Category Archives: afterschool

The Reading Pros Recap: When You Reach Me

The Reading Pros gathered this afternoon to discussed Rebecca Stead’s book When You Reach Me.  After discussing whether or not we would go back in time to change something or not (most of us would, for various reasons) we played the “speed round” of $20,000 pyramid.


Then, we learned how to make origami frogs like Miranda does in the book.

DSC03611We rounded up the afternoon with the final round, or “Winner’s Circle” of the game show.  A big thank you to our volunteer, Mary, for bringing in pizza and chocolate milk for the snack and for staying for the discussion!

When You Reach Me is one of my favorite middle grade books because it’s not afraid to ask big questions, ranging from:  “is time travel possible?” to “how do we see who people truly are?”  As one of the Reading Pros pointed out during our discussion, you think the book is all about the main character, but it turns out to be about a lot more than that.

Have you read When You Reach Me?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!



Filed under afterschool, book club

The Reading Pros paint like elephants!

The Reading Pros met today (outside!) to discuss Jennifer Jacobson’s Small as an Elephant.  This book is a good choice for any kid, but especially kids from Maine because the main character, Jack, travels to many places along the coast in his journey, including Bar Harbor and Ellsworth.


We discussed the book and talked about what I think of as the “Jean Valjean question”:  is it ok to steal food if you’re starving?  Jack resorts to stealing a couple of times in the book, so this was an interesting question to debate.  Some of the kids were completely opposed to stealing, under any circumstances while others thought it was ok as long it was the only option.  Other kids had creative solutions to Jack’s hunger problem:  he could live off the land by eating blueberries, or he could have asked for the food instead of taking it.


Jack’s favorite animal in the book is the elephant and there’s a lot of interesting information about them.  Elephants and humans have quite a bit in common.  Elephants mourn the death of their loved ones, for example.  Some elephants can even paint, which is where the next part of our meeting came in.  The kids used paint brushes attached to sticks to replicate using a trunk and painted in an elephant outline.  I got the idea from this great blog: Adventures of an Art Teacher.  Thanks for the idea!



The finished elephant (drawn by Emma 🙂 ) turned out great.  I will get a picture and post it soon.  Happy Friday, everyone!


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Legos @ the Library: Creative Creations

On this beautiful afternoon that hinted of spring, Lego builders of all ages got together to do their thing!  (Ok, no more rhyming, I promise!)  This Lego session seemed especially creative to me, for some reason.  Maybe the spring air has our minds going in different directions…who knows.  Anyway, here are some photos from today’s Lego group:


Everyone searching for the perfect piece to complete their creations.

DSC02840One Lego builder made this futuristic vehicle.


One Lego builder took one of my challenges and built this bridge in 5 minutes, only using one hand!

Here are some more creative creations:


What is your idea for a creative Lego creation?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

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Legos @ the Library: Ninjago!

One Lego builder brought new Ninjago Legos to today’s meeting!

Here’s “before”:


“During the building process”:


and the “finished product”:



Here’s a look at some of the other great creations from today’s program:

DSC02585(I don’t know if you can tell from the picture, but the entire top section of this vehicle swivels 360 degrees).


DSC02590I want one of these for my house!


DSC02589On a chilly winter afternoon like this one, it’s nice to plan out a perfect camping trip with Legos!

For next month’s Legos @ the Library, I’m looking for picture books to use for Lego inspiration.  So far, I’d like to use Chris Van Dusen’s If I Built a Car and If I Built a House.

Cover of "If I Built a Car"

Cover of If I Built a Car

Does anyone have suggestions for other books that might spark a great Lego idea?


Filed under afterschool, Ellsworth Public Library, Legos

The Reading Pros Recap: Cosmic

January’s book club meeting was out of this world!  Not literally, because we couldn’t replicate the once in a lifetime amusement ride featured in Cosmic (a real rocket ship that blasts off to the moon), but it was a pretty great meeting, anyway.


I was lucky enough to stumble upon this great blog, Talkin’ ‘Bout Books, and used their questions and snack suggestions.  The main character, Liam, is obsessed with World of Warcraft (WoW) and tends to interpret his real life through his video games.  We had an interesting conversation during this meeting about video games and how they impacted “real life” friendships.  Most book club members who are into video games said that it decreased their number of friends and their online friends didn’t replace them because you don’t really know online friends.


I loved this book and had heard it was a good choice for boys because the protagonist is male and it’s an adventure sci-fi story that features a lot of cool inventions and gadgets.  Several of the boys in the group were not too impressed with the book, but the girls loved it, which surprised me (to each his/her own, I guess!)

Even though we couldn’t go into space, we did have a chance to find out what it feels like to be weightless.  Try this neat trick (I found this one on a site with space themed birthday party ideas):

1.  Stand inside a door frame and push the backs of your hands against the inside of the frame, applying pressure.

2.  Count to 30.

3.  Take one step forward, so your out of the frame.  Your arms should start to rise up, like there’s no gravity holding them down!


Next month, we’ll discuss Two Old Women, an inspiring folktale by Velma Wallis.

I’ll end this post with a wonderful quote from Cosmic that one Reading Pro pointed out:

“There is no point trying to hide from fear.  Fear will find you.  You have to look fear in the eye, say hello and keep walking by.  Remember, Fear is the Enemy of Courage.”



Filed under afterschool, book club, The Reading Pros

What’s in a name?

The mysterious literary society…The Tragic Treehouse…The Monstrous Gorilla.  What do these names have in common?  They are all possible names for the new program for middle school students at the Ellsworth Public Library.  The group met for the first time on Friday to brainstorm names and figure out how the group should be structured.

Here are a couple of pictures from our meeting:

Apples with caramel sauce was the snack of the day.

And, as you can see in the picture above, we used a library resource, Chase’s Calendar of Events, to look up random things that happened on our birthdays.  The book also lists celebrity birthdays, which were fun to look up.  If you want to give it a try, this website lists fun holidays and celebrity birthdays for today.

After talking about some upcoming program and fundraiser ideas (I see a read-a-thon in our future…) we went on a behind the scenes tour of the library that included the storage area, staff lounge and offices that are usually off-limits.

There is so much potential for this group and the members have already come up with some great ideas for projects.  Now we just have to settle on a name.

Youth Services Librarians:  do any of you have a program for middle school students?  If so, I would love to hear about your experiences in the comments!

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