from the library: Reading Challenge

It’s reading challenge time!

The first thing you need to do is make a reading tracker, so you can track the genres you read over the next month.

You’re going to need: Paper, a pen or pencil, a straight edge (a ruler if you have one)

I made two sample reading trackers: one is a 3×4 tracker and the other is a 3×13 tracker.

3×4 tracker and 3×13 tracker

You want to include the following genres on your reading challenge tracker: historical fiction, mystery, science fiction, fantasy, realistic fiction, autobiography, biography, informative non-fiction, adventure, newspaper article, poetry, graphic novel

Our reading challenge is officially starting today. Anything you’ve read since Friday, March 13th counts towards your reading challenge. We’ll wrap up our reading challenge on Friday, May 1st.

When you finish your challenge, take a picture of your tracker and email it to me at The student who reads the most genres, WINS! If we have multiple winners, I’ll post a list of the students who completed the challenge and then draw one name to be the prize winner.

EXTRA CHALLENGE: Have an adult in your home accept (and hopefully) complete the challenge too!

You are welcome to email me to let me know how the challenge is going, if you have a question, or if you need help finding a book that fits one of the genres.

Here are a few places to find some of the genres mentioned:

Junior Library Guild

Audible Stories

Poetry Foundation

Mrs. El Koubi’s daily touchpoints (for newspaper articles)

Richmond Free Press (for newspaper articles)

Time for Kids (sign up for free access to Time Magazine for Kids)

Time for Kids is offering access to its digital issues through the end of the school year.


Perhaps unprecedented will be the word of the year for 2020. Or social distancing.

The word unprecedented seems both accurate and inadequate.

On Monday the governor ordered the closure of schools for the rest of the year. It wasn’t a surprise, but it certainly is a shock to the system.

And the shocks keep coming at unexpected times. While brushing my teeth, I remember that the 5th graders won’t be able to finish their podcasts. While loading the dishwasher, I remember that the 2nd graders won’t finish the books they were working on about their year working in the Beaver Garden. It seems over but not over as we all find some way to cobble together learning experiences for our students knowing that those experiences and opportunities need to be equitable for all students who may or may not have reliable technology or who may or may not have support from adults at home.

So we do what we can while we wait for guidance from our superintendent (who, I think, is doing a remarkable job keeping families and teachers updated on what’s going on) and the VDOE.

My school’s faculty is supposed to be getting together online this afternoon. I’m looking forward to that as well as the possibility of a teacher car parade along the school’s bus route Friday.

In the meantime, I’m taking the time to learn about teaching tools that I didn’t have time to explore during the school year, trying to offer short lessons for students who may want a distraction or who may want to see their old librarian’s face, and doing my best to cobble together come coherent learning for my own 4th grader.

What movie are we in again?

Back in January I was having dinner with a group of friends and the coronavirus came up. I didn’t feel like it was time to panic. It was something that needed watching.

Two weeks ago I was doing my pandemic prep at Costco. It’s amazing how fast things change.

On Thursday morning the coordinator of library services sent out a message saying we librarians should do all we can to get books in the hands of as many students as possible. It’s something we do every day, but there was more urgency. “See as many classes as you can today and tomorrow.” I had a feeling an announcement about closing was in the mail. It came Thursday evening; the district would close for two weeks effective Friday afternoon. WIth what seemed like the slightest bit of notice, teachers prepared work to send home with their students. The reading specialist in my school, a few of the tutors, a parent volunteer, the PE teacher, and I spent Friday distributing library books to all 400 students in the school–as many books as the kids could carry.

Set up for book distribution
Once full of books. Now empty and in the home libraries of students.

Most of the books given out were stored in the trailer as part of a past summer Reading Riders program. Some had recently been donated as an effort to enhance students’ home libraries (success!). Some students checked out library books for the two weeks off as well.

I buttoned up the library, took home some books and some work, and carried my plants out to my car. It felt weird. It still feels weird.

Things could change depending on how long we’re out, but as of now, we’re not doing distance learning. What does that look like in an elementary school anyway? And how does it get done when not everyone has access to reliable technology? Kids were given work to do and teachers are communicating with parents through Class Dojo (the parents who are connected to Class Dojo). Every few days, I’m posting a reading resource there too.

As of yesterday, our two week hiatus as morphed into a four week break (which includes our already scheduled spring break). Breaks are what I do best; there’s a lot do be done after all: house projects, knitting, reading, binge watching TV. This is different though. The uncertainty and worry takes some getting used to.

So here we are. I have ordered too many books from local bookstores who are offering free delivery to people who live within 10 miles of the stores.

Books I purchased from BBGB ( that were delivered to my door this evening

I’m making a list of restaurants and breweries that I need to support once I can get out… assuming they still exist. I’m hoping my husband doesn’t lose his job like he did in the 2008 economic fiasco. When will I be able to visit my family again? When will I get to see the kids again? All of this on top of the obvious worries: I hope we all stay well.

Today was day one of homeschooling my 4th grader (LOL, I can’t do 4th grade math!). I made a schedule for our weekdays. I believe my son appreciates it more than I anticipated. He keeps referring to it. “What’s next on the schedule?” I keep referring to it. “What do we do after this?” For me, it’s necessary to be grounded in routine these days.

Stay healthy. Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face.