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Bibliophiles’ Mutual Aid Society: Finding time to read

Bibliophiles’ Mutual Aid Society: Finding time to read

"Minute to Midnight" by Gunter on

“Minute to Midnight” by Gunter on

Last week members of the Casti community gathered to brainstorm strategies for having a rich life as a pleasure reader. Here are the ideas shared by students and adults in our community. We would love to hear your strategies for finding time to read in the comments below!

Finding time to read:

In addition to the recent post, Five Steps For Making An Intentional Practice of Reading, community members suggested:

  1. Listen to audio books while commuting, exercising, etc. (check them out from your public library)
  2. Sit on the heating vent–very cozy!
  3. I schedule time on my calendar.
  4. I have a Goodreads account, so I can look for books that I want to read and mark books I have already read.
  5. I use Novelist (through the library databases page) to find new books, and the library Pinterest page, too.
  6. I am attempting to read 50 books in 2015–setting goals helps.
  7. Do the library reading challenges.

How to stop reading when the time is right:

    1. Don’t plan to stop at the end of the chapter. It will be a cliffhanger. Instead, plan to stop mid-chapter.
    2. Set a timer to ring when you need to stop. Leave it across the room, so you need to get up and turn it off. Put the book down when you get up to turn it off.
    3. If you are the kind of person who reads random pages in a book before you even start, read the end of the book when you know you are going to need to stop in the middle. That breaks you of the “need to know” and will allow you to enjoy the rest of the book at a reasonable pace.
    4. Read different types of books at different times-ones that are interesting but can be read in small chunks during the week/school weeks, a whole pile that I cannot put down for weekends/vacations.
    5. If you are eReading, use an app like Time Out to grey your screen and make you stop.
    6. Play some non-booky music. (Maybe set a device to start playing it when your reading time is up?)
    7. I always read over breakfast — it’s a short time span, with a hard stop, as I must get up and come to Casti! I’ve ceased worrying about making it to the end of a chapter, who cares.
    8. Listen to audio books while commuting, exercising, etc. (check them out from your public library).
    9. Read in a public space like The Circle or a community area in your home like the living room or kitchen-where distractions will come up and you’ll be reminded to look up and smile at someone getting a snack, say hi to a family member, or admire the beautiful blue sky.
    10. When you want to stop reading, take a break to do a mindfulness activity (such as a short meditation, apps like Stop, Breathe, & Think can help; Headspace is another) to get yourself out of the book, calm your mind, and ready yourself to shift gears.

Sometimes, if I really need to read for relaxation, I:

  • Re-read books I have read before;
  • Read something that I want to read, but know will not hold my attention for long; or
  • Read humorous essays that are just a few pages long, short stories, poems.
  1. Opening the shades and get lots of light in the room.
  2. Set page limits.
  3. Put an action item on your bookmark–get up and get a snack, do ten jumping jacks; you can list all the things you want to get done.
  4. Put a timer on your reading lamp.
  5. Choose books with dense action–even when you read a bit, you feel like something happened!
  6. Read when I have time to sit down and do it!
  7. Read realistic fiction–there is no action, so no suspense!
  8. Come to the library, and leave the book there when you leave–what you read in the library, stays in the library.
  9. Read with a buddy, parent, sibling – you can discuss the book, and you won’t want to get ahead of the other person.
  10. Read aloud (as a family) over dinner.
  11. Stop reading when you feel tired.
  12. Read a mixture of different genres–poems, short stories, essays, and magazines (that you can now check out from the library) are all things that are short.
  13. Take the train to school! That gives you time to read in both directions!


Posted in Did You Know?, Student Work0 Comments

AS King Can Read Like a Pirate–Can You?

AS King Can Read Like a Pirate–Can You?

AS King Blog Image

Ahoy and avast, ye mateys who love a good guffaw! September 19th is Talk Like a Pirate Day, and we library lubbers are styling it Read Like a Pirate Day at Casti. Join in during break and lunch, offer a dramatic reading from your favorite story or poem–but say it in pirate! (“Aaarrg! I do not like green eggs and ham, you scurvy dog!” “You do not like them, so you say, try them. Try them. And you may. Try them or walk the plank, I say!”)

It is time to get your pirate gear ready, because you can come to school in costume. We will be checking out a limited supply of pirate hats Thursday at lunch, on the Circle.

Then, get ready to bring a piratical reading to break or lunch on Friday. On the circle, we are setting up a mic where you can do a dramatic reading to delight one and all. There will be prizes for anyone who reads like a pirate.

“What is a piratical reading?” you might now be asking. Well, it would generally fall into one of three categories:

  1. A passage from a story or a poem about pirates (see AS King’s video, below);
  2. A passage read in a pirate voice; or
  3. A passage that you have translated into Pirate speak (see examples and glossaries below).

Each reading should be short–about 1-2 minutes in length.

For example:

“I’ll not be swabbin’ the decks, not me!”
Said fearsome Gnarly Anne McGee
“I be afeard o’ measles and o’ mumps,
A gash, a rash an’ scurvy bumps.
The water be addled, the grog runs dry
The gangway hit me in me eye!
Them weevils be as big as rocks!
I be countin’ sixteen bloody pox
An’ I spy one more–thar be seventeen,
And, sink me! This sea dog be lookin’ green!”
–Adapted from Shel Silverstein’s “Sick”


Yo, ho! Me wench’s eyes be darker than the sun;
Blood be redder than her lips;
If masts be white, why then her peg leg be dun;
If hairs be riggings, black riggings grow out of her head.
I don’t be swabbin’ the deck muchly,
But it be cleaner than me lass’ duds;
And in Davy Jones’s locker is there less addle
Than in the breath that from me wench reeks.
I love to hear her blethering, yet I be well aware
That the shanties me mateys sing be lovelier;
Ne’er a mermaid has lured me under;
Me wench when she sails goes by the wind.
    And yet, I swear I’ll be true to that lassie,
    Or ye can make me walk the plank.

–Adapted from Shakespeare’s “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun” (Sonnet 130)

Should you want some help translating into Pirate speak, here are some glossaries you might find useful:

To get you inspired, here is AS King, author of the forthcoming Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future andPrintz Honor recipient for Please Ignore Vera Dietz, reading from her piratical book The Dust of 100 Dogs.


Posted in Events & Celebrations1 Comment

My Favorite Things: Date Range Filtering

My Favorite Things: Date Range Filtering

Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 1.59.57 PM

Have you ever wished you could look at webpages on a particular topic…but only from the last month? Identify books about FDR, but only those written during his presidency? Find pictures of One Direction, but only those posted during their X Factor days?

Google’s Date range filter allows you to specify a time period from which you want content. It works in general Web search, Images, Videos, News, and Scholar, and comes with automatic settings for items ranging from the past hour to the past year. So, for example, if you want only the latest help pages for using Google Drive, you can limit them to the past year and not get information that was last relevant in 2011.

Even cooler is the Custom range option, where you can tell Google from exactly what dates you want to see pages. Custom range allows you to tell Google that you want to see content from between two specific dates, such as pictures of One Direction posted to the web specifically between July 23, 2010, and December 12, 2010. Your can select a range of a single day, decade, or century. So, you could look for mentions of President Obama, but only before he announced he was running for president. Or take a snapshot of the reaction from the scientific community on the very day when Stephen Hawkings announced he no longer believed black holes existed as we have been thinking about them.

Physicist Stephen Hawking announced a new position on black holes on January 22, 2014.

This tool came in very handy recently, when I was writing a blog post about cool things authors do in addition to writing their books. I wanted to look at author Scott Westerfeld’s first blog post about parasites.

(1) I knew Westerfeld’s web address, so I did a site: search for [ parasite], asking Google to only look within that one website for any pages containing the word parasite.

[ parasite]


(2) By clicking on the Search tools button at the end of the menu appearing below the search box, I open a set of options, which appear in a new row. In general Web search, I get: Any timeAll results, and my location.

[scottwesterfeld parasite] search tools

(3) By clicking on Any time, I open a list of possible time filters:

  • Any time
  • Past hour
  • Past 24 hours
  • Past week
  • Past month
  • Past year, and
  • Custom range

I click on Custom range.

[scottwesterfeld parasite] any time open

(4) A Custom range box pops up, and lets me chose the dates I want my range to start and end. Since I know that Peeps was published in 2005, I ask for any pages from Westerfeld’s site that mention parasites, and which Google found before 2006. Google will auto-correct who years entered into the To box to the last day of the year–in this case, 12/31/2006.

[scottwesterfeld parasite] custom range

(5) I am now only seeing pages Google found before December 31, 2006. It tells me that the date filter is on right there in the menus under the search box. Also, each result showing on the page now also tells me the date on which Google first visited it.

[scottwesterfeld parasite] custom range on

(6) Another cool option has now appeared: there is a Sort by relevance drop-down menu, which allows me to change the order of my results. Now, I can Sort by date, instead. Note that pages sorted by date will be in reverse chronological order, meaning that the most recent pages will come first.

[scottwesterfeld parasite] sorted by date(7) Finally, it is simply a matter of going to the final result, or the earliest page on Westerfeld’s website that mentions parasites. Note that Google found it on August 21, 2005, which was actually the same day it was posted to the web.

[scottwesterfeld parasite] earliest post

I find that I use date range filtering a lot when I search. It can help me isolate a desired point in time, and using the date range filter in combination with the Sorted by date feature turns out to b very useful if I am trying to find the original source of an idea or an image.

How might you use it?

Posted in Did You Know?0 Comments

What Is Steampunk?!?

What Is Steampunk?!?

"LuftFlotte Steampunk..." by stephanie at

“LuftFlotte Steampunk…” by stephanie at

“What is steampunk, anyway?”

We got that question a number of times last year, so we are here to explain.

After looking at a lot of different definitions, one source sums it up handily:

Steampunk is modern technology—iPads, computers, robotics, air travel— powered by steam and set in the 1800’s.

Often, steampunk is referred to as Victorian fantasy; stories take aspects of modern technology and adapt them to the Victorian age. It can be full-on alternate reality, like Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan trilogy, or it can simply be an underlying feature in a more realistic novel. Steampunk novels tend to have a dark feel to them.

Here is a sampling of the steampunk novels you can find in the library:

The Hunchback Assignments

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 10.00.14 AM

The Finishing School series

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 9.58.07 AM

The Lazarus Machine

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 9.58.17 AM

Fever Crumb

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 9.58.27 AM

Something Strange and Deadly and A Darkness Strange and Lovely

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 9.58.34 AM Screen Shot 2014-08-15 at 11.05.54 AM

The Leviathan Trilogy: Leviathan Behemoth Goliath

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 10.02.59 AM

Want to learn more about steampunk? Here is a good place to start.

Try out a new genre today!

Corrine M. ‘15 with Ms. Bergson-Michelson


Posted in Did You Know?, Reviews & Recommendations0 Comments

Novels on 10th Grade Debate Topics

Hey, Upper Schoolers! With break coming up, we thought you might enjoy some pleasure reading. In case you want to check out a novel that deals with the same topics as your debates, we pulled together a list of some you might enjoy:

Immigration:      Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 12.08.43 PM

Under the Mesquite

A Step from Heaven


Secret Side of Empty

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 2.35.06 PM

Medical Marijuana:

The Universe vs Alex Woods

Death penalty:

Change of Heart
Discovering Wes Moore


Marriage equality:Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 2.43.44 PM

Wide Awake
Sing You Home


Love and Haight
Uses for Boys

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 2.49.38 PMGun control:

Hate List
Blank Confession
And We Stay


Posted in Reviews & Recommendations0 Comments

2014 Edible Book Festival was a Resounding Success!

Creations by: Samantha Noeth Lewis ’19, Hannah Knowles ’15, and Katherine Sam ’16

Yesterday, Casti celebrated our inaugural Edible Book Festival. We played literary games, created blackout poetry, and had a cakewalk for fantastical book-themed cupcakes crafted by Jessa M. (‘18).

Without a doubt, however, the highlight of the afternoon was viewing the Edible Book Contest entries and voting for favorites. The more than eighty creations submitted made it difficult to chose, but in the end over 100 people cast ballots.

Congratulations to the five winning entries, selected by popular vote:

Most original

little mermaid

“Little Mermaid”
by Zoe B., Elana R., Grace E., Kaitlin R., Sarah B. ‘18














Most appetizing

looking for baked alaska

“Looking for Baked Alaska”
by Anna ‘15 & Kathryn V.










Best visual presentation

it's catching on fire

“It’s Catching on Fire!!!”
by Alexana D. and Roxana S. ‘20













lays miserables

“Lays Miserables”

by Athena N. ‘19


People’s choice 

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”
by Jas G., Emi S., Lauren A., Riona Y., Naira M. ‘19













Each winning entry received an engraved Casti Red Spatula Statuette.


Here are more of the wonderful entries that we got to enjoy:


A huge thanks as well to the student committee who helped plan and advertise the event: Lauren B. ‘20, Sarah L. ‘20, Sophie N.L. ‘19, Jessa M. ‘18, Anna Y. ‘15, Megan C. ‘15.

Posted in Events & Celebrations0 Comments