Monday, October 3, 2011


Now if someone can just tell me where term 3 went....

Stuff did happen (oh my goodness yes) but not so much on Skerricks.  For assorted reasons.  But I haven't forgotten you, and plan to do more in Term 4.

I have been working with lots of teachers and classes - that's been fun.  And the school now has a Plagiarism and Ethical Use of Information Policy (more later on that) which is launching into its initial implementation this term.

This week in the hols I'm at the ASLA XXII conference at St Ignatius this week, learning lots and looking forward to presenting on Tuesday (my topic is Re-imagining your school library - do come and say hello if you're at the conference).

Hope you're enjoying your hols.  I plan to do more here on Skerricks next term.  Really.  I promise.



Friday, July 22, 2011

There are some computer problems in the world that includes writing Skerricks.  Term has resumed, the pace is as busy as ever at school and I hope Normal Programming (Blogging) will resume next week....

I was one of the winners in this week's Staff Appreciation Draw, so there's some good gnus around as well...



Saturday, July 9, 2011

Picking over the bones: cheap library furniture

Sad though it is to have two major Australian bricks'n'mortar bookshop chains closing (Angus & Robertson and Borders), I noted the other day at the store nearest me that they are selling off a lot of shopfittings, including perspex book holders, wire folding book holders, storage cubes and slatwall, that could be useful for libraries.

I got some perspex book holders (five linked units) for $10.  The wooden storage cubes were $40, the slatwall $100 for a large section (which would suit the end of a shelving run, for example).  Little hinged wire bookstands $2.

Don't know what your local store may have/may have left, but it's an opportunity to obtain some decent quality used bookstore/ library furnishings at bargain prices. (I said hello to the other local TL who happened to be in the shop at the same time...!)



Friday, July 1, 2011

What I did today

In preparation for this afternoon (last day of term 2), I put this list together:

Wiggle and swim
Line up - wavy arms
Sideways shuffle
Kissy hands
Stop hands
Train whistle
Rock climb
Slow wiggle
Thump floor
Punch down
Flap arms
Crocodile claps
Line up and link arms
Step forward
Final pose!

And no, nobody at teachers' college EVER told us about preparing lists like this.  It's a choreography list.  And before you ask, as a dancer I am a FABULOUS teacher librarian.

We have a concert on the last afternoon of term 2; performances from students and staff.  It's the finale to Spirit Week, when there are special events on each day as well as dress themes, and the kids are fundraising for charity.  So this week I have done my poor best to garb with bling, rock and roll, ninjas or pirates, and horror.  The kids have done a great job (my fave was the kid in jeans and a hoodie on the pirates or ninjas day.  I'm a software pirate, he said.  That's clever!) and enjoyed themselves.

If you look at this video, and imagine gaffer-taped stuffed animals, costumes made up of salad-cover headwear, shower-curtain dresses and headwear, balloons stapled to a garbage bag dress and, oh, a bunch more invention-of-the-moment Gaga costumery - well, you have a flavour of the part of this afternoon in which I was involved (together with one of the two faculties who did a faculty performance).

(Link: )
We finally rehearsed at lunchtime, minutes before.... we did have a colleague holding up cue cards from that list, which helped.  The students liked it, anyway!

I showed the choreography list to the dance teacher a couple of days ago.  She was very very polite; but the slight widening of her eyes was a giveaway.  Guess I haven't nailed the terminology yet....!! (but you know, it was clear enough for my equally non-dance expert colleagues, so that's what matters!)

The happy life of teacher librarians: so you think you can dance? (No.  Entertain?  More probable.)

It was fun.  And now it's hols.  YAY!

Enjoy your break, if you're having one.  See you back here next term.



PS The longer I teach, the more I realise about how many things they didn't tell us/teach us about in teachers' college.  Garbage bag/balloon couture, for example. 

PPS I discovered how to date myself instantly among younger teaching colleagues.  Use the term "teachers' college".

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A new film of Romeo & Juliet

I'm researching Romeo & Juliet trailers and video bits for a lesson (will share 'em later - found some Amazing Stuff!) and tripped over mention of a new film.  I still think Baz Luhrmann's 1996 Romeo + Juliet is fabulous, but this one looks interesting too.  Cast includes True Grit's Hailee Steinfeld as Juliet

and Douglas Booth (who was in Pillars of the Earth) as Romeo - both young, but probably close to the given ages in Shakespeare's play. 

Benvolio is played by young Australian actor Kodi Smit-McPhee, from Romulus my Father, Let Me In, The Road

Release date is given as 2012, so don't hold your breath, and the script is by Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park, Downton Abbey).  Director is Carlo Carlei.

More at IMDB here:



PS. Luhrmann's film is 16 years old now?  Yikes!

Photos from their respective IMDB profile pages

Monday, June 27, 2011

The happy life of teacher librarians: the late note

The scene: a school library.  Busyish lunchtime over, a few students in the library on study periods etc.

Polite young Year 7 boy clutching a novel: Miss?
Miss, can I please have a late note?
Um, for what?
To get into class...
(I check the time: it's 25 minutes AFTER the end of lunch bell)
Lunch finished quite some time ago. 
I know.
So I was reading in one of the seats upstairs Miss, and I didn't hear the bell.

He looks sorta apologetic, and rueful, and what the heck?  Isn't it great to know he was so comfy and happy (in the seats we have scrounged and recovered and set into a reading layout) and had so disappeared into the world of a book that the world beyond didn't register?  Yup.  It is.  A lovely compliment to the library.  He got his late note (with a cheerful explanation for the teacher).  Not that it would be good to be writing them every day, but he was genuine and it was a delightful moment.

The happy life of teacher librarians: best late note ever?



Friday, June 24, 2011

Quirky Book Week: It's a Book

Today's book is a book (which I can also share with you via a video) about books.

Books remain wonderful bits of technology.  The day after I bought Press Here and All My Friends are Dead (Quirky Books blogged about earlier this week), was a Friday.  Staff morning tea at recess.  I brought them with me and slid them like contraband to this person and that.  Just try it.  Go on.  It's funny.  And they did.  PE teachers and Art teachers and History teachers and English teachers and more.  Not just people with a practical teaching need for a quirky fun picture book, but colleagues and friends who would enjoy the fun of them, their gift of laughter.  I didn't need a screen or a battery or a lead.  Just the books.  Which is kinda the point of Lane Smith's book.

Here's a book trailer that covers the whole book, pretty much, and will give you a good flavour of it.

And here's the link, if that doesn't work:

For all the things books don't do, there is so much that they do so well.

One thing is share laughter, provide a shared experience.  That's what Quirky Books can offer, and how they can add value and fun to your library, as they do here.  I've already blogged about books with legs: and they certainly qualify as Quirky Books too.

The wonderful local independent bookshop I mentioned yesterday was the one that got me onto this book, so props to them (after I bagged them yesterday!).

Hope you've enjoyed these five Quirky Books, and I hope to learn about more candidates from your comments - do leave one!



Thursday, June 23, 2011

Quirky Book Week: Press Here

Today's Quirky Book is deceptively simple.  You will probably say, I could have thought of that.  But you didn't.  Nor (dangit!) did I.  But hurrah and hurray that Herve Tullet did.

But what happens when you open the book and press the yellow dot?

This, for starters:

What's not to like about a book that draws a crowd?

The page for this book has some pictures from inside.  It also has a link so you can create this minibook version (only a few of the many fun pages in the complete book, but enough to show you how it works). 

On one of the pages, the instruction is to clap to make something change in the book.  I can track the progress and location of this book around the library by the clapping...

Another one to make the library a fun place for happy discoveries.

My wonderful local independent bookshop and I disagree on this book.  I'm enormously amused (and so are the people at school, kids and teachers, with whom I share it).  The normally smart bookshop folk say, 'meh'.  So it's lovely and gorgeous to have people say to me, Where did you get it? and I can direct traffic to the wonderful local bookshop, adding that I hope the buyer will let the bookshop know that Ruth showed them this book.... 'meh' my Aunt Fanny!

I learned about this book from friends who had learned about it from the Children's Bookshop in Beecroft NSW: Paul McDonald from there always has good recommendations (as does my wonderful local independent bookshop; just on this book, they're wrong and I'm right!!).

Tomorrow, another favourite Quirky Book.  Have you enjoyed them this week?  Do leave a comment with your own favourite Quirky Books!



Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Quirky Book Week: Cherise the Niece

After yesterday's sweet little girl, today you can meet Cherise:

A sweet wee thing.  Well, kinda.  I was going to do a blog entry about books with n@ughty little girls, until I considered what search engines and their bots might do with that particular concept...

On the page for this book, you can take a look inside.  You can also buy a Kindle ebook edition, and download the first chapter free.  The product description on Amazon says:

The bloody footprints leading out of Cherise’s bedroom are the first clue that perhaps the little darling with the bow in her hair is not an angel. As Cherise is shuttled from one aunt’s home to another, her aunts vanish, meeting inventive and hysterical ends. With a killer punch line on its final page, Jim Benton’s Cherise the Niece will leave readers laughing.

I myself feel that it's important to let you know that there is a note at the beginning of the book advising that no aunts were harmed in its making...

Definitely black humour; if you're not in a high school, maybe one to read before adding to the collection. 

But fun?  Heck yes!  It's caused lots of chuckling in our library.

Tomorrow's Quirky Book is one of my favourites.



Image from

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Quirky Book Week: Constance and Tiny

Another Quirky Book for your delectation!

Meet Constance, and her adorably sweet cat, Tiny:

Absolute angels, they are.  Take a look inside the book with this preview from the Book Depository website.

There is an utter (and very recognisable) disparity between what Constance says (in the text of the book) and what Constance (and Tiny) do.  Could be exploitable for English.  My name is Constance.  I am locked up in an evil mansion...

But mostly, it's just gorgeous fun.

Picked this up from a sale table, but it's orderable from bookshops in Australia or overseas.  Not expensive.

What are your fave quirky books?  I have three more to share this week - enjoy!  Constance and Tiny have another adventure in Constance and the great escape.



Monday, June 20, 2011

Here is the reality of teaching

Terrific article in today's Sydney Morning Herald, from Leon Wright who teaches in western Sydney.  My favourite paragraph from "Waves of guff wash over the modern teacher" is this one:

Here is the reality. This morning, tens of thousands of teachers will go to work. They each have their strengths and weaknesses. There are motherly types, coaches, IT experts, role models, adventurers, martinets, inspirers, storytellers, social workers, academics, craftsmen, performers and, of course, a few time servers, incompetents and babes in the woods. Only the gullible and ambitious among them will uncritically embrace the passing fads. The rest will just get on with it.

But it's all worth reading.  Smart observation, this:

Once you have begun teaching, there is no let-up. At staff development days, we watch highly paid experts give presentations on how the judicious use of painted egg cartons and paper clips has transformed education in Barbados. We invariably apply one jaundiced criterion to evaluate this stuff: would it work with my year 9 class on a Friday afternoon?

Read it all:
to whom some, but not all, of the above descriptions apply.
Found via the paper paper: the SMH as broadsheet, while I scarfed down a quick sandwich before a lesson with Year 7.  Seize the day (and the lunch!)

Quirky Book Week: All My Friends Are Dead

Welcome to Quirky Book Week on Skerricks!

Five books that are just great fun - the kids like 'em, and I like 'em, and they make the library a happy place.

Which you might start to question when you see the first book:

Cheer up.  It's a really really funny book.

You can take a look inside here (Google preview on the Book Depository website).  I rather like the pirate saying all his friends have scurvy....

Just make sure when you read the book that you read all the way to the very very last page.

It's a smallish book, gifty-sized, and not expensive.  It's making lots of friends here.  Another way to make this library a place where there is laughter, and fun to be had, and discoveries to be made.  So it's about library PR, too.

Tune in tomorrow for another Quirky Book!



Image from

Friday, June 17, 2011

The happy life of teacher librarians: HI MISS!

So last Friday I spent all day at the library in the downstairs seminar room (glass walls, next to the computer area) with a group of teacher librarians for a mini-conference.

We had all brought food for recess and lunch; after recess, there was still quite a spread on the table, cake and biscuits and sandwiches and cheese and... we grazed, and talked of cabbages and kings.  Hosting this meeting, I had made sure we had peppermints on the table, because what is a seminar/conference without peppermints???

In the period before lunch, 10E8 English came to the library with their teacher for their regular fortnightly period.  Being Otherwise Engaged, I didn't spend the time with them as I usually would have done.

The boys (they're all boys in that class) are a bunch of larrikins and characters.  They were naturally curious about these unexpected goings-on right next to the computers they were working on.  And food.... (hmm, maybe a lot of their interest centred on the food...).  Being the opportunistic thinkers that they are, a couple bent their minds to exploiting this situation.

So I'm sitting facing the library, and a couple wave hello.  I smile back, and refocus on the discussion.

A couple of the boys are typing something on the computer.  They turn the screen so I can read it, big smiles on their faces:


I grin acknowledgement, and refocus.

More typing.  The screen is turned back towards me:


Couldn't help myself, I laughed aloud.  They grinned back.  I excused myself from the meeting, picking up the bowl of Seminar Peppermints as I went, and went out for a minute or two to let those larrikins know just how obnoxious they are...and to remind them, as I offered them a peppermint (they took two, naturally) that it isn't OK to eat in the library.  They agreed, as they chewed, and I returned to the meeting. (They can do Contradiction just fine).  Thanks, miss!

I haven't had the heart to tell them that the last of the food was hoovered by the public stomachs of the same teacher's Year 7 class at the end of the day.

The happy life of teacher librarians: HI MISS



Newspaper Map: find, translate, read

How cool is this?

Every balloon is a different newspaper, the languages indicated by colour.  You can use the hand icon to move around the map (so yes, it does have Australia).

Great, you say, but what if I only speak English?

No worries.

Let's try an example There's a little Spanish balloon in the middle of the sea of English in the US.  When you click on it, you can choose the language in which you wish to read that newspaper.  Sure, Google Translate ain't perfect, but it's not bad.

Lots of ways this could be handy!  Let your teachers know...

Found via Twitter: @newsfromtengrrl who posts lots of useful links.



Screenshot images from the site.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Auslan Signbank (is this a perfect use of the internet, or what?)

Many moons ago, I learned some Auslan - Australian Sign Language, as used by the deaf community.  As you may know, this is not the same as the sign language used in the UK or the US, even though our countries all share English.  As it happens I haven't used it much, or (to be honest) retained a lot of what I learned twenty years ago, but some has stuck, and come in handy from time to time.  (And one of my best true funny stories is about an unexpectedly handy application of Auslan...!)

Working with a slightly tricky kid the other day, where something lateral and quirky was more likely to catch his attention than plain vanilla, I used some fingerspelling.  It did catch his attention when I repeated a word in this unexpected way).  But his attention drifted when I had to attend to other students, and when I had time to get back to him, he was definitely grumpy again.  Hmmm, I thought, I wonder if...?  Less than a minute of googling and I'd found the Auslan signbank online.

How to sign 'grumpy'?



This is an utterly brilliant use of the internet.  Many moons ago, I had a couple of books (the more comprehensive one hugely bulky) that contained signs.  Trapped in drawn diagrams, because that is what print books can do.  But on this page, the little video shows you the word/idea being signed.  You can replay it as often as you like.  You can search for any of the other over 4000 signs listed via the alphabetical list or just the word you want.  You can search on medical terms only.  You can see in which parts of Australia a particular sign is used.

Here's what the site includes:
  • a dictionary
  • a special medical and health dictionary
  • grammar examples on video
  • videos of deaf people using Auslan naturally
  • information on the deaf community in Australia
  • links to Auslan classes
To my knowledge, there aren't students using sign at my school (ie. I don't know if we have any who use it at home, but it's not used at school) - my use of it is as an attention-getter, something different, a way to cut through and get a kid's attention (which I can then deploy in the direction I'd like it to go...); and as a window on another way of looking at the world.  The grumpy sign certainly illustrates the frustration/crankiness/grumpiness of the student who prompted this search.(He'll be back and I'll be ready!).  Maybe I'll get to use this sign instead.

One to share with other teachers - English/drama, for example.



Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Blue eyes, brown eyes: Jane Elliott's exercise in prejudice

Photo used under Creative Commons license.  LINK

 Jane Elliott, a teacher, first tried her blue-eyed/brown-eyed exercise with her class in an Iowa school in the 1960s, in response to the assassination of Martin Luther King.  You may have come across mention of it in your teacher training, or after.  While Wikipedia isn't the be-all and end-all of research, it's not a bad source for an outline of what she did, and what happened next (and check the citation list for further links).

Photo used under Creative Commons license.  LINK

This came up at school recently when one of the seniors, from a Society and Culture class studying belief systems and associated -isms was asking me to help her locate information*.  Blue-eyed/brown-eyed came up in the discussion, and while looking for information we came across this 29 page pdf which covers the blue-eyed/brown-eyed exercise and after in great useful detail (the Wikipedia article seems likely to have drawn on it, and it's not Stephen G. Bloom's only article on this topic).  Find it here:

Blue-Eyes, Brown-Eyes:
The Experiment that Shocked the Nation
And Turned a Town Against its Most Famous Daughter
By Stephen G. Bloom

Here's an interesting fact from that document:

It was Jane, for instance, who complained to the Crayola Company about its single flesh-color crayon, and today there are ten flesh-color crayons — from ebony to sand. It was Jane who complained to pantyhose companies about nudecolored pantyhose, and today there are dozens of nude shades hosiery companies manufacture.

I have tried a version of this exercise with a senior class, some years ago: not as intensely/intensively as Jane; but it still had a distinct impact on the kids, got them talking and thinking. 

So, a link to share with your History/English/Society and Culture teachers, or any you think might find it useful.  Seemed a waste not to blog it.

The student also went away with a copy of The Wave, by Morton Rhue, a fictionalised version of a similar exercise.  Lots of different ways to approach and consider an idea.



* when we'd finished this discussion, the student remarked that the Pew Internet research site I'd referred her to for an earlier assignment had been just what she needed, so she had come back to me.  Nice to get repeat business from confident customers! - I hadn't remembered that occasion, as we have so many kids here and it's hard to recall every detail of every day's discussions and conversations.  I appreciated knowing.  The happy life of teacher librarians: repeat business from happy customers!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Periodic Table of Storytelling

You don't believe me that there is a Periodic Table of Storytelling?  Behold!

I know, it's hard to read detail.  But it's worth it.  Toddle over to this link:
and click on the link on the right there that says, "Download this image" to view it on your screen.

If you love it, you can buy a copy here:
(the photo print is cheaper than the fine art one).

Here's the Artist's Statement:
Get a poster-size print of the Periodic Table of Storytelling! Writers, hang it up on your wall in a location where you can stare at it for inspiration and/or throw darts, if necessary. Fans and bibliophiles, keep a copy handy for easy reference so you can keep track of hairy plot twists. English Lit teachers, get one for your classroom and watch student interest soar!

These prints have a white, sciencey background (lab coat sold separately) and the box of examples at the bottom has been removed. 16-inch prints look good; 20-inch prints and larger appear truly impressive. I recommend clicking Photo Prints on the right--that'll get you a good 20-inch print at a lower price than the Fine Art prints offer.

This poster emits high quantities of Sciencium rays. These do not interact with matter in any detectable way, with the sole exception of making the person standing in front of this poster feel smarter. Bask in the tropey, sciencey, awesome-y rays!

This is but one example of the burgeoning field known as infographics.  As with any other sort of information, they can be used for good or evil; but the many good ones out there attest to their usefulness in providing a pictorial representation of information that kids can enjoy, relate to and learn from.

Share this one with your English teachers!



Thursday, June 9, 2011

Breaking Dawn : film poster and movie trailer

Over at the lovely Bookshelves of Doom, I discovered the first Breaking Dawn movie teaser poster.

Yup.  That's all folks.  No brooding vampires or werewolves, no brooding/angsty Bella.  Guess they're relying on the font and title then?  I wonder if the book cover designer who chose this font for Twilight got the pat on the back they deserve for such a distinctive font (and that iconic hands/apple cover)?

I will be interested to see what the reaction is from the kids.

They'll be keen to see this...
if the above doesn't work for you.

The books have hardly budged this year, or most of last - borrowed here and there, but it seems as though most who want to read them have, (and more primary age kids have read them than was the case when they were new, so we haven't had new Year 7's leaping on them as we did a couple of years ago), others have seen the films so far and are happy with consumption of the story, and lots of kids, I'd guess, own them to read as and when they wish.  Still, Twilight and its sequels got a lot of kids reading, and they've been a useful springboard/marketing device.

Found the trailer via Twitter.



Wednesday, June 8, 2011

GIFSL* 66: Requests (made public) (+ Eragon, book 4)

(Two years ago)

Miss, I want to reserve Eragon book 4
Um, as far as I know it's not written yet - ?
No, it isn't.
So is he going to write it, do you know?
Probably.  Maybe.  I hope so.
I'd really like to reserve it, Miss.
OK then...

The kids know I have a collection of requests on post-t notes on a laminated sheet in my office .  This is what it looks like pretty much all the time:

It's very much in plain sight, where the kids can see it and I can too.  When a book has been requested and ordered, if it's orderable; Eragon book 4 clearly wasn't) it goes onto a post-it note with the kid's name and goes on here (the white sheet was a rather long list a kid brought in with her).  When the book comes in, we marry it up with the note and the kid/s on the list get to borrow it first.

It's also really effective (in terms of me remembering and in terms of the kid making the request feeling nicely important and valued) to, if you can, ring your wonderful local independent bookshop at lunchtime while the kid is there, to ask them to get in/put aside a copy of this title.  Kids have this happy shine when what they want is treated this way - it's good library PR too. 

I put a lot of my orders through a wonderful local independent bookshop - they know their stuff, especially with young adult fiction, and are fabulously helpful.  And it puts money back into the local area's economy.  And they put up with lunchtime phone calls when I order a single book or two at a time; so the kids also are alerted to a wonderful local helpful bookshop, which is not a bad thing either.

So cut to this week.  Same kid, two years taller, two years older (but still at school.  I'd kinda begun to wonder if he'd still be at school when Christopher Paolini got around to writing book 4....) bounces into my office with a happy smile on his face:

Yup, I know, that post-it note is still there...
It's coming out in November!
What, he's written it?
Really?  Wow.

We look it up.  He has. It will.

The happy life of teacher librarians: wishes do come true.



Tuesday, June 7, 2011

GIFSL* 65: from top stand-up comedians. Yes, really!

Color your World
Photo used under a Creative Commons license

I am happy to get ideas and inspiration from wherever I can find them, and so clicked through on a Twitter link to read Michael Bierut's design column on Seven Things Designers Can Learn From Stand Up Comics.

What did I find?  Seven things teacher librarians re-imagining their libraries and looking for design ideas and inspiration and all sorts of things can learn from stand up comics.  Really truly.

This is the brief version, with my own comments. 

  1. It's all about the basics.  Librarywise, stuff being shelved and findable.  A welcoming, helpful atmosphere and friendly staaff.  A library that encourages and inspires.  Resources and services that the kids want and need.  You know.  So do the kids
  2. Once you've mastered the basics, make the work your own.  Every school library, like every classroom, bears the stamp of the personality of the teacher/teacher librarian in charge of it and responsible for it.  The art and science of teaching is a juggle of personality and knowledge and human relations and all sorts of other alchemies.  I know, in another library space, that I wouldn't do exactly what I have done at my present school.  I know that another teacher librarian, in my current library, wouldn't do things the same either.  It's not about better or worse, but different.  Playing to your strengths, with the goal of making it as effective as you can for the kids.
  3. Respect your audience.  That's kids, and teachers, and parents.  Kids, because sometimes they're so easy to respect, and sometimes difficult to respect: although I have found that exquisite, courteous interest from a teacher librarian can completely discombobulate a noxious student, opening the way to achieving a positive outcome for both.  Teachers can be irritating (late and lost resources, forgotten bookings etc) but like anything, there's a story both sides (teacher librarians can be irritating too: let me count the ways...or not; you know).  I'm not keen on a them and us mentality.  It's us, all teachers (whether teacher librarians or other classroom teachers) working together.
  4. Know your tools.  The standard stuff - cataloguing and other organisational tools.  The teaching tools - methods and strategies and ideas.  More resources in print and digital form and more than we have ever had before.  The tools of character and style - patience, interest in kids, enthusiasm... We have a huge toolkit, as big and Tardis-like as the mother's bag in the Swiss Family Robinson (I've never forgotten that - whatever they needed, she'd popped in that sailcloth bag before the shipwreck).
  5. Honour your craft.  Work hard, create challenges for yourself, aim to never coast and always improve.  Use your personal learning network, your willingness to be a lifelong learner hunting out new ideas from blogs, Twitter, email lists, the media, anywhere you can. 
  6. Don't be afraid of failure.  Not everything I try works out.  Last week I planned an exciting lesson and realistically, on reviewing how it went, would barely give myself a pass grade.  And a prac teacher watched it.  So, why didn't it work as well as I'd planned and hoped?  How can I do better?  If we don't model coping with failure, valuing failure, using it as a launch pad, how can we expect kids to learn how important it is, learn to be resilient, learn to be brave?
  7. Finally, never forget you have a special giftHow much fun is it to work in a school library?  Huge fun!  Barack Obama in a speech to librarians some years ago, talked about libraries as being a magic threshold.  We not only get to cross that magic threshold each day, we get to influence the experience of everyone who crosses it too.  Teaching is an amazing gift - that alchemy when it works, the pleasure of the company of so many different, engaging personalities and dreams and ideas.  Lucky lucky lucky (as I remind myself on the days when I end up tired and dispirited; because tomorrow is another day, and plenty of good things happen even on the tough days).
Click on to read the article in full here, with Michael Bierut's designer observations rather than my teacher librarianish ones:



*GIFSL= good ideas for school libraries.  An ongoing series on this blog.  Find more of them by clicking here.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The happy life of teacher librarians: should you argue with me?

Used under a Creative Commons license. 

I was having a discussion with an argumentative Year 7 boy this afternoon about some work he needed to do. Maintaining my cool and staying amused. He didn't want to work, and kept arguing.   The word "No" was implicit in what he was saying.

I stopped a couple of seniors walking past from the senior study in the library. "Will he win if he keeps arguing with me?" I enquired cheerfully.

They turned to the boy and instantly said, "NO! You won't!".

And we all laughed, and they went on their way, and the discussion with the boy was able to become a conversation, and some progress with his work was possible.

Teaching is made up of so many small, momentary transactions, and human moments, and funny moments every day.

The happy life of teacher librarians: discussions are fine, but think carefully before you argue with me!



I don't own this Tshirt, but maybe it could be rather fun (until I got caught out at something I really don't know!!)

It's from this shop on Cafe Press:,339317322
And there are lots more librarian T shirts you might like offered by a multitude of folks with Cafe Press shops.  Try searching on 'librarian'. 

One of the English teachers pointed me in the direction of this - said it reminded her of me.  Very kind!

The story of a Twitter hashtag: #YAsaves (in defence of young adult literature)

So yesterday I'm pootling through my Twitter stream, as you do, and read this:

Just now reading this @wsj piece on YA books. Awful. Glad @neilhimself has joined the rebuttal.

(note: for the sake of brevity I've edited the tweets quoted here so they're just the tweet without the tweeter or time/date stamp; you can find the original tweets on Twitter, all but one at #YAsaves).  Tweets are in red. (there are a LOT of links in this post, and I was having trouble with the html on one (couldn't work out which one among so many). I 've reformatted this blog post so for now you'll have to cut and paste the links within the tweets rather than clicking through. Figured I'd rather have this published and readable and useful than have it saved as a draft while I finetoothcomb the html, which I ain't got time to do right now! You have got the article and hashtag link hyperlinked.)

What? I wonder. WSJ is the Wall St Journal (in which I've read a bunch of interesting articles before). @neilhimself is the Twitter username of author Neil Gaiman, who you might remember weighed in on the side of the angels in the recent interrogations of teacher librarians in Los Angeles. If he's rebutting this article... and there's a link to follow, so I follow it.

The article is "Darkness Too Visible : Contemporary fiction for teens is rife with explicit abuse, violence and depravity. Why is this considered a good idea?" by Meghan Cox Gurdon. Here is an extract:

How dark is contemporary fiction for teens? Darker than when you were a child, my dear: So dark that kidnapping and pederasty and incest and brutal beatings are now just part of the run of things in novels directed, broadly speaking, at children from the ages of 12 to 18.

Pathologies that went undescribed in print 40 years ago, that were still only sparingly outlined a generation ago, are now spelled out in stomach-clenching detail. Profanity that would get a song or movie branded with a parental warning is, in young-adult novels, so commonplace that most reviewers do not even remark upon it.

If books show us the world, teen fiction can be like a hall of fun-house mirrors, constantly reflecting back hideously distorted portrayals of what life is. There are of course exceptions, but a careless young reader—or one who seeks out depravity—will find himself surrounded by images not of joy or beauty but of damage, brutality and losses of the most horrendous kinds.

Now, whether you care if adolescents spend their time immersed in ugliness probably depends on your philosophical outlook. Reading about homicide doesn't turn a man into a murderer; reading about cheating on exams won't make a kid break the honor code. But the calculus that many parents make is less crude than that: It has to do with a child's happiness, moral development and tenderness of heart. Entertainment does not merely gratify taste, after all, but creates it.

If you think it matters what is inside a young person's mind, surely it is of consequence what he reads. This is an old dialectic—purity vs. despoliation, virtue vs. smut—but for families with teenagers, it is also everlastingly new. Adolescence is brief; it comes to each of us only once, so whether the debate has raged for eons doesn't, on a personal level, really signify.

It didn't take long for this discussion to take off on Twitter, and the hashtag which emerged to tag tweets about this was #YAsaves. If you're a teacher librarian reading this (or a librarian), then you'll know what a subject heading is. If you're a library user, you've used them. On Twitter, hashtags help you follow conversations and discussions and topics. Some examples: #austl for tweets of interest to Australian teacher librarians; #YAlit for young adult literature; #tlchat for teacher librarian topics generally, and also scheduled teacher librarian chat sessions on Twitter. And so on. Anyone can invent a hashtag, and sometimes people use them for fun (#sorightnowihavehadenuf).

OK, back to our controversial article. Within minutes, this was in my Twitter stream:

follow #YAsaves for some amazing stories about how books change kids' lives, in response to a negative @wsj article about teen fiction.

There's the hashtag, to facilitate the discussion. @YAsaves.

The tweets started coming thick and fast (and while every tweet tagged with #YAsaves would be findable with that tag, remember that all I get in my Twitter stream are tweets from people I follow and tweets they have retweeted, which are signified by RT or via).

As the discussion matured, it travelled from initial reaction to analysis:

RT @NovelNovice: Staffer Steph responds to @WSJ attack on YA: RT @Steph_Lawton: A dissection of the latest att… (cont)

And the Wall St Journal was paying attention, as any business using social media should; interactive, dynamic communication is what it's about. I was dipping in and out of Twitter during the day, so while I do follow @WSJ, I find out about their response from a RT (their tweet was retweeted by someone else I follow):

RT @WSJ: We hear your tweets about this YA review: Comments welcome on Facebook, too: cc

A lot of tweets were individuals commenting on how important particular YA books were to them, how important it was/is to them to have books of all sorts and topics and themes to read. The discussion was a blend of personal stories, perspectives on censorship and more. Authors were weighing in to the discussion:

If you haven't seen them all together, here are @libbabray's (awesome) tweets defending YA fiction:

How big was this discussion getting? From another tweet:

Guess what? #YAsaves is now the third highest trending topic in the US. That took all of about 20 minutes. Get it, @wsj? Book banners?

That tweet was twelve minutes after the very first tweet I quoted at the start of this blog entry. Shows how fast the impact of a topic can be on Twitter, and also how many people are passionate about young adult literature.

Author Holly Black wrote this:

Honestly, @wsj, do you think we just make this stuff up? The darkest parts of many of my books came directly from my teenage life. #yasaves

From author Scott Westerfeld:

You guys on #YAsaves are all so awesome. Seriously, I can't imagine a better bunch of people to work for.

and from author Justine Larbalestier:

#yasaves is trending world wide. @libbabray; @maureenjohnson started something incredible @wsj claims 2 be listening. Wow.

The Wall St Journal was indeed still paying attention - this is a mere 64 minutes after that first tweet I quoted:

What young-adult fiction means to you: a selection of touching #YAsaves tweets (Scroll with arrow keys.)

This opinion made me chuckle. I know kids who'd agree!

And sometimes teens just need a freakin' awesome vampire/demon/werewolf/fallen angel/ghost/love story/dystopian. OKAY??? #YAsaves @wsj

And here's a quote I'll have to save for future use in other situations...(as well as another link to follow related to this #YAsaves discussion):

"Books are, at their heart, dangerous." by @wsj (featuring @libbabray)

The discussion goes on: I had lots of other things to do yesterday, so was only dipping into Twitter from time to time.

If you go to look at the #YAsaves discussion on Twitter, be aware that the downside of a trending (popular) topic is that the bots and spammers and rubbishfolk get onto it. If some of the tweets listed under this hashtag look like gobbledegook, ignore them - they are rubbish - and scroll down through the list to the relevant ones.

I'm sure this discussion isn't over. It will flow on into blog entries (for example, like the one you're reading now, and I'm sure many many more) and other commentary. The tweets I've used here were written over less than two hours, and demonstrate the dynamic and exciting possibilities of microblogging (140 characters max per tweet? Plenty!) and its immediacy. I didn't contribute to the discussion (then: guess I am now!), just watched and read and followed links and considered the issues, all relevant and important to teacher librarians.



Have I persuaded you yet of the educational value of Twitter for teachers' professional development? Yes? No? Stay tuned....

Later this tweet came through:

Excellent slideshow compilation of #YAsaves tweets. Powerful.

and these:

I should be reading. Instead, I just blogged my response to the @wsj article #YAsaves

Persnickety Snark: YA Saves: WSJ thoughts... - - - so I dusted off the blog...

RT @maureenjohnson: The @wsj has about 20 comments. Here are our 15,000+. /-yasavestweets #YAsaves

RT @melissa_marr: RT @lbschool: "And here is an awesome response to the @WSJ article. Preach it! " oh, YES #YASaves!

The beauty of YA is that it’s filled with books & authors who are not afraid to tell the truth to teens #YAsaves - Here is a link wherein you can see the comments to the @wsj article. Thanks, @ColleenLindsay! #YASaves
Death. Loss. Pain. Anguish. Joy. Love. Sex. Freedom. Growth. Wonder. Sorrow. Bliss... disguised as "kids' stuff." #YAsaves

(To find the originals, go to the #YAsaves hashtag on Twitter).

Friday, June 3, 2011

The happy life of teacher librarians: the books with legs

My school assistants and I have been having a lovely giggle in the last few weeks about a couple of books that seem to mysteriously grow legs every lunchtime.  They start off innocently enough - placidly sitting on the picture book display stand, usually.  But at the end of lunchtime, they're down the side of a sofa, under a comfy chair, shoved in a shelf somewhat haphazardly - anywhere but on that picture book stand, face-out.

Any guesses as to why?

See, what's really funny is that any of us can trot up to the fiction section upstairs on a given lunchtime and find the group - and it's pretty much always a group, sometimes huddled and reading together, sometimes with a designated read-alouder, a different assortment of kids pretty much every time - enjoying these picture books.  And they don't stop and pretend to be busy and important with something else when any of us appear.  They carry right on, with half an eye on us to see if we're going to react (I just grin!).  I've had some, smirking, tell me these are appalling and rude books, and shoudn't be in the library.  I say I'm appreciative of their input, and did they enjoy them?!

Actually, they're charming and fun and convey accurate information in a friendly and accessible format.  Mummy Laid an Egg is another one in this category.  I've written about them before, here:

I love having books with legs in the library!

We used to have one with the immensely promising title, Boys & Girls & Sex, which started lunchtime on the nonfiction shelf in the 613s and rarely if ever ended lunchtime there.  Another group read, although it was drier nonfiction, with some drawn illustrations (sadly added to so often that it was one of the reasons it had to be disposed of from the library).  Its thumped condition attested to its keen readership (and they could work the catalogue and library systems well enough to find it independently, because sex isn't the first topic a kid's going to enquire about from a teacher librarian.  Besides, it's a well-known fact - ask any teenager - that no teenager's parents have EVER had sex, because the thought is just too gross and embarrassing for their kids to contemplate.  Immaculate conceptions, pretty much every kid in high school.  Remarkable, really.) but it had rarely been borrowed.  By gum it got to travel around the library though! - we'd find it tucked into all sorts of unlikely shelf locations. And reshelve it in the 613s, and wonder where we'd find it next...

Ah, the happy life of teacher librarians, enjoying the books with legs!



Thursday, June 2, 2011

2011 APA book cover design winners

Among the children and young adult book cover winners at the 2011 Australian Publishers' Association awards, you can find:
Best designed children's cover of the year

Best designed children's fiction book

Joint winners of the best-designed children's nonfiction book

Best designed children's picture book

Best designed children's series

Best designed young adult book

Best designed secondary education book

See all the awards, adult and children's, with the authors/designers and all on Fancy Goods, the Bookseller and Publisher magazine's blog here:

It's interesting to see what gets industry awards like these; they're not always the ones the kids grab first. I'm sometimes hugely disappointed in book covers - the blurb sounds promising but the cover just ain't gonna grab the customers.  We get some great ones, but others (if I know that what's inside is worth the work) I'll do my best to hand-sell; but I can't hand-sell everything, and covers certainly matter.

One book I wish someone would re-issue with a modern, appealing cover is a teenage fiction book called, "A time to love, a time to mourn" by Paige Dixon (which I think was originally published with a title like, "Will you cross my golden river?".  It's a superb, well written family story, an unsentimental tearjerker - I still have a copy in the library, but it's a hard hard sell, so dated does the cover look.  Any publisher listening - ???

Congratulations to all those involved in the books above.



Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The happy life of teacher librarians: Inspiration for your library is everywhere...

As I type this, I'm on hold to a major newspaper publisher (problems with our subscription).  Instead of hold music, they are advertising at me.

"Subscribe to [publication X]," the smooth tones of the voiceover guy says, "and you'll never miss an issue.  In both senses of the word."  (or words to that effect).

My ears prick up.  There is inspiration for your library everywhere.  That's a tag line/slogan that a library could burgle and adapt...

[brainstorming here]

Come to your library and you'll never miss an issue
Research at your library and you'll never miss an issue
Learn at your library and you'll never miss an issue
Ask at your library and you'll never miss an issue


lots of possibilities.

Fancy it up into a sign, and you've got free promo material (it could go on bookmarks, too) that Big Newspaper Company paid good dollars for from a smart advertising agency... and you borrowed for nix apart from being attentive

(or being on hold for longer than one would wish, if I take the half-empty glass view, which generally I don't!)

What have you seen in marketing/advertising that could be adapted to use in a library?

The happy life of teacher librarians: inspiration is everywhere (and sometimes, being on hold can be useful!)



Film/Movie news: The Hunger Games

Tintin may be out at the end of 2011, but you'll have to wait till the end of 2012 for the film being made of Suzanne Collins' very successful book, The Hunger Games.  I have five copies of this in the library (and two or three of the sequels, Catching Fire and Mockingjay) and they are constantly either out or on reserev - it would be one of the most popular books in the library at present (five copies tells you that, doesn't it?).  Some of the kids are already starting to talk about the film.

Here's a glimpse of Jennifer Lawrence, who has been cast as Katniss:

Source is,,20493206,00.html.  She got great reviews in Winter's Bone.

There are several people on Twitter who are avidly following (and tweeting about) the film - casting, locations and more.  @HungerGamesExam is one of them.  She also has a website here with regular updates.  Filming has started, but I'm guessing any trailer is a fair way off.  But it will come...



Monday, May 30, 2011

What does a writer do? (great sources on Twitter)

Photo:This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 License LINK

I have been a storyteller since the beginning of my life, rearranging facts in order to make them more significant.


Found this excellent quote via @AdviceToWriters on Twitter.  For the teacher librarian, as having a place full of written stuff (in print and digital form) and English teachers (who teach creative writing), there are some useful people to follow on Twitter for information/ideas/inspiration about writing.  Microblogging (such as Twitter) = short snapshots of information, quick to read and investigate and use or skip over, depending on what interests you.

Some other folk who tweet about writing:

@elizabethscraig: check her stream of tweets for all sorts of useful links about writing eg.:
Elizabeth S Craig @elizabethscraig
5 ways to avoid an info dump: #amwriting

SydneyWritersCentre @SydneyWriters
26/05/11 4:43 PM
10 ways to completely screw up your novel:  #amwriting

This is not the only writers' centre (in Australia or overseas) with a Twitter presence.  Some post more about their centre's events, but others include writing advice tweets to, that you can use in teaching English.  Hunt for them on Twitter, or by googling their sites and checking to see if they are on Twitter.

OZ SF+F Writers Assc @awritingjourney
26/05/11 4:19 PM
The ASFFWA Daily is out!  ▸ Top stories today via @bloomsburysyd @harpernz @bothersomewords @shearersbooks

The Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers' Assoc regularly tweets useful stuff.  This tweet is one about their "Daily".  Some folk on Twitter use a site such as to collate tweets from their twitter stream (ie. tweets from people they follow and are interested in) into a digital newspaper.  So if you follow the ASFFWA Daily link in this tweet, you are getting pre-sifted/curated content focused on topics that tweeter is interested in; so if you're interested in what they are, you're getting the benefit of their twitter stream.

And of course many authors are on Twitter: their Twitter streams can be extremely various: as varied indeed as the writers themselves.  Best idea is to follow ones that might interest you, and if you're not finding their tweets useful/engaging, then unfollow them.  Some writers will tweet everything from what they had for breakfast (that Twitter stereotype) to stuff about their writing process.  Some will be more focused on writing.  Stephen Fry's tweets (he's one of the most followed people on Twitter and tweets often) cover an extensive range of topics, daily life, thoughts, ideas.  You can't make a writer write what they want, in books or anywhere else; on Twitter, if you follow them, you have to accept that they write what they do.  Neil Gaiman @neilhimself has a lot of followers and tweets on a range of topics: he was one writer tweeting about the interrogation of teacher librarians in LA.

There are writers whose books I adore and whose blogs I find unreadable; and writers whose output, in whatever form, I generally find interesting.  Nowt as varied as folk.

But am I finding good information about writing via my education/professional/teaching Twitter stream that I can use with students and share with English teaching colleagues?  Yup.  You can, too.

(OK, I'll admit it: this blog entry about useful info on writing is in fact a sneak evangelical moment for the educational possibilities of Twitter).



@ruth_skerricks on Twitter
I'm also on Yammer, but will only be found there if you work for the same employer as I do, because that is how Yammer works.

Friday, May 27, 2011

GIFSL* 64: Cheap Bookmark Week (Friday)

This is one of my favourite ideas.  It taps into libraries as places with facts and information: facts and information can can be fun and light as well as heavy.  It offers the opportunity for some fun interaction when you hand over the book and bookmark.  It recycles something you can find in op shops on a reasonably regular basis.

See that price tag?  $4.  The most I've paid for a box of Trivial Pursuit is $6.  And what's inside?

No, they're not question cards, they're bookmarks!  Lots and lots of them!  No guillotine work today, just some fun to be had.

It's probably a slightly pricier idea than some of the other ones from this week, but here's a comparison.  A commercial library supplier I checked had quite a few bookmarks which came in bundles of 200 bookmarks for $40.  In this box of Trivial Pursuit I got 200 bookmarks for $4.  A tenth of the price.  Still cheap as chips, and fun! (This idea is part of my presentation about Re-Imagining your School Library: I've presented it in Newcastle and south-western Sydney in the last month, so I know there are TLs in those areas scouring their op shops and garage sales for Trivial Pursuit!)

Links in again with a theme of the library being a place where you find facts and information (and fun, the unexpected, a happy moment) - oh, there are lots of ways you could tie this in to a wider promotional theme.

Hope you've enjoyed the Cheap Bookmark Week ideas on the blog this week - do comment, your feedback is always appreciated.



*GIFSL = good ideas for school libraries, an ongoing series on this blog.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

More on the interrogation of teacher librarians in LA

In case you missed it, please check out the link in this tweet.

ruth_skerricks Ruth Buchanan

A TL's spirit broken by prosecution from LAUSD & lawyers: #savethelibrarians via @_capedcrusader #yam #austl #APPALLING

It's the same mizzmurphy blog I cited as giving a TL's view of the interrogations: Are teacher librarians teachers?  The same teacher librarian whose phrase, "the nuanced beauty of pedagogy" I admired, and shared this week with one of our seniors who is planning to be a high school history teacher.  What happened next?  Read and find out.

I don't think I can blithely type, Cheers


GIFSL* 63: Cheap Bookmark Week (Thursday)

Kids have an ongoing fascination with name definitions - hardly surprising, as they are, as in the subliminal story of Possum Magic and a gazillion other books, discovering and refining who they are in the world.  I myself as a teacher librarian have had enormous fun solemnly assuring Kid A that the name of their best friend/ boyfriend/girlfriend could well mean "Viking vomit", but if they looked up this wonderful book it might be able to reassure them..... Oh miss, it DOESN'T mean that!

Parents have an enthusiasm (or used to, maybe most use the internet baby name sites now?) for baby name books, which become ripe for the culling when their baby-naming days are over.  Which is why you don't have to hunt extra extra hard to find a baby name book in an op shop/charity shop/garage sale.

This one cost me a whole $3.  571 pages.  Two bookmarks per page for most of it, four for others.

 That's over 500 bookmarks for peanuts (571 pages is of course half that number of actual paper pages) with a bit of guillotining.

Find New Characters At Your Library

There's a theme to which this could be tied, easy-peasy.  Book promotion ideas based around characters.  Have you met Severus Snape?  What about Harry Crewe?  and on and on with book characters as a way into encouraging students to try reading something new.

I know some teacher librarians prefer to laminate bookmarks - yes, it's more durable, lets you have two different sides stuck together and so forth.  I mostly don't laminate our bookmarks, for several reasons.  One is cost - we hand out hundreds of bookmarks in any given week, and laminating each would add significant cost; I'd rather be able to hand out as many as possible without worrying about how much they're costing, as I'm on a tight budget.  What I save on laminating can buy more books/resources.  Another is time - running the laminator, guillotining/trimming the results etc. all takes time.  A third is value - kids are kids are kids, and even if we give them a precious lovely laminated bookmark, I'm not so sure that most of them would treasure it as they ought.  Better a shorter-lifespan item that I don't have to stress about and they don't either (much easier to get a new bookmark with a new loan than have a 'dragon in pearls' interrogate them about the lovely bookmark they got last time, where is it, they should have brought it, well OK here's another but you take care of it this time, etc etc).  As I said in my first post, these are bookmarks I can hand out like confetti with a cheery smile on my face, and ones that can bring a smile to a kid's face because they're amusing/quirky/unexpected/fun.

I did have a couple of girls who were enquiring about when our next 'new' bookmarks would be out - and nobody was more surprised than me to find that they had a complete collection of the themed cardboard bookmarks I devise - Valentine's Day, Harmony Day, ANZAC Day, thrillers, holiday borrowing, winter reading etc.... It was heartwarming to know they liked them that much.  But for most of our kids, a bookmark isn't valued/collected like that.  But they do use them and appreciate the gesture/convenience/courtesy/kindness/fun of them, and that's the most important thing. 

These bookmarks aren't just on a stand on the counter, we put one with every loan - wand the loan, stamp the due date, dezap the security tag and add a bookmark, that's our loan routine, whichever of us is doing it.  It's an active gesture.  Here you are.  Enjoy.  Here's a bookmark to help you (and amuse/interest you too - I've never had one that just has the name of the library on it and no more.  It's too valuable real estate not to make it work harder and smarter).  These bookmarks are part of our library's PR.

Tune in tomorrow for one of my favourite cheap bookmark ideas (if you know about it, you'll be able to jump the gun on your colleagues who don't....)



Wednesday, May 25, 2011

GIFSL* 62: Cheap Bookmarks Week (Wednesday)

From an op shop/charity shop/garage sale, find the right sort of dictionary, with pages of reasonably thick paper, and a size of book/column width that lends itself to bookmarks: this one, and you have hundreds of bookmarks for a few dollars.  Just some slicing with the guillotine.  (Or do you have a suitable dictionary that is overdue for being culled?)

Libraries Define Your World:
there's a theme you could tie in with it.  I think definitions have a lot of scope for use for display purposes in libraries.  A department store book section featured this, in big print, high on the wall:
And they used definitions on their lampshades:

There's an idea worth adapting/borrowing: how could you use definition decor in your library?  Think of the rich (and amusing) words you could define.  Not just Book, or Reading.  Student.  Work.  Study.  Learn.  Adventure.  Discover.... lots of potential there, isn't there?



*GIFSL = good ideas for school libraries, an ongoing series on this blog.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

GIFSL* 61: Cheap Bookmarks Week (Tuesday)

Before you cry, "VANDAL!" let me point out that this hardback copy of Harry Potter fell to bits after being loved to death by our library borrowers.  Pages falling out all over, irreparable.  But not useless.  Oh dear me no.  Because every left hand page of the book has the header, "Harry Potter".  The pages are a reasonable weight of paper.  And the knowledge of Harry Potter among children is extensive.  And J.K. Rowling created with these books a world and vocabulary that is highly recognisable.  Character names, spell words, place names and more.

So if you take a page with Harry Potter as its header, and slice down either side to a bookmarky sort of size, you'll get, pretty much every time, some bit of recognisable vocab on the page (as well as the Harry Potter cue at the top).  Lupin.  Hogwarts.  butterbeer.  Expelliarmus.  And you will also get a bookmark that kids like and which hasn't cost you a bean.

And there are lots and lots of pages in Harry Potter books, so you have lots and lots of bookmarks which you can share generously and without a qualm.  It's recycling and it's useful and fun.

Tune in tomorrow for another cheap bookmark idea!



*GIFSL = good ideas for school libraries, an ongoing series on this blog.