Thursday, October 31, 2013

October 31, 2013

Every Other Thursday, you’ll get this short, fun, relevant newsletter.  It will contain a quote or smile about the library and those who love it, an idea you can use to promote your library or reading in general, a Common Core implementation idea and a shameless plug for the programs I offer.  Enjoy! 

If you are new to EOT or have missed any previous issues, you can read them all at And please tell your friends about it!

In this issue:
  • It’s our anniversary!
  • Author Neil Gaiman on the importance of reading fiction!
  • Promote Reading with Readalike lists
  • Common Core – Imagination and critical thinking
  • Shameless Plug – GaETC next week and a NEW evening program!

It’s Our Anniversary!

On November 1, 2012, the first issue of Every Other Thursday was sent to 126 media specialists, and 9 of them immediately unsubscribed! In the past year, the number of subscribers has risen to over 300 and it’s still growing! Thank you for the referrals and kind comments. I have learned a lot in the past year and am looking forward to continuing to learn together!

Now, where’s the cake?

Library Quote/Smile –

Fiction has two uses. Firstly, it's a gateway drug to reading. The drive to know what happens next, to want to turn the page, the need to keep going, even if it's hard, because someone's in trouble and you have to know how it's all going to end … that's a very real drive. And it forces you to learn new words, to think new thoughts, to keep going. To discover that reading per se is pleasurable. Once you learn that, you're on the road to reading everything.”

Author Neil Gaiman talks about fiction

To read Mr. Gaiman’s full speech (which is wonderful!), click here. Expect to see excerpts from the speech here several times in future issues!

Promote (From the “Encouraging Readers and Non-Readers to Read” Section of 45 Ideas in 45 Minutes)

15. Make a list of Readalikes. Amazon does it. Barnes & Noble does it. Why shouldn’t you? If you look up a book on the aforementioned booksellers’ sites, they will always provide you with a “You might also like…” list. Your media center can use this as an effective way to encourage students to discover some of the hidden treasures buried in your collection. Use flyers, brochures, posters, or the media center webpage to publish the list.

Several samples of suggested “readalikes” can be found online, but a more valuable resource may be for you to get YOUR READERS to suggest the books to be listed. Readalike lists can be book specific (If you liked Hunger Games, you might like The Maze Runner by James Dasher) or thematic (Girl Power!, Gamers Rule!, etc.) I especially like readalike flow charts, like the ones you would see here. 

Common Core Connection

One of the key ideas in Common Core is encouraging critical thinking skills. One way to do this is through reading. Again from Neil Gaiman’s speech:

“I was in China in 2007, at the first party-approved science fiction and fantasy convention in Chinese history. And at one point I took a top official aside and asked him Why? SF had been disapproved of for a long time. What had changed?

“It's simple, he told me. The Chinese were brilliant at making things if other people brought them the plans. But they did not innovate and they did not invent. They did not imagine. So they sent a delegation to the US, to Apple, to Microsoft, to Google, and they asked the people there who were inventing the future about themselves. And they found that all of them had read science fiction when they were boys or girls.

“Fiction can show you a different world. It can take you somewhere you've never been. Once you've visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world that you grew up in. Discontent is a good thing: discontented people can modify and improve their worlds, leave them better, leave them different.

“And while we're on the subject, I'd like to say a few words about escapism. I hear the term bandied about as if it's a bad thing. As if "escapist" fiction is a cheap opiate used by the muddled and the foolish and the deluded, and the only fiction that is worthy, for adults or for children, is mimetic fiction, mirroring the worst of the world the reader finds herself in.
“If you were trapped in an impossible situation, in an unpleasant place, with people who meant you ill, and someone offered you a temporary escape, why wouldn't you take it? And escapist fiction is just that: fiction that opens a door, shows the sunlight outside, gives you a place to go where you are in control, are with people you want to be with (and books are real places, make no mistake about that); and more importantly, during your escape, books can also give you knowledge about the world and your predicament, give you weapons, give you armor: real things you can take back into your prison. Skills and knowledge and tools you can use to escape for real.

“As JRR Tolkien reminded us, the only people who inveigh against escape are jailers.”

Hooray for fiction reading!

Shameless Plug

Two things:

1.       I will be at the Georgia Educational Technology Conference (GaETC) next week in the Bound to Stay Bound booth. We will be giving away a half day of assembly programs, so stop by and register to WIN!

2.       Last week I had the pleasure of leading a Family Literacy Night program at Mimosa Elementary in Roswell, GA. This is the school my kids went to and where I performed my first educational assembly program. My presentation was a 60 minute workshop for parents and kids that included a little bit of magic, a couple of puppets and a TON of ideas about how to encourage your child to read. It went really well, and I am happy to offer it to other schools. Let me know if you are interested and I’ll send more information!

Here’s what one of your colleagues had to say about having a TJP program at her school:

"Go Wild makes learning FUN - the students recall words from the presentation for weeks following.  This is the BEST educational show I have ever seen thus far.  The students were learning plus entertained.  Well worth the cost!"

Sue Ensley, Media Specialist, Morris ES, Lake Worth
Let me know how I can help! See you in two weeks!
Encouraging kids to read, I am
Tommy Johns
Educational Entertainment Specialist
Call (770) 640-6509 or Toll Free at (866) 490-READ
Your peers appreciate your advice about quality programs. Please tell them about your experience working with us. Our best sales people are our many loyal clients.

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