It's hard to believe that summer is starting to wind down. It seems like just yesterday, that students and parents alike were getting all excited for summer and the activities that would fill up their blissful warm days. For libraries, big or small, it has been a busy summer. All the planning, the promoting and preaching about summer reading is now starting to dwindle down to quiet, lazy days of August. There are so many good books, and stories to share for Fizz, Boom, Read! and Spark a Reaction that it hardly seems fair to break it down to featuring a few of the all time favorites (at least on this blog) that will be used over and over again.
For the young readers it is a delight to share an almost wordless book called Nest by Jorey Hurley. The pictures are simple which is a perfect compliment to the simple story of a young baby Robin's life. The simplicity of the story lent itself to a wonderful program that had each child make their own bird's nest. Once the nest was made, they each were given the opportunity to pick out a plastic egg (similar to eggs used at Easter egg hunts) and they decorated the outside with stickers. Except for the nest making, which had librarians bring in branches, leaves and other nature items, this was a pretty easy and quick clean up craft.
There is a tie for the best picture book for this year's theme. First, is Andrea Beaty's Rosie Revere, Engineer. This book is more than just about girl power, it's about never giving up on a dream. Rosie is not your typical girl. She dreams of gadgets that can do all sorts of wonderful things. That is, until she finds that people have laughed at her inventions. In their eyes the inventions were "flops". It isn't until Great Aunt Rosie's visit that little Rosie engineer learns that failures are just stepping stones to success. Chris Van Dusen presents another great story of a little scientist who scores a big hit by saving the day with his inventions. Randy Riley's Really Big Hit was written for the nerdy little kid in everyone. Randy loves baseball but isn't so great at sports. He also loves science which, as luck would have it, is where his talents lie. When a fireball is on it's way to hit his small town, it's up to him to save the day! A delightful trip into sports, solar system and silliness that makes this book wonderful.
The craft that combined the two themes of these two picture books invited children to create their own robot costumes. Equipped with paper grocery bag and lots of different craft items, the imaginations went wild. Fun for everyone, even grandparents enjoyed the madness.
For teens the theme of "Spark A Reaction" caused many of them to be a little more serious than their younger counterparts. The books that were among the best, were not necessarily new titles but older ones that should always be available for readers. The top three favorites for this year, were Lois Lowry's The Giver (or any of the books in the series) Scott Westerfeld's Uglies and Malcom Ross's Framed. Each title gives the reader something to think about. In the Giver series, readers contemplated the role of "government" or ruling body having total control over one's life. In the Uglies, readers considered what is the definition of beauty and who has the right to define it. Finally in Framed, the reader is treated to thinking about solving a series of murders alongside Luke Hardwig and his robot. All three of these books spark some type of reaction from the readers. Teens were given the opportunity if they chose to share what reaction was sparked in them using only one word. On a bulletin board, the words were displayed along with the cover of the books. At the top of the bulletin board the question was posed to those who passed by, "Which of these books do you think Sparked One of these Reaction?" The responses were interesting. Some were correct and others were far off the mark. However, it did spur the conversation for teens on what books to read next. Which is always a good thing.
Next year's Collaborative Reading Program should be a blast. The general theme is Heroes. There is so much that can be done with this theme that it seems silly not to start planning now! Let's see where is that cape and mask?