Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Haunted House Museum is a Ghostly GO!


Nothing was scarier than the teacher's strike in October of 2019...except remote learning in October of 2020!  We have missed the spooky season in library twice!  But not in 2021...this year, it's going to be all treat and no trick! 

Yes, yes, yes, we WILL be having a Haunted House Museum in the library again this year!  But we need your participation to make it happen!

How-to:  Take a cardboard box and cut holes in it for windows. Paint or otherwise cover the box with a seasonal color like orange, black, green or purple. Decorate the outside of your house with ghosts, trick-or-treaters, rotting trees…you don’t have to make it a house. It can be a haunted apartment building, or a haunted theater, or a haunted sports event, or a haunted library, or a haunted beauty salon, or a haunted store, or…whatever idea you have! Use your imagination! 

If you don’t celebrate Halloween, that’s fine! You can still participate.  We welcome fall houses and autumn scenes as well.


  • No blood or gore, dismembered parts or headless dolls, sorry! We are celebrating imagination and folklore, not horror.
  • Please do not attach any real food to your creation. Cockroaches are even scarier than ghosts.
  • Please do not include or attach anything valuable to your creation. 
  • Yes, you can work with a friend or friends or family...just please stay within your pods and stay COVID-safe!
  • You can light it inside with a flashlight or battery-operated lights! 
  • Please ask for a grown-up’s help for cutting out windows or when using new or messy craft materials. 
  • This is not an assignment for a grade. This is for FUN and open to all grade levels! 
  • Note: Middle schoolers (6 -8) get up to five extra credit points as needed/earned, so this is your chance to raise your library grade!  Make it a great one!
  • Remember to put the name and room number of all creators clearly on your creation.

Houses will be accepted in the library before or right after morning announcements starting on Monday, October 25, though Friday, October 29 and students should pick up houses at the end of the day on that Friday before Halloween for a treat. Sorry, the library cannot be responsible for houses left in November.  

Can't wait to see the children's monsterpieces masterpieces!

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Welcome Back, Bookworms!

Happy return to school, Stone Families!

Welcome back to the school library whose magic can only be rivaled by Hogwarts!  Though COVID-19 and remote teaching and learning was challenging, we can't mask our love of books!  I am so, so deeply proud of the learning and reading that was accomplished during that time, much of it the kind of growth that is a testament to the strength of character of out students.

In our return this fall, we can look forward to another year of marvelous stories, puppet fun, crafts galore, author and illustrator connections, as well as explorations into award-winning literature, genre, research skills, citation skills and media literacy.  We can also look forward to lots of new books, thanks to multiple grants from the Department of Libraries, including plenty of graphic novels that our kids have been clamoring for!  Special thanks to Ms. Egger and Ms. Cancel for their assistance in setting up the room after our long hiatus!

Parents!  Special Supply Request!  To facilitate library crafts (and work in other Essential classes), besides what is on the request list provided by your child's classroom teacher, to ensure limited sharing and virus-free full participation, please make a traveling case or zip lock bag marked with you child's name and room number, containing the following supplies:



Child scissors

3 glue sticks

Also appreciated are baby wipes (just perfect for cleaning up smudgy and sticky craft hands!) and Clorox wipes (can't have enough for library, a room used by friends throughout the school).  We will have new protocols to keep everyone safe, including book quarantines, and they will be detailed in library class.  Please remember, all children are expected to be masked above the nostrils and below the mouth at all times in the interest of everyone's safety.  For your information, I am fully vaccinated.  

Book check-out starts midway through second grade and continues through eighth grade.  Additionally, all Stone students are expected to have a Chicago Public Library card and give it a work-out!  Be sure to say hello to Ms. Amy at our local Northtown Branch and tell her you are Stone family for the royal treatment!  

Please feel free to contact me with any questions, concerns, or just to say hello.  More to come, please check back soon!  In the meantime, please check out this excellent comic strip created by a student in our library program last year. 

Happy reading, everyone!

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Sunny Days Ahead! Summer Reading 2021

Dear Stone Families,

How wonderful and amazing that the COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted and hopefully we can look forward to a full return in the fall!  Meanwhile, we have many sunny days to enjoy the luxuries of free choice summer reading!  The dynamic digital libraries that we have been enjoying all year will continue to be available through June, July and August:   

Please click on the shining sun icon on either digital library home page for summer reading recommendations and for details about the Chicago Public Library Summer Learning Challenge.  This summer's theme is "Start with Art," so our creative Stone Bookworms should do very well! If you are in the neighborhood, please be sure to say hi to Ms. Amy, our local Northtown Branch children's librarian, she will be very happy to see you. Remember, Chicago Public Library programs are completely free and accessible through any Chicago Public Library!  

Incoming 5th through 7th graders are also invited to continue their reading logs and earn fun badges and library credit through the Beanstack Level-Up Challenge.  Please also check out the incredible ComicsPlus database linked from the digital library, where you will find tons of graphic novels for grades 4 and up at your fingertips, perfect for summer reading fun!  

Keep those pages turning, Stone Bookworms!  I am truly so, so proud of you and all you have achieved over this difficult year.  You are the hero of this story!  Can't wait to see you in the fall, and until then....stay safe and happy reading!

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Google Shmoogle Time!

Hello, wonderful families,

As we are moving toward a full remote learning experience, information, celebration and coursework will appear in Google Classroom under "library" instead of this blog until such time as we return to in-person learning.  Please visit your child's individual Google Classroom and search "library" for grade level updates, and feel free to continue to use the tabs at the top of this page for general information.  There will also be links to ensure that every Stone Bookworm has access to digital library materials while we are being safe in our homes.  

Please stay protected as best as you can and continue to protect yourself and others.  Looking forward to our return when the time is right.  Meanwhile, happy reading!

Artwork by Adrienne Adams 

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

BEE a good reader!

What's the latest buzz in library primary classes? 

Kindergarten students are having a honey of a time learning the difference between fiction and nonfiction thanks to a bevy of bee books, including Eric Carle's The Honeybee and the Robber!  Some of our friends made buzzy bee puppets and illustrations to asynchronously continue their stories outside the remote classroom hive.  

Monday, September 14, 2020

Need a Chicago Public Library Card?

  • Students who have never had a library card...
  • Students who already have a library card but need to update their information...
  • Students who need to replace their library card due to a lost card...
Click here to get your *FREE* Chicago Public Library card!  

All Stone students should have a Chicago Public Library card in their own name by the end of the second week of school.  You can use it to check out e-books and so much more!

Hooray!  Happy reading is just around the corner!

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Welcome Back 2020!

Happy new school year to you, happy new school year to youuuuuu!  
Covid shmovid, we are still going to have a wonderful year in cyber-library!

I am Ms. Esme, your lucky school librarian.  

Thank you for visiting the school library website. 
This is where whole school information regarding the library will be posted.
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions!

When will I see you?
Grades K- 4: I will be visiting classes weekly.  I will come to you.
Grades 5 - 8: I will be facilitating elective excitement and teaching basic library skills.
You will have Meet links through your Google classroom home room.

How do we check out books?
There will not be print resource checkout during this first quarter of school.
Instead, I will be teaching everyone how to access a wealth of electronic books from our digital libraries.
I'll help you with all the logins. You'll be a "pro" in no time!
It would be helpful if you previewed the 5-minute video about how to check out CPS e-books here.

What are the expectations in library for remote learning?

1. Students are expected to attend, participate and turn in assigned work for all of their Essentials classes regularly (art, library, music, technology, PE) as they would any other core class.  Students will turn in work via Seesaw (K-3) and Google Classroom (4-8).

2. All Stone students are expected to have a Chicago Public Library card. 
If you have never had one before, please click here.
If you have one but have misplaced it or any other issues, please contact your local public library.
Chicago Public Libraries are open and have curbside pick-up available for print resources.
A reminder to please wear a mask and maintain social distance when entering library spaces.

3.  All Stone students are expected to read trade literature (the kind of books in libraries and bookstores) of the student's choice for a minimum of 20 minutes a day
E-books, library books, home collection books, books on tape and read-aloud all "count" toward daily reading for library credit.
We may have some time during library classes to read and share what we are reading.  Be prepared!

How will we keep track of our reading? This past spring, we used a super fun app called Beanbright to log titles and time we spent reading, and we earned cool reading cyber-badges. We will be doing that again starting in October (we are waiting for some CPS permissions).  For now, just read, read, read. It's the best thing you can do!

Most importantly: don't worry.
Library is a stress-free zone.
We always have some fun.
Sure, there's a lot of new technology.  I will walk you through everything.  
And if you don't get it, no problem, I'll walk you through it again until you do.
We are all human and human things come up.
We are all working on computers and computer things come up.
We are learning together and patience is our best friend.
We will get through this chapter.  It's library.  We always do.

Artwork by Priscilla Burris.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Summer Reading 2020!

Here we go, Stone Bookworms!  Summer days ahead, with so many lovely, lazy days to read!  Please scroll down for some of the best newer chapter books, with both new and classic follow-ups by genre.

Links for information and reviews.  Please support our local independent bookseller, visit our Chicago Public Library or use the CPS Virtual Library or other e-book links.  More book lists and links to incentive programs on the bottom of this page.

These picks were for our remote learning time.  When we come together again in the fall, we plan to have book clubs around these readings.  Have you read them?  Check them out and be ready to join the fun to come!

City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau.  If Lena and Doom can't decode an ancient message, the great lights of the city of Ember will dim and the last vestiges of the human race will be plunged into darkness...permanently.  Though we may have had enough real-life dystopia, the world of Ember and its limited resources is created in living detail and ripe for discussion. Besides, this book is so exciting.  I mean, SO EXCITING. First in a series.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin.  Minli goes on a journey to find the Old Man on the Moon and change her family's fortune.  Inspired by Chinese folklore and, like L. Frank Baum's Wizard of Oz, filled to the brim with magical characters.  This gracefully written adventure has a grateful heart. This book will enchant you and carry you away!  First in a series.


A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramée.  Shayla likes to follow the rules.  But after she becomes active in the Black Lives Matter movement, she realizes some rules may be made to be broken.  Will Shayla have the strength to follow her convictions, even if it means getting in trouble?

I Can Make This Promise by Christine Day.  An adopted Native American girl finds a box full of secrets about her heritage.  Fans of Sharon Creech's Walk Two Moons will appreciate this story line.

You'll also find strong characters and literary friends to make here:
Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga
Front Desk by Kelly Yang
Hope in the Holler by Lisa Lewis Tyre
Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai
Breakout by Kate Messner
Out of Left Field by Ellen Klages
One for the Murphys by Lynda Mulally Hunt
Love Like Sky by Leslie C. Youngblood
The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden
The First Rule of Punk by Celia Pérez
Restart by Gordon Korman


A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff.  In a magical world where everyone has a talent, Cady's baking skills set her on an adventurous path and may lead to the solution to a mysterious puzzle.  If you enjoyed Ingrid Law's Savvy, this will thrill you even more!

Pages & Co.: The Bookwanderers by Anna James.  A granddaughter of bookshop owners discovers she has the gift of bookwandering...she can walk into the world of any book she chooses.  Is this adventurous, or dangerous?  Fans of Chris Colfer's Land of Stories series will find a perfect "next read" here!

The Mystwick School of Musicraft by Jessica Khoury.  The kids at Mystwick learn to use music to make magic.  But when Amelia messes up during her audition, she'll do anything to prove she's still worthy...even if it means faking her identity.  But the real version of herself will have to step up to save the school from much bigger and more destructive problems.  Did you graduate from Hogwarts, reader?  Here is your new summer school.  

Keep stretching your imagination with these:
Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi
The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen
The Serpent's Secret by Sayantani DasGupta
The Collectors by Jacqueline West
The Adventurer's Guild by Zack Loran Clark
The Library of Ever by Zeno Alexander
Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee
Eager by Helen Fox


The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson.  Candice and her quiet neighbor Brandon have to solve a mystery from history, and hopefully unravel the racism of their town's sullied past.  Suspenseful!  If you enjoyed Harlem Charade by Natasha Tarpley, you'll love this, too!

From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks.  Zoe's father is in prison for a crime she is sure he didn't commit, and she's here to separate the truth from the lies.  A strong heroine stars in this mystery about seeking justice.  

You'll also find clues to the mystery of what to read next here:
The Ambrose Deception by Emily Ecton
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein
Case Closed?  Nine Mysteries Unlocked by Modern Science by Susan Hughes
The Name of This Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch
The Secret of Nightingale Wood by Lucy Strange
The Murderer's Ape by Jakob Wegelius


Lifeboat 12 by Susan Hood.  Ken is escaping the Nazis in a luxury ship...until it is torpedoed.  Can Ken and five other boys survive on the open ocean?  Told in verse and based on a true story.

24 Hours in Nowhere By Dusti Bowling. Gus is trying to pay back a debt by finding treasure in the Dead Frenchman Mine of Arizona.  Mountain lions?  Cave-ins?  Bullies?  The desert heat? If one won't get Gus and his friends, maybe the other will.  If you survived Holes by Louis Sachar, this is definitely your next challenge.

Here are a few more high-stakes stories to get your heart pumping:
The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman
Trouble Don't Last by Shelley Pearsall
La Linea by Ann Jaramillo


Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome. Langston is having a hard time transitioning from an African-American country kid to city kid in 1946, until he discovers the Chicago Public Library and a poet who just might make all the difference.

The Secret Lake by Karen Inglis.  A brother and sister in their new home in London discover a portal that allows them to travel back in time to solve a mystery a hundred years in the making.  A modern book with a classic feel!

More terrific time-travel here:
Sweep:  A Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier
The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani
All-of-a-Kind Family by Sidney Taylor
Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park


All In a Drop:  How Anthony van Leeuwenhoek Discovered an Invisible World by Lori Alexander, illustrated by Vivien Mildenberger.  Anthony van Leewenhoek believed in more than meets the eye, but how could an unschooled cloth salesman convince the world of science to take a closer look?  An inspiring and well-written true story!

Palace Beautiful by Sarah DeFord Williams.  An old diary discovered in an attic leads three modern girls to learn about the life of Helen, alive at the time of the 1918 flu epidemic.  The girls get caught up in Helen's life and have to wonder...did she survive? Or is the ghost of Helen watching them now? One of Ms. Esme's favorites, even before the recent pandemic!

More reading in the time of COVID-19:
The Great Trouble:  A Mystery of London, The Blue Death and a Boy Called Eel by Deborah Hopkinson
Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
Invisible Enemies:  Stories of Infectious Disease by Jeanette Farrell


A Wolf Called Wander by Rosanne Parry.  True story of a wolf's journey of a thousand perilous miles to find home after the attack of a rival pack.  Fans of Katherine Applegate's The One and Only Ivan will be riveted!

Saving Winslow by Sharon Creech.  Louie is supposed to raise a sickly miniature donkey, but this little buckaroo just might prove stronger than anyone suspects.  Move over, E.B. White's Charlotte's Web, there's a new animal rescue story on the shelf!

When you enjoy these, you will also want to check out:
Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly
The Secret Zoo by Bryan Chick
Wishtree by Katherine Applegate
Wish by Barbara O'Connor
FunJungle series by Stuart Gibbs
Redwall series by Brian Jacques


The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street by Lindsay Currie.  Inexplicable things start happening in the old house when Tessa moves from sunny Florida to chilly Chicago.  When her little brother's doll starts crying real tears, Tessa gets the message.  Someone...or trying to tell her a secret.  Here's your pick for the next dark and stormy night!

If you still want a shiver, you'll also enjoy:
Nightbooks by J.A. White
Small Spaces by Katherine Arden
Terrifying Tales:  Thirteen Scary Stories for Children by Shawn Cobb
Witches!  The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem by Rosalyn Schanzer
The Dream Stealer by Gregory Maguire
Anything and everything by Mary Downing Hahn


Stepping Stones by Lucy Knisley.  Take a summer reading trip to the country and meet Jen, who is having a rough time adjusting, and her mom's boyfriend's perfect daughters aren't helping much.  Raina Telgemeier fans, rejoice, here's the graphic novel and farm-fresh new author you've been waiting for!

Other must-reads just for summer fun:
Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol
Maybe a Mermaid by Josephine Cameron
The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon
The 13-Story Treehouse series by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton
Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards
Rooster Summer by Robert Heidbreder


Did you know there are a few key things you can do before you even open a book to help scaffold your child's reading success?

• Turn on the closed-captioning option on your television set!  Even when your family is in front of a screen, your child will have more exposure to print.  In Scandinavia, most of the televisions are set this way and they have some of the highest literacy rates in the world, even though they don't start formal reading instruction until children are seven.  Use this best practice in your own home!

•  Play books on tape!  Did you know children can listen at a higher level than they can read?  Children with learning differences and challenges and ELL students especially benefit from having books read orally. Even fluent readers benefit from the modeling of read-aloud.  Though regular read-aloud across the grade levels is always the #1 choice to bolster achievement, working or exhausted parents, grab a book and play the audio, allowing children to follow along with the text for increased exposure to print and a chance to focus on comprehension instead of decoding.  It's not cheating, it's succeeding! Besides the many, many FREE audio books for kids available through the CPS Virtual Library, check out and for additional audio resources for home use.  Also great for listening in the car!

• Sign up for the free summer reading program at the Chicago Public Library! This year's theme is "Building Stories," perfect for our Stone Bookworms!  We are so lucky to have the new and extra beautiful Northtown Branch in our neighborhood, with allowances of up to fifty books per card per visit!   Especially for kindergarten and first grade, it's important to let them check out picture books and limited vocabulary selections by the pile.  A special bag or box to keep library books separate from home collections or damage will help de-stress your young reader (and you) and ensure timely returns.  Please say hello to our public library partners Ms. Amy (children's) and Ms. Alex (young adult)!  They will guide you to these titles and further fabulous reading!  When you visit, please make sure to wear your face masks to protect our precious public librarians and other patrons.

• Sign up for Stone's Beanbright summer reading challenge! Click here to "Take on Twenty"!  Beanbright is a reading tracking tool that ties in nicely with the Chicago Public Library Summer Learning Challenge.  Do one, or both, or neither, as long as your child keeps reading through the summer months.  Different approaches support different readers and families.  (If you have never logged in to Beanbright before, carefully follow the steps outlined here.)

•  Let the children choose!  Instinctively, as parents, we try to get children to challenge themselves and "level up," but summer is especially the time for children to read for pleasure and to follow their interests and private motivations without so much attention to levels.  Let them select without judgement: comic books, cook books, seemingly endless series books, magazines, nonfiction that seems way too hard, picture books that seem way too easy...let your child explore, find their own way to identifying as a reader, not just as a test-taker for now. These book recommendations above are intended as springboards into discovery, not assignments. When children read for pleasure, they read for life!

Want more recommended reading lists?
Publisher's Weekly Summer Reads here!
School Library Journal Summer Reads here!
Brightly Summer Reads here!
American Library Association Summer Reads here!
Corporate summer reading incentives and rewards here!
More Stone Bookworm book recommendations by grade level here!
More books that celebrate diversity and anti-racism here!
More hints for preventing the summer reading slide here!
Ms. Esme's favorite picture books and more here!

Looking forward to your own recommendations in the comments section!
Happy summer and happy reading!

Monday, June 15, 2020

Another Year in the Books!

Do the happy dance, another year of library fun is in the books!  It's hard to believe a whole year has gone by since this video was taken, it almost seems like another planet.  Just like the novels we read, life is filled with plot twists, but you are the hero of the story and will always come out on top.  Remote learning is not for the faint of heart, and you did it!  Applause, applause to you!

Special loud clapping and big hugs to our graduating class of 2020.  Your shining and unique personalities will not soon be forgotten.  I have no doubt this crop of 8th graders will go on and grow on to do marvelous things in the world.

A special standing ovation going out to our graduating team of Junior Librarians (not all pictured but all loved), the wonderful young women who gave up innumerable recesses over the years in order to help me keep our library running:  shelving books, welcoming guest authors, making artful bulletin boards and signage,  prepping crafts for primary grades, wiping tables, hosting wonderful contests, recommending and checking out books to other students and so much more.  All of us have a debt of gratitude to these volunteers who embody the best of character and service and Stone Academy.  You will be sincerely and sorely missed by me and by photo-bombing Grabby Bunny.

More congratulations are in order to our Beanbright participants!  We had 129 active readers, 81,726 minutes read and 1,274 badges earned since April!  That's incredible! One student logged 113 hours.  Wow, when we reconvene in the fall, we will have to have a special Beanbright celebration to honor these super readers.

Those who love earning Beanbright badges and want to continue through the summer, we have a new challenge, this one a little different from the rest: TAKE ON TWENTY!  Instead of counting minutes, this time, we will read books across different genres  The summer's recommended reading lists will help you find titles.  Adventures and new friends await you in books!

(If you have never logged on to Beanbright before, you can carefully follow the steps here to start your account.)

Additionally, the Chicago Public Library is open and the summer reading program is happening, complete with prizes and giveaways.  This year's theme: building stories!  Click here for more information!

School may be almost done, but summer reading fun has just begun!

Friday, June 12, 2020

Into the Woods with Ms. Esme!

Hello, wonderful friends!  I wonder what you are planning to do this summer besides reading, reading, reading?  For the past several summers your librarian been going "off the grid," that means I go where there is not so much technology or running water or cell phone towers and I live in a little hut in the woods of Vermont.  I learn a lot about fairy tales there!

I love to explore deep in the woods, which is different than a forest preserve because things there are truly wild.  Here's a short video that will give you a little feeling about it. It smells like after it rains and all the trees whisper secrets to each other.  There is a cascade near the hut that sings a lullaby all night long, and you can see more stars than you could ever count.  Rainbows are a regular thing.   I love the moss and the mushrooms and the twisted roots and secret spaces and all the green movement.  It almost feels like being underwater while you're walking on the land!

Yes, there are animals, mostly snakes (that are not poisonous) and voles and frogs, one of which was very big and bumping into the window in the middle of the night and almost scared me out of my skin! They say there are bears and moose and fisher cats (which is not a fish or a cat, it's an animal I never knew about before staying in such a rural place).  I have never run into any of these bigger animals and I don't want to, though I wouldn't mind seeing a fox.  I always find the animals very startling, but it really is their world, I'm just a guest in it.  Here is a video of my late-night bullfrog visitor!

It was not a too-far walk from the hut down the hill to the little public library in the town.  The librarians were very kind and patient, of course.   One of the best things in the world is packing a picnic, taking a walk on a country road and finding a good spot to read among the trees!

Whether it's the woods or the seashore or somewhere else, I really hope someday you can go and visit a place where nature belongs fully to itself. Time spent in nature does unusual and refreshing things in our brains, and nature has so much to teach us without saying a word.  I know many of us will be having "staycations" this year.  Until you can have your own woodland adventure, check out In The Woods by David Elliott, illustrated by Rob Dunlavey and A Whiff of Pine, A Hint of Skunk by Deborah Rudell, illustrated by Joan Rankin for a little bit of that country feeling with some animal friends for company.  You can always visit the library for more adventures in places different from our own!