Suspicious Scoops

This week we hosted the 8th grade for their “Suspicious Scoops” unit on misinformation–how to recognize it and fact check it. At the beginning of the week we examined confirmation bias “our subconscious tendency to seek and interpret information and other evidence in ways that affirm our existing beliefs, ideas, expectations, and/or hypotheses”* as well as satire, conspiracy theory, the differences between mis- and disinformation, and what “post truth” means (“when objective facts are less influential than personal beliefs and emotion.”**) We also discussed click bait, hoaxes, media bias, and altered images/videos including deep fake technology. Then we balanced all of that with skills we all have to separate reliable from unreliable sources including common sense, searching skills, lateral reading, and OPVL, a way of looking at historical information to examine its origin, purpose, value, and limitations.

On Wednesday people at High School Book Club (more here) shared their wishes for types of books they were looking to read over the break–let us know if you recommend a favorite series, mystery/thriller, realistic fiction where you can learn about and connect to others who live differently than you, or just a really great read.

During Thursday’s meeting, Ms Melinson’s Advisory started their gingerbread houses that they will finish next week.

Tenth graders have been working hard on their Sophomore Project papers that are due next week. Good luck, Sophomores!

*from Facing History and Ourselves; **from Oxford Dictionary

December Book Club

This month we talked about possible items for our TBR piles for Winter Break. Ms Melinson is reading (and will hopefully finish over break) Questlove’s Music Is History. While she’s been reading it, she thought it would be fun to make a playlist and quickly found out it would be a very looooong playlist, however, someone had already made one on Spotify that was all the songs in order of their appearance in the book. So now it’s like she’s taking a masterclass in music while listening along to the songs.

Jess loved One of Us Is Lying, and she’s hoping to get some good suggestions for other thriller/mysteries. The way Jess puts it “I like a book that makes me feel like I’m having a heart attack.” Natalie suggests A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder.

Suketa loved House on Mango Street, and she enjoys reading books that may not be your story, but you can still connect to them. Doctora recommends The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande, which is a memoir.

Jordyn is looking for series fiction, and Natalie and Ms Melinson both suggested the Graceling series.

Natalie can’t wait for the next book in the Locked Tomb series by Muir Tamsyn. It’s on its way to the library and will hopefully be in her hands before we leave for break. She also read Angel Mage, which she said was okay, but not great–definitely for a. younger crowd.

Mr Wells read Circe, which seems to be really high on people’s lists and Song of Achilles. He’s looking for something to read so Ms Melinson suggested The Sentence for him.

Ms Melinson also shared a lot of books that have just arrived: Scattered Showers stories by Rainbow Rowell; The Weight of Blood by Tiffany Jackson; Seasparrow by Kristen Cashore, the latest in the Graceling Realm; The Final Gambit, the last book in the Inheritance series; Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo won lots of awards last year; Gleanings, stories from Neal Shusterman’s Scythe series; Sea of Tranquiity by Emily St. John Mandel, which includes a plague and colonization of the moon; and The First to Die at the End the prequel to They Both Die at the End. Non fiction picks include: the Illustrated Black History; 99% Invisible: The City, from the podcast of the same name; and Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law by Mary Roach. Someone told Ms Melinson that science books aren’t entertaining and she introduced them to Mary Roach’s work.

We hope you find some great books to read over break. When you do, let us know! Oh, and if you’re not doing anything December 24, Christmas Eve, pick up some books and chocolate and celebrate Jolabokaflod and read like Ms Melinson has been doing for the past four years.

October Book Club

The high school book club was back this month to discuss what students and staffulty had been reading lately. Ms. Melinson shared some new books, including Ain’t Burned All the Bright, Alone Out There, The Truth About White Lies, Dungeons & Dragons Art & Arcana: A Visual History, The Crossover graphic novel adaptation, and Their Eyes Were Watching God with a new cover.

Ms. Melinson also mentioned that House of Leaves has returned to the library collection. Jordyn is currently reading the book and said she’s never read anything like it. She described it as “well-written, poetic in its psychoticness [sic]” and creepy in an unknowing way. Perfect for spooky season!

Suketa read I Am Malala and said it’s a really good book. She also enjoyed Save Me Seat. Natalie read Imaginary Friend and warned that the rich and complex world the author creates is ruined by an unsatisfying ending. She suggested reading Bone Gap instead.

Samhita has been reading books by Jhumpa Lahiri, including The Namesake and The Lowland. She says they’re excellent books but too depressing, attributing the sadness to what the immigrant experience was like in the ’80s.

Mr. Comer began reading an ethnography of the Colusa indigenous people in southwest Florida but said it became too much. He mentioned that the author of Damnation Spring, a book he discussed last month, is too fond of the word pumpkins, prompting a brief detour into overused words.

Mr. Wells read The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu and loved it. He said it’s reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy and flips the western genre. He thinks it would make an excellent film.

View all of the books we’ve talked about by visiting our Goodreads page!

Week in Review: We’re Back!

The new school year began last week and the library was off to a running start with the 10th grade visiting to learn about their big assignment, the Sophomore Project. We were also visited by the Middle School Book Elective, who came in to browse the shelves for a new favorite.

The High School Book Club met for its first meeting of the year—and the first to take place at its previously usual time at lunch. Students and faculty shared what they read over the summer, and Ms. Melinson shared some new-to-the-library books. Read more about book club here.

This week, the library held its 6th grade orientation. Sixth graders were introduced to their new library and went on a silent conga through the stacks to learn how the books are organized. Then they rotated through stations where they learned about the library’s databases, watched videos on evaluating websites (which will come in handy next week when they further explore the topic), practiced sorting call numbers, and then used those skills for a library scavenger hunt.

Bonus:

It’s always a good day when we get dog visitors, and today we said hello to Ms. Adams’s dog, Ruby, and Mr. French’s dog, Fritz!

Week in Review + May Book Club

The sixth graders were in the library on Monday with Ms. McGinnes to begin research for their passion projects. Student topics include various sports, animation, organic food, Lego, and music.

It’s hard to believe, but we held the final high school book club of the year on Tuesday. To start us off, Ms. Melinson shared a number of books she got on Independent Bookstore Day, including the Joan Didion classics Let Me Tell You What I Mean and The Year of Magical Thinking, Call Us What We Carry, and All About Love. She also shared some cool-looking books like The Coasts of California, a beautifully illustrated field guide, an oddly sized edition of 1984, the graphic novel adaptation of 1984, and the Maya Angelou poem Life Doesn’t Frighten Me with illustrations by Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Avery shared she’s only reading a school book right now, The Tempest. Jordyn talked about returning several books, including Scythe, which reminded Ms. Melinson to share that a prequel to Scythe will be released this year. Mrs. Strong read The Personal Librarian and liked it well enough. Samhita is re-reading House of Leaves, although it’s much less weird the second time around. Dra. Portillo read Circe and said it’s really good and makes you wonder about gender roles in that time period.

March and April Book Clubs

We only have one more book club before the end of the school year, but first, let’s recap our March and April meetings.

Our March book club was short but sweet with Ms. Melinson sharing some new books in the library. There were some new books to add to ongoing series, like Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson, and new Thrawn Ascendancy books by Timothy Zahn. Ms. Melinson also shared some new favorites by beloved authors like Amor Towles, E. Lockheart, and Anthony Doerr. She also shared a fun graphic novel cookbook called Let’s Make Dumplings, featuring adorable artwork and tasty recipes.

In the April book club, Ms. Melinson began by sharing that the Brooklyn Public Library was waiving its fee for teens across the country in order to access its ebook collection. This is in effort to combat the increasing book censorship nationwide.

Jordyn shared that she’s reading Sherlock Holmes and is enjoying it. She was expecting the book to be slow, but found that it’s well-written and translates well to modern times. Jennifer read Radium Girls and said it’s “so good!” Mrs. Strong mentioned that the book is getting the graphic novel treatment and is set for release this July.

Ms. Reynolds states that she has trouble talking about books without oversharing, but she discussed The Vanishing Half without giving anything away. She said she liked it, particularly the question the book asks – what is lost and what is gained when you hide who you are?

Anniston read What Once Was Mine: A Twisted Tale and said that she uses the Tangled movie voices in her head when reading. Samhita said she tried reading 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, but found it to be disappointing and misogynistic. However, she loves White Teeth by Zadie Smith and is also trying to read more books by Indian authors.

Mr. Wells finished our meeting by discussing what he’s been reading lately. He loved Libertie, but couldn’t get into Flights. He found it to be self-indulgent and couldn’t engage with the material. He also enjoyed book club favorite All the Light We Cannot See and Amor Towles’ latest, The Lincoln Highway.

Week in Review: EVENTS!

The library was hopping this week with classes and events. It almost felt like a return to the before times!

On Monday, the library hosted an Enlightenment Salon with Ms. Kahn’s seventh-grade history class. Students became a variety of Enlightenment figures, including Voltaire, Diderot, Wollstonecraft, and Benjamin Franklin, as well as some lesser-known people from that time, like Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Toussaint Louveture, and Phillis Wheatley. Students discussed such enlightened topics as should their characters support monarchy or democracy? What is the role of women in society? And what does it truly mean to be an enlightened society?

We also had the March edition of book club on Wednesday. Ms. Melinson presented a number of new books that recently joined the library’s collection. Her focus was on beautiful book covers like Drawn Across Borders, Star Child: A Biographical Constellation of Octavia Butler, and Watch Over Me. Ms. Melinson also talked about new releases from popular authors like Rhythm of War, Cloud Cuckoo Land, The Lincoln Highway, and Again Again.

We ended the week with a lovely springtime concert courtesy of the Middle School Orchestra. Click here to watch a clip on our Instagram page!

Bonus:

Check out these great shelfies from Read Across Country Day!

Week in Review: Read Across Country Day + February’s Book Club

Happy 3,672nd Annual Read Across Country Day! Just kidding, but it is our 20th anniversary of celebrating Read Across Country Day! Much like the last few years, our celebration looked a little different. Instead of transforming the library into the Starbooks Lounge, we created a cozy reading nook with the comfy chairs and played classical music all day while still remaining open for quiet study.

Instead of visiting classrooms, the Candy Fairy got an assistant this year, and they met middle and high school students in their respective quads to distribute candy and buttons. Ms. Melinson made Read Across Country Day kits for the teacher to help facilitate the All-School Read. That took place at 2 p.m. when Waldo, of Where’s Waldo?, announced the beginning of the All-School Read, where everyone in the school dropped what they were doing to read. We can’t wait to see all of your reading shelfies! Check back next week for those photos.


The High School Book Club met last month right before Mid-Winter Break. Ms. Melinson talked about book censorship, a current topic of great debate. The last week of February also happened to be Freedom to Read Week in Canada, so Ms. Melinson shared some recently challenged and banned books. Those titles include Drama by Raina Telgemeier, Maus by Art  Spiegelman, New Kid by Jerry Craft, and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. Ms. Melinson emphasized the importance of reading these books now in case someday we can’t.

Ashleigh shared that she had just started reading Imaginary Friends by Stephen Chbosky. She said it’s really cool and is similar to Stranger Things. Adam was on a George Saunders kick, reading Lincoln in the Bardo and CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, with the latter reminding him of The Man in the High Castle. Jackie discussed reading The Lord of the Flies for English class. Mr. Wells read a book he would not recommend called Forging Fire, describing it as “really bad.” But he also read All the Light We Cannot See and would highly recommend it, saying it was “very good.”

January Book Club

We held our first book club of 2022 recently where students got together to discuss what they’ve been reading. As she does every at every January Book Club, Ms. Melinson talked about new cookbooks. On her list this year is Best American Food Writing 2021 and Chef’s Fridges. She also talked about reading Native Speaker and poetry from The Book of Insects by former teacher and alumni parent, Susan Kelly-DeWitt.

Sage read The Master and Margarita and found it to be slow, but captivating. She also mentioned having a long list of books on her to be read pile inspired by the Netflix show You. Ashleigh has been re-reading the Shadowhunter series by Cassandra Clare, having read four of the six books recently. She also mentioned wanting to read the entire collection of Grimm fairytales. Arijit finished The Count of Monte Cristo and now wants to read Dante’s Divine Comedy. Avery read Beauty, a take on Beauty and the Beast, and wants to read it again.

For a look at our past book club recommendations, visit our Goodreads page and be sure to follow us on Instagram!

Week in Review: The One with the Fireplace

This week saw the return of the library’s virtual fireplace. While eighth-grade students worked on citations for their National History Day projects, a warm (looking) fire roared on the screen to add a sense of coziness to their class time. The fire returned later in the week when tenth grade students were in the library working on their Sophomore Projects.

Leadership Lunches returned in person in the library! Craig and Ryan interviewed Samhita and Simone on their different experiences working with Breakthrough Sacramento over the summer as a volunteer and teacher, respectively.

The library also hosted its Book Club this week. Students shared what they’ve been reading and hope to read over break, while Ms. Melinson talked about several new books in the library. View our Instagram for some of the top books of the year!

On Friday, Ms. McGinnes and Mrs. Frandrup announced the results of the Scientists in the Field showcase. Congratulations to all of our scientists for their excellent work!