National Bookmobile Day

1911 Book Van - NYPL
 Did you know that tomorrow is National Bookmobile Day?  Well it is.  If you live in a city, like mine, where there hasn't been a public library bookmobile in decades, you may be thinking, "who still uses a bookmobile?"  Turns out, a lot of folks depend on mobile libraries.  People who live in rural areas, people who don't have transportation, children, old people, sick people, busy people, and even lazy people can enjoy all kinds of library services through mobile libraries.  Now you should be asking, "why doesn't my city have a bookmobile?"

Celebrate your favorite bookmobile or cheer for one to drive your way during tomorrow's celebration.  At the American Library Association's National Bookmobile Day webpage, you can find printable, foldable bookmobiles that students can construct.  Or try a different foldable bookmobile courtesy of illustrator Bob Staake.
Let students use these printables or design their own shoebox bookmobiles and have a mini parade to raise awareness about the history and importance of mobile libraries.

To give students ideas for their miniature bookmobiles, introduce them to some of the world's most interesting bookmobiles and the fearless, beloved librarians who care for them.  Start by reading Jeanette Winter's book Biblioburro: A True Story from Colombia to find out about Luis Soriano and his donkey library that shared books in rural Colombia.

Discover Alaska's Kusco Book Express, a floating library that brings books to families along the Kuscokwim River.
LitSite Alaska
Learn about Proyecto Bibliomula, which employs a team of mules to transport books to people in rural Venezuela.
Proyecto Bibliomula
Read about Kenya's Camel Library Service that shares books with the nomadic people in the country's northeastern region.
Book Aid International
Then, browse through many other interesting bookmobiles in ALA's Celebrating 100 Years of Bookmobiles presentation.


Earth Day Storytime - Garbage, Garbage, Garbage

Earth Day is observed every year on April 22.  However, as I tell my students, one day is not nearly sufficient to meaningfully address sustainable living and the needs of our environment.  So, in our library, April is Earth Month.  To get things started, my students and I read some amazing stories about trash.

What would you do if you had to live in a giant pile of garbage? Most of us prefer to have our trash trucked off to the landfill to be forgotten.  But, for Cap'n Duffy St. Pierre, the sailor who spent most of 1987 sailing up and down the Atlantic Ocean with a boatload of garbage, that wasn't an option.  This is the main conflict in Here Comes the Garbage Barge!, by amazing author Jonah Winter.
The story describes the true events of a tugboat, called the Break of Dawn, full of more than 3000 pounds of trash that set out from Long Island on a mission to unload the garbage in North Carolina.  Unfortunately for Cap'n Duffy, North Carolina didn't want the trash, and neither did any of the other places he tried to stop along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of the U.S., Mexico, and Belize.  This book makes a great read-aloud, partly because it's jammed full of characters with hilariously imitable local accents.  Plus, this story is a perfect way to begin a discussion about how garbage is managed by communities and what individuals can do to reduce their contributions to landfills.
In addition to the interesting subject, and amazing storytelling, this book has fantastic illustrations by Chris Sickels from Red Nose Studio.  Each page is composed of clay characters, each handmade by Sickels, surrounded by real plastic toys and junk.
Students can see how the illustrations were made at this video narrated by Sickels. 

Next we read Antoinette Portis' Not a Box.
 This quick read illustrates how easily simple items, like a cardboard box, can be reused as something much more grand.  Read more about this great book and fun activities to go along with it.

Finally, since it's Poetry Month, I also shared Shel Silverstein's poem, "Sara Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out" from Where the Sidewalk Ends.
 In this famous poem, Sara's stubbornness leaves her lonely and surrounded by smelly heaps of trash.  Students will wince and squirm in delighted disgust as you read the long list of decomposing foods that stink up Sara's space.

If you need more resources, like used media or reusable containers, for your Earth Day lessons and celebrations, check out Amazon's Earth Day Sale: Shop Amazon Earth Day - Green Solutions.


Put a Poem in Your Pocket + Poetry Centers

April is Poetry Month, so all month long, we will be reading, writing, and exploring poetry.  On April 18, we will be celebrating Poem in Your Pocket day as a part of our poetry month activities.  This celebration has been taking place nationwide each April since 2008.  It's a fun opportunity to enjoy and share poetry with students.  Likewise, they get to share their own favorite poems with each other!  This literary event can become an exciting classroom tradition, just like Valentine card exchanges and Halloween candy sharing.

There are lots of ways your students can celebrate the occasion.  They can carry poems in their own pockets, display pocketfuls of poems, choose poems from pockets, and so on.  Students can write or type their favorite poems onto cards they can carry around and share.  You can also print many pocket-sized poems from Poets.org for your celebration.

To help students investigate poetry independently, I setup several poetry centers for students to visit.
Each basket is labelled with a tag like this one that gives instructions for the activity.
All the materials students need for the activity are placed inside the box.  I will keep most of these centers out all month, just changing the contents from week to week, so students can explore lots of poets and poems.  The Acrostics center is the sole exception.  Each week, I will swap in a different form of poetry for students to attempt on their own.

You can print a set of free Poetry Month centers HERE.

If you still can't get enough poetry fun, check out this past article with more Poetry Month ideas and online activities.