Category Archives: Reading

The Reading Promise: A Review and an Idea

My daughter has already had a book read to her every day since she was born

Happy Father’s Day!  For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been enjoying The Reading Promise: My father and the books we shared by Alice Ozma.  This was such a fitting book to read as I think about my own relationship and reading life with my 18-month old daughter, but the book connected with me in so many more ways as well.

The Reading Promise is Alice Ozma’s memories of a reading streak that she achieved with her father from the time she was in 4th grade until college.  Her father, an elementary librarian (see another connection?), had seen his older daughter move away from wanting to be read to, so he vowed he wouldn’t let that happen with his youngest daughter.  Even though they already enjoyed reading together often, they decided to make a commitment to read together every day for 100 days.  When they accomplished that, they set their sights on 1,000 days and just kept going.  Alice recounts the stories of her life and how the streak seemed to come into every aspect of her life from informing her questions about growing up to coping with life topics like divorce to finding the conversations to have with her father.  The book is about so much more than just the streak.  It surrounds the reader with ideas and themes such as:

  • a single father doing everything he can to provide for his family
  • the importance of immersing yourself in the written word
  • how a solid foundation in stories can inform every aspect of your life, including your successes and your struggles
  • the changing roles of libraries and librarians
  • the challenges of holding to a commitment
  • the value of daily family time
  • how literature can be a doorway to the most difficult conversations in life
  • the dangers of censorship

After seeing where “the streak” took this now 22-year-old, I can’t help but think about my own life and my own students and families.  What would happen if every family in my school started a streak?  What would it look like?  How would it change the culture of my school?  How would it impact student achievement?  What roles could technology play?


So much has developed since Alice Ozma experienced the streak with her father.  I could imagine families using blogs, wikis, and shared documents to document their streak.  Tools such as Skype or Face Time could be used stay in touch on nights when they might be away from one another. E-books and the many tools that accompany them such as highlighting, sharing, and note-taking could further support family discussions.  At the same time, more traditional print books and journals could still be a valuable tool as well.  I think so often there is a mindset that it’s technology or paper when in reality it’s a combination of them all.  We must harness the wealth of tools at our fingertips and find ways to incorporate them into our lives.


At the end of The Reading Promise, there is a form that can be used to create an actual promise to read together as often as possible, to protect the written word in whatever format it takes, and to celebrate the joy of story.  It makes me curious, and I’m thinking a lot this summer about how this idea might come to life in my school next year.  I encourage you to read this book and consider this too.


Andy Plemmons

School Librarian

David C. Barrow Elementary

Athens, GA

What Are YOU Reading This Summer?

Why are you gliding through your feed reader?  You should be out by the pool or beach or on the porch or deck or whatever with a cool refreshing beverage in one hand and a book or ereader or audiobook device of some sort in the other enjoying the heck out of your own summer reading!  Here are some lists to help you out:

Top 10 Summer Reading Picks for Adults & Kids

What they’re reading this summer at the NYT Book Review

Must Read Summer Books

10 Books That Will Fry Your Brain This Summer

NPR’s Summer High Flyers

Crime Fiction Picks for Summertime Suspense

and, of course, How to Create and Awesome Summer Reading List

Have a great summer!

Jim Randolph

Partee Elementary Library

Snellville, GA

Shanna Miles Wins the 2011 AASL Innovative Reading Grant

For Immediate Release
April 26, 2011

Contact: Jennifer Habley

CHICAGO – Shanna Miles and her project the “Billionaire’s Book Club” is the 2011 recipient of the American Association of School Librarians’ (AASL) Innovative Reading Grant. Sponsored by Capstone Publishers, this grant of $2,500 supports the planning and implementation of a unique and innovative program for children that motivates and encourages reading, especially with struggling readers.

Working out of the Tech High School Library in Atlanta, Ga., and with the support of the Tech High School Parent Teacher Association, the Billionaire’s Book Club will team ninth grade struggling readers with an upperclassman who is a member of the National Honor Society.  These teams will read one book a month for six months, and each month the teams will host an online radio show analyzing the book read.  In addition, the teams will keep a reading journal and maintain a Billionaire’s Book Club Facebook group as a place to share their thoughts about their reading.

The goals of the project are to increase the reading level of the struggling reader by improving reading comprehension and fluency. The students will also use social networking to improve their academic success by discussing literacy academically and socially. The program seeks to create a reading culture within the school and help bridge the digital divide.  Throughout the program the students will work cooperatively to produce their radio shows, but team members can work competitively to earn the grand prize, an e-reader.

“Shanna Miles has established an exemplary example of engaged reading opportunities for her students with the Billionaire’s Book Club,” said Leslie Preddy, award committee chair. “This project incorporates reading with social interaction, which is vital for reading to thrive and survive with this generation. It is a shining model for others to follow.”

Miles’ “Billionaire’s Book Club” project and other AASL award recipients will be honored at AASL’s Awards Luncheon during ALA’s 2011 Annual Conference in New Orleans. The luncheon will be held Monday, June 27, and Lauren Myracle, best-selling young adult author and national spokesperson for intellectual freedom, will headline.  Ticket information can be found on the AASL website at

The American Association of School Librarians,, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), promotes the improvement and extension of library services in elementary and secondary schools as a means of strengthening the total education program. Its mission is to advocate excellence, facilitate change and develop leaders in the school library field.

Happy Poetry Month 2011

Poetry month is here!  We’ve already seen some great posts on the GLMA blog to get us thinking about this creative month:

Poetry Resources in Galileo

Looking Ahead to National Poetry Month

Later this month, I’ll share some of the products we’ve made and celebrations we’ve had in the Barrow Media Center, but I wanted to take a moment to wish all of you a Happy National Poetry Month and to pose some questions for thought:

  • In what ways are you incorporating poetry into the lessons you are already teaching in your libraries?
  • What kinds of poetry are your students creating in the media center?
  • How are you celebrating the joy of reading and writing poems in your library?
  • How are you honoring student work?
  • How are you incorporating technology for both inspiration and creation of poetry?
  • What special poetry events have you planned in your school (poetry picnics, poem in your pocket day, contests, etc.)?
  • How are you sharing poetry beyond the walls of your library?

Here are a few of the things that we will be doing over the next month in the Barrow Media Center.  Some things are already underway while others are still be fleshed out.

  • PreK Poetry:  PreK students are writing their own shape poems on large cut-outs of symbols from their classroom and will video record their final poems to upload to Teacher Tube.
  • Joyce Sidman collaboration:  A few groups of students will be studying the poems of Joyce Sidman and writing poems inspired by her writing.  These poems will be created in multiple ways from using Photo Story to simply writing them on paper.  The poems will be featured at Joyce Sidman’s keynote speech at the NCTE conference in November.
  • List Poetry:  Using Georgia Heard’s collection, Falling Down the Page, students will study list poetry, write list poems as a whole class, and write individual list poems in a variety of ways.  A first grade class is planning to use Photo Story for this project.
  • Book Spine Poetry:  Students in various grades will create a kind of found poem using books from the library shelves arranged in a stack to write poems using the titles on the spines.  Classes will photograph their stacks and record themselves reading their new poems.
  • Poetry Display:  5th grade has an autobiographical poetry and photography display on the media center shelves.  This project was a collaboration between the art teacher and the media center.
  • Poem in Your Pocket Day:  The official national poem in your pocket day is April 14th this year.  We’ll be celebrating on April 15th.  The media center will be transformed into a poetry cafe with tablecloths, special lighting, and an open mic for all classes to read both original poetry and favorite poems.
  • 1st Annual Poetry Contest:  Students in all grades PreK-5th can submit poems to our media center poetry contest.  A panel of judges will read and select the most creative poems at PreK-1st, 2nd-3rd, and 4th-5th grades.  Top poets will receive autographed books that I had autographed at the Decatur Book Festival, and other special poets will receive things such as pens, bookmarks, and other special trinkets donated from Borders.


  • Poetry Tag Time:  For $0.99, you can download a creative e-book called Poetry Tag Time. The book features unpublished poems by top children’s poets.  Each poem is somehow connected to the one before it as each poet tags the next poet to write a new poem.  There is also a blog connected with the book.  You can also follow the Gotta Book Blog and Poetry for Children Blog, where free poems will be posted each day of poetry month.  This would also be a fun way to start a poetry project in your school among students or teachers.

Have fun this poetry month and feel free to share the exciting things going on in your library in the comments section of this post so that we can all continue to learn from one another about how to honor this genre of our collections.

Andy Plemmons

School Librarian
David C. Barrow Elementary
Athens, GA

GA Peach Book Award for Teen Readers–Winners & Nominees Announced

On March 31st at the Kennesaw Children’s Literature Conference secondary day lunch, members of the Peach Committee shared the results of the 2010-2011 voting and the nominees vying for the awards for the 2011-2012 school year. Without further ado, here they are:

GA Peach Book Award Winner for 2011


GA Peach Honor Book 2011

Be on the lookout for teaching materials and new information on these nominees for 2011-2012 at This is the new site on which we do the online voting that was rolled out for the first time this year. We were pleased with the response and will continue to refine and improve the process.




The Georgia Peach Book Awards for Teen Readers 2011-2012 Booklist

Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher

With his mother working long hours and in pain from a romantic break-up, eighteen-year-old Logan feels alone and unloved until a zany new student arrives at his small-town Missouri high school, keeping a gender secret.

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

In a small South Carolina town, where it seems little has changed since the Civil War, sixteen-year-old Ethan is powerfully drawn to Lena, a new classmate with whom he shares a psychic connection and whose family hides a dark secret that may be revealed on her sixteenth birthday.

Birthmarked by Caragh O’Brien

In a future world baked dry by the sun and divided into those who live inside the wall and those who live outside it, sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone is forced into a difficult choice when her parents are arrested and taken into the city.

Black Hole Sun by David McGinnis Gill

On the planet Mars, sixteen-year-old Durango and his crew of mercenaries are hired by the settlers of a mining community to protect their most valuable resource from a feral band of marauders.

Bruiser by Neal Shusterman

Inexplicable events start to occur when sixteen-year-old twins Tennyson and Brontë befriend a troubled and misunderstood outcast, aptly nicknamed Bruiser, and his little brother, Cody.

Dirty Little Secrets by C. J. Omololu

When her unstable mother dies unexpectedly, sixteen-year-old Lucy must take control and find a way to keep the long-held secret of her mother’s compulsive hoarding from being revealed to friends, neighbors, and especially the media.

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

Now on the cusp of manhood, Finnikin, who was a child when the royal family of Lumatere was brutally murdered and replaced by an imposter, reluctantly joins forces with an enigmatic young novice and fellow-exile, who claims that her dark dreams will lead them to a surviving royal child and a way to regain the throne of Lumatere.

Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John

Eighteen-year-old Piper becomes the manager for her classmates’ popular rock band, called Dumb, giving her the chance to prove her capabilities to her parents and others, if only she can get the band members to get along.

Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can’t Have by Allen Zadoff

Fifteen-year-old Andrew Zansky, the second fattest student at his high school, joins the varsity football team to get the attention of a new girl on whom he has a crush.

God is in the Pancakes by Robin Epstein

Fifteen-year-old Grace, having turned her back on religion when her father left, now finds herself praying for help with her home and love life, and especially with whether she should help a beloved elderly friend die with dignity.

Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Sixteen-year-old Valerie, whose boyfriend Nick committed a school shooting at the end of their junior year, struggles to cope with integrating herself back into high school life, unsure herself whether she was a hero or a villain.

Jane by April Lindner

In this contemporary retelling of “Jane Eyre,” an orphaned nanny becomes entranced with her magnetic and brooding employer, a rock star with a torturous secret from his past.

Lockdown: Escape from Furnace by Alexander Gordon Smith

When fourteen-year-old Alex is framed for murder, he becomes an inmate in the Furnace Penitentiary, where brutal inmates and sadistic guards reign, boys who disappear in the middle of the night sometimes return weirdly altered, and escape might just be possible.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Sixteen-year-old Thomas wakes up with no memory in the middle of a maze and realizes he must work with the community in which he finds himself if he is to escape.

The Morgue and Me by John Ford

Eighteen-year-old Christopher, who plans to be a spy, learns of a murder cover-up through his summer job as a morgue assistant and teams up with Tina, a gorgeous newspaper reporter, to investigate, despite great danger.

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

Calla and Ren have been raised knowing it’s their destiny to mate with one another and rule over their shapeshifting wolf pack, but when a human boy arrives and vies for Calla’s heart, she’s faced with a decision that could change her whole world.

Shift by Jennifer Bradbury

When best friends Chris and Win go on a cross country bicycle trek the summer after graduating and only one returns, the FBI wants to know what happened.

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

In a futuristic world, teenaged Nailer scavenges copper wiring from grounded oil tankers for a living, but when he finds a beached clipper ship with a girl in the wreckage, he has to decide if he should strip the ship for its wealth or rescue the girl.

Split by Swati Avasthi

A teenaged boy thrown out of his house by his abusive father goes to live with his older brother, who ran away from home years ago to escape the abuse.

The Things a Brother Knows by Dana Reinhardt

Although they have never gotten along well, seventeen-year-old Levi follows his older brother Boaz, an ex-Marine, on a walking trip from Boston to Washington, D.C. in hopes of learning why Boaz is completely withdrawn.

Remember to read reviews for all books and get media committee approval for any Peach titles you wish to purchase for your school library as each community is different, and not all titles will suit all schools. Thanks for your promotion and support of the Georgia Peach Book Award for Teen Readers.

Suzanne Gordon
GA Peach Book Award for Teen Readers, Outgoing Chair
Lanier High School
Gwinnett County Public Schools