#ARCsFloatOn- How Bloggers Can Help

All over the country, education budgets are being slashed, teachers are having their pay cut, and students are struggling.  Classroom libraries, which tend to be teacher-funded (out of teachers’ own pockets), are certainly suffering.  However, research shows that classroom libraries are vital – they encourage students to read more!  We need to do everything we can to encourage students to become lifelong readers.  But it takes a village to raise a reader. 🙂

As a blogger/reviewer, I am extremely lucky.  I have access to review copies and ARCs, which are all donated to my classroom library.  The books are reviewed by me (most of them), then passed on.  My students, all members of Goodreads, then share their thoughts on Goodreads, so the authors and books receive more word-of-mouth advertising.  Inevitably, some students end up purchasing a copy (e-book or paper) because they want their own copy.  It’s a win-win situation.

My students love review copies, but ARCs are even more magical.  Nothing hooks a reluctant reader like the promise of reading a book before the rest of the world has access to it.  That, plus the knowledge that they can then share their thoughts on Goodreads is the best motivator I have!  So many bloggers have ARCs collecting dust on their shelves, or end up tossing them into the trash because they plan to purchase the hardcover when it is released.  Recycle those ARCs and get them into the hands of kids and teens!

But we need bloggers! I have over 200 teachers, with more signing up everyday, looking to partner with bloggers/reviewers.  The teachers are divided by age level. I have early elementary looking for picture books and early readers, middle grade teachers, and high school teachers looking for YA and adult books.  How can you help? Sign up and become a book fairy!  Tell me what type of ARCs or review books you are looking to “float on” to students and teachers.  Teachers have volunteered to pay for shipping via USPS flat rate mail.  None of the teachers are picky- they will take any books you are able to stuff into the flat rate box!

How does it work?  You sign up via the Googledocs form.  I then pair you with a teacher looking for books in the category you place yourself in.  You will be contacted with the contact info for a teacher or two.  At that point, you can email the teacher(s) and set up shipping payment via Paypal, check, or anything else you are comfortable with.  Then, you mail out your books and somewhere, students are very, very happy!  The books you send are up to you- ARCs, review copies, anything you have.  Classroom libraries are in need and YOU can help.  Plus, you get to clean off your bookshelves and make room for new books!

It’s easy.  I’ve already mailed off about 10 packages to teachers in elementary school and middle school, clearing my shelves of the books not appropriate for my current grade level.  It’s a fantastic feeling, knowing how those students light up when their classroom teacher brings in a box of brand new books.  Don’t you want to be a part of that magic, too?

Questions?  Comment here, or contact me on Twitter @thereadingzone.  And please- pass on the word to other bloggers/reviewers!


*#ARCsFloatOn is endorsed by many of the major publishers!  They are happy to see ARCs getting into the hands of students. 🙂  ARCs can not be cataloged in a library, but classroom libraries are a-ok.  The ARCs don’t last long (a season or so) and most teachers then end up purchasing a hardcover copy.  Again, a win-win for publishers and students alike.

Sad News for the YA World

Back in January, author L.K. Madigan posted a heartbreaking entry on her blog.  After surviving breast cancer many years ago, she was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  I watched a friend’s father fight pancreatic cancer and my heart broke for Lisa, her husband, and her son.  Pancreatic cancer is an awful, awful disease.

Today, I learned that Lisa lost her battle with cancer.  My heart is broken and I can’t imagine how her family is coping.  I did not know Lisa, but I felt like I did because I read her wonderful books and followed her blog.

Tonight, please hug your loved ones.

Cure Pancreatic Cancer




Buy Lisa’s books-

Morris Award Winner Flash Burnout

The Mermaid’s Mirror

Share a Story, Shape a Future Blog Tour 2011

I can not believe it has been a year since the last Share a Story, Shape a Future literacy blog tour!

Vital Information:
When: March 7- 11, 2011 (M-F)
Where: Here and all over the blogosphere
Who: Blogging teachers, librarians, literacy passionistas, and YOU
Why: To share ideas and celebrate literacy in all forms
How: Through blog posts, Facebook, and Twitter

We have been working behind the scenes since last summer to pull together another fantastic week of posts.  What do you have to look forward to this year?

From the blog:

We have framed out our daily topics and here is what we’ll be talking about
  • The Power of a Book – From the literal power of owning a book and a good story to the intangible power that comes with knowing how to read.
  • The Gift of Reading – Whether you’re looking for a book to excite a reader, want to help someone learn to read or celebrate the “gift” … it’s covered.
  • Unwrapping Literacy 2.0 – With all of the talk of digital literacy, e-readers, etc. What does “literacy” look like in this new century?
  • Love of Reading v. Homework – Do they have to be at odds? We’ll talk about ways to help readers at home and at school.
  • The Gift that Keeps on Giving – To wrap up the week we’ll be remembering “that moment” when we realized we were a reader or writer and how to celebrate it with others. Lots(!) of interviews this day.

Here at my blog, I will be co-hosting Friday and the theme is “Literacy: The Gift that Keeps on Giving”.  A great group of authors have volunteered to share their stories about the gift of reading- both giving the gift and receiving it.  It’s going to be a fantastic day!

I will also be participating on Thursday, which focuses on keeping school from interfering with the gift of literacy.  Here on my blog, I will be gathering a group of authors who will be sharing how they use writer’s notebooks.  The authors have been kind enough to share photos from their notebooks and ideas for using them.  Writer’s notebooks are a fantastic, low-stress way to get kids writing for fun and I look forward to sharing them with more people.

It’s going to be a great week!  Make sure you check out the entire tour!

Shine by Lauren Myracle

This book is important. It is a book that teens need to read. So do teachers, parents, administrators, and anyone else who works with teens. It’s not an easy book to read- not by any stretch. I found myself repulsed at times, horrified by the actions of some characters. Yet it’s realistic. There are adults who will hate this book, who will call it all sorts of names and demand that it be taken off the shelf. But we must not let that happen. Shine is too important, and I hope it is able to change the way teens think and act.

Cat is damaged. Something happened to her a few years ago, and she has buried the event. However, she knows the ugly is still there and it still changed her. After the incident, she pulled away from her friends and family. She is angry at her family for not protecting her and she hopes that by pulling away from her friends she can heal. Unfortunately, all she did was become a loner.

Now, how (former) best friend, Patrick, has been beaten almost-to-death, the victim of a hate crime. Cat knows that someone in their small town almost killed Patrick and she is determined to find out who it was. Patrick’s sexuality is no secret to the rest of the town, and there is very little acceptance for LGBT people. I hesitate to tell you anymore, but just know that you need to read this book.

Lauren Myracle has crafted a gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, reality-checking book. It’s graphic. It’s horrifying. And yet- it’s real. Cat lives in a small town and the people she loves are small-minded. The regularly use derogatory terms around Patrick. Heck, even his friends mock him for being gay. But how many of our teens experience the same thing every day of their lives? How many teens laugh alongside their friends and don’t realize the damage they are doing?

One of my favorite characters in Shine is Robert, a supporting character’s tween brother. Myracle does a fantastic job showing the reader how kids and tweens learn to bully, how derogatory terms become a part of their vernacular even when they don’t fully understand the implications of those words. Then those kids grow up to be teenagers and adults who share their views with their own children. It’s a vicious cycle, and Myracle is trying to show teens that it needs to be stopped.

There will be some readers who are angry about the ending. Know right now that the issues at the heart of the book don’t get wrapped up in a nice little bow. But does life ever end that way? Myracle keeps this book realistic through and through. She is dedicated to changing the culture of hate that flows through so many cliques, high schools, and this country as a whole.

Shine is important. It begs to be shared with teens and to be discussed. I can’t see it being read aloud in school (language, drug references, etc), but high school literature circles and book clubs are the perfect playground for for this book. As teachers and librarians, we need to get books like Shine into the hands of our readers. They have the power to change the world and this book is one that might help get them started.

*ARC provided courtesy of the publisher

My iPhone and Reading

Last week I finally upgraded my #dumbphone to a #fancyphone!  It’s been a long time coming, but I waited (im)patiently for the iPhone to come to Verizon.  I am a Mac girl through and through.  Finally, my time has arrived!

Having my iPhone with me all the time has made for a lot more reading time.  I carry my iPad with me a lot, but not back and forth to school because my computer is with me then.  So that meant I was sometimes out of luck when I got stuck waiting somewhere without a book.  But I never travel without my cell phone, and over the past week I have been pulling it out constantly to read.  I am reading more over lunch, during breaks, waiting in line at the bank, and anywhere else I find myself waiting.  It is so convenient!

Have you found yourself reading more now that it’s so easy to carry a lot of books with you at one time?



(No worries- I am still a paper girl through and through.  I am not going all pro e-reader here.  I just like the convenience of having a back-up book with me at all times, on my phone.)

Happy Cybils Day!

Today is the day!  The Cybils Awards have been awarded. I am so happy with all of the judges’ choices.  Head on over to the Cybils’ blog to see which books took the top prize. 🙂


Cybils Winners!

Calamity Jack by Shannon and Dean Hale

I loved Shannon and Dean Hale’s (and the incomparable Dean Hale- no-relation’s illustrations) Rapunzel’s Revenge. See my review here.
Calamity Jack is the rip-roaring sequel to the first graphic novel and is so.much.fun! Tweens will gobble this one up, as it appeals to boys and girls. A retelling of “Jack and the Beanstalk”, the Hales have rewritten the story with a steampunk twist. This time Jack takes the reins, and he and Rapunzel are headed back to his hometown to settle a few financial issues.  But when they get there Jack learns that a few things have changed since he ran away.  The “giant” tycoons have taken over and the city is dirty, gritty, and full of thieves.  Have no fear, though- Jack and Rapunzel are here to save the day!

Hand this one to graphic novel lovers, fairy tale retelling lovers, and adventure lovers.  The illustrations are gorgeous, the dialogue will have you laughing out loud, and the story is perfect.  Highly recommended for middle school libraries!

*review copy courtesy of the publisher