Celebrate the freedom to read!

Let’s do another poll! Any guesses as to where this man might be standing?


The signposts might help a bit, but the pose will help more!

Wherever he is, this gentleman is clearly exercising his right to free speech! Libraries celebrate that every year, too. In fact, I think we celebrate that right every day.

Banned books week runs from September 24 to September 30 this year. Libraries everywhere will have special displays of books that have been banned or challenged. Why not celebrate your freedom to read by visiting your local library and borrowing a challenged book? Here are just a few that we have on the shelf in North Castle.

Continue reading “Celebrate the freedom to read!”


How to Keep Kids Excited About School

Now that the excitement of being back in school is starting to settle down, how can you keep kids excited about learning?  Read on.

Gallup, Inc. “How to Keep Kids Excited About School.” Gallup.com, 8 June 2017, http://www.gallup.com/opinion/gallup/211886/keep-kids-excited-school.aspx?g_source.

Six Ways to Keep Kids Excited About School

Recently, there have been gains in the U.S. high school graduation rate. Still, more can be done to help students feel involved and enthusiastic at school. Here are six ideas to address the school engagement cliff:

  1. Create hope. Hope is rooted in the ideas and energy that students have for the future. Hope expert Shane Lopez once said hopeful students envision a future that is better than the present and believe they have the power to make that future a reality.Gallup Student Poll results show that hopeful students are more likely to say they get excellent grades at school and are over four times more likely than their least hopeful peers to be engaged with school. A great way to help build students’ engagement with school is to find ways to help them build a positive relationship with their future and give them chances to test-drive that future today. Students have better days at school when caring adults encourage them in their quest for clarity about the future.
  2. Foster talent. When my daughter, Ella, was a kindergartner, a paraprofessional wrote her a kind note at the end of the school year, thanking her for helping to love and support her friend with special needs. That paraprofessional encouraged my daughter’s passion for developing others at a very young age. It was meaningful to have another adult at school recognize the strengths that I as a parent get to build each day.Ella is now a middle-schooler and dreams of becoming a special education teacher. It is important to identify what students do best and what they enjoy doing. A little personalized recognition, coupled with opportunities to identify and develop their strengths, can have big long-term school engagement returns for students.
  3. Care a lot. Teachers work hard to learn the names of students each school year, but it might be just as important for students to be able to name at least one adult at school who cares about them. While two-thirds of fifth graders surveyed in 2016 strongly agree that adults at school care about them, only about one in four high school students say the same. Each student needs someone who is their cheerleader. Many student-facing adults at school can fill this important role.
  4. Recognize creative teachers and teaching. Recently, I was privileged to honor teachers who had reached tremendous tenure milestones in our district. This kind of recognition is special, but insufficient. It is important to recognize teachers who boost engagement and help address the school engagement cliff by designing and implementing lessons that boost students’ ability to learn difficult material, while leveraging their talents, skills and interests to get work done.Gallup Student Poll results show that older students are less likely than younger students to strongly agree that their teachers make them feel their schoolwork is important. Leaders should take every chance to recognize teachers who help students feel that the content they are learning and projects they are completing are relevant. This could help blunt the effects of boredom and increase students’ desire to expend discretionary effort that can help facilitate their readiness for the future.
  5. Have fun. Last year, I snapped a picture of a group of high school students standing outside the school doors, waiting anxiously to get into a Friday night dance. It was fun to see how excited they were to get inside the building. I wondered what could be done to help students feel just as excited to come to school on random Tuesday mornings. Finding ways to make school days more fun can increase students’ positive emotions, and those good feelings can serve as a platform for building engagement that leads to learning growth.
  6. Model engagement. Teachers and school leaders have the unique opportunity to model engagement. Engaged staff members show students every day what it is like to live, learn and work together.Gallup research suggests there is a link between teacher engagement and student engagement.One way to help battle the school engagement cliff is to prioritize and model teacher and staff engagement. Teachers’ excitement and enthusiasm for learning, their support and care for one another, and their strong commitment to excellence will inspire students to commit to becoming their best selves at school each day.


Upcoming events at the library!

Hi, everyone! It’s fall, the weather is beautiful, and the leaves are starting to fly. Book leaves, that is! We’ve got several literary events coming up soon!

just write

First, our creative writing  club starts next week. Do you love to write, and are you looking for a warm, supportive group of fellow writers? Then this might be the group for you! We meet on Monday evenings at 6:30, every other week, starting on September 18. The group is open to writers of all ages from 16 on up and all writing levels.


My colleague Lisa is also leading an event!Booktoberfest

Click on the image to find out more about this popular reading club.

We have many more programs, too, from advanced beginner/intermediate bridge to meditation to healthy cleaning supplies! Click here to go to our calendar and find out about all we offer.

“I’m looking for a really funny movie!”

“What do you recommend?”  Several people have asked me this when I’ve been sitting at the library Reference Desk.  The first time, I was amazed to discover that we have close to 1,000 comedy DVDs in the North Castle library. When a patron and I  started looking over the list, she was quick to point out that some of the movies that the film studios call comedies “don’t sound very funny.”  A movie that had caught her attention was Cake, starring Jennifer Aniston.  It’s about a mother who is suffering from debilitating physical and emotional pain in the aftermath of a car accident that killed her young son.  This “dark comedy” is an interesting movie about grief and healing and is, in fact, one that I would recommend, but it’s not “rolling in the aisles” funny.

It can be difficult to distinguish between the uproarious Robin Williams-style comedies, and more serious films with comic elements that are sometimes called “comedies.”  In addition, much of what people find funny is a matter of personal taste.  Jerry Lewis, who died this past week, was widely thought of as a genius in France, but never achieved quite the same level of acclaim in the United States.

That’s why I was happy to see an online poll where people were asked, “What’s the funniest movie you’ve ever seen?”  I then found another poll where comedians were asked which movies they thought were the funniest.  The films they selected that are in the North Castle collection follow, in alphabetical order.  If you don’t see your own favorite comedy, please add it in the comments!

Continue reading ““I’m looking for a really funny movie!””

Career Planning or/and College Majors

Before you plunk down your spare change on college, you might just want to have an idea what you want to study, if it requires a degree. It can only help to know what direction you’re taking. Here are some places to look for help.

BLSThe United States Bureau of Labor statistics provides the Occupational Outlook Handbook.  The Handbook looks at highest paying jobs, jobs with high growth rate, level of education required, types of training, and job projections, and gives you all the relevant information.


Gail Virtual Reference Library  (library card is necessary), provides 14 titles that are geared towards preparing for careers that do not require a college degree, and help to discern if those careers are right for you. These careers range from clerical exams to public safety dispatcher. In addition, there’s help for those trying to get through school, such as Boarding School Survival and Teen Guide to College and Career Planning.  For grown women, they have Learn, Work, Lead: Things Your Mother Won’t Tell You.  In addition, have in your mind that you want to attend Graduate School, there are test prep guides that may help you decide if that’s in your future.

college boardCollege Board has a great search engine for exploring what careers you can have by doing what you love, and helps to determine your major.

loyola What’s My Major? Quiz If you must go to college, and you must know your major, you must take this quiz. I like this one because it visually represents where each question it taking you, and in the end there is one answer, but many other paths that show what your capabilities.


College Bound High School Guidance

Take charge of your destiny, and take some work of the desk of your Guidance Counselor. Chances are that your Guidance Counselor is looking at these sites to help keep you on track with the right classes, and the right help for your classes when you need it.

NYC dept of ed

NY Department of Education gives all the requirements you need to graduate from a public school in New York, explains the three types of diplomas and also contains some helpful links to help you through High School. First, Credit and Graduation Requirements, . Second, Diploma Requirements Worksheet, which is a good check-list to make sure you’re not scrambling your senior year to finish what’s required. Third,  How to Read a High School Transcript.




Gale Virtual Reference Libarary has ebooks. (Get your library card for this one). Search for these titles:


major decisionMaking Your Major Decision Albany, NY: Peterson’s,      2013. 408 pp. This book explores various personality types and helps determine which college majors are best for each. It covers hundreds of college majors and careers best fit with each personality and shares how insights from the Myers-Briggs(r) assessment, the world’s most widely used personality tool, can help to succeed in college and life.

ahead of the curveAhead of the Curve: What Parents Need to Know to Get Their Kids Into College Amber C. Saunders. Lawrenceville, NJ: Peterson’s, 2014. 205 pp. This book offers parents a comprehensive and fun guide to help them prepare their high school students for college. In-depth descriptions of available resources for those getting ready for college and checklists of tasks to perform, questions to ask, and tests to take so that students can keep track of application requirements are also included.

eggheadEgghead guides to Vocabulary, Algebra, Geometry, and Calculus


another book.pngNovels for Students Sara Constantakis, ed. Vol. 1-45. Detroit: Gale, 2014. 355 pp. Provides critical overviews of novels from various cultures and time periods. Includes discussions of plot, characters, themes and structure as well as the work’s cultural and historical significance.


Khan Academy


Well known the free online video tutoring of academics, which will help you through all of your academics from elementary school on up, Khan also has a series of videos that will help you discern your options, including whether or not college is right for you. For purposes of this tutorial, however, I’d like to present their article, “Selecting high school classes in preparation for college” https://www.khanacademy.org/college-careers-more/college-admissions/making-high-school-count/high-school-classes/a/selecting-high-school-classes-in-preparation-for-college, which will help you pick the classes for any college, including the more selective ones. Khan is rich with all types of information, which you can watch to your heart’s content, including much overlap with the next two sections of this guide (Test prep, and beginning material for Exploring College Options 

college board

College Board  gives you a plan, so that you’re not overwhelmed. Figure out your tests, understand who you are and why you belong in (fill in the blank).  Identify your future career, by looking at yourself, your past and present. Figure out what High School classes you need to take, and what classes you’ve taken that you can use at what schools. Answer some easy questions, and get some idea of where you want to go, using their College finder search engine.  Then go on to the next step. (Don’t worry, I know there’s more, you can come back later).