The Education of the Nerdy Chick: A Chat with John Schumacher

This week, we are talking to Librarian-Blogger-Literacy-Advocate-Extraordinaire, John Schumacher. His Watch. Connect. Read. Blog (http://mrschureads.blogspot.com/) is one of the best sources on the internet for information about children’s books, authors, resources, and insight. As a librarian and teacher, we wanted his thoughts on The Education of the Nerdy Chick, especially when it comes to reading. Thank you, Mr. Schu, for talking to us today!

We asked Mr. Schu to finish some of our sentences — here’s what he had to say:

“The differences between girl readers and boy readers are not all that different in my school library. I encourage my students not to label a book as a “boy book” or a “girl book.” If you spent an afternoon in my school library, chances are you would witness me turn to a third grader and say, “Books do not have a gender. Babymouse, Bink and Gollie, Hound Dog True, Marty McGuire, Ivy + Bean, Keena Ford, Clementine,Squish, and Stink are for ALL readers. Read what you want to read, regardless of what a marketing team might have thought when deciding on a book’s final cover or its targeted gender.”  My students know I will never create book lists with the following titles:

  • 10 Books Every Boy Should Read
  • Top Picks for Boy Readers
  • Every Tween Girl Should Read These Books
  • Listen Up Girls! You Must Read These Books

I work tirelessly to match my students with the perfect books. I consider their interests, age, and personality. Gender is not a part of readers’ advisory.”

“Girls can be reluctant readers, too. To get girls to read, I ask these questions:

  •    What are some of your all-time favorite movies?
  •    What do you do for fun on a Saturday afternoon?
  •    What does the perfect day look and sound like?
  •    Have you ever been lost in a book?
  •    What’s the last GREAT book you read?

It all boils down to this: the more I know about her, the better chance I have of recommending a book that helps her realize how awesome and gratifying it is to be a reader. It’s a magical moment when a dormant reader bonds with a book.”

“It can be hard for younger girls to embrace their inner Nerdy Chick. But what is great about when that happens is she discovers a supportive reading community that wants to discuss books and celebrate authors and literacy.

The Nerdy Book Club (http://www.nerdybookclub.com) is the perfect example of a supportive and enthusiastic community.”

“Even Nerdy Chicks need guidance. To help her expand her reading interests, I would discuss a balanced reading diet and encourage her to try different genres and formats. If she’s only reading historical fiction, why not read a graphic novel every so often? If she’s only reading dystopian fiction, why not try nonfiction?

My booktalking sessions always include a nice balance of genres, formats, fiction, and nonfiction.”

“If I was a Nerdy Chick, I would wear stickers advertising my favorite books, tweet nonstop about MUST-READ titles, host book birthday parties, recommend picture books and middle-grade novels to strangers, and give away hundreds of books.  :-) “

Once again, a big thank you to Mr. Schu for joining us. Want to read more of his brilliant thoughts? Follow his blog, Watch. Connect. Read. And go throw a book birthday party today!

 

Dana Alsup: Co-Founder and first President of the Salisbury Quidditch Club

Dana Alsup is awesome. I’ve known that since the moment I met her, and now that I’ve interviewed her, I have empirical evidence. She is AWESOME. Listen to this: In college, she participated in a prison book club where she went to a medium security prison with other students to discuss philosophy and other topics such as race and even women’s rights. People talk about giving back to society in ways like that; Dana actually did it.

Thank you, Dana, for joining us today and being the newest Nerdy Chick. Let’s start with a speed round — tell us some awesome things about yourself.

I have a Bachelor of Arts in history from Salisbury University and a Masters of Library and Information Sciences from University of Pittsburgh.  I love libraries and think the world would be a lesser place without them.

Oh, we here at NerdyChicksRule.com definitely agree with that! But, do go on…

I have a very active imagination and am constantly creating scenarios in my head that will never happen.  Most are about how my skills as a librarian have been overlooked and every place that has ever rejected me as a candidate comes crawling back to me.

I’m a Mama’s girl.  I love my mom and think she’s the coolest lady out there.

My best friend and I dream that one day we’ll have a party planning business.

I’m an avid crafter but never know what I’m doing.  Every sewing project I’ve ever done has been made up as I went along.  Yes, I have given those sewing projects as gifts before.

Christmas is the best time of the year and I start planning and buying gifts starting in August.

Can I join your party planning business, too? What? Now’s not the time to ask? OK, well, then…next question: if you could give your middle school or high school self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Hooray for high school crushes!

I think everyone thinks the same thing when it comes to talking to your younger self: don’t spend so much time worrying about what everyone else thinks about you!  I spent far too much time doing that and not enough time actually caring about school.  When I was a senior in high school I only went to school until 10:30 every day.  I told the high school I’d rather work than take more classes so I got an early release to go to my job…my shift didn’t start until 3 pm.  I wanted to look the rebel and fit in, but I am far from a rebel.  I’m the one that always has a band aid in her wallet just in case someone in the vicinity needs it.  (And a side note on band aids, I currently have Cynthia Rowley themed and The Muppets themed band aids in my bathroom).  I was always terrible at math, but I think if I had just put more effort into really understanding it, I wouldn’t be freaked out every time I have to give a tip or figure out how much those shoes would be if they are 30% off.  If I had to write a letter to my high school self, it would go something like this, “Dear Dana, You turn out awesome.  Forget what they think of your style and embrace your love of all things British, books, dinosaurs, and history!  Love, Dana.  P.S.- you end up dating your high school crush.  Yipee!”

Oh, that makes me smile!  How about this: do you have a personal “theme song,” perhaps one that speaks to your inner nerdiness?

I had three roommates in college and I love them dearly.  Whenever we would go to a party and introduce ourselves, I found that everyone would remember their names and never mine.  By the end of the night fellow partygoers would say, “Goodbye Lauren, Goodbye Sarah, Goodbye Corey, Goodbye….”  Then they would start guessing, “Diana?  Donna?  Dina?”  I did not like this.  I hate when people can’t remember my name.  It’s short and simple and two of the letters are the same.  So after a while when someone couldn’t remember my name I would say, “Forgettable Dana”.  I even turned it into a sad little tune when I would say it.  So it became my theme song.  I still sing it from time to time and my boyfriend enjoys teasing me about it.  We always say it would be the saddest sitcom in the world.

A real nerdy tune that always makes me feel good about myself is the Star Wars theme song.  I’ll put it on right now and explain how it makes me feel…I can take on the world!  To be more specific, the Empire.  It makes me feel good.  I really enjoy listening to it in the car because then I pretend that my car is the Millennium Falcon, which is the best!  I also feel like my brother is with me.  He’s a huge Star Wars fan and I can’t even count the amount of times we have watched the movies together.  So there’s a bit of nostalgia going on as well.

Here’s a secret: sometimes I pretend I’m on the Milennium Falcon, too. But usually that somehow involves Han Solo. But I won’t ask if that’s true for you, too…Let’s shift gears and get a little serious for a bit. You’re a professional librarian! What are your favorite things to read?

I am technically just trained to be a professional librarian.  My job title is Library Media Paraeducator.  No one knows what a “paraeducator” is outside of the school district I work in.  I’m the assistant in an elementary school library.  There is never a dull moment in an elementary school.  Nor a quiet one.

PANDA VEST!!!

I love reading so many things!  But my favorites are nonfiction, specifically history and biographies, and mysteries.  I studied history as an undergrad, focusing on Colonial and Revolutionary American history.  This does not mean that I get all American history trivia questions right, but it does mean that I can yell about how Ben Franklin is not actually a good man at all.  Yes, yes, he did lots of good things, but my history friends and I like to claim that he invented adultery.  I once said this to a tour group visiting Ben Franklin’s gravesite.  They were not amused.  My mom and I snickered.  Back to books, my favorite series is Harry Potter.  Those books changed my life an brought my nerdiness to a whole new level.  Looking at my bookshelf right now, I see Junie B. Jones, Bossy Pants, Candide, The Journals of Captain John Smith, a Choose Your Own Adventure, Man’s Search of Meaning, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas, and Sherlock Holmes.  Sherlock is one of my all time favorite characters.  He is just amazing and I like to pretend that I am him sometimes.  My favorite book is Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.  I can never get enough of that book.  I also love The Great Gatsby.  I had to read that in high school and didn’t care for it at all.  Then I read it again in college for my 1920’s lit class and fell in love!  In my opinion, it is one of the best books ever written and I recommend it to everyone.

How do you see the books that are being published today as helping to empower girls to be smart (or, as we like to call it, nerdy)?

Girls and women in literature today are amazing.  There are far more role models and characters featuring women then there ever have been before.  Working in a library I see so many books that embrace who women are and who they want to be.  I see many more children’s books than I do adult, but that’s where we need to start when it comes to empowering girls.  I love seeing books that show it’s okay to be the girly girl, like Fancy Nancy.  Nancy is an amazing character that loves being girly and fancy and expressing herself through using fancy words, mainly French words, and actions.  If you feel fancy, be fancy!

I love seeing books now that have groups of kids where girls are the leaders.  So many books show boys as the one who knows what to do and they will get it done and aren’t you lucky, girls, that he was here?  Harry Potter would have been dead without Hermione.  She did all the research and had those boys ready to go in case of an emergency.  I bet she also carries band aids in her wallet.

You are absolutely right — nerdy chicks do awesome things. How about you — what is one of your favorite achievements that you can credit to being a nerdy chick?

Co-Founder and first President of the Salisbury Quidditch Club.  My friend Emilie and I started the club our senior year of college.  I had seen other colleges online and my brother said I had to do it.  It was the nerdiest thing I have ever done.  And the greatest!  It was amazing!  I would play again if I had a team to join.  It is just like the game in Harry Potter novels except for we never leave the ground and the snitch is attached to a person.  In fact, the snitch is a tennis ball in a tube sock hanging out of the back of someone’s shorts.  We run with brooms between our legs and try to get the quaffle through the hoops without being hit by a bludger.  I have my own broom still.  it hangs in my room above my closet.  I graduated college in 2009 and it is still a club.  It’s even on my resume.

Tell us a four-word descriptive phrase you would like people to associate with you.

Really Effing Awesome, Dude.

Umm, see above. Any other phrases?

Mrs. Justin Timberlake = Me.

Always a lady, sometimes.

Awesome answers, as expected. Now tell us this: if someone gave you $75 and you could only spend it on you, what would you do with it?

Shoes!  I love shoes!  I also have weird feet- I have bunions at the old age of 25 so now I have to buy expensive shoes that won’t hurt me.  I also buy shoes that are just for occasions where I’ll be sitting a lot, like gold glitter flats!

I’d buy shoes, too! I knew we were soul mates!  OK, last question. Are you ready? Yes?

Can you tell us one thing you buy at the grocery store that you cannot live without?

My first thought is tampons, but I can get those at Target, too.  The hardest part of the grocery store for me to walk by is the cookie aisle.  I love cookies.  Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster is actually based on me.  My favorite cookies are Lu’s Pim’s cookies, specifically raspberry.  I will not share them and they will be gone within 20 minutes of me having them.  I don’t even pretend that I can keep them for any longer than that.  It’s impossible.

Who doesn’t love cookies? And after this interview, who doesn’t love awesome Nerdy Chick Dana Alsup?

Thanks again, Dana, for stopping by. You get a cookie the next time I see you, unless of course I can’t find you or I forget. (Who’s nerdy enough to know the source of that quote?)

Quoteable Nerdy Chick: Wilma Mankiller

Wilma Mankiller (b. 1945) made history when she became the first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation in 1985.   She strove to improve health care, the education system and the government of her people. She served for a decade before deciding not to seek re-election because of poor health. Mankiller still advocates for  Native American rights and women’s rights.

Wilma Mankiller Quotes

  • The secret of our success is that we never, never give up.
  • A lot of young girls have looked to their career paths and have said they’d like to be chief. There’s been a change in the limits people see.
  • Everybody is sitting around saying, ‘Well, jeez, we need somebody to solve this problem of bias.’ That somebody is us. We all have to try to figure out a better way to get along.
  • I don’t think anybody anywhere can talk about the future of their people or of an organization without talking about education. Whoever controls the education of our children controls our future.
  • I’ve run into more discrimination as a woman than as an Indian.
  • Prior to my election, young Cherokee girls would never have thought that they might grow up and become chief.
  • One of the things my parents taught me, and I’ll always be grateful as a gift, is to not ever let anybody else define me; that for me to define myself . . . and I think that helped me a lot in assuming a leadership position.

Wilma Mankiller must have had some wonderful parents. I try to teach my children the same thing that she mentioned in that last quote.

 

 

Quotable Nerdy Chicks: Maya Lin

I’m so glad I was reintroduced to the work of Maya Lin through my son who studied her recently in school. If you don’t already know this, Lin designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington D. C. while she was still an undergraduate student. When I was in college, one of my friends was among the first to visit that memorial. She found the name of another friend’s father on the memorial and brought back a framed pencil rubbing of it. I will never forget how touched my friend, whose father was killed before she could meet him, was by that gift. The Vietnam Memorial has touched countless others since its installation.

Lin has designed other amazing structures and done other amazing things. You can read more about them at her own beautifully designed website. www.mayalin.com She currently owns and operates Maya Lin Studio in New York City.

 Maya Lin Quotes

  • I loved school. I studied like crazy. I was a Class A nerd.
  • I was always making things. Even though art was what I did every day, it didn’t even occur to me that I would be an artist.
  • I try to give people a different way of looking at their surroundings. That’s art to me.
  • All my work is much more peaceful than I am.
  • To fly we have to have resistance.
  • How we are using up our home, how we are living and polluting the planet is frightening. It was evident when I was a child. It’s more evident now.

Now. Go visit her website. Move your cursor to make things happen!

Quotable Nerdy Chick: Joanna Cole

When W. H. Beck agreed to be interviewed for Monday’s post, I knew I’d just have to find a quotable librarian. I found several famous female librarians who are also writers including Ann Tyler and Beverly Cleary! But I loved that first quote from Joanna Cole so much that I decided to feature this famous creator of the Magic School Bus Series. There is a very nice biography about Joanna Cole HERE at Teen Ink.

Joanna Cole Quotes

  • People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.
  • Take chances! Get messy! Make mistakes!
  • Children’s view of the world and their capacity to understand keep expanding as they mature, and they need to ask the same questions over and over, fitting the information into their new level of understanding.

I love the fact that Joanna Cole used her gift of explaining things and storytelling to enrich my children’s childhoods through her Magic School Bus books and the cartoons they spawned. I hope to add to this quote bank someday too.

To see a compiled list of nerdy chick quotes, click HERE.