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Paraphrasing with Taylor Swift!

Paraphrasing with Taylor Swift!

A notebook, pages blowing in the wind, sitting on an electric keyboard.

Image source: “Music with Lyrics” by Tarun Kumar from Flickr

Original: “But I’ve got a blank space, baby/And I’ll write your name.”   (“Blank Space,” by Taylor Swift, Max Martin, and Shellback)

Paraphrase: I’m single, so we should date. (Lindsey E., ’21)

It can be challenging to learn to use your own words to express ideas and facts that you get from reading you do while carrying out research. Conveying an idea from your reading in your own words is called paraphrasing. Recently, the seventh graders got some great paraphrasing practice, translating Taylor Swift lyrics into “everyday” spoken English. Here are some lyrics, if you want to give it a try:

  • “’Cause, darling, I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream.”(“Blank Space,” by Taylor Swift, Max Martin, and Shellback)
  • “But she wears short skirts/I wear T-shirts/She’s cheer captain/And I’m on the bleachers” (“You Belong with Me,” Taylor Swift and Liz Rose)
  • Nice to meet you, where you been?”(“Blank Space,” by Taylor Swift, Max Martin, and Shellback)
  • “Someday I’ll be living in a big ole city/And all you’re ever gonna be is mean” (“Mean,” by Taylor Swift)

Students listed tips on paraphrasing effectively, which included:

  • Read until you understand what the sentence is saying,
  • Identify terminology that is specific to your topic (you can use it in your paraphrase),
  • Articulate the big idea, and
  • Cover it up the original source and say it in your own words.

Of course, when you paraphrase, what you write is often about the same length as the original.

When you want to quickly convey the big ideas of a longer passage, that is called summarizing.  A fun way to practice summarizing is picking a song you love, and telling the story or the moral that song conveys in one, short sentence:

Song title: “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” (Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman)

Summary:A fun word to say and make you feel good with also confusing people.” (E. Lewis, ’21)

Song title: “Sorry” (Julia Michaels, Justin Tranter, and Justin Beiber)

Summary:I let you go and now I want you back.” (E. Smith, ’21)

Can you take your favorite song and summarize its meaning? How about paraphrasing some of your favorite lines? It is a great way to get a feel for the difference between the two skills.

Of course, whether you are paraphrasing or summarizing, you have not done it right if you don’t give credit to the source that gave you the information or ideas that you use. So, a huge “Thank you!” to Amber Lovett, a library school students at the University of Michigan, for the idea of using Taylor Swift lyrics.

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New in the Library: Creative Nonfiction

New in the Library: Creative Nonfiction

This year we subscribed to a lot of awesome periodicals, like Lapham’s Quarterly, which Kiana B. so kindly reviewed for us. My favorite new periodical, though, is Creative Nonfiction.

issue of Creative Nonfiction, themed Making a Living

Creative Nonfiction: Making a Living

Creative Nonfiction‘s tagline “True stories, well told” about sums up the magazine. It’s true stories, actual events that have actually happened to actual people, but written in an entertaining or easy to read narrative style. The articles are like the flash fiction–short, short stories–of the narrative nonfiction or memoir world.

Loyal readers already know my love of microhistories, and anyone who’s asked for book recommendations or talked to me for more than five minutes knows my love of memoirs, so it’s no surprise Creative Nonfiction captured my interest.


issue of Creative Nonfiction with the theme of Waiting

Creative Nonfiction: Waiting



Each issue is structured around a theme like “Making a Living,” “The Weather,” or “Waiting,” as well as a few essays which are not structured around the theme.  The “Waiting” issue is my favorite so far, spanning everything from the non-themed exploration of the history of the term “creative nonfiction” to a chronicle of times spent in waiting rooms intermixed with quotes from holy scriptures, philosophers, and pop culture figures. It makes for a fascinating read.

So if you’re a fan of memoirs, books of essays, or Mary Roach, come by the library and check out Creative Nonfiction!

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National Poetry Month

National Poetry Month

npmApril is National Poetry Month! Ms. Seroff is the foremost poetry lover in the library, but all of us enjoy a good romp through the poetry section of the library.

We’ll be celebrating all month long–you may have noticed the flyers scattered around campus with poems on them. April 21st is Poem in Your Pocket Day, which is the particular day of celebration. Keep a poem in your pocket to show people and you may win a prize!



But to keep the poetry love going year round, here’s some cool things:

Learn about the United States’ current Poet Laureate, Charles Wright.

Did you know that California has its own Poet Laureate, Dana Gioia?

Sign up here for a poem a day, delivered right to your inbox. Email not your thing? Here’s a  a poem a day Twitter account, and a poem a day tumblr.

And here is one of my particular favorite poems, Mary Oliver’s “When Death Comes”.

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Upcoming Bay Area Literary Events

Upcoming Bay Area Literary Events

When We Collided

Emery Lord, author of When We Collided.
Friday, April 8, 2016, 7:00 p.m.
Kepler’s Books, 1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, CA





Cecelia Ahern, author of Flawed, in conversation with Caragh O’Brien, author of the Birthmarked trilogy and The Vault of Dreamers trilogy.

Monday, April 11, 7:00 p.m.
Kepler’s Books, 1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, CA



Up to this Pointe


Jennifer Longo, author of Up to this Pointe.
Thursday, April 14, 2016 – 7:00pm
Books Inc., 74 Town & Country Village, Palo Alto, CA
More information here!



The Gutsy Girl

Caroline Paul, author of The Gutsy Girl: Escapades for Your Life of Adventure!

Sunday, April 24, 2016 – 1:00pm
Books Inc. 3515 California St, San Francisco, CA
More information here!





Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff, authors of Illuminae
Tuesday, May 3, 2016, 7:00 p.m.
Redwood City Library, 1044 Middlefield Rd., Redwood City





A Court of Mist and Fury

Sarah J. Maas, with A Court of Mist and Fury, the sequel to A Court of Thorns and Roses.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016, 6:30 p.m.
1010 El Camino Real
Menlo Park, CA
Tickets are available at Kepler’s and online  HERE.


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