Tag: After School Library Programs

Why I Continue to Read Middle Grade Fiction

MG Fiction

I’ve been asked by friends, colleagues, and family members, “Why do you read kid’s books?” My current position is more administrative. I no longer book talk to kids (or their parents), my daily duties do not include keeping circulation statistics up, and I don’t have to go into the schools and give my opinions on the latest Nutmeg nominees. My first few months of administration work, I did read adult books. I read the hottest thrillers, National Book Award winners, Pulitzer Prize winners, classics I somehow missed during my English undergrad days.

At first it was exhilarating! I could read whatever I wanted for the first time in my life since I was…in high school? No more reading for a test, to compile a list, for my next book club choice, for appropriate content, for my reluctant readers, for my advanced readers, for my next field trip. No more…anything!

For about two months, I read only adult books. And I was…wholly unsatisfied. Some stories introduced frivolous characters that had no reason for being, some novels droned on and on with minute details that nobody ever needs to know, others had amateurish or predictable endings. After the shine wore off, I marched right back into the Children’s Room scouring the newest releases.

I found a kindred spirit with Frances Pauley. I connected with Nan Sparrow as she fought for her cause while grappling with grief. I endured the loneliness of Peter until he met Pax. I felt the abandonment that Livy put Bob through while she struggled to find her own way. I had a strong sense of belonging as Aru Shah lit the lamp.

I keep reading these amazing stories for a multitude of reasons. The writing doesn’t stray, they are filled with metaphors, and are relatable in some way to everyone. Once you crossover to adult fiction, it gets so murky. As a reader you have so many judgements of characters based on their job, their political or religious affiliation, their romantic partner, the way of their chosen path. If the characters are kids, you have no judgement on how they’ve gotten to be where they are–circumstances are just out of their control. You feel empathy and root for them. Their struggles remind me that my own are temporary. I am never alone. I have the same inner battles. And if I survived adolescence, I can certainly get through this adventure called adulthood!

Why do you read middle grade fiction?

 

Defeating the “Decline By 9”

Decline After 9

Scholastic released their Kids & Family Reading Report. There were a lot of interesting seeds in there, but my biggest concern is the “Decline By 9.”

I’ve seen this firsthand for the past decade I’ve been directly serving youth of this age range. In 4th grade, academics get more a lot rigorous, adding an after-school activity or sport takes up a lot of “extra” time, babysitting younger siblings or neighborhood kids detracts from personal down time, and drama picks up with friends at school, depleting energy levels as texting and navigating interpersonal communications take their first adolescent peak.

What can we as educators do? There are many ways we can encourage pleasure reading:

  • Make displays that are eye catching, diverse, appeal to specifically to 9 year olds
  • Offer formal ways, such as a book club, that 4th graders can participate
  • Offer informal ways for readers to keep engaged by having a “BYOB” (Bring Your Own Book) Club so there’s no “homework” requirement
  • Have a Battle of the Books display and voting ballot box
  • Ask kids for their recommended reads (you can use Post-It Notes, or let kids write on the bulletin board)
  • Ask parents, teachers, coaches, etc. in the community to share what they’ve been reading. You can ask them to take a photo of their TBR piles and create a display or even a guessing game!
  • Offer SSR (remember Sustained Silent Reading?!) as part of your after school program. Have books on hand ready to be picked and allow 20 minutes of downtime of just reading. Some kids might not get the chance to do so otherwise.

What are some ideas you have?

Fractured Fairy Tale Club: Book vs. Movie

Little Mermaid

In honor of our local theater featuring The Little Mermaid this summer, I decided to do a fractured fairy tale club to coordinate with them. Some local children will be featured in the play during their theater camp program.

Over the course of the six weeks, I will be reading a storybook aloud, and then showing about 10 minute clips of Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre. These plays are a lot of fun, especially if you have parents or families that come together for this program. Actors such as Jeff Bridges, Tatum O’Neal, Jeff Goldblum, Billy Crystal, Christopher Reeves, Beverly D’Angelo and Helen Mirren are in them. The early ’80s program is a little sassy in places. No more than Shrek, or a lot of other animated films out there. But the chapters I pulled are clean for general audiences.

Last year I did Mary Poppins and brought the book club to watch the play. Some children didn’t realize what a play was until it started–they thought it was a movie. One kids sitting near me said, “Mrs. Shaia…I think those are real people on stage!” So this year instead of choosing animation or film, I decided to go with theater clips. Fingers crossed!

Here are six different ones you can run your book club with, too. Notice on the bottom of each answer sheet I have the book, and the movie clip for each activity:

Fairy Tale Mermaid Book and Clip

Fractured Fairy Tale Book vs. Movie

Included are six (6) Book vs. Movie Games: The Little Mermaid, Goldilocks, Beanstalk, Three Little Pigs, Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel. Read a picture book, watch a movie clip from Shelley Duvall’s Fairie Tale Theatre to play. Perfect for ages K-6th grade for after school programs, enrichment activities, special incentives, and library programs.

$19.99

Book vs. Movie: Ant Bully

ant bully

I’ve done a series of successful Book vs. Movie programs with grades K-6. Here’s another one: Read the picture book The Ant Bully to the children. That way there is no requirement to watch the film to participate in the program. If a word, phrase, or character comes up that they didn’t hear in the picture book, then it came from the movie.

There’s a great website to generate your own Bingo cards. Here’s the link of ready to print unique cards: Ant Bully Bingo Cards

Here’s a Power Point you can use to call out the Bingo words and phrases: Ant Bully Books vs Movies

To play:

  • Give each child a Bingo Card, a red crayon and a green crayon.
  • Choose a category and number value in the Power Point presentation to reveal a word, phrase, or character. Have the children decide if it came from the book or movie.
  • If the word, phrase, or character came from the book color the box red.
  • If the word, phrase, or character came from the book color the box green.
  • You can offer prizes for the first child who has an all red Bingo, an all green Bingo, and a “Blackout” Bingo (where every square is colored).

 

Book vs. Movie: Epic

Leaf men epic

I’ve done a series of successful Book vs. Movie programs with grades K-6. Here’s another one: Read the picture book Leaf Men to the children. That way there is no requirement to watch the film to participate in the program. If a word, phrase, or character comes up that they didn’t hear in the picture book, then it came from the movie.

There’s a great website to generate your own Bingo cards. Here’s the link of ready to print unique cards: Leaf Man Bingo Cards

Here’s a Power Point you can use to call out the Bingo words and phrases: Leaf Men Book vs Movie

To play:

  • Give each child a Bingo Card, a red crayon and a green crayon.
  • Choose a category and number value in the Power Point presentation to reveal a word, phrase, or character. Have the children decide if it came from the book or movie.
  • If the word, phrase, or character came from the book color the box red.
  • If the word, phrase, or character came from the book color the box green.
  • You can offer prizes for the first child who has an all red Bingo, an all green Bingo, and a “Blackout” Bingo (where every square is colored).

 

Book vs. Movie: Meet the Robinsons

Robinsons

I’ve done a series of successful Book vs. Movie programs with grades K-6. Here’s another one: Read the picture book A Day with Wilbur Robinson to the children. That way there is no requirement to watch the film to participate in the program. If a word, phrase, or character comes up that they didn’t hear in the picture book, then it came from the movie.

There’s a great website to generate your own Bingo cards. Here’s the link of ready to print unique cards: Meet the Robinsons Bingo Cards

Here’s a Power Point you can use to call out the Bingo words and phrases: Meet the Robinsons Books vs Movies

To play:

  • Give each child a Bingo Card, a red crayon and a green crayon.
  • Choose a category and number value in the Power Point presentation to reveal a word, phrase, or character. Have the children decide if it came from the book or movie.
  • If the word, phrase, or character came from the book color the box red.
  • If the word, phrase, or character came from the book color the box green.
  • You can offer prizes for the first child who has an all red Bingo, an all green Bingo, and a “Blackout” Bingo (where every square is colored).

 

Book vs. Movie: Babar

babar

I’ve done a series of successful Book vs. Movie programs with grades K-6. Here’s another one: Read the picture book Babar to the children. That way there is no requirement to watch the film to participate in the program. If a word, phrase, or character comes up that they didn’t hear in the picture book, then it came from the movie.

There’s a great website to generate your own Bingo cards. Here’s the link of ready to print unique cards: Babar Bingo Cards

Here’s a Power Point you can use to call out the Bingo words and phrases: Babar Books vs Movies

To play:

  • Give each child a Bingo Card, a red crayon and a green crayon.
  • Choose a category and number value in the Power Point presentation to reveal a word, phrase, or character. Have the children decide if it came from the book or movie.
  • If the word, phrase, or character came from the book color the box red.
  • If the word, phrase, or character came from the book color the box green.
  • You can offer prizes for the first child who has an all red Bingo, an all green Bingo, and a “Blackout” Bingo (where every square is colored).

 

Book vs. Movie: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

cloudy_with_a_chance_of_meatballs_book

I’ve done a series of successful Book vs. Movie programs with grades K-6. Here’s another one: Read the picture book Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs to the children. That way there is no requirement to watch the film to participate in the program. If a word, phrase, or character comes up that they didn’t hear in the picture book, then it came from the movie.

There’s a great website to generate your own Bingo cards. Here’s a link of ready-to-print unique cards: Cloudy Meatballs Bingo Cards

Here’s a Power Point you can use to call out the Bingo words and phrases: Cloudy Meatballs Books vs Movies

To play:

  • Give each child a Bingo Card, a red crayon and a green crayon.
  • Choose a category and number value in the Power Point presentation to reveal a word, phrase, or character. Have the children decide if it came from the book or movie.
  • If the word, phrase, or character came from the book color the box red.
  • If the word, phrase, or character came from the book color the box green.
  • You can offer prizes for the first child who has an all red Bingo, an all green Bingo, and a “Blackout” Bingo (where every square is colored).

 

Mary Poppins Club

Over a four-week period, I did reading club featuring the classic story of P.L. Travers’ Mary Poppins. It was hugely successful with a high retention rate of early elementary school students. Each week we met at the same time for one hour. I read aloud a short story (30 minutes), we watched a movie slip together (5-10 minutes), and then we played a game (the rest of the time).

MP Kids

Here are the games we played each week. You can open each pdf file and scroll to the bottom of the answer sheet to find the movie clips that correspond to each chapter. I used the classic Mary Poppins DVD starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke.

MP BingoMP Answers with Movie Clips

Chapter 1: Mary Poppins East Wind

Chapter 2: Mary Poppins Day Out

Chapter 3: Mary Poppins Laughing Gas

Chapter 7: Mary Poppins Bird Woman

Winnie the Pooh Book vs. Movie

winnie

Over the eight-week summer reading program I had a reading club featuring the classic stories of A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh. It was hugely successful with a high retention rate of early elementary school students. Each week we met at the same time for one hour. I read aloud a short story (30 minutes), we watched a movie slip together (5-10 minutes), and then we played a game (the rest of the time). I had a nice progression from both classic storybooks.

Winnie readaloud

Here are the games we played each week. You can open each pdf file and scroll to the bottom of the answer sheet to find the movie clips that correspond to each chapter. I used two DVDs: The Many Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh and Winnie the Pooh. I added a take-home craft and created a paper bag puppet for each character. So every week, the children went home with a “souvenir” from the book club. This was also a huge hit. I had my teen volunteers prep them for me, so the only thing I did was pass them out: winnie-the-pooh-paper-bag-puppets

winnie-bingo

Winnie We Are Introduced

Winnie Pooh Goes Visiting

Winnie Eeyore Loses a Tail

Winnie Surrounded By Water

Winnie Tigger Has Breakfast

Winnie Tigger is Unbounced

Winnie Rabbit’s Busy Day

Winnie True or False

I plan on doing the same with Ramona and Mary Poppins. If you beat me to it, paste a link here for me! 😉

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