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End of the School Year Ed.

Published onJul 30, 2023
End of the School Year Ed.

The last three weeks of the school year are frantic. So many big jobs to do, details to keep track of, and a finite amount of time to do them. I found I needed an energizing play list to have on repeat to set the tempo and keep me on track. Check it out at the end of the article. 

The countdown begins when the end-of-year checklist that is handed out about three weeks before school officially closes. Unfortunately, it contained about a small sticky note’s worth of information that pertained to the things that had to be done to put the library to bed for the summer. Over time, I developed my own checklist. Teacher-librarians are often singletons in their schools: Not everyone will know all the tasks that have to happen at the end of the year. If you are lucky, maybe you’ll have some help from your student assistants, or a library clerk, or some parents/PTA volunteers. If you can delegate, do so. 

Closing the library for the summer involves three overlapping areas: Organizing/Cleaning, Library and Technology Tasks, and Communication. 


Some of these jobs you have to do yourself, especially if it involves supplies needed for the next year, orders that are outstanding or being sent and delivered in the summer, or organizing the storage areas for returning equipment and materials with an eye to ease of access for September. Inspecting equipment always takes a little time, as does writing repair requests for broken items and purchase orders for what needs replacing. Taking cookies to your IT department always softens the bad news. Make sure to save a cookie for yourself as you clean your office.

Library and Technology Tasks

Inventory is the big job because it shows the health of the resources that are used by students and staff alike. Volunteers can help with the physical part of the process, but the teacher-librarian is the one to interpret the data, write the reports, and tell the story the numbers represent. There are a number of reports that will help you: overdues, collection stats, lost books, titles added/deleted, and any additional information that is requested by the administration. 


Compiling and sending out overdue notices and working with teachers to help them help students (and themselves) get materials returned to the library in good condition is a job that requires first-rate relations with everyone and constant tending. It makes the teacher-librarian’s job easier if there is an expectation and a process in place. Here are a few of the things that worked for me:

  • Sending personalized notes, 

  • Making reward certificates for students with all materials checked in

  • Hosting a class award for most returned books/materials, 

  • Offering a teacher reward for getting their kids to return materials

  • Holding raffles 

  • Displaying a Tote Board Poster “___Books Returned” with today’s date, 

  • Making an offer that they can’t refuse—you’ll dye your hair the color they choose, take a pie in the face, do a skit at the final assembly, kiss a pig if ___ You set the conditions

Communicating what you do as a teacher-librarian is crucial, so sending an end-of-year newsletter to your staff and administrators (especially to your evaluator) is critically important. You may also want to send it to your board members if your position has been under discussion for cuts or is chronically underfunded. Use every tool at your disposal: blog; post “what’s happening” information on your library webpage; put a sentence or two in the daily bulletin to tell everyone what’s happening in the library to nurture the seed that the library is where it’s happening. 

If you’d like a more detailed checklist, Staying Cool in the library has developed quite a good one. It includes a reflection piece that I like. The questions lend themselves to use all year long. 

To tell the story of Einstein Middle School’s 2022-2023 year, Anne Dame, Chair of Puget Sound Council, has developed an infographic and has granted permission for its use here. What a great way to make a program visible.

Additionally, teacher-librarians are still working to promote reading and literacy opportunities available to them. 

  • Prime them with suggested genre reading lists in bookmark form.

  • Advertise and help kids sign up for the local library summer reading program. 

  • Make a newsletter to post on your school website along with a physical copy to send home to parents advertising author visits at your local bookstores and library. 

  • Set up automated Instagram posts with book suggestions and continue to advertise the library’s summer reading program–Don’t miss an opportunity to plug your literacy partner.

There are other programs that teacher-librarians can promote as well. We’re lucky to have Camp Read-a-Rama in the Puget Sound area. It’s a non-profit founded by Dr. Michelle Martin, the Beverly Cleary Chair at the University of Washington. Camp Read-a-Rama’s vision is “Making the U.S. more literate, one child and one book at a time!” Camp Read-a-Rama uses “Singing, dancing, hands-on activities (that can be a bit messy) and more to encourage a love for reading and curiosity. At the end of each Read-a-Rama, every child chooses a free book for building their very own at-home library. These are literacy-immersion programs for children ages 4 - 11.”1 Visit the website at There are in-person and e-camps that start in July.

There is also another program to get books into the hands of kids. Page Ahead’s mission statement is simple, “Guided by the fact that literacy is essential to lifelong success, Page Ahead provides new books and develops reading activities that empower at-risk children.”2 Their Book UP Summer book fairs help kids pick out twelve brand-new books. The book fairs are held in several Seattle schools. They are asking for volunteers to work with young readers to help them select their books, read aloud to small groups, and help kids put their special bookplate stickers inside their new books. This event occurs in June, but there’s nothing stopping you from getting involved now. See their site at

As they work through their end-of-year playlist and tasks, our members offer ideas about summer reading suggestions. Consider this your out-the-door summer reading list and READ THIS BOOK!

Stars of the night : The courageous children of the Czech Kindertransport by Caren Stelson, illustrated by Joana Estrela

Grade level: All

Rating: Highly Recommend

ISBN: 9781541598683

Reviewer: Teresa Bateman, author and former Teacher-Librarian in Federal Way

What do you do when your parents suddenly pack you up and send you away with little to no explanation, but a level of desperation you have never seen in them before? You survive. You survive, but your parents likely do not. This is the story of the Czech Kindertransport told in picture book format. It begins in 1938 Prague. Happy Jewish children gradually notice changes in their neighborhoods. Tent cities are popping up, filled with refugees. In 1939 the German army arrives. It is then the Jewish parents make the most difficult decision of their lives, but one that is an act of bravery and sacrifice. They trust their children to another and send them off not knowing, not knowing who arranged this kindertransport to England. That is the amazing part of the story, only briefly mentioned at the end of the book and greatly expanded on in the author's note. It was Nicholas Winton who kept the story silent until 1988 when his wife found a scrapbook in the attic with the children's names and information. He saved 669 children. This is a sobering and inspiring story with somber acrylic, pencil, and collage illustrations that bring home those dark times, but end with light.

Glasses: Eureka! The biography of an idea by Lori Haskins Houran, illustrated by John Joven

Grade level: 2-4 

Rating: Recommend

ISBN: 9781635924244

Reviewer: Christina Torres, Brookside Elementary Teacher-Librarian

The series "Eureka! The Biography of an Idea" explores the history of glasses from seeing stones about one thousand years ago all the way to the modern glasses that we wear today. The reader will learn not only about glasses but the eyes as well and how glasses have improved life for so many near and far-sighted people. Digital illustrations illustrate the various scenarios where glasses are developed and improved. An all around engaging and informative book.

Also Recommended for Grades K-6

  • Amerie, You will do great things , Highly Recommend, K-6, Reviewer Teresa Bateman, ISBN:9781250817020

  • Ayoade, Richard, The Book that no one wanted to read, Highly Recommend , 3-5, Reviewer Teresa Bateman, ISBN: 9781536222166

  • Boxer, Elisa, Covered in color: Christo & Jeanne-Claude’s fabrics of freedom, Highly Recommend, K-6, Reviewer Craig Seasholes, ISBN: 9781419756115

  • Fisher, Lalena, Friends beyond measure: A story told by infographics, Highly Recommend K-6, ISBN: 9780063210523

  • Hurston, Zoa Neale adapted by Ibram X. Kendi Magnolia Flower, Recommend, K-6, Reviewer Teresa Wittmann, ISBN: 9780063098312

Nearer my freedom: The interesting life of Olaudah Equiano by himself by Monica Edinger

Grade level: 6-12

Rating: Highly Recommend

ISBN: 9781728450988

Reviewer: Anne Dame, Teacher-Librarian Einstein Middle School

Using Equiano's own memoir, Edinger has created a unique found poetry version of his life. It is interspersed with 1–2 page explanatory spreads about the events or situations that he mentions. This creates an insightful look into the life of an enslaved person who was unusual in that he was taught to read and write, he managed to buy his own freedom, and he spent much of his life at sea (rather than working in fields or other labor). Also love that at the end they show an excerpt from his memoir then show the process used to create one of the found poems. 

The Windeby puzzle : History and story by Lois Lowry

Grade level: 5-8

Rating: Recommend

ISBN: 9780358672500

Reviewer: Stacy Wright, Alderwood Middle School

The Windeby Puzzle is made up of three distinct voices. Lowry’s voice is the first, explaining the history of the Windeby Child--the discovery of a well-preserved teenager found in a peat bog in Germany. The other two voices are two characters she created, living their Iron Age lives until their early deaths. Lowry explains she wanted to try and recreate the life of the Windeby Child--of course, not knowing the real story of the child’s life or how they really died. It was originally reported that scientists thought the Windeby Child was a thirteen-year-old girl, but further investigation showed the Windeby Child was a 16-year-old boy. Lowry tells the story from both perspectives, honoring both discoveries. She writes about their day to day and writes about the moments up to their deaths. It’s a quick page turner and readers will learn about being a teen during a time long ago.

The summer of bitter and sweet by Jen Ferguson

Grade level: 9-12/YA

Rating: Highly Recommend

ISBN: 9780063086166

Reviewer: Stacy Wright, Alderwood Middle School

Like the ice cream flavors her family’s creamery produces, Lou’s life is a balance of the bitter and the sweet. She’s working at her uncles’ ice cream stand with her ex-boyfriend with whom she never felt a spark, and King, a boy who she might be attracted to, but in a way that she can’t label. Lou, who is Métis, is dealing with a lot--most of all, the return of her white father, who has just gotten out of prison for raping her mother. As is mentioned in the author’s note, Lou is witness to racism, sexual abuse, substance abuse, and generational traumas faced by Indigenous women, girls and two spirit people. Lou is courageous, a creative problem solver, and a great friend, niece, and daughter. Bonus that the tone for each chapter is set with an excerpt from an ice cream creator’s idea book. Most older teenagers will find something timely and relatable in this tightly-woven, page-turning book.

Also Recommended for Grades 5-8

  • Marks, Janae, On air with Zoe Washington, Recommend, 5-8, Reviewer Anne Dame, ISBN: ‎ 9780063212312

  • Valentino, Serena, Never Never, Recommend, 5-8, Reviewer Jacob Schmitt, ISBN: 9781368025294..”

  • Yang, Kelly, Finally seen, Highly Recommend, 5-8, Reviewer Anne Dame, ISBN: 9781534488335 

Opening my eyes under water: Essays on hope, humanity, and our hero Michelle Obama by Ashley Woodfolk

Grade level: 6-12

Rating: Highly Recommend

ISBN: 9781250240378

Reviewer: Elizabeth Lawson, Library Support, Sequim School District

Surrounding Woodfolk’s essays are quotes from Michelle Obama. In her words, Woodfolk embodies the theme of Obama’s statements. Taken from her autobiography Becoming and speeches that Obama made, they cover a range of subjects. Woodfolk weaves through her life targeting poignant moments connecting with all readers. Incorporating this book into a library and a language arts classroom would be instrumental in cultivating cultural competency and improving writing. While reading Woolfolk’s thought on what the quotes mean to her and her life experiences, readers are asking themselves the same questions.

Men of the 65th : the Borinqueneers of the Korean War by Talia Aikens-Nuñez

Grade level: 6+

Rating: Highly Recommended

ISBN: 9781728449623

Reviewer: Eve Datisman, Retired Teacher-Librarian, Port Angeles School District

Aikens- Nuñez shares the story of the most decorated regiments in the history of the U.S. military. The Puerto Rican 65th Infantry Regiment was established in 1899. In 1950, they were called on to fight in the Korean War and nicknamed the Borinqueneers (bor-ehn-kin-EERs). She presents a well-researched account of how they endured segregation and neglect, but still fought bravely and competently, often without resources or reinforcements. After an especially bad change of leadership and the disdain of their commanding officers resulted in the near slaughter of their regiment and low morale, what remained of the 65th refused to fight, resulting in the largest court martial of the Korean War. Because of outside pressures about the secrecy and hurried nature of the proceedings, the 91 men were eventually granted clemency. In 2014, they were presented with the Congressional Gold Medal by President Obama. Sidebars, quotes, photos and maps provide context for military terms, the history of the relationship between the U.S. and Puerto Rico, and Puerto Rican culture. Back matter includes a timeline, glossary, source notes, selected biography, further reading, and index. Buy this for U.S. history courses, for research buffs, for nonfiction fans, and for celebrating Puerto Rican Heritage Month in November.

Once there was by Kiyash Monsef

Grade level: 6-12

Rating: Highly Recommend

ISBN: 9781665928502

Reviewer: Teresa Bateman, author and former Teacher-Librarian in Federal Way

Her father once told Marjan wonderful stories about magical creatures, but after the death of her mother, her father seemed to withdraw. He was a veterinarian, but often took mysterious trips, and Marjan felt isolated and alone. Now he's gone as well--murdered--and Marjan has inherited his faltering veterinary practice and something else--something strange. She's only a sophomore in high school, but now lives alone with a neighbor lady as her guardian. Even her two best friends can't help her as she has this deep feeling that something is missing in her. Then she discovers a secret her father kept from her. His stories were based in truth. Creatures like griffons and fairies actually exist and some members of their family, including her, have a strange affinity with them. Suddenly she's traveling to England to see an ailing griffon, being enticed by a billionaire who has captured many of the cryptids for his own menagerie, and finding herself working for an organization that supposedly has the creatures' best interests at heart...but does it? In a topsy-turvy world can Marjan be true to herself and to the creatures with whom she has an unusual tie? This is the author's first novel and bodes well for his future career.

Also Recommended for Grades 9-12/YA

  • Boulley, Angeline, Warrior Girl Unearthed, Recommend, 9-12/YA, Reviewer Anne Dame, ISBN: 9781250766588

  • Hinton, Anthony Ray, The Sun Does Shine: an innocent man, a wrongful conviction, and the long path to justice YA ed., Highly Recommend, 8-12, Reviewer Anne Dame, ISBN: 9781250817365

  • Illuitok, Levi, Ahiahia the orphan, Recommend, 8-12, Reviewer Eve Datisman, ISBN: 9781772274431

  • Pettersen, Siri, Odin’s Child, Recommend, 9-12/YA, Reviewer Eve Datisman, ISBN: 9781646908011

  • Smith, Monique Gray, Braiding sweetgrass for young adults: Indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge, and the teachings of plants, Highly Recommended, 6-12, Reviewer Stacy Wright, ISBN: 9781728460659

These are the songs I played on repeat on my last day of school.

Woman with slight smile faces the camera. She is white with short white hair wearing black cat-eye glasses.
Eve Datisman is a retired teacher-librarian and an active reader-reviewer for Puget Sound Council Review of Children’s and Young Adult Literature, or Puget Sound Council for short. During her recent COVID experience, she found herself setting the timer for 20-minute intervals in order to take breaks from sleeping to stir the soup. She also maintains that if she’d had a Disney stylist, she could have given Sleeping Beauty a run for her money. 
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