Category Archives: education


If you work in library land, this year’s SRP theme Every Hero Has a Story has you living and breathing superheroes. (For those not invested in the library world, SRP is the call sign for SUMMER READING PROGRAM: the 2 1/2 month stretch when you’re inundated with thousands of  bored kids who will trash your shelves, leave Cheez Doodle presents on the floor, and make you dedicate your life to constant children’s programing.) It’s something amazing to be a part of…especially when it’s almost finished.

SRP also means themed displays, and my coworkers stepped up to the challenge. As we slide into the final stretch of summer, I thought I’d share some super-powered sticky note displays they created. They’re bold, attention-grabbing, and pretty darn cool— fun for a library, classroom, or even a superhero themed party.

Post-it Note Superheroes! — Super fun display for your library, classroom or superhero party! #SRP2015

These guys were a hit with the library patrons. Lesson learned though: make sure you wash the walls before you start your design. Sticky notes don’t like years of dust coating the walls.

 Post-it Note Superman — Super fun display for your library, classroom or superhero party! #SRP2015  Post-it Note Captain America — Super fun display for your library, classroom or superhero party! #SRP2015  #Avengers Post-it Note Batman — Super fun display for your library, classroom or superhero party! #SRP2015   Post-it Note  Spiderman — Super fun display for your library, classroom or superhero party! #SRP2015


If you’d like to see a better pictures that can be used as a template, check out this superhero-themed office on Gzimodo. Thanks for the idea!

150+ Life-changing Books (a list by ALA Think Tank Librarians)

Librarians love to talk about books. LOVE. You’d think we do that all day long, but for some of us, chatting with patrons about books is a rare and cherished perk of the job.

So what happens when you ask an active Facebook group of librarians about the books that have changed their lives?


You get answers. A mind-blowing amount of suggestions, both fiction and nonfiction.

Some of these profound books I’ve read, others are on my never ending TBR list, and at least a dozen I’ve never even heard of and I must discover.

lifechanging books

This list’s utter lack of organization is made up for by its richness and diversity. Sorry kids, but I didn’t have time to catalog by Dewey today. This compilation was copied/pasted straight from Facebook, so please forgive duplicates.

The results (in no particular order):

Night by Elie Weisel

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston

Bury My Heart at Wounded Kneeby Dee Brown

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger

Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

The Stand by Stephen King

Tam Lin by Pamela Dean

The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism by Naoki Higashida

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Grace in the Wilderness by Aranka Siegel

Winnie the Pooh, The stories of Beatrix Potter, Saint Maybe, Jacob Have I Loved, Beloved, No God But God,  A Fine Balance, Wuthering Heights, Zealot, The Art of Loving, Reading Lolita in Tehran

Leaves of Grass be Walt Whitman

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

Nausea by Sartre

The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky,

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Jonathan Livingston Seagull

The Dark Is Rising

Just Above My Head

I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith

Wind in the Door by Madeline L’Engle

Les Miserables (Victor Hugo), Julian (Gore Vidal) The Truth About Stories (Thomas King), Archive Fever (Jacques Derrida)

Time Enough For Love by Heinlein

Jenny and the Jaws of Life by Jincy Willet

The Likeness by Tana French

Waiting by Ha Jin

The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Little, Big by John Crowley

Sandman by Neil Gaiman

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

Dandelion Wine and Fahrenheit 451 by Bradbury

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan

From the Teeth of Angels and A Child Across the Sky by Jonathan Carroll

The Passion by Jeanette Winterson

The poetry of Pablo Neruda

the entire Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder

I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb

Why Women Want by Caroline Knapp. Also Art and Fear by David Bayles, Bodies Out of Bounds: Fatness and Transgression by Jana Evans Braziel, and The Zen of Creativity by John Daido Loori

Also Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The short stories of Jonathan Carroll

Black Boy, The Autobiography of Malcolm X

The Immigrant Series by Howard Fast, Love Story by Erich Segal, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Tom Jones by Henry Fielding, Tell Me Something Happy Before I Go to Sleep by Joyce Dunbar

Catcher in the Rye

Dandelion Wine & Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

Cloud Atlas

The Teacher Who Couldn’t Read

A Field of Buttercups by Joseph Hyams

Little Women

Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon

Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck

Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath

Stone Fox

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

The Hawk and the Dove by Penelope Wilcock

The Ethics of Ambiguity by Simone de Beauvoir

Ahab’s Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund

The Godfather by Mario Puzo

The Outsider, Albert Camus. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad. And a YA novel about schizophrenia called Meeting Rozzy Halfway, by Caroline Leavitt

Things Fall Apart; Siddhartha; The Stranger; Me Talk Pretty One Day

The Horsemasters by Don Stanford

Anthem by Ayn Rand

The Brothers Karamazov (Dostoyevsky)

The Diversity of Life (E. O. Wilson)

Bastard Out of Carolina

1984 and Brave New World

Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac

The Sneetches. The Witch of Blackbird Pond. The Outsiders. The Stand. The Handmaid’s Tale. Letters of a Woman Homesteader. A People’s History of the United States. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E Butler

Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women’s Liberation by Mary Daly

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

The Same Kind of Different as Me

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

Positive by Paige Rawls

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter

The Front Runner

The Color Purple

The Other Man Was Me

Diving Into the Wreck



Summer Sisters by Judy Blume

World Enough and Time: on Creativity and Slowing Down by Christian McEwan

Peace is every step, Sherlock Holmes, Istanbul and Snow by Orhan Pamuk

Animal Farm, 1984, and Fahrenheit 451

You Can Save the Animals” by Ingrid Newkirk

Cat’s Eye by Margret Atwood, Eva Luna by Isabell Allende, everything by Tom Robbins, Bruce Chatwin and Terry Pratchett

Gifted Hands

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Last Exit to Brooklyn

The Orphan Master’s Son

Naked In The Promised Land by Lillian Faderman

Assata by Assata Shakur

The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

The Bridges of Madison County

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

As a Man Thinketh. The Book of Mormon. Seven habits of highly effective people. Outliers. Bridge to Terrabithia.

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

The Name of the Wind

House of Leaves

Follow My Leader by James Garfield

Man’s Search For Meaning–Victor Frankl

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Velveteen Rabbit

David Copperfield, the Book of Mormon, and The Book Thief.

God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut

Infinite Jest

The Wealthy Barber

The Incredible Journey of Edward Tulane

Biography of a face by Lucy Grealy

Killer Angels by Michael Shaara

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson

Looking for Alaska- John Green

Watership Down by Richard Adams

Rapture Practice by Aaron Hartzler; Faitheist : How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious, by Chris Stedman; Biological Exuberance by Bruce Bagemihl; The Birthday of the World and other stories by Ursula K. Le Guin; The Brothers Lionheart and Ronia the Robbersdaughter – both by Astrid Lindgren

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn

One by Richard Bach

People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn



Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky

e.e. cummings and David Levithan’s The Lover’s Dictionary.
Toni Morrison, yes to A Handmaid’s Tale, Adrienne Rich, Alice Munro…

Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

Thank you, ALA Think Tank members, for your amazing suggestions! 

Readers: what books changed your view of the world?

The World at Your Fingertips — Top 10 Tips for Taking a MOOC

Thank you to for sponsoring this post.

The world at our fingertips…

Anyone who knows me or reads my blog knows I love to learn. If a day goes by without me soaking up some new bit of info, I feel brain cells wither. So when I read about the new MOOC trend sweeping the virtual world, I had explore my options.

What’s a MOOC, you ask?

A MOOC is a massive open online course — a web-based, college-level class (taught by a real professor) with unrestricted enrollment. They can take a variety of formats, but the most popular are usually a combination of video, lecture notes, assignments and projects.

Think of them as TEDTalks with homework. They cover subjects from cutting edge technology to the obscure. And, did I mention, they are free?

Yes, you read that right — free Ivy League classes at your fingertips. Have you ever wanted to take Computer Science 101 at Stanford, learned about The Psychology, Biology, and Politics of Food at Yale, or brushed up on The Ancient Greek Hero at Harvard? It’s all available to you with only an investment of time.

Most MOOCs are flexible; you can watch videos on demand and fit readings and assignments into your schedule after work, between traditional classes, or even while waiting in the carpool line.

Student Advisors just launched a new website MOOCAdvisor. My article, Top 10 Tips for Taking a MOOC at Student Advisor, is featured over at MOOCAdvisor.

Curious? Go take a look. There are new virtual worlds to explore.

Have you ever taken or considered taking a virtual class?

For more information about MOOCs, please visit I was 
selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls 
Collective, and the content and opinions expressed here are 
all my own.

photo credit: Éole via photopin cc

Monarch Madness: Attracting & Raising Butterflies in Your Yard

If you buy milkweed, butterflies will come.

In droves. Or a flutter. {A group of monarchs is called a flutter. A group of butterflies can be called a swarm, flight, rabble, or my fav a kaleidoscope.}

Back in March, I innocently bought two milkweed (a.k.a. butterfly weed) plants at our favorite annual garden show. Why not? I like butterflies. Not only did the plants have cheerful yellow and orange flowers, they seemed like something I wouldn’t immediately kill. Butterflies showed up immediately, and I patted myself on the back.

On Father’s Day, I noticed the plants looked scraggly and bare. Upon closer investigation, I discovered why.

They were infested covered in Monarch caterpillars. 

I counted at least twenty brightly striped critters devouring our plants. Within a day, the two plants were stripped to their stems. Holy hungry caterpillars! Eric Carle knew what he was talking about. Not wanting our newest family members to starve, I hunted down more more milkweed for our very hungry caterpillars to munch. These rapidly growing little guys are extremely finicky—they ONLY eat milkweed. Luckily, our local Lowe’s had some in stock.

Quite by surprise, we had our own summer biology class. Not bad for a slacker parent who planned no educational enrichment for the summer. 

We researched how to keep our new pets alive. A few years back, my kiddo received a butterfly cage from Santa. I dug it out, dusted it off, carefully added a few of the largest caterpillars. He’d been begging me to order some online. It couldn’t get any more natural (or cheap) then just plucking them from the yard, right? 

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Mama Monarch lay her eggs (estimated 100 – 300 in her short lifetime)  on the milkweed plants yard.


When the eggs hatch in 3 – 4 days, the itsy-bitsy caterpillars (larvae) are only about 2-6 mm. 

Then they start eating. 

And eating.

And eating.

{and pooping, as you will discover, if you raise them in a cage}

After approx. 10 – 14 days, they reach the size of their final shed {about 2 inches}.  


They attach themselves to a stem or a leaf {or the top of the cage} with silk and start metamorphosis. After hanging upside down for a day or so, they shed their caterpillar skin to reveal a green cocoon. It happens in about a  minute —amazing!


Seven days later (although all the research says it takes 10-14 days) our butterflies emerge from their cocoons. You have to be quick if you want to catch it—the ones we watched this morning popped out in less than a minute.  The new butterflies unfurl their and dry their wings. 

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The first beauty to hatch didn’t want to fly away. We coaxed her onto flowers, tempted her with nectar and blooms, but she wouldn’t take to the air. After careful inspection, I noticed she had a broken wing. 

Guess she will be spending her short life cycle with us.

We’ll be kind.  

Want Monarchs in your yard?  In most areas, they follow a distinct migration pattern. Here in Florida, they seem to be around for a large chunk of the year, possibly even overwintering in some locals. 

Before the migration hits your area, BUY MILKWEED. These beauties are desperate for it. The caterpillars only eat milkweed, so if the female can’t find any, she won’t lay her eggs.

See—this guy was so enamored by it, he went after the flowers on the plant tag.

Too many Monarchs fell in love with our tiny milkweed patch. We don’t have enough plants to sustain all the caterpillars. I’ve already started milkweed seeds in pots, and I’m going to plant it all around the yard.

This time next year, I will oversee a mammoth butterfly colony.

Save the Monarchs. Buy some milkweed. Your kids will think you’re a hero. So will I.

For more information on how to raise butterflies, click here.  I followed the guide provided by My Monarch Guide. She even includes the simple household items you can use to create a Monarch habitat. It’s easy. You can do it. The Monarchs & your kids will thank you.

Sparking the imagination with science and Star Wars at the Orlando Science Center #CFLGood

My son dreams of becoming an engineer when he grows up. Technically, if you ask, he’ll just tell you he wants to build roads. And buildings. And ships. And robots. Maybe space ships. Definitely a bigger, safer Titanic. Fueled by books and educational TV shows (they do exist), ideas for new designs seem to burst from his imagination each day.  He breaks out his roll of paper or borrows reams from my office so he can carefully draw out his plans. With old wooden blocks or gallons of Legos he brings his visions to life like a modern day young DaVinci—if DaVinci built his models from colorful, interlocking plastic blocks.

My kid dreams big. Entire ports, ocean liners, cityscapes, and transportation systems seem to spring from his fingertips.  Transferring his enthusiasm, his passion into the classroom is challenging; multiplication tables and math factors just aren’t exciting, but he’ll need a strong background in math and science for his dreams to become his reality.

Education is the gateway to opportunity. That’s why one of our favorite places to visit in Central Florida is the Orlando Science Center.


STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) is considered the cornerstone to our prosperity as a nation. As the world’s economy continues to be increasingly fueled by knowledge and innovation, it is vital that the workforce be well-educated in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. With that said, the United States is in the middle of a STEM crisis.

The Orlando Science Center is taking a stand in the efforts to revitalize STEM education in our community. Through informal science learning, kids can take interest in STEM fields through fun, engaging ways. By simply generating excitement for science everyone can win, as a child takes this new found appreciation and explores it at home and school.

The need for a strong, STEM-educated workforce is greater than it’s ever been. The percentage of science and engineering degrees awarded annually peaked in the 1960′s.

Locally, the problem is even more magnified: only 20% of the degrees awarded in Central Florida are based in STEM fields, compared to 30% nationally.

To put it in perspective, 60 percent of the new jobs created this century will require skills that only 20 percent of the current workforce possesses. Jobs now and in the future will depend on the bright minds of today’s youth in these subjects. In fact, 28 of the 30 fastest growing occupations projected for 2018 require strong proficiency in the skills of math and science.

Our ultimate goal at the Science Center is to create a STEM-centered community that paves the way towards excellence in science, technology, engineering and math. Exploring these critical areas in an informal way can be fun, exciting and even inspiring.

Our kids don’t want lectures. They thrive on interaction and entertainment. Hand-on, fun learning is vital to keep kids interested and intrigued. That’s why we love the Orlando Science Center.

OSC is one of the top hands-on science centers in the country. Featuring four floors of interactive exhibits and live programs, it provides a full day of entertainment and learning about everything from natural science to the high-tech world of simulation technology.

Kids (and parents) can build dams and channels at water tables (my kiddo’s fav), stare into the jaws of a T. rex, take to the air in F1-11  and F-16 flight simulators, get up close to native alligators and snakes, play a life-sized game of Operation, or control a Mars Rover.

The CineDome theater doesn’t just “show” movies. You can watch and experience the destructive power of a tornado at point blank range or take a visually explosive, sensory expanding voyage into space on its enormous screen (measuring 8,000 square feet!).

You can catch one of the planetarium shows, laser light shows, or view the cosmos via the Crosby Observatory, home to one of the state’s largest publicly accessible refractor telescopes.

AND coming soon. . .this has our family just buzzing with excitement:

Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination
October 13, 2012 through April 7, 2013
May the Force be with you as you explore the blockbuster large scale exhibit celebrating the Star Wars® legacy and its impact on real-world science! It is the first exhibition to display costumes and props from all six Star Wars films with real-world technologies. The exhibit includes extensive video interviews with filmmakers, scientists and engineers; and hands-on components, including two large Engineering Design Labs, where visitors can build and test their own speeders and robots.
For more information on the exhibit, please visit:
 Star Wars + science + kids = WIN

Not only is OSC an amazing resource for locals, but it should be on the itinerary of every family visiting Orlando. Need a day off from the hectic theme parks, some time to relax, hide from the heat or rain, or crowds and lines? Hit the Science Center. You will have fun.

The Orlando Science Center is a private non-profit organization with 501c(3) status. As part of the Blogging For Good Campaign, Central Florida bloggers are spreading the word about local charities and non-profits that benefit our community. Want to help? Buy a raffle ticket for this AMAZING Star Wars themed basket filled with:

  • 4 Open Guest Passes to the Orlando Science Center
  • Two tickets to the Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination VIP Preview on Friday, October 12 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. (This VIP Preview is the first opportunity for anyone to experience the exhibit at the Science Center!)
  • Rubix Cube Stress Reliever
  • True Green Life in 100 Everyday Ways – Written by Kim McKay and Jenny Bonnin
  • OSC Otronicon “Level Up” T-Shirt
  • OSC Coffee Mug/Beaker (it’s got measurements on it resembling a beaker – it’s awesome)
  • Command Line Mouse Pad
  • 2 Anakin Skywalker Lightsabers
  • Star Wars Minatures: Rebels and Imperials
  • Star Wars: STAR TOURS G2-9T
  • Star Wars: STAR TOURS SK-Z38
  • Star Wars 2007 Vintage Coin Set
  • Star Wars: STAR TOURS Boarding Party – STAR TOURS Officer, Kaink, Teek, Ree-Yees, Chewbacca (Set is Limited Edition of 15,000)
  • Star Wars Destroyer Droid
  • Star Wars Miniatures: Princess Leia – Attack on Endor

Any Star Wars fan (age 5 to 95) would be over the moon if they won those goodies. Maybe I’ll buy two tickets… Each raffle ticket is just $10 and can be obtained here. 100% of the money raised goes directly to the nonprofit, so it’s a win-win!

OSC website:
OSC Twitter:
OSC Facebook:
Blogging for Good:

**Please help spread the word about this important cause. Tweet, Facebook, Pin, and share this post. You can make a difference.

I am writing this as part of a contest for the CFL Blog Conference and the Rollins Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership Center.  I stand 100% behind the The Orlando Science Center.