Middle Kingdom: Seattle, Washington

The books that most delight mid­dle school and junior high read­ers often strad­dle a “Mid­dle King­dom” rang­ing from upper mid­dle grade to YA. Each month, Bookol­o­gy colum­nist Lisa Bullard will vis­it the Mid­dle King­dom by view­ing it through the eyes of a teacher or librar­i­an. Bookol­o­gy is delight­ed to cel­e­brate the work of these edu­ca­tors who have built vital book encamp­ments in the tran­si­tion­al ter­ri­to­ry of ear­ly adolescence.

Our first jour­ney takes us to Jane Addams Mid­dle School in Seat­tle, Wash­ing­ton, where Lisa talks with librar­i­an Lau­rie Amster-Burton.

Lisa: What are three to five things Bookol­o­gy read­ers should know about your com­mu­ni­ty, school, or library/media center?

Jane Addams Middle School library
New book col­lec­tion get­ting unpacked in August 2014 (click to enlarge).

Lau­rie: Jane Addams Mid­dle School is a new mid­dle school in an old-ish (1949) build­ing. We serve all kinds of stu­dents in grades six-eight, includ­ing pro­grams for Eng­lish lan­guage learn­ers, high­ly capa­ble, and autism inclu­sion. Our staff is ener­getic and our stu­dents are live­ly. The library opened this year with 10,600 brand-new books.

Lisa: What five books (or series) are checked out most often?

Lau­rie: Graph­ic nov­els or comics are 11 of the top 20 books checked out, and Raina Tel­ge­meier is the reign­ing queen. Her books Sis­ters, Dra­ma, and Smile are in con­stant cir­cu­la­tion. Pop­u­lar series include the Menagerie books by Tui T. Suther­land, Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kin­ney, and the Dork Diaries series by Rachel Renée Russell.

You can see that those titles skew toward the sixth grade read­ers. The books most pop­u­lar with old­er stu­dents include The Liv­ing by Matt de la Pena, the Maze Run­ner series by James Dash­n­er, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, and Eleanor & Park by Rain­bow Rowell.

Lisa: What books do you per­son­al­ly love to place into stu­dents’ hands?

Lau­rie: Ship Break­er by Pao­lo Baci­galupi. Good Enough by Paula Yoo. Impos­si­ble by Nan­cy Wer­lin. Zach’s Lie by Roland Smith (wit­ness pro­tec­tion!). Girl, Stolen by April Hen­ry (kid­nap­ping!). Con­fet­ti Girl by Diana Lopez. Bliz­zard of Glass by Sal­ly M. Walk­er is amaz­ing non­fic­tion that I love to booktalk.

Our library has the new edi­tions of Lois Dun­can, and when I get them into kids’ hands they always come back for more.

Lisa: If you had a new staffer start­ing tomor­row, what piece of advice would you be sure to give them?

Lau­rie: Be calm. Be patient. Show the kids that you care.

Lisa: What do you like most about work­ing with middle-schoolers?

Lau­rie: They are so fun­ny and earnest and thrive with a lit­tle kindness.





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