American Library Association Conference

ALA books

Last month, I attended the American Library Association Conference in Las Vegas. In addition to the huge stack of free published books, advanced reader copies, and audiobooks you see above, I came away with an even bigger stack of new ideas and connections I’ll be implementing at our library and sharing with staff and students in the fall. Please read about my experiences in these two postings on my librarian blog:

Part 1

Part 2


Enjoy Free Audiobooks All Summer – Starting Now!

cropped-SYNC-header980wYes, I know it isn’t summer just yet, but we’re all starting to think about it, aren’t we? And, the folks at SYNC are ready to offer some great summer reading options with audiobooks. Each year, SYNC offers a total of 24 summer reading audiobooks free of charge. So what is SYNC? Here’s the explanation from the SYNC site:

SYNC is a program that gives away two complete audiobook downloads–a current Young Adult title paired thematically with a Classic or Required Summer Reading title–each week to listeners ages 13+ while SYNC is in session each summer.
Titles are delivered through the OverDrive Media Console.  You can prepare for the program by downloading the software to your desktop and whichever device you anticipate listening on.
SYNC is dedicated to introducing the listening experience to the young adult audience and demonstrates that Required Reading can be completed by listening.
SYNC gives away 2 FREE audiobook downloads every week each summer. In 2014, 26 titles will be given away over 13 weeks starting May 15th. 


And, even though it’s not summer just yet, the free give aways start this week, on May 15. Here’s the schedule:

May 15 – May 21 
WARP: THE RELUCTANT ASSASSIN by Eoin Colfer, Narrated by Maxwell Caulfield (Listening Library)
THE TIME MACHINE by H.G. Wells, Narrated by Derek Jacobi (Listening Library)

May 22 – May 28
CRUEL BEAUTY by Rosamund Hodge, Narrated by Elizabeth Knowelden (Harper Audio)
OEDIPUS THE KING by Sophocles, Performed by Michael Sheen and a full cast (Naxos AudioBooks)

May 29 – June 4
CONFESSIONS OF A MURDER SUSPECT by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro, Narrated by Emma Galvin (Hachette Audio)
THE MURDER AT THE VICARAGE by Agatha Christie, Narrated by Richard E. Grant (Harper Audio)

June 5 – June 11
ALL OUR YESTERDAYS by Cristin Terrill, Narrated by Meredith Mitchell (Tantor Audio)
JULIUS CAESAR by William Shakespeare, Performed by Richard Dreyfuss, JoBeth Williams, Stacy Keach, Kelsey Grammer, and a full cast (L.A. Theatre Works)

June 12 – June 18
*CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein, Narrated by Morven Christie and Lucy Gaskell (Bolinda Audio)
THE HIDING PLACE by Corrie Ten Boom, John Sherrill, Elizabeth Sherrill, Narrated by Bernadette Dunne (christianaudio)

June 19 – June 25
I’D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU, BUT THEN I’D HAVE TO KILL YOU by Ally Carter, Narrated by Renée Raudman (Brilliance Audio)
ANNE OF GREEN GABLES by L.M. Montgomery, Narrated by Colleen Winton (Post Hypnotic Press)

June 26 – July 2
*FORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK by Matthew Quick, Narrated by Noah Galvin (Hachette Audio)
OCTOBER MOURNING: A Song for Matthew Shepard by Lesléa Newman, Narrated by Emily Beresford, Luke Daniels, Tom Parks, Nick Podehl, Kate Rudd, Christina Traister (Brilliance Audio)

July 3 – July 9
TORN FROM TROY by Patrick Bowman, Narrated by Gerard Doyle (Post Hypnotic Press)
PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, Narrated by Jim Dale (Brilliance Audio)

July 10 – July 16
CLAUDETTE COLVIN: Twice Toward Justice by Philip Hoose, Narrated by Channie Waites (Brilliance Audio)
WHILE THE WORLD WATCHED by Carolyn Maull McKinstry with Denise George, Narrated by Felicia Bullock (Oasis Audio)

July 17 – July 23
THE CASE OF THE CRYPTIC CRINOLINE by Nancy Springer, Narrated by Katherine Kellgren (Recorded Books)
THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES II by Arthur Conan Doyle, Narrated by David Timson (Naxos AudioBooks)

July 24 – July 30
HEADSTRONG by Patrick Link, Performed by Deidrie Henry, Ernie Hudson, Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine and Scott Wolf (L.A. Theatre Works)
THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE by Robert Louis Stevenson, Narrated by Scott Brick (Tantor Audio)

July 31 – August 6
*DIVIDED WE FALL by Trent Reedy, Narrated by Andrew Eiden (Scholastic Audio)
THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE by Stephen Crane, Narrated by Frank Muller (Recorded Books)

August 7 – August 13
LIVING A LIFE THAT MATTERS by Ben Lesser, Narrated by Jonathan Silverman and Ben Lesser (Remembrance Publishing)
THE SHAWL by Cynthia Ozick, Narrated by Yelena Shmulenson (HighBridge Audio)

The asterisks (*) are my indicators of books I have recently read in print and highly recommend.

A nice feature of the program is that the weekly titles are always paired with one YA (young adult) title and one more classic work on a related theme.

An important thing to know about the program is that you have to download and install the books during the week they are offered; they are only available during that time frame. So, don’t miss out; get and install the first two titles by May 21. Note that one you have the audiobooks, there is no deadline on when you listen to them, and they are yours to keep indefinitely.

To avoid missing any of the weekly offerings, you  can sign up for email and text alerts and be first to know when new titles are available to downloadat

So, get out your mobile listening device, and happy listening!


2013 Teens’ Top Ten Announced

A number of Mira Costa students participated in voting for this year’s for this year’s Teens’ Top Ten during  Teen Read Week. Here is a list of the winning books just announced:

  1. “Code Name Verity” by Elizabeth Wein (Disney/Hyperion)
  2. “The False Prince” by Jennifer A. Nielsen (Scholastic/Scholastic Press)
  3. “Insurgent” by Veronica Roth (Harper Collins/Katherine Tegen Books)
  4. “Pushing the Limits” by Katie McGarry (Harlequin Teen)
  5. “Poison Princess” by Kresley Cole (Simon & Schuster)
  6. “The Raven Boys” by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic/Scholastic Press)
  7. “Crewel” by Gennifer Albin (Macmillan/Farrar Straus Giroux)
  8. “Every Day” by David Levithan (Random House/Alfred A. Knopf)
  9. “Kill Me Softly” by Sarah Cross (Egmont)
  10. “Butter” by Erin Jade Lange (Bloomsbury)

How many have you read? How about making it a goal to read all ten? Come to the Mira Costa Library to check one of the books out. We don’t have every title yet, we will soon!

Teen Read Week 2013


October 13 -19 is Teen Read Week, a national celebration of reading sponsored by YALSA, the Young Adult Services Association of the American Library Association. This year’s theme is “Seek the Unknown @ Your Library,” encouraging you to explore something new! Each year, YALSA posts books nominated for the “Teens’ Top Ten” by teenagers from all over the United States, and invites teens to vote for the Top Ten of the year.

Screen Shot 2013-10-12 at 8.33.15 PM

Please check the list of this year’s nominees, vote for up to three you loved, and consider reading some of the others! You can see many of the nominees and previous years’ winners at the Mira Costa Library. Come by today! Voting for the Teens Top Ten closes October 19, so don’t miss the deadline!

Here’s the list of nominees for 2013:

1. Albin, Gennifer. Crewel.
Macmillan/Farrar Straus Giroux. 2012. (9780374316419).

2. Banks, AnnaOf Poseidon.
Macmillan/Feiwel & Friends. 2012. (9781250027368).

3. Cabot, Meg. Underworld.
Scholastic/Point. 2012. (9780545284110).

4, Cashore, Kristin. Bitterblue.
Penguin Group/Dial. 2012. (9780803734739).

5. Cole, Kresley. Poison Princess.
Simon & Schuster. 2012. (9781442436640).

6. Cooner, Donna. Skinny.
Scholastic/Point. 2012. (9780545427630).

7. Cross, Sarah. Kill Me Softly.
Egmont. 2012. (9781606843239).

8. Damico, Gina. Croak.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Graphia. 2012. (9780547608327).

9. Fukuda, Andrew. The Hunt.
Macmillan/St. Martin’s Griffin. 2012. (9781250005298).

10. Harstad, Johan. 172 Hours on the Moon.
Little, Brown & Company. 2012. (9780316182881).

11. Hartman, Rachel. Seraphina.
Random House. 2012. (9780375866562).

12. Hocking, Amanda. Wake.
Macmillan/St. Martin’s Griffin. 2012. (9781250005649).

13. Hopkins, Ellen. Tilt.
Simon & Schuster/Margaret K. McElderry Books. 2012 .(9781416983309).

14. Kontis, Alethea. Enchanted.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2012. (9780547645704).

15. LaFevers, Robin. Grave Mercy.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2012. (9780544022492).

16. Lange, Erin Jade. Butter.
Bloomsbury. 2012. (9781599907802).

17. Laybourne, EmmyMonument 14.
Macmillan/Feiwel & Friends. 2012. (9780312569037).

18. Levithan, David. Every Day.
Random House/Alfred A. Knopf. 2012. (9780307931887).

19. Lowry, Lois. Son.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2012. (9780547887203).

20. Lyga, BarryI Hunt Killers.
Little, Brown & Company. 2012. (9780316125833).

21. McGarry, Katie. Pushing the Limits.
Harlequin Teen. 2012. (9780373210862).

22. Nielsen, Jennifer. The False Prince.
Scholastic/Scholastic Press. 2012. (9780545284141)

23. Picoult, Jodi. Between the Lines.
Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse. 2012. (9781451635812).

24. Rhodes, Morgan. Falling Kingdoms.
Penguin Group/Razorbill. 2012. (9781595145840).

25. Roth, Veronica. Insurgent.
Harper Collins/Katherine Tegen Books. 2012. (9780062024039).

26. Speer, Scott. Immortal City.
Penguin Group/Razorbill. 2012. (9781595146014).

27. Stiefvater, Maggie. The Raven Boys.
Scholastic/Scholastic Press. 2012. (9780545424929).

28. Wein, Elizabeth. Code Name Verity.
Disney/Hyperion. 2012. (9781423152880).

Link to vote. Don’t forget to vote by October 19. Then, stand by to learn the winners on October 22.
Want to share which books you voted for? Leave a comment …

Free Summer Audiobooks from Sync

Sync Audio Books


Want to enjoy some great, free audiobooks this summer? For the third year, the Sync website, administered by Audiofile magazine, is offering two free audiobook downloads each week, starting May 30 and continuing through August 21. Titles offered each week will be paired, featuring one contemporary book and one classic on a related theme. Here is the schedule:

May 30 – June 5, 2013
Of Poseidon by Anna Banks, read by Rebecca Gibel (AudioGO)
The Tempest by William Shakespeare, read by a Full Cast (AudioGO)

June 6 – June 12, 2013
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, Book 1: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood, read by Katherine Kellgren (HarperAudio)
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, read by Wanda McCaddon (Tantor Audio)

June 13 – June 19, 2013
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, read by Will Patton (Scholastic Audiobooks)
Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya, read by Robert Ramirez (Recorded Books)

June 20 – June 26, 2013
Once by Morris Gleitzman, read by Morris Gleitzman (Bolinda Audio)
Letter From Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr., read by Dion Graham (christianaudio)

June 27 – July 3, 2013
Rotters by Daniel Kraus, read by Kirby Heyborne (Listening Library)
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, read by Jim Weiss (Listening Library)

July 4 – July 10, 2013
Carter Finally Gets It by Brent Crawford, read by Nick Podehl (Brilliance Audio)
She Stoops to Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith, read by a Full Cast (L.A. Theatre Works)

July 11 – July 17, 2013
The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann, read by Peter Altschuler (HarperAudio)
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, read by Simon Vance (Tantor Audio)

July 18 – July 24, 2013
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers, read by Erin Moon (Recorded Books)
Hamlet by William Shakespeare, read by a Full Cast (L.A. Theatre Works)

July 25 – July 31, 2013
The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen, read by Charlie McWade (Scholastic Audiobooks)
The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain, read by Steve West (Blackstone Audio)

Aug 1 – Aug 7, 2013
Death Cloud by Andrew Lane, read by Dan Weyman (Macmillan Audio)
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, read by Ralph Cosham (Blackstone Audio)

Aug 8 – Aug 14, 2013
Enchanted by Alethea Kontis, read by Katherine Kellgren (Brilliance Audio)
Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll, read by Miriam Margolyes (Bolinda Audio)

Aug 15 – Aug 21, 2013
Sold by Patricia McCormick, read by Justine Eyre (Tantor Audio)
Let Me Stand Alone by Rachel Corrie, read by Tavia Gilbert (Blackstone Audio)

You can click on the above links for more information about each book.

To participate, be sure to download each of the selections during the scheduled week. The books will no longer be available after the last day of each week. You can visit the Sync site for more information and to request text message or email alerts each week.

Enjoy listening!


Caroline Kennedy School Library Visit & National Poetry Month

At Horace Mann School with Visitor Caroline Kennedy and Teacher Librarian Sheryl Weiss

I had the privilege this Tuesday of spending a super afternoon at Horace Mann School in Beverly Hills, California, participating in a visit by Caroline Kennedy to the school library. The library visit was hosted by Sheryl Weiss, a super teacher librarian, former colleague in Las Virgenes USD, and friend. Caroline Kennedy’s visit was part of her tour as Honorary Chair of National Library Week. She joined a fourth grade class visiting the library, and she, Sheryl, and the students talked about favorite books, reading, poetry, and what the library offers.

Ms. Kennedy, who has authored a number of books and just published her fourth poetry collection, Poems to Learn by Heart, related memories of sharing and memorizing poems when she was young. She encouraged the students to read and memorize poems as something that would stay with them throughout their lives. She talked about how poetry goes straight to the heart, and how poems remind her of her family and friends and how they shared poetry together. Now, when she hears a poem, it reminds her of the friends or family and the poem. I certainly related to her message; I have many fond memories of reading poems with my family as a child, and I can still recite them and enjoy remembering when I first learned them.

Sheryl Weiss and Caroline Kennedy share their experiences with books and poetry with Horace Mann 4th Grade class

Caroline Kennedy and Sheryl Weiss also talked to the class about favorite books, why they like to read, what they can do to encourage other people to read, and why the library is a different from the classroom. One student shared how in the library she reads whatever she likes, while in the class they have to stick to specific class subjects. Caroline Kennedy agreed that the library is a place where you can follow whatever you are interested in, reading for fun.

April is National Poetry Month. Please share a favorite poem with your family and friends. Here is a recording of me reciting “The Swing,” one of my favorite poems by Robert Lewis Stevenson, from his collection, A Child’s Garden of Verse.

Celebrate Your Love of Reading!

Read Across AmericaDid you know that March 2 is “Read Across America Day,” honoring Dr. Seuss’s Birthday, and March 6 is “World Read Aloud Day“? Both days celebrate our love of reading and the privilege of being literate and having access to great books.

Please celebrate these events at your Mira Costa High School Library by sharing one of our favorite books with us. Come to the library any day between March 1 and March 6, and have Mrs. Lofton photograph you with one of your favorite books. Your photo will be uploaded to the library Flickr site, and you will be entered in a drawing to win a bookstore gift certificate and be featured in a READ poster.

Both students and staff are invited to participate. So, please join us with a great book!

(Image mashup adapted from: &

New eBook Offerings!

The Mira Costa Library has just added 26 new ebooks to our collection from MackinVIA, a platform that allows you to read them on a PC, Mac, iPad, Android tablet, or Kindle, and to do so either online or by downloading them. The ebooks are also all licensed for an unlimited number of users, so any number of students can borrow and read a title simultaneously.  Sixteen of the new ebooks are on non-fiction titles, including seven volumes from the Decades in American History series, that I selected for our library. Ten are fiction classics, provided to us free of charge as part of our introduction to MackinVIA.

All of these books are listed in our library catalog with an EBOOK prefix and a link to the ebook on MackinVIA. You can also view all of the books through this direct link. Once you click the link, you will be asked to enter your school (which will pop in once you start typing Mira Costa) and a username and password. Check at the library or email me to get the username and password. If you email me, be sure to include your full name and grade so I can confirm that you are a Mira Costa student.  After you enter the login, you will see the MackinVIA opening screen with images of all our new books:

Hover over a title to learn more about it, add to your favorites, read online, or checkout to read online or download. To check a book out, you will have to register your own personal account. You can select any username and password you like. And, once you establish your own account, you can use that, rather than the generic Mira Costa one, to login in the future.

To download a book for offline reading, you will need to install the free MackinVIA application. Just follow the onscreen directions. You can also then highlight, check the dictionary, and add notes as you read. Contact me at the library if you need any help.

Please enjoy these new offerings and give me your feedback.


Pointing to Places in Books

book place signs
I was inspired a while back by a blog posting by Jennifer LaGarde (aka “library girl”) displaying the terrific book direction signs she made for her school library. As she explained, her inspiration came from Tamara Cox’s (aka “the e-literate librarian) sign post, who, I learned when I checked Tamara’s blog, was inspired in turn by a posting on Pinterest. (Unfortunately, that link is now missing, so I can’t give credit to it.) I knew the moment I saw both their photos that I wanted some signs for the Mira Costa Library. Our library’s decore hasn’t changed since the 1950’s and the colors are very drab. I’ve been trying to find any ways I can to liven it up. What better way than with colorful signs sharing special places in favorite books!

Fortunately for me, since I am definitely not an artist, we have some wonderful art teachers and art students on campus. I contacted art teacher Kate Martin with the idea and was delighted that she was interested. Our biggest challenge, which took us nearly a year to solve, was how we would make the signs adhere to the three round metal poles where I wanted to mount them. The solution finally came recently when one of my volunteers brought in velcro to mount some posters. The balsam wood is very light and the velcro is strong enough to hold it up and also flexible enough to adhere to the slightly rounded surface of the metal poles. Once we knew the velcro would work, Kate Martin, as well as her fellow art teacher, Valerie Park, created assignments to have their students make painted and wood burned signs.

Please enjoy them here, and, better yet, come into the library to see them.

Thanks so much to Jennifer LaGarde and Tamara Cox for the inspiration, to Kate Martin and Valerie Park for leading these projects, and to their students for all the beautiful, creative work. I feel so fortunate that the library can benefit from the generous sharing of a creative concept by some of my fellow librarians and from the talent of Mira Costa students.

And, in the spirit sharing, the photos I have taken of the signs are, of course, Creative Commons-licensed and available on the Mira Costa Flickr site.

Hear Some Free Halloween Horror

As a Halloween special, is inviting us to download Neil Gaiman’s latest exclusive Halloween short story, “Click-Clack the Rattlebag” for free. The story is both written and narrated by Neil Gaiman. And, for each download, will donate $1 to!” Do participate, both to enjoy a free audio story by Neil Gaiman, an extraordinary storyteller and narrator, and to build donations for This offer from lasts just until Halloween, so don’t delay. Visit this link to get it.

And, here are some great, free horror audiobook choices available from

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Dracula by Bram Stoker

The Works of Edgar Allan Poe

The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

I learned about these because I subscribe to the newsletter. If you enjoy audiobooks, I encourage you to subscribe also. Visit Learnoutloud and enter your email in the “Free Resource Email” box in the left sidebar.

Happy Halloween and Happy Listening!