Bec in the library

"I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library." — Jorge Luis Borges

Parents: my tribe February 26, 2019

Filed under: Partnerships — becinthelibrary @ 11:53 am
Tags: , , ,

Part 1 – history

Girl, do I love me some parents!

I love how invested so many of them are in their child’s education, how much they genuinely love and appreciate literature in all its forms.

I am also passionately grateful for how they have made me the librarian I am today.

In my first librarian role, I was cast adrift in a brand new (ill thought out) space with no budget and a collection that met no reasonable criteria that I had ever encountered.

I was gifted a teaching schedule (I’m a die hard fan of fixed schedules) but found myself with no time for the mundane yet essential tasks of a teaching librarian with no assistant – reshelving, processing, repairing, cataloguing, displays.

Were my only choices to teach lessons in an unorganised library or work in my own time? (I was only employed part time.)

Oh no, neither of those were happening.

I wasn’t going to give up my own time (we all know teachers would work every minute of the day anyway), and there was ABSOLUTELY no way I going to accept teaching in a space where literature and research weren’t explicitly valued and promoted.

I’m a pretty hard worker but I knew I couldn’t do this on my own.

Being firmly in the ‘have cake and eat it too’ camp, and with no money for an assistant forthcoming, I knew it was time to enlist the parental army.

With the help of two bilingual PTA reps, I created the Friends of the Library (FOTL) program for my school.
(The name was shamelessly copied from the marvelous ES librarian at WAB, John Byrne.)

Over the course of a year, the FOTL was a thriving hub of over 10 parents whose accomplishments were so astronomical, I presented about them at the Librarians Knowledge Sharing Workshop at Keystone Academy in 2016.

To name just a few of their achievements:

  • catalogued over 2000 Chinese books,
  • promoted (and turned up to) every single library event, especially those during the school’s first Book Week,
  • covered and repaired countless books,
  • learnt how to reshelve and organise an ever changing collection that grew to almost 8000 titles,
  • and, perhaps most importantly, tirelessly helped me push my agenda for reading aloud in mother tongue.

The FOTL did everything I never had time to do and were quite possibly the sole reason I was able to transform a corridor into a fully functioning library, with a vibrant connection to curriculum that created a strong culture of reading.
Read about how the FOTL program at my new school is being revived.


Get Hooked on Reading February 25, 2019

Filed under: Teaching — becinthelibrary @ 12:35 pm
Tags: , , ,

Some resources from a Teachers Teaching Teachers presentation I gave in 2017

Get Hooked on Reading: Resources for further learning

Big Books

Using big books in the classroom by Scholastic Canada

More examples of why and how: big books by Bright Hub

Using big books as a foreign language teacher – an academic journal article (challenging reading)

Reading Aloud

How to choose a read aloud book by Minds in Bloom

Is reading aloud worth it? (Ummm, YES!)

Learn from the master: Mem Fox reads aloud!

Bunch of downloadable resources for reading aloud

More reasons why reading aloud is important

Tapping into interest and choice

Keeping interest alive by British book retailer, WH Smith

The importance of graphic novels – yes, they ARE real reading!

Scholastic agree that graphic novels are great!


Fierce Literary Females – Bec’s Top 20 October 29, 2017

Filed under: Book Lists — becinthelibrary @ 9:30 pm
Tags: , , ,

As part of Women’s Health Month at my school, I was asked to compile a list of books about women, for women, by women.
I created a bunch of book lists shareable by QR codes and wheeled in a trolley of great books along with my trust Destiny phone app. Whilst we all ate, drank, laughed and celebrated women, I also nerded out on pushing beloved titles into people’s hands. I managed a few “sales” so I was happy 🙂

People often ask me what and who I love in the literary world. My favourite female of all time is, and most likely, always will be, the mighty, MIGHTY Hermione.
She is all I aspired to be as a kid (despite not reading the series until I was in my late teens) and who I hope I am raising in my own mighty girl.


If you need some inspiration for fabulous females, check out my very favourite phenomenal authors and characters across a variety of genres.

These books are in no particular order of favouritism because that would be unfair – I love them all for such different reasons. The only thing they have in common is fierce female characters who have inspired and moved me profoundly.

Of course I will have missed SO MANY so go ahead and comment on this post to remind me of the fabulous women I have left off!

Ask me about any of them, PLEASE, I relish the chance to talk about them.

  1. Room by Emma Donoghue
  2. Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
  3. The Red Tent by Anita Diament
  4. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  5. Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  6. Matilda by Road Dahl
  7. Charlotte’s Web by E.B White
  8. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  9. Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind
  10. A Rose for the Anzac Boys by Jackie French
  11. People of the Book by Geraldine Brookes
  12. Anything by Marian Keyes (I simply cannot choose one. They are all brilliant.)
  13. Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
  14. The Sisterhood by Helen Bryan
  15. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  16. The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon (first one is the best though…)
  17. Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors
  18. Saving the World by Isabella Allende
  19. Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
  20. Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Research source continuum – lite November 17, 2016

Filed under: Teaching — becinthelibrary @ 1:37 pm

Not all information, or information sources, are created equal!

Schools can adopt proven and reliable evaluation tools like Kathy Shrock’s 5 W’s and research process frameworks like the Big 6 to scaffold information literacy skill building. However, understanding that the *sources* we use within the context of these frameworks and tools require different levels of critical thinking and research skills is very important.

This image show how sources progress from the most closely monitored, vetted and easy to use (in terms of research skills and critical literacy) sources to the least:

research graph.jpg


Good quality non-fiction books almost always include text features such as an index, contents page, glossary and captions that explicitly and easily introduce key research skills.


Databases package well edited and researched information attractively into an interactive online experience. They are a safe, structured source to practice transferring the basic research skills (key words, skim and scan, etc) learned through book based inquiry into the online world.


Using their expertise at website evaluation, the teacher librarian curates a list (pathfinder) of websites based on a unit of inquiry that are kid-safe, ad free, current, accurate and written by experts in their field. It is a gentle introduction to internet use that begins to use higher level research skills.

Kid-safe search engines

Whilst usually highly regulated and filtered, to get accurate results using a kid-safe search engine, students will need to start using higher level research and website evaluation skills like those outlined in the 5 Ws. These skills take a thoughtful, concerted, long term effort to teach, consolidate and hone.

General search engines

The most common results interface of a general search engine is 100% unfiltered and littered with advertisements. This is the source where critical literacy skills are needed the most and yet it is the place the vast majority of our students (and teachers) start.


Tell me what to read!

Filed under: Teaching — becinthelibrary @ 1:28 pm

As yet another way of getting student voice into the library, I have been teaching kids about how to make recommendations for one another.

They certainly do it informally, through general excitement over books when reading together and browsing through the reshelving trolley, but it was the times that they aren’t with their friends that I was looking to tap into.

I was inspired by a tweet from the legendary Taryn Bergheis about shelf marker recommendations and decided to strike while the iron was hot.

Grade 2-6 wrote their recommends to include call number and a blurb; Grade 1 and Kindergarten just stuck on removable stickers.

The look of wonder and pride on the kids’ faces when “their” book gets borrowed is just priceless.



It’s magic! New flexible collaboration spaces. November 1, 2016

Filed under: Teaching — becinthelibrary @ 1:03 pm

With the new layout of the library, collaboration and explicit instruction spaces were sacrificed. This made my insides shrivel so I knew there had to be a solution to having them back but in a way that doesn’t impact the new layout.


  1. “Pop up” tables!!

The table tops slide under the shelves – made to fit perfectly – then are pulled out and laid atop the (big, ugly, not child friendly – grrr) chairs. DONE! A collaborative working space for 3 kids 🙂

[please excuse my terribly messy shelves…blush]


2. Moveable shelves

At first, a browsing area for reference and chapter books, the next minute a whole class teaching space! Thank you very much wheeled shelves 🙂


So stoked with how they turned out – gorgeous and actually working really well in actuality.


Fresh and hot like a chilli pepper! October 17, 2016

Filed under: Teaching — becinthelibrary @ 12:55 pm

Picture book area img_9112 img_9113 img_9114 img_9115 img_9116

Yet again, I have moved things around in my darling little library.

It was a much needed change after much teeth gnashing and hand wringing. My library was in “zones” like 21stC libraries “should be” but it just wasn’t working AT ALL.

The space wasn’t working for the kids I have and the ways in which the building as a whole is used. So, I had to make the space fit the users, not what I thought it SHOULD be like.

Added to this a big influx of books through donations, Scholastic and even (GASP!) some internal funding, and we had just run out of space in the current configuration.

So, here are some images of my new (and improved?) space.

It’s nowhere near done and certainly not perfect but as an ever evolving space, I feel like it is getting there!

Feedback is welcome and encouraged!


loving the learning

continuing tales of a teacher librarian

PE to TL - The Journey Begins!

Reflections and thoughts on ETL401.


This site is the bee's knees