Wednesday, August 9, 2017

George and I take on the 1,000 Book Challenge

     As a mommy I am always looking for time to read with George when we can. Right now it is difficult for us to read together because  George in exploration mode so he doesn't want to spend much time sitting on mommy's lap.Even nerds need motivation sometimes so, I got super excited when I learned about this new program.   The Two Nerdy Sisters live in Kernersville, NC. We are part of the Forsyth County Public Library System.  On a recent trip to the library I learned about the 1,000 book challenge. The goal is to read 1,000 books to your child by the time they enter Kindergarten. You get a challenge card like the one below and check off each of the books that you read to you child

        . When you finish a card you return it to the library and receive a small prize. When you finish ten cards your child receives a certificate saying they completed the challenge. Of course George and I have already started. We have read about 40 books in two weeks. As part of #pb10for10 I want to share our ten favorites so far. It was extremely hard for me to pick just 10 so I picked George's favorites. 


George loves the rhymes and pictures of this book. He loves this one just as much as Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast. We love all Josh Funk books!


It is Elephant and Piggie so what's not to love? George loves all these books.


George loves fish and I think he likes hearing his name. 


This book has beautiful pictures and a wonderful story. 



George loved this little one eyed monster.

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Two of George's names are associated with wolves. Ralph means wolf in council and Wulfric (George's Middle Name which is also one of Dumbledore's names) means leader wolf. We like wolves in this house. It is also a wonderful book and a funny story. We also love Horrible Bear.


We love this book! So funny! We love Hotel Bruce too.


George loves all the different colors and shapes in this book.


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This is one of my favorite picture books and George likes it too. I won this book from Mr. Schu during my first trip to Nerd Camp so I think about him when we read it. Thanks Mr. Schu!

We love turtles almost as much as wolves so of course this is one of our favorites. We love our Lauren Castillo books!

Monday, August 7, 2017

It's Monday! What are you reading?

Last week I finished two books.

A story about summer camp is perfect to read in July. In this biographical graphic novel, Maggie recalls the summer she was 15. Her preferred activity is the shooting range. She discovers love when she meets junior counselor, Erin. Much of the reactions to Maggie's sexual preference (which she tried hard to hide) were upsetting. I think kids who read this need to talk to an adult about being gay in the late 90s/early 2000s. Audience: young adult 

Have tissues ready! In this often heartbreaking novel, former foster kids, Flora and Julian, are adjusting to their life with their new family. Manifestations of their past trauma include Julian hiding food in his closet, Flora "words getting stuck" (not talking), and theories about where they came from. They dismiss the idea that they are both born like all human beings are. I cried many times while reading this book. Audience: middle grade. Highly recommended.

Monday, July 3, 2017

For the Love of Reading: I can't hold it in

I decided this Spring to leave the education profession and go back to school to get a Master's Degree in Accounting. It was a hard decision, but ultimately the best one for myself and my family. However, I just can't miss Nerd Camp MI, and I am excited about helping plan Nerd Camp NC. I have always loved reading, but for most of my life, it was a solitary adventure. I didn't think it was possible to love reading more, but the Nerdy Book Club community has made that happen. It has also done major damage to my bank account because I am quite impatient about waiting for the library to get the books I want to read. There is no going back to the days where I read a book and then just moved on to the next one. I can't hold my love of reading in!  It demands to be shared.

By valuing reading as a community, I have helped my children love reading more. I make more of an effort to share with them the books that I'm reading, which expands their exposure to current literature. It is perfect because I have a teenager, tween and a nine-year-old and can share almost the entire spectrum of children and young adult literature. My two oldest children are presenting at nErDcamp with me next week! We'll hopefully present at least 20 books. After last year, I know to expect 50+ people in our session so I am bringing other 2017 books, books from nErDcampMI authors, professional books, and 2016 elementary nonfiction books that I bought/received during my participation on the 2017 Cybils committee.

Here are the books we are presenting:

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Carolyn - 9th grade

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Charlotte - 6th grade

Books I am presenting:

Wednesday, March 8, 2017


In March, we look forward to Winter saying goodbye, so that we can welcome our friend, Spring. Basketball fans cheer for their favorite college team during NCAA's annual tournament, an event referred to as March Madness. We nerds even have our book version of March Madness, replacing team brackets with beloved books. However, March has an even greater significance.

I didn't see the recent movie about the March to Selma. I knew the basic overview, but not the specifics. I am extremely glad that Civil Rights Leader and House Representative Mr. John Lewis shared this story in March Book Three. There were actually dozens of marches on Selma for voting rights. The most famous of these was a 50 mile journey on foot from Selma to Montgomery, the state capital of Alabama. The first attempt was on March 7, 1965. Marchers were attacked by state troopers. Even despite injuries and hospitalizations, they didn't give up. The perseverance of John Lewis and the other marchers was a sacrifice that led to government enforcement of rights guaranteed by the  U.S. Constitution. Every American owes these participants a debt of gratitude. 

The book also opened my eyes to understanding the history behind the resentment of "white liberals" from African Americans. I think we need to acknowledge that it is impossible to understand the perspective of a person of color (unless you are one). White privilege and racism still marginalize the rights of many, many Americans. We need to be thoughtful, respectful and sensitive. Well-intentioned, yet ignorant actions/words from white liberals can cause damage, just like overtly racist ones do. 

I was present in Atlanta on January 23, 2017 when March was chosen as the recipient of 4 American Library Association Youth Media Awards. I cheered along with the crowd as the National Book Award winner was mentioned again and again as awards were announced. Read March Book Three immediately if you haven't. We celebrate Spring, basketball and books this month; we should also remember the marchers to Selma and celebrate the freedom they helped attain for all Americans. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

SLJ 's Battle of the Kids' Books: Round 1

Every year I enjoy School Library Journal's version of March Madness, which includes 16 books battling out to see which one is the best. The judges are those who write children's or young adult literature. An exciting change this year is the addition of picture books.

The first two books are Ashley Bryan's Freedom Over Me and Carole Boston Weatherford's Freedom in Congo Square.

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Accurate depictions of life as a slave show that is was unbearable. However, those living in New Orleans were given every Sunday off. They required by law to congregate only in Congo Square. The slaves created a culture experience, bringing traditions like African music, which was banned in the fields and their homes. The story counts down the week to Sunday afternoon in Congo Square. The illustrations are bright and colorful, reflecting what was undoubtedly a mood of brief celebration and joy in an otherwise dismal existence. The book contains a Forward and Author's note providing background information.

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As she explains in her author's note, the idea for Freedom Over Me originated in some papers Ashley Bryan found from a former estate. Many slaves were uneducated, and history accounts often overlook the perspective of marginalized people. This means the stories, hopes, dreams and feelings of slaves are forever lost. Bryan recreates roles and uses beautiful poetry to give a voice to these slaves.

Both of these books are very similar and I could see either one advancing to the next round. Since Carole Boston Weatherford is from my home state of North Carolina, and I know Freedom In Congo Square would make a wonderful read-aloud, I hope it is chosen as the winner in this battle.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Mrs. Ralph Teaches Theme

As a school librarian I often collaborate with teachers to decide what I will be teaching for the week. When I met with the fourth grade teachers they asked me to do a lesson on theme. At first I was very apprehensive about teaching theme. I usually teach science and social studies topics during media because these are not covered as frequently as reading and math. 

I decided to research some possible picture books for teaching theme. I found a blog post from my friend Pernille Ripp that helped me feel more confident about teaching it. She recommended Each Kindness as one of the books to use. I also decided to read Thank you Mr. Faulker as another book for theme.

Talk about a powerful lesson. The message in Each Kindness was one that the students really identified with. They all raised their hand when I asked if they had ever been picked on or picked on someone else. The students easily picked out the theme. I decided to also read Thank you Mr. Faulker to the kids. It has been awhile since I read the book so of course I cried in front of my students. I had to explain to them that I was crying because I did not meet my Mr. Faulker until I was in college. I still remember the horrible way I was treated in Elementary school because of my ADHD. Both books reminded me of why I became a teacher. I became a teacher to treat all my kids with respect and let them know that they have some one here who cares about them. 

 I added a short video and an online game to the lesson. I also did a formative assessment by asking the kids to write one theme they learned from the lesson for the day on a post it. Then I allowed the kids to stick their post it to the Smart board. This is one of my favorite lessons that I have taught this year. 

I am including the links in case you want to replicate this lesson in your library or classroom.

Pernille's blog post on Theme books: 

Link for the video: 

Link for the game: 

Friday, January 27, 2017

New books

So no more 20 books every Tuesday. Not buying books at all is not a realistic goal so I plan to buy one per week. January technically has 5 weeks. I have bought:

Luckily, I also have these ARCs from ALA Midwinter:

Happy Reading! 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Gum Girl: Gum Luck

The last book I read lately was Gum Girl: Gum Luck. The book is about a girl named Gabby Gomez who likes to chew gum. The shocking part is that now every time she chews gum, she turns into a super sticky hero named Gum Girl! Gabby knows she can’t keep her secret from her parents, but the bad thing about telling them is that she promised she wouldn’t chew gum again! There’s a new villain in town and he is just ready to "stir" up some trouble! Will she tell her parents the truth and still save the day? Or will she give up gum forever and let Robo Chef get his revenge? Find out in Gum Girl: Gum Luck! 

This book is AWESOME, I loved this one and the first one. I give it 4 stars out of five. Why not 5 you ask? The CLIFFHANGER! I absolutely HATE cliffhangers. They just tell you about something, and you think the book hasn’t ended, then WHAMO! They end the book right as it was getting interesting! My favorite part is when Gabby ate the gum that the monkey stole from her and chewed it. I hope you enjoyed my review on this book. Look for Gum Girl!: Gum Luck in your closest library or bookstore! I read an ARC (advanced reader copy) of the book; it comes out in June. You can win a copy from us at Nerd Camp in Michigan in July!

A Nerdy Daughter and Sister,
Charlotte Ralph