Posted in Featured | Leave a comment

Historical Fiction in the Lower School library

Historical Fiction can come in all shapes and sizes. Picture books are a wonderful way to introduce historical fiction and chapter books can carry the reader to distant lands.

Cover imageThe Buffalo Soldier by Sherry Garland

Realizing that his future lies in owning land, not just being free, a young man raised as a slave becomes a buffalo soldier–a member of an all-black cavalry regiment formed to protect white settlers from Indians, bandits, and outlaws, and that later fought in the Spanish American War. Includes historical note.

Cover imageThe Firekeeper’s Son by Linda Sue Park

In eighteenth-century Korea, after Sang-hee’s father injures his ankle, Sang-hee attempts to take over the task of lighting the evening fire which signals to the palace that all is well. Includes historical notes.

Cover imageRuth and the Green Book by Calvin Alexander Ramsey

When Ruth and her parents take a motor trip from Chicago to Alabama to visit her grandma, they rely on a pamphlet called “The Negro Motorist Green Book” to find places that will serve them. Includes facts about “The Green Book.”

Cover imageFreedon Summer: Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles

In 1964, Joe is pleased that a new law will allow his best friend John Henry, who is black, to share the town pool and other public places with him, but he is dismayed to find that prejudice still exists.

Cover image A Kit Mystery Danger at the Zoo by Kathleen Ernst

While working as a reporter during her summer vacation in 1935, Kit uncovers a mystery at the Cincinnati Zoo involving suspected break-ins at the monkey house.

Cover imageGhost Knight by Cornelia Funke

Eleven-year-old Jon Whitcroft and new friend Ella summon the ghost of Sir William Longspee, who may be able to protect Jon from a group of ghosts that threatens him harm from the day he arrives at Salisbury Cathedral’s boarding school. Includes historical notes.

Cover image Hope in My Heart Sofia’s Immigrant Diary by Kathryn Lasky

After her family immigrates to America from Italy in 1903, ten-year-old Sofia is quarantined at the Ellis Island Immigration Station where she makes a good friend but endures nightmarish conditions. Includes historical notes



Posted in Featured | Leave a comment

Historical Fiction – the forgotten genre?

For the past several years I’ve noticed a decline in student interest in historical fiction. Fantasy and the sub-fiction genre of dystopian literature have eclipsed all the others in the hearts of young readers.  Well-written historical fiction novels bring history to life and can provide another perspective on events, culture and daily life from another time. Here’s a plug for three of my favorite historical fiction novels for Grades 4 – 8.

crow2Crow by Barbara Wright. Set in North Carolina  in 1898, this coming of age novel chronicles the events of one summer in the life of a young African-American boy. His educated, middle class family must deal with events in their past in addition to the rising tension between whites and blacks at the beginning of what will become the Jim Crow era.

ghosthawkGhost Hawk by Newbery Honor author, Susan Cooper. At the end of a winter-long journey  alone in the woods, the traditional ritual that marks his journey from boy to man, Little Hawk returns to find his village decimated by a white man’s plague and soon, despite a fresh start, Little Hawk dies violently but his spirit remains trapped, seeing how his world changes.

catherine2 Catherine, called Birdy by Karen Cushman. Award winning historical fiction author, Karen Cushman, has crafted a novel that focuses on the  thirteen-year-old daughter of an English country knight in medieval England. She keeps a journal in which she records the events of her life, particularly her longing for adventures beyond the usual role of women and her efforts to avoid being married off.





Posted in Featured | Leave a comment

Hour of Code


Hour of Code – Click here for a powerpoint

December 8 through 12 is Computer Education Week. Last year, many educational organizations used this week to create the Hour of Code initiative to encourage young people to investigate computer programming. In 2013, over 15 million students worldwide spent an hour learning how to program. We kicked off the DTLC Hour of Code Challenge last Monday at Morning Meeting. While our students think they are just playing games, they are actually creating stories, practicing problem solving, testing and retesting their ideas. Check out the links below for additional ideas and resources:

 Girls Who Code

Hour of Code

Code dot Org


Posted in Featured | Leave a comment

Spoken Word Poet Christopher Johnson

Derby was lucky to have a visit on December 2 from Christopher Johnson, a spoken word poet and performance artist from Providence, Rhode Island. Mr. Johnson performed for Grades 4 through 8 at Morning Meeting and conducted poetry writing workshops for Grade 6 through 9 throughout the day. Click here for a video of one of his poems! christopher johnson

Posted in Featured | Leave a comment

QR Codes in the Library

QR codes are everywhere these days! For the uninitiated, QR codes are the square bar codes you find on labels, coupons, in magazine ads or even in brochures. QR code readers are a free download to any smart phone or tablet device. Once scanned, these codes link to websites, videos or other online documents.

Always looking for ways to encourage recreational reading, I created QR codes from book trailer videos and attached them to library books. Students can use their own iPad or a library iPad to scan the QR code, watch a video summary of the book and hopefully be inspired to check it out! qrdisplay1 qrdisplay2


Posted in Featured | Leave a comment

Grade 4 Pumpkin Book Projects

Each Grade 4 student received a small, orange pumpkin a few weeks ago and turned it into a work of art! Their task was to think of a character or symbol from a book they’ve read recently, write a book review and then use their imagination to transform their pumpkin.  Using paint, googly eyes, clay and yarn, Grade 4 students did not fail to impress!  Stop by the Terry Library to view all the pumpkins and read the book summaries.

DSCN2302 DSCN2300 DSCN2294

Posted in Featured | Leave a comment

Skype with Author Adam Gidwitz

Posted in Featured | Leave a comment

Derby Welcomes Melissa Stewart

photo 1 (12)Melissa Stewart presenting Animal Adaptations: Bats to Grades 1-2

Melissa Stewart, a local award-winning non-fiction author, presented to the students in the Lower School Library on October 2nd, 2014.  Ms. Stewart shared her love of science with several different approaches to visual literacy, animal adaption and creating non-fiction with the students in Kindergarten through Grade 5 students. Kindergarten students talked about how the words and pictures work together so the reader can glean information. Grades 1-2 participated in an animal adaption program that focused on how a bat’s behavior and body structure helps it survive and the important role they play in its habitat. Grades 3-5 participated in a creating non-fiction presentation where the author suggested you should “write what you care about”, and her program featured books she has written.

For more information about the author visit Melissa Stewart’s Science Clubhouse



Posted in Featured | Leave a comment

Summer Reading 2014


Have you stopped by Sarah Derby Hall to see the summer reading display? The border is made of postcards from all over the United States and many other countries. I couldn’t wait to check my mailbox during the summer and at the start of the year to see where everyone traveled. Some of you included what you were reading too! Inspired by those post cards, our students created original ones based on the favorite book they read over the summer. The picture was a setting from the story and the text of the card was an imagined message from one character to another. I have seen many students stop by to read the board, marvel at all the different places represented and (hopefully!) get inspired to try a book recommended by one of their peers.

Posted in Featured | Leave a comment