April 2021

Volume 2.6

Welcome to the North Carolina School Library Media Association's Monthly newsletter!

Questions? Contact bitsygriffin@ncslma.org

In this edition:


Cindy Sturdivant

NCSLMA President


Congratulations on another month down in a crazy year. As I was planning for this newsletter, I was reminded that April is National School Library Month. While school librarians should be appreciated every day of the year, it definitely feels like a month full of recognition is called for this year! For 2021 ALA has three theme options:

  • School Libraries Transform Learning

  • Because School Libraries Empower Students

  • Everyone Belongs @ Your School Library

While I firmly believe that school libraries always transform learning and empower students (and staff), I am not sure there has ever been a time in which we demonstrated that more than since March 2020. I am amazed by the stories I have heard from librarians across our state regarding how they have adapted services to support students and teachers during the pandemic. As more schools return to in person learning, I know many students will be glad for the easier access this provides to their school libraries. I know for many students, for a variety of reasons, the library is a place where they truly feel safe and feel that they belong. This feeling of belonging comes from our attitudes, our book choices (yes, representation does matter), and our programming. Thanks for all you do to transform learning, empower students, and make sure students belong! Happy National School Library Month!


Call to Present Now Open!

The 2021 NCSLMA Conference is only half a year away! We are excited for the opportunity to Reflect, Refocus, Reconnect, and Rejuvenate as we come back together at the Benton Convention Center in Winston-Salem for our Oct. 7-9 conference.

The call to present is now open on the Events section of the NCSLMA website and we are accepting applications for 45-minute concurrent sessions and 90-minute mini-workshops. Mini-workshops might include hands-on, interactive, and/or tech-based sessions. The call to present closes on Friday, May 14.

The conference website is now live and will be updated regularly with additional information as it becomes available.


Terms begin January 2022



The APRIL NCSLMA Commendation goes to:


Read to Success Program

The Glencoe UMC Read to Success Program provides books for all 1st-5th grade students at Bethany Elementary School. Students have the opportunity to pick two books of their choice, three times throughout the school year. This year it was in November, February, and April. The books are purchased directly from Books4School. The kids are always so excited to get their very own books to take home and read with their families. Additionally, many volunteers from the church serve as reading buddies to students who need extra help. They meet with students weekly to listen to students read and provide a low-stress environment for students to practice their reading skills.

Submit your commendation for an organization that supports reading and/or NC school libraries!


Contact Us:

Need to contact someone with NCSLMA? Here's the

NCSLMA Board Directory

Piedmont East Director


Click on the above graphic for a PDF with live links



Upcoming Events Highlights

Adventure Bound Books, an independent bookstore in Morganton, is excited to collaborate with the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) with several virtual author events in the Reader Meet Writer Series. This is an ongoing series that features interviews and readings with bestselling and upcoming authors in an online format. The month of April will feature conversations with several talented authors, beginning on April 1st with Denny S. Bryce and her book, Wild Women and the Blues. A novel about Jazz-Age Chicago, Wild Women and the Blues follows two individuals, a chorus girl and a film student, as their stories unfold nearly a hundred years apart.

On April 8th, the Reader Meet Writer Series will feature Clay McLeod Chapman, author of Whisper Down the Lane, a true crime-based horror novel.

Stacy D. Flood, author of The Salt Fields, will be featured on April 13th. The Salt Fields is a novella that follows four passengers as they travel through many different locations and events that will determine the course of their lives.

The series will continue into May, with author Josephine Caminos Oría and Sobremesa: A Memoir of Food and Love in Thirteen Courses, on May 6th. This memoir is a multigenerational coming-of-age tale of a daughter and the many tableside chats that shaped her.

Adventure Bound Books is also excited to celebrate National Poetry Month in April by partnering with Redhawk Publications to promote North Carolina-based poets, Les Brown, Al Maginnes and Shelby Stephenson in two virtual author interviews as they discuss their works and read samples of their poetry. These events will take place online on April 1st and 29th. The winner of the Celebrating Poetry Contest sponsored by Adventure Bound Books, Redhawk Publications, and the Morganton Cultural Arts Commission will be announced during the April 29th event.

Adventure Bound Books will also be celebrating Independent Bookstore Day on Saturday, April 24th. The celebration will include an Indie Author Showcase with several independent and local authors as well as online events including a special session with Bookstore Day Author Ambassador, Glennon Doyle. Follow us on social media to stay update.

For more information about any of these events, please visit adventureboundbooks.com or email events@adventureboundbooks.com.

Virtual Author Event Opportunities for Schools

We're excited to partner with the team at Gold Leaf Literary who helps host amazing authors for virtual author events at elementary and middle schools. We wanted to extend the opportunity to have your school join us for upcoming events with authors Ruth Behar and Joanne O'Sullivan. If your school would like to participate, please email events@adventureboundbooks.com to receive details on date and joining the events. And while the events link to book purchases from Adventure Bound Books, we're happy to help you locate an independent bookstore closer to your school that you can support while supporting these amazing authors. More information on the two authors currently scheduled is listed below:

Ruth Behar is the author of two middle grade novels, the award-winning Lucky Broken Girl and most recently Letters from Cuba, forthcoming as a Spanish language edition, Cartas de Cuba, from Vintage Español. Ruth was born in Havana and grew up in New York. As a cultural anthropologist, poet, writer for young people, teacher, and public speaker, Ruth brings compassion to her quest to understand the depth of the human experience. She has lived in Spain and Mexico, and returns often to Cuba to build bridges around culture, literature, and Jewish life. Ruth currently lives with her husband in Michigan and is the Victor Haim Perera Collegiate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan.

Lucky Broken Girl (for which Ruth won the Pura Belpré Author Medal) is a story of resilience and vulnerability through the eyes of Ruthie, a Cuban-Jewish immigrant in 1960s New York. Letters from Cuba is historical fiction about Esther, a Jewish immigrant who escapes from Poland to start a new life in Cuba on the eve of WWII. Both stories portray strong female main characters and deal with the intersection of multiple cultures.

Joanne O'Sullivan is the author of many books for young readers, including Migration Nation, 101 Ways You Can Help Save the Planet Before You’re 12!, 101 Places You Gotta See Before You’re 12!, and her most recent, The Great and the Terrible: The World's Most Glorious and Notorious Rulers and How They Got Their Names. Her debut novel, Between Two Skies was a Southern Book Prize finalist, a Texas Lone Star pick, an ABA Best Book for Young Readers 2018, a NYPL recommended read, a Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Book of the Year 2018, and a Junior Library Guild selection. Joanne lives in North Carolina with her husband and two children.

Between Two Skies tells the story of Evagaline, a teenager finding herself in the midst of Hurricane Katrina. It deals with themes of class and politics, exile and belonging, and the pain of being cast out of your home. It is appropriate for older audiences (12 - 17). The Great and the Terrible is an engaging illustrated anthology of some of the world’s greatest and most interesting rulers. It is appropriate for younger audiences (8 -12), especially those fascinated by history. Joanne has presentations for both books.


Visit all of our 2020 conference Vendors and Sponsors!


Piedmont Laureate Kelly Starling Lyons Inspires Students at R.N. Harris Elementary at Read Across America Author Visit

By Esther D. Glenn, Durham Public Schools Media Coordinator, R.N. Harris Integrated Arts Core Knowledge Magnet Elementary School, Durham, North Carolina

Raleigh-based author and Piedmont Laureate, Kelly Starling Lyons, shared her inspiring books with the R.N. Harris Elementary community on March 2, 2021 for Read Across America Day. The author visit was made possible by a grant from the Durham Public Schools Foundation in collaboration with the R.N. Harris PTA. The event was publicized in part by a Smore newsletter showcasing children’s books by the author.

Starling Lyons engaged young learners with Ty’s Travels asking sensory questions which are important to help students read into the illustrations of the story. Starling Lyons continued to stimulate the senses with One More Dino On The Floor, a book that offers a dancing perspective for proof of the existence of dinosaurs on our planet.

Starling Lyons engaged the upper elementary students with her book, Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Phil Freelon by asking, “What does it take to build a dream?” Students were inquisitive of her career as a writer and the writing process she takes in creating her published stories.Vanessa Shively shared that Starling Lyons visit inspired her to want to be an author saying, “I think that this [is] a person I can really, really really relate to!”

Sharing history was also fulfilling in this author visit. The author explained the influence of Bené Millerny of Washington, D.C. which is the inspiration for Tiara’s Hat Parade, a story about a daughter’s admiration of her mother’s artistry in hat design. She also enlightened everyone on the Adrinkra symbols in the illustrations of the 2020 Caldecott Medal Honor, Going Down Home with Daddy.

Our EC resource teacher shared that several of the fifth grade girls want to read Starling Lyons books. Teachers from first to fifth grades sent me emails thanking me for organizing the author visit. Students sent me messages including one from a fourth grader that said, “...thank you for getting her to come to us--you are the best and I hope you know that I learned that you can do anything only if you work for it.” A fifth grader commented, “Thank you! For Mrs. Lyons, my first time actually meeting a real famous author. Thank you so much we all appreciate it.”

When I shared Vanessa Shively’s comments that the author visit inspired Vanessa to want to be an author with R.N. Harris Principal Brown, she said, “...exposure is so important. It is important that we provide as many opportunities as we can to expose, enlighten, and hopefully inspire our students.”

Coordinating the inaugural Carolina Panthers Regional Bee

By Anne F. Wood, Media Specialist at Fred Anderson Elementary, Pamlico County Schools

We know that Media Coordinators wear several hats. We often serve as testing coordinators, webpage managers, social media experts, copyright queens/kings, teachers, substitutes, yearbook advisors, event planners, digital literacy specialists, spelling bee coordinators, Battle of the Books leaders, and so much more. No longer are we just considered, “The Book Lady/Gentleman”. One of my favorite events of the year is the Scripps Spelling Bee. I have a passion for putting together school-wide, district-level, and regional events. In recent months, that passion for event coordination has led to one of the most amazing career opportunities.

Recently, a surge of dropped local sponsorships for regional area bees left many districts, charter schools, independent schools, and homeschool students without any bridge to compete at a National level in the Scripps Spelling Bee. My local sponsor was one of the areas to lose sponsorship. Understanding the current climate and situations, I informed my students that the school bee would be the final level of competition. However, in November, a sponsor was named for our area along with over 110 other areas of NC & SC...The Carolina Panthers!

The Community Relations Director, Mr. Riley Fields, spearheads their 3rd and Goal Literacy program, as well as the Regional Spelling Bee now, reached out for my thoughts and initial planning of their inaugural Regional Spelling Bee. Little did we know that the amount of organization, communication, and planning that would go into a dual-state event that emcompasses public, private, charter, and homeschools. After months of planning and preparation, we held The Carolina Panthers Regional Bee on March 20th and 21st at the Atrium Health Dome in Charlotte, NC. Students from across North and South Carolina competed with their respective state peers to crown a champion and to qualify for a seat to Nationals.

It just goes to show that there are many aspects of the Media Specialist role that can be turned into amazing opportunities when combined with a passion. In true educator fashion, I am already reflecting on this year’s event and am looking forward to 2022’s Regional Bee with the Carolina Panthers.


  • John Murray-Head of the Brookstone School-pronouncer, Jill Tepper-spouse of The Carolina Panthers owner, David Tepper, Anne Wood (me)-Bee Coordinator-head judge, 
  • Kelly Schultz-NCDPI ELA 6-8-Judge and record keeper Me at the stadium with the winner’s photoshoot
  • Me with opening remarks for NC’s Bee on Sunday
  • NC’s bee set up in the Atrium Health Dome


Building a Community of Readers, Building a Tradition

by Dawn Simpson, School Librarian, Smyrna Elementary and Down East Middle Schooldawn.simpson@carteretk12.org

On this, our third year of implementing our One School, One Book parent engagement reading event (funded by Title I plus some other sources for additional community copies), our school partnered with our two feeder elementary schools to engage our whole community reading the same book aloud at home at the same time. This year’s title was Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library.

I am sharing our story not because it is a new idea, but it may be a new to you idea. I read about the concept in a professional magazine years ago and upon researching found the non-profit organization Read To Them (readtothem.org) who helps streamline the process with book selection categories and provides organizational and promotional materials. The hardest part is selecting the book for your school. My three Must-Dos are-

  1. Get your administration on board to build excitement and funding permissions.
  2. Know your audience (your school families)
  3. Read the entire book prior to selecting (you and several other staff members with different age level focus) I was three-fourths through a book when I decided it would not fit our age group.

Depending on the book length, the reading event can take two to four weeks. I would suggest for a first time a two-to-three-week selection. End with them wanting more! Our school chose winter dates because of fewer daylight hours and more time at home. Instead of our normal assembly, we kicked off this community event with a Google Meet with all the schools and the superintendent to reveal the book we would be reading. Each student received a copy of the book plus helpful read aloud strategies with the reading schedule. Families shared photos of their time together, which solidified a focus on the importance of literacy and reading aloud. As a reminder of our tradition, the photos are printed into a collage with book of the year and hung in the main hallway. When families are reading at home, and the school family is also reading, it builds excitement about a common shared experience. Even if the book ends up not being their favorite, the discussions are there as to why. That is authentic reading- what lifelong readers do! One of my goals is exposing the students to various genres because it is rather like trying new foods- you cannot truly say you do not like brussel sprouts if you have never tasted them. Try science-fiction, you may like it! If not, that is OK too! With technology more at hand, there is a wide variety of engagement opportunities you can dream up. We were fortunate to be able to host the author Chris Grabenstein for free to close our event. I have a newfound passion for contacting book publishers to see what opportunities are available to connect students (and staff) to authors.

I have been a part of education for many years and when you can get the families involved, you make a tremendous impact. You may be asking, what about the families who will not participate? That is going to happen no matter how hard you try. The reward outweighs the risk. I have had families get on the phone and read with others! Chapter recordings are possible if you follow copyright permissions and postings. Some publishers ask that the entire book not be posted together. Some make sure you only post in closed student portals. Some may not share permission. There is a fine line about trying your best to make sure younger students have the access and providing a mass opportunity for adults to just have kids “go listen” to a recording. Obviously, you must revisit your goal- and ours was family engagement. It is a success even if you reach a few new families every year. I had a father stop in the library when they picked up devices and materials in August this year to ask, “Are we doing the whole school reading event this year?” Absolutely, if ever there was a year we needed it- it was this one!

WGHS March Madness Bookathon




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Would you like to contribute to the next NCSLMA News & Notes?

We want to hear from you! Do you have an upcoming multi-school or district event, were you recognized in some way, are you involved in the coolest collaboration, or did you contribute in some other spectacular way that shows the value of school libraries and librarians? We know you did! So we want to share the fabulous things school librarians are doing across the state! Please submit links to articles, published materials, and/or graphics to Bitsy Griffin (bitsygriffin@ncslma.org). Materials should be "copy and paste" ready. Submissions will be edited and published at the discretion of the NCSLMA News & Updates Editorial Team.

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