June 17, 2018



This is the last Book Bites post of the 2017-2018 school year. By Monday afternoon every child in our building will have brought home their individually-tailored summer reading list based on three weeks of book tastings at the HMS library. This past Friday librarians from the Barrington Public Library and Mrs. Maddocks from Barrington Middle School library came to introduce their programs to your children.

Barrington Public Librarian Mary Harty speaks to 4th graders


Barrington Middle School Librarian Nancy Maddocks speaks to 5th graders


Barrington Public Librarian Miss Tanya speaks to 5th graders


A few things to consider for summer:

  • Encourage the habit of reading every day
  • Allow your child choice while encouraging the Reading Without Walls challenge
  • Lead by example- let your child see you reading, read together, and talk about what you and your child are reading
  • Reading is a social activity – encourage your child to do a book club with friends
  • If your child has a public library card know that he/she is well-versed in placing holds in school (see stats below) and should start doing it through the public library catalog based on their book tasting choices
  • If your child does not have a public library card yet, please take him/her to the circulation desk to get one
  • Audiobooks count – it is “reading with your ears”
  • If you have a rising 6th grader, refer to the June 10th Book Bites post for info on how to access the middle school summer reading assignments
  • If you have a rising 4th or 5th grader, the summer reading assignment is to print out a picture of your child holding a book he/she really loved this summer – a “shelfie”. It can be taken in a fun place like a hammock, the beach, with a pet, on a vacation, etc. You can be as creative as you wish! We will be posting these pictures in the hallways at the start of the school year.

Screen time is a factor that impedes reading time. Therefore, I’m including a a few examples of checklists you can use or tweak for your family to encourage a well-rounded schedule. I love the idea of providing children with chores because they are part of a family unit and tasks to teach responsibility which is so important for future success. I’m sure parents would be surprised to know that when their children are at school they are clamoring for jobs!


image from couponsaregreat.net


image taken from http://www.chaosserveddaily.com/2016/06/30/summer-screentime-checklist/


image taken from http://www.ourthriftyideas.com/2014/06/childrens-screen-time-chart.html


End of Year Wrap-Up

It has been a great year for literacy at Hampden Meadows!

Author Visits


Chris Tebbetts


Mark Parisi


HMS Family Book Club -Surprise Author Skype with Barbara O’Connor


Shelly Paroline and Braden Lamb


Ms. Safran invited Elly Swartz to talk to her Fourth Grade Team and a Special

5th Grade Fan’s Class


Melissa Stewart – Grade 4


Reading Week Trivia Winners Ate Lunch with Melissa


Sarah Albee – Grade 5


Reading Week Trivia Winners Ate Lunch with Sarah


Library of Congress Letters About Literature Contest



The RI Level State winner received a congratulatory note from Newbery award-winning author Lois Lowry. Dahlia wrote her letter to Lowry about Number the Stars and connected it to discovering her own grandmother’s history.

Battle of the Books

Fifth grade teacher Mrs. Burke organizes a Battle of the Books competition for the eleven fifth grade classes in our building. Students form teams and divvy up the books on the list to divide and conquer. They have months to read titles and track their progress. In June they eventually get to the semi-finals and finals. At the time of this post I was able to capture the four teams from each wing totally eight teams in the semi-finals. On Monday afternoon the entire fifth grade will be cheering on the teams in the Battle of the Books Finals! I love that excitement and energy for literacy!







Library Council

This hard-working group of students celebrated and championed literacy for our building this school year. They also formed new friendships along the way!


Our Library Parent Volunteers

We had almost 30 parent volunteers who took time out of their busy weekly schedules to assist in the HMS library this year. These parents are the backbone of this library. They check books in, put books away, and check books out so I can focus on the library lessons with our students. The true added bonus of this volunteer position is the relationships they form with students. I overhear them checking in with kiddos, talking about books and recommending books to read. It’s one more adult for a child to have the chance to connect with and it is awesome.

I even had a group of parents nicknamed the “Repair Brigade” who came the last Friday of each month to fix books and cover new books while catching up with one other. I am indebted to the amazing Elaine Van Leer, our tireless volunteer coordinator who happily helped process all of the interlibrary loan books and even meticulously created a “how to” document to train others.

If you know someone new to the community you may want to recommend volunteering in their child’s library. They will get to meet an amazing network of people who care deeply for the children of our town.


End of Year Statistics

Students checked out books from the HMS library from September 2017 through May 2018.

Total Books Circulated 

28, 155 books

That is an average of 51 books per student. Wow! It makes me so happy to think about that much reading happening with our children! I have a great deal of respect for educator and professional author Donalyn Miller, and have been deeply influenced by her in the ways I approach reading with children. She came up with a 40 Book Challenge for students as a way to have them read widely. Our students are very much in line with this challenge whether they know it or not! Here is a quick video clip of Donalyn Miller explaining the 40 Book Challenge.

Total Holds Placed

1,663 books

See what I mean? Your children are fluent at placing holds. If you get them public library cards they are good to go. Refer to the June 10th Book Bites post for a slideshow with directions.

Total ILL Books Received

1,255 books

I am so grateful to the school librarians across our state who sent us titles throughout the school year. After showing book trailers each week our kiddos would eagerly place holds for titles that held their interest. I can think of at least one school that kept sending the same title over and over again for our voracious readers. That book spent more time with our library patrons than its own this year!

Total ILL Books Loaned

162 books

We sent out books to school libraries throughout the state, but other schools were definitely not as demanding as our school!

Most Popular Genres for HMS Readers 2018





June 10, 2018

Summer Reading


image from worldartsme.com

This week we will finish our “book tasting” including three table rotations with about 7 stacks of new titles at each table. It has been loud and messy and simply awesome! My two favorite parts are hearing kiddos yell to friends to show them books they are excited about and when students come up for another sheet of paper because they have run out of room writing all the titles they hope to read!


Here is the good news: all of these titles can be acquired through the public library. In fact, feel free to check out the slideshow I will use to teach students these steps.


If you have a rising 6th grader you may be wondering about their summer reading assignment. Here are the steps to access it:

  1. Go to http://www.barringtonschools.org
  2. Go to Students/Parents tab in top right corner
  3. Click on Summer Learning
  4. Go to the 6-8 Tab
  5. Drop down to Summer Reading
  6. Click on Summer Reading Entering Grade 6 

If you have a rising 4th or 5th grader you can access the summer reading book tasting list and slideshow. Here are the steps to access it:

  1. Go to http://www.barringtonschools.org
  2. Go to Students/Parents tab in top right corner
  3. Click on Summer Learning
  4. Go to the 4-5 Tab
  5. Drop down to Summer Reading General Information
  6. Scroll to the bottom and click on the blue buttons to access the suggested list of options


Your children will be coming home with their very own summer reading list based on what they are interested in reading. I realize sometimes these papers can go missing. Therefore, I want to ensure lots of ways to still access the book list for your children.

  1. The public library has taken the list and broken it down by genre on their book resources lists under the Children/Teen tab on their homepage. That is one way to get to it.
  2. The Barrington Schools summer learning site has the list available.
  3. I have added the list and the slideshow to your children’s Google Classroom library page.
  4. Here is a link to the list and here is a link to the slideshow.


Okay, on to five books you need to know about this week!

This first title is our HMS Family Book Club summer title. We will meet on Tuesday, August 7th to discuss this book. We hope you can make it! If you would like to order your own copy through Scholastic Book Clubs, please order by Friday, June 15th. Use my class code GTZ84 to order item #23T10 and I will be sure to get the book to you! If it comes in after the last day of school I will have it in the front office waiting for you to pick up at your convenience.

Front Desk, (2018)

by Kelly Yang


Goodreads summary: Front Desk tells the story of 10 year old Mia Tang. Every day, Mia manages the front desk of the Calivista Motel while her parents clean the rooms. She’s proud of her job. She loves the guests and treats them like family. When one of the guests gets into trouble with the police, it shakes Mia to her core. Her parents, meanwhile, hide immigrants in the empty rooms at night. If the mean motel owner Mr. Yao finds out, they’ll be doomed!

Based on the author’s life, the story follows Mia—the daughter of first generation Chinese immigrants.

Watch the book trailer for Front Desk.


Aru Shah and the End of Time (Parvana Quartet #1), (2018)

by Roshani Chokshi


Goodreads summary: Twelve-year-old Aru Shah has a tendency to stretch the truth in order to fit in at school. While her classmates are jetting off to family vacations in exotic locales, she’ll be spending her autumn break at home, in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, waiting for her mom to return from her latest archeological trip. Is it any wonder that Aru makes up stories about being royalty, traveling to Paris, and having a chauffeur?

One day, three schoolmates show up at Aru’s doorstep to catch her in a lie. They don’t believe her claim that the museum’s Lamp of Bharata is cursed, and they dare Aru to prove it. Just a quick light, Aru thinks. Then she can get herself out of this mess and never ever fib again.

But lighting the lamp has dire consequences. She unwittingly frees the Sleeper, an ancient demon whose duty it is to awaken the God of Destruction. Her classmates and beloved mother are frozen in time, and it’s up to Aru to save them.

The only way to stop the demon is to find the reincarnations of the five legendary Pandava brothers, protagonists of the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata, and journey through the Kingdom of Death. But how is one girl in Spider-Man pajamas supposed to do all that?

Watch Rick Riordan interview Roshani Chokshi here.


This is an older title I recently came across and ordered for our students. It has been fascinating to me to see how fascinated so many kiddos are with this book! It would be a really cool addition to any coffee table.

Things Come Apart, (2013)

by Todd McLellan


Goodreads summary: Welcome to Todd McLellan’s unique photographic vision of the material world: fifty design classics–arranged first by size and then by intricacy–are beautifully displayed, piece by piece, exploding in midair and dissected in real-time, frame-by-frame video stills. This book makes visible the inner workings of some of the world’s most iconic designs. From SLR camera to mantel clock to espresso machine, from iPad to bicycle to grand piano, every single component of each object is revealed. These disassembled objects show that even the most intricate of modern technologies can be broken down and understood, while beautifully illustrating the quality and elegance of older designs. Stunning photography is interspersed with essays by notable figures from the worlds of restoration, DIY, and design innovation who discuss historical examples of teardowns, disassembly, and reverse-engineering. Each photograph is itself a work of art and offers a reinterpretation of our familiar world. They connect people with the child-like joy of taking something apart to see how it works and will appeal to anyone with a curiosity about the material world.

Watch a book trailer for Things Come Apart.


Here is a new hybrid (the first in a series) written by our beloved author Julie Falatko. Julie wrote the Snappsy books that we love so much at HMS! I can’t wait to dive into this one. If you like humor and dogs, this could be the next book for you.

Two Dogs in a Trench Coat Go To School, (2018)

words by Julie Falatko and pictures by Colin Jack


Goodreads summary: Little dog Waldo and big dog Sassy are the best at what they do. They keep out squirrels and imminent intruders. They make sure there are no stray meatballs or muffin crumbs in the kitchen. And most of all, they protect their boy, Stewart. But something is wrong. Every day Stewart trudges off to an awful place called school. The dogs know it’s awful because Stewart’s parents ask him what he does at school, and he says, “Nothing.” And he smells like a weird mixture of boredom and anxiety. They have to save him! Plus maybe there’s an evil overlord! Or a squirrel!

Waldo and Sassy hatch a plan to save Stewart by disguising themselves as a human. They can be a new student! Have they figured out any other aspect of their plan? Nope. They’ll just figure it out as they go along. That’s sure to work. But they find out that being a human student isn’t quite what they imagined. There’s gym (frisbee!), music (singing!), an alleged bully, and a teacher who is deeply suspicious of this new student. And best of all, they get lunch.

This book kicks off the “Two Dogs in a Trench Coat” series. Be sure to read to learn if Waldo and Sassy can save Stewart from the evil overlord, if they can use their sad puppy eyes to get more than one lunch, and if they can get all the humans to think they’re good dogs without actually revealing the fact that they are, you know, dogs.

Watch the book trailer for Two Dogs in a Trench Coat Go to School.


Last week I went to An Unlikely Story bookstore for a book event. I love their graphic novel section and picked up about 10 new graphic novels we didn’t own yet. Here is one of the new finds.

The Cardboard Kingdom, (2018)

by Chad Sell


Goodreads summary: Welcome to a neighborhood of kids who transform ordinary boxes into colorful costumes, and their ordinary block into cardboard kingdom. This is the summer when sixteen kids encounter knights and rogues, robots and monsters–and their own inner demons–on one last quest before school starts again.

In the Cardboard Kingdom, you can be anything you want to be–imagine that!


June 3, 2018

Your children are writing down new titles they hope to read this summer and will be coming home with their lists in a two weeks. The good news is that the public library has all of these books available. It was actually embarrassing on Saturday. I needed help getting all of the books that I had placed on hold for our book tasting out to my car. Your child can easily start placing his/her own holds if you can put two things in place:

  1. Secure a public library card. Bring in your license and your child can get a free card. Ask the fine folks at the circulation desk about setting up an online account to place holds. They are SUPER helpful!
  2. Once you have the card, set up your online account. Create it with your child so that he/she can independently place holds.

Let’s keep this reading train chugging full-steam ahead!

Beauty and the Beak: How Science, Technology, and a 3-D Printed Beak Rescued a Bald Eagle, (2017)

by Deborah Lee Rose


Goodreads summary: Meet Beauty, the bald eagle that made world news when she was injured, rescued and received a 3D-printed prosthetic beak. Follow Beauty’s brave and inspiring story as she grows up in the wild, is rescued after being illegally shot, and receives a new beak specially engineered by a human team including a raptor biologist, engineer and dentist. Learn more about how bald eagles as a species came back from near extinction, and about nationwide efforts to conserve this American symbol.

Watch the Beauty and the Beak book trailer.

Breakout, (2018)

by Kate Messner


Goodreads summary: Nora Tucker is looking forward to summer vacation in Wolf Creek–two months of swimming, popsicles, and brushing up on her journalism skills for the school paper. But when two inmates break out of the town’s maximum security prison, everything changes. Doors are locked, helicopters fly over the woods, and police patrol the school grounds. Worst of all, everyone is on edge, and fear brings out the worst in some people Nora has known her whole life. Even if the inmates are caught, she worries that home might never feel the same.

Told in letters, poems, text messages, news stories, and comics–a series of documents Nora collects for the Wolf Creek Community Time Capsule Project–Breakout is a thrilling story that will leave readers thinking about who’s really welcome in the places we call home.

Watch the Breakout book trailer.

I Got This: To Gold and Beyond, (2017)

by Laurie Hernandez


Goodreads summary: Gold medal-winning Olympic gymnast and Dancing with the Starschampion Laurie Hernandez shares her story in her own words in this debut book for fans of all ages—with never-before-seen photos!

At sixteen years old, Laurie Hernandez has already made many of her dreams come true—and yet it’s only the beginning for this highly accomplished athlete. A Latina Jersey girl, Laurie saw her life take a dramatic turn last summer when she was chosen to be a part of the 2016 US Olympic gymnastics team. After winning gold in Rio as part of the Final Five, Laurie also earned an individual silver medal for her performance on the balance beam. Nicknamed “the Human Emoji” for her wide-eyed and animated expressions, Laurie continued to dance her way into everyone’s hearts while competing on the hit reality TV show Dancing with the Stars, where she was the youngest-ever winner of the Mirrorball Trophy.

Poignant and funny, Laurie’s story is about growing up with the dream of becoming an Olympian and what it took to win gold. She talks about her loving family, her rigorous training, her intense sacrifices, and her amazing triumphs. Be prepared to fall in love with and be mesmerized by America’s newest sweetheart all over again.

Watch a book trailer for I Got This.

The Crooked Sixpence (The Uncommoners #1), (2017)

words by Jennifer Bell and pictures by Karl James Mountford


Goodreads summary: When their grandmother Sylvie is rushed to the hospital, Ivy Sparrow and her annoying big brother Seb cannot imagine what adventure lies in store. Soon their house is ransacked by unknown intruders, and a very strange policeman turns up on the scene, determined to apprehend them . . . with a toilet brush.

Ivy and Seb make their escape only to find themselves in a completely uncommon world, a secret underground city called Lundinor where ordinary objects have amazing powers. There are belts that enable the wearer to fly, yo-yos that turn into weapons, buttons with healing properties, and other enchanted objects capable of very unusual feats.

But the forces of evil are closing in fast, and when Ivy and Seb learn that their family is connected to one of the greatest uncommon treasures of all time, they must race to unearth the treasure and get to the bottom of a family secret . . . before it’s too late.

Watch The Crooked Sixpence book trailer.

Can I Touch Your Hair?: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship, (2018)

words by Irene Latham and Charles Waters

pictures by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko


Goodreads summary: How can Irene and Charles work together on their fifth grade poetry project? They don’t know each other . . . and they’re not sure they want to. Irene Latham, who is white, and Charles Waters, who is black, use this fictional setup to delve into different experiences of race in a relatable way, exploring such topics as hair, hobbies, and family dinners. Accompanied by artwork from acclaimed illustrators Sean Qualls and Selina Alko (of The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage), this remarkable collaboration invites readers of all ages to join the dialogue by putting their own words to their experiences.

Watch the Can I Touch Your Hair? book trailer.