Thursday, October 29, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! There just aren't enough days in October to read all of the wonderful spooky stories available. Check out a few of them here! By my third year of teaching, I started reading them on October first.
I wanted to tell you about my favorite tradition I started in the school libraries where I worked: the Haunted House Contest! I ask students to make their own haunted houses out of cardboard boxes and bring them to the library during the weeks preceding Halloween. The only rules are: no blood, and no real food attached. The kids can work with friends if they want. Children come up with some pretty creepy creations, definitely "outside the box" over the years; one was a haunted apartment building (complete with working elevator), another was a haunted baseball stadium, and one was a haunted treehouse! Each day leading up to Halloween, the library grows spookier and spookier, looking more like a museum in Transylvania. Finally, all the children who participate are winners and get invited to a spooky storytelling party, where I fill a jack-o-lantern with a bowl of dry ice and water so it smokes like witches' brew and share some stories (here, I am holding up some Pale Green Pants With Nobody Inside "em while reciting Dr. Seuss's What Was I Scared Of?). Most recently I held this before school started so not to disrupt classroom schedules, so we had "Booooooks for Breakfast," with a full brunch, and they could decorate orange-colored cream cheese and bagels with jack-o-lantern faces using fruits and vegetables. Children also received candy-themed bookmarks and treats as they departed. The first year, I had 16 entries, but the most recent year I did it, I had 75 haunted houses in the library! Thanks again to all the parents who supported the program and helped to make it a success! It's late to try it now (you've been rather busy anyway, haven't you?) but something to keep in mind. Please do share your festivities! I think it is such a special day on the children's calendar. I know the media unfortunately plays up the horror aspects of it, but I look at it as a day when we celebrate children's imaginations, and their ability to conquer fears.

Sometimes people say, "Esme, it's a shame you left the classroom and went to the library." Frankly, that always seems to me like a sad and silly thing to say. Librarians can be teachers, too, and I always felt like in the library, I could be more of the teacher I wanted to be. I just used to the position to extend the language arts and fine arts curriculum. I wish someone had told me that this was possible in teacher training. So I'm telling you now.

Curious about the kind of things that school librarians do? Here's an assignment I just finished for library school that gives a hint. (Pardon the roughness; we are learning HTML coding and haven't hit cascading style sheets yet.)

Happy Halloween! Happy fall!

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