Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Red Clover Award Comes Alive!

In early November the staff at EES performed dramatic representations of the 10 picture books that have been nominated for the next Red Clover Award.  The children were treated to mini skits for each book, much like a movie trailer - just enough information to pique their interest without giving away the ending.  The Red Clover Award is a children's book award for the State of Vermont.  Children in kindergarten through grades 4 in Vermont vote for their favorite book, and the winning book is announced in April of each year. 

The Red Clover Award promotes the reading and discussion of the best of contemporary picture books in nearly all of Vermont's elementary schools. Each year over 20,000 K-4 students read, or have read to them, the ten nominated books.  The Red Clover Award is co-sponsored by the Vermont Center for the Book / Mother Goose Programs and the Vermont Departments of Education and Libraries. Click here to visit their website for more information and the history of the program.
Mrs. Scrimgeour and Mrs. Doble introduce the book All the Water in the World.

All the Water in the World


Balloons Over Broadway

Balloons Over Broadway

The Princess and the Pig
The Princess and the Pig


Me ... Jane

Swirl By Swirl

Grandpa Green

Three By the Sea

We will be reading these 10 books over the next few months in preparation for the voting in April.  So far, the children have heard Balloons Over Broadway (a true story about Tony Sarg), Three By the Sea, and Me...Jane (a true story about Jane Goodall) read aloud in the Learning Center.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Reading Makes Cents

     Our school is participating in a “Reading Makes Cents” Challenge as part of this year’s book fair events. The money raised during this challenge will be used to purchase children’s books that will be donated to the families at COTS (Committee on Temporary Shelter).

     Here’s the challenge: Can our students read 100,000 minutes by November 16th? It sounds like an impossible goal, but if all students were to read 30 minutes a day for two weeks, we could easily reach that goal before the end of our book fair. Can we do it? YES, WE CAN!

     Here’s how it works: we are asking students to bring in one penny for every 10 minutes of reading, so if your child reads thirty minutes one night, they would bring in 3 cents. We count all kinds of reading: reading by yourself, being read-aloud to, listening to books on cd, reading aloud to a younger sibling. Pennies may be brought in to the Learning Center, where we will count them daily. We’ll have a “Reading Thermometer” to show how close we are getting to our goal of 100,000 minutes.

Questions? Please contact Mrs. Scrimgeour 857-2140 or


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Degrees of Separation

Chances are you know the song DEM BONES , or at least have heard of it and can even sing some of it in your head: "the leg bone's connected to the knee bone, the knee bone's connected to the thigh bone..."  There are times when I am astonished by the connectedness of things, and not just bones!  For example:

Earlier this month we read the fun story Miss Brooks Loves Books! (and I don't) by Barbara Bottner, and illustrated by Michael Emberley; a delightful tale about a girl who doesn't like reading ("it's too pink, too kissy, too ...) despite her teacher's enthusiastic encouragement.  When her mother claims she is as stubborn as a wart, she finally discovers a book that speaks to her: none other than Shrek, written by William Steig (1907-2003) in 1990, well before the first movie was produced.  Naturally, we had to read Shrek next, as many of the children were familiar with the movie only. 

The children were on the look-out for similarities and differences between the book and the movie.  Princess Fiona is drastically different, by the way!

      The next week with the second graders we read Wumbers, wri10 (written) by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustr8ted (illustrated) by Tom Lichtenfeld, a fabulously clever book about playing with words (and numbers).    

 At first the children were puzzled, but as they recognized what the "words" were, they were eager for more on the following pages.  Such fun this book is.  It's 1derful!  The children thought it was gr8!

     Now here is where it gets weird; on the back pages the author and illustrator team dedicate this book to William Steig, whom we had encountered last week, because of his love for word games.  What a remarkable coincidence that William Steig should show up in two books.  And yet it's not all that surprising.  Steig wrote many books for children, including Pete's a Pizza, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, Doctor De Soto, and The Amazing Bone, as well as two books of word puzzles, CDB! and CDC?

Published 1984

Published 1968

Some of them are quite complicated.  Here are two of the easiest examples:

"Are you okay?"  "Yes, thank you."  and
"I am a human being. You are an animal."

Sometimes we encounter these clever puzzles on license plates.  That's when I am thankful for traffic lights; it gives me enough time to figure out what the plate means on the car in front of mine.  I imagine that William Steig chuckled whenever he encountered a clever license!  I wonder what his was.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Dr. Bookster visits EES!

Dr. Bookster takes the pulse of a book.
Every fall we always spend a couple of weeks teaching our students about taking care of their books and how to be a good book friend.  Dr. Bookster is always thrilled to drop by for a visit with the children and show them what can happen when a book is not kept in a safe place.

With her stethoscope she listens to the book's pulse to determine what has happened to it, and then shows the children the book's condition.  This year Dr. Bookster showed examples of books that were chewed by a dog, scribbled in by toddlers, food stuck to pages, pages turned in the wrong spot, water damage from a water bottle in a backpack, and a broken binding from being dropped.

     Children can be a good book friend by keeping their books in a safe place that is away from pets and very young children who don't know how to care for books.  Designating one or two safe places in the home also helps children remember where their books are in the home, which makes it easy to bring them back to the Learning Center to choose new ones. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Every year on September 15, innovative educators around the world celebrate International Dot Day by making time to encourage their students’ creativity.

Our students celebrated International Dot Day by making their own marks.  Each student's creation hangs in the Learning Center, more than 400 unique dots!  They were admired tonight by the many families that visited the library during our school's Open House.  

EES Dots on PhotoPeach

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Why Picture Books Matter

     As we welcome students back to school this fall at Essex Elementary School, a special display of picture books and their storybook characters are crowded together in a hallway display case inviting children and adults to stop and look, spot their favorites and even discover some new stories to search for on their next trip to the library.   
     Picture books are like pirate booty: a treasure chest of visual and written delights!  They are a unique form of literature.   A common misconception is that picture books are for very young children, and that once a child can read independently they have outgrown this type of book.  Picture books encourage critical thinking and promote visual literacy with their sophisticated marriage of text and illustrations.  Children have the opportunity to practice their skills of inference and prediction, and are exposed to a rich vocabulary and creative uses of text (called author’s craft).  The subject matter is boundless; picture books range from humor to biography, from factual information to fantasy, from moral stories to deep tales of humanity.  The writing can be tender or beautiful or clever or hilarious. And the illustrations? There’s such a range of styles between illustrators; picture books are like a mini-trip to an art museum!

     When looking at picture books through the lens of the Essex Town School District’s End Policies, one can see that they address policies 1.2 Students will develop attributes for life-long learning in a complex world through:
  • Creativity and innovation
  • Critical thinking and problem solving
and 1.3 Students will demonstrate functional and critical thinking skills in the use and understanding of information, media and technology.

     Picture books are a very flexible medium for people of all ages, largely because of their visual nature.  And, most importantly, they are FUN!   If you are interested in reading more about picture books, read Show Me a Story! Why Picture Books Matter; Conversations With 21 of the World's Most Celebrated Illustrators, compiled and edited by Leonard S. Marcus, Candlewick Press, c2012.

     Another inspiring book is Anita Silvey's Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children’s Book: Life Lessons from Notable People from All Walks of Life (Roaring Brook, 2009).  Anita also writes an incredible blog called Children's Book-A-Day Almanac.


So, give your child a special treat!  Curl up in a favorite spot with your child and enjoy a picture book tonight. They’ll love you for it.  Check out for a wealth of suggestions, or the suggested websites on my blogroll. Or better yet, ask your favorite librarian !

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Welcome Back From All Your Friends!

I have to admit it - I have always loved stuffed animals.  Even now, if I see a really adorable stuffie I might stop to check it out.  It's usually the expression that's the clincher, but sometimes it's the color or the material.   Normally I can resist, except if it happens to be book related.  If the stuffed figure is a book character, I simply can't help myself.  Resistance is futile at that point.

I have been a librarian for many years, so it should be no surprise that I have quite a sizable collection by now.  A favorite thing I love to do at this time of year is to set them all on display in our huge case to welcome back the 400+ children that will stream through those doors in less than a week.  This display is so much fun!  Children and parents love it, spending a long time checking it out.  They recognize many but also discover a few stories they aren't familiar with.  It's a visual literacy of the soft kind!

Here are pictures from last year.  The challenge this year will be how to squeeze in a few more characters.  A trip to Livres Babar on Greene Avenue in Montreal this summer yielded a large Gruffalo (Julia Donaldson) and a small Wodney Wat (Helen Lester).  I will start work on it tomorrow.  I can't wait to get out all those old friends.  Bring on the stuffies!

Please don't let the pigeon drive that bus!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A Strange Thing Happened While Reading a Book!

Yesterday something very odd happened.  While waiting for my son to finish playing in a golf tournament in Middlebury, I sat in the shade with a box of new library books to read.  It was a very hot day, and the air shimmered in the heat.  Everything was very still.  I started reading the book pictured on the left: Chipmunk's Hole by Dee Phillips, Bearport, c2012.  What a wonderful nonfiction book this is!  I was soon engrossed.  I can't wait to show it to my students and teachers as a great example of nonfiction elements.  Not only does it have a Table of Contents, loads of great photos, labels, maps, fact windows, words in bold, and a glossary, but the text is so appropriate for the children in my school.

The strange part is coming up...  As I was reading along, enjoying the pictures and information, I became aware of a rustling sound in the leaves near where I was sitting.  I glanced down and lo and behold there was a chipmunk looking up at me.  Did it just wink at me?  She? He? paused for a moment before scampering away and popping into a small opening.  I didn't have time to take a picture of the chipmunk, but I did get one of the hole. 


 Just like in the book!
 How cool is that?

Here's another hole I found.
Could it be another entrance?

Reading this book brings to mind another wonderful book about chipmunks: Chipmunk Song.   Joanne Ryder first published this book in 1987 by Dutton Children's Books with illustrations by Lynne Cherry, and it belongs in every child's repertoire.  It is a delightful, fantastical exploration by a young boy in a chipmunk's burrow.  Not to be missed!
The next book in my box to read is a picture book entitled King Arthur's Very Great Grandson, by Kenneth Kraegel, Candlewick Press, c2012.  I am almost afraid to open it.  What might scurry by while I am reading it???

Monday, May 21, 2012

QR Codes and Authors' Websites

First and second graders use the ipads to explore how QR codes work.  Various QR codes were randomly placed around the Learning Center.  

Each code led to a website, most of which were popular authors' websites as well as the library's homepage and this blog. 

Students worked in teams of two and took turns scanning the codes with the app Qrafter, and were able to explore the websites.  Mary Pope Osborne of the Magic Tree House has a terrific website for children. 

Other authors' websites in this scavenger hunt were those of Daniel Kirk, author of the Library Mouse series; Ron Roy of the A to Z Mysteries; Victoria Kann of Pinkalicious fame; Charlie and Lola's author Lauren Child, Captain Underpants creator Dav Pilkey, Tedd Arnold aka Fly Guy, Mo Willems, John Scieszka, and the popular Franny K. Stein, to name a few.

I was very proud of how careful they all were, and how well they worked together!