Tuesday, December 3, 2019

6th grade Shadow Puppet Project!

The 6th grade will be working on their shadow puppetry group projects through December and the first week of January! This is a biggie!  Rubrics and task timelines were sent home, additional copies are always available in the library.  Three periods of class time will be given to work on the projects which will be more than sufficient if students are prepared, on-task and work together!  Here is a brief general tutorial of some basic techniques, though much more detailed modeling was done in class. Can't wait to see the wonderful productions in the New Year, some of which may be featured at our Family Reading Night in February!

Friday, November 15, 2019

Library Card Drive!

Oh, happy day!!!  All Stone students are expected to be proud card-carrying patronsof the Chicago Public Library, where children may check out up to 30 resources at a time and there are no overdue fees.  Forty-nine Stone Bookworms got their first Chicago Public Library card this fall thanks to our partnership with Ms. Amy at the lovely Northtown Branch and the library card drive started on Curriculum Night this fall!  How exciting.  
Happy reading to our newest proud cardholders!  

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Happy Halloween, to those who celebrate!  What a treat, we will be back in library tomorrow!  I have missed you so VERY much and can't wait to see you and hear all about your adventures in and out of books.

And if you happened to have made a "Storybook Pumpkin" over the strike, you can still bring it in tomorrow, we will all enjoy it.  It's never ever too late for spooky stories and autumn fun! 

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Strike! Reading Recommendations

Hello, friends!  
Unfortunately, we are on strike!  
Fortunately, you lucky kids have more time to read! 

What should you read next?
If you did not have the opportunity to delight in the summer reading suggestions
click here for plenty of fabulous new page-turners arranged by genre, 
or here for classics by grade level!  
I have my own children's book blog with about a zillion recommendations at PlanetEsme, which usually features picture books and nonfiction!
And all that work we have done on databases, grades 4, 5 and 6,
you know to find reviews at KidsReads
and know how to access plenty of ebooks and audiobooks on SOAR's Virtual Library!  
Turn on the closed captioning feature of your television for even more exposure to print!  

Specially chosen for this occasion, here is a menu of a few new and classic chapter books and graphic novel favorites, delicious and highly recommended for down-time this week:

A super suspenseful and provocative sci-fi classic with a surprise ending.
We have the sequels in the school library when you get back!

A novel in verse, great for fans of Kwame Alexander and Sharon Creech! 

And speaking of the very popular Kwame Alexander, The Crossover is now available in graphic novel form!  (Don't worry, parents, graphic novels are "real reading"!) 

A lot of students were asking for seasonal graphic novel fun last week...
this should grant your wicked wish!

A doughnut machine gone terribly wrong.  That should be enough to entice any reader, but it's just one of many charming tales in this old-fashioned favorite.  Fun for city kids to read about small-town life!

A girl living in a lighthouse against the backdrop of WWII.  Historical fiction at its finest by a gifted author.  And didn't we love The Secret of Nightingale Wood!  This author has the chops.

A meaty and delicious graphic novel, loosely based on the exile of Queen Elizabeth I and full of allusions to British history.  

Excellent realistic fiction with a cast of likable and engaging characters.  A great group of friends to read about while waiting to be reunited with your real ones at school.  

More realistic fiction...a great book about taking a stand,
and plenty for us to talk about when you get back to school!

Kid who love R.J. Palacio's Wonder will love this story of a girl with cerebral palsy
who moves to a new town.

Exciting fantasy beautifully written, based on Chinese folklore. 
Any of the Newbery winners or honor books are great choices during the strike! 
How many can you read?
(We also have some pretty great Illinois Children's Choice award-winners out there to check out!)

And finally, this is not a library book but a great activity book with lots of accompanying YouTube videos, hours of invention and entertainment!

Is that ten?  Close.  The more the merrier.
I can't wait until we are back and can discuss all the wonderful books we read over the strike! 
These are just suggestions...this is a perfect time for you to visit the public library
and explore the books you like and exercise your free choice across all levels and genres!  
Use the library locator to find a public library near you!
And please don't forget to give your public children's librarian an extra big thank you, hug or chocolate chip cookie, because they are working extra hard during this strike time to serve you!

You know, I call myself your lucky librarian not only because I get to teach the best bookworms in all of Chicago, but because not every school has a library to worm around in!  Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to show support for school libraries all over the city, because all children deserve and benefit from a school library!

Happy reading, families!

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Storybook Pumpkin Museum and Autumn Arcade

This year, we are having a Storybook Pumpkin Museum and Autumn Arcade in the library!  Here is the recipe for participation!

Storybook Pumpkin Museum for grades k-5
To participate, you will need:
A pumpkin (any size or shape)
Book for inspiration
Acrylic paint and brushes
Newspaper (for catching the mess while painting)
Glue gun (optional, but it works well)
Craft supplies (paper, pom-poms, yarn?)

  • All pumpkins are to be inspired by a children's book or children's book character.  Please bring in the book that inspired the pumpkin decoration if possible, to be displayed beside it and returned after the showcase.  Pumpkins without a reading theme will be sent home for decoration there. 
  • Please bring in your completed pumpkin on Monday, October 28.  Please do not bring your pumpkin earlier than that date.
  • Please DO NOT CARVE THE PUMPKIN.  Sticking things in the pumpkin is okay, but full-on-scoop-it-out designs cannot be accepted.  Carved pumpkins rot quickly, attract pests and have a strong smell.  We would have nasty pumpkin soup all over the library in three days.
  • Yes, you can work with friends and family are are encouraged to do so.  Children of different ages and grade levels can work together.  Parents, please try not to do the project without your kids.  ;-)
  • Like the Haunted House Museum in the past, please, no blood or gore.  We are celebrating imagination, not horror.  
  • Make sure to put your name(s) and room number(s) on the bottom of pumpkin; we have masking tape in the library if you need it.  
  • Books and pumpkins will be returned to you in time for Halloween.  Pick up end of the day October 31st.  
  • The activity is optional.  Fun is always an option.  
  • All kids who participate will get a treat when they pick them up on the 31st.  
  • Scroll down to photos below for inspiration!  Credits are hyperlinked (click on them!) for further examples.  These are just ideas, feel free to decorate using your own favorite!  
Middle School Autumn Arcade
  • Ms. Esme and Ms. Johnson's 8th grade advisory group will be hosting an "autumn arcade" In collaboration with the library and inspired by "Caine's Arcade," the building of Autumn-theme Arcade Games. All middle school students are invited to join the fun.  Grab some cardboard boxes, some paint and some imagination and build a game other children can play.  
  • You may work with up to 2 friends.    
  • Games accepted in the library starting Wednesday, October 29th.
  • Children in grades k-2 will be playing the games in the afternoon of October 31st.  
  • Please keep your arcade game in keeping with the autumn theme. It does not have to be specifically Halloween-themed.  Please, no blood or body parts.  Keep in mind, very young children will be enjoying these games.  
  • Some older kids have been asking me about extra credit.  Sure.  If you make a wonderful project and are in grades 6 and up, I'll give you five points of extra credit. A special treat will be given to kids who decorate accordingly and attract the most players.    
  • Prizes are optional, but should be handmade.  Stickers are acceptable.  Bookmarks make wonderful prizes.  Hint-hint.  
What about the Parade of Books?
We are still going to have a primary Parade of Books, after all, we love it!  But we are going to have it as a springtime celebratory culmination of primary reading goals. Something to look forward to, and more time to plan the best costume ever!

Please feel free to see me or contact me with any questions or thoughts.  October is such a creative month.  Have fun, can't wait to see these amazing autumnal creations!

Photograph courtesy of P is for Preschool

Photograph courtesy of Wynne Primary School

Photograph Courtesy of Sunny Days in Second Grade

Photograph courtesy of Ms. Jordan and Ms. Ostroski

Photograph courtesy of Run! Mrs. Nelson's Got the Camera!

Photograph courtesy of Café Mom

Photograph courtesy of Paper Perfection

Photograph courtesy of Hoover City Schools

Photograph courtesy of Oh Boy 4th Grade!

Photograph courtesy of The Twenty Sixth Year

Photograph courtesy of Little Kinder Warriors

Photograph courtesy of Mrs. Houlin's Class

Photograph courtesy of The Educator's Spin on It
List of necessary supplies also courtesy of The Educator's Spin on It

Photograph courtesy of Olathe Public Library

Photograph courtesy of The Educator's Spin on It

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Curriculum Night Library Card Drive!

Come say hi at the first floor library table on Curriculum Night, September 26th from 6 - 7:30 p.m., where you will have a chance to sign your own Stone bookworm up for their first Chicago Public Library Card! 

If you would like to sign your child up for a library card, please bring a government issued ID or a utility bill.  Ms. Amy from our lovely Northtown branch library on Western will be joining me, and we will have sign-up forms available in English, Spanish and Arabic.  Replacement card fines will be forgiven on that day as well! Learn all about the exceptional YouMedia resources available for our middle school, and the homework help available at the public library for all of our students.  Fill out the application by October 7 and cards will be delivered to your child at school this fall! 

Looking forward to seeing you soon!

Image courtesy of Mead Public Library

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Welcome to Your Wonderful School Year!

Happy September!  The school library is open and welcomes YOU!  I am Ms. Esme, your LUCKY school librarian, fortunate to teach (and learn from) the best children in the city of Chicago!

Parents, please visit the School Stuff page for library expectations, standards, grades and goals.

Please visit our Online Library Resources for at-home access to our school library catalog, e-books and tons of homework-helping databases.

Please visit our Wish List page for ways to help the library; donations of baby wipes,  glue sticks, crayons and markers are greatly appreciated at the start of school!

Please also be sure to visit our stunningly gorgeous Northtown branch public library!  All Stone students are expected to have and maintain library cards in their own name.  Stay tuned for our fall library card campaign!

Let the adventure begin!

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Ms. Esme Recommends: SUMMER READING!

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 for children ages 9-12, with both new and classic follow-ups by genre.

But that's not all!  More suggestions by grade level (including young adult literature) by clicking here!


Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi.  Aru has lit the ancient lamp and released The Sleeper, and now must enter the Kingdom of Death to find the key to the monster's defeat.  Part journey, part coming-of-age, fans of The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan will thrill to this cliffhanging adventure based in Hindu mythology.

Everything Jennifer Nielsen writes is pretty much amazing, but start with The False Prince, the story of Sage, a boy who is dragged from an orphanage and forced into a plot to impersonate the king.  He must win the right to do so over other boys or lose his life.  High treason and high adventure, talk about a page-turner!  This was a favorite of our Junior Librarian team.

Need more excitement?  You'll also like:
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
City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
Eager by Helen Fox


The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon.  Summer at home seems sleepy until a charismatic older kid moves in to the neighborhood, enlisting two brothers to assist in a plan to trade things for higher and higher value until their greatest dream in achieved.  But Styx has a secret that could derail the whole plan.  This award-winning book has a lot of laughs, a lot of heart and a lot to say about friendship.

Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga. What's it like to move to Cincinnati from a war zone?
Gracefully told in verse in the style of Thannha Lai's Inside Out and Back Again that so many of our students enjoyed, meet Jude as she tries to transition from Syria.
You'll also find strong characters and literary friends to make here:
Front Desk by Kelly Yang
Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai
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


The Ambrose Deception by Emily Ecton.  Like solving mysteries?  Then join this team of three middle school students as they compete for a $4,000 scholarship, secretly teaming up and using their special talents to solve more of a mystery than they bargained for.  Fans of Blue Balliett's Chasing Vermeer will appreciate all the Chicago shout-outs in this book!

You'll also find clues to the mystery of what to read next here:
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


The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman.  At first, being homeless on the streets of India afford some independence and adventure.  But when one of them falls ill, the problems will prove a challenge for this makeshift family of children.  I challenge you to stop reading this book once you start.  It's nearly impossible.

Here are a few more high-stakes stories to get your heart pumping:
Trouble Don't Last by Shelley Pearsall
24 Hours in Nowhere by Dusti Bowling
La Linea by Ann Jaramillo


Sweep:  A Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier  Nan, A young chimney sweep thinks her life is lost in a house fire, only to find herself rescued by a golem, a strange and helpful creature.  Growing up in the time of child labor and rising antisemitism, Nan is going to need all the help she can get.  A powerful story full of honest historical detail that will resonate long after the last page is turned.

More terrific time-travel here:
The Great Trouble:  A Mystery of London, The Blue Death and a Boy Called Eel by Deborah Hopkinson
The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani


Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly.  Iris is a tech genius, but she is also deaf, and some of her gifts and talents are going unrecognized by her hearing friends.  When she learns about a whale who also has trouble communicating with his pod, Lynne must figure out a way to help...from three thousand miles away.  Written by a sign language interpreter, this story explores the many ways we can share the best of ourselves and will uplift readers.

Wishtree by Katherine Applegate.  People write their wishes on cloth and tie them to Red's branches.  The old oak tree has seen sit all, or so it seems, until  a new family moves in on the block and the power of wishes may become more necessary than ever.  Our students love The One and Only Ivan by this author, and this title continues to play with point of view and inspire empathy for all living things through en engaging story.

When you enjoy these, you will also want to check out
The Secret Zoo by Bryan Chick
Wish by Barbara O'Connor
FunJungle series by Stuart Gibbs
Redwall series by Brian Jacques


Nightbooks by J.A. White.  I can't really beat the flap cover description:  "A boy is imprisoned by a witch and must tell her a new scary story each night to stay alive. This thrilling contemporary fantasy from J. A. White, the acclaimed author of the Thickety series, brings to life the magic and craft of storytelling...This modern spin on the Scheherazade story is perfect for fans of Coraline and A Tale Dark and Grimm with interwoven tips on writing with suspense, adding in plot twists, hooks, interior logic, and dealing with writer’s block, this is the ideal book for budding writers and all readers of delightfully just-dark-enough tales."  A book not only to shiver with and enjoy, but an inspiration to write our own spooky stories...yes, please!!!

If you still want a shiver, you'll also enjoy:
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


Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol.  In this autobiographical graphic novel, Vera is having a hard time fitting in with her Russian camp, which turns out to be much different than she expected. Want some more graphic novels for reading in the tent? Camp by Kayla Miller is a good follow-up, and the ever-popular Raina Tegelmeier has a new one, Guts, out just in time for summer reading!

Maybe a Mermaid by Josephine Cameron.  Who hasn't always wanted a "true blue" friend?  A mystery surrounding a mermaid brings two kids together, while the social foibles of the grown-ups around them threaten to tear them apart.  Funny and a tear-jerker, realistic and mysterious, this book manages a lot of balancing acts and will have you believing in summer magic.

Other must-reads just for summer fun:
The 13-Story Treehouse series by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton
Last of the Really Great Wangdoodles 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 audible.com and getepic.com 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 "Explorers at Play" and integrates lots of STEAM and nonfiction!  Perfect for our Stone Bookworms!  We are so lucky to have the brand new and extra beautiful Northtown Branch in our neighborhood, with allowances of up to fifty books 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!

•  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!

More hints for preventing the summer reading slide here!
More Stone Bookworm book recommendations by grade level here!
More books that celebrate diversity 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!

Links for informational purposes, please support your public library and local independent bookseller.  
Thanks to the Junior Librarians for their bulletin board design and their wonderful help all year.