Texas Google Summit or #TXGOO17

Screen Shot 2017-05-25 at 8.07.08 AMI had such a great time presenting at the Texas Google Summit this past weekend. Every time I have attended, I find it to be one of the most practical and helpful conferences. I always walk away with several tips I can’t wait to apply to my class or library when I get home.

This year I had the privilege of presenting a session titled “Google Apps for Librarians.” I had a much bigger turnout that I expected and I can’t wait to do this again in the future. Librarians really are the nicest people. Here is a link to my presentation. Feel free to share it with anyone you like. One of the biggest piece I feedback I received was that I need to include more on incorporating Google apps in an elementary library. Since I spend my days in high school world, I don’t have any experience with little ones.

Do you have ideas on how to use Google apps in an elementary library? If so, email me at librarianbailey@gmail.com or post a comment on this page. I might feature your ideas in my next post!

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To Kill a Mockingbird

mockingbird

Title of Book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

GoodReads Rating: 4.25

Summary:

This is a charming and inspiring classic about Scout, her family, and neighbors in a small town in Alabama in 1936. The novel is episodic in nature as the author uses witty humor and intelligence to show Scout’s gradual movement away from naivety in regards to racism, sexism, and classism, and other facts of life.

APA Reference of Book:

Lee, H. (2006). To Kill a Mockingbird. New York, NY: Harper Perennial Modern Classics.

My Impressions: 

This novel is one of those classics that everyone assumes you have already read, especially when you are an English teacher. However, I never read it high school like so many other people did. Then in college, my professors assumed I already had. I am so glad I finally got to read it because it lived up to the hype. The novel is definitely sentimental; however, I think it is inspiring and beautifully written. It deals with important issues – racism, sexism, classism – subtlely yet with a clear voice. I did not find it to be as preachy or angry as modern social justice novels. I was also surprised to find that the trial is only about 1/3 or 1/4 of the book. The way everyone talks about it, I assumed it was most of the novel. However, most of the novel is focused on Scout and her adventures with her brother Jem and her friend Dill. Overall, this classic is emotional and inspiring, yet easy to read. I highly recommend it to both high schoolers and adult readers.

Professional Review:

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
Harper Lee
1960
Novel

Between the ages of 6 and 9, Scout Finch has doubts about whether she wishes to grow up to be a lady. She much prefers the free, boyish life she enjoys with her older brother, Jem, and his friends. She also enjoys an open relationship with her widowed father, Atticus, a local attorney and perennial legislator.

Though many of the family’s adventures are told, Scout’s life during these years centers on two events, her developing relationship with Boo Radley and her father’s defense of Tom, a black wrongly accused of raping a white woman.

Scout discovers that while the mentally deficient Boo Radley has been a curiosity to her, he has been lovingly caring for her. She and her friends watch the house where his family keeps him hidden and speculate about him, sometimes cruelly. Various signs show Scout that Boo’s interest in them is friendly and protective. Scout becomes sure of his goodness when Boo saves her and Jem from a murder attempt.

This lesson in tolerance is often repeated in the novel. Tom’s trial reveals the degree to which the whole town needs to understand what Scout learns. Because he proves the likelihood of Tom’s innocence, Atticus must endure scorn, anger, and the attempted murder of his children. Despite Atticus’ successful defense, the jury recommends the death penalty.

Scout’s innocent perceptions reveal how family, class, race, region, and religion can be barriers to tolerance and sympathy. The openness to experience that Atticus cultivates in her helps her to look closely at people and to withhold judgment until she understands them.

To Kill A Mockingbird. (1990). Magill Book Reviews,

Library Uses:

This book should definitely be highlighted on the “Classics” shelf on a library. Perhaps the librarian could even make a poster advertising it. Many students are turned off by Classics because they find them difficult to read. However, To Kill a Mockingbird is a very approachable novel. I believe most 8th graders could read and understand it with confidence.

On the Day I Died

died

Title of Book: On the Day I Died: Stories from the Grave by Candace Fleming

GoodReads Rating: 3.67

Summary:

This book was a collection of horror short stories, all based, at least partially, on facts. They were not presented chronologically but instead ranged from the late 1800’s up until present day.

APA Reference of Book:

Fleming, C. (2012). On the Day I Died: Stories from the Grave. New York, NY: Schwartz & Wade.

My Impressions: 

Normally, I do not enjoy horror stories. However, I found the history behind these stories to be very interesting. In addition to the “creepy” aspect, the reader also learns quite a bit about the culture of various time periods. For example, one story detailed the gang rilvalry between Al Capone and other gangsters in the 1920’s and 1930’s Chicago. In addition, a different story told about the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. Overall, I enjoyed the historical aspect of these stories and the fact that most of them were creepy instead of violent.

Professional Review:

Gr 4-7-Mike is driving home on a stormy night on a winding country road when a dripping wet girl suddenly appears in his headlights. He stops the car and offers her a ride. Inside the car, she removes her saddle shoes and places them on the floorboard. After dropping her off, Mike discovers that her shoes are still in the car. When he attempts to return them, he is met at the door by an elderly lady who tells him this happens every year on the anniversary of her daughter’s death. If he really wants to return the shoes, she says, he must go to the cemetery just up the road. At the gravesite, he discovers a moldering mound of old saddle shoes and soon is encircled by a group of disparate apparitions, all teenagers intent on describing for him the bizarre circumstances of their deaths. So begins the parade of nine other spooky tales (Schwartz & Wade, 2012) by Candace Fleming, each from a different time period from the 1860s to the present, and all of them set in the Chicago area. Mixed in with the more standard fare for this genre are a few truly scary stories and one kitschy piece that’s a takeoff on The Blob. There is a different narrator for each tale, with mixed results. Still, this will make for frightfully good listening.

Frostick, C. (2012). On the Day I Died: Stories from the Grave. School Library Journal, 58(10), 65-66.

Library Uses:

High school students are often involved in so many activities before and after school that they do not have time to read novels. Thus, this collection of short stories, along with other genres of short story collections, should be used to create a recommendation list for students in this situation. They can often read one story in one sitting, rather than stopping mid-story in a novel. In addition, horror and mystery are very popular with high school students so they would really enjoy the stories in this collection, especially around Halloween.

Stitches

stitches

Title of Book: Stitches by David Small

GoodReads Rating: 4.03

Summary:

This graphic novel is autobiographical. It chronologically tells the story of the author’s traumatic childhood from age 5 to 16. His father treated his sinus issues as an infant with radiation, which caused the author to develop cancer in his throat. His parents then had cancer removed yet never told their teenage son that he had cancer. He discovered the truth later by accident. In addition, the surgery severely damaged his vocal cords, making him almost completely mute. The book also chronicles his mother’s emotional abuse.

APA Reference of Book:

Small, D. (2009). Stitches. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company.

My Impressions: 

Although heartbreaking, this graphic novel is both well-written and well-illustrated. It is a powerful and emotional story. It is a gripping tale. The author does an excellent job of using the illustrations to support the text. For example, all the illustrations are in black and white in order to emphasize the sadness of his childhood. In addition, the images representing his parents do not have eyes. I believe he did this in order to take away their humanity because he saw them as soulless. Thus, through the use of text and image, the author does a great job of developing the characterization of his parents.

Professional Review:

Gr 10 Up–Small is best known for his picture-book illustration. Here he tells the decidedly grim but far from unique story of his own childhood. Many teens will identify with the rigors of growing up in a household of angry silences, selfish parents, feelings of personal weakness, and secret lives. Small shows himself to be an excellent storyteller here, developing the cast of characters as they appeared to him during this period of his life, while ending with the reminder that his parents and brother probably had very different takes on these same events. The title derives from throat surgery Small underwent at 14, which left him, for several years, literally voiceless. Both the visual and rhetorical metaphors throughout will have high appeal to teen sensibilities. The shaded artwork, composed mostly of ink washes, is both evocative and beautifully detailed. A fine example of the growing genre of graphic-novel memoirs.

Goldsmith, F. (2009). Stitches: A Memoir. School Library Journal, 55(9), 193.

Library Uses:

This graphic would be a great one to recommend to teachers who still think graphic novels are the same as comics or even “trash.” Reading this graphic novel will show them how profoundly emotional graphic novels can be. In addition, they will see that the characters and plot are fully developed, just like a traditional novel. Thus, hopefully after reading this graphic novel, reluctant teachers will begin using graphic novels as teaching tools in the classroom.

Temple Grandin

temple

Title of Book: Temple Grandin by Sy Montgomery

GoodReads Rating: 3.98

Summary:

This biography is a brief, but fascinating, look into the life of an autistic woman, Temple Grandin, who revolutionized the American cattle and meat packing industries. The book is a chronological narrative which begins with Grandin’s childhood. Throughout the book, the author includes photographs and sketches of Grandin’s designs.

APA Reference of Book:

Montgomery, S. (2012). Temple Grandin. New York, NY: HMH Books for Young Readers.

My Impressions: 

This book could work for both pleasure reading and research. It is an interesting biography to read for pleasure. However, if one were researching autism or the meat industry in the United States, this book would be an excellent source. The author includes a long reference list on page 134-6 of the book, which contains several books, articles, websites, and films about both of these topics. The author’s purpose is to argue two items: autistic people are gifted, not handicapped, and all animals should be treated with respect. It is an emotionally inspiring book as the reader feels ashamed at the way people treated Grandin because of her autism. In addition, the reader feels horror when realizing how animals were butchered before Grandin put an end to it. Thus, readers are inspired to treat both people and animals in more respectfully and humanely.

Professional Review:

Gr 6-8 — Temple Grandin, who has autism, is a professor of animal science at Colorado State University and an expert on cruelty-free cattle facilities. She sees her autism not as a disability, but rather as a different way of thinking and communicating that makes her especially able to understand animals and their needs. Grandin thinks visually, as do animals. Sy Montgomery’s book (Houghton Harcourt, 2012) shows how she overcame the odds and conquered the obstacles in her path. Of special interest is the advice she offers to children on the autism spectrum, found on the last track of the audiobook. In the print version, her life and experiences are highlighted with numerous sidebars, photographs, and diagrams that don’t translate well into audiobook format. However, when paired with the book, the audio version would be a wonderful addition to collections serving children on the autism spectrum as well as for libraries looking for excellent biographies of women. Narrator Meredith Mitchell recreates Grandin’s flat, gravelly tone in the liberally sprinkled quotes that make up much of the story. — Ann Brownson, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston

Brownson, A. (2012). Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World. School Library Journal, 58(9), 70.

Library Uses:

This would be a fun book for a show and tell. Students in book club could come to school dressed as the person in their favorite biography, such as this one about Temple Grandin. They could then tell the other members about the book and her life.

Poop Happened

poop

Title of Book: Poop Happened by Sarah Albee

GoodReads Rating: 4.16

Summary:

This nonfiction book is a funny, yet information-packed, look at hygiene, toilets, sewage systems and more throughout history. The book is organized chronologically.

APA Reference of Book:

Albee, S. (2010). Poop Happened. New York, NY: Walker Childrens.

My Impressions: 

Although at first glance it seems ridiculous, this book is actually very informative. The author’s thesis, which runs throughout the book, is that the longest-lasting and most advanced civilizations were the ones with sophisticated sewage systems. This is primarily because they had less disease. Thus, they were able to live longer, rule longer, and accomplish more. I enjoyed this book while learning a great deal of history.

Professional Review:

Gr 4-8–This self-proclaimed “number one book on number two” takes readers inside the fascinating world of excrement, ranging across the historical spectrum from “Hellenic Hygiene” to “How Do Astronauts Use the Toilet in Space?” Albee’s focus is not only on bodily functions, but also on the larger public-health challenges created by mass urbanization in the ancient and modern world as well as the ability of societies to deal with these problems, which provides readers with an excellent introduction to social history. With a focus on the Western world in general and England in particular, the author touches on an array of topics from diseases such as cholera and plague to the development of increased sanitation in large urban areas such as London. The exciting format is comprised of a two-color (pastel green and blue) layout with numerous illustrations and photos. Interesting sidebars describe occupations and “hygiene heroes” such as Edwin Chadwick and bathroom fashion. The fluid writing style that ensnares and holds readers’ attention from beginning to end. By bringing history alive, this captivating work is without a doubt an essential purchase.

Odom, B. (2010). Poop Happened!: A History of the World from the Bottom Up. School Library Journal, 56(5), 126.

Library Uses:

This book would be great to add to a list of books for reluctant readers, especially upper elementary and middle school boys. This group of readers usually prefer nonfiction books or humorous books. This book is perfect for them because it is humorous nonfiction.

Glory Be

glory be

Title of Book: Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood

GoodReads Rating: 3.9

Summary:

This middle-grade novel is about desegregation in Mississipi. Specifically, it is about how some racist politicians in a small town would rather close the white-only swimming pool during the heat of the summer than allow colored people to swim in it with them. It is told from the perspective of Glory, a sassy 11-year-old girl. Glory is unaware of the racism in her town until people in her life begin explaining the situation to her. The novel also details her relationship with her older sister, which has changed since Jesslyn has become interested in boys.

APA Reference of Book:

Scattergood, A. (2012). Glory Be. New York, NY: Scholastic Press.

My Impressions: 

This novel is a lighthearted and fun way to teach children about a very violent, turbulent time in history. As adults, we know just how violent the Civil Rights Movement was. However, it might not always be appropriate to share these details with young children. Some of them are not mature enough to handle it, and others may suffer nightmares if it causes them to relive their own traumatic experiences. Furthermore, they may not be interested in a “serious” book. Thus, this book is an effective teaching tool because it can expose children to the injustices of racism and segregation, while also telling an enjoyable story about a sassy young girl and her friends and family. The author was able to accomplish this balance by using Glory as the narrator of the novel. If an adult had been the narrator, it would not of had the same whimsical tone.

Professional Review:

Gr 5–8–Spunky, engaging Gloriana Hemphill, 11, describes the “freedom summer” of 1964 in Hanging Moss, MS, where winds of social change are beginning to upset the status quo. In a series of eye-opening adventures, Glory learns that her sheltered life as a preacher’s kid has overshadowed her awareness of injustice and intolerance in her town. When the segregated community pool is closed indefinitely, her predictable world is upended. A new girl arrives from Ohio with her mother, a nurse who will be running a Freedom Clinic for poor black people. Big sister Jesslyn’s new boyfriend reveals that he was once jailed in North Carolina for sitting with a “colored friend” at a white lunch counter. Meanwhile, best friend Frankie spouts dislike of Yankees and Negroes but is clearly manipulated by a racist father and an abusive older brother. Although Glory’s ingenuous, impulsive behavior often gets her in trouble at home and in the community, she learns the importance of compassion, discretion, and self-awareness. A cast of supportive adults helps her mature: her patient, widowed father; her beloved African American housekeeper; and the open-minded local librarian. This coming-of-age story offers a fresh, youthful perspective on a pivotal civil rights period. Historical references to Attorney General Robert Kennedy’s visit, the influx of civil rights workers, and Elvis vs. The Beatles popularity are included. But the richness of this story lies in the Mississippi milieu, the feisty naïveté of the protagonist, and the unveiling of the complexities of human nature. Glory is an appealing, authentic character whose unflinching convictions, missteps, and reflections will captivate readers.

Larson, G. (2012). Glory Be. School Library Journal, 58(2), 134.

Library Uses:

This book would be a fun way to begin a serious discussion with students about racism and segregation. How would they feel if they could not use the swimming pool during the heat of the Mississipi summer? How would they feel if they could not eat at certain restaurants, or had to watch a concert from the back of the balcony only?

Breaking Beautiful

BB

Title of Book: Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf

GoodReads Rating: 3.96

Summary:

Allie’s life is turned upside down when her very popular boyfriend, Trip, dies in a car accident and she survives. She does not remember anything from that night. In her small town, some people resent her because they wish she had been the one to die instead of Trip. Others think she murdered Trip, especially when she becomes romantically involved with a new boy, Blake. Her only support is her parents and her special needs brother. Was Trip murdered? If so, who did it? This plot is mysterious with several twists and turns.

APA Reference of Book:

Wolf, J. S. (2012). Breaking beautiful. New York, NY: Walker Childrens.

My Impressions: 

I enjoy a good mystery and this one did not disappoint. It had moments of excitement, romance, and terror. However, it avoided the graphic violence that so many young adult novels have today. Some might find Allie’s romantic relationship with Blake to be cheesy; however, I found it charming. The reader is able to see the world from Allie’s perspective as she tries to remember what happened that night. Through seeing her viewpoint, we begin to wonder if some secrets dwell inside Allie, of which she is not aware. We wonder if she is a trustworthy narrator. There are also some shady characters in the town, such as Trip’s parents and friends, who might have had a motivation to kill him. Overall, this is a fun mystery/thriller which I think middle and high schools, especially girls, would enjoy.

Professional Review:

Gr 7 Up–Eighteen-year-old Allie’s life changes in an instant when her boyfriend, Trip Phillips, drives off a cliff in small-town Pacific Cliffs. Allie survives the wreck but wishes her secret would have died with him. She is haunted by the fact that Trip was physically and emotionally abusive. She can’t remember that fatal night but is sure that the incident wasn’t an accident. Maybe her twin brother was trying to protect her from Trip’s abuse, or maybe it was her best friend, Blake. Regardless, the case is reopened as suspicious circumstances begin to emerge, and Allie must relive that night and find the courage to speak up about the abuse even though she fears that no one will believe her. Teens will be consumed by the mystery, and romantics will hope that Allie and Blake can make it even though it seems that the town is against them. The author has done a good job of helping readers understand the accident as it is told in flashbacks yet intertwined with present-day events. The story unfolds in a convincing manner; nothing is left open-ended, which leaves readers sure that Allie is no longer in turmoil, and that she has moved forward.

Alexander, K. (2012). Breaking Beautiful. School Library Journal, 58(3), 178-179.

Library Uses:

This book would be perfect for a high school book club. Assuming the readers agree to read at the same pace (in other words, read ONLY chapter 1-3 for week 1, etc.), they could share their speculations about the plot. Furthermore, they could share these speculations through creating a “suspects” board such as the ones seen on tv crime shows. This would allow a simple art project to be incorporated into this high school book club meetings.

The 5th Wave

5th wave

Title of Book: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

GoodReads Rating: 4.12

Summary:

This young adult science fiction novel is about aliens invading Earth; however, the author handles the subject carefully. Up until the very end of the novel, we are not sure who is an alien and who is not. The chapters alternate narrators from Cassie to Sammy (her little brother), to Ben (her high school crush). Another important character is Evan, Cassie’s mysterious savior.

APA Reference of Book:

Yancey, R. (2013). The 5th wave. New York, NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers.

My Impressions: 

The plot twists in this novel are addicting. Considering I am not usually a fan of science fiction, I loved this book. Although, true science fiction lovers might complain that it does not contain enough science or scenes in outer space. The plot was far more complex than most young adult novels I have read and I fully enjoyed it. It ended on a cliff hanger, so I am eager to read the other books in the series.

Professional Review:

Gr 9 Up–Cassie travels with just the essentials. First on the list: Luger, M-16, ammo, Bowie knife. Incidentals like food, water, sleeping bag, and nail clippers come further down. A nondescript 16-year-old, she is one of the very few people left alive on Earth. Aliens sent waves of destructive forces to eradicate humans: Cassie’s family survived the 1st and 2nd Waves. Her mother died in the 3rd Wave (Pestilence) and her father in the 4th (Silencers). Her little brother may still be alive; he may even be safe in a military compound, as Cassie deals with the 5th Wave- a carefully orchestrated survival dance of kill or be killed. The aliens are never described in detail, and their reasons for wanting the humans gone are not clear. But they are ruthless and determined, and their methods for gaining control mean readers will never again see owls as the friendly, mail-delivering avians portrayed in the world of Harry Potter. The compelling story is told from the viewpoints of Cassie and Ben, who is now a soldier known as Zombie. Cassie crushed on Ben at school, but he never particularly noticed her. Now he has transformed from handsome high school sports star to focused paramilitary killer. Yancey’s story is full of violent twists and turns, but character development continues along with nonstop action. Cassie and Ben grow out of high school self-centeredness and find leadership qualities. Cassie’s interactions with an alien elevate him from a one-dimensional “bad guy” role. While the big body counts (billions die) happen largely offscreen, there are numerous more personal instances in which teens are both killers and killed. The ending has enough planned loose ends to practically guarantee a sequel.

Knapp, M. (2013). The 5th wave. School Library Journal, 59(4), 175.

Library Uses:

Since this novel was recently made into a film, it could be included in a display of young adult books that have been adapted for the screen. Librarians could encourage teens to read the book before seeing the film, and then encourage discussions comparing the book and film.

Speak

Speak

Title of Book: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

GoodReads Rating: 3.99

Summary:

This novel follows a year in the life of, specifically the internal conflict of, a 9th-grade rape victim. The book does not shy away from the difficult emotions the victim, Melinda, struggles with or her changes in behavior. For example, the author details her struggles with passing her classes, making friends, her relationship with her parents, but also highlights her one and only outlet – art class.

APA Reference of Book:

Anderson, L. H. (1999). Speak. New York, NY: Puffin.

My Impressions: 

I found this novel to be a powerful read because it addresses a difficult topic with sensitivity. The rape scene itself is rather vague compared to other young adult books published today. The reader does not need graphic details because we have an imagination. Furthermore, I think this book is an excellent example of realistic fiction because at the end of the book, Melinda is learning to find her voice again, stand up for herself, and have hope for her own future. Although it is an emotionally difficult book to read, by the end, the reader has hope too, which is crucial.

Professional Review:

Gr 8 Up –This powerful novel deals with a difficult yet important topic-rape. Melinda is just starting high school. It should be one of the greatest times in her life, but instead of enjoying herself, she is an outcast. She has been marked as the girl who called the police to break up the big end-of-the-summer party, and all the kids are angry at her. Even her closest friends have pulled away. No one knows why she made the call, and even Melinda can’t really articulate what happened. As the school year goes on, her grades plummet and she withdraws into herself to the point that she’s barely speaking. Her only refuge is her art class, where she learns to find ways to express some of her feelings. As her freshman year comes to an end, Melinda finally comes to terms with what happened to her-she was raped at that party by an upperclassman who is still taunting her at school. When he tries again, she finds her voice, and her classmates realize the truth. The healing process will take time, but Melinda no longer has to deal with it alone. Anderson expresses the emotions and the struggles of teenagers perfectly. Melinda’s pain is palpable, and readers will totally empathize with her. This is a compelling book, with sharp, crisp writing that draws readers in, engulfing them in the story.

Sherman, D. (1999). Grades 5 & up: Fiction. School Library Journal, 45(10), 144.

Library Uses:

This book should be included in a list of books for reluctant readers. At 208 pages, it is brief compared to other young adult books, which is an attractive feature for reluctant readers. In addition, it addresses a difficult topic which, unfortunately, is relatable to many teen readers. Even if they have not had the experience the protagonist had, chances are they know someone who has and this book might help them better understand that person’s internal conflict.