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Bipolar Titles to Help

  • Posted on May 31, 2007 at 5:23 AM

ASK A LIBRARIAN! The advertisements flash across the top of the SLJ site so I decided to do so. I have a small list of titles that deal with bipolar disorder and I wanted to enhance this list. What a great service! J.J. Huff responded to me immediately to let me know work was in progress. Then I received the extensive list below along with an offer to revise and extend the searching if needed. Some of the titles I mentioned in the previous post aren't on the list so I felt good that I knew of some thing someone else didn't. The service fulfilled my needs quickly without judgment. I appreciate the service. J.J. was extremely professional and I didn't feel talked down to like some services and librarians do unknowingly. 

Do you know what I mean? In the past I had asked some academic librarians for help in this area to see what research was occurring and to provide help for my parents, but they actually suggested that I was unfamiliar with search terms. I did manage to keep my temper despite the red hair and killed them with sweetness as I taught them about collaboration and distributed effect of people not just computing. They didn't seem to understand how school librarians can work together to maximize our learning without the need to feel superior. Shonda Briscoe personifies this. I spoke to her at SLJ's Summit last fall about the tremendous number of posts she was putting on LM_NET. Shonda told me how excited she was to help and that when a question came across that she knew the answer, she was so pleased to be able to immediately help someone else. Isn't this librarianship? Thanks Heinemann-Raintree and J.J.

Ask A Librarian Results:

Visit the Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation Web site. The site includes indepth information on bipolar disorder and provides links to a variety of resources. You can learn more about the titles listed below, as well. (Personal note: I used this site extensively and joined their groups)

Anger Mountain
ISBN-13: 978-1412050661
The story of an elementary-age boy who is learning to cope with his anger management issues.
The Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide: What You and Your Family Need to Know 
ISBN-13: 978-1572305250
Handbook by psychologist/researcher at University of Colorado. The book is described as, “Straight talk for teens and adults on taking charge of maintaining wellness while living with bipolar disorder.”
My Bipolar Roller Coaster Feelings Book & Workbook
ISBN-13: 978-1412054256
A 32-page storybook written from the perspective of a boy with bipolar disorder. The book is described as, “…a wonderful resource for children with bipolar disorder, their parents, teachers and clinicians.” The accompanying workbook includes exercises to assist children with bipolar disorder.
Brandon and the Bipolar Bear 
ISBN-13: 978-1412039314
A fictional story about a young boy living with bipolar disorder. Readers will learn about symptoms and treatment from a child’s point of view. Includes vivid illustrations.
Embracing the Monster: Overcoming the Challenges of Hidden Disabilities 
ISBN-13: 978-1557665225
A memoir of author Veronica Crawford’s experiences with ADHD and bipolar disorder. The book is described as, “Highly recommended reading for parents of children with hidden disabilities as well as adolescents and young adults with hidden disabilities.”
Everything you Need to Know about Bipolar Disorder and Manic Depressive Illness 
ISBN-13: 978-0823937684
This book is part of the series, “The Need to Know Library.” This book is intended for adolescents upon first diagnosis. Includes examples and glossary.
Matt the Moody Hermit Crab
ISBN-13: 978-1891347054
Follow Matt’s onset, diagnosis, and treatment of bipolar disorder. Presented in novel-form for children 8-12. 
Recovering from Depression: A Workbook for Teens (Revised Edition) 
ISBN-13: 978-1557665928
Workbook to assist teens in understanding and coping with depression.
The Storm in my Brian
(Visit the Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation for purchase information)
This publication includes artwork by young people living with depression or bipolar disorder. The book description notes, “This is an easy to understand, colorful booklet that speaks to children about how it feels to have a mood disorder.”
Turbo Max: A Story For Siblings Of Bipolar Children
(Visit the Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation for purchase information)
For siblings (ages 8-12) of children with bipolar disorder. A boy’s diary, describing the challenges and struggles he experiences while learning to accept and deal with his sister’s illness.

Getting Angry

  • Posted on May 30, 2007 at 12:00 AM

Bipolar Disorder can destroy a family. It can also enable family members to help others.  When my stepson was initially diagnosed in elementary school with early onset bipolar disorder with rapid cycling, I had to educate myself very quickly. The treatment options are not agreed upon and the medications with their side effects can be terrifying. (Comments removed)

There are support groups, online forums and listserv's, and some books for parents. I used the new Ask a Librarian feature of Heineman-Raintree to research emotional disorders for me. We found agencies like Tennessee Voices for Children very effective as we engaged in the I.E.P. dance with school. Sometimes you just need an advocate on your side. Even educated parents struggle when the issue is emotional.

Trends in Disorders?
Teaching for so many years I have witnessed the trends in diagnoses: ADD, ADHD, Bipolar, Autistm…. While I was weeding this spring, I pulled many of the initial books on hearing aids and visual impairments. I noted we have more therapy books on allergies, asthma and diabetes. But it's the emotional disorders that continue to be neglected in children's literature. You can search and find a few non-mainstream titles, but there are not many titles written for a general audience and for the children of bipolar parents. 
One excellent newer children's book is Sometimes Mommy Gets Angry by BeBe Moore Campbell. Published and reviewed in 2003 I didn't find this until J.T. Fisher, my representative from Children's Plus, came by and showed it to me. The illustrations by E. B. Lewis were a perfect match. I was so excited to see this, but did find the emotions it sparked within me very intense. I tried it out with my counselor and she thought it was a wonderful title showing how children bounce back and can survive nearly anything.

My library assistant, however, had a completely different reaction. She was very upset by the book and the aspect of a child in danger from an untreated bipolar parent raging simply calling a grandparent and hiding in the corner. She didn't want children who had never experienced this to come across the book on the shelf and be frightened. The school psychologist agreed that the book demonstrated the resiliency of youth, but also suggested it best kept as bibliotherapy and in the counselor's hands.

I ask you….
"What would you do? Would you purchase this book and simply place it in the picture book section for everyone to read?" From the reviews on that is how many people stumbled across this title because it sure enough is not being highlighted in the library world! Would you limit and restrict this book to only those children that YOU KNOW are in similar situations? Aha! You can see where I'm going with that question. Most people don't see who has an emotional disorder or who is dealing with a family member with an emotional disorder. It's not like a physical disorder that can be more easily agreed upon and has a pre-determined treatment plan like cancer and heart disorders.

Comment on this blog….
I'm very interested in your opinion. The pendulum swings on bibliotherapy and school librarians. Where are you in this discussion? Emotionally one of the books that helped me as an adult was Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy. Written as a set of poems from the point of view of a 13 year old whose emotions change as she wathes her sister battle an emotional breakdown, this title helped many people as I shared it with other adults. Finally it disappeared into the netherlands of sharing and didn't return to me. I hope it continued to help others.

Write me a book….
Now, if I could only get a children's author to write books about surviving police visits and watching a parent being removed from the house. I have dealt with this at school for years, but we don't have any titles to let children know it's not the complete ending of their world. Where's the web site where I can tell publishers all the special needs I have for books to be written? Wait! I know! I can continue to blog my ideas, participate in LM_NET, be part of a larger organization like ALA and attend conferences like ALA Annual and AASL National Conference and TELL THE PUBLISHERS in the exhibit halls what I need. Trust me, it works. Will you be there with me?

To dust or not to dust

  • Posted on May 29, 2007 at 11:30 AM

Thank you to all school custodians! The school year is ending. Teachers have packed their rooms leaving you boxes and cans of trash, piles of surplus materials, tons of obsolete technology to dispose, and refrigerators to clean. During the summer you and your staff will haul every item out of each classroom, scrub every surface, open & clean every light fixture, fix everything broken, polish buff & shine every floor, tolerate all the children & teachers for summer school who mess up your clean floors, repolish, rebuff & reshine every floor, move all the desks & items back into the classrooms, help teachers move out of their rooms, help new teachers move in, help new administrators locate everything, water the stray plants abandoned, scrub fingerprints off every window, paint, completely strip and refinish the gym floors (working around the summer school and YMCA afterschool care programs), and be willing to drop everything you are doing every time someone asks for help.

Yours is an awesome task, yet you do it with such good cheer. You tolerate me swiping your large rolling trash cans to trash and recycle a year's accumulation of catalogs and flyers. You quietly tiptoe around me as I snarl my way through paperwork. You even lock the door from the outside to keep the teachers from coming in for a "quick chat" when you know I am trying to hide to finish my special projects.

But why do I love my new custodian Tammy (photograph to the left by Michael Tyler) the most? Because she dusts. She dusts, everyone! She wipes every surface. She moves keyboards, wipes monitors, and actually scrubs behind the computers. She takes a damp cloth and wipes off every bookshelf regularly. She actually wipes the tops of shelves, window ledges, even lower parts of chairs. She cleans. Ahh! A clean, nondusty library. A heavenly place where children who suffer allergies (like I do) can actually breathe. A place where no teacher or administrator can run their hand across a surface and look at you with that raised eyebrown.  This is the first time in ten years I have had a custodian come dust willingly and without being reminded.

You see, I do not believe school librarians should be dusting their libraries. I believe we should be teaching, working with children, helping parents, and collaborating with teachers & administrators. If we spend our time doing those proactive tasks, we are perceived as vital team members. On the other hand, if we spend our time dusting, someone will comment on our having too much time and make comments like, "I wish you would come and dust my room." The dusting needs to get done. Computers and electronics share my allergy to dust.

Alice Yucht in her blog Alice in Infoland includes the following tip for Starting a New School/Library/Job:

Make friends with school custodian(s). Ask questions about cleaning schedules, use of library space after school, etc., and what kinds of cookies they like. (Even if you can’t bake, you can provide. . . .)

Alice, I would like you to know that my custodians don't want any sweets. They would prefer an extra sandwich, a piece of KFC chicken, a sub sandwich, an extra taco…. anything besides the leftover pizzas, cupcakes, and cookies they receive from teacher's classrooms throughout the year. I have even been known to bring in a pie and gallon of Sweet Tea just for them during the summer.  I need to take care of the people who take care of me.  Thank you Tammy, Fred, Jerrell and Mr. Willie.

Short list of books with Custodians:
The Custodian from the Black Lagoon
Hey, Al
Finding Buck McHenry
The Janitor's Boy
Welcome Comfort


  • Posted on May 27, 2007 at 1:36 PM

School years end. It's how education is structured. There is an arbitrary beginning of a grade and an ending. Teachers and students count down to the end (teachers by the hour during the last week). Different activities occur with varied degrees of behavior accepted. Finally all the students leave, the teachers totally deconstruct their rooms, usually someone leaves/changes grade levels/retires, and new people are hired.

Our principal retired this year. At one point he expressed to me the wish that we could avoid all of the hoopla of the end of the year. Students would continue to learn. Teachers would continue to teach. Everyone could simply spread out their vacations throughout the year. Then one day the students would simply pick up their books, mats, and pencils and move into a different classroom.

While education isn't that simple and there are definitely signs of teacher burn-out, Dinah Zike, during her interactive workshops, addresses the need for teachers to be 100% focused on teaching everyday. She utilizes hands-on manipulatives to foster writing and creativity. Dinah has experienced some major health battles in her times and she expects all of her doctors to be 100% on top of their game every day. Shouldn't we expect the same from teachers? I train student teachers, volunteers and assistants to maintain a positive attitude throughout the day because the very last child to enter the library should be treated as wonderfully as the first child. Should we tolerate less than our best efforts for the following excuses:

  • beginning of school,
  • right before a vacation,
  • coming back from vacation,
  • a snow day,
  • the teacher migraine day,
  • the days right before report cards (when we've got to stop everything to get them done),
  • assessment days,
  • program days,
  • school board/superintendent/legislative visitors,
  • party days,
  • on and on

If a child makes it to school despite all the obstacles in their path, don't they deserve the absolute best we have to offer? We could graph the school year with the amount of interruptions and activities that interfere with learning. But perhaps a large part of this is our institutionalized attitude of accepting less. Some of the very best teachers I know reduce discipline problems simply because their students are meaningfully engaged in hands-on activities continually up to the minute they leave school. Usually the school librarian is part of this mix.

It is sad that we have to stop reading, stop circulating, and stop browsing/learning/scanning reference books, etc. in the school library simply because we have so many arbitrary end of year tasks to complete. Put it all perfectly in order. Get the lost books paid for or hold the report cards. Fill in meaningless reports to justify our existence. Detail how many collaborative lessons we have completed for every grade level and for every subject within the grade level. Detail how many times throughout the year someone used the library copier, the computers, the newspaper. Inventory the special collections resulting from NCLB such as book rooms, essential literature, guided reading multiple copies. Does any of that help children? If an administrator really wants to know if teaching is occuring, which would be better: a report listing 7 kindergarten science collaborative lessons or a visit to see the activities occurring throughout the year and witnessing individuals engaged in learning?

Speaking of leaving school, I'd like to showcase two of my own sons that have graduated high school this past week (resulting in my not posting Wed-Sat.). Anthony and Zachary both leave for the military – U.S. Army – two weeks from now. This is an ending and a beginning that is hard for mom to endure. The two teen boys I have left at home will be beginning a new life as the oldest sons in the house.

Corporate Bragging & Speaking Their Language

  • Posted on May 21, 2007 at 12:00 AM

"Avoid corporate bragging." I first heard this phrase in Richard Carlson's Don't Sweat the Small Stuff at Work: Simple Ways to Minimize Stress and Conflict While Bringing Out the Best in Yourself and Others. Tip # 6 is Avoid Corporate Bragging. You can also visit the website Work Stuff Column for weekly updates.

"Corporate bragging is sharing with others how incredibly busy you are and how very hard you work – not just in passing, but rather as a central, focal point of conversation."

Carlson goes on to say that he has "yet to see a single person even slightly interested in hearing about someone else's busyness." I encourage you to find this little book and keep it on your desk. The practicalness of this chapter helps keep me grounded.

You see, teachers are busy. Principals are busy. Cafeteria workers are busy. Custodians are busy (waiting for all of us troublesome people to leave for the summer so they can continue to be busy without interruptions). Parents are busy with families. Students have tremendously full social calendars of "busyness." No one really cares if the librarians are busy with end of year tasks. Our "busyness" does not affect them. Most of them don't even understand the meaning of what we say we are busy doing.

In many ways much of what we do and what we focus upon is not deemed of high value by others either because we speak a different language. We are proud of our language and the terms we learned in graduate school. We are proud that we have that little bit of uniqueness that enables us to stand out among our staff members. If we were to describe our tasks, callings, duties, and motivations in ways teachers could understand them, would we be as unique?

Alexander McCall Smith in Espresso Tales has two characters discussing the name of an Edinburgh establishment which has a sign outside calling itself something entirely different from the name locals used. One character states:

"These are verbal tests, you see…These tests are designed to exclude others from the discourse – just as the word discourse itself is designed to do. These words are intended to say to people: this is a group thing. If you don't understand what we're talking about, you're not a member of the group."

Perhaps we need to find ways to phrase our concerns using the languages of all groups not just the school library media specialist group.

If you have never stumbled across the 44 Scotland Street series by Alexander McCall Smith, I encourage you to check it out (as a grown-up, not for young children!). These novels began as serialized novels (very important in the 19th century with the work of Dickens, Flaubert's Madame Bovary, etc.) which offers it's own unique twist to the writing experience and structure. I suggest you find the author's Preface to 44 Scotland Street to better understand the format and the pacing of each vignette. Perhaps some wonderful children's author will bring back the serialized novel for children. It probably is already happening online so if you know of any appropriate for school-age children, please comment and let us know where this is happening.

Photos of the Dog, the cat, the prom child

  • Posted on May 20, 2007 at 8:31 PM

Testing photo editing capabilities.

What is This Day?

  • Posted on May 15, 2007 at 12:00 AM

Students and teachers enjoy trivia. While I may be teaching how to navigate specific sites, they both get side-tracked checking out "what happened on this day in history." It's funny how you can prepare for lessons and predict that they will visit these sites at some point during instruction usually when they are supposed to be doing something else. I try to be one step ahead so I check out the daily trivia before instruction time so I can toss in a fact before they slip away to browse the daily sites. It all helps in the illusion we create of being all knowing. If you'd like to practice your Penn & Teller illusionary tactics of brilliance, check out these sites:

The World Almanac Blog
has daily facts on each day in history.

Internet4Classrooms includes a page of your daily dose of the web with web sites which change content on a daily or weekly basis. If you don't regularly check out these resources, you are working too hard and reinventing the wheel. Susan Brooks and Bill Byles have gathered an impressive variety of sites that teachers find very usable. I particularly enjoy the Interesting Trivia when I am not entrenched in coordinating standards with web resources.

Visit the pages on Today Is… in history from Grolier Online  and follow the links to the Library of Congress Memory Project's: Today in History

Side Note about Penn & Teller: when my boys were 5 and 7 years old took all four to visit Davis Kidd bookstore (an independent bookstore) in Nashville, Tennessee to see Penn & Teller. Unfortunately we were late so the boys missed most of their talk and only arrived in time to buy their book and get it autographed. They brazenly demanded magic and were so determined that Penn & Teller obliged. (If you knew my boys then, you would have done whatever it took to make them go away, too). For years the boys practiced the same tricks they saw that day. One year for Christmas, son #2 requested a magic kit and book. He gleefully opened his book but soon after called out in dismay, "Hey! This isn't magic. These are just tricks." Disillusioning a child is so hard. Let's go back in time to that day in history when illusions and magic reigned.

Webby Awards

  • Posted on May 14, 2007 at 12:00 AM

The 11th Annual Webby Awards Nominees & Winners have been released. There are 70 categories. Some of the winners & nominees were expected, but I found many new sites to explore. I hope you will take the time to take a look at the Youth winners:

Webby Award Winner: OwnYourC
People's Voice Winner:

Cut them some slack

  • Posted on May 11, 2007 at 12:00 AM

K.G. Schneider Free Range Librarian  explaining the culture of 2.0 listed these points:

  1. Humorous
  2. Non-hierarchical
  3. Time/space “shifted”
  4. Skeptical of authority
  5. Tepid about privacy and DRM
  6. Immediate, here-and-now, epistolary
  7. High tolerance for typos and errors
  • K.G. Suggested we read Everything Is Miscellaneous and that we keep David Weinberger’s points about this being a sliding-scale sort of world in mind.  See K.G.'s message on ALA TechSource. I love the discussion of this being a dangerous book. Is any book that challenges your thought process dangerous?

    Here are my thoughts on #7 High tolerance for typos and errors. This doesn't mean our students are oblivious or ignorant of errors. It's a mindset of message over keystrokes. I tried out some sample error messages with my own test subjects (AKA my 4 teenagers) to see if they could even tell the difference. They were all capable of identifying the correct spellings, capitalizations, and even punctuation.

    When I asked them their reactions to certain types of errors, they ranged from irritation to indifference. Errors including multiple uppercase letters in the same word were totally accepted. In fact, they were disgusted that any grownups would even look twice at those types of errors in the immediacy of IM and email. Those just don't affect how quickly they read the words so worrying about the capitalization simply slowed down communication. Errors in spellings regarding games and cheat codes were not acceptable because they required precision. My teens were quite capable of adjusting to their own perceptions of social correctness based upon the purpose of communication.

    We discussed in length the readability paragraphs and their meaning based upon these comments from 2002 and 2003 to a 1999 letter. Isn't it amazing how often this paragraph is circulated in emails as if it were newly discovered?

    "According to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe."

    I'm afraid their are many teachers and librarians who do not have the same degree of tolerance of errors. I know a man who would try to read over my shoulder to force me to go back and adjust any minor errors such as a comma instead of a period when I was typing along at 140 wpm. Speed in communication meant far more to me than perfection of punctuation. As long as the reader could quickly decipher my meaning, I didn't need perfection.

    Remember the spelling debates over color and colour? Prescriptive language vs. descriptive language? What do they call this new debate over IM Speak vs. standardized English? Will your grandchildren laugh at the memories? Are you prepared to sacrifice perfection over speed?

  • 15 minutes a day

    • Posted on May 9, 2007 at 12:00 AM

    If you missed Stephen Abram's blog post "Playing and Learning: Making a Sandbox for Librarians," you may need to go back and consider why learning to use new technologies is easy for Stephen and some people, but difficult for others. A year ago Stephen Abram wrote a column "43 Things I (or You) Might Want to Do This Year." (Information Outlook – Feb 2006). Helene Blowers of The Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenberg County changed this into a website course with "23 Things that people could learn, track and prove in order to earn an MP3 player." I joined many others from around the world exploring, playing, learning, and sharing. 

    Choosing 43 things or 23 Things to do to change your life doesn't sound like too much to most people -unless they are school librarians near the end of the year with tons of tasks to accomplish. I personally find large lists too overwhelming and that I can't even begin because I can't imagine how much I would have to change to schedule my wild life around finding time for  23 things. What about you? Could you find 15 minutes a day if you knew it could profoundly change you? Do you really want to change?

    Instead of focusing only upon the 43/23things of web 2.0 technology tools, let's create a much shorter list of 13 things a school librarian could do for 15 minutes a day that would change their program. I'll throw a few ideas out, and I encourage you to add to these.

    1. Read your RSS feeder (like bloglines). Limit yourself to 10 blogs in the beginning so you can keep your 15 minute time-limit. This will help you prioritize. If you don't know whose blogs to read, choose one and look at who they are reading.
    2. Read your favorite journal's top articles. If you truly read something everyday, you could actually read far more journals than you anticipated.
    3. Read new picture books as they arrive. Sit beside a child and ask them to look with you while you think to whom to match the title.
    4. Make a short list of new titles or 3-5 books that thematically go together. Then type these in a pre-formatted bookmark template and print off a few copies. Simple bookmarks like these disappear and quickly become checklists for your methodical readers. I find that I can jot down the ideas while someone else volunteers to type these and add artwork.
    5. Jot a thank you note or email to a teacher and ask them to stop by to plan with you. If you could write one thank you a day, could you sincerely reach your entire faculty several times that year?
    6. ….Here's your chance …. add to this list.