October Book Club

It was a small group for this month’s High School Book Club at the end of a very busy week! We had a good discussion though. Ms Melinson is reading Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead and listening to Pachinko by Min Jin Lee on audiobook. Samhita has been “indulging” in classics that she loved from years past including the whole series of Anne of Green Gables. Ms Melinson has a former student who refers to these books as “comfort books”–similar to comfort foods, they soothe the soul. Ms Reynolds is reading The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson. She says she is learning more about Churchill and that his wife is a stronger character than some historians have depicted her. 

Ms Melinson asked if anyone has had any changes in their reading habits during this pandemic as she has been finding it a great relief to listen to books at the end of a day rather than have to use her eyes to read. Eliana says she’s been reading a lot less due the large amount of work she needs to do each day. Samhita is reading more to escape and using those “comfort books” to do so. Ms Reynolds is liking audiobooks before bed, but realized she needs to set a time so she doesn’t fall asleep and miss a few chapters! She’s also reading books that have been assigned to classes and really enjoyed Poet X. Fun fact: some years there is a book so popular at that it gets mentioned at every book club meeting for a year as more and more people read it—Book Thief was one of these. Poet X seems to be moving into that category as well!

Capital Books, which is where the library orders most of their books, has finished renovation on their second floor adding more books as well as the Flamingo Lounge. The Lounge is not open yet, but Ms Melinson is looking forward to a cup of tea one evening while overlooking the Crest Theater marquee in the Flamingo Lounge as soon as this pandemic is under control. In the meantime, Capital Books is allowing people to schedule private appointments for their families to shop together in the empty shop. If you ever wanted to be locked into a bookstore, this is your chance (although I don’t think they actually lock you in;-)

Have you heard the back story for Jennifer Lynn Barnes’s book, Inheritance Game? When the author Ms Barnes was in college, her parents decided to build a dream home, and they asked her what she’d want in it. Of course she said she wanted a secret passage (because who wouldn’t?) and her dad built it for her. Their library, which is filled to the brim with books, has one bookcase that disappears into the wall to reveal a secret passage. She always wanted to write a book that included something like that, and now she has! This book is available as an ebook in Sora if you would like to check it out.

Banned Books Week 2020

It’s Banned Books Week! We celebrate Banned Books Week by having the freedom to read what we choose. The theme for this year is “Censorship is a dead end. Find your freedom to read.” Visit the following padlet for information on frequent reasons why books are challenged or banned from schools and libraries as well as some related activities.

Made with Padlet

Visit this padlet for a list of frequently challenged and banned books. Also featured are books for middle and high about censorship, available for curbside pickup or as an ebook.

Made with Padlet

September Book Club

Welcome back! Our first Book Club of the new school took place earlier this month – virtually. Whether remote or in-person, Book Club will happen!

Ms. Melinson started us off by sharing what she read over the summer. She listened to The Poet X audiobook (those who have listened to it agree that it’s incredible. It’s read by the author, Elizabeth Acevedo – check it out on Overdrive) for the high school read. She also started reading Elizabeth Acevedo’s second book, With the Fire On High, and is enjoying the book’s setting of Philadelphia where she grew up. The book takes place just blocks from where her mother grew up. Ms. Melinson finally read Educated: A Memoir. She found it compelling, if possibly unreliable, but is on the fence about whether or not she enjoyed it.

Top to bottom: With the Fire on High, The Poet X, Me and White Supremacy, The Fire Next Time, The Fire This Time, Begin Again, Good Talk

Ms. Melinson also completed Eddie Moore’s 21 Day Racial Equity Challenge, which inspired her to-be-read pile: Olivia read Eating People is Wrong. She liked the first few pages, but overall found it to be outdated and wrong. She also read Confessions of a Mask and liked how well-written and poetic it was. Mrs. Strong read The Dark Knight Returns graphic novel and didn’t like it, mainly because of the art. Samhita read The Starless Sea and couldn’t put it down. She re-read Dread Nation because the sequel was recently released and The Ballad of Snakes and Songbirds, which she described as “really good and really long.” Eliana read Divergent and started the sequel, Insurgent. She also read To Kill a Mockingbird, but found it kind of boring.

Mr. Wells read Station Eleven, and found its premise a little too close to home currently (it’s about a global pandemic). When he was looking for options for the all high school read, he read I’ll Give You the Sun and thought it to be “un-nuanced”. Mr. Wells also read Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, describing it as a thoughtful and humanizing approach to war.

Then Ms. Melinson asked how people are doing with reading during the pandemic. Some said it was easier due to having more free time, while others said they actually had more to do so reading was hard to find time for. One person responded that reading is easier for escapism because of the lack of activities and sports on tv while another person said they use reading as a way to rest from all of the screen time.

For more information on the books we discussed and the books we’ve discussed at previous book clubs, check out our Goodreads page!

Welcome to the Matthews Library! (plus info on Curbside Pickup)

Use this form to fill out your request for curbside pickup. You may fill it out now, but curbside services don’t begin until Saturday, September 12th. Once it begins, curbside services will take place on Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. – noon excluding school breaks. Be sure to place your order by Friday evening.

More Information on Curbside Pick Up

The library is using the Remind app for instant communication on Saturdays about the status of your order. If the book(s) you’ve requested are checked out or otherwise unavailable, you will be contacted via the Remind app on Saturday. You will be added to the Remind app by the assistant librarian once you’ve submitted your curbside pick up request. Remind will then send you an email with instructions for joining the Matthews Library.

Your book(s) will be available for pickup on the planter benches directly across from the library doors in a bag with your name on it.

Book(s) are due back four weeks from the day you pick them up. If you would like to keep your book(s) longer, please email Ms. Melinson and Mrs. Strong at library@saccds.org You may return your books Saturdays between 9:15 a.m. and noon by placing them on the cart in front of the library doors.

Summer Reading

Hi, friends! We hope you’re enjoying the start of your summer. Ms. Melinson and I wanted to remind you about summer reading! Summer reading lists for 6-12 grades are up and ready for viewing here on our summer reading page. You’ll also find some additional goodies on that page like free ebooks and audiobooks you can read and listen to all summer long.

Additionally, Ross over at Capital Books made these handy order forms for one-stop shopping if you want to support local while choosing your Middle School Summer Reading. They are also currently open for shopping (wear a mask!) You can even reserve the store for a family visit if you’d rather shop with just your loved ones. Check their website for details.

6th Grade List (don’t forget to add one of the required books from your English teacher’s list located here).

7th Grade List
8th Grade List
Be sure to follow us on Instagram for more reading recommendations. We hope you have a fun summer filled with many good books!

May Book Club

We held our last Book Club of the school year this week. Students and staff shared what books they’ve been reading and what they hope to read over the summer.

Ms. Melinson shared that she’s been reading Woven in Moonlight and chose it for its beautiful cover. She’s also been working her way through Vegetables Unleashed: A Cookbook. Samhita read Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup. She said it was really interesting to see how people were tricked for so long. Doctora Portillo said she’s been reading student’s work from her Spanish classes. Mrs. Strong has been reading Upright Women Wanted, a fun western that takes place in the future. Mr. Wells’ stayed up late reading The Heights and enjoyed its ironic humor. Erin has been reading Harry Potter in French. She says it easier to translate some of the harder French words because she previously read the books in English. Erin has also been reading When Women Ruled the World. She likes how it relates modern history to ancient Egypt.

For summer, Ms. Melinson plans to read Educated for her alma mater’s book club. She also wants to listen to The Poet X because it’s read by the author. Some other books she’s excited about for summer are: The Nickel Boys, Internment, With the Fire on High, The Fountains of Silence, Parable of the Sower, Dangerous Alliance (written by Country Day  alumna, Jennieke Cohen), and more Joy Harjo poetry (current and future U.S. Poet Laureate).

Doctora Portillo plans to read The Chronicle of Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. She says it’s short, but complex. Doctora is also looking forward to reading How to Be an Anti-Racist. Mr. Wells is planning on reading The Hobbit with his son and Station Eleven (with himself). Erin plans to read and/or listen to more books in French. Samhita has been waiting for a good time to start The Starless Sea and might also read The Night Circus after Ms. Melinson described it.

For all the books we’ve read this year and in years past, check out our Goodreads page. Happy reading!

Week in Review: Poetry & Free Audiobooks for the Summer!

For the month of April, which is National Poetry Month, we’ve been sharing our favorite poetry and novels in verse on our Instagram page. These books can be found on our Overdrive ebook collection here. As some of you might know, one of the events we do to celebrate poetry is Poem in Your Pocket Day – students read favorite or original poems (and often, poems thought up on the spot) and then get a piece of candy. Because we’re all at home this year, students submitted videos of themselves reading poetry. Check them out below:

We shared a video of Grace reading a poem on our Instagram yesterday to close out National Poetry Month. Thanks Anika, Kai, and Grace for sharing your poems!

Audiobook Sync shares free audiobooks every summer and they’ve kicked off with Monday’s Not Coming and The 57 Bus, both books highly recommended by Ms. Melinson and Mrs. Strong.

To access these books, you’ll need the Sora app from Overdrive. Follow this link for instructions on how to get Sora and for answers to other questions you may have. If you need help, email Ms. Melinson or Mrs. Strong.

Audiobooks are only available to add to your Sora account for 1 week so be sure to sign up for email or text alerts for when new books are released. Once you add a book to your Sora shelf, that’s where it stays; borrowed audiobooks don’t expire.

Check below for the list of audiobooks to expect this summer and when they’ll be available:

Happy listening!

Week in Review: What’s been happening?

Hi, friends! We hope you had a relaxing Spring Break and have been adjusting to the new schedule. What’s been going on in the virtual library?

7th graders in Mr. Crabb’s History class completed their March Madness projects. For March Madness, students read historical fiction books and then write essays about what they read. The essays then go head to head in brackets, competing for the #1 spot. Congratulations to Mia G. for winning top spot with her essay on The Lost Boys!

At the beginning of the week, the first ever virtual Sophomore Symposium took place with the top 10 presenting on a multitude of topics. The winners were announced on Friday and congratulations are in order to:

  • 1st Place – Elliot C., Sacramento: A Study of Racial Housing Patterns
  • 2nd Place – Sanjana A., Immunotherapy: The Ultimate Answer to Cancer
  • 3rd Place – Miles M., The History of the Japanese in the United States

and to all the presenters:

  • Arjin C., The Future: GMOs
  • Evan G., Flooding in Sacramento: A Long History
  • Nihal G., Nuclear Power: Is It Viable?
  • Tina H., Opening the World of Contemporary Art
  • Arijit T., Genetically Modified Crops: The Future of Food
  • Arikta T., California Cuisine
  • Daisy Z., Sacramento Water Resource and Quality

One of our favorite events is Music in the Library and on Friday we “hosted” 5th grade and orchestra teacher Mrs. Hoyos (on cello), her husband (on flute), and her daughter (on piano). It was a lovely treat. They played:

1- The Swan by C. Saint-Saens
2-Waltz Op. 64 C#m by F. Chopin
3-Berceuse by G. Faure
4-Alleluja by W. A. Mozart
5-Arioso by J.S. Bach
6-Budapesto by Carey Cheney
7-At Twilight by W.H. Squire
8-Sicilienne by M. Paradis.
View it here and brighten your day!

Week in Review: Unusual Advice from Your Librarian

I love to read. To which you might say, duh, Mrs. Strong, you work in a library. You don’t understand. I’ve loved to read since I was able to. Reading has always been my escape. When my parents divorced when I was 8, who did I turn to? Ramona Quimby. When I switched schools for the umpteenth time and didn’t know anyone, where did I go? To the library. What did I do when my infant daughter would awake in the middle of the night and I couldn’t go back to sleep? I’d read (by the way, reading the The Fault in Our Stars two months postpartum is not recommended – much ugly crying ensued).

Libraries are my happy place and reading is my go to when I want to escape. Sure, I’ve gotten busier over the years and don’t read as much as I’d like, but books are dependable friends who don’t judge. They just wait patiently for you to pick them up again. In these unusual times, I’m relying on that patience more than ever.

You see, I want to read right now. I need that escapism to balance out the steady stream of news I’m consuming all. day. long (Side note – don’t fall too far into the news. It’s not good for your mental health. And stick with trusted, reliable, and unbiased sources.) But I can’t read right now. I keep trying to, but I can’t focus on the plot when I have intrusive thoughts rudely interrupting. And then, of course, I feel guilty for not taking advantage of this “extra time” I have – never mind the fact that what “extra time” I have now goes to planning for and teaching my 2nd grader while also navigating how to work from home.

So what does all of this mean for you, dear students of Country Day? I’m here to give you some unusual librarian advice: it’s okay if you can’t or don’t want to read right now. That’s right, your assistant librarian is telling you it’s okay not to read. Don’t feel like you have to fill your “extra time” if you’re not up for it. These uncertain times are stressful and what’s important is taking care of yourself. The books will still be here when you’re ready for them.

In the mean time, I have a few alternative suggestions.

  1. Poetry: Ms. Melinson is a big fan of poetry and uses it as a literary break between books. Poetry can be short and easy to pick up. Just read a page and put it back down. Sometimes a poem can really speak to you in a concise but powerful way, that a novel would take a much longer time to get to.
  2. Audiobooks: audiobooks are a great alternative when you don’t feel like reading. I love audiobooks, especially ones that feature a full cast production. We have a robust e-audiobook collection here chock full of new and popular titles. The public library also has a huge collection.
  3. Podcasts: friends, podcasts are incredible. There are podcasts for every subject out there. Mr. G introduced me to a great podcast called 99% Invisible. Episodes focus on “the things we don’t think about — the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world.” If you like learning about anything and everything, this is the podcast for you.

If you’re not having trouble reading, great! Here are some lists for you if need suggestions – each word has its own link, so check them all out! If you need a refresher on how to access our ebook collection, here’s the link to Overdrive. Select Sacramento Country Day School from the list and log in with your username (first name initial + last name + graduation year) and password. If you don’t remember your password, it can be found in CavNet under groups in MS Library or HS Library depending on your grade level. More detailed instructions can be found here.

As always, Ms. Melinson and I are here for you if you need book suggestions, if there’s an ebook or audiobook you want to read and you need us to purchase it for you, or if you just need a virtual cup of tea. Until then, we hope you have a restful and restorative Spring Break.

Week in Review: It’s a Dog’s Life

Well, it’s day 403 since we’ve been quarantined at home –

Wait, what? It’s only been two weeks?

Library dog Ginny is loving her humans being home. Here she is being read to by library assistant Mary. She’s probably dreaming about that hamburger pillow being real and taking a bite!

In other news, Ms. Melinson’s advisory was inspired by one of their classmates and all showed up to the advisory Zoom meeting sporting hoodies and sunglasses. And then they shared the best book they’ve been reading lately (and also Olivia shared one she doesn’t recommend). What’s the best book you’ve read lately? Let us know by Sunday night, 3/30 and we’ll be picking a winner the following Monday. As for Ms. Melinson’s advisory, who knows what they’ll look like at the next advisory meeting!


Shae sent in a photo of his dog for our virtual dog wall. Keep sending us your dog photos so we can add them to our virtual wall of dogs display.