The Learning Librarian

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Planet Esme – a Librarian’s Dream!

on April 26, 2013
I was volunteering in my school library after school this week when I came across a book entitled Educating Esme by Chicago librarian Esme Codell. I began reading and quickly found myself unable to put it down. The book, which chronicled Ms. Codell’s first year teaching in a challenging inner city school, was both informative and entertaining. I could identify with many of her thoughts and experiences. As Ms. Codell’s year of teaching went on, she gradually began mentioning library more and more. She slowly comes to realize that as much as she loves teaching, she loves spending time in the library even more. She is passionate about read alouds, literacy, writing and technology. The books ends with her decision to transition into a library position.
I was curious about what had happened after the book was published, and when I looked her up l I was amazed by all of her projects and accomplishments. She is currently a librarian at a Chicago Public School, and she has written several books – fiction for students and non-fiction resource books for teachers and librarians – and she writes blogs geared towards both students and teachers. One of her websites is http://planetesme.blogspot.com/. I love this blog because it is so fun and easy to read. Ms. Codell posts a “book of the day” each day. Along with an image of the book, she provides a brief summary, review, and suggestions for similar books. For example, one post discusses The Black Rabbit by Philippa Leathers. Codell summarizes the story and sings its’ praises. She also recommends Big Bad Bunny and Watch Out! Big Bro’s Coming! as related reading if the first book struck your interest.

I think this resource would be extremely beneficial for librarians and students. For me, sometimes long lists of books are overwhelming, but to learn about new books in this nice one-at-a-time format seems very manageable. I love her brief summaries and ideas for related books. This would be an extremely useful resource for a librarian. If you recommend one book to a student and he/she likes it, you can have a few similar titles at your disposal already ready to go. Older students can use this resource themselves; it also might be a fun project for them to create their own Codell-inspired blogs. Students could write brief summaries and reviews of books and list other titles that are similar. This would really require them to think critically about a book in several different ways; it would also ask them to compare what they’ve read with other books and connect them through similarities.

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