Category Archives: book club

To ban or not to ban, that is the question!


As Banned Books Week 2014 comes to a close, The Bibliophile Read-a-force (our book club for grades 6-8) met to discuss censorship.  I’ve worked as a librarian for 4 years and each year during Banned Book Week I’m always amazed at the list of banned books and the reasons why they have been banned or challenged.  This year was the first time I took a minute to really think about our right to information and the effect that banning a book could have.  The bibliophiles had a great discussion exploring potential reasons why people would feel the need to challenge a book, as well reasons why banning books could be detrimental to individuals and society as a whole.

It wasn’t all serious, of course:


Many of the bibliophiles also worked on logos for our upcoming Rainbow Readers Race color run (more info about that coming soon!)


How did you celebrate Banned Books Week?



Filed under book club, middle school group

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 Youth Summer Reading Club beats the heat!


Today was the first meeting of the Youth Summer Reading Club (a book group for kids in grades 3-8).  Today marks the second day of hot weather in these parts (in the high 80s).  To beat the heat, we stayed inside and did an informal book discussion, played games, and ate popsicles.

To change it up a little, we created a yarn web during our book discussion:


Each kid rolled the yarn ball to someone in the circle and then asked them a question (drawn from a hat) about the book they were reading (some questions were just for fun, like “if you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go?”)  We followed this up with a game of “picture telephone”:

DSC03200For this game, the person sitting at the end of the line (farthest to the right) draws a simple picture (like a sun or a house) on a piece of paper.  Then the artist outlines the drawing with his/her finger on the next person’s back, and so on down the line until the last person in line.  That person draws what they feel on a piece of paper.  The group then examines both drawings to see the differences.  We came close one time, but most of the final pictures looked like a “pancake face: (a lopsided circle with two lines).

We then moved on to word clouds.  Instead of using a computer to create these groupings of related words, we each picked a word for a theme (Minecraft was a popular choice) and used cutout words from magazines to describe it.  The results were great!

What’s your favorite way to beat the heat?

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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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The Reading Pros are poets, and they know it!

April is National Poetry Month, and to celebrate, The Reading Pros met today to discuss Love that Dog by Sharon Creech.  This book is a verse novel about a boy named Jack who thinks poetry is for girls.  He ends up writing a lot of poems about his dog, Skye and learns about different poets and styles of poetry in the process.  This is the first time that we have discussed a verse novel, and it was a big hit!  Thanks to Martha for the book recommendation 🙂


In addition to talking about the book, we also tried some different styles of poetry.  Many of the group members were already familiar with haikus, acrostics, and limericks.  One girl mentioned Cinquain poems, which I had never heard of before.  Everyone chose a style they were comfortable with and got to work.  Here’s an example of a shape poem:


We found that these are fun to write, but repetitive to read out loud!  We also made some magnetic poetry by choosing some words from a magazine and gluing them to cardstock.  We attached magnets to the back and voila!  DIY magnetic poetry.


How are you planning to celebrate National Poetry Month?

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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

The Reading Pros Recap: Island of the Aunts


Where would you find mermaids, stoorworms, and selkies?  These magical creatures can be found on the Island of the Aunts, of course!  The Reading Pros met on Friday to discuss this book by Eva Ibbotson.

To change up the discussion portion of our meeting, we played Book Club Jenga.  I got this idea from many librarians’ blogs:  take a Jenga game and add a symbol (or a question) to each block.  When the player pulls out a block, he/she must answer the question.  If you choose to use symbols on the blocks, you can come up with a list of questions that correspond to each symbol.  I chose to do it this way because I can use the game for other groups at the library and come up with a set of questions for each age group.

Don't let the tower fall!

Don’t let the tower fall!

The object of Jenga is to try to remove blocks from the tower without tipping it over.  When it inevitably did tip over, the group did a “physical challenge” (like, jumping jacks or push-ups).  The favorite by far was a game called “freeze dance”:

Dance, dance, dance!

Dance, dance, dance!

We danced in place (without music, unfortunately) until I said “stop!”  It was a good way to release some energy 🙂

One of our book club members had a birthday, and he offered to bring in a themed snack.  I was having so much trouble trying to think of an appetizing snack that had something to do with the book (I even considered serving porridge, but the wise Reading Pros advised me not to).  So, I was very grateful to have help with the snack this month.  Here’s the big reveal of our mystery snack:

DSC02490Drumroll please…

DSC02491It’s stoorworm cookies!  For those of you who are not familiar with this month’s book, a stoorworm is a long, worm-like,, wingless dragon who lives off shore of the island.  This picture doesn’t show the cookies very well, but they were long and twisty, just like a stoorworm.  Thank you to the Deeny family for this inventive, delicious snack!


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Filed under book club, Ellsworth Public Library, The Reading Pros