Today I helped my librarian with inventory. This process must take place twice each school year, once at the beginning of the year and then again towards the end. Every book must be scanned and then a report is run to verify that all the books we started the year with are still on the shelves.
This was my second time working the shelves with a scanner. It’s a glorious job for someone who likes to look at books. Which is me! I always end up writing down titles or taking screenshots of books that I want to read for myself.
Today I was scanning our Sports, Mystery and Fantasy sections. The Sports section was not too long and honestly, there really weren’t any books in that section that truly grabbed my attention. The Mystery section held some books that I stopped and read the dust jacket and made a mental note of, but it was in the Fantasy section that my brain started working in overload mode.
A particular book caught my attention as I titled it out to scan it. The book was “Before the Sword” by Grace Lin. And I was looking for a book like this one at the beginning of the year, but I didn’t know how to find it. Our librarian was out on family leave at the start of the school year, or she would have pointed me to this book in a hot minute.
I was doing an Extra Credit Book project with my Ancient Civilizations unit in Social Studies. It was super easy to find books on the Greek and Roman civilizations – thank you Rick Riordian for the Percy Jackson books, and Mark of a Thief by Nielson is an excellent look at Rome. There was even a superior series on Ancient Egypt, the Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordian for Ancient Egypt.
The only two civilizations that I had trouble finding books for were China and India.
I did some online searching for book titles but was not familiar with any of the books that popped up. Also, I don’t like to advertise books that I have not personally read, or that someone I trust can vouch for.
Needless to say, our project fell a little flat of truly giving students a look at the fiction world that comes from those ancient civilizations.
Then I saw “Before the Sword” and it is set in Ancient/Imperial China! I was so delighted I called my librarian over and asked her about the book. She mentioned it was a new title but she heard great things about it. Then she was able to point me to a Newbery Medal title by the same author, “Where Mountain Meets the Moon” and I was so excited!
This time of year, especially for me, since I’m a complete nerd, I start getting really excited about next year.
I know, this year still isn’t over, but the end is IN SIGHT! And my brain tends to wander, how I can improve my instruction and classroom resources for next year.
Now I know that I can truly give my students a more complete set of books for their Ancient Civilizations unit, since I can vouch for titles for 4 out of the 5 civilizations.
I am still going to be on the hunt for one or two titles for Ancient India, so if you know of any, please send me a message with your favorite one!