Attention middle and high school educators: are you looking for good, new books to use in the classroom? Watch these videosin which librarians from the Multnomah County Library School Corps introduce recently-published titles to use in the curriculum. We've broken them down by subject for convenience in viewing. Feel free to share the videos with other educators, too! Here’s the complete list of titles from this workshop.

If you missed our in-person summer educator workshops, the reading lists are now available in the library catalog!

Gotta Read This: New Books to Connect with Your Curriculum for Grades K-5Learn about new books you might integrate into your language arts, social studies, math, science and art curriculum.

Novel-Ties: New Fiction for Literature CirclesDo you lead book discussion groups or literature circles for students? Here's a list of hot, new, discussable fiction for grades 4-8.

Happy reading!

E-reader popularity has been rapidly increasing over the past few years, which brings the question to mind: are e-readers the technology of the future? I believe that they are. 
I understand many people's hesitation to utilize e-reader technology, but comparatively, the pros of e-readers outweigh the cons. Since I'm trying to acknowledge my opposition's reasoning, let's delve into the cons. A common issue is that it can be hard to learn to use an e-reader.This is a problem that won't last long. Many Multnomah County libraries offer hands-on classes on how to use and operate various kinds of e-readers, and as if that isn't enough, the website has a page filled with information to help you better understand your e-reader
Many people are opposed to e-readers for cost reasons, but each wave of new e-readers tends to be less costly than the last. Surprisingly, there are many e-readers that market for less than $100, such as the Kindle Keyboard, Nook Touch, Kobo Wi-Fi, Skytex Primer, as well as numerous others. Another factor is the comparative cost of books. E-books cost less in the long run than paper books, due to the fact that they have no printing fees. To give you a better understanding of the pricing differences, in this New York Times #1 Besteller, the hardcover edition is listed as $16.79, while the kindle edition is listed as only $12.95 (and may be discounted further by the time you read this).
I've spent all this time trying to convince you that e-readers are vastly superior to books, yet I still see a place for books in the future. I think that books will retain the market of the anti-technological; the people still clinging to the old traditions and ways (which is a surprisingly large accumulation). Even when e-readers are the status quo (just a prediction of mine), books are all but extinct, and e-reader sales continuously grow while book sales decrease, I believe that those anti-technologicals will continue to cherish books. I think that they will hold onto them as 70s and 80s children hold onto records, as mementos of the past.
Additional resources:

I've read a lot of novels set in Europe during World War II. Hasn't every reader of historical fiction? It's the just war—the only war in recent memory where there was a clear line between the good and the bad guys, which makes it very useful for literature. But of course, it's not really that simple. Recently I read Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See, and it gave a thoughtful and moving look at what it would have been like to be on the wrong side of that war.

We meet Werner as a young orphan in a bleak mining town in Germany. Germany is already turning into a war machine, one fueled by the coal mines that Werner and all the boys in the orphanage are going to be sent down into when they get old enough. But Werner is a bit of a prodigy. He has the ability to fix radios everyone else has given up on, and when his talent catches the right person's attention, he's given a chance to escape from the mines. He takes this chance, getting a place at a national school that, with the use of shocking brutality, is molding the future leadership of the Third Reich. 

Marie-Laure is a blind girl living in Paris with her father. She's a great character, extraordinarily brave, and indeed, she needs to be brave as she flees Paris, loses her father, and gets involved with the French Resistance.

The narrative alternates between these two characters and they do not meet until very close to the end of both the war and the book. The writing is lovely, and the book is full of interesting and well-developed characters.

Sometimes I look around at the books in the library where I work and despair-- the whole world of literature is darkness, except for those books I've inhabited for a while and made my own, and there are so many I'll never get to. If you enjoy fiction set during World War II, this list contains other good books that you may not want to leave in the dark.



Finding science information can be a challenge.  When you want to find research to use in your work, study, or in your daily life -- or when you are just hungry to satisfy your curiosity about science that’s in the news or on your mind -- it can be difficult to know where to start.

One way to get your footing is to ask yourself, “How would scientists communicate about the question I’m exploring?”

Scientists communicate in lots of ways, so I’ve split them into two big categories: the way scientists communicate amongst themselves, and the way they communicate with the rest of us.  In this post, we’ll talk about the first category:   

The way scientists talk to each other

“editing a paper,” by Flickr user Nic McPheeAt minimum, scientists communicate with colleagues in their field by publishing reports or analyses of their work.  A report of this type might appear as an academic paper published in a journal or read at a conference.  Generally speaking, formal communication of this sort goes through a peer-review process -- which means that experts and respected colleagues evaluate the paper and give feedback before it is published.  

Scientists might also engage in peer-to-peer debate about hot issues of the day -- for example, in person at professional meetings, or in the letters section of a widely-read journal.  

Here are some ways to find this type of "by scientists, for scientists" information:

Now you should have a good start finding research, data, and information that scientists share with each other.  Next time, I’ll share some resources you can use to find science information that is published specifically for laypersons -- that’s us non-scientists!


In the meantime, don’t forget that librarians are always happy to help you with your questions and research needs -- whether they’re science-related or not!  So ask the librarian on duty the next time you’re at the library, or call or email us anytime.


It is that time of year when students don backpacks and grab lunch boxes, jump on buses, and synchronize their schedules to the sound of a bell. Fall signifies a return to the halls of learning, to homework, and studying textbooks.

But what about those of us beyond our backpack years, who consider our formal education complete but still have a thirst for knowledge? What are we, the lifelong learners and the constantly curious to do now that school is in session?

Here is a list of some top adult learning resources available freely online.  They are especially geared toward adult lifelong learners who are looking to explore new fields of knowledge, satisfy curiosity, and continue learning many years after the backpack has been permantly hung up.

  • Open Culture is an online collection of high-quality cultural and education media including language learning, movies, audio books, e-books, MOOCs*, and language learning resources. Take a course in Computer Science, watch Oscar winning films, or learn Italian.
  • Learn Free (or Aprende Libre in Spanish) is a self-paced and comprehensive website geared toward adults learning a new technology, improving English literacy, learning math and money basics, and increasing job skills. A popular course is Facebook 101 perfect for understanding Facebook's privacy settings and policies.
  • TechBoomers is a free educational website that teaches older adults about websites that may improve their life and tech know-how.  There are a lot of tutorials here that you will not find any where else.  The great think is you do not have to have any gray hair to use it, just a desire to learn.
  •  Khan Academy is a not-for-profit with the mission to provide a free online world-class education for anyone anywhere.  It requires that you create an account and then from there you have access to a wide range of subjects including math, science, and computing.  I like this resource because it tracks your progress and allows you to earn digital badges for your hard work. 
  • Academic Earth is a collection of free online college courses from well known universities like Harvard, Stanford, and MIT.  I've been enjoying the TL;DR** video illustrating through illustration summaries of classic works, including Fahrenheit 451
  • Coursera also offers free online college level courses. You choose which courses to sign up for then learn on your own time.  Coursework includes short video lectures, quizes, peer graded assignments, connecting with other students and teachers, and recognition for your achievements. Courses range from Child Nutrition and Cooking to the History of Rock, from Scientific Computing to Exploratory Data Analysis.  

Most importantly your Multnomah County Library has a wealth of online learning resources freely available with your library card.  

You can learn a new language with Mango Connect, listen to political folk songs or medieval music from Music Online from Alexander Street Press, or study for a test and improve job skills with the LearningExpress Library.  Take a look at the library's online research page for many more choices. There are almost unlimited ways to continue learning and developing valuable new skills with your library card! 

Are you making an inquiry into a new subject, doing dedicated research, or just curious about something you heard about? Contact a librarian today and we will be happy to help you continue your search.

Do you have a favorite online resource to recommend?  Let us know in the comments.


*MOOC is an acronym for “massive open online course” an online course aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web.   

**TL;DR is an acronym for "too long; didn't read" indicating the video is a summary of the novel.

The Great Library Card Adventure is a library card campaign for K-5 classrooms in Multnomah County, presented by the Multnomah County Library School Corps. We want every student, faculty and staff member in the county to have a Multnomah County Library card. A library card is the key to the fullest use of Multnomah County Library's information resources.

Dates:  October 1 through December 12, 2014

To sign up: Complete this form by September 19. Your school will then receive a packet of informational materials.

Send completed library card applications toMultnomah County Library School Corps, 205 NE Russell, Portland, OR 97212

Applications can also be labeled "School Corps" and dropped off at any Multnomah County Library location. Remember that library card applications must be signed on the back by the student and parent before they are submitted.


For students who are getting a library card for the first time:

  • 2 free game admissions and 60 nickels or 2 fee movie admissions and 1 small popcorn from Wunderland

For teachers/classrooms:

  • All teachers receive a $5 coupon for the Title Wave bookstore when they send in library card applications.
  • All classrooms with 100% of the students signed up for library cards will receive a $5 gift certificate to Collage and will be entered in a drawing to win one of three collections of age-appropriate fiction and non-fiction books for their classroom.

The Great Library Card Adventure is made possible in part by The Library Foundation.

Logo for Wunderland Cinema & Nickel Games

Margaret MeadI have vivid memories of rummaging about in my mom’s stockings drawer when I was a kid and finding two books - one was on boys' development (my brother was in his difficult puberty years) and the other was Margaret Mead’s, Coming of Age in Samoa. I didn’t quite understand why my mom had hidden this book away and it didn’t look enticing enough to read so I left it and spent a lot of time reading about how boys develop. I wish now I had read a bit of Coming of Age in Samoa to see just how ahead of its time it was.

Euphoria bookjacket

My memory of finding Margaret Mead’s groundbreaking book came back to me as I was reading Lily King’s latest book, Euphoria. Euphoria takes as its starting point an event in the life of Margaret Mead and spins off into a tale that takes you into the world of anthropologists exploring the world of New Guinea in the 1930's. It’s the story of three anthropologists: Nell Stone, modeled after Margaret Mead, her husband Fen, and Andrew Bankson, a troubled, suicidal man who is saved by his relationship with Nell and Fen. It’s a tale of passion, imagination, memory. It makes you think about how objective any of us can be when viewing the world. And you'll be blown away by the amazing writing: 

Do you have a favorite part of all this? she asked. . .

It’s that moment about two months in, when you think you’ve finally got a handle on this place. Suddenly it feels within your grasp. It’s a delusion--you’ve only been there eight weeks--and it’s followed by the complete despair of ever understanding anything. But at that moment the place feels entirely yours. It’s the briefest, purest euphoria.

Bloody hell. I laughed.

You don’t get that?

Christ, no. A good day for me is when no little boy steals my underwear, pokes it through with sticks, and brings it back stuffed with rats.

If you’re looking for a book filled with wonderful imagery, a fascinating story, an exotic setting, and interesting characters, then Euphoria’s a book for you.

cover image of rules of civilityIf you are enamoured at all with the Lost Generation era, Rules of Civility by Amor Towles may just be the next read that recreates that initial flutter. It's not technically Lost Generation, but the feel is much the same. ​The setting is the tail end of the roaring 30s in New York City. It is the leftover last hurrah of the long party, which was the 20s, with the Great Depression still lingering. It is a sophisticated novel, which captures the romance of the time while never letting the reader forget the gritty underbelly. Mr. Towles manages to write convincingly from a woman’s perspective and has created quite the character in Katey Kontent. Katey is a witty and independent young woman making her way in the world when she meets Tinker Grey, who may as well be Jay Gatsby himself with his rags to riches story and suave debonair manner. This novel has many elements to enjoy.  It has interesting, admirable, flawed, yet relatable characters, a plot that keeps you turning pages because of the subtle twists in the story, a setting in a major metropolis at a memorable time in history, and language that is simply exquisite with its rich and unique turns of phrases like “slurring is the cursive of speech." There is unrequited love, loss and gain of fortune, clever quips, and a cinematic atmosphere. So relax. Sit back with a drink and loll the passages over with your tongue. This is one unpredictable journey.  

Today I made a discovery. I still enjoy reading old fashioned stories about the Old West.

Some people call it pulp fiction, but for me it brings with it memories of spending hot summer afternoons lying on the old metal bunk in my grandfather’s office in Eastern Washington, reading Zane Grey’s Western magazine  and paperback westerns by Louis Lamour.  

Cover for The Tonto Woman by Elmore Leonard

Well I’m more sophisticated now. I read Swedish mysteries by Henning Mankell and Pulitzer Prize winners like The Goldfinch and Olive Kitterige.  But something inside me still loves those stories about strong silent cowboys and rugged, bold spirited  American Indians who feel much but say little; times when everything seemed black and white simple.  So when I saw The Complete Western Stories of Elmore Leonard, my hand was already picking it up before I knew what I was doing. From the first story  "Trail of the Apache"  which takes place in Arizona in the 1880s, I was hooked again.  The tough realism of his later suspense and crime novels is there as well as a dispassionate awareness that makes the characters- native or white  stand out from their stereotypes.

If you are looking for a good read for a long afternoon, give it a try.

Ancillary Justice Book JacketIt’s been a great year for questing, battles with the stakes starting at the survival of humanity, and the wonders of imagined cultures and technologies.

Watching Guardians of the Galaxy was huge fun, and Ann Leckie’s debut Ancillary Justice fell into my hands shortly after it won the Hugo. And barely left my hands for a moment until it was done.

It’s wonderfully original and highly compelling. I generally read only the first book in a series (as my mission is to help you all find great reads, I choose reading widely over reading deeply) — however, I’m so attached to the main character that I will be dropping everything when Ancillary Sword is published next month.

Breq was once a spaceship, and a soldier, and a thousand other parts of a vast artificial intelligence that existed for hundreds of years. Now Breq is just one heartbroken cyborg, bent on vengeance against the ruler of the culture that created him. If you are familiar with the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy-inspired song "Marvin, I Love You" (You Tube), then you have an inkling of how I feel about Breq. 

Looking for more good space opera? Check out my list.


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