc.) It is such a relief to finally have them all in the same area!


    Series duplicates


    I sorted the books by fiction, non-fiction, step leveled readers, and series categories. I also had a couple of DVD duplicates.


    Organizing books


    I assigned each partitioned shelving area a number and put up a quick reference label:


    Reorganized storage


    Today, the cleaners brought the curtain and put it back up. (It looks like a completely different color now that it’s clean!) I’m so very Type A and weirdly excited this task is done.


    Fiction room


    Next, my TA and I will start a spreadsheet catalogue of the duplicate books and their location. Already this year I’ve purchased one or two books we already had a copy of in storage. Soon, I will have a reference file so that won’t happen! It can be difficult and expensive to find certain books in Turkey. (Online shipping is costly as well.) Most of the books were brought or mailed from the States and that’s why keeping so many duplicates is important for our school.

    Since this post wasn’t all that exciting, I thought I’d share a photo of something that’s been rather exciting in my life the past couple of weeks… Milka now makes a chocolate bar with Oreo. It’s oh so delicious:


    Oreo Milka bar



    Library Reading Program Follow-Up

    A while ago I posted about the library reading program I hosted during the fall semester.

    The program ended just before our winter break. Before I announced the contest, I wasn’t sure what kind of a response to expect. My program required students to read books outside of class, and it was up to the student whether or not to participate. I was quite pleased with the results:

    • The program was open to third through twelfth graders and around 27% of students participated.
    • There was a total of 335 entries (so 335 books read).
    • My top readers read 76, 73, 24, and 20 books. (Pretty amazing since the program ran over the course of 116 days!)
    • For fourth, fifth, and sixth grades, around half of the class had at least one entry.

    There were only 13 participants from grades seven through twelve. This was a bit disappointing but partly could have been because many of the secondary students already owned Kindles, e-readers, or tablets. Also, our secondary fiction section is more limited than the juvenile fiction section, though I’m working on that this year.


    Reading program jar


    Reading program entries


    The prizes were two 50TL gift cards to D&R Music and Bookstore, one 100TL gift card to D&R, and one Amazon Kindle Fire. Surprisingly, all but one of the winners were in seventh grade. (The Kindle winner? He only read and entered with 7 books!) I also offered a pizza party to the class who read the most books.


    Reading program winners


    Reading prizes


    I do not plan on hosting the same program during the spring semester, but will consider doing it again sometime. If I run it again, I’d make a few changes:

    • I had originally offered a pizza party to the class who read the most books. However, I later realized I did not want to reward those who did not participate. I ended up changing the rules slightly to reward the participants of the class that read the most books. I also added in two students from other grades who read a large number of books. Next time, I’d change it so all students who read 20 or more books (or some other set number) get to join the pizza party. 
    • I wish I had more prizes. I could not fund any more gift certificates (the store I visited only had 50TL or 100TL incriment giftcards available), but I would consider offering small prizes like bookmarks or reading lights.
    • The second graders were allowed to participate in the running for the pizza party, but I did not receive any entries from them. Most of the second graders were not reading chapter books. I would exclude them completely next time.
    • It would be ideal to offer book lists for students or grades based on their Lexile scores. Our school started MAP testing this year, but we’re still working on cross referencing data with our library catalogue.


    Click here to read about the reading program rules.
    You can download the entry forms at my TPT site.


    Library Reading Program

    I started brainstorming last semester how I could run a library reading program to encourage our students to read. (Other librarians probably already know how to run different kinds of contests, but being a librarian is still new to me!) One of the challenges I faced is the fact it had to be something that would work for both elementary and secondary students. We also have a large population of ESL (English as a Second Language) students. I wanted to create a program where they wouldn’t feel discouraged because they may not be able to read as many books as native English speakers.

    I decided to make a contest based on chance. For every book they read, students receive one ticket to put in a jar. At the end of the semester, I will draw winners. Students who read more books have a better chance to win, but it’s possible that students who read only one book could win.

    I purchased a Kindle Fire (7″ display, 8GB with Wi-Fi) in the States this summer for the big prize. I also decided to have two bookstore gift certificates prizes and a pizza party for the grade that reads the most number of books.

    Here is the flyer and rules that went home at the beginning of the school year:

    Reading program rules

    Reading Program Rules:

    • The reading program is open to all third through twelfth graders. Second graders may enter into the pizza party competition.
    • For every fiction and non-fiction book you read this semester, you can get one ticket to put in the drawing. You must fill out a book entry form in order to get your name in the jar!
    • The entire book must be read between the dates of August 22, 2013 and December 16, 2013. Book entry forms can be picked up and dropped off outside the library.
    • Books that are assigned for any class assignment, book report, lit circle, etc. may NOT count as an entry. However, if a teacher and their class fill out one form, it can count towards the most read books for the class pizza party.
    • This competition is a privilege. Do not use class time to read unless all other work is finished. Entries may be disqualified via your teacher’s discretion.
    • 3rd–6th graders: Books may be either from the OIS library or parent approved Scholastic Order books or parent approved Book Sale books. Books must be in English. Books should be at your reading level. (No OIS E FIC or S FIC picture books.)
    • 7th–12th graders: Books may be either from the OIS library or parent approved books. Books must be in English. Books should be at your reading level. (Many OIS Library J FIC books are allowed.)


    The kids were really excited about the program when I introduced it at the beginning of the year. (Though some weren’t because they already hand an e-reader.) The entry jar sits on my desk:


    Library reading program entry jar


    I created entry forms and printed them onto green paper. After a student finishes reading a book, they are required to tell basic information and write a summary about the book.


    Reading Program Entry Forms


    After I approve the form, I cut out the entry slip corner and stick it in the jar. We’re already six weeks into school and the jar is filling up!


    Reading program entry jar


    To keep track of the class who reads the most books, I file the completed forms by grade. So far, seventh grade is in the lead with fifth grade following closely behind:


    Entry filing system


    I’ve been pleased that there’s been more secondary student traffic in the library than last year. Some elementary students come during their recess time to read. I just love my little readers!


    Recess readers


    You can download my simplified lower elementary reading entry form here.
    Download my upper elementary through secondary reading entry form here.

    When the semester is over, I’ll do a follow up about how it went and things I might change if I do the program again.


    {Update: Read the follow up here!}



    Tour of the Library

    Welcome to the library! I work at an international school. Our library serves approximately 250 students from preschool through twelfth grade. We have around 8,500 books and videos (and counting!) that students can check out.

    Here’s what it looks like when I’m not inside the library or when the door is closed. (See those green forms? I’m hosting a reading program to win a Kindle Fire this semester. I’ll do a post on that sometime soon.)


    Library door


    There are two rooms in the library. This is the main area. You can see my desk to the left, work tables for library classes, and the reference and periodical section to the right. The preschoolers through sixth graders have library class once a week for about 40 minutes. Several students pop in during their free time or during recess.


    Teacher's desk and reference section


    I updated a lot of the signage this year. Here’s the “Take Care!” rules for the library, the books, and each other. (The “Take Care!” signs can be downloaded for free at


    Library Take Care signs


    Another new set of signs is the “May I Take it Home, How Many, and How Long” series:


    Library check out signs


    The main room also houses the non-fiction books:


    Non-fiction section


    Elementary students learn about the Dewey Decimal system during library classes:


    Non-fiction signs


    We also have a reading nook and pillows for the kids to use during their reading time:


    Library reading nook


    The other section is the fiction room:


    Fiction room


    We have lots and lots of picture books:


    Picture books


    And leveled reading step books:


    Picture and step reading books


    There is a large juvenile fiction section:


    Juvenile fiction shelves


    And a small, but ever growing secondary fiction section:


    Secondary fiction section


    This year, I added two new bookcases to hold book series. (The elementary grades especially love Geronimo Stilton, The Magic Tree House, and A to Z Mysteries!) I feature new and recommended books on this short shelf:


    Featured books and the series shelf


    The library is a pretty cool place! Personally, I can’t wait for it to be even cooler when the fall weather finally gets here:


    Library temperature


    Are there any new books you’d recommend for me to purchase this year?


    Elementary Read Aloud Books

    I was a bookworm when I was younger. I’d get in trouble because I’d read by my night light when I was supposed to be sleeping. On a third grade questionnaire, I remember I wrote down librarian as my dream job. Little did I know!

    This has been my first year as a teacher and librarian in Turkey. The previous librarian left behind many wonderful resources, which have been crucial to my ability to function.

    One of the great joys of my position is sharing stories with students. I see the preschool through sixth grade classes once a week for 40 minutes. I’ve mostly relied on the read aloud lists that were left for me. Here’s what we’ve been reading this year (excluding the picture books for the preschoolers, kindergartners, and first graders):


    Second grade read aloud list
    I started by reading picture books to the second graders. After the first several weeks, we moved onto chapter books.

    • My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett – This is a Newbery Honor Book. The kids enjoyed the story and thought the animals were funny.
    • Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary – While the second graders seemed to like this book for the most part, some of the boys got bored with it. There may have been a bit of a disconnect since Ramona is a kindergartner. Some of the chapters were a little long and I’d split them into two for the sake of attention span.
    • Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren – Both the boys and the girls really liked this book! I may need to hunt down the movie for next year.


    Third grade read aloud list

    • Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald – I remember my teacher reading this book when I was in elementary school. The third graders loved it! After we finished reading, I had them create their own Piggle-Wiggle cures. Several of the students really picked up on the format of the chapters where the mom calls another mom who tells her to call Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. (Download my free Piggle-Wiggle Cure worksheet!)
    • Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar – This was another hit. There were always lots of laughs from both the story and the pictures.
    • Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective by Donald J. Sobol – My third grade teacher Mr. Connor loved to read us Encyclopedia Brown books. After I read a chapter, the students tried to figure out how Encyclopedia solved the case. They got it right several times!


    Fourth grade read aloud list

    • The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum – Almost half of the fourth grade class this year was ESL (English As A Second Langauge). They learned leaps and bounds since the first day of school, but this book was tough for them to understand. I wish I could have shown them the movie at the end, but I didn’t have a copy. It’s a classic and good for students to know, but I may reevaluate it as a read aloud book for next year.
    • No Talking by Andrew Clements – This year’s fourth grade class definitely had a boys versus girls spirit, so they loved this book. We did several exercises that mimicked what the students were doing in the book, like telling a story using 3 word sentences and only writing notes back and forth.


    Fifth grade read aloud list

    • The Boys Start the War and The Girls Get Even by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor – The copy in our library is a 2-in-1 book, and we read both. The fifth graders enjoyed the story and competition.
    • The BFG by Roald Dahl – The students laughed at the funny words the BFG said.


    Sixth grade read aloud list

    • Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson – The sixth graders loved this book! It kept the attention of both the boys and girls. Some of them even tried out the writing style in their papers. The book has humorous characters and a wild plot. This is the first book in a series of four. We have the second book in our library, but the third and fourth books must have had limited printings. A hardback copy of the fourth book is listed on Amazon for over $140!
    •  The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald – This fantasy novel was written in 1872, and the writing style reflects the era. There are several ESL kids in sixth grade, but even for the native English speakers, the text was over their heads at times. Sometimes after reading a passage, I’d stop to make sure they understood what was happening in the story. It’s quite long, and I don’t think we’ll be able to finish this book before the school year is over.


    Are there any books you’d recommend for next year?



    Library Book Sale

    This week is a short week with two half days for parent/teacher conferences and Thursday off for Thanksgiving. Today was the first day of parent/teacher conferences.

    Keeping with the plans of the previous librarian, I ran the annual Library Book Sale to raise funds for new books. Our school receives many donations, not all of which we can use or have room for in our library. We also include damaged and other discarded books in the sale. There were several hundred magazines and picture, juvenile fiction, adult fiction, and non-fiction books. All items cost 1 lira regardless of size or condition.


    Students browsing books at the book sale.


    Kids and parents stopped by before class, during breaks and recess, and in between conferences. I can’t believe how quickly everything sold! There are not nearly as many books left for the sale tomorrow. I was also amazed that people purchased the ratty, worn books. There was one book with its front and back cover completely torn off. And yet, someone liked the book enough to purchase it!

    Seeing the joy in the kids’ eyes was a lot of fun for me. Very few books were in new condition, yet they were so excited to have new books to read and call their own.  It made me want to pull all of the unprocessed books and put them in the sale. (Don’t worry – I didn’t!) Several kids came back to the sale three, sometimes four times today.

    I can relate. I was an absolute bookworm when I was younger. I’d get in trouble for reading by my nightlight when I should have been in bed. I remember filling out a worksheet in 3rd grade that asked about my dream job. I wrote down librarian. Since 3rd grade, my dreams and aspirations went down different paths. I never would have guessed I’d become a librarian so many years later!

    It was also surprising to hear the students talk to their parents. We have an English-only rule during the school day. I did several double takes when I heard kids speaking a different language. Many of our students speak English so well I had no idea it wasn’t the language they spoke at home.

    Literacy is a gift denied to many. I pray our students will have a lifetime love of reading.


    [box]“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” – Frederick Douglass[/box]


    [box]“To read is to fly: it is to soar to a point of vantage which gives a view over wide terrains of history, human variety, ideas, shared experience and the fruits of many inquiries.” – A. C. Grayling[/box]


    [box]“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.” – Walt Disney[/box]