A Mayor & Two Authors

First off, I have to say I love being a school librarian.  I love that I get to teach all of the kids in my school, can be creative and think outside the box,  and that I have amazing people in my professional learning network.

Last week, just two days before the Blizzard of Winter 2016, I had two visitors to my library.  Author Harold “Corky” Logsdon visited our 3rd graders to share his new children’s book, Marsh Mellow – a lovely poem about exploring nature “was penned while walking the stony lane through the marshland at Karen Noonan Center on the shores of Bishop Head along the Chesapeake Bay. (Absolutely stunning watercolor illustrations by Kristen Egan).  Corky, a retired high school teacher of environmental science, pulled my students into the story with his infectious joy of the  natural world.  I am so pleased that he will be coming back to share his book with my 2nd grade students, who just finished their inquiry projects about biomes and ecosystems.

Gaithersburg Mayor Jud Ashman also visited with my 4th graders, as an extension to their marking period 2 inquiry project, “Maryland Economics”.  In this project, my students researched the demographics of our Flower Hill community, and based on the information they found, created a plan for a business that the community needed.  Since 65% of our community members are families with children under 18, many of my students created a business plan with a family-friendly theme.  I helped the three classes generate a list of questions, and we had a Q&A session with Jud, and ended with five students sharing their business projects with him.  It was a great experience for all involved, and we found out you can run for mayor of Gaithersburg as early as 18 years old!


Jud is also the founder of the Gaithersburg Book Festival,   which “is a celebration of the written word and its power to enrich the human experience. [Its] mission is to foster an interest in reading, writing and literary conversation.”  I am pleased to be a volunteer on the 2016 planning committee.  I am the coordinator of the Children’s Workshops and the helping fill the Story Time Tent with awesome readers, and hope you’ll visit the festival on May 21, 2016!

Mary Amato

Children’s Author Mary Amato



I also attended the Montgomery County Council of the International Reading Association
 MCCIRA ) author event on January 21, and met the delightful local children’s author Mary Amato, and learned great tips on classroom management using mindfulness techniques, and how to excite students to write.  From her I also picked up a copy of the first three books in her new series Good Crooks and I am looking forward to sharing them with my students!

Happy reading!

GBF: Opportunity for Deeper Connection with Authors and Illustrators

Gaithersburg Book Festival: Opportunity for Deeper Connection with Authors and Illustrators first appeared on the GBF website on January 4, 2016. Click link to GBF website here

By Melissa McDonald

As an elementary school librarian, my favorite part of the Gaithersburg Book Festival is the opportunity to listen to the children’s book authors and illustrators read their books and talk about their inspiration and their craft.  I can read a book aloud to my students with enthusiasm, providing the voices of the different characters, and emphasizing what I think are the important parts on each page.  However, nothing compares to an author reading aloud his or her own book to their adoring audience, or watching the illustrator start with a blank piece of white poster paper and creating the book characters in front of our eyes.  It is magical!  That moment when the author and illustrator connect with his or her readers is a great one indeed.

Throughout my school library I have pictures of myself with authors and illustrators – I think it is important to show my students that the people who create their favorite books are real people – to show them the connection we have through their written word and art.  When I am able, I like to video their talk and book reading, and love to share with my students as most of them are unable to attend events such as these.

51mdbfxwdgl-_sx258_bo1204203200_Last year I enjoyed Michelle Knudsen’s reading of Marilyn’s Monster and listening to Michelle Knudsen and Matt Phelan discuss how they worked together to create the book. Because of these videos, my students were able to connect with the book, the author, and the illustrator on a deeper level than if I had simply read the book to them.  For this I am deeply grateful, and hope that this is one way in which I can encourage life-long readers.

Michelle Knudsen’s Website: http://www.michelleknudsen.com/

Matt Phelan’s Website: http://www.mattphelan.com/

Marilyn’s Monster by Michelle Knudsen


Michelle Knudsen and Matt Phelan discuss creation of  Marilyn’s Monster


Melissa A. McDonald is a school library media specialist with Montgomery County Public Schools and a member of the Gaithersburg Book Festival planning committee.


Awesome & Amazing!

I am turning the Big 5-0 in April (where does the time go?!), and have decided my word of the year is ‘spectacular’.  On December 31st, when I look back on my year, I want to describe 2016 as SPECTACULAR!   I challenged my 4th & 5th grade students to pick their word for 2016, and created a Wordle word cloud with their answers.  Awesome and amazing were the most popular words, but I loved the creativity of some of my students when they listed fantabulous, specialistic, and sparkelicious!

2016wordle7As the Creative Librarian, I try to bring creativity into my library, and part of my creativity comes out in my bulletin boards and book spine art!

Check out my Bulletin Boards and Book Displays Pinterest board for more examples!