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Library Blog -- Raucous Clubhouse

Raucous Clubhouse is a forum created and moderated by Barnesville's librarian to share information and excitement about books and other reading materials and experiences.

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Black-Eyed Susan Awards 2019

Hello families,

I am delighted to announce that Barnesville School students are once again voting for the Black-Eyed Susan Awards! If you are not familiar with these awards and how voting works, allow me to provide a brief background and how they are different from other awards for youth literature.

The Newbery and Caldecott winners, among many others, are announced annually at the American Library Association's Midwinter Conference. For each of these awards, a long list of nominees is drawn up by a committee of librarians and educators, and the books are voted on by a different committee of librarians and educators. What's so neat about the Black-Eyed Susan Awards is that while the list of nominees is decided by librarians and educators, the books are voted on by KIDS! I think it's so terrific that this opportunity exists for students to read a whole slew of new books and have their voices heard in the selection of the award winners. It really empowers kids and lets them know that grown-ups are listening and taking their opinions into account. School libraries and public libraries all around Maryland will be taking part, so our school is just one piece of a bigger picture when it comes to the best books of 2018-2019!

Here the website with all the information about the Black-Eyed Susan Awards, and here's the list of nominees in each category!

In the EC through 4th grade, the teachers chose two-week slots to read aloud all 15 titles in the "Picture Books" category, and they are collecting their students' votes and submitting them to me. The kindergarten students have already voted! I have been delivering the picture books to the classrooms in the "Black-Eyed Susan Book Bag" which Ellen Landriau decorated several years ago.

For the middle schoolers, I booktalked a selection of books from both the 4th-6th grade category and the 6th-9th grade category, and explained that in order to vote, the students have to read a minimum of three books per category - and of course, they're welcome to read more! The students all listed the books they were interested in reading, and there were one or two books from each category that came up in lots of students' lists.

Of the 4th-6th and 6th-9th categories, here are the books I presented:


Wishtree by Katherine Applegate

Amina's Voice by Hena Khan

Me and Marvin Gardens by Amy King

Chester and Gus by Cammie McGovern

An Eagle in the Snow by Michael Morpurgo

Stef Soto, Taco Queen by Jennifer Torres


Posted by John David Anderson

Restart by Gordon Korman

Up from the Sea by Leza Lowitz

The Evil Wizard Smallbone by Delia Sherman

Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk

If your child has forgotten the books they chose to read, I will be happy to remind them.

We already own several of the nominated books in our collection here at the school, and I have purchased a few others, but there are not enough copies to go around - which is a great problem to have! I will buy a few extra copies of the most requested titles for our library, and I also highly encourage you all to visit your favorite bookstore, or better yet, your local public library, so that your student(s) can read the books they have chosen and submit their vote(s) to me. Thank you for your help and support with this undertaking!

The deadline to have all votes submitted is April 25, 2019.

Happy reading and voting!

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Peace Week 2019

Hello families,

Even though we missed Monday and a bit of Tuesday because of the snow, we are still on for the Peace Week Assembly and Candle Lighting on Friday! The theme this year is "Upstanders," which is a term coming into use to differentiate from the "Bystanders" in bullying situations. We are expanding the meaning to include people who "stand up" to fight oppression, marginalization and/or underrepresentation. The students are working hard to collect information about their chosen Upstander, and creating posters, role-plays, and multimedia presentations highlighting their accomplishments and efforts.

During Buddy Time last week, students chose from a display of library books I had set up to read with their buddies. From picture books all the way up to detailed biographies and chapter books, our collection contains a terrific variety of inspiring and empowering stories that share a common message: one person can make a big difference!

If you can, please take the opportunity offered by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday to keep the dialogue open and reflect with your children. I hope that Peace Week and the Assembly are meaningful for the students, and that they feel compelled to keep the flame of justice burning throughout the year.

In solidarity,


Posted by sarahw on Wednesday January 16
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A great big THANK YOU!

Hello families!

Having wrapped up my first big event as the Barnesville School Librarian, I am pleased to say that Grandparents'/Grandfriends' Day was a success all around! I thoroughly enjoyed meeting your extended families and friends, and the kids clearly loved showing off their school and their library.

It was so gratifying to see the kids excitedly choosing books that really piqued their interest. I also appreciated everyone's flexibility in being willing to dedicate titles that had been ordered for the library, but simply hadn't arrived yet. Lesson learned for next year: place those orders way further in advance!

I was completely overwhelmed by the generosity of our students' visitors. All told, the dedications came to $1905, which is really quite astonishing! That's close to 100 books! I guess we just have a bunch of terrific readers at this school whose families are proud of them, y'know?? And along with expressing my gratitude here, I have given the students the task of writing their own thank you notes (or in the case of the little ones, dictating and drawing pictures). As a child of the '80s, I still appreciate the value of a personal, hand-written acknowledgement, and I know for a fact that grandparents do as well.

One of my big projects for the year that these funds will help support is a standalone Spanish Collection within the library. Previously, Spanish language and bilingual titles were interfiled with the rest of the books according to genre, topic, and section, but I believe that bringing them together in one location will make them more visible and more accessible. I am working with Señor Gonzalez and Señora Campos, taking their suggestions and ideas, to round out the titles we already own so that the library can fully support the PreK-8 Spanish curriculum and the Exchange Program in Peru. The collection will be situated on the set-in shelves just to the right of the main library entrance.

Yep, that's the Harry Potter series en español!

I spy Where the Wild Things Are, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Charlotte's Web.

Stay tuned for announcements about artwork(s) that will grace the space directly above the shelves, and information about the official unveiling and launch of the collection next fall, to coincide with Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month!

This will probably be my last blog post before the break, so Happy New Year and catch you on the flip side!


Posted by sarahw on Wednesday December 12, 2018 at 02:35PM
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Gearing up for Grandparents' Day!

Hello families!

It's hard to believe, but Grandparents'/Grandfriends' Day is almost here! The students have been eyeing all the new books as I've been processing and cataloging them with the help of my amazing parent volunteers. The students are most excited when they spot books that I purchased as a direct result of a suggestion they submitted - and as you will see below, their recommendations continue to pour in! I love getting ideas from the kids for titles to add to our collection. Don't get me wrong, publications like School Library Journal and Horn Book are great for learning about new books, and finding out what the reviewers like, but kids are the best critics of literature written for them!

Here's the cart with all the shiny new books, just waiting to be dedicated on Tuesday! Godzilla the Guard Dragon is keeping a close watch on them ;-)

See any titles your child would be especially interested in??

More! More ! More!

Here's that recommendation jar I mentioned - it's full again! The sign on the front says "Plant a book suggestion...and watch our collection GROW!"

Our bookmark design this year is courtesy of Ariana W. in the 4th grade. She drew a beautiful scene and composed a very profound and succinct statement: "Books are a gateway to imagination and wonder." Isn't it lovely??

We are so looking forward to welcoming your child(ren)'s grandparents or grandfriends on Tuesday!

Posted by sarahw on Friday November 16, 2018
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Digital Citizenship Week - recap and looking ahead

Hello families,

I'm happy to report that Digital Citizenship Week went really well! I had great discussions with the students and they worked hard to put their ideas about Digital Citizenship into words.

I was really impressed with the follow-up I did with them this week. With most of the classes, I had them work independently to come up with a Pledge that encapsulated everything we had been talking about. Here are some examples:

"We will not cyberbully anyone, or bully anyone in any way. We will also do no damage in any way, the community's property or the feelings of any members of the community." ~Ian, 6th grade

"We will try our best to help classmates and work friends, complete any tasks we are assigned to do on the computer, log out properly and not hack for any reason. We will also not copy off documents or reports, and be kind online and go on websites other than learning ones with school's permission. Also treat tech kindly!" ~Ariana, 4th grade

"I pledge to not troll, hack, cyberbully, to be a responsible worker, safe, and hard worker and not say words that break people down." ~Anonymous, 3rd grade? (unfortunately this student left off their name!)

"We will be respectful, responsible and safe. Be kind to others. Treat people the way you want to be treated. Type nice things online." ~Tristan, 4th grade

"We will be nice to others and safe. Help others. Be responsible. Stand up for others. Clean up. Be respectful." ~Maya, 6th grade

"We will not share personal information of others. We will not cyberbully others. We will not say anything negative or hurtful to others. If we have an opinion, we will state it respectfully and nicely." ~Asher, 6th grade

As you can see, they all took to heart the things we talked about! What I noticed was that a lot of them incorporated the words that the school uses to describe the Barnesville student - respectful, responsible and safe. It makes a lot of sense to them that how they conduct themselves as they go about their day would translate to their online activities.

Two of my 7th grade Language Focus students, Liam and Grace, wrote down their ideas and then decided to make a video demonstrating good Digital Citizenship! Here's a picture of them working on it!

I'm looking forward to reading some fun Halloween books with your kids next week! Can you believe it's almost November?

Posted by sarahw on Friday October 26, 2018
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Digital Citizenship for the little ones

Hi families,

As I touched on briefly in my last post, we're kicking off Digital Citizenship Week! It's a conversation and movement in which lots of schools and libraries across the country are participating, so you might see the hashtags #digcitweek, #digitalcitizenshipweek and #digcitcommit on social media. If you find anything interesting to share, I would love to see it!

My goal for this week and beyond is to work with the students across grades 1-8 to write a Digital Citizenship Pledge. With the students' input and ideas, I think we could create a lasting part of the school's ethos, which we will re-commit to every year at this time as a community. The conversations I've had with the kids so far have been really productive and exciting.

For the older kids, the notion of Digital Citizenship is pretty easy to grasp. The central tenet of Digital Citizenship is that how we conduct ourselves online is just as important as how we conduct ourselves in the real world. With everything from commerce to communication to entertainment being online, our digital persona is now part of what we present to the world.

Today I met with Pre-K and 5th grade for their usual library time, and I also had 1st grade visit, since they will miss their regular Friday time because of conferences. Now, you might be wondering, did the younger kids really "get it"? The answer is a resounding "Yes!" As the mom of one of those Pre-K kids, believe me, I know that comes with an internal struggle. We worry about how much screentime they're getting, and we worry that their tech savvy does not come with the tools for tech safety. But allow me to reassure you! Their suggestions and ideas demonstrated that they understand the importance of asking permission before using devices, being careful about who they send messages to, and of setting limits so they can enjoy all the other fun stuff in their lives.

As a child of the pre-Internet, pre-cellphone age, it shocked me how quickly my daughter became familiar with digital interfaces. But her world is a digital one, and she will need those skills as she gets older. I don't want her watching screens all day, but then again, as much as it warms my librarian heart for her to love books and reading, I'm not sure I'd want her doing *that* all day either! Balance is key.

Here are the latest guidelines on screentime for children:

And here's some information on creating a family media plan:

Thanks for reading, and happy #digcitweek!

Posted by sarahw on Monday October 15, 2018
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Digital Citizenship Week, Oct 15-19

Hello families!

I found out a few days ago that edWeb would be hosting a free webinar in anticipation of Digital Citizenship Week. The Digital Literacy classes have already been discussing positive online interaction and how to be discerning users of information, and I think it will be great to let them know that this is a national conversation that many schools and libraries are having at the same time.

Speaking of "at the same time," when I realized that those dates would also be Safety Week here at Barnesville, I was a bit nervous about piling on the content. But then I realized that it makes perfect sense to connect real-life safety and security in our communities with safety and security while navigating the online world.

I will be posting here during Digital Citizenship Week with links and ideas for families to keep the dialogue going. Please feel free to comment and let me know if they are helpful or if you have resources to share!

Posted by sarahw on Monday October 8, 2018
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Author news - Ransom Riggs

Hi everyone,

I wouldn't normally put up a bunch of blog posts in one day, but I just found out some very cool news about Ransom Riggs, the author of the bestselling Miss Peregrine's School for Peculiar Children series, the first book of which has already been made into a movie.

There is a contest running through December for a student to win a writing workshop with him for their classroom or library! If your child(ren) is/are aspiring writers, please encourage them to enter! Click here for the link.

Mr. Riggs is also going to be appearing locally soon! He'll be at the Urbana Regional Library, 9020 Amelung Street in Frederick this coming Saturday, October 6th, from 2:00-4:00. He'll be talking about Book 4 in the series, A Map of Days, and conducting a Q+A and signing books afterwards! His talk is being hosted by independent bookstore Curious Iguana, which sounds like a place I definitely need to check out. Here is the link with all the information.

Fun fact: Ransom Riggs and I graduated from the same undergrad, Kenyon College. He's class of '01 and I'm class of '04. I'm sorry to say I don't remember him from college, but then again, he wasn't a famous author yet!

Posted by sarahw on Monday October 1, 2018 at 01:52PM
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Welcome fall - and our new Bearded Dragon!

Hello families!

October is my favorite month, mostly because it has my birthday in it! Growing up in Southern California, there wasn't that big of a difference between the seasons, but since then I've lived in several places where you can really feel the transitions over the course of the year, and fall is pretty great. I love the leaves crunching under my feet, the nip in the air, cozy sweaters, and more excuses than usual to drink hot chocolate. I wish I could say I liked pumpkin pie, but I like just about everything else made with pumpkin - bread, pancakes, cookies, and soup. Especially soup! It's just the thing for a chilly afternoon.

Speaking of squash, our library is now home to a Bearded Dragon! I promise, there's a logical segue here. My niece got a Beardie several years ago for her birthday, so my brother-in-law quickly became an expert on their care. And he says that their Beardie, Jake, loves butternut squash. So I'm hoping that ours will like them too, because fall is when I do a lot of cooking with squash. See? That made sense!

So, how did our library become home to a Bearded Dragon? Well, I had been thinking about getting a library pet, and a lizard seemed like a good choice. Nobody's allergic to lizards, and "Library Lizard" has a nice alliterative flow to it. Then I found out that one of my 7th grade students needed to re-home her Bearded Dragon, and another 7th grader had a whole terrarium and habitat setup that they weren't using anymore. A win-win-win situation!

Once we got the Beardie settled in, we held a school-wide vote on her name, and after two tense rounds of voting, "Godzilla" won by a landslide!

Isn't she pretty?? She can be a total diva when I bring out my camera. But she's very sweet and chill and is happy to sit on my shoulder while I'm working.

Happy October and enjoy the season!

Posted by sarahw on Monday October 1, 2018 at 08:45AM
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Greetings from your new Librarian

Hello, and welcome to the new Barnesville Library blog! I'm really excited to have this opportunity to connect with Barnesville families and visitors, and I encourage you to leave comments and let me know what you think!

Before I dive in, you might be wondering where I got the title for this blog. It is taken from a quote by Paula Poundstone, who is not only an insightful social commentator but also an outspoken advocate for libraries. Here's her full comment:

"It's funny that we think of libraries as quiet, demure places where we are shushed by dusty, bun-balancing, bespectacled women. The truth is, libraries are raucous clubhouses for free speech, controversy and community. Librarians have stood up to the Patriot Act, sat down with noisy toddlers and reached out to illiterate adults. Libraries can never be shushed."

That really sums it up for me. While it's true that libraries are historically sacred temples of learning and knowledge, they have grown and evolved in so many ways to meet the needs of today's readers and seekers of information.

My family relocated here from Washington State around this time last year, and while it was hard to leave such a beautiful place where I had put down deep roots, I knew that moving to the DC area would afford us a lot of really amazing opportunities. Being able to attend the National Book Festival on September 1st was just one such perk. What a massive celebration of books and authors and reading! In truth, it was almost too big - there was no way I could get to all of the talks and signings I wished to in just one day - but it was thrilling all the same. My biggest regret is that I hadn't realized that Carla Hayden, the Librarian of Congress, was actually going to be interviewing both Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and author Jacqueline Woodson. Carla Hayden is my hero! I wish I could have figured out a way to meet her.

Here are just a few pictures I took at the Festival. I stood in a lot of lines, but I got to add some wonderful diverse titles to the Barnesville library's collection and meet some of the authors. They were all very happy to hear that I was starting a new job as a librarian, and many of them dedicated their books to our library in addition to signing them!

Here's the line to meet Justice Sotomayor. This is how close I was to the front after about 2.5 hours. We weren't allowed to take any pictures of her, but I had to document it somehow!

David Levithan, author of "Two Boys Kissing" (which he signed and dedicated) as well as a number of other LGBTQ+ books for kids and teens.

Sylvia Acevedo, CEO of the Girl Scouts of America and actual rocket scientist! And yes, I wore my "When in doubt, go to the library" t-shirt - which is what Ron Weasley says about Hermione in "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" :-)

Seated at the table is former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright!

Patrick McDonnell, creator of "Mutts" (one of my favorite comics of all time!) and author of the delightful "Me...Jane" book about Jane Goodall. We already had that book in the Barnesville Library, so I got a copy of "The Little Red Cat..." signed for our collection.

Jason Reynolds, Newbery medalist for "Long Way Down" and Coretta Scott King Award winner for "As Brave as You." He dedicated the second and third books in the "Ghost" series to our library. And it looks like there's a fourth book coming out this October! I was way at the end of his line at the very end of the day, but he was just as gracious and generous with his time as if I'd been first in line. This is him celebrating with me after I'd told him about my new job here at Barnesville :-)

The books I purchased that day (13 in all!) have the 2018 National Book Festival noted in the record so they will be easy to find.

Thanks for the warm welcome from the whole school community! I look forward to a terrific year of reading and exploration.

Posted by sarahw on Monday September 24, 2018 at 02:19PM
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Choose groups to clone to:

An independent private school in
Montgomery County, Maryland
offering innovative preschool
through 8th grade programs.

Barnesville School

21830 Peach Tree Road
PO Box 404
Barnesville, MD 20838

p: 301.972.0341
f: 301.972.4076


We offer a vigorous academic program for students as well as engaging, hands-on learning experiences.


Our positive, supportive learning environment promotes imagination, exploration, personal growth, and achievement.

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