Monthly Archives: September 2015

Mongolia, Wolves, and Reading & Running the World: (or, The Week in Library: 3!)

When I’m not in the library, I’m often on the run, enjoying the trails and roads of Point Defiance or exploring new hills in downtown. And when I’m on the run, I’m plugged into an audiobook. So strange, I think, to have my ventures narrated by The Devil in the White City, Americanah, or The Wind-Up Bird ChroniclePerhaps a good zombie thriller would help add some strength to my gait.

Since June, my run read of choice has been Wolf Totem, a 26 hour audio epic. While it took me 4 hours to truly adjust to a style which enrolls characters to serve as satellites for ideology (as many works of political literature do), I’m utterly enamored by the work, which was initially recommended to me by one of our Chinese international students last year. This 2004 publication by Jiang Rong is the second best selling book in all of Chinese history, with Mao’s Little Red Book the only other work to supersede it in sales.

With three hours left in my listening, I’m continually enchanted, gutted, and elated in this realistic account of the Chinese push to develop inner Mongolia during the Cultural Revolution, an act that severely set back the sustainable, spiritual, and ecology-minded existence of the nomadic peoples of that region.

Truly, this is a book that’s made me add miles to my daily outings on foot, and it’s raised my consciousness over cultural conflict and the rapid implementation of technology to habituate humans in environments that we had been so ecologically mindful of for thousands of years.

So, that’s my fiction recommendation for the week. Our collection features two editions of Wolf Totem: the original Chinese version and its English translation.

Here are a few recommendations from our collection that I hope will constellate around this choice!


What the World Eats, by Faith D’Aluisio, Peter Menzel


I Rode a Horse of Milk and White Jade,         by Diane Lee Wilson


Mongolian Folktales, by Hilary Roe Metternich


Suho’s White Horse: A Mongolian Legend, Retold by Yuzo Otsuka


My excitement over such readings trumped a chronicle of this week in library, although don’t fret: we’re dishing books, raising levels of information literacy, and providing inspirational and aspirational learning spaces for all the learners in AWS. My favorite moment of the week is when our Kindergarteners approached me with drawings and photographs of where they’ll keep our library books safe when they bring them home.

Safe Places for BooksSo lovely, this utter excitement over selecting books and hauling them home. With such research into proper book care, our Kindergarteners have unlocked this next ability in their library lives.

Besides that, we’ve been rolling with a few great read alouds and some energetic activities (‘let’s pretend we’re books, and let’s organize ourselves!’).

With our first full week, the library’s on the move!


*Scribd is another great resource for ebooks and audiobooks available on subscription basis. I also scour local libraries (and our own collection at AWS–the username and password are exactly the same: your ID number).

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The Week in Library: 2!

The bustle! Our favorite moments in the Learning Commons arrive when there’s a cacophony meetings, classes, and independent workers sharing the space all at once. Stop by the library between 2:30 and 4:00, and you’ll likely see several Upper School activities sharing the many breakout spaces in the library, staff meetings for our Extended Day program, 4th graders participating in their Guided Reading program, parents and grandparents awaiting the day’s release, and several others wandering through for reading materials or library resources. These moments really showcase the flexibility and design features we engineered into the space in the summer of 2014, shifting the library into a ‘modern learning environment.’

Which is all to say that we’re settling into the normal pace of school life in the library. Despite the bustle described above, the library still serves for sanctuary for many of our students during certain parts of the school day, and each new school year brings a new corps of patrons who opt to use the library for study hall, a recess alternative, or for meeting space. It’s been wonderful to see a corps of 4th graders gather in the library to draw during recess, instead of the 4th graders of last year who made great use of the 3D printer during their daily breaks.

Among other events, classes, and happenings, this week’s library featured the first ever visit from Preschool, who showed exceptional library manners (even shushing the librarian during his read-aloud). We also hosted our 10th grade English class as they scoured the shelves for independent reading materials. I book talked several of our most renowned selections, while offering resources to help them find and select book titles, such as BookRiot, YourNextRead, and GoodReads.

Here are several recommendations, including my favorite podcast episode that I tuned into this past week!


Kalpa Imperial, by Angelica Gorodischer

Click here for to access our digital edition


The Orchid Thief, by Susan Orlean


Image borrowed from 99% Invisible’s landing page for Episode 180. Photo taken by Håkan Dahlström.

99% Invisible: Episode 180: The History of the Refrigerated Shipping Container


Dead End in Norvelt, by Jack Gantos


Volcano Rising, by Elizabeth Rusch and Susan Swan (illus.)


Quest, by Aaron Becker

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The Week in Library: 1!

Happy New Year, AWS!. After a long, quiet summer, the library is ready for another raucous, vigorous year of reading, learning, and sharing. As a community space, the library was

Blue Tie Library Camp OutSome highlights from Week 1:

*9th Grade Orientation’s Camp out on the Soccer Field was moved indoors due to rain. While the Learning Commons is typically home base for homework and quiet reading in the after hours, we’re happy to host a multitude of events, and it was incredible to see the various forts and palaces our new and rising Blue Ties created.

*Middle School occupied the library on the opening day of school, as we cast aside all of our furniture to clear the floor for an exciting new year. While I didn’t get the chance to spend much of the orientation week with Middle School, I had a blast heading out to Millersylvania State Park to supervise a cabin for their overnight.

*5th Grade visited the library two times in two days, first to find titles for independent reading and second to challenge their library skills by navigating a scavenger hunt for titles relating to their Unit of Inquiry on Peace & Conflict.

*PreKindergarten, Kindergarten, and First Grade all enjoyed reading and discussing Little Elliot, Big City. Inspired by Andy Plemmons’s ideas for using this text with his elementary library students, we also used the story of this industrious elephant to consider how we navigate our large library space with the help of our friends.

We rounded out the week with a visit from 2nd & 3rd grades along with a stint with my section of 9th Grade Humanities. If the week’s excitement and energy about reading and learning together is any indication, this year in library is going to be great.

A Week in Recommendations

I walk our shelves each Friday afternoon, unearthing titles in our collection that are worth a deeper look. With a return to wetter late summer weather, I was reminded of the great PNW tale of The Raven. Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales has been such a hit with our younger readers, they are often unaware of the important dose of history these books provide; The Underground Abductor is Hale’s newest. The classic Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle wraps in almost every reader, and Drowned City is a timely reminder of the Katrina’s impact on New Orleans. And finally, The Theory of Everything: the story of a girl, her imaginary panda, and her quest to find her father. Kari Luna is an author to track, and this is best work to date.


The Theory of Everything, by Kari Luna


Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina & New Orleans, by Don Brown


Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, by Betty MacDonald


The Underground Abductor: Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales, by Nathan Hale

ILLUSTRATED The Raven: A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest, by Gerald McDermott