March 21, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Archives for January 2008

Guilty Pleasures

Go ahead. Give that “to-be-read” pile of kids’ lit or YA novels a break.

It was a year of strong, passionate memoirs, and if this was a pick of the best books of 2007—which it isn’t, although many of these titles have appeared on various end-of-the-year lists—then I’d be forced to include a few more first-person accounts. Instead, this list offers school and youth librarians something different. As professionals, we’re all about feeding the minds of young readers. For once, let’s […]

See Me, Hear Me: Skype in the Classroom

Chat with authors, record podcasts, and cover reference—all online and for free—with Skype

“Who’s your favorite character?” “Where do you get ideas?” Imagine your students having the opportunity to ask an author these questions directly—without breaking your library budget. You can do this—and a whole lot more—with the free Internet telephony service called Skype (

Through Skype, my students at Westlake High School in Austin, TX, were able to “visit” with Cynthia Leitich Smith, award-winning YA author of Rain Is Not My […]

She Shall Overcome: Poet Carole Boston Weatherford | Under Cover

Poet Carole Boston Weatherford writes about the struggle for equality

Birmingham, 1963 is a fictionalized eyewitness account of one of the most tragic events in American history, the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, which injured 21 people and killed four girls.

That particular event really was a turning point in terms of the national response to the Civil Rights Movement. People who objected to Dr. King leading the marches, to the mass movement, could no longer object to the goals […]

Terror of the Unforeseen | Consider the Source

It’s time to make history unsafe for kids

Want to read a statement about history that’s startling and dead-on accurate? Curious? Well, I’ll tease you for just a moment longer. The sentence I have in mind encapsulates both the problem with history as we practice it and the promise of what history should be, and this statement doesn’t appear in an essay or a history book, but in a novel. Here goes, straight from Philip Roth’s pen in The Plot Against […]

You’ve Gotta Have Heart | First Steps

A baby’s emotional development is more important than many folks think

“Can I play too?” Undeniably, a toddler who can approach friends and ask this sophisticated question is well on his way to kindergarten readiness. As it turns out, children who know how to ask for what they want, get along with others, stay calm when faced with frustration, persist when facing difficult tasks, and negotiate for toys or personal space are developing the social and emotional skills they’ll need to […]

Cold Comfort: Polar Places | Focus On

Intrigued by the films March of the Penguins, Arctic Tale, and Happy Feet, students will find plenty of materials to explore about the icy regions that cover our world, both top and bottom. Scientists are paying special attention to these frigid ecosystems during the International Polar Year, which bridges 2007-2008. Both geographic areas experience summers with endless sun and dark, unlit winters. The North Pole rests on the frozen waters of the Arctic Sea, which stretch to North America, Europe, […]

Unbearable? | Scales on Censorship

Philip Pullman’s ‘The Golden Compass’ has some parents worried

I’m sick and tired of teachers coming into the library and telling students that they can’t check out certain books because they’re not the appropriate reading level. Isn’t that censorship? By the way, my principal loves Accelerated Reader. How can I convince her that students should be free to make their own reading selections?

This issue is a big problem in […]

Gaming Potpourri | The Gaming Life

Must-have video games for libraries

With the proliferation of video games, it’s sometimes difficult for librarians—and parents—to decide which new releases are most appropriate for youngsters. The games reviewed here will appeal to a wide range of players. To play them, you will need a memory unit (hard drive/memory card) to save gamers’ progress.

These titles have been rated E (everyone, ages 6 and older), E10+ (everyone, ages 10 and older), or T (teen, ages 13 and above) by the Entertainment Rating […]

Café Society: Do school libraries need a double shot of espresso?

When Jim Chadwell, the former principal of Northwest High School in Texas, renovated his media center four years ago, he had two things in mind: Starbucks and Barnes & Noble.

“He wanted a place where students could read, do research, and work on classroom assignments, but also socialize,” says Media Specialist Naomi Bates. And that’s exactly what he got—a Java City that sells coffees, lattes, cappuccinos, and smoothies, as well as soups, salads, panini, and wraps—right inside the media center. “It’s […]