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Book Nooks and Little Couches / a New Way to Raise Money for Your Classroom Through Donors Choose

Berenstain Bears bookcoversI always liked to read when I was little. I had a great collection of Berenstain Bears books I’d go through over and over, and a pile of Encyclopedia Brown’s from my brother.  Like any other little kid though, I probably enjoyed watching cartoons more—usually while jumping and climbing all over the couch like I was Spiderman. Ok, so maybe I still do that, but now I love to read, too.

I really love it.  And more than that, I need it. I need to read.  I have piles of books throughout my house, shelves loaded to bursting and piled to the ceiling on others; piles on the floor, piles on my stairs. Even old ones boxed up to donate that I will never actually give away.

I like to think of these books, more books than I could read even if I had months to spend on my couch, as my retirement savings.  History, biography, true crime, sci-fi, fantasy, comics, good fiction, bad fiction, James Patterson sell-out fiction.  Anything.  I’m going to keep piling them up.  One day I’m going to read them all.  Every single one.

I have Mrs. Hopkins to thank for this hoarders-esque love for books.

Top Secret by John GardnerMrs. Hopkins was my third grade teacher and actually the daughter of my second grade teacher.  It was a small school.  One Friday she gave me a book she thought I’d like.  The name of it was Top Secret, one of John Gardner’s lesser known kid’s books.  It was a good hardcover copy; brand new, spine unbroken, dust jacket still fresh.  Looking back, Mrs. Hopkins probably bought it herself.

You don’t think about books in your school or classroom libraries when you’re that age.  There’s no thought of where they came from.  It’s a library: those books are part of a library and that’s the most natural thing to a nine year old.  Those books are all meant to be there, and nothing should ever stop that from being a reality.

Now, years later, I’ve seen what schools and individual teachers go through to get the money for those books.  They struggle for each and every book’s spine that some little kid can pass their fingers over as they walk the length of a bookshelf for that one perfect story to lose themselves in.

I didn’t know if I’d even like this book.  Didn’t have any intention of spending my Friday night reading, either, just saying that.  I took it home with me, least I could do for Mrs. Hopkins.  She was pretty cool.

But that perfect story for a little kid to lose themselves in?  That was this one.  Fridays were always TV and pizza night, and we got pop with dinner.  That was a big deal.  Not this time, not this Friday night.  I spent the entire night laying on the couch, my feet buried under one of the cushions and I read that book from cover to cover.  Couldn’t put it down.  Haven’t put it down since.

I’ve seen teachers do a lot to put books in kids’ hands, from grants to cashing in cans, to paying for them straight out of their own pockets.  There’s countless ways they do it, and maybe you can say there’s never as many books or enough money, but they do it.

Donors ChooseJust like Mrs. Hopkins twenty years ago handed me a book that changed my life, a friend of mine is reaching out through a group called DonorsChoose to raise money for her own third grade classroom.  She wants to build a book nook with little kid couches and as many books as her students can read.

Check out the link, hopefully you can give a little to make this happen.  When you enter the code INSPIRE, DonorsChoose will match any gift you give.  Gifts of $50 or more gets you a pile of thank you notes from those little kids whose lives you helped change.

Take a look, share it, talk about it, inspire a teacher you know to reach out through organizations like this.

So thank you John Gardner for writing Top Secret.  Thank you Mrs. Hopkins for finding that book and handing it to me, for smiling and telling me, “I think you might like this.”  I did.  I’ve thought about that book and the impact it had on me every day.  And thank you Mrs. Clabeaux, for being part of a new generation of teachers that are finding ways to reach out to thousands of people so that you might change the lives of as many kids as possible.

Or even just one that twenty years later might remember a book you handed to him one Friday afternoon.


from Mrs. Clabeaux at 11pm October 23rd:

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU EVERYONE who donated to my project! I put my project up this morning at 10am and not even 12 hours later was I fully funded!!!!  ♥ We are getting $750 worth of brand new books and materials for our classroom library! You have no idea how much this means to me and my students! They will be so happy and motivated that there are so many people who care about their future! You truly have made a difference!!!

Apparently I’ll Never Be a SuperFan of GetGlue

GetGlue, what is your friggin problem?

OK, here’s another social networking app.  Like Foursquare or Untappd, it let’s you check-in to certain things.  Instead of places or beers though, this one is geared toward what movies or TV shows you’re watching, what you’re reading or the music you’re listening to.  There’s even a ‘topics’ tab when you opt to check-in, so I guess you can even check-in to whatever it is you’re talking about right now.

GetGlue Topics

Please pay attention to me, I’m talking about kittens doing cute things.

Just keep in mind, no one cares.

I don’t use Foursquare so people know where I am or think I’m cool because I’m at Gordon’s again.  I’m probably going to start checking-in privately simply because people know where I am and that’s creepy.  I do it for my own amusement.  And the badges.  That goes mostly for Untappd as well, and in GetGlue you earn stickers.  If you earn enough, you can actually request physical stickers and they’ll send them to you.  I’m still deciding which ones to put on my drinking helmet, but that decision should be made shortly.

I don’t know why, but I enjoy seeing where I’ve been, what I’ve been drinking or watching or reading.  Maybe it’s the stats your check-ins offer; I like stats, I like the break down of what nights I’m more likely to go out, or how many places in one night out I’m likely to go to, how many new places as opposed to the same old same old comfort spots.  Its mostly the same olds, but once in a while, you know?

Now I’m getting off topic here by going on about Foursquare, but I think everyone’s more familiar with that than Untappd and GetGlue.  Most will also say they’re all stupid, and you’re right, they are. 

Meh.  That’s what I say to that.  GetGlue reminds me I’m not reading enough and I’m watching too much TV and that I need to branch out a little more in what music I listen to.  I have over 60gb of music right now and after reordering the list of tracks based on plays, I realize I’ve only listened to about a third of it, less if you disregard things I’ve only listened to once.

In addition to being a complete waste of time and arguably, an exercise in vanity above all else, I like to think these apps help put things in perspective.  Reminds me I need to branch out a little bit.  Good for you.

But let’s get back to the point: GetGlue, what is your friggin problem?

When you first check into a TV show, let’s say I started watching ‘Midsomer Murders,’ which I would because its awesome.  I check-in, I like it, and then you tell me to keep checking-in to become a fan.  After five check-ins you should get a fan sticker for that show.  After that when you check-in, it’ll tell you how many check-ins you are from becoming a superfan.  Thing is, I watch that shit count down when I mainline a TV show, like I did with ‘Lost’ when I watched the entire series in less than two weeks.  That superfan doesn’t show up.  5, 4, 3, 2, 1, nothing.  And then nothing.  And more nothing.

Instead of a countdown it changes to ‘keep checking-in to earn the ‘SuperFan.’  And still nothing.  Either don’t give me a countdown or give me my damn sticker.  I don’t understand.  You know how many check-ins I need, I know how many check-ins I need.  I’m watching the shows, I’m checking-in, why won’t this work?

Hogwash.  That’s what this is.  I did find this message board post, but I’d already written all this before I did, so I’m going to just disregard all ten minutes I’ve worked on it, just because this explains it.  I suppose it makes sense .  I tend to check-in towards the end of the episode, so they’re evenly spaced at about the episode length; the fifteen minutes doesn’t matter.  That three check-ins a day though? 

F that noise.  If I want to watch an entire season of ‘Warehouse 13’ in one day, I damn well better get credit for it.  I want my ‘Warehouse’ superfan sticker, GetGlue.  This is horseshit.


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