Paws For Reading


I Gotta Feeling!

Each year at TJ Connor we have a three-week reading incentive event.  We had our kick off assembly on Wed., Feb. 26 with several fun activities.  Our staff got the excitement for reading dancing with books to a modified version of  “I Gotta Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas.  The students loved seeing the teachers up there with posters of popular books!


Our very own Clifford!

We had Clifford the Big Red Dog (one of our Kindergarten teachers) discuss the reading log that students will fill out for three weeks.  Students will color in a paw print for each day they read 15-20 minutes then turn in the reading logs to decorate our hallway.

Did I mention the TV Blackout night?  The response was a little less enthusiastic for this on!  We ask students and staff to turn off the TV for one night (the night of our kickoff assembly) and spend time reading or doing a fun non-electronic activity with family.  The next day, students bring back their TV Blackout certificate to be tallied.  We calculate the grade level that had the highest percentage of participants.  One student wanted to know what the prize for winning was, and our principal, Mrs. Wright, said the winning grade level gets the privilege of bragging that they were the best grade level for a whole day!  I love the non-material prize!

Some of our storytellers performed great poems about reading!  Two girls told the story of The Three Little Pigs in alternating voice of the pig and the wolf.  Another set of girls told the story of Little Red Riding Hood from Red and the Wolf’s view.  One talented boy also did an enthusiastic performance of the poem “I Met a Dragon Face to Face” by Jack Prelutsky where the boy imagines himself on many different adventures when he was 10-years-old.


Josh performs “I Met a Dragon Face To Face”

Our fifth graders just finished reading A Dog’s Life by Ann Martin as a class text; they were excited about the book they finished and wanted to do a volunteer project for a local animal shelter.  As part of our reading incentive weeks, we will be collecting pet items for the Verona Street Shelter.  The fifth grade ambassadors explained the project to the school and gave each class a laundry basket to collect items in their rooms.

5th Grade Ambassadors

5th Grade Ambassadors

All of our students were excited to start reading as they headed back to the classrooms!  We have several more activities planned for our three weeks, including several “paws for reading” times (where everyone stops everything and reads for 15 minutes during the day), an author visit, and a visit from therapy dogs!  It will be an exciting three weeks!


New books!


New K-2 books!

One of my favorite jobs as a school library media specialist (OK, I have many favorites, but this is a good one!) is ordering and receiving new books.  I stopped into school during vacation just to catalog the 108 new books that arrived over February break.  It was like Christmas opening those three boxes!  Perhaps the best part of this book order is the new nonfiction titles for kindergarten through second graders.  After rearranging the nonfiction section to make it easier for the younger students to find books that they can read and enjoy independently, I ordered 30 new nonfiction books for the K-2 crowd.

I also made sure to purchase new popular easy reader fiction that the younger students ask for often:  Spiderman and Batman.  I can’t wait to show the students the new books when they return from February break!


Junior Library Guild Books

I always enjoy receiving new books from Junior Library Guild each month for our library.  Sometimes I get really excited, like this month.  The day before our February break, we received six books.  I brought four books home to read over vacation.   Two of the books are perfect for the third grade social studies curriculum:  Sophie Scott Goes South by Alison Lester and Handle With Care: An Unusual butterfly Journey by Loree Griffin Burns.  

Sophie Scott Goes South

Sophie Scott Goes South

Sophie Scott Goes South is the diary of a fictional character from the title that shares information from an actual journey the author took to Antarctica on an ice breaker ship.  The diary format is appealing and full of details.  The photographs add detail and the illustrations by children add charm.  Readers learn about some of the animals in Antarctica, how challenging the weather can be, and what it is like to sail on an ice breaker ship.

Handle With Care

Handle With Care

Handle With Care discusses how farmers in Costa Rica raise Blue Morpho Butterflies from eggs to pupa and ship them to a museum in Boston.  What takes center stage in this book are the photographs.  The photos are full size, full color, and full of detail.  The front endpapers show pupas; the back end papers show colorful butterflies.  The text helps tell the story alongside the photos.  This is a great story for the third graders to read as they raise butterflies in their classrooms this spring.  Students will surely compare their own experience raising butterflies to those of the farmers in Costa Rica.

Fourth Graders Create PowerPoints

Our fourth grade students just finished learning how to create PowerPoints in the library.  They were very excited to start this unit.   Each student chose four favorite things to share in their presentation.  Students started the PowerPoint by typing their text, then they were able to select a theme.  I explained to the students that inserting the text first is just like having  “dinner before dessert” meaning that they have to do the work before they get distracted by the fun things in PowerPoint.  Students then learned how to add pictures and animations.  Teaching students how to have text and pictures appear at different times in the slideshow was such fun; I heard many “awesomes” whispered while teaching animations.  Many students enjoyed creating the PowerPoints so much that they told me they are using PowerPoint to write book reports in their classrooms!4th grade PT4th graders PPT

Here is the PowerPoint created by one fourth grade student:

PowerPoint by a Fourth Grade Student

Changes in the Nonfiction Section

New Primary Nonfiction Section

New Primary Nonfiction Section

I have long noticed that our younger readers often select books that are quite above their reading level.  Recently a few parents have noticed it, too.  So, I  made a small yet big change to the nonfiction section.  Nonfiction books that are appropriate for kindergarten through second grade now have their own space at the beginning of the nonfiction shelves.  This will make it much easier for our younger readers to find books that are at their reading or interest level.  It has also helped me to identify what topics need more titles for our younger readers.  Sometimes, change is good.


Welcome to the new blog for TJ Connor Media Center.  While I have been the school library media specialist for six years now, this is my first blog!  I am excited to share this new way of communicating with my students, teachers, families, and community.   On the right hand side, you can check out my Goodreads, which has books I have recently read; many titles are great for elementary students, but some books will appeal to young adults and parents.  Please check back or subscribe to the blog to find out all the exciting things that are happening at TJ Connor in the library.