Happy Tolkien Reading Day–March 25, 2019

Tokien Reading Day was established in 2003 “to encourage fans to celebrate and promote the life and works of J.R.R. Tolkien by reading favourite passages. We particularly encourage schools, museums and libraries to host their own Tolkien Reading Day events.”

The 2019  Theme is Tolkien and the mysterious.

LOTR (Lord of the Rings) is probably his most famous book.  Are you a book fan, movie fan, or both?

Did you know that in the 1960s, Mad Magazine did a  Tolkien parody called “Bored of the Rings?”  It is also the name of a Harvard Lampoon parody, available from Amazon.

A biopic of the young Tokien will be in theaters on May 10, 2019.  View the Trailer

Tolkien quote

What is your favorite Tolkien book?


Reblog: How Fast Do You Read?

Take this test to find out how fast you read.  You need to answer 3 simple questions at the end to confirm you understood what you read. I read faster than 45% of the British public.

Lenstore created a reading speed test and survey that “gives you a passage from a novel to read at your natural reading speed, followed by questions to prove you understood it.”

Book Clubs and Authors Need Each Other

Sources fo book clubsAre you in a book club in need of authors?  Are you an author trying to find someone to read your book?  Is a book club a possible answer to your solution.

The American Library Association (ALA)’s Book Club Central may have some solutions for you to at least consider.  Sarah Jessica Parker (yes, the Sex in the City SJP) is the honorary chair.   She selects books each month on a variety of topics.  If  you are not into celebrities picking out your books (SJP or even Oprah), Book Club Central offers other suggestions and ideas.  From their about page:

Book Club Central is a new online resource for book clubs and readers featuring book reviews, author interviews, discussion questions and more.

One of this month’s featured essays  is “How to Keep a  Book Club Alive”. Written by Susan McBeth, founder an CEO of NovelNetwork.com, she identifies three types of bookclubs:  1) the social bookclub where getting together is more important than actually reading the book, 2) the serious bookclub where there is no point in showing up if you have not read the book, and 3) the virtual bookclub where members don’t have the time or  are unable to find physical booksclub to join.  One way to breath life into any of three types of book clubs is with an author visit.

If author visits are such a simple way to breathe new life into book clubs, why aren’t more book clubs doing so? Surprisingly, many readers are not even aware that there exists a trove of authors who are amenable to, and enthused about, visiting with book clubs. Many book clubs don’t realize that if an author does not live nearby, that a video chat is still possible. Technophobes (like me) may think that virtual chats are only for the tech savvy, when they are really quite simple to plan. And finally, it can indeed be time consuming to research and inquire of authors, or their many layers of publicists and agents, to find out whether or not they are one of the willing book chat enthusiasts?

Not surprisingly, NovelNetwork facilitates connecting authors with readers. From their mission statement:

NOVEL NETWORK® is a global space dedicated to connecting authors with avid readers, an expanded professional network, and published peers. NOVEL NETWORK® was created to help authors find more innovative ways to connect with readers and promote their books to wider audiences.

Book Club Central can also help you find a book club, lead a book club, find books for the book club, toubleshoot a book club, be a book club member, or start an online book club.  It also offers book suggestions.

Reading Across America: Was Seuss Racist?

Dr Seuss birthdayRead Across America is celebrated each year on March 2, the birthday of Dr. Seuss, aka Theodor Seuss Geisel.  For years, Dr. Seuss has been the go-to book for early readers–books that kids loved and would actually read.  Recently, Dr. Seuss has fallen out of favor with  many educators because of the way he portrays people of color.

In a study published earlier this month in Research on Diversity in Youth Literature, researchers Katie Ishizuka and Ramon Stephens found that only 2 percent of the human characters in Seuss’ books were people of color. And all of those characters, they say, were “depicted through racist caricatures.”

Last year when Melania Trump tried to give some Dr. Seuss books to  the Cambridgeport Elementary School Library in Cambridge as part of National Read Day on September 6, the librarian turned the gift down because she considered the books to be racist.  These books were the same titles that Melania had read to her son when he was young.   This was the first (but not the last time) I heard about Seuss as a racist.

Seuss is supposed to have have written “an entire minstrel show in college and performed as the main character in full blackface.”  And Suess wasn’t even a politician….

Seuss is not the first American children’s author who has fallen out of favor because of racism.  Laura Ingalls Wilder, the long time popular author of the Little House series, was labelled a racist last year because of the way her books portrayed Native Americans.  Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn has long been on and off banned book lists for years.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been contested for many reasons. Some readers object to the strong and sometimes racist language and think it’s inappropriate for children. However, most educators think given a proper context the book is a great read.

When is the right time for child to read books that many percieve to be racist?  Does the child need to be old enough to understand that harmful stereotypes are not true and may be hurtful?  In the case of Dr. Seuss, could his books that feature animal characters and not humans be more acceptable?  ( I have heard of people who think that Cat in the Hat is racist so that may not be a suitable idea either.)

Do you think that Seuss was a racist and should not be taught to children?


March Days to Celebrate

women's history monthMarch is  Women’s History Month.  It began as Women’s History Week in Sonoma County, California in 1978.  In February 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation declaring the Week of March 8th 1980 as National Women’s History Week.  Since 1995, each president has issued an annual proclamations designating the month of March as “Women’s History Month.”  The 2019 Women’s History Month theme is “Visionary Women: Champions of Peace & Nonviolence.” The theme honors “women who have led efforts to end war, violence, and injustice and pioneered the use of nonviolence to change society.”

Teen Tech Week is March 3-9.  ALA is promoting promoting Good Digital CitizenshipTeen Tech Week since the digital footprint lasts forever and can have unforseen consequences when applying to college, jobs, and clearances later in life.

March 16 is Freedom of Information Day.  It is celebrated on the birthday of James Madison, 4th President of the United States and Father of the the Constitution.

Freedom of Information Day is dedicated to that very concept, with the Freedom of Information Act being enacted on July 4th, 1966 and coming into effect a year from that date. It declared that every person has the right to get information to federal agency records that are not protected by one of nine exemptions, or special law enforcement record exclusions. This put into law the very concepts that James Madison had held so dear, and ensured that the citizens of the United States were able to obtain that information to which they were entitled.

St Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17.  It is the one day of the year when everybodyst patrick claims to be Irish.  Saint Patrick’s Day, or the Feast of Saint Patrick (Irish: Lá Fhéile Pádraig, “the Day of the Festival of Patrick“), is a cultural and religious celebration held on 17 March, the traditional death date of Saint Patrick ( c. AD 385–461), the foremost patron saint of Ireland.

Spring begins on March 20.  Also known as the Vernal Equinox.  From Wikipedia, “an dogwoods pink and whiteequinox is commonly regarded as the instant of time when the plane of Earth’s equator passes through the center of the Sun. This occurs twice each year: around 20 March and 23 September. In other words, it is the moment at which the center of the visible Sun is directly above the Equator. ”

March 20 i also International Day of Happiness.  This year’s theme is Happier Together. The International Day of Happiness is celebrated worldwide every March 20, and was conceptualized and founded by philanthropist, activist, statesman, and prominent United Nations special advisor Jayme Illien to inspire, mobilize, and advance the global happiness movement.  Don’t worry, be happy.



National Puppy Day is celebrated on March 23.  It was established in 2006

Puppies are the most trusting and joyous creatures on the planet.
Oh, to be more like a puppy.
~Colleen Paige

Library Offerings You May Have Missed

mushroom cloudDuring World War II, the United States was researching the atomic bomb in Las Alamos, NM.  It was called the Manhattan Project.  Online Oral Histories of the Manhattan Project.

From the About Section: “‘Voices of the Manhattan Project’ is a joint project by the Atomic Heritage Foundation and the Los Alamos Historical Society to create a public archive of our oral history collections of Manhattan Project veterans and their families. The Manhattan Project was a great human collaboration. Participants included recent immigrants who fled anti-Semitism in Europe, young men and women straight from high school or college, and numerous Hispanics, Native Americans, and African-Americans. Some 125,000 people worked in secret locations in communities developed by the government for the sole purpose of the project. Most surprisingly, very few knew that they were working on an atomic bomb.”

“Launched in October 2012, this website captures the stories of Manhattan Project veterans and their families. Thanks to grants from the Crystal Trust, Department of Energy-NNSA, Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Kerr Foundation, and the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust, the Atomic Heritage Foundation and the Los Alamos Historical Society are digitizing and transcribing our oral history collections and adding the interviews to this website. We hope that in time others will add to these oral histories. Our goal is to provide a sense of both the commonality and diversity of the Manhattan Project experience for scholars, students and the public. There are many ways to search this site. In addition to the search bar and the filters used to organize by location and subjects (which are intended to emphasize important themes), you can also click on ‘tags’ to find out more about a specific topic on the oral history and location pages.”

Drag Queen Story Hour      Kids may not understand the concept of Drag Queens, but they do understand imagination, so he Drag Queens fit right in.


From wikimedia,  not the story  hour drag queens


These stories came from Interesect Alert, February 24, 2019 by the SLA San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of SLA.


The Green Books that Preceded the Movie

Green Book 1940The New York Public Library has blogged about the Green Books that were the genesis for this year’s Academy Award Winner for Best Picture.

From 1936 to 1966, Victor Hugo Green, a postal worker who worked in New Jersey and lived in Harlem, published the directories known today as the Green Book. The actual titles included The Negro Motorist Green Book, The Negro Travelers’ Green Book, and The Travelers’ Green Book. The books listed hotels, restaurants, beauty salons, nightclubs, bars, and gas stations where Black travelers would be welcome. In an age of sundown towns, segregation, and lynching, the Green Book became an indispensable tool for safe navigation.

The blog post includes a research guide to the Green Books, digitized copies of the Green Books, and an interactive map to map a trip using the Green Books or view a Green Books map.

Taking Books to the People,part 10: Book Vending Machines

When you want to feed your hunger, you go to cuisine de machine aka the Vending Machine.  One elementary school is using that same technology to feed the minds of elementary school students.

This was featured as a Good Morning America story on January 30 at the Umatilla Elementary School in Umatilla, FL.  It was the brain child of school media specialist, Susan Caldwell.   The school started gathering books from Scholastic Book Fair points, donations and staff purchases.

According to the school principal, Diane Dwyer, “The children, grades kindergarten through 5th, are able to swap “Bulldog Bucks” for coins to buy books at the machine. “Bulldog Bucks” are tokens earned in exchange for committing a kind act, or working hard on an assignment.”  It was part of a Literacy week promotion and the machine is so popular it already had to be restocked.

A local church has donated a second vending machine so one will focus on K- grade 2 books while the other one will focus on grades 3-5.


An elementary school in Buffalo, NY had a similar idea  in December 2018.

Global Vending Machine offers the Booworm Book Vending Machine for $3,495 according to their website.