Branding your Library Reading Program: #SunsetReads

When I started at Sunset High School three years ago, I knew I wanted to “brand” my library program and create a hashtag that could be used for sharing cool things happening in my library on social media.

I decided on #SunsetReads and began creating posters and library displays to brand my program. One of the first things I did was take photos of the administration and faculty members sharing their favorite books holding a #SunsetReads frame.

 

I passed out “What I am currently reading ….” laminated posters to all the staff and asked them to hang them outside their classroom door and keep it up to date.  I created #SunsetReads vinyl stickers and passed them around. I created a Twitter and Instagram account and started sharing library events or recommended reading on social media. All of these ideas were good to get the name out there and start building the #SunsetReads brand among the Sunset Community.

Helpful hint: Make sure the hashtag you choose isn’t being used by someone else.  I didn’t realize when I first started that a romance novelist was tweeting using the #SunsetReads hashtag — but maybe because some high school in Oregon used it all the time — the author has decided to move on.

When the English department received classroom libraries with current YA novels, I was thrilled. I began booktalking lots of YA titles and used this opportunity to pass out #SunsetReads bookmarks. Rebecca Larson, a fellow English teacher began posting on social media and included #SunsetReads whenever she discussed a book.

We convinced the administration to begin a free choice reading program throughout the school — not just during English classes. One thing we emphasized was that our students need to build reading stamina and one way to do that is to encourage more choice reading. It also aligns with one of our school goals to help students become career and college ready.

We received donated books from students, Multnomah Country Library Titlewave Used Bookstore, and from Washington County Cedar Mill Library thanks to parent and WCCLS librarian, Mark Richardson. I created #SunsetReads book bins and placed them in every classroom in the school with the donated books. I labeled every donated book with a #SunsetReads sticker. The book bins run like a Little Free Library — students could borrow a book and then return it to any classroom library. Students now could choose a book from the bin, from their classroom library, or from the school library. We even placed a #SunsetReads bin in the hallway.  Books are everywhere!

We got the staff onboard to include 10 minutes of choice reading twice a week during homeroom. #SunsetReads was really starting to take off. I asked our Parent Club to make a donation to the school library so we could purchase additional YA titles to support our #SunsetReads program. (Note: this year we switched to 30 minutes of choice reading every other week – wish it was more often, but that is what works with our schedule. They still read in English class)

We continue to use #SunsetReads for promoting library events. We hosted a special edition of GLOW-IN-THE-DARK #SunsetReads where students could come to the library for their choice reading time and we turned off all the lights and passed out glow sticks and lollipops! When authors, Fonda Lee and Carmen Bernier-Grand visited, we had them take photos with our SunsetReads sign. The SHS book club is now posting book reviews to our #SunsetReads website and has adopted the hashtag themselves. I am constantly looking for ways to create a reading culture at our school and having a brand helps to promote it.

My next goal is to include the parent and neighboring community with the #SunsetReads brand.  Why not have local businesses sponsor #SunsetReads programs or have parents share what they are reading on social media and use our hashtag? It takes time and persistent action to build a loyal brand. Look for some #SunsetReads graphics and branding coming soon from our very own Graphic Design students!!!

Today when I was leaving school, a teacher asked me, “How was the SunsetReads event in the library?” I smiled because I had just been working on this post. I guess the branding is paying off.

Turtles All The Way Down

I recently had a chance to see YA author, John Green, at an event for his new book Turtles All The Way Down. Hearing John Green speaking about his own anxiety disorder and how it impacts his life was heart-wrenching. Green shared that somehow we as a society have immortalized creative people as having to be a bit crazy in order to be imaginative and create. He said, when his disease is in full bloom, he can’t work and he can’t think straight. He urged anyone suffering from mental illness to get help.

The story of Turtles All The Way Down gives us some insight into the mind of someone with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Aza Holmes is a 16-year-old girl who wrestles with anxiety and obsessive thought spirals. Aza struggles to with dating, fretting about college, calming her overbearing mother, and appeasing her demanding best friend. She is frequently overcome by extreme dread and certain that she’s contracted a fatal intestinal bacteria. She picks at a sore on her hand & constantly checks and rechecks it for infection.  Aza begins spiraling and starts drinking hand sanitizer. She thinks to herself: If she can’t direct her own thoughts, who is really in control?

The story is well written with smart dialogue between the characters. You ache for Aza as you witness her disease progress. I think many teens will relate to Aza and the turmoil of her inner thoughts.

Seeing Green as funny and crazy on his Crash Course videos and then seeing him share something so personal to a crowd of strangers makes me realize — we have no idea the hurt some people carry from day to day.

Treat each person with kindness — maybe your friendly smile is the best thing that happened to them that day.

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Ship Breaker By Paolo Bacigalupi
ISBN: 9780316056212
Published by: Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2010
Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Literature Circle Unit description with goals

The Literature Circle unit is geared towards eighth grade students who are reading Ship Breaker (2010) by Paolo Bacigalupi.  This dystopian novel takes place in the future when global warming and climatic disasters have altered the physical landscape on earth.  Communities have forever been altered.  This is a story of a young boy who dreams of a better life and whose adventures with a young girl might change his life forever.

The goal of the three literature circle meetings is to set the stage for reading the novel, analyze the characters and their motives, predict outcomes of the ending, and analyze themes and literary devices.

Oregon State standards

Reading

  • Decoding and Word Recognition:
    • EL.08.RE.01 Read or demonstrate progress toward reading at an independent and instructional reading level appropriate to grade level.
  • Listen to and Read Informational and Narrative Text
    • EL.08.RE.02 Listen to, read, and understand a wide variety of informational and narrative text, including classic and contemporary literature, poetry, magazines, newspapers, reference materials, and online information.
    • EL.08.RE.03 Make connections to text, within text, and among texts across the subject areas.
    • EL.08.RE.05 Match reading to purpose–location of information, full comprehension, and personal enjoyment.
    • EL.08.RE.06 Understand and draw upon a variety of comprehension strategies as needed–rereading, self-correcting, summarizing, class and group discussions, generating and responding

Literature

  • Listen to and Read Literary Text:
    • EL.08.LI.02 Demonstrate listening comprehension of more complex literary text through class and/or small group interpretive discussions
  • Literary Text:  Demonstrate General Understanding
    • EL.08.LI.03  Identify and/or summarize sequence of events, main ideas, and supporting details in literary selections
  • Literary Text:  Develop an Interpretation.
    • EL.08.LI.04  Predict probable future outcomes supported by the text, including foreshadowing clues.
    • EL.08.LI.05  Identify the actions and motives (e.g., loyalty, selfishness, conscientiousness) of characters in a work of fiction, including contrasting motives that advance the plot or promote the theme, an discuss their importance to the plot or theme.
    • EL.08.LI.06  Identify and analyze the development of themes in literary works based on evidence in the text.
    • EL.08.LI.07  Infer the main idea when it is not explicitly stated, and support with evidence from the text.
    • EL.08.LI.08  Infer unstated reasons for actions based on evidence from the text.
  • Literary Text:  Examine Content and Structure
    • EL.08.LI.12  Analyze the importance of setting (place, time, customs) to the mood, tone, and meaning of the text.
    • El.08.LI.14 Evaluate the structural elements of the plot, such as subplots, parallel episodes, and climax, including the way in which conflicts are (or are not) addressed and resolved.
    • El.08.LI.15 Identify and analyze recurring themes (e.g., good versus evil) across traditional and contemporary works.

First Meeting

Book Genre:  Dystopian novels often shows a futuristic society that has degraded into a repressive and controlled state. Dystopian literature usually has underlying cautionary tones, warning society that if we continue to live how we do, this will be the consequence.  This is true in the novel, Ship Breaker.  The story takes place in a post-oil future when climate change has altered the earth and major cities are underwater.  Large conglomerate companies are fighting for control of recycled resources.  Massive iron ships are left to rust away on the shores while poor, uneducated communities break them apart and sell the materials to the companies.  Global warming has caused continuous hurricanes that further rip apart and destroy the cites.  Communities have abandoned what used to be major cities and relocated further inland.

Ship Breaker is about a poor boy, Nailer Lopez, who makes his living crawling through abandoned ducts of rusty old ships pulling copper wire for his crew.  He dreams of what life would be like on the fast, updated clipper ships he sees far off in the horizon.  Luck comes his way when he and a friend find a broken clipper ship after a Category 6 hurricane.  While looking through the wreckage, they discover a young girl, barely alive.  The two friends rescue the girl who promises that her wealthy shipping magnate family will reward them richly.  Unfortunately, Nailer’s drunken father discovers the wreckage first, captures the girl, and plans to salvage the material to make some quick money. Nailer and company escape to the port of Orleans in search of allies of the girl’s father.  Along the way they learn how to survive on their own, who to trust and the true meaning of family.

Anticipatory  questions

  1. Describe dystopian novels.  What makes them so interesting to read?  What are some other titles you might have read?  Ideas:  The Giver, The Hunger Games trilogy, Chaos Walking Series, Feed
  2. This book takes place in the future when the oceans have risen and major seaport cities are now underwater.  Why do you think the author, Paolo Bacigalupi has chosen this topic?
  3. Do you AGREE or DISAGREE with the following statements:
    1. The blood ties among families usually are strong enough to overcome betrayals.
    2. Loyalty is the most important part of a relationship between family or friends.
    3. Our successes in life often have as much to do with luck as with our choices or abilities.
    4. When in danger, it is best to play it safe rather than take a risk.
    5. In a life-or-death situation, almost any action is forgivable.
  4. Explain your rationale for one of the statements above.
  5. Watch the promotional video for this book at http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/teens_books_9780316056212.htm Were you surprised that even today there are ship breaking operations in poorer areas like Bangladesh?

Read Chapters 1- 13 (pages 1-164).  Assign roles for next literature circle:

  • Artful artist uses some form of artwork to represent a significant scene or ideas from the reading
  • Literary luminary points out interesting or important passages within the reading
  • Discussion director write questions that will lead to discussion by the group
  • Capable connector finds connections between the reading materials and something outside the text, such as a personal experience, a topic studied in another class, or a different work of literature.
  • Word wizard discusses words in the text that are unusual, interesting or difficult to understand.

Second Meeting

This is the point in the novel when Nailer’s drunken father finds the wreckage and holds his friend, Prim, hostage.  Nailer is sick with a fever and things are looking very bad for all of them.  Nailer convinces his father that the girl, Nita, is more valuable alive than dead.  Nailer falls sick but is nursed back to health by Prim.   Nailer and his friends are trying to make plans to escape but first they must deal with his father’s hoodlum friends and a strange half-man half-dog creature named Tool.

Discussion questions

  1. Each member should share something from their assigned role of the literature circle.
  2. Locate and discuss the following quotes from the book:
    1. “No one was worth keeping if they didn’t make a profit”  p18
    2. “We’re crew”, he reminded her, “We swore blood oath” p28
    3. “Being close to death made everything in his life shine”  p42
    4. “This swank girl wasn’t crew.  He didn’t owe her anything.  But now, after his time in the oil room, all he could think of was how much he’d wanted Sloth to believe his life was just as important as hers.”  p99
    5. “Pima grinned.  Damn, the swanks and the rust rats are all the same at the end of the day.  Everyone’s looking to get a little blood on their hands”  pg 163
  3. How is the relationship between Nailer and Sloth different than Nailer and Prim or Nita?
  4. What’s more important:  being lucky or being smart?
  5. Discuss the concept of:  The Fates, Scavenge Gods, Lucky Strike, Rust Saint
  6. The author compares the rage of Nailer’s drunken father to a “storm brewing. full of undertows and crashing surf and water spouts – the deadly weather that buffeted Nailer every day as he tried to navigate the coastlines of his father’s moods”.  Why does the author write this way?  Look for other similar examples.
  7. Predict what is going to happen with Nailer and Nita.

Read Chapters 14- 25 (pages 165-326).  Assign roles for final literature circle:

  • Artful artist uses some form of artwork to represent a significant scene or ideas from the reading
  • Literary luminary points out interesting or important passages within the reading
  • Discussion director write questions that will lead to discussion by the group
  • Capable connector finds connections between the reading materials and something outside the text, such as a personal experience, a topic studied in another class, or a different work of literature.
  • Word wizard discusses words in the text that are unusual, interesting or difficult to understand.

Author profile pathfinder

  1. This is author Paulo Bacigalupi’s first Young Adult novel.  Previously he has written Science Fiction for adults.  Often he has underlying themes about sustainability in his novels.  Visit the publisher’s  website at http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/teens_authors_Paolo-Bacigalupi-%281529243%29.htm .  Find out which awards Ship Breaker was nominated for and won.
  2. Read interview with Paola Bacigalupi from Denver Westword News:   Sci-fi phenom Paolo Bacigalupi has seen the future http://www.westword.com/2010-05-06/news/paolo-baciagalupi-is-the-hottest-writer-in-sci-fi-so-what-s-he-doing-in-paonia/
  3. If you like Dystopian novels, you might consider these other resources:
    1. 50+ Fantastic Young Adult Dystopian Novels – http://www.bartsbookshelf.co.uk/2009/09/30/update-best-dystopian-ya-novels-redux/
    2. YAs Dystopia – http://community.livejournal.com/yalitlovers/172111.html
    3. New Dystopian YA Novels to Pair with Old Favorites – http://www.katemessner.com/brave-new-books-new-dystopian-ya-novels-to-pair-with-old-favorites/

Final Meeting

Discussion questions

  1. Each member should share something from their assigned role of the literature circle
  2. Recap the events of the 2nd half of the book with the discussion prompt “…and then”.  The first student tells an important event.  The next person says “…and then” and continues with another important event.  Keep going around the circle until the end of the story.
  3. Locate and discuss the following quotes from the book and relate them to themes of loyalty, family, courage, betrayal, risk-taking, fortune, friendship, pain or redemption:
    1. “Sada shook her head.  Killing isn’t free. It takes something out of you every time you do it.  You get their life; they get a piece of you soul.  It’s always a trade.”  p174
    2. “They used to drill out there, too, in the Gulf.  Cut up the islands.  It’s why the city killers are so bad.  There used to be barrier island, but they cut them up for their gas drilling” p199
    3. “Spending money on the poor is like throwing money into a fire.  They’ll just consume it and never thank you”, Tool said.  p209
    4. “You are no more Richard Lopez than I am an obedient hound.  Blood is not destiny, no matter what other may believe”.  p248
    5. “Nailer made a face.  Lucky Girl’s more of a family than he is”  p251
    6. “Pima’s mom works a thousand times harder than you and she’s never going to have a life as nice as what you go on this boat.  He shrugged.  If that ain’t being born with the lucky eye, I don’t know what is.”  p253
    7. “Richard never felt a thing when he hurt people.  Just didn’t give a damn.  It’s good that you feel something.  Trust me.  Even if it hurts, it’s good.”  p318
  4. Review the AGREE or DISAGREE statements from before the students read the novel.  Does anyone want to change their opinion?  Why or why not?
    1. The blood ties among families usually are strong enough to overcome betrayals.
    2. Loyalty is the most important part of a relationship between family or friends.
    3. Our successes in life often have as much to do with luck as with our choices or abilities.
    4. When in danger, it is best to play it safe rather than take a risk.
    5. In a life-or-death situation, almost any action is forgivable.
  5. In an interview, Bacigalupi states, “We’re good at solving the short-term problem and ignoring the long-term consequence.”  How is this statement reflected in Ship Breaker.  Bacigalupi says he may have a dismal view of humanity, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a fan of man’s cooler inventions, including bicycles and computers. “It’s not technology’s fault that it’s devastating, An individual car is never a problem; it’s when we have 350 million of them.”  Do you agree?
  6. Some science topics were hinted in this book:  wind energy, genetic engineering, climate change, kudzu vines, extreme weather.  Consider exploring them further.
  7. Do you think there will be a sequel?  How do you think Tool, Prima, Sadu or Nita’s father will be involved?

 

Using QR codes in the classroom

Tom Barrett has another “Interesting Ways” collaborative presentation in the works.  This one is about using QR codes in the classroom.  Mine is tip is #5:  Using QR codes to promote school events.  View the presentation at:  https://docs.google.com/present/view?id=dhn2vcv5_765hsdw5xcr or help out and add your own idea.
qrcode

1.  Create QR code (http://qrcode.kaywa.com) that will go to a URL promoting a school event.

2.  Create a simple web page (ie, Google Sites) to promote that event.  I made one for my high school book club to promote good book recommendations for Teen Read Week.

3.  Print small notes with the title: What’s happening in school this week??? Scan this code with your mobile device to find out! and tape them in the bathroom stalls, mirrors, or areas where mobile devices are allowed at your school.

4.  Trust me, your tech savvy kids will know what to do — and it will peek the interest of other students too!

Submitted by Colette Cassinelli

Nominate your TOP TEN Young Adult books by 10-10-10

Join a collaborative project.  Go to: http://10-10-10.wikispaces.com/

Get Involved:

This wiki is open to anyone who loves YA books. You don’t have to be a teacher-librarian to share your love of reading!

Choose a theme:

You can recommend your TOP TEN YA books of all time, TOP TEN YA fantasy books or even your TOP TEN YA paranormal romance books (you know who you are!) or any genre you want — and you get to decide how to organize your list!

Create your own page:

Add a new page (click link on upper left hand side) to the wiki with your name and then list your YA books in any order. Write a short summary of the book and give a short explanation of why it is included in your TOP TEN. If you use summaries from Amazon or TeenReads – please be considerate and cite your sources. Feel free to share your blog URL or Twitter name on your page. Please keep the listing of pages in alphabetical order.

Get your students involved!

Do you teach Middle or High school students? Do you have a book club? Have your class vote and nominate their TOP TEN list.

Celebrate!

Take time during the week of October 10-16 to look over the recommended lists and do something special to celebrate reading. This is perfect way to get teens excited for ALA Teen Read Week the following week: October 17-23.