Books on Bikes featured in School Library Connection


Long, hot days and countdowns to summer vacation can mean only one thing…

…it’s BOOKS ON BIKES season!

Your favorite group of helmet wearin’, pedal pushin’, popsicle eatin’ librarians and teachers are gearing up for the 2016 summer season. Our summer schedule is now live, and we’re so excited to be starting a new season with the many other Books on Bikes chapters popping up all over the United States.

Just in time, Books on Bikes was featured in a national periodical, School Library Connection. We are honored to see the article in print and thrilled to be sharing our project with the school library community all over the country. Below you can find a digital copy of our three-page spread. Read to find out more about Books on Bikes! And as an extra bonus, this article will help you get to know Rebecca Flowers, Walker Upper Elementary School’s current librarian, who will  be stepping in to take over Johnson’s library (and this blog!) next year. Tip: Her name isn’t on the bio page, but Ms. Flowers is a founding member and driving force behind Books on Bikes, and the cartoon on the final page is her beautiful artwork. 

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Want to know more about Books on Bikes? Check out this ride-along video created by awesome local artist, jack-of-all-trades, and friend to biking librarians everywhere, Kevin Cwalina.


BOB Video R1 from Kevin Cwalina on Vimeo.

Coming Soon: Spring Book Fair and more!


We may be just a few weeks from the end of the school year, but don’t worry – we’re planning on squeezing a whole semester’s worth of events into the month of May 😉 And the library is no exception! Mark these upcoming dates on your calendar to be sure that you don’t miss anything.

Spring Book Fair with Bedford Falls – May 16-20

 The Johnson Spring Book Fair is coming up! The fair open for shopping on Monday, May 16-Friday, May 20th. Students can shop in the morning from 7:40-8:15, during their library time, or after school between 2:30-3:00. Additionally, the Book Fair will be open for families to shop on the evening of the Spring Concert from 5:45-7:30. While you’re shopping, don’t forget to check out the Spring Book Fair Raffle goodies and buy your tickets! Tickets are $3 each or two for $5. All proceeds raised from the Book Fair Raffle go toward funding Book Fair Scholarships for deserving Johnson students.

We need parent volunteers to make our Book Fair successful! If you’d like to volunteer your time to help students during the week of May 16, please contact me at 

Read about our last Book Fair here, and follow this link to learn more about the Johnson Book Fair Scholarship Program. 

Final Week of Student Check-Out – May 9-13

I know it seems unbelievable, but the final week of student check out is almost here! Next week, May 9-13, will be the last week for Johnson students to bring new books home. The final two weeks of school, circulation will be focused on helping students to return their lost and overdue books to the library for inventory. Every book returned is one less that has to be paid for and replaced from our limited budget – so please check your students’ backpack for overdue notices, and do your part to help maintain our library collection!

Last year, I made a public plea for our lost books. Can you save me from groveling this year?

All Student Library Books Due – Friday, May 27

Our last week of checkout may be next week, but students are invited to keep their books through the Book Fair if they’d like. In the week following the Book Fair, library books will be returned by classes in the usual schedule. By the end of this week, notices will start coming home for lost and overdue books that haven’t come home yet. I know that a lot of flyers and papers come home during this time of year – but please keep your eyes out for overdue notices! That book is probably sitting on a bookshelf or in the car, waiting to be returned. We truly appreciate the effort!

Field Day – Tuesday, May 31

Popsicles. Games. Bouncy House. Sunshine. Enough said.

Fourth Grade Moving Up Ceremony – Thursday, June 2

Bring tissues.

Books on Bikes Bike Parade – Saturday, June 4

Help books on Bikes kick off our summer season with our third annual Bike Parade! Bring the whole family to decorate your bikes, learn about bike safety, and parade through downtown Charlottesville to celebrate literacy and your favorite summer program. We will end at the Jefferson Madison Regional Library main branch for their Summer Reading Kickoff Celebration. Honk, honk – you don’t want to miss it!

Our annual Bike Parade has grown every year thanks to your help. Check it out here in 2014, and then in 2015! How many will we have this year?

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Hold on tight for these last few weeks. As always, feel free to send any questions or concerns my way via email or phone. If you’re in the building, stop by and say hello – and I hope to see you all at our Spring Book Fair!


This Month in Photos: 9/25-10/30



October is always a busy month at Johnson, but this month feels like it has been our busiest yet! From special guests and reading events to Creepy Carrots and engineering tools, October has been a blur. Take a look at some of the amazing things we’ve been doing in the Learning Leopard Library!


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This time last month, I was in Seattle, Washington in a room full of the best librarians from around North America and Canada. This fantastic opportunity to learn from the leaders in the library field gave me so many new ideas and so much inspiration! I loved hearing about how school library media specialists are making a difference in their schools and creating engaging, flexible spaces for their students.

It was also an excellent opportunity to share the message of the Books on Bikes organization to library movers and shakers to take back to their own hometowns. Above you can see me sharing Books on Bikes tshirts with famous authors like Jack Prelutzky (the inaugural winner of the Children’s Poet Laureate award!), Neil Shusterman (on the short list for this year’s National Book Award!), Susan Nielsen, and Leslye Walton. Plus a few librarians from Texas, Maine, and Washington state, who are eager to start their own Books on Bikes chapters this summer!




It may seem like ages have passed, but our Fall Book Fair was only a few weeks ago! The Bedford Falls Book Fair saw huge amounts of traffic and record-breaking sales. I was lucky enough to work with a wonderful group of parent volunteers that made the experience so much fun for Johnson’s students. Thank you to everyone that helped to make the Fall Book Fair possible!






Along with the Book Fair comes my favorite project… Book Fair Scholarships! Thanks to our highest raffle ticket sales ever, generous anonymous donations, and teacher sponsorship, we were able to fund 88 Book Fair Scholarships this year! That’s more students shopping, reading, and sharing the Book Fair Magic than EVER before. We couldn’t have done it without you!


One last Book Fair update… this year, we raffled off our biggest Book Fair Raffle basket EVER! With more than 25 books, a selection of games and prizes, and a Books on Bikes t-shirt, the competiton was fierce. And we sold a record 75 raffle tickets this year… WOW! Congratulations to our winner, Ananda! Ananda is such a huge reader and supporter of our library, I know that those books will be well loved and put to good use. Hooray Ananda!



What do librarians do on Professional Development Days, anyway? We get together to help improve our library programs, of course! Sometimes our Professional Learning Community discusses curriculum, new best practices in reading and literacy, or to present about fun literacy updates at our schools. On this particular PD day, we got together to learn about the art of book mending. Using a kit of specially designed glues, tapes, and tools, our instructors from the Jefferson Madison Regional Library can take even the most damaged book and make it look brand new again.

This Book Doctor, however, still has some training to do. It was wonderful to get some hands-on experience in book mending, and I look forward to getting some of our recovering books out of the Book Hospital and back into students’ hands! Thank you to JMRL for the awesome demonstration!





As always, the library has been full of readers showin’ off their stuff. From Dance Mat Typing to Kahoot to exploring chapter books and everything in between, the library is busy and bustling every hour of the day!

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Chase and Sahana, my Safety Patrol experts, are busier than ever. In addition to assisting with open check out in the mornings, they have also started preparing and delivering educational resources to teachers. Here, they check out a pile of books on economics for Mrs. Schaaf to use with her students in her classroom. This big pile was hand-delivered just a few minutes later!


Thursday, October 22nd, Johnson joined the national Read for the Record celebration by sharing this year’s selected Read for the Record story, Not Norman, to every student in the building. We had a little bit of extra help to celebrate from our friends at the UVA Football Team! Find out all about our special day here.



Second graders are continuing their Library Superhero training, and you can tell they are really taking it seriously. In the photos above, Super Leo acts as my Sidekick for the day, assisting patrons at the computer and checking the library for evil-doers; and Keira surprised me by showing up to library class in her own personal cape! Library Superhero twins!


Have you heard? Engineering is coming to Johnson! Last week, I posted a new project to DonorsChoose to bring an Engineering Club to our students. Before I even had a chance to post is on the blog, it was fully funded! Resources have been arriving all week, and I’m having a blast getting to know the materials and preparing them to share with students. I am working with engineering students from the University of Virginia to create a custom curriculum to challenge, excite, and inspire our students starting in January. Stay tuned for updates about the coming Engineering Club – and thank you so much to all of the Johnson families that made this project possible!

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For the second year in a row, Creepy Carrots busted out of the library and took over Johnson! Today, a brave pre-k class joined me on a carrot hunt to track down all of the escaped Creepy Carrots. Together, we counted SEVENTEEN CARROTS wreaking havoc all over the building! It was a great adventure for this pre-k group, and such a magical way to bring a favorite story to life for all Johnson students.


Later that day, Mr. Harden found the creepiest carrot of all in the Johnson Garden! I had a great laugh when he brought me this monster. I might just have to keep this guy as my creepy carrot mascot.

This has been a fun and exciting month in the Learning Leopard Library with so many great experiences for Johnson students. And none of this month would have been possible without YOU! Thank you for being a part of our library program and for making these wonderful experiences possible. I love working with you on the Johnson Elementary Team and am so happy to be a part of this wonderful community.

Wishing you a safe and fun Halloween weekend! See you next week!

My Summer with Books on Bikes


In my last post, I mentioned that I spent much of my summer pedaling around Cville with an awesome organization called Books on Bikes. Have you heard of it? If not, grab your helmets and get ready to be inspired, because I’m taking you on a spin – BoB style!

You might be wondering… who is Books on Bikes, anyway? Books on Bikes is an organization run by teachers and librarians from across the Charlottesville City Schools distric. You might recognize these faces from around town (especially the one on the far right – hi guys!) – we are the core Books on Bikes team, and the people that you’ll see at most Books on Bikes rides and events.

So what does Books on Bikes do? Books on Bikes works to provide literature to students while their school libraries are closed over extended periods of time, like holidays or summer break. There are many reasons to make sure that students have high quality and exciting reading materials to share – battling the “summer slide”, keeping students passionate about reading, helping them to practice to keep their stamina and skill growing – and we’re working towards all of them.

Over the summer, we get together two evenings a week to ride our bikes into different Charlottesville neighborhoods. Honking our horns and ringing our bells, we meet in neighborhood common areas and wait for the kids to arrive! We spend the evening in the neighborhoods handing out free books and popsicles, and sharing stories. Children are thrilled to learn that unlike the books that they get from their school libraries, the stories they choose from Books on Bikes are theirs to keep, to share, or to pass on to a friend when they are finished. With each visit, we get more books into students’ homes for them to read again and again.

Books on Bikes isn’t just about handing out books – it’s about making connections. It means the world to students to see their teachers rolling into their neighborhoods, taking time out of their summers to visit on students’ home turf. Students enter the school year already feeling loved, cared for, and noticed.

Every visit means more connections developed and nurtured with Charlottesville City Schools students. New celebrity riders join us every week, which makes each trip even more exciting!

We even get some four-legged guest riders!

This summer, Books on Bikes gave away thousands of books to hundreds of Charlottesville children. We also gave away a ton of popsicles – I have the sticky hands to prove it! From our kickoff at the Books on Bikes Bike Parade to our finale with Books on a Bus, it was a fantastic summer of making lasting, meaningful connections with students and their families.

Books on Bikes doesn’t ride during the school year, but that doesn’t mean we don’t stay busy! Stay up to date with all of the Books on Bikes action by following us on Facebook here, or check out the official website for even more info.

See you next summer!

Miss Messham featured on Charlottesville Tomorrow’s Meet Your Educator


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Head on over to Charlottesville Tomorrow to see my recent interview for their Meet Your Educator feature! Here’s a sneak preview of one of the questions:

What is the most common misconception about your job?
If you are expecting the stereotypical librarian to greet you at the door, then the modern school library has some news for you: the hair bun is gone, I am not grumpy, there is little-to-no shushing, and my library is anything but quiet. My school library is a living, breathing program that serves as the heart of its school. It exists in a constantly changing space that extends from the bookshelves and story time carpet into the digital education realm and beyond. From e-books and iPods to computer coding and blog editing, my students are working towards becoming digitally literate 21st century learners every time they set foot through the door. The field of library science has changed so much that there isn’t much about the public’s opinion on libraries that isn’t a misconception anymore. It’s up to me to show the students, the faculty and staff, and the entire community what it means to learn in a school library in 2015.

Read more – including the part of my job that I find to be the most challenging, where I see the field of education heading in 5 years, and an outside experience that has helped to make me a better educator – over at Charlottesville Tomorrow’s website.

Thank you to Charlottesville Tomorrow for reaching out to me and giving me a new platform to talk about the things I love most – libraries and literacy!

This Week in Photos: 1/20-1/23



DSC01516This week, we had a special guest in the library. Miss FitzGerald came to visit during kindergarten classes, introducing a brand new way for students to experience independent reading and improve their reading skills during library time. What does it mean? How does it work? Why are these kindergarteners wearing funny glasses?? You’ll have to check back later to find out! 🙂

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Fourth graders students began learning about the research process this week, a subject that will keep us busy and learning through the end of the year. Above you’ll see the Learning Leopard Library’s take on the Super 3 elementary research process – Plan Man, Can-Do Girl, and the Review-a-tron. Together we worked our way through the three steps of the research process and even used our library superpowers to solve a few crises. Soon, we’ll be using these skills to complete research projects during library time and in class.


DSC01520Fourth graders put their new research skills to the test with a Super 3 sort.

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Third graders had a chance to get to know the almanac this week with a group review and some almanac races. First one to find the facts is the winner! You wouldn’t believe how fast some of these students can work a Table of Contents!

DSC01526Many class warm ups this week included reflection on Martin Luther King, Jr. and the things in our lives that are worth fighting for. When asked to finish the sentence “I have a dream that….”, many Johnson students amazed me with their big hearts and huge dreams.

DSC01525 DSC01522Circulation numbers broke 9,000 this week! As the year goes on, Johnson readers get better and better at independently navigating the shelves and finding books that are a great fit. Our number of overdue and lost books is going down, and checkout statistics are going up – now those are some numbers I can get behind!






This morning, I was lucky enough to be invited to co-teach a lesson on hallway safety and behavior in Ms. Branson’s classroom. Together, we talked about what it looks like and sounds like to ROAR in the hallway. We went over hallway expectations, including staying on track and showing respect for all adults, even if they don’t teach in our classroom. I was so impressed by the conversations that we had about the importance of safety in the school. These students showed me that they are passionate about being leaders in the school when it comes to safety and respect in the hallway.

After our lesson, this awesome class had the opportunity to show me what they learned with a little test drive in the hallway – and they BLEW ME AWAY! In the last photo above, I’m standing at the end of a line of about 23 students – a line that is so straight, you can’t even tell how many people are in front of me! If you look closely at the top of the photo, you can see the ROAR Checkpoint where we stopped and went through our mental hallway checklist: Am I on track? Am I facing forward? Am I walking quietly? Are my hands safely by my sides? As you can see, our answers to all of these questions were YES!

Thank you so much for inviting me into your classroom today, Ms. Branson’s class. I had a great time and was so impressed with your hard work. I can’t wait to catch you ROARing in the hallway for the rest of the school year!

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Have you heard? I am thrilled to be the Johnson PTO Tuesday Teacher Spotlight this week! Visit the Johnson PTO Blog to read my interview and learn more about me. Plus, see a photo of my family hiking in the Swiss Alps!

Photo on 2015-01-23 at 09.36Have you forgotten about Books on Bikes? In case you can’t tell from my t-shirt, I haven’t 🙂 Despite the cold weather, this awesome organization is still delivering literature and smiles to students all over Charlottesville. Check out our recent Bundle Up with Books initiative, which brought books, hot chocolate, and a storytime to multiple neighborhoods over winter break (this event was also covered on CBS). If you don’t already, head on over to follow Books on Bikes on Facebook for photos, announcements, and news about upcoming programs.

Have a great weekend, Johnson students and families!

Books on Bikes featured on Radio New Zealand!


Books on Bikes has made a splash all the way across the world! Mary Craig, librarian at Clark Elementary School and one of the founding bikers, has been featured on NPR New Zealand. She was asked all of the critical questions: Do you wear helmets? Do the kids get to keep the books? How do you carry all of those popsicles?! Mary discusses the program, the joy it brings us, and our hopes to expand. Check out the podcast here!

Find out more about the Books on Bikes program at the official website:

Or follow Books on Bikes on Facebook here: