Best of 2019: Blog Posts

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Happy New Year, friends! I hope you’re having a wonderful holiday. I’m excited to share our top posts of 2019 – they’re always so different than I expect. Some of these were favorites last year, too, and some are brand new. I know that I loved writing them – I hope that enjoyed reading them too!

Here’s to new adventures in 2020!


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10. Building Emotional Literacy and Empathy in the library

Another “I do this everyday, but it never makes it online” topic, this might be the most common questions that I receive from parents. We do social emotional and empathy building work in the library every single day, whether the students know it or not. It’s such a natural fit with sharing stories, studying characters, and traveling the world through literature. These tools have been a big help, although they have changed quite a bit since this photo was taken.

picture books that celebrate gay families

9. Family Connection: Picture Books that Celebrate Gay Families

Diversifying our collection, and highlighting inclusive books, are such natural parts of my everyday job that I sometimes forget to highlight them in my writing. It’s just a reliable cornerstone of what I do everyday, that it’s easy to pass over it to highlight more exciting events. But a meaningful conversation with a friend in February inspired this post, featuring books that are beloved in our collection. I had a goal this year to feature more lists like this, but these posts take so long to put together, that all I ended up with was half finished drafts. Something else to work on in 2020!

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8. Behind the Shelves: Help, I’m transitioning to my first K-5 library!

This reader question inspired me to consider what I wish I had known when I started as a librarian (it’s a pretty big job, so there’s a lot!). That advice, plus a list of resources that keep me on my toes, was shared widely by librarians since it was published in August.

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7. 5th and 6th Grade Book Club: Booked, by Kwame Alexander

This book club has been a reader favorite every year since I posted it in 2016. It’s such a fond memory, and makes me smile to see it in the top posts each year. This was my first middle school book club ever, and these kiddos are in high school now (our high school is on another campus, and I miss them!), so it’s nice to see their little faces and remember how much fun we had. Crossing my fingers that this wild and fun book club, which was designed to be purposefully the opposite of the book clubs I had as a kid, is being recreated in tons of schools.

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6. The 2019 Challenge

This was a fabulous, although admittedly labor-intensive, way to kick off the new year. I challenged our school community to read 2019 books in January 2019, and it ended up being a huge and exciting event! Spoiler alert: We nailed it, and I’m still cleaning confetti out of the shelves.

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5. 4th and 5th Grade Book Club: Paper Wishes, by Lois Sepahban

Another book club cracking the top ten! How funny. Paper Wishes wasn’t a blockbuster middle grade novel like Out of My Mind or the Middle School series, but it made such an amazing book club back in early 2017. Crossing my fingers that the popularity of this post means more middle schools are sharing the book. I relinquished control of book clubs to my middle schoolers this year, and while I’m glad to see them take the reins, I do miss these big, messy, fun events. Maybe I’ll try to sneak one in before the end of the year, and blame it on my blog readers 😉

the art exhibit

4. Behind the Shelves: What is a Literature Based Makerspace?

Arguably one of my favorite posts of the year, this guide to linking computer science, making, and literacy took me forever to write – so I was so glad to see it go to good use! This post answers the a real reader question (what is a literature based makerspace, anyway?) by compiling my favorite resources and listing examples of what has worked in our library space. As I was writing I hoped that this would become a basic “how-to” guide for anyone that wanted to add a spark to their book clubs and programming but wasn’t sure where to start. Literature based makerspaces and computer science infused storytimes are still the things I get asked most about, and I almost always refer readers to this post to get started.

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3. Google Home in the School Library: FAQ

After three years in the top slot, Google Home fell to the no. 3 most popular post this year. Maybe as these devices become more normal, people don’t need the guidance as much anymore. Or maybe they’re falling out of fashion in education. I definitely notice that ours didn’t get as much buzz and use this year as it has in the past – although it’s still unbeatable as a quick reference, timer, and fun trivia tool.

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2. Coming Soon: 5th Grade Book Club – The Wild Robot, by Peter Brown

This book club, which took place in late 2017 but has never been a particularly popular post, surged into the second spot this year. Maybe more teachers were featuring the book after the popularity of the sequel? Maybe it was the book club’s connection to makerspaces and computer science related literature activities? Who knows. But it made me smile to look back on how much fun our Wild Robot-themed book club, Tech-Mas, and Quest turned out to be… all thanks to our love for this book, by Peter Brown.

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1. 5th Grade Says… The ’18-’19 Best Books of the Year, in Exactly 15 Words

I would never have guessed that these 15 word summaries of middle grade books would be such a huge hit – but this post was by far my most popular of 2019. I’m guessing it had something to do with a well-timed retweet by Ms. Ripp herself (the creator of the 15 word summary idea)! The ’17-’18 list was a big hit, too, and I love knowing that my students’ summaries are helping you to decide what books to highlight in and purchase for your classrooms and libraries. They truly are the experts, and they deserve the top slot!

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