Monday, 30 April 2007

FBA-Fabulous Book Alert!

The Ugly Vegetables. Grace Lin; Talewinds: Watertown, MA, 1999.

My students and I simply loved this book as part of our plant unit! The main character, a Chinese-American girl who is really Grace Lin as a child, helps her mother plant the garden but notices that all her neighbors have colorful flowers growing while her mother's garden is filled with only ugly green vegetables. However, when it's harvest time, her mother uses the vegetables to make a soup that has the neighbors following their noses to get a taste, and it turns into a sharing garden the following year with everyone growing both flowers and Chinese vegetables. Ms. Lin gracefully weaves cultural pride into the pages by making something that is "different" become wonderful and something others wish to be a part of.

Check out Grace Lin's website at She has links to lesson ideas for her books (including a script for the Ugly Vegetables) and a section called Behind the Story that tells of why she wrote the book. I love when kids get a glimpse into the connections between authors and their own small moment stories in life.

Sidenote: I'm working on coming up with a catchy name for books I want to recommend to teachers in their classrooms next year when I'm a librarian. Hence, FBA (pronounced feeba maybe?). Not sure about it--open to suggestions...

Saturday, 28 April 2007


One of the first things I love to do when I go to someone's house is to check out the titles they have on their bookshelf. Now, over at, there is a way to peek at people's bookshelves online. It's really very simple--after choosing a user name and password, you just type in the titles from your home library, add them to a list and then you have created a visual display of all your book covers in alphabetical order. The social networking aspect of the site is that with every title in your personal library, there is a link to other LibraryThing users who have the same title in their library. When you click on any title, you are also provided with a list of 20 recommendations related to the topic. Various discussion threads such as librarian discussions and book reviews are also included. Feel free to check out the books on my virtual bookshelves.

Friday, 27 April 2007

Beauty and Tech

Personally, I love Dove's beauty campaign of real women with real bodies as models, and I was thrilled to find that they have two new commercials that can be viewed online--one aimed at young girls' self-esteem and one showing the evolution of beauty by showing a model from the no-makeup stage to the billboard stage (and she barely looks like the same person, which I assume is the point!). Both are very powerful, and I immediately sent the videos to my friends who are health and wellness teachers. I thought it could be a great tool for discussion and written reflection with upper grades. For the research/library twist, I'm thinking that ideas of beauty in different cultures would be a great project to provide young girls with a different perspective of what is beautiful in other places. Something like a "Did You Know...?" activity. For example, in Africa, the bigger you are as a woman, the more beautiful you are perceived because it shows you have enough money for food. And for the Kuna people in Panama, albinism is considered a sign of good luck because their faces tend to be round like the moon.

Monday, 23 April 2007

Music in the Library

One of my favorite easy things to use the computer for is to listen to music. There is an awesome website called that creates an ongoing playlist for you based on the type of music you like. You simply enter the name of a musical artist you know you like already, and Pandora will create a stream of music from that artist as well as artists who have a similar style. It's a great way to discover new artists! One recommendation for mellow music in the library is the instrumental loveliness of Carlos Nakai...

Saturday, 21 April 2007

Parent Book Clubs

I meant to launch this first posting with something involving technology, but I can't get my mind off this fabulous idea of parent book clubs! A counselor friend of mine shared the idea with me recently, and I immediately realized that it was an easy, fun way for librarians to connect with the parent community and also do some parent education in an informal setting. As I began thinking about titles that would work, the first one that came to mind was Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox (a big WOW! on anything Mem Fox does!), a book I have seen but never read before. For those of you out there that don't know the book, it is absolutely perfect as a first book to start off the book club--easy to read, filled with practical ideas of how to read aloud to your child and it never talks down to parents who aren't reading to their children right now but instead guides them into how to get started. What a perfect opportunity to support the classroom teachers and the parent community by providing a discussion group about this topic that seems so easy to us as teachers and librarians but really can be challenging if you are not trained.

In some schools, the PTSA (or PTA) might even be able to fund buying the books. My plan is to include the title in a newsletter to generate interest and enthusiasm at the end of this school year and then start the club in the fall, but I'd love suggestions for other books that might be great for parents.

Some other titles bouncing around in my head...

The Reading Bug by Paul Jennings
Third Culture Kids by David Pollack and Ruth Van Reken (for the international community, TCK is a hot topic)
How To Get Your Child to Love Reading by Esme Raji Codell

I would love any titles that anyone else could recommend so I can start a running list.

Friday, 13 April 2007

Why TLC?

The idea for creating a blog called Tech-Library-Classroom, or TLC, comes from my own journey as a classroom teacher now entering the field of library media. Since technology is becoming such an important part of both the classroom and the library, I have been searching for easy and authentic ways to integrate all three elements. My idea is to have this blog become a place to go for integration ideas, book recommendations, and easy-to-use instructions about various technology you can use in your personal life or your classroom. Another discovery of mine along my own journey is that jumping into technology can be a very humbling experience, one where we can feel overwhelmed and downright befuddled by how to do something involving so many seemingly complicated steps. I'd like to break those steps down to make them more accessible. So...shall we begin...?