Library News   

Kindergarten's first check-outs

posted Sep 15, 2017, 12:14 PM by Kathleen Finn

Ms. Poirier's kindergarten students proudly display the first book they chose to check out of the library.  Everyone made such great choices!

ECHO Center Reduced Admission Pass Available Again to SFX Families

posted Sep 4, 2017, 2:55 PM by Kathleen Finn   [ updated Oct 2, 2017, 5:30 AM ]

We have received a new reduced admission "Library Pass" from the ECHO Center that is  available at the library circulation desk.   This pass allows up to 4 people to visit ECHO for $7 each, about half the regular admission cost.   This pass is loaned out, not given out, so please use it in a timely manner and return the pass to Mrs. Finn at the library circulation desk so another family can use it.  This pass affords  a great family opportunity--so DO use it!

Newbery Medal winning author Kwame Alexander visits Burlington

posted May 9, 2017, 1:20 PM by Kathleen Finn   [ updated May 12, 2017, 8:09 AM ]

All of our middle school students were set to hear nationally recognized and Newbery Medal-winning author Kwame Alexander speak at Burlington High School on March 14 when Mother Nature interfered with a blizzard.  The rescheduled speaking date was Good Friday morning, a SFX holiday, but six enthusiastic sixth graders opted to attend anyway with Mrs. Richards and Mrs. Finn.    Hundreds of other Chittenden County students attended this outstanding event as well, which was generously organized by The Flying Pig Bookstore in Shelburne.  

To prepare the middle school students for the original event, Mrs. Richards taught Mr. Alexander’s Newbery Medal winning title  The Crossover to all her language arts classes.    Written in free verse, The Crossover lent itself perfectly to listening to the audio version of the book and then writing original poems.  Mrs. Finn worked with the 8th grade Digital Learning class to create an interactive timeline of Mr. Alexander’s life, which the 8th grade students presented to 7th and 6th graders.  

Mr. Alexander’s event at BHS was a dynamic mix of personal storytelling, music and ad-lib celebration of verse with students, all with an aim to inspire young people  never to give up on their dreams.   Mr. Alexander shared how he revised and revised his prize-winning title The Crossover only to have it rejected by 21 publishers.  On the cusp of self-publishing his book, he got a call from Publisher #22…..and the rest is history.    Mr. Alexander’s newest title, The Playbook:  52 Rules to Aim, Shoot and Score in this Game Called Life, reflects his infectious never-give-up attitude to overcoming obstacles and saying “yes” despite the “nos.”  

Mr. Alexander gave sixth-grader Seth  the privilege of reading aloud the author’s  free-verse interpretation of “Rule #7” from The Playbook in front of the whole assembled crowd!

  For more information on Mr. Alexander and his books, click here.     

2017 Red Clover and Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award State Winners Announced

posted May 8, 2017, 2:37 PM by Kathleen Finn   [ updated May 9, 2017, 12:13 PM ]

Drum roll, please!  The Vermont student voters have spoken for 2017!

The Dullards (Extra Boring Edition) by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri, won this year's Red Clover Award for best picture book.  This title is a hilarious, tongue-in-cheek look at what happens when ever-so-dull Mr. and Mrs. Dullard move their family of three children to a boring town to avoid any excitement in their lives.  Many of our Grade 1 to 3 students must have agreed, because this title came in a close 2nd at St. FX to Finding Winnie:  The Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh.  

First graders cast their first votes for their favorite Red Clover book.

 The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett and  Jory John won the most votes from Vermont students in Grades 4-8 for the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award.   When master prankster Miles Murphy moves to sleepy Yawnee Valley, he challenges the local, mystery prankster in an epic battle of tricks but soon the two join forces to pull off the biggest prank ever seen.  While this was a very popular title at St. FX, there was no runaway favorite here this year.  Indeed, 18 out of the 30 titles on this year's Dorothy's List received at least one vote and no title garnered more than three, which reflects the diverse reading tastes of our Grade 4-8 readers.   

April is School Library Month

posted Apr 4, 2017, 12:20 PM by Kathleen Finn   [ updated Apr 4, 2017, 12:21 PM ]

April is National School Library Month, a great time to stop and thank the many volunteers who do so much to “keep the wheels on the machine” in the library. 

Keeley Schell, Janet Walsh, Gerry Quinlan and Alice McNeish give time every week to staff the circulation desk, catalog new materials and get them shelf-ready, repair older materials, shelve books, put up displays,  and perform many other tasks.   Jennifer Stearns has spine-taped dozens and dozens of new paperback book at home this year.  Bonny Picard often pinch-hits at the circ desk.  Long-time volunteer Nancy Trono (20+ years) is on hand nearly every day to shelve books, staff the circulation desk, manage periodicals circulation and assist with Pre-K resource needs.     Becca Brynga has managed several Scholastic Book Fairs held here at school this year, the profits from which go to purchasing wonderful new materials for the library and classrooms.  And many, many more SFX parents step up to run these week-long book fairs.  To all of them, we say:  Thank You!

Irish Dancing from a Real Pro!

posted Mar 17, 2017, 11:49 AM by Kathleen Finn   [ updated Mar 17, 2017, 12:55 PM ]

We have warmly welcomed Alice McNeish into our library volunteer and subbing ranks this year.  Alice not only has decades of kindergarten teaching to her credit, but also founded and ran the McNeish School of Irish Dancing for ten years.  (Mrs. Varhue's daughter, Nora, is one of her many alums.)  Alice usually volunteers during Kindergarten's weekly trip to the library, so when that day fell on St. Patrick's Day recently it was the perfect opportunity for her to share some Irish dancing artifacts and information with a roomful of children wearin' the green.

Digital Access to Library Resources

posted Feb 3, 2017, 7:39 AM by Kathleen Finn   [ updated Feb 3, 2017, 9:08 AM by Becky Wetzel ]

Our small school is blessed to have an unusually large library space….nearly 3000 square feet. Over the last eight years, there has been much refurbishment in our library-- repainting and new carpet, furnishings, ceiling, lights and window shades. Our library has become an attractive, much-used space by all ages, with an average of 600-700 materials circulating monthly.

In a perfect world, this physical library space would be in the center of our school, not on a lower level two floors away from the middle school classrooms. But with the integration of 1:1 tablet devices for all our middle school students, the distance between the physical library and these students has shortened considerably. Now the middle school students can access the library on their own tablet thanks to Follett’s Destiny Quest App, introduced in Mrs. Finn’s Digital Learning class. Not only does the Quest app give students quick digital access to the library’s catalog holdings, including newly cataloged additions and popular check-outs, it also enables students to take responsibility for their own library accounts. Overdue slips are no longer sent upstairs to middle school students. The app allows them to renew and put holds on books digitally, make lists of books they want to read, and rate and review books they have read.

Key to the success of helping students take charge of their own virtual library browsing and housekeeping has been the collaboration of Mrs. Richards, middle school Language Arts teacher. At least monthly, and sometimes more often, Mrs. Richards gives her students class time to check on their accounts and renew any overdues that they are still reading. This opportunity also jogs students’ memories as to what materials are hiding in their lockers and need to be returned. Learning how to look after one’s own middle school library account builds a highly transferable skill set for navigating future high school, college and public library catalogs and accounts.

Here’s what some 8th grade students had to say early this school year about the utility of the Destiny Quest app:

“It is helpful because you can renew books and see if the book you want is in.”
“It is an easy way to request and renew books...instead of going down to the library during Quiet Time [a short interlude between lunch and afternoon classes] or a free read class, we can go on our tablets and renew or request the book we want.”
“I like it because we don’t have to worry about getting a late slip.”
“I like being able to renew a book whenever I want. It’s so convenient and easy; I love it!”
“I find being able to use the Destiny Quest app very helpful because you can go find books you didn’t know were in the library.”

This year, Mrs. Richards and Mrs. Finn are collaborating to allow students to go further with the app than just library account housekeeping. After an in-depth unit by Mrs. Richards in Language Arts class on how to write a constructive page-long book review, Mrs. Finn assigns students to craft a short book review for the Quest catalog. Mrs. Finn either approves students’ reviews for posting or returns the review to the student for further editing. Student voice is becoming more and more evident in our library catalog, and students are encouraged to submit additional reviews independently.

With the use of students’ 1:1 tablets, Mrs. Richards and Mrs. Finn’s collaborative work with the Destiny Quest app truly falls into the “Redefined” category of the SAMR model of computer technology use in learning and teaching. It allows for new tasks to demonstrate learning that were previously inconceivable, resulting in a high level of student engagement. Happily, reports Mrs. Finn, middle school students spend no less and maybe even more time perusing the shelves in the library and checking out books. Perhaps the integration of the Quest app into their daily school lives has made them feel more at home in the library than ever.

(This article adapted from the original post on the Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education's blog for educators.)

Five Great Books to Read Before (or during or after) Kindergarten

posted Feb 3, 2017, 7:25 AM by Kathleen Finn   [ updated Feb 3, 2017, 7:28 AM ]

    It’s  common knowledge that reading aloud daily to pre-school children is a vital step to help prepare them for success in school; in fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics endorses this habit.  In line with the AAP, the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten initiative began several years ago,   promoting the development of early childhood literacy through the shared and oh-so-pleasurable task of reading aloud to a child (with some helpful print and digital logs to track progress).  

When you think about it, reading 1000 books to a child before kindergarten is actually a quantitative concept that’s not so hard to wrap one’s head around.  That averages out to about 200 books per year between birth and the start of kindergarten--not even one a day! (And who can stop at just one?!)   But how to begin selecting those 1000 books?   To get started, the 1000 Books Foundation has compiled and posted on their website a very good list of 100+ titles called  “Books Your Child Should Hear Before Kindergarten.”  This list is a great roadmap for parents to take to their local library or retailer.   Here are five of my personal favorites that I have especially loved reading aloud both to my own children and those I’ve served in public and school libraries.  Dive into “1000 Books Before Kindergarten” with these sure-fire and your young child will love them!


        Whose Mouse Are You?  by Robert Kraus, pictures by Jose Aruego

This simply written paean to the centrality of family ties and love in a young (mouse)

 child’s life  blends rhyming text and colorful, amusing  illustrations seamlessly.  

 Each page spread deftly anticipates the next with humor and heart.   Just right for preschoolers.


Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann.  This nearly-wordless book relies on rib-tickling, predictable visual jokes to tell the story of a hapless zoo keeper whose attempts to keep his animal charges safely locked up at night are thwarted by a key-snatching gorilla.  Very young children will catch right on to what is happening and relish the amusing details, again and again.



A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton.   A  large curmudgeonly bear, who lives alone quite by choice in his forest house, is called on by a very small, polite mouse.    Finally outdone by the mouse’s  persistence in staying for a visit,  the bear  relents and  lets Mouse stay for a “spot of tea” … and slowly realizes, through their conversation, the pleasures of companionship.  The comic visual and verbal antics of both the mouse and bear combine perfectly with repetitive language and just enough plot to hold a young child’s attention. 

                             The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Stephen Gammell.

 The excitement of relatives coming to visit could not be more joyously rendered for a young child than in this book. Arising at dawn in Virginia and driving hundreds of miles over hill and dale in their overstuffed car, “the relatives”   finally arrive at their destination, where their assorted kin sweep them exuberantly into their home and lives for a cozy, active and  extended stay.  Warm, conversational text matches perfectly with delightful, humorous drawings exquisitely rendered in colored pencil.  A Caldecott Honor Book.   Readers of all ages will be sorry when this family reunion comes to an end.  

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel  by Virginia Lee Burton.  When your preschooler is ready for a longer “listen”, there is no better book to r

ead aloud than Burton’s beloved, enduring tale of a determined  steam shovel named Mary Anne and  “her”  driver, Mike Mulligan.  Brightly colored, whimsical crayon drawings evoke a small town community of an  earlier era in which new-fangled gas and diesel-engine contraptions are threatening to put both Mary Anne and Mike out of business.   The duo finds a creative  way to repurpose themselves in a way that has left generations of readers and listeners cheering.     

Hour of Code 2016

posted Jan 8, 2017, 5:25 PM by Kathleen Finn   [ updated Sep 4, 2017, 2:59 PM ]

Digital Learning classes in grades 3-8 participated in the 'Hour of Code™', a nationwide initiative by Computer Science Education Week [] and [] to introduce millions of students to one hour of computer science and computer programming. This introduction demystifies code and shows that anybody can learn the basics. More than 100 million students worldwide have already tried an Hour of Code in the largest learning event in history.  SFX students proudly point to their "I Did the Hour of Code" sticker.

4th Grade Faves

posted Jan 8, 2017, 5:10 PM by Saint Francis Xavier School Information   [ updated Jan 8, 2017, 5:11 PM ]

There is a lot of enthusiasm for certain series and authors in 4th grade.  

  The "Secrets of Droon" fans.  (fantasy series by Tony Abbott)

 The Mary Downing Hahn fans (ghost and spooky books)

  The J.K. Rowling fans (need we say more......)

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