Posts tagged ‘Reading’

Finding Your Inner Superhero: OLA jot notes

Fourth in a series by Natalie C., one of our fabulous reference librarians, who was lucky to attend 3 days at the OLA Super conference: 

In Bring Your Own Cape: Using Novels and Non-Fiction Narratives to Further Themes of Diversity, Equity and Social Justice, presenter and author Natasha Deen argued that by teaching kids the importance of reading and writing we could also teach them to be superheroes.

For Deen, being a superhero is not the same as just being powerful. Referencing the deaths experienced by Peter Parker and Bruce Wayne before they became Batman & Spider-Man, Deen asserted: “Finding the superhero within is not just about being awesome. It’s taking power from the terrible. The things that happen in your life that are terrible, they are there to help you rise.”

Deen believes that by sharing diverse stories, kids can learn to recognize the value in their differences — what the world often uses to put them down — and access their power.

By encouraging students to write, Deen says that we’re allowing students to “peek behind the curtain.” By writing, students can learn not only about how narratives in the stories they read are purposefully shaped and structured to convey specific messages, but how these messages can in turn shape and structure the story of their own lives. 

Through books with themes of diversity, equity and social justice, Deen believes that educators can teach students that they can all make a difference: “The world’s telling you to look a certain way to be powerful and yet the most powerful thing in the world is kindness. Why are we letting people tell us that only big things count? Little things matter. All of us change the world.”

So how can you help students find their inner superhero?Deen has compiled a list of texts that promote diversity, equity and social justice. Additionally, she has created several question sheets to help educators use some of these texts to inspire discussion.


February 16, 2017 at 1:00 pm Leave a comment

Do your students identify as readers?

The October 2016 issue of Phi Delta Kapan (vol 98:2) includes an articles by D. Barrone and R. Barrone titled Are You a Reader? (pp 47-51).

The article briefly reviews research based practises that improve reading skills, but spends most of its space reviewing a  grade 5 class in which none of the students self-identified as being a reader at the beginning of the school year.  The teacher challenged the students to read 50 books – “all they had to do was read and record the books they read. There were no book reports, projects, quizzes or prizes after reading.” (p 49).

The teacher delivered her literacy program using direct and differentiated instruction and daily literature circles. As the year progressed,  the students created a list of the characteristics of good readers, including the following:

  1. good readers read for fun
  2. good readers talk about books
  3. good readers usually finish a book
  4. good readers relate to the characters in the book
  5. good readers often choose a specific genre to read
  6. good readers read lots of books

What this article does not do is discuss how the teacher managed struggling readers.  Any TDSB teacher interested in reading this article can contact the library at (416) 395-8289 or

Check it out! Rowan



December 30, 2016 at 1:00 pm Leave a comment

1000 Black Girl Books

1000 Black Girl Books Resource Guide 

“This resource guide was created from the #1000blackgirlbooks campaign led by Marley Dias who has now collected over 4000 books. The guide includes some of those books that have been catalogued into an easy to find database. This information here is appropriate for youth, parents, educators, schools, and libraries.”

From Marley’s introduction “I love reading and I love reading all kinds of books. I think it is important that if we want the world to be a better place where everyone feels welcomed and understood then we must sure that children have books about black girls, and all kinds of people, not just white boys and dogs.”

The website currently lists 700 books, updated monthly. The database may be downloaded in a variety of ways (but not mobile) and they include a reading level filter with the following caveat “These broad categories are designed to facilitate the process of locating books. Please do not use them to categorize children’s, youth’s or adults’ intellectual capacity.”

This is a great resource, especially for teacher librarains – check it out!


December 30, 2016 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

What Works Clearinging house releases report on primary reading

The U.S.  What Works Clearinghouse has released a new  (July 2016) practice guide titled Foundational Skills to support Reading for Understanding in Kindergarten through 3rd Grade  [PDF] .

From page 1: This What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) practice guide focuses on the foundational reading skills that enable students to read words (alphabetics), relate those words to their oral language, and read connected text with sufficient accuracy and fluency to understand what they read. This practice guide, developed by a panel of experts comprised of researchers and practitioners, presents four recommendations that educators can use to improve literacy skills in the early grades.

The 4 recommendations are:

  1. Teach students academic language skills, including the use of inferential and narrative language, and vocabulary knowledge
  2.  Develop awareness of the segments of sounds in speech and how they link to letters
  3. Teach students to decode words, analyze word parts, and write and recognize words
  4.  Ensure that each student reads connected text every day to support reading accuracy, fluency, and comprehension.

Also note: This guide is geared towards teachers, administrators, and other educators who want to improve their students’ foundational reading skills, and is a companion to the practice guide, Improving Reading Comprehension in Kindergarten Through 3rd Grade.

Check it out!



July 19, 2016 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

Young children and children’s books

The May 2016 issue of Young Children (71:2) from NAEYC: National Association for the Education of Young Children is a theme issue – Teaching and Learning with Children’s Books. You can read the Table of Contents here.

Two of the articles have been made available for free public access Reading Your Way to a Culturally Responsive Classroom (Wanless, Crawford, pages 8-15) and Getting Smarter about e-Books for Children (Guernsey and Levine, pages 38-43). Note that the ebook articles is based on the book  by the same authors Tap, Click, Read: Growing Readers in a  World of Screens which TDSB teachers  may borrow from your fabulous Professional Library.

TDSB teachers may also contact the library for copies of the other articles (for example the article Promoting Resiliency Through Read-Alouds) . Copyright note: this journal is not included in our databases service, so you will be limited to a photocopy of one article only as per the  Fair Dealing Guidelines.

Check it out!


May 24, 2016 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

Free Online eBooks for Children

Submitted by Judy C., one of our fabulous reference librarians:

The summer is fast approaching, and to help children beat summer learning loss, here is a list of  free online ebook sites for children. Keep them reading!

Online eBooks for Children


TDSB Virtual Library:

  • BookFLIX (TDSB Virtual Library > eBooks > BookFLIX)
    • Paired children’s fiction books with nonfiction books on different themes.
  • Capstone (TDSB Virtual Library > eBooks >BookFLIX)
    • Children’s non-fiction books by grade range from PrK and up.
  • PebbleGo (TDSB Virtual Library  > eBooks>BookFLIX)
    • Written for primary level children on animals and science. Includes video clips.

Toronto Public Library: (Reproduced from the TPL site)

Judy Chyung

Librarian – TDSB Professional Library




May 11, 2016 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

The power of bedtime stories

The Thursday March 14 2016 edition of the Globe and Mail included an article by Russell Smith titled “The Invincible Bedtime Story” (p. L4) in which he talks about reading bedtime stories to his 6 year-young son. His son loves everything about Star Wars and superheros and things that blow up,  but who also “begs for Pippi [Longstocking] at bedtime, listens raptly and demands extra chapters”.  Smith thinks the allure of the bedtime story is all about the words: “These words are pure sound,  purely abstract. They must be pieced together like any code…What we represent internally, what we can imagine, comes from our own  nightmares. The process of understanding chains of written or spoken words is an actively creative one.”

For me,  bedtime stories were all about that quiet pre-bed moment with clean-smelling kids in their jammies, blankies & thumbs (yup – both of mine sucked their thumbs), cuddling close and the book being the center anchor. And we got to talk, and discuss the illustrations,  and  improve literacy/reading skills and  brain development. It is such  a win-win.

Looking for some recommended books and don’t know where to begin?  Here are some places to check – in addition to your school’s virtual library :

Check it out!



March 18, 2016 at 1:00 pm Leave a comment

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