Share Our Books: A Community Reads Program for Elementary Schools

Share Our BooksA couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of hearing Sara Pennypacker give a talk to children's librarians, during which she mentioned a program that she and a few of her children's author friends have launched:

"Share Our Books was born from a conversation a few of us children's authors had about how much we loved Community Reads. The idea is for an entire elementary school community from the principal and teachers to the bus drivers and nurses and, of course, the students and their families to share the experience of reading the same book at the same time. It's an honor and a joy to have our books chosen to help bond a community this way. What could we do to encourage more of it, we asked each other? The answer was obvious...provide the books."

The concept is simple:

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Banned Books Week

Beware of the BookThis week marks the USA's 30th annual Banned Books Week (sponsored by half a dozen American library, bookseller, journalist and publisher associations; and endorsed by about half a dozen more.) During Banned Books Week, bookstores and libraries across the USA celebrate (for want of a better word) the books that have been challenged or outright banned from libraries with in store displays, readings and so forth.

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The World's Most Beautiful & Unique Libraries

Books have been inspiring people from all walks of life for many centuries, not least the architects who build the libraries to house them!

From the Vatican library, established more than 500 years ago, to modern buildings that are pushing the boundaries of the avant-garde such as The Czech Republic's proposed new national library, these six websites will take you on a tour of some of the most beautiful, inspiring and, occasionally, downright weird library buildings to be found in our wide world....

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How Libraries Stack Up

There have been mumblings in certain quarters recently suggesting that libraries are a waste of money in this day and age.

Pardon me, but I beg to differ; and this is why:

  • Two-thirds of Americans have a library card.

  • Every day 300,000 Americans get job-seeking help at their public library.

  • 13,000 public libraries offer career assistance. By comparison, the US Department of Labor offers 3,000 career centers.

  • Americans are six times more likely to visit a public library than they are to attend a live sporting event. US public libraries receive 1.4 billion visits annually.

  • Small business owners and employees use public library resources 2.8 million times each month to support their businesses.

  • 5,400 public libraries offer free technology classes - that's more technology training classes than there are computer training businesses in the US. Every day, 14,700 people attend free library computer classes - a retail value of $2.2 million.

  • Every day, 225,000 people use library meeting rooms at a retail value of $11 million. There are more meeting rooms available at public libraries than there are meeting rooms in all the US conference centers, convention facilities and auditoriums combined.

  • Most public libraries offer internet access - a vital resource for the approximate 1 in 4 people who do not have internet access at home.

  • Every day, US libraries circulate 7.9 million items. That's more materials than FedEx ships worldwide.

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The Hidden World of Fore-Edge Painted Books

There was a time when the hunt for a rare book, or even just an out of print book, was a major undertaking - you could either travel the country scouring multiple used bookstores yourself or pay a commission to a book dealer who would put feelers out through his local network and, if necessary, to the wider world of book dealers through a classified ad in a trade magazine. However, with the advent of the internet and search engines such as AddAll, most of us have been able to cut out the middle-man and, with a few clicks of the mouse, track down that old childhood favorite without ever leaving the house.

But there is at least one area of book collecting that still benefits from the hands on touch - where the thrill of the chase is discovering the hidden secret of an apparently run of the mill book - and that is the search for fore-edge paintings.

To create a fore-edge painting, the pages of a book are fanned out and held in a vice. A painting is then applied usually with water color. When the paint is dry the book is released from the clamp so the book is flat again, and the edges of the book are then either gilted or marbled to completely hide any evidence of the painting from casual eyes. I was introduced to fore-edge painting while visiting a friend's father on New York's Upper East Side a few months back where, even though the book's secret was known to me, I still felt a sense of discovery in fanning the pages to find the hidden painting.

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Kate McClelland and Kathy Krasniewicz

Davina Morgan-Witts, BookBrowse editor

Since the first publicly-funded library opened in the USA in 1833, many generations of children have been inspired and nurtured by local librarians - none more so than the two generations of children in Old Greenwich, Connecticut who have had the privilege to be members of the Young Critics' Club at Perrot Memorial Library.

The club (actually, two clubs, one for grades 4-5 and one for 6-8) was founded by librarian Kate McClelland over 25 years ago (the oldest "Young Critics" are now in their 40s) and up until this week was run by Kate, her colleague Kathy Krasniewicz, and library director Mary Clark.

That was until yesterday when an apparently drunk driver veered into an airport bus on its way to Denver airport, killing two of the passengers, identified as Kathy Krasniewicz, 54 and Kate McClelland, 71 - who were returning home from the American Library Association's Midwinter meeting. Greenwich's local newspaper, The Greenwich Times, has more details.

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Louise Penny reads Inspector Gamache
The Light in the Ruins