The Art of Reading Upside Down

Just a girl with her head in a book.

Where Have I Been?

I’ve been on an adventure.  A visit to an amusement park, riding roller coasters…. or so it seemed. I have been living life.    #jjoellepoetry



If you’re reading this, I’d like to take the time to say, “THANK YOU!” I understand it has been a few months since my last post and I will use this one to tell you why. 

GOOD NEWS: I GOT THE JOB!! (insert running man emoji)

BAD NEWS: 2 weeks into the school year, I got called for jury duty and served for 3 months!! It was not nice, and though it was my civic duty, there is no way that life prepared me for the experience, and we will leave it there. Needless to say, I had no time for blogging. 

GOOD NEWS: I’M DONE and I’ve been back at school for about 3 1/2 months now. 

I started in August at a school that serves Pre-K through 4th students.  I see classes once a week for 30 minutes each.  I am the Information Assistant to a pretty awesome Information Specialist who is on the tail of every single innovative technology source available for students. She encourages me to use my brain, and trusts me to implement the experience that I have gained during my public library years, but guides me through the school requirements and setting that I’m still learning. It’s been a great fit and transition!

What does this mean for The Art of Reading Upside Down? Well, it means growth! 

The Art of Reading Upside Down will continue to provide what more of what you’ve come to enjoy on this blog: great storytime reads, songs and book reviews. I will also start to add and share some of the projects, centers and other activities planned for our Media Center. 

With only 9 weeks left in the school year there is so much left to do, and I can’t wait to share it with all of you. 


Until next time, have some GREAT days!




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Two at Two – Interview Edition

This past year on the bookmobile has been a great experience. It’s an entirely new avenue of library outreach, and I even learned to drive a truck something that wasn’t even an interest.  Yet, this past year has made it very clear to me that while I love working in libraries, I have a specialty and that happens to be motivating children to read!

Recently, I have been pursuing positions as a library assistant at various area schools. I have been offered 2 positions but I’m waiting for the school that I feel is just right for me. Enter stage right….my most recent interview….ah ha…. it’s THE school. I’m prepared, I’m energized, I’m ready to go. After all this very professional paraprofessional knows her stuff!

Then they ask a question about a reluctant boy reader? I have a few suggestions, but I know there is this amazing animal series that he’d love.  I can describe the cover and the pictures and the text, but all else is failing to come to mind, I can’t even think of the title. I order books for our Juvenile fiction and non-fiction sections of our bookmobile, how is it possible that when I was asked this question, all thoughts of publishers, author names, or even series titles popped out of my head!? No clue!

So for personal self-redemption,

I now present you with a few animal series that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon!

Amazing Animals by Kate Riggs 

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What’s the Difference?  by Scholastic Books


Both of these series feature great photography of animals. Amazing Animals have closeups that just invite the reader to examine the physical characteristics of the animals. While the easier to read What’s the Difference? series will have the student flipping back and forth through the pages to be sure they are looking at an alligator and not a crocodile.  The student might not read the entire book, but they’ll definitely learn about a new animal.

Happy reading and enjoy your three day weekend!

Ms. Jasmine

P.S. I apologize if you’re here for the Illinios Paraprofessional Requirements, click the link. I decided to make a separate post.

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Illinois Paraprofessional Requirements

One of the reasons I enjoy my job has to do with one of the skills I’ve acquired:

  • Finding reliable sources of information.

That being said, if you need to know about a resource, I can and will find it. If I can’t I’ll get by with a little help from my other library friends!

So today I’m going to share with you some information I’ve found about becoming a paraprofessional in Illinois. This license will allow you to be a teacher’s assistant or library media assistant in grades K-12.

In my case I have an interest in working in a school library which still requires the license regardless of experience level. I’m currently taking the assessment study guide through the Wisconsin Job Center for the ACT Work Keys exam. (College of Lake County also offers the exam during the school year.)  During my studies I’ve discovered that I like the ETS ParaPro study guide a bit more. I feel it covers my weakness which is mathematics a tad better. If I hear back from my school of choice. I’ll promptly make an appointment to take the ETS ParaPro test.

Why am I sharing this information? Well, once upon a time I thought I wanted to be a teacher. I didn’t have the circumstances to pursue the schooling, but I did have the personality, willingness to learn, and the interest of working with students. If I had known about the requirements, possibly pursuing this license at that time would have given me an opportunity to work in a school setting.  It’s not teaching but it’s a close second, and sometimes when we take on the close second and love it, it will give us the motivation to make our first choice happen.

Hope this helps someone!

Here are the basic requirements:

    1. Be at least 20 years of age and;
    2. Show proof of one (1) of the following requirements:
  • Associate’s degree or higher; or
  • 60 semester hours of coursework; or
  • High School Diploma or GED and a score of 460 or higher on the ETS ParaPro test; or
  • High School Diploma or GED and the following scores on the ACT Work Keys test:
  • Applied Mathematics — 4
  • Reading for Information — 4
  • Writing or Business Writing — 3

Once these requirements are met you will need to register with the Board of Education and pay your license fees.  Links are all below. Also follow up with your local Board of Education office for any additional requirements and job postings.


Here are links to the Illinois Board of Education:

There are also Regional Offices that will be more than willing to provide information on local locations where you can take the required exams:

Happy and successful job hunting!

Ms. Jasmine



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Two at Two- New and Favorite Titles

Summer is finally here, and that means many things. Visiting the zoo, beach, Six Flags, and last but not least butterfly sightings….oh, and fireflies! *heart*

Traveling Butterflies by Susumu Shingu

Traveling Butterflies Cover

Beautiful full page illustrations follow Monarch butterflies from the very beginning of their life cycle as eggs, and follows their journey through various landscapes as they travel from Southern Canada and the United States to Mexico each fall.  This book will make you stop, pause, and smile the next time you see a monarch. You’ll say to yourself, “My little friend, it’s nice to see you. Thanks for stopping by, after all the beautiful places you have been?”

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(Storytime Ideas: Butterflies, Insects, Mexico, U.S.) 

There’s a Giraffe in My Soup by Ross Burach 


Waiter, there’s a giraffe in my soup. Seems impossible? Well just wait until you read about all the other animals that are found in There’s a Giraffe in My Soup, along with all the shenanigans that follow. 

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This is a very funny, silly read. Be prepared for lots of giggles!

(Storytime Ideas: Animals, Silly, Food) 



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Two at Two – New and Favorite Titles

 Stina by Lani Yamamoto

Stina Cover

Stina doesn’t like the cold and makes every effort to make sure that she’s never cold. That means knitting, preparing food for the winter, and even making new inventions!  One day while Stina is inside trying to keep warm, she notices children outside playing, and wonders how are they keeping warm? Well, if you read Stina you’ll find out how the kids are keeping warm AND how Stina learns the cold isn’t always so bad after all.

I really enjoyed the story, though I have to admit the fabric cover and the little girl peaking out from the mounds of scarves, kept grabbing my attention. When you live in Illinois you know the feeling of continually trying to keep warm. Brrr.

Stina also features instructions on finger knitting and a nice hot chocolate recipe, that I’ll be trying on a nice rainy day.

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(Storytime Ideas: Winter, Cold Weather, Sweaters, Clothing, Snow, Friendship)

The Sock Thief by Ana Crespo

sock thief
Felipe doesn’t own a pair of socks, but who needs to when you only wear flip-flops?  Guess who? Felipe does! So once a week he goes through town stealing the socks of his neighbors, and leaving them mangoes from his family’s tree.

Does Felipe’s crime go unnoticed? Absolutely not! At each house animal friends sound out to the neighbors that Felipe is there to take the socks. But why is Felipe stealing socks? Even more, why do the neighbors let him continue to steal the socks week after week? Read The Sock Thief to find out more.

The Sock Thief takes place in Brazil and the text features words in Portuguese. We learn animals sounds,the names of fruits and games in Portuguese. It was a fun read that would be very great during a family time. It might also open discussion with families who might have a child who likes to “borrow ” or steal things.

(Storytime Ideas: Around the World, Brazil, Soccer, Languages, Stealing, Sharing, Community)

Happy Reading!

-Ms. Jasmine

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Two at Two (but at 8:00 a.m.)

Good Morning, I want to share something today.

I have a fear and I believe this fear is totally justifiable. I like dinosaurs just as much as the next person, but we’re not reading to just anybody, we’re reading to kids, and kids LOVE, I mean LOVE dinosaurs!! Which means, they know how to pronounce the names of the dinosaurs ten times better, than you ever will! Say the name wrong in storytime, and they WILL correct you!

Your problem, and mine are now solved. Enter:

Dino Block by Christopher Franceschelli

Dino Block Cover


Christopher…I *heart*you! In Dino Block, Christopher compares the different dinosaurs to animals that children are more commonly familiar with. For example the ANCHISAURUS (ANN-kih-SORE-us) has a long neck like the giraffe, and they also ate leaves from trees.

Dino Block PagesBut why am I so crazy about Dino Block? Do you see how I gave you the dinosaur name AND the pronunciation. Dino Block features that on EVERY SINGLE PAGE!!  No more mispronouncing dinosaur names, I am now an expert. *Rejoice!!

(Storytime Ideas: Dinosaurs, Animals, Differences, Comparing, Children’s Librarian Professional Development) 


Here’s another little confession.

My other joy besides reading, is music. If you’re having a party, and I’m invited, you can be sure to find me on the dance floor! (Disclaimer: This blogger does not intend to claim she is a good dancer.)

Why am I talking about dancing? Well let’s take a look at the second of my Two at Two:

One More Dino on the Floor by Kelly Starling Lyons

One More Dino on the Floor

One Dino hears a tune, and the rhythm just makes her feet move. One by one other dinosaurs join the party, sharing their own special styles of dance. Kelly shares illustrations of the dinosaurs sharing in dance styles such as the waltz, country,swing and even the cupid shuffle, this might be a good selection when sharing a unit on the arts.

One More Dino on the Floor is a fun read, though a tad wordy for traditional storytime reading, it can be used with  adaptions. This is also a story that parents will love reading along with their children. Both will be able to relate to the newer styles of dancing that Kelly describes, and it would be a great time for communication when parents share memories of dancing to the styles that the children might not know.

(Storytime Ideas: Dinosaurs, Counting, Dance, The Arts) 



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What I’m Reading Now

First let me apologize, I missed 2 at 2 yesterday, but no need to worry the series will be sure to resume next week. Today I’d like to share with you the title that I am currently reading:

Brambleheart by Henry Cole 

A story about finding treasure and the unexpected magic of friendship. Brambleheart Cover

It’s time for Twig the main chipmunk in this story to find his master skill, which will mean his place in the world. It seems impossible when each effort he puts forth fails. When Twig sets out to find his true place and skill on his own, he stumbles on a secret. A secret that he dearly treasures, until he finds out that holding a secret may not always be for the best.

Read Brambleheart to find out the secret treasure that Twig finds and how that treasure helps Twig find his place!

With beautiful pencil drawings throughout Brambleheart will reach the heart of a student that feels like they are always “last in line.” You’ll  find yourself rooting for little Twig from the very start. I have to admit that the way this story ends, makes me think there might be a followup on the way, but we will have to wait to see.

If you like animals and fantasy. Brambleheart is very reminiscent of one of my favorite stories featuring our forest friends: Poppy and Rye by Avi.

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Both have lexile scores in the 600-750 range and are great for students in grades 2-4.

Until next time, Happy Reading!

Ms. Jasmine





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Two at Two – Favorite New Titles

Today we will look at two juvenile non-fiction titles. I’m sharing these because the art work is just extremely beautiful and I believe they would be great stories for students to look at during a quiet reading time, or to sit and share with a younger or older sibling. Especially as summer reading is nearing us. They are also both good choices for paraphrasing during storytime. The illustrations tell quite a story on their own!

Both stories share information that will show children the strong ties of community that exist even among the animal kingdom.

A Tower of Giraffes: Animals in Groups by Anna Wright

A Tower of Giraffes Cover

Using watercolors, inks, and various textures of fabrics, A Tower of Giraffes presents facts about the groups that animals families are called, and their behavior.  All ages will enjoy the pictures. Students who are in the phase of learning and remember facts will love learning that a group of geese are called a gaggle, or about a scurry of squirrels. Pick up a copy at the library to learn about the other facts that are shared!

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This book was produced by artist Anna Wright from England. Prints of her work stationary, and even notebooks (oh my dear heart!) are available on her website. I’m of course sharing this because besides books, I hoard stationary, planners, and writing utensils in a scary, scary amounts!

(Storytime Ideas: Animals, Families, Art, Groups:  I would love to see kids have the chance to create their own artwork learning from the methods that Anna has used.) 


Otters Love to Play by Jonathan London

Otters Love to Play Cover 

I have been lucky enough to live in a city that offers two of the best zoos around, both the Lincoln Park Zoo AND the Brookfield Zoo. I have always enjoyed seeing the water animal shows. Otters Love to Play features facts about, you guessed it: Otters! These are playful creatures who are great hunters and who knew? Made not only for water, but also for the cold!

While Otters Love to Play features text that may be heavy for storytime, it does include on several pages, large text that would make it very possible to paraphrase the story.

If you’re in the Chicagoland Area, here’s more information on the Brookfield Zoo and the Lincoln Park Zoo. They have great free and low cost events throughout the summer for families!

(Storytime Ideas: Animals, Families, Water Animals) 

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Two at Two – Favorite New Titles

“How much chuck, would a woodchuck chuck? If a woodchuck chucks wood?”

Someone PLEASE tell me if that’s right.? I could google it, but I like it when you guys talk back to me! 😉

Chuck and Woodchuck by Cece Bell

Chuck Woodchuck Cover

This story couldn’t be any cuter!

Woodchuck belongs to Chuck, and after Chuck brings Woodchuck to class for show and tell, the teacher decides he can come to class EVERY day.  While Woodchuck is great to everyone, he is especially fond of classmate Caroline….or is it Woodchuck?

Very sweet ending!! *Insert swirls of hearts and googly eyes here.

(Storytime Theme Ideas: Friendship; Valentines; Show and Tell)

Sidewalk Flowers by Jon Arno Lawson 

Sidewalk Flowers Cover

Sidewalk flowers is a beautifully illustrated wordless book! The story let’s us take a trip with a little girl and her dad as they travel throughout their neighborhood.

The illustrations start out in black and white with just the little girl’s coat painted red,  As she discovers hidden treasures in the wild flowers of her neighborhood, we see the colors spread as the little girl shares her treasures of flowers with others throughout her community.


I love this story! It would be great to have the children add their own words to the pictures, or tell you what they think is happening in each frame. There is even page where the young girl and her dad come upon a dead bird in the park, and she leave the bird with flowers. That small scene could be a way to talk about death with children. Excellent read!!

(Storytime Theme Idea: Wordless Stories; Storytelling; Community; Family)



Music to Sing and Dance

On a day that I was feeling quite down, a new CD landed on my desk. It was quite a blessing and it’s been playing in my car ever since.

Introducing:  Heart Beats: Feel Good Songs for Families


From the moment I put the disk into the player. My heart glowed!  Every song is about L-O-V-E and family. It’s shares what I believe to be a great message and it syncs with one of my own personal values: Regardless of  what’s going on in the world, when YOU share love with the world, IT WILL COME BACK TO YOU!  My favorite tracks on the disk are:

Track 5: Love Comes Back by Jim Cosgrove & Jazzy Ash. It’s a bluesy, jazz duet about the power of sharing your love with the world.

Track 8: Dear to Me by Rissi Palmer  This is by far my favorite track on the CD. Makes me want to learn to play it before or after Stories in the Park, I think families who visit week after week, would love to sing along!!   Here’s a snippet of the lyrics and  chorus. ♪ “If you were a bunny you’d be the hoppiest the hop, hop, hoppiest!”   ” Of all the things that you might be, most of all you’re dear to me. You’re dear to me. It’s plan to see….” ♫

Here’s a link to the production company Mighty Mo Productions.  It’s a group of musical artist that are really focused on music and family. All great things!  I’m off to sample and possibly order their other disc: Smiles Ahead: Cool Music for Cool Families, because let’s face it, I’m pretty cool! 😉 ♫ Ohhhhhhh, Yeaaaaaaaaa!♫

(This is not a paid promotion, only my personal opinion.) 




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