February 22, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

School Library Journal’s Top Posts of 2013


From the latest technology to examples of stellar programming and insight into the Common Core, our most popular posts of the year reflect the range of reader interests and concerns.

The “top lists” are always popular—while several of our Best Books lists were among our most visited pages, those appear in a dedicated roundup of their own (SLJ’s Best Books, Top 10s of 2013″). Outside of those intentional omissions, the following are the most popular posts of the year, representing news stories, features, and opinion pieces from SLJ.com and our technology satellite, The Digital Shift.


Topposts_NYPL1.  NYPL Unveils 100 Top Children’s Books of the Last 100 Years

In September, the New York Public Library (NYPL) unveiled its first-ever list of the top 100 kids books of the last 100 years, curated by librarians, called “100 Great Children’s Books.” Marking the occasion, children’s book creators Judy Blume and Eric Carle (who both appear on the list) participated in a panel discussion and read from their works.

Topposts_smartphones2.  High School Students Use Cell Phones in Class—but not for Schoolwork, Says Study

Just as many high school teachers are becoming comfortable with incorporating smartphones and other digital devices into classrooms to aid with learning, an Israeli study found that a majority of high school students are already using cell phones in class—to text, to send emails, and to browse social media sites.

Topposts_20outstandingnonfiction3. 20 Outstanding Nonfiction Books | Core Essentials

Author and Common Core expert Kathleen Odean reveals great titles to tap as you work with the new standards.

Topposts_fulltimelibrarian4. Latest Study: A full-time school librarian makes a critical difference in boosting student achievement 

An important new study of Pennsylvania’s schools, our March 2013 feature by Debra E. Kachel and Keith Curry Lance, showed that students in schools with full-time librarians score substantially higher on reading and writing tests than their counterparts in schools that lack librarians. 

Topposts_publicstatues5.  The Complete Listing of All Public Children’s Literature Statues in the United States 

The indefatigable Betsy Bird, promised that “This post, which I shall continually update with your points and suggestions, shall serve as a place to find all statues pertaining to books for kids residing in the continental U.S. where they can be viewed regularly.” Alphabetical by title or nursery rhyme.

Topposts_killlibrary6.  How to Kill a School Library: 10 Easy Steps

A straightforward, how-to set of instructions for squelching library services in a school community by Robin Overby Cox. “It’s been a painful set of rants and raves to record. However, what I see worries me so much, I just can’t keep my mouth shut,” she writes.

Topposts_Flip7. Flipping the Classroom: A revolutionary approach to learning presents some pros and cons 

Our April 2013 cover story was a hit with readers. Flipping the classroom or library encourages students to learn at home through teacher-made videos, and frees up valuable class time to devote to discussions and exploring topics more deeply.

Topposts_snapchat8.  The Truth About Snapchat: A Digital Literacy Lesson for Us All 

The idea of Snapchat is simple, delightfully so. Take an image or a video and send it to a friend. Ten seconds after the receiver opens the file, it self-destructs—or does it? The truth is “the Internet never forgets,” says INFOdocket’s Gary Price.

Topposts_ditchprint9. School Library Thrives After Ditching Print Collection

Minneapolis’ Benilde-St. Margaret’s school library remains a vital educational space where students still research, investigate and—above all—learn, even after high school principal Sue Skinner donated or re-purposed nearly all the books in its print collection in 2011.

Topposts_Arkham10. Loving Lovecraft: Nebraska Teens Host Life-Size ‘Arkham Horror’ Game

Three cheers for Miskatonic University! That’s the rallying cry of the La Vista Public Library (NE)’s teen advisory board—who, under the guidance of youth librarian and advisor Lindsey Tomsu, 2013 Mover & Shaker—turned its Teen Read Week into a massive celebration of the works of H. P. Lovecraft, complete with crafts, workshops, and a life-sized version of the complex, cooperative Arkham Horror board game based on the Cthulhu Mythos.

Topposts_Neverwhere11. Neil Gaiman’s ‘Neverwhere’ Banned at New Mexico High School

Neil Gaiman’s dark urban fantasy novel Neverwhere had been removed from both the school library and the required reading list at Alamogordo (NM) High School in October 2013 following the complaint of one parent, who objected to its sexual innuendos and “harsh” language, according to a report by New Mexico’s local KRQE news station. Neverwhere was restored to the curriculum the next month.

Topposts_falldecorating12. Fall Decorating: a Round-up of Smart (and Free) Posters

In August, Joyce Valenza tackled a perennial issue on her blog NeverEndingSearch. “Every year, as we move back into our libraries and classrooms, we search for meaningful, inspiring, attractive visuals to fill our display cases, to grace our bulletin boards, to embed on our websites,” she writes. Her creative ideas, which extended beyond Pinterest, were both practical and very popular.

Topposts_NewbCaldpredictions13. Newbery / Caldecott 2014: Fall Prediction Edition & Newbery/Caldecott 2014: The Spring Prediction Edition 

Awards speculation, what more can we say?

Topposts_Mentor14. Nonfiction as Mentor Text: Style | On Common Core

Many people hold on to the belief that nonfiction writing is “just the facts,” often synonymous with formulaic, dull writing. Nothing could be further from the truth. Writers for young people model both substance and style, and can serve as mentors to their readers. Our March column by Mary Ann Cappiello, Myra Zarnowski, and Marc Aronson.

Topposts_xxxzzzz15. The Best PowerPoint Alternatives for Creating Great Presentations

We’ve all endured “death by PowerPoint.” It’s a painful experience for the audience and probably not all that fun for the presenter either. To help students deliver effective presentations—free of those deadly bullet points—SLJ columnist Cool Tools Richard Byrne cites his go-to applications.

Topposts_skypeannounces16. Skype Announces Free Group Video Calling for Teachers | SXSWEdu

Skype, commonly used by librarians and other K–12 educators to provide real-time engagement for their students, just got better. In March, existing members of Skype in the classroom or new registrants were entitled to use Skype’s Group Video Calling free of charge.

Topposts_primarysources17. Getting Kids Engaged with Primary Sources | Cool Tools 

Primary resources can help bring history to life for students. Make the most of first-hand accounts and other primary source content with tools such as the National Archives’ Digital Vaults, video tour included.

Topposts_webbased18. Planning Common Core Lessons?: Free, Web-based applications can help align your plans with the new standards 

Ready or not, here they come. At almost every school I visited this year, teachers asked me to address the Common Core (CC) standard in my workshops, writes Richard Byrne. Planning lessons with CC in mind presents a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. These sites are designed with the express purpose of helping plan lessons around Common Core.

Topposts_spinepoetry19. 2013 Book Spine Poem Gallery

Travis Jonker’s annual gallery of book spine poetry on the 100 Scope Notes blog, submitted by readers.

Topposts_Maker20. Full STEAM Ahead: Injecting Art and Creativity into STEM

STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) is part of a new trend that integrates hands-on learning with STEM. It taps into children’s natural interests while also facilitating informal learning. Show Me Librarian Amy Koester shares how school and public librarians can incorporate STEAM into their programs in our October cover story.

Topposts_page2screen21. Page to Screen: Upcoming Kids’ Books Set for Film Adaptations

The search for the next big film franchise usually begins with a beloved book or series, and film producers are continually eyeing the publishing world for inspiration. In fact, 2013 presented a packed calendar of book-related film projects based on popular kid and young adult titles. Our premiere roundup of releases in February was intended to help make the connection for students and patrons heading to the theater—and, hopefully, to bookshelves as well.

Topposts_InquiryNonfiction22. Inquiry and Nonfiction | On Common Core

Inquiry and nonfiction are closely related and books that explore the work of scientists can be ideal mentor texts as students develop skills that are essential for learning. Detailed in our March column by Myra Zarnowski, Marc Aronson, Mary Ann Cappiello.

Topposts_RaspberryPi23. Life with Raspberry Pi: The hot $25 computer may just spark a coding revolution in schools 

A $25 computer that fits in the palm of your hand, the Raspberry Pi has the potential to challenge the digital divide and make coding in schools as commonplace as textbooks. Computing could truly become about what kids can make rather than what schools can buy. Teacher Chad Sansing explains it all in our August feature story, with resources for digging in and getting started.

Topposts_minecraft24. Minecraft Club: Want to bring the hottest game into your classroom or library? Here’s how.

The popular game Minecraft “is accessible, fun, and, ultimately, an excellent learning tool for both nerds and non-nerds,” says Sarah Ludwig, who takes us step by step through her process of creating a thriving Minecraft club in her library, as detailed in our March feature story. New to Minecraft? There’s a video primer.

Topposts_orientationinspiration25. Orientation Inspiration

You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, as the saying goes. And so, each year Joyce Valenza seeks ‘orientation inspiration.’ Whether it’s your incoming kindergartners, sixth graders, ninth graders or those returning students you already know and love, educators want to welcome them back in a special way. Valenza shared the fruits of her own research conducted over the summer, supplemented by crowdsourcing.


Kathy Ishizuka About Kathy Ishizuka

Kathy Ishizuka (kishizuka@mediasourceinc.com@kishizuka on Twitter) is the Executive Editor of  School Library Journal.

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