Banned Books Week

Banned Books WeekBanned Books Week – coming up next week – is an annual celebration sponsored by the American Library Association which brings awareness to the importance of protecting the freedom to read what we choose, even when works may be unorthodox or unpopular. Unfortunately, many books have been challenged or banned in many schools and communities where individuals work to impose their own censorship ideas on others.

To inform our students about the importance of this right to access to books and information, the Mira Costa Library has a display of banned books and is holding a contest. Both students AND teachers can participate in the contest, which is based on a Google Form (so can be done from anywhere, and even on a mobile device) with 6 questions. It asks the participants to visit informative sites as they progress through it. All participants will be entered in a drawing to win a $10 gift certificate of their choice. Entries are due by Monday, October 5.

So, visit the library display, but go ahead and start the contest below, or visit this link – – or QR code:

BBW contest qr code

Oct. 20 – 31 at the Mira Costa Library

Here are some highlights of the last two weeks at the Mira Costa Library:

Lessons Taught


Laura Clarke’s 9th Grade English classes visited for a research project supporting their study of Mythology. We based the unit on a webquest I had developed a while ago and customized for her class. Each student researched a different god and prepared a slideshow to share with class members. As they did so, I provided lessons which included plagiarism avoidance, respect for copyright, using databases, evaluating websites, using EasyBib to create bibliographic citations and take good notes, and using the Google Slides Research Tool to find and credit copyright-friendly images. In addition, we had the students practice using Google Classroom.

And, probably the most fun portion of the unit, we had the students each create Twitter accounts for their gods and practice using this social media tool in the role of their gods dealing with today’s world. You will start to see their tweets over the next week at these Twitter hashtags: #ccmyths2, #ccmyths3, and #ccmyths4. (If you don’t have a Twitter account, just go to, and enter a search for each of those hashtags in turn.) I am a strong supporter of the educational value of Twitter and tweet frequently, both on behalf of the library and, very actively with my own account. This Twitter activity proved a learning experience for Ms. Clarke and me. For example, we found that tweets from new accounts can take several days to become searchable; so if you search for those hashtags, the tweets won’t show up right away. We found that some of the students had challenges establishing their accounts if they didn’t have a cell phone to receive an activation text. The good news is that I believe it is valuable for students to see that teachers are learners also, and don’t always get everything right. And, Ms. Clarke and I have valuable experience for tweaking this activity in the future.

Adam Geczi’s World History classes visited for another research lesson and work session. This time we focused on learning to use our EBSCO eBook Academic Collection and Academic Search Premier to find both ebooks and academic journals. They also learned how to use EasyBib to record bibliographic citations and take notes.

Shawn Chen’s 9th Grade English students visited for lessons and research time for their project researching topics related to their study of Oedipus. I helped them learn to find quality sources, record their sources and notes in EasyBib, and how to find and credit images using the Research Tools feature in Google Slides.

Glen Marx’s 12th Grade Government students visited for a lesson research skills, plagiarism avoidance, finding and evaluating quality sources, recording citations and notes in EasyBib, parenthetical citations, and more. You can see the slideshow I used here.

Anita Rossell’s AP Spanish Literature class visited for another session to work on their blogging project. This time, Sra. Rossell and I had them post about domestic violence. Here is the assignment we crafted for them, along with links to their postings.

In addition to these class visits for lessons, a number of other classes visited to continue research projects, take advantage of the computers, and select books.

SLJ Summit

While the library was taken over on Friday, October 24 for district hearing tests, I headed to St. Paul, Minnesota for School Library Journal’s fabulous Leadership Summit. Please read about it in this posting I devoted to that event.

Committee Work

As the new chair of the school Curriculum Committee, I attended a meeting of Ed Council on October 21, and participated in that body’s work setting goals and priorities for the Curriculum Committee, as well as the other two new standing committees for Calendar and for School Safety and Culture.

On October 28, I attended a meeting of the interdisciplinary group led by William Brown planning complimentary units related to water. I have volunteered to post group work on the library website, and began a resource list here.

I am delighted to be serving on the District Technology Committee again this year, and enjoyed attending the committee’s first meeting on October 22. I look forward to contributing to this group’s work.

Chess Table

I am thrilled with the library’s new chess table, made for us by Vaughn Rossi and Shane Taugner. See information and photos here.


Halloween is one of my favorite days in the library. I love seeing students both work and hang out in their costumes. This year, we also had a Halloween story contest leading up to Halloween, an idea developed by our Library Club. The club members wrote the starting sentences for four different scary stories. Then, students had the opportunity to contribute the next sentence to the story of their choice. We ended up with four entertaining narratives! One participant will be selected by random drawing for a gift certificate prize. Participants had a lot of fun writing their contributions. Here are some photos from Halloween and the story writing contest:

Created with flickr slideshow.

Manhattan Beach Public Library Bookmark Contest

Each year, the Manhattan Beach Public Library sponsors a Bookmark Contest. It’s not too late for Costa students to enter! Bring your design to the Mira Costa library by Thursday, October 24, and we will get it to the Manhattan Beach Library as a contest entry. We will also turn it into real bookmarks that will be distributed to students in our library. Mira Costa students love picking up bookmarks designed by fellow classmates when they borrow library books. So, please click Bookmark_Contest_Form to print out a bookmark form, and design one today!

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: &

Banned Books Week Celebration & Contest September 30 – October 6

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read has been observed during the last week of September each year since 1982. This annual event, sponsored by the American Library Association, reminds Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted.

Banned Books Week emphasizes the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them.

Please check these links for more information about Banned Books Week:

American Library Association Banned Books Week Announcement

Banned Books Week: Celebrating 30 Years of Liberating Literature interactive  timeline display

Books Challenged or Banned in 2010-2011 by Robert Doyle

And view this great video (link)

Please visit the Mira Costa Library to see our Banned Books Week Display, and participate in our Banned Books Week Contest. The contest requires you to answer 14 easy questions about frequently banned or challenged books. You can download a copy of the contest form here. Submissions are due by Wednesday, October 10. Check the links above to help you with clues.


Teen Read Month Continues …

October isn’t over yet, and it’s not too late to participate in Teen Read Month at the Mira Costa Library. Don’t forget to visit TLC: The Library Club’s Scary Books Display, then borrow a book from the Scary Books display or any library book, and earn a chance to guess the number of candies in the candy jar, and you could be the winner of the whole jar!

Also, don’t miss these deadlines:

  • Create a bookmark for the Manhattan Beach Public Library Bookmark Contest. Entries are due to our library by October 31.
  • Create a poster for California School Library Association’s @YourLibrary Contest. Entries due to our library by October 31.
  • Create a a visual photo version of your favorite book for YALSA’s Teen Read Week Photo Contest. Entries are due October 31.

And, to help you get ready for Halloween, here’s a great scary book you can listen to online: Master Storyteller Neil Gaiman reading of his Newbery-award winning thriller, The Graveyard Book, during a national tour, including his answers to audience questions. Here’s the link. Be prepared to be spooked!

If you aren’t sure yet if you want to read or listen to the book, check out the trailer at the top of this posting. You’re sure to be hooked!


Mira Costa Teen Read Month

October 16-22 is YALSA’s (the Young Adult Library Services Association) Teen Read Week Celebration, an annual national event sponsored by the Young Adult Division of the American Library Association. At Mira Costa, we are expanding this celebration to the entire month of October, with a whole variety of great activities:

  • Scary Books Exhibit. TLC: The Library Club, our school library service club, has organized a Scary Books exhibit. Come visit and  borrow a scary book to get yourself ready for Halloween!
  • Borrow a book from the Scary Books display or any library book between now and Halloween, and earn a chance to enter TLC: The Library Club’s candy guess contest. Guess the number of candies in the candy jar, and you could be the winner of the whole jar!
  • Enter more contests and win prizes!: Create a bookmark for the Manhattan Beach Public Library Bookmark Contest (entries due to our library October 28). Create a poster for California School Library Association’s @YourLibrary Contest (entries due to our library October 31). Create a a visual photo version of your favorite book for YALSA’s Teen Read Week Photo Contest (entries due October 31).
  • Join The Library Club members as they meet with other library clubs across the U.S. during Lunch and Period 5 on October 19 for a virtual book club discussion of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games. Ask at the library for more information.

Library Bookmark and Poster Contests

Do you like to draw or paint? Would you like to promote your local public and school library? Then, please participate in one or both of these upcoming contests: County of Los Angeles Public Library Bookmark Contest

  • Our local Manhattan Beach Public Library is currently sponsoring its annual bookmark contest. The theme this year is “Picture the Adventure – Read.”  Contest winners are honored at a ceremony at a Manhattan Beach City Council Meeting, receive a certificate honoring their work, shake hands with the mayor, and get their picture taken. Afterwards, they are celebrated at the library with gift bags of treats, Barnes & Noble gift cards and 50 copies of their bookmark design to share with friends and family. In addition, the Mira Costa Library will make copies of all the bookmarks to distribute at our library. Entries are due to the Manhattan Beach Public Library by October 29. If you would like to submit your entry at the Mira Costa Library, please do so by October 28. Pick up a printed contest form at the Mira Costa Library or the Manhattan Beach Library, or download the Bookmark Contest Entry Form 2011 here.
@YourLibrary Contest
  • Each year, California School Library Association (CSLA) sponsors a student poster contest of posters promoting the importance of school libraries. Your artwork may be displayed on the CSLA website, as well as used on CSLA publications and products promoting school libraries. And, all Mira Costa entries will be featured in our library and on our website. Winners receive up to $100 in prize money. Please consider helping to promote school libraries by designing a 11″ x 17″ or 12” x 18” poster that incorporates the theme of @yourlibrary. For more information, talk to Mrs. Lofton or check  this information and entry form on the CSLA website. Entries are due by November 1.

School Library Month & Creative Writing Contests

school library monthApril is School Library Month. In honor of this event, AASL (The American Association of School Librarians), a Division of the American Library Association, and and a free online community for teen writing, are offering four teen writing contests. There will be a new contest each week, and the judges will be four great Young Adult authors:  Alyson Noel, Lauren Oliver, Paolo Bacigalupi, and Gayle Forman.

Here’s information from the Figment site: “Each week in April a new contest prompt in a different genre of creative fiction will be announced. Figment users will vote to select the finalists and then that week’s guest author judge will select the winner. Winners of each weekly contest will receive autographed books from that week’s judge and one grand prize winner will receive a Kindle. All finalists and winners will be featured on the Figment and AASL websites.” For week 1, Gayle Forman, author of If I Stay, is the judge. Click here to learn details about this week’s contest, with entries due by April 10. I know it’s spring break, but don’t worry. If you miss this one, there will be three more coming this month.