I know this seems a little late for a back-to-school message. The rules surrounding access to the library have been shifting for weeks and the library schedule has only very recently settled to something tangible.
The good news is that everyone can borrow books from the library as they would normally! The VSB has deemed library circulation an important aspect of our lives at school and so I am allowed to welcome in classes as long as everyone cleans their hands before entering, adults and older students wear masks, and we don’t mingle Learning Groups. I have decided to take some extra precautions regarding quarantining books once they have been returned.
I have been SO happy to see everyone I’ve seen so far and am looking forward to catching up with the students whose classes haven’t been through the library yet. Keep reading!
As per my last message on your class Team, I am at school today and tomorrow (June 29 & 30). If you would like to get some books for the summer you can call the school when you arrive outside and I will come out to meet you. You can also email me prior to coming.
There are some events happening right now, mostly in the United States, that are very upsetting. There are people who have been hurting for a long time and are trying desperately to make their voices heard. I won’t describe the events in detail here, rather I will let families choose how much of this specific story is known in your homes.
One thing that I believe is not optional, especially for those of us who are in positions of the most privilege (white, cis, able-bodied, neurotypical, and whose people come from a Christian background), is that we work to make space for stories of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) and other folx who live within the structures of oppression in our society.
There is racism in Vancouver, and there is racism in our schools. There has been, in some way or another, always. In the last couple of months people with Asian family heritage have been targets of escalated verbal and physical violence. That racism is present and active in our city and schools is something we all need to understand and accept before we will be able to create spaces that are truly safe and supportive for every single one of our students and their families.I want every family at Quilchena to know that acts of racism or any other acts of oppression are not okay in our community.
This year I started working on a diversity audit of our English fiction collection in the Quilchena Library. This means that I have started gathering information about how diverse (or narrow) the selection of stories is in our library. This will be an ongoing project for me as I work my way through our French and English fiction, our French and English easy chapter books, our French and English readers, and our French and English picture books. I will be devoting a significant portion of my library budget over the next few years to improving the balance of voices represented in our library collection, specifically focusing on #ownvoices titles.
There are a lot of great lists being published right now that can help us find books written by and about people who are not always represented on our home and school library, and classroom shelves, but who are definitely represented in our community. I have also found some helpful tips for talking to kids, particularly kids living with systemic privilege like my own daughter, about racism.
If you would like any help pursuing these topics at home or at school, I am happy to chat or host a more formal conversation about it.
I know that you have all been worried about how you will complete the Quilchena Reading Challenges now that you don’t have access to our library. Well, never fear!
I am happy to announce that I have secured a small discount of 10% for all Quilchena Readers at Book Warehouse (both the W Broadway & Main st locations.) You can call or go online and choose your books and they will get them ready for you to pick up. They are also allowing one family at a time in the children’s /YA section (but better to not browse right at the moment. Talk to me in your Class Team if you need suggestions of what to read.)
When you pay for your books, simply tell the cashier that you are from Quilchena and are doing the Quilchena Reading Challenge and they will apply your discount (you can use this discount for reading material other than the challenges too.)
You may also be aware, but there are other local bookstores that are being pretty great right now too: Pulp Fiction Books and Massy Books both have free delivery anywhere in Vancouver, and Iron Dog Books is a great new store that has a great selection (including puzzles) and can schedule pick up times like Book Warehouse.
Just like Kindness Month in February, I will be making (almost) daily posts for Poetry Month. I will post poems I think you’ll enjoy, as well as poetry “starts” as invitations to write your own poetry.
The first one is a great way to get started. It’s by Eve Merriam, who was an american writer and university lecturer.
How to Eat a Poem
Don’t be polite.
Pick it up with your fingers and lick the juice that
may run down your chin.
It is ready and ripe now, whenever you are.
You do not need a knife or fork or spoon
or plate or napkin or tablecloth.
For there is no core
to throw away.
I hope that you are all healthy and that you are finding ways to be calm and joyful these days. This is a very strange time we are living through right now and there are so many different ways to react; we may experience many of those different reactions all in one day!
As we navigate the next few days and weeks, you will hear from classroom teachers and from Mrs Sleep. You can also stay tuned here for links to activities, conversation starters, and other helpful connections to our learning community.
You will hear from your classroom teacher by the end of this week. In the mean time, start getting up at a regular time each day and follow a basic schedule (that includes getting dressed and eating regular meals 😉) and KEEP READING.
I’m looking forward to the interesting things we will discover as our attention is focused in different ways over the next few months. Please reach out if you are struggling: hearts are open.
Congratulations to Emma from division one for winning the draw from the completed January Reading Challenges. This announcement is a bit late but rest assured, she got to pick from the prize box on the day her name was drawn.
Congratulations to everyone who completed the January Reading Challenge! I know that a number of students became interested towards the end of the month so if you didn’t have a chance to finish the January challenge in time for the draw, now is your chance to get going on a new list with a whole month ahead of you (of course, you can still finish the January challenge because: reading!)
There are a a number of good February themes to choose from: Kindness; Relationships/Valentine’s Day; Families; Pink Shirt Day/bullying. I decided to go with “Families” as I felt these stories also fell into other themes as well.
If you’re just joining the fun, here’s how to participate:
Start reading! Choose books that match the categories in the challenge and write down the titles as you complete them. You must read these books in February. (There is no length/difficulty requirement. Choose books that interest you, or that are an interesting stretch.)
If you finish this month’s challenge, write your name on your sheet and hand it in to Mme Brogan in the library. There will be a draw for a prize for students who complete each month’s challenge.
I will create a new challenge each month from now until June. There will be a special prize draw for readers who completed and handed in all 6 challenges.
Behold, the February edition of the Quilchena Reaching Challenge:
Families of all Sorts
Families come in all shapes and sizes. We might live with them, we might not. We might be related by blood, we might not. We might not always get along with every member of our family, but they definitely play a part in making us who we are.
A book about a character who does not live with his or her parents.
A novel set at a boarding school or a picture book about a group of animal friends.
A book about siblings.
A story with a prominent aunt or uncle OR a story with a same-sex relationship.
A story that features a grandparent.
The Quilchena Reading Challenges are for all students, teachers, and parents. The categories are designed to be applicable to any and all reading levels. As a reader, you get to choose how long, how hard, and in what format the books are to complete this challenge. I trust you to make good choices for yourself.
*Coming soon: tips on how to use the library catalog to find titles that will work for your reading challenge.
Start reading! Choose books that match the categories in the challenge and write down the titles as you complete them. (There is no length/difficulty requirement. Choose books that interest you, or that are an interesting stretch.)
If you finish this month’s challenge, write your name on your sheet and hand it in to Mme Brogan in the library. There MAY be a draw for a prize for students who complete each month’s challenge.
Quilchena Reading Challenges are designed so that anyone in the school community can participate: students of any grade, family members, teachers, ANYONE! The categories/tasks can be fulfilled by any type of story; it’s up to the reader to select an appropriate title.
See the previous post for more details about how awesome reading challenges are.
Stories are integral to our lives. We use stories to feel connected to others and to understand our own experiences. We need to have stories in our lives that are mirrors—that reflect back to us our own experience—and stories that are windows—that show us an experience other than our own.
A book that is about a character from the same culture as you.
A book about a character who has a non-mainstream SOGI*.
A book set in a country that you have spent time, other than Canada.
A book that is about time in some way.
The first book in a series in which you are interested.
*SOGI = sexual orientation and gender identity
The Quilchena Reading Challenges are for all students, teachers, and parents. The categories are designed to be applicable to any and all reading levels. To complete this challenge, you get to choose how long, how hard, and in what format the books are. I trust you to make good choices for yourself.
My new favourite thing about the new year is that it’s time to start a new reading challenge. Last year I looked at many different challenges online and eventually chose the BookRiot Read Harder Challenge. I love it. I was pushed to read books I wouldn’t have ordinarily picked up. I also enjoyed the conversations I had with a few friends who decided to do the challenge along with me. I will be doing it again this year.
What could make my new love of reading challenges grow to new heights? Creating challenges for Quilchena students, of course! I will create a reading challenge every month for Quilchena students who choose to follow along. There may even be a prize in June for the students who successfully complete all six challenges. (We all know that even if you don’t finish all the categories in a challenge, you’re still better off for having read those stories, so don’t worry if you don’t always finish.)
“the only difference between a nonreader and a reader is that a reader has a plan for future reading and a nonreader does not,”