All posts by chsbookster

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month / Latinx Heritage Month

file-oct-03-8-35-40-amI have created  a special display of books in the library  in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated nationwide and begins on September 15, the anniversary of independence for five Latin American countries – Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Mexico achieved independence on September 16th and Chile on September 18th.
Hispanic Heritage Month has been celebrated in the United States since 1974, when President Gerald Ford issued a Presidential Proclamation extending Hispanic Heritage Week into a month-long observation. Many people and educational organizations now prefer the term “Latinx Heritage Month,” to include non-Spanish speaking people of Latin America, including Brazilians. Books written or illustrated by Sandra Cisneros, Arthur Dorros, Maya Gonzalez, Tony Johnston, Gary Soto, Pat Mora, and Carmen Tafolla are being shared with the students in their classrooms or during library classes. We highlight several library books in Spanish, as well. By reading these books at Concord Hill, we are active participants in the International Reading Association’s Hispanic American Heritage Read-in program.

Little Charmers, Revisited

bracelet copyI think it’s time to update this post from 2009 with some new additions. Enjoy these short novels with your children! April 2016

Are you looking for a read-aloud that won’t take months to read to your child? In this post I recommend what I call “little charmers,” gentle stories told in 120 pages or less. These are not raucous or irreverent adventure stories; rather, they are the kinds of books grandparents will enjoy reading to their grandchildren. In fact, a couple of the selections may be older than some of our CHS grandparents! The plots are linear and the characters are allowed to develop and grow, in spite of the shortness of the books. Rich vocabulary combined with simple illustrations make these great read-alouds for bedtime.

BuriedBonesMysteryThe Buried Bones Mystery (Vol. 1 of the Clubhouse Mysteries) by Sharon M. Draper, illustrated by Jesse Joshua Watson). Here is a great introduction to chapter book mysteries, written by a five-time Coretta Scott King award winner. Ziggy and his friends Rico, Rashawn, and Jerome dig a hole in Ziggy’s yard to bury their secret treasures. When the boys try to hide their treasures, however, they uncover a box of bones and are swept up in a mystery — who could have buried that box of bones behind their clubhouse?

FortunatelyFortunately, the Milk, by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Skottie Young. What should be a quick errand for a loving, responsible father — running out to get some milk for his children’s breakfast cereal — turns into a series of outrageous events that he describes to the children upon his return. CHS First grade teacher Mrs. Crain also enjoys this rollicking tall tale.

LuluLulu and the Brontosaurus, by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Lane Smith. This nifty cautionary tale begins when Lulu, a spoiled child accustomed to getting her way, has a tantrum because her parents will not allow her to have a Brontosaurus as a pet. Lulu undertakes a search for one anyway, not knowing that the Brontosaurus she finds wants her for a pet, as well!

TheStormThe Storm (Vol. 1 of the Lighthouse Family series), by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Preston McDaniels. Pandora the cat and Sebold the dog both live in isolation, she in a lighthouse, he on his boat at sea. A storm brings the two together, and eventually they learn that families can come in many different configurations. This is one of my new favorites!

whippingboyThe Whipping Boy, by Sid Fleischman, illustrated by Peter Sis. This Newberry Medal winner is full of adventure and mistaken identity as spoiled Prince Brat and his whipping boy Jemmy, who appear to have nothing in common, are abducted and learn to empathize and appreciate each other.

catwingsCatwings, by Ursula LeGuin, illustrated by S. D. Schindler. Four young cats born with wings leave their dangerous alley in the city in search of a safe place to live. They encounter dangers in the countryside, as well, but finally meet two children with kind hands. This little book is the first volume in the Catwings series.

dragonMy Father’s Dragon, by Ruth Stiles Gannett and Ruth C. Gannett. Mother and daughter combined talents to create this first volume of a delightful trilogy. A young boy determines to rescue a poor baby dragon who is being used by a group of lazy wild animals to ferry them across the river on Wild Island. Many children enjoy looking at the frontispiece map throughout the story.

cricketwinterCricket Winter, by Felice Holman, illustrated by Robyn Thomas. A little boy exchanges Morse code messages with the cricket that lives in his house and together they trap the rat that has been plaguing the boy’s father and the cricket’s friends.

batpoetThe Bat-Poet, by Randall Jarrell, illustrated by Maurice Sendak. A bat who can’t sleep days makes up poems about the woodland creatures he now perceives for the first time. This slender volume may inspire young poets to write poems based on their own observations.

abelAbel’s Island, by William Steig. Castaway on an uninhabited island, Abel, a very civilized mouse, finds his resourcefulness and endurance tested to the limit as he struggles to survive and return to his home.

jennycatJenny and the Cat Club, by Esther Holden Averill. First published in 1944, this book introduces readers to Jenny Linsky, a black cat who lives in New York City, and her adventures with the neighborhood cats who belong to the Cat Club.

sarahplainSarah, Plain and Tall, by Patricia MacLachlin. When their father invites a mail-order bride to come to live with them in their prairie home, Caleb and Anna are captivated by her and hope that she will stay. Winner of the Newberry Medal.

keycollectThe Key Collection, by Andrea Cheng, illustrated by Yangshook Choi. A ten-year-old boy in the Midwest misses his Chinese grandmother, who always lived next door until her health caused her to move. Currently out of print, this book is available from used book dealers and the CHS library.

fireworkThe Firework-Maker’s Daughter, by Phillip Pullman, illustrated by S. Saelig Gallagher. In a country far to the east, Chulak and his talking white elephant Hamlet help Lila seek the Royal Sulphur from the sacred volcano so that she can become a master maker of fireworks like her father. The author of the complex and challenging “His Dark Materials” trilogy wrote this short gem of a quest story for young listeners.

jackplankJack Plank Tells Tales, by Natalie Babbitt. When a pirate ship falls on hard times, Jack Plank is let go because he is not very good at plundering. He moves into a boarding house and begins to look for work. Unfortunately, Jack is not well suited to be a farmer, baker, fortune-teller, fisherman, barber, goldsmith, actor, or musician, each for a different reason. Jack’s efforts to find his calling, and his explanations to the other boarders, make for a very engaging read-aloud. (At 128 pages, this book exceeds my original 120-page limit, but it’s too good to miss!)

The CHS Library’s Parent Collection

Photo Oct 01, 5 54 26 PM
Recent additions to the Parent Collection

Did you know that we maintain a special Parent Collection that includes over 100 books about parenting and child development? The collection is located in the waiting room by the Development Office on the main floor – sharing space with the school store. We rely on an honor system to circulate those materials.

Lending Library for CHS parents
Lending Library for CHS parents

If you borrow a book from the Parent Collection, please sign and date the yellow check-out card located in the back of the book, and place the card in the little box on the book carousel. Please return borrowed items as soon as possible, and replace the check-out card. Thanks for your cooperation.

Young builders at work

Our second- and third-graders have designed games for our cardboard arcade, in preparation for our Day of Play on October 11th. They were inspired by the Caine’s Arcade video and worked with partners to design, make, and improve their own games.  The Day of Play is our culmination of the Global Cardboard Challenge. Join us at school on 10/11 between 10:30 a.m. and noon with your children for a Day of Play, and enjoy this video example of the work in progress.

Silver Spring Maker Faire 2014

I encourage all CHS families to attend the Maker Faire on Sunday, September 14th, at the Silver Spring Civic Center from noon – 5pm. Key sponsors include the Kid Museum, Discovery Communications, Make: magazine, Montgomery County, and HESS Construction. This is a FREE event that encourages young builders like our CHS students to think, make, and improve. Enjoy an afternoon of making; you may see a few CHS teachers there, too! See for complete information. SilverSpringMakerFaire

Our new Makerspace

I am one happy librarian — because the CHS library is the setting for our school’s new Makerspace. The Class of 2014 presented the school with funds to start the Makerspace. Mrs. Opdahl and I have been stocking the space with supplies and exploring (with the students) many fun projects. Activities will include low-tech and high-tech activities, from cardboard creations and Origami to electronics, programming and (down the road) robotics. Maker education fits perfectly with Concord Hill’s mission and understanding of brain development. What may look like play is, in fact, hands-on learning in which students design, create, collaborate, and improve their own inventions.

Highlight of my summer reading!
Highlight of my summer reading!

Tinkering, the art of taking things apart and putting them together again — perhaps as something altogether different — can help children and teachers think outside the proverbial box. Invent to Learn, by Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager, is a wonderful book that provides a good review of the science behind the maker movement, as well as practical ways to implement maker programs. The authors propose the adoption by young makers of the acronym TMI. No, I don’t mean “too much information;” rather, Think — Make — Improve. Students will be doing just that in the Makerspace.

Our Makerspace mascot, Tinker, welcomes students to the new LEGO wall.
Our Makerspace mascot, Tinker, welcomes students to the new LEGO wall.

Makerspaces and maker education were hot topics at this summer’s annual meeting of the International Society for Technology in Education in Atlanta. I was fortunate to attend the conference, along with about 18,000 other teachers, librarians, and administrators. My favorite sessions were those in which I learned new skills: green screen projects using iPads, Scratch programming with Makey Makey, and using Aurasma and/or QR codes to create library book trailers.

I foresee developing green screen activities in the Makerspace with children to create stick puppets for digital storytelling. We also will use LEGO bricks and other building materials to solve problems inspired by literature — for example, students may be challenged to design and build a house that the Big, Bad Wolf (aka a hair dryer) cannot blow over, or a wall from which Humpty Dumpty (a real egg) can fall and not break. When the students come to the library they will see some changes, notably our new LEGO wall. The adjacent Cozy Corner continues to provide a relaxing spot for reading and imagining.

Go green with these books!

Now that spring finally has sprung, let’s enjoy some books with environmental themes, including some that encourage NatureBooksForParentsfamilies to enjoy the great outdoors together. First, a couple of recommendations for parents: Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, and Jennifer Ward’s I Love Dirt! 52 Activities to Help You and Your Kids Discover the Wonders of Nature. The Louv book is available in the CHS Parent Collection; both  titles are available for purchase through our store, as well (link at right, then select the “Green Schools” category).

For our April Library Book Club, CHS third graders selected books with environmental themes and prepared video book reviews for their fellow students. Several classes watched the video on Earth Day and already have signed out some of the books. Click this link to enjoy the show!