Check It Out!

Episode 39: The art of writing in the rain with Garth Stein

Even Garth Stein cries over his books.

“The Art of Racing in the Rain” is well-known to readers and movie-goers as a tearjerker. Stein says he rented space at a Seattle pizza restaurant when he was writing the book. “I’d get to an emotional part and be crying,” Stein says. “People would be like, ‘What’s wrong with that guy?’

“The Art of Racing in the Rain” has also been made into a movie.

Although published in 2008, Stein says the recent release of the movie with Kevin Costner giving voice to the dog character, Enzo, catapulted the book to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. “When that happened, I told my kids they had to call me ‘Dad, Numero Uno,’” Stein says, adding that his demand was summarily ignored.

Co-hosts Kurt Batdorf and Jim Hills get behind the wheel in this episode for a drive with Stein through his experiences with cars, racing and writing novels with strong Pacific Northwest and Alaskan settings. Stein also talks a bit about two upcoming releases, a new novel titled, “A Couple of Old Birds” and a graphic novel involving mutant goat people titled, “The Cloven.”

While not autobiographical, Stein says all of his novels include some of himself.

Stein says he began with screenwriting as a career target, but found he had a “bizarre allergic reaction to it.”

Stein then spent nearly 10 years making documentary films. The foray into documentaries helped, Stein says, because his feeling was, “At age 25, I’m not really, as a writer or a person, mature enough to have anything to say.”

He eventually came back to books with his first novel “Raven Stole the Moon,” at age 32. An early love for theater also prompted him to write a play for his high school alma mater, Shorewood High School in Shoreline, Wash., just north of Seattle.

So where did the car racing in “The Art of Racing in the Rain” come in?

Stein and his family had been living in New York for years when they decided to move back to Seattle. He got involved in racing Mazda Miata cars (something Stein and Batdorf have in common).

Stein says it was fun, but became a pull away from his family. He had decided to quit racing, would sell his car, but entered one last race. That race ended for him, he says, “Going backward, 100 miles an hour into a Jersey barrier.

“We don’t necessarily recognize our own situation when we’re in it,” Stein says. “If I’d had clarity, I probably would’ve said, ‘You know, today’s not a good day to race.’”

Episode length: 59:39

Episode links

Episode hosts

Kurt Batdorf

Kurt Batdorf is a Communications Specialist for Sno-Isle Libraries. Kurt brings years of journalism experience and perspective to his work, along with an array of interesting life opportunities including barging a house from Seattle to Mount Vernon and an inveterate love for Mazda Miata cars (Miata = Miata Is Always the Answer).

 

 

Jim Hills is the library district’s Assistant Communications Director, Communications & Marketing. Jim is a storyteller who claims to still have some ink in his veins from familial connections with, and previous-career infusions from, the newspaper biz.

 

Episode sponsors

Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation Logo

 

The Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation
proudly supports the innovative work of Sno-Isle Libraries through private donations.

 

Edmonds Center for the Arts Logo

Edmonds Center for the Arts provides an array of outstanding performing artists from around the world, hosts events and serves more than 75,000 patrons annually.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Episode 38: The world’s top librarian at the greatest library

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, Ph.D, listens to a child’s answer during a stoytime session at the Marysville Library, Aug. 1, 2019. Looking on is Congressman Rick Larsen.

Carla Hayden, Ph.D, says the Library of Congress is the biggest – the greatest – library in the world.

Hayden should know, she’s the Librarian of Congress.

And that would make her the world’s top librarian.

Hayden visited the Marysville Library on Aug. 1, 2019, along with Congressman Rick Larsen, and then recently joined podcast co-hosts Ken Harvey and Jim Hills for a conversation by phone from her office in Washington, D.C.

“I really enjoyed my time at the Marysville Library with Congressman Larsen,” Hayden says.

While there, Hayden took a turn at reading a book to a group of nearly 100 children. Hayden began her career as a children’s librarian in Chicago. Larsen followed her, reading another book to the children and impressed Hayden with his skills. “He’s very good,” she says.

Hayden touched on the evolving roles of public libraries. Before being appointed to her role at the Library of Congress, Hayden spent 23 years at the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, the nation’s first library system.

Hayden helped “The Pratt” explore new ways to serve the city’s residents, even bringing pop-up libraries to neighborhood laundromats.

“Convening is a good word to think about libraries and their meaning to the community,” she says.

In many ways, Hayden says her leadership at the Library of Congress mirrors the work she has done in Baltimore and Chicago.

“The vision was to let everyone know the Library of Congress is for them,” Hayden says. “That would include a student in a remote area, as well as teacher who needs a lesson plan on Thomas Jefferson, and people interested in things like baseball; we have the world’s largest collection of baseball cards as well as the world’s largest collection of bibles.”

Carla Hayden is the 14th Librarian of Congress and nominated to the position by President Barack Obama. Hayden is the first woman and the first African American to lead the national library. She is also the first professional librarian appointed to the post in more than 60 years.

Prior to her appointment, she was CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore. Hayden was deputy commissioner and chief librarian of the Chicago Public Library from 1991 to 1993. She was an assistant professor for Library and Information Science at the University of Pittsburgh from 1987 to 1991. Hayden was library services coordinator for the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago from 1982 to 1987. She began her career with the Chicago Public Library as the young adult services coordinator from 1979 to 1982 and as a library associate and children’s librarian from 1973 to 1979.

Hayden was president of the American Library Association from 2003-04. In 1995, she was the first African American to receive Library Journal’s Librarian of the Year Award in recognition of her outreach services at the Pratt Library, which included an after-school center for Baltimore teens offering homework assistance and college and career counseling.

Hayden received a B.A. from Roosevelt University and an master’s degree and Ph.D. from the Graduate Library School of the University of Chicago.

Episode length: 43:16

Episode links

Episode hosts

Ken Harvey is Communications Director for Sno-Isle Libraries. Ken brings broad professional experience from his service with Community Transit, Sound Transit, Reno, Nev., and several positions in radio and TV.

 

 

Jim Hills is the library district’s Assistant Communications Director, Communications & Marketing. Jim is a storyteller who claims to still have some ink in his veins from familial connections with, and previous-career infusions from, the newspaper biz.

 

Episode sponsors

Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation Logo

 

The Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation
proudly supports the innovative work of Sno-Isle Libraries through private donations.

 

Edmonds Center for the Arts Logo

Edmonds Center for the Arts provides an array of outstanding performing artists from around the world, hosts events and serves more than 75,000 patrons annually.

 

 

 


Episode 37: How to collect a collection with Jessica Russell

Jessica Russell

Jessica Russell, Assistant Director of Technical Services – Collection Services for Sno-Isle Libraries

Jessica Russel is a collector who is looking to the future.

As Assistant Director of Technical Services – Collection Services for Sno-Isle Libraries, Russell oversees the process that makes 1.5 million books, magazines, DVDs, CDs, digital and other items available to customers at 23 community libraries and online.

The Louisiana native and Texas transplant says developing a library collection is not just deciding what goes in, but also what goes out.

“It’s a lot like your closet at home,” Russell says. “There’s maintenance to be done and sometimes you have to let things go.”

Russell’s department does have librarians who sift through what she calls a “fire hose” of published materials: “We try to winnow it down to a manageable garden hose.”

In addition, library customers get to suggest items for the collection. “It’s called a ‘request for item not in collection’ and we get hundreds of RINC request each week,” Russell says.

Change in the collection is fine with Russell, who says she embraces change.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be in a profession that is changing so rapidly right now,” Russell says. “I realize that’s not uncommon, yet there is something special about the way we can also guide our community through change.”

Episode length: 29:30

Episode links

Episode host

 

Jim Hills is the library district’s Assistant Communications Director, Communications & Marketing. Jim is a storyteller who claims to still have some ink in his veins from familial connections with, and previous-career infusions from, the newspaper biz.

 

Episode sponsors

Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation Logo

 

The Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation
proudly supports the innovative work of Sno-Isle Libraries through private donations.

 

Edmonds Center for the Arts Logo

Edmonds Center for the Arts provides an array of outstanding performing artists from around the world, hosts events and serves more than 75,000 patrons annually.

 


Episode 36: Happy podcast anniversary!

On July 31, 2018, the first Check It Out! podcast aired was posted.

In this episode, co-hosts Ken Harvey and Jim Hills, along with podcast producer Debie Murchie, take a look in the rear-view mirror. Together, they share how the podcast came about, remind each other of the growing pains along the way and reminisce about their favorite moments over more than 30 episodes.

Check It Out! podcast crew (from left) Paul Pitkin, Jim Hills, Deborah Tahara, Ken Harvey and Cindy Tingley.

“Some of our guests are really community heroes,” Harvey says adding that some are celebrities in their communities, some are community leaders and regional leaders. “Coming in, everyone thinks that no one will be interested in me as a person. Maybe what I do or have done, but not me.”

Murchie shares that one of her favorite episodes was with Sarri Gilman.

“It was about finding your boundaries,” Murchie says. “Being able to say ‘No,’ and knowing when to put yourself first. Yes, help when you can, but sometime need to take a step back.”

Hills notes that while in some ways the podcast is an extension of the idea behind the well-received TEDxSnoIsleLibraries series which focused on interesting and accomplished individuals from the community.

Podcast producer Debie Murchie.

“I wondered how deep the well would be (for podcast guests),” Hills says. “Now that we’ve done this for a year, I see that the well will never run dry.”

Episode length – 43:59

Episode links

Episode hosts

Ken Harvey is Communications Director for Sno-Isle Libraries. Ken brings broad professional experience from his service with Community Transit, Sound Transit, Reno, Nev., and several positions in radio and TV.

 

 

Jim Hills is the library district’s Assistant Communications Director, Communications & Marketing. Jim is a storyteller who claims to still have some ink in his veins from familial connections with, and previous-career infusions from, the newspaper biz.

 

Episode sponsors

Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation Logo

 

The Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation
proudly supports the innovative work of Sno-Isle Libraries through private donations.

 

Edmonds Center for the Arts Logo

Edmonds Center for the Arts provides an array of outstanding performing artists from around the world, hosts events and serves more than 75,000 patrons annually.

 


Episode 35: Singing the praises of opera and libraries with Lorraine Burdick

Lorraine Burdick photo

Lorraine Burdick

Lorraine Burdick says she came late to her love for both her vocation and avocation.

By day, Burdick is a librarian at Sno-Isle Libraries working in collection development.

Away from the library, Burdick can often be found on the Seattle Opera stage as a member of the regular chorus.

“I’ve been working in the library since I was in high school. I started as a page putting books away,” Burdick says.  “And I’ve worked in all the different levels of being a staff member at the library. I put myself through college, my undergraduate degree by working in the library.”

After graduation, Burdick was working full time in a library.

“… but I was not a librarian,” she says. “A few years and went and, ‘Boy, I really like this work. I want to be a librarian.’ So I’ve been in the library since I was very young, and decided when I was about 28 to become a librarian.”

Similarly, Burdick says her early musical tastes ran toward musical theater, Harry Belafonte and the Kingston Trio, not opera. After happening upon a role with the Long Beach Opera in California, Burdick has been focused on the classic form.

That opportunity turned out to be a gold-medal choice.

Burdick decided to enter the solo category as a mezzo-soprano in the International Musical Eisteddfod in Llangollen, Wales. “(The) choir that I was singing with was going and I thought, ‘Well, I’m a singer, I will go and audition; I will go and participate in the solo competition,’” she says “I’d never done anything like that before.

“… I won first place.”

For the past 11 years, Burdick has been singing as a member of Seattle Opera’s regular chorus. “Whenever there is a show that has a full chorus, I’m in it, unless I’m not available but I usually I’m because I love it,” she says.

Burdick says her interest and expertise in music pays off while performing her duties as a collection development librarian focusing on children’s materials, which she has been doing since about 1985. When reviewing additions to the library’s musical collection, she casts a critical eye.

“I listen to see if it sounds like it’s well-produced because a lot of these are self-published,” Burdick says. “I listen to how it’s orchestrated, meaning what kind of instrumentation it has. I listen to how the person sounds, I listen to several of the songs on it to make sure they don’t all sound exactly the same. And I look and see what they’re singing about, and such.”

Combining both vocation and avocation makes Burdick smile.

“One of my favorite points is when I finish singing and there’s this moment of silence before the audience starts to applaud, that is just, I just feed on that,” Burdick says. “That’s just a joy.”

And the library?

“I really believe that the library provides many, many, many tools for people to live fully,” Burdick says. “Collection development gets to choose all the books, audiobooks, eBooks, DVDs; all the materials people can check out.”

And she loves that, too.

Chapter length: 47:05

Episode links

Lorraine’s favorite genres

Lorraine’s favorite authors

 

Episode hosts

Ken Harvey is Communications Director for Sno-Isle Libraries. Ken brings broad professional experience from his service with Community Transit, Sound Transit, Reno, Nev., and several positions in radio and TV.

 

 

Paul Pitkin is Director of the Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation. He also plays guitar, along with several other instruments, sings and writes music.

 

 

 

Episode sponsors

Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation Logo

 

The Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation
proudly supports the innovative work of Sno-Isle Libraries through private donations.

 

Edmonds Center for the Arts Logo

Edmonds Center for the Arts provides an array of outstanding performing artists from around the world, hosts events and serves more than 75,000 patrons annually.

 

 


Episode 34: Following passions for news and education with Lynne Varner

WSU Everett Associate Vice Chancellor for Marketing Lynne Varner

Lynne Varner speaks with authority about the value of higher education and the details of what is available at WSU Everett.

That’s not too unusual, seeing that Varner is Associate Vice Chancellor for Marketing at the Snohomish County-based campus of Washington State University.

But Varner has also used to her voice to speak with authority first as a reporter for the Washington Post newspaper and then as an opinion writer for the Seattle Times. Her efforts at the Times led to two nominations for a Pulitzer Prize.

Varner says those two career paths are tied together with an early desire to learn and research subjects. That desire was first fed with first jobs serving as a staff member in congressional offices and interning at United Press International.

Varner also shares that growing up near Washington, D.C. in a military family instilled an appreciation for discipline and hard work.

At the Times, Varner started as a reporter on the education beat. “I knew that someday I would leave journalism and help pull up others as they had helped pull me up,” Varner says.

Episode length: 58:10

Links

Episode hosts

Ken Harvey is Communications Director for Sno-Isle Libraries. Ken brings broad professional experience from his service with Community Transit, Sound Transit, Reno, Nev., and several positions in radio and TV.

 

 

Jim Hills is the library district’s Assistant Communications Director, Communications & Marketing. Jim is a storyteller who claims to still have some ink in his veins from familial connections with, and previous-career infusions from, the newspaper biz.

 

Episode sponsors

Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation Logo

 

The Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation
proudly supports the innovative work of Sno-Isle Libraries through private donations.

 

Edmonds Center for the Arts Logo

Edmonds Center for the Arts provides an array of outstanding performing artists from around the world, hosts events and serves more than 75,000 patrons annually.

 

 

 

 

 


Episode 33: Oso to opioids with Shari Ireton and the Sheriff’s Office

Shari Ireton, Director of Communications for the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, on the job.

Usually, the phrase is, “Baptism by fire.”

For Shari Ireton, Director of Communications for the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, her introduction to emergency management was baptism by mud.

It was March 22, 2014, a Saturday, and Ireton was out with the family shopping for science fair supplies when she got a message about a slide that had closed Highway 530. “I didn’t think much of it because slides happen all the time,” Ireton said.

What was unusual is that she heard nothing else for the next several hours. “Usually, there’s a flurry of activity, but this was completely silent,” Ireton said. “A couple of hours later, I called.”

Starting that afternoon and for the next five days straight, Ireton was the on-site public information officer for the massive Oso landslide that claimed the lives of 43 people.

And Ireton, still relatively new to her job, had not yet been through the training provided by the Federal Emergency Management Administration that virtually all public agencies use manage responses to such events. “I was on the waiting list,” Ireton said.

“There were lots of others helping,” she said. “And, I have to give a shout-out to the Everett Herald … those reporters; we walked through it together from day one.”

Ireton notes that she is not a commissioned officer, doesn’t carry a gun and can’t arrest people.

What she can and does do is interact with the media and public and tell the stories of the Sheriff’s Office.

“The role is changing,” Ireton said. “Deputies are doing more social work, mental health work that we’ve ever done before.”

Ireton made note of effort that started in 2015, pairing a deputy with a social worker. Together, they visit homeless camps and make other contacts with the goal of addressing underlying causes. Ireton said that almost always they find a combination of untreated mental health and addiction issues. The approach, she says, “has been really successful.”

Episode length: 47:20

Links

Episode hosts

Ken Harvey is Communications Director for Sno-Isle Libraries. Ken brings broad professional experience from his service with Community Transit, Sound Transit, Reno, Nev., and several positions in radio and TV.

 

 

Jim Hills is the library district’s Assistant Communications Director, Communications & Marketing. Jim is a storyteller who claims to still have some ink in his veins from familial connections with, and previous-career infusions from, the newspaper biz.

 

Episode sponsors

Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation Logo

 

The Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation
proudly supports the innovative work of Sno-Isle Libraries through private donations.

 

Edmonds Center for the Arts Logo

Edmonds Center for the Arts provides an array of outstanding performing artists from around the world, hosts events and serves more than 75,000 patrons annually.

 

 


Episode 32: Summer fun and Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation

Chapter 1

Did you know that July 17 is Yellow Pig’s Day?

Podcast co-host Paul Pitkin didn’t know either when he brought it up, but you will now.

According to a not-quite exhaustive online search, two Princeton math students – David C. Kelly and Michael Spivak – began in the early 1960s celebrating July 17 as Yellow Pig’s Day in honor of mathematics and the number 17, a prime number. The day continues to be celebrated at the Hampshire College Summer Studies in Mathematics, which is headed by Kelly.

Why a yellow pig? Even Google isn’t sure, but rumors say Kelly had a collection of yellow pigs. The mascot of the holiday, a yellow pig, has 17 toes, 17 eyelashes and 17 teeth.

Closer to home, other fun things happening in July include the literally hundreds of Explore Summer events at all 23 community libraries in the Sno-Isle Libraries district, plenty of community events and summer-fun resources listed online at “A Sno-Isle Summer” and two Hogwarts summer day-camp events at the Granite Falls and Snohomish libraries.

And, co-host Jim Hills confesses that he didn’t know what he was talking about in podcast Episode 27. Hills said that Spokane’s Bloomsday celebration (which happens in May) is related to all the other Bloomsday celebrations around the world. The non-Spokane, non-May events happen on June 16, which is the day depicted in James Joyce’s novel “Ulysses.”  The day is named after Leopold Bloom, the central character in the book. Spokane’s Bloomsday Run is not about the book and also not affiliated with the area’s Lilac Festival, but both happen around the same time in May.

Links

Chapter length: 23:24

Chapter 2

Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation Executive Director Paul Pitkin (left) and bestselling author Kristin Hannah at a Foundation meet-the-author event in 2017 at the Marysville Opera House. Photo gallery

Paul Pitkin is here to have an impact.

And, having an impact requires money.

Which makes it really fortunate that Pitkin is Executive Director for the Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation and in charge of raising money for library programs that have positive impacts on lives and in communities across Snohomish and Island counties.

Paul talks about the opportunities that are available through the foundation to build communities.

The foundation funds a variety of programs and services that the tax-supported library district

cannot, including things such as:

  • Third-Grade Reading Challenge
  • TedXSnoIsleLibraries
  • Bookmobile services
  • Issues That Matter
  • The Nysether Family Collection
  • Children’s Services
    • Expanding science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) initiatives through programming, training for both staff and caregivers and community library space enhancements.
    • Videos showing parents how to prepare their children to read early and establish a lifetime of reading and knowledge.
    • Helping improve overall childcare and education by providing STARS training to child caregivers and educators.
    • Providing opportunities with Structured Play kits for children to enhance language and literacy skills.
    • Presenting the Every Child Ready to Rock and Read Concert Series.
  • Other ongoing programs
  • Ready Readers
  • Cultural and literacy programs
  • Leadership development
  • Teen programs
  • Summer learning programs.

Links

Chapter length: 23:45

Episode hosts

Ken Harvey is Communications Director for Sno-Isle Libraries. Ken brings broad professional experience from his service with Community Transit, Sound Transit, Reno, Nev., and several positions in radio and TV.

 

Paul Pitkin is Director of the Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation. He also plays guitar, along with several other instruments, sings and writes music.

 

 

 

Jim Hills is the library district’s manager of communications and marketing, a storyteller who claims to still have some ink in his veins from familial connections with, and previous-career infusions from, the newspaper biz.

 

Episode sponsors

Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation Logo

 

The Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation
proudly supports the innovative work of Sno-Isle Libraries through private donations.

 

Edmonds Center for the Arts Logo

Edmonds Center for the Arts provides an array of outstanding performing artists from around the world, hosts events and serves more than 75,000 patrons annually.

 

 


Episode 31: Behind the business and communications of Sno-Isle Libraries

Communications Director Ken Harvey (left) and Administrative Services Director Gary Sitzman.

First thoughts of a library likely evoke mental images of librarians and shelves full of books.

This episode of “Check It Out!” looks at two positions that might not spring to mind when imagining libraries, but play critical roles in managing the business aspects and communications needs of a large public agency

Gary Sitzman is Administrative Services Director and Communications Director Ken Harvey both sit on the leadership team for Sno-Isle Libraries. Each of them has extensive professional experiences outside of public libraries and bring those skills to the opportunities to serve communities and customers.

Together, they share their thoughts on leadership, tips on success in the business world and what’s next for public libraries.

Sitzman joined the library district five years ago following a career primarily in the wood-fiber products industry. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, the avowed “cheesehead” who unabashedly wears a Packers jersey during the football season, Sitzman started at Scott Paper in Wisconsin. He moved to Snohomish County and a position at the former Scott Paper mill in Everett. His career came full circle when he helped oversee the closure of that plant after it transitioned to Kimberly-Clark ownership.

Harvey came to Sno-Isle Libraries in 2011 following stints at Community Transit and Sound Transit. With additional prior experience in TV, radio and emergency management, Harvey can look through many lenses at the needs and ways to communicate library district information to customers as well as non-customers.

Sitzman shares that the lessons learned about adapting as a child growing in a military family that was often on the move have helped him in the business world. “I think there is an element of (adaptability) in leadership,” Sitzman says.  “Leaders have a sense of where they want to go and some enthusiasm for how to get there, but also not being afraid to step out and be adaptable to the outcomes.”

Harvey agrees that growing up with a family with military service brings such benefits along with a sense of something greater than the individual and sense of service.

Away from the job, the pair say that it’s important to have a way to leave the pressures of the day behind.

For Sitzman, that includes mountain biking at the moment and Harvey says he enjoys a variety of activities including relearning to play the viola and dabbling in arts and crafts projects.

As for the future of where they work, both say libraries always have and will continue to evolve to serve customers.

“(Some) ask do we need brick-and-mortar libraries anymore?” Sitzman says “That’s a myopic view for what a library brings to a community.”

Harvey says the definition is continuing to transform. “The physical space is an important gathering place and giving access to materials, while at the same time, libraries are also serving outside those four walls.”

Episode length: 55:18

Links

Episode host

 

Jim Hills is the library district’s manager of communications and marketing, a storyteller who claims to still have some ink in his veins from familial connections with, and previous-career infusions from, the newspaper biz.

 

Episode sponsors

Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation Logo

 

The Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation
proudly supports the innovative work of Sno-Isle Libraries through private donations.

 

Edmonds Center for the Arts Logo

Edmonds Center for the Arts provides an array of outstanding performing artists from around the world, hosts events and serves more than 75,000 patrons annually.


Episode 30: Third-graders Part 2, a community hero and book notes

Chapter 1 – Third-Grade Reading Challenge, Part 2

There is so much going on with the “Sno-Isle Libraries Mega-Fun, Biblio-Trivia, Rockem-Sockem Third-Grade Reading Challenge” that it takes two segments to get it all in.

Joy Feldman speaks with students during a third-grade reading challenge semifinal event at Hillcrest Elementary in 2019.

This literary trivia program for students enrolled in public schools throughout Snohomish and Island counties. Part 1 explores the origins of the reading challenge and the important academic and development reasons it is aimed at third-graders.

In Part 2, Sno-Isle Libraries reporter Abe Martinez continues his conversation with Joy Feldman, Lead Librarian for Early Literacy, and Jane Lopez-Santillana, Children’s Librarian at the Oak Harbor Library. They explore the origins of the reading challenge and the important academic and development reasons it is aimed at third-graders.

Feldman points out that while the program is focused on reading, introducing students to teamwork is a significant part of the reading challenge. “Teamwork very important,” Feldman says. “Teams with that do have a mix of abilities tend to do better.”

Jane Lopez-Santillana (with microphone) and author Patrick Jennings at the 2015 third-grade reading challenge finals at the Edmonds Community College Black Box Theater.

There can be benefits to the families of the participating students, too, Lopez-Santillana says.

“Many (school staff members) mention that the third-grade reading challenge brings parents in who they don’t otherwise see,” Lopez-Santillana says. “Parents mention they are having more interactions with their children. Students have said, ‘This is the first time reading in English in my house’ and ‘I’m reading to my little brother and he likes it so much he’s making me read every night.’”

The third-grade reading challenge encourages children to have fun and enjoy reading while honing their literacy and teamwork skills. After reading six books, children participate in in-school, semifinal and final Reading Challenge events. These competitive events are styled like a knowledge quiz bowl, testing the teams’ knowledge of the books.

In 2018-19, 1,334 third-graders participated on 193 teams from 51 schools across Snohomish and Island counties.

Links

Chapter length: 5:51

Chapter 2 – Spotlight on a Community Hero: Shaelyn Charvet Bates

Shaelynn Charvet Bates

Libraries have long been part of Shaelynn Charvet Bates’ life.

Growing up in Snohomish, Bates says her parents would let her go by herself to the library, then housed in the Carnegie building, knowing she would be safe and entertained.

“I spent a lot of time there in high school,” says Bates, now a Lake Stevens resident. “I read a lot of stuff. I read a lot of science fiction, I read a lot of historical fiction.”

Bates adds that books, and the library, first caught her attention as a student at Cathcart Elementary where she discovered choose-your-own-adventure books. “You could read 15 different endings in one book and I just thought it was so clever,” she says.

At college to get a teaching degree, Bates says an “off-hand comment” by a professor put her on a path back to the elementary-school library and Snohomish where she is now, serving as school librarian at Riverview Elementary.

Bates says familiarity with library resources paid off on a recent cross-country family vacation by car, even though they were far from home. “We downloaded audiobooks from OverDrive,” Bates says. The result was family-time listening to and then discussing the stories.

Links

Chapter length: 5:29

Chapter 3 – Book Notes with Marie Byars

Oak Harbor Library staff member Marie Byars offers two recommendations:

  • “Something in the Water” by Catherine Steadman, is a “fast-paced, twisty thriller,” Byars says.
  • “Our House” by Louise Candlish is the story of divorced parents take turns coming back to the family home to raise their children until one day the mother finds a moving van at the house and a new family moving in.

Chapter length: 1:38

Episode host

Ken Harvey is Communications Director for Sno-Isle Libraries. Ken brings broad professional experience from his service with Community Transit, Sound Transit, Reno, Nev., and several positions in radio and TV.

 

Episode sponsors

Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation Logo

 

The Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation
proudly supports the innovative work of Sno-Isle Libraries through private donations.

 

Edmonds Center for the Arts Logo

Edmonds Center for the Arts provides an array of outstanding performing artists from around the world, hosts events and serves more than 75,000 patrons annually.