Keep Teens Reading

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Plan a Virtual Class Visit Print Email

Did you know you can chat with a librarian 24x7?  That’s right.  It’s midnight, your students' papers are due tomorrow and there is a librarian online ready to help them.

After introducing this chat service to students at Mt. Baker School District we have seen a phenomenal jump in chat homework questions, and we are excited to share this service with more schools.

Are your students doing research this year? We would love to do a demo for you.  Just fill out this form to schedule a visit.

2013 Book Club at the Juvenile Detention Center Print Email

Here are some highlights from book club this year.  Special thanks to the WCLS Foundation, the Lynden Kiwanis, and the staff at the Juvenile Detention Center and Whatcom Countly Library System who make this possible!

Author Contact:

We started the year with a visit from bestselling author Michael Grant who talked about struggles with authority, school, and finding his path to writing.  Teens at the JDC are still talking about his visit and books almost a year later.

We tweeted with author Michael Northop about his book Trapped and learned important things that we didn't know about him.

On writing:

“I am dyslexic & it took me years to warm up to reading, much less writing. I repeated second grade.”

On bullying:

“I had to deal w/ a lot of name calling b/c I was skinny w/ buckteeth & a horrible haircut.”

Hearing from talented people who struggled to succeed always inspires our book club.

Favorite Feedback from Students:

What would you tell a friend about book club?

"That it is so much fun.  Also everyone is chill." 

"I would say 'book club is fun and there a lots of good books they choose.  Give it a shot!'"

"I enjoyed being part of something."

What would you change about book club?

I read the book too fast. :(

It’s not long enough.

Reflections from WCLS Library Staff:

I loved…having a student-inspired show of hands for those who would vote for Chris McCandless for President had he survived his Alaskan adventure.  They were unanimously in favor of promoting him to the White House.   –Tamar on reading Into the Wild

I loved bringing in dried seaweed for the teens to try since we were reading a story about life underwater. They were willing to try something new. It was a lot of fun. –Kyla on reading Dark Life

I think my favorite part of reading Holes with the JDC group was the enthusiasm that each of them had for wanting to read aloud more and more as the week progressed, and also how they were so open about discussing similarities between their personal lives and those of the characters at the ranch. Such honesty in the discussions! Wow! And another great highlight was definitely how they were pumped to get to their library and read more. One guy was waving the next book by the author and saying, "Look what I got!" Oh, yeah.-Greta on reading Holes


One of my favorite moment’s was talking about the challenges of being a teen dad during The First Part Last.  The students were thoughtful and had a lot of empathy for the main character.

My other favorite moment in book club this year was when students would start talking about who they should give their book to.  The students own their own copy of the book thanks to our Foundation. When they talk about wanting to share their book I think it means they are making a powerful connection with the story and want to help someone else make than connection too.

-Aubri on reading First Part Last

Our Local Schools Inspire Us Again Print Email

This year our Whatcom Reads Kids and Teens Author Steve Sheinkin is only available to visit three schools.  Our county is full of great schools, and figuring out the best places to host Mr. Sheinkin was a huge challenge. 

An application with essay questions was sent out, and 8 standout schools applied. These applications were reviewed by members of the Whatcom Reads Kids and Teens Committee made up of educators, librarians and children's lit aficionados from all over Whatcom County.

After spirited debate, the schools Mr. Sheinkin will visit are:

Geneva Elementary School
Blaine Middle School
Lynden High School

For us, Whatcom Reads Kids and Teens is not about an author visit at a particular school as much as all of us  building community around great books.  Even if Mr. Sheinkin is not visiting your school we hope you will participate by delving into his books and coming to hear him speak at the free author event Monday March 3rd -6:30 pm at Whatcom Middle School.

The applications we received are too good to just file away.  We were impressed by the partnerships schools foresaw and the opportunities for student leadership and scholarship. Here are a few highlights.

“All of the 4th and 5th grade teachers in our building are reading Lincoln’s Grave Robbers aloud to their classes…Students are creating maps of characters and events in the book to help them follow along…Students will be working on their own writing projects focusing on historical events…They will come prepared with their writing notebooks and questions that pertain to writing informational text.”

“A committee of 4th and 5th grade reps will help plan and promote the event.”

“Kids will create book trailers, develop questions, and advertise the event in a student generated newsletter.  Welcome posters created by students would be all over the school.”

Middle School:
“I would send flyers home to student's parents encouraging them to not only have their student to read the book, but to read and attend the event themselves.”

“This program is a fun way to connect the act of reading with the art of writing.”

High School:

“March 3rd is part of Read Across America which students will be participating in later that day by going to various elementary schools in the district and reading to younger students.  Having an author come speak would be a celebration on all levels of reading for that very special day!”

“Our teen reading club will help organize this visit…club members will make sure the author has everything that he would need to make him comfortable.  In addition, students will make sure that visiting parents are tended to.”  

Thanks to all the schools that applied.  Looking forward to partnering with you in the future, and see you all Monday March 3rd at Whatcom Middle School!

Aubri Keleman
On behalf of the Whatcom Reads Kids and Teens Committee

The Power of a Classroom Library Print Email
Winward Teacher Shirley ShimerShirley Shimer packed some heavy boxes into her classroom at Windward High School.  Those boxes contained about 700 books-her personal collection.  She decided her books would get more use if she used them to build a library at her school.

What kind of impact do 700 books have at a small school where there has never been any kind of official school library?  Even students that aren’t in Shirley’s classes are finding their way to her room to talk to her about books.  Some students have offered to bring their own titles in to share.  Just by being out and available these books are creating community.    Last time Shirley was bringing boxes of books into the classroom for her library she wrote to us that “one student got so excited to see the books he almost missed the bus.”

As much as we hate to have a student miss the bus, we just want to give Shirley a shout out for the great work she is doing creating excitement around reading-even for students who don’t have her as a teacher.  Three cheers for Shirley, and for all teachers who help create an atmosphere where students love to read!


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