It’s Library Week!

Happy National Library Week!

Here at LRK Central, every year we celebrate Library Week, often asking you, gentle Reader, to write something about your relationship with libraries: “A Love Letter to My Library” was in 2009, then “My Fantasy Library”, followed by a dose of Piratical Booty. 2012 was “Thrills in the Stacks”, after which Twenty Years of LRK posed the question: “If a Martian asked you what a ‘library’ was, what would you tell him?” Last year came, “How the Beekeeper’s Apprentice Changed my Life.”

Or, as it says in The Moor:

To the librarians everywhere, who spend their lives in battle against the forces of darkness.

The Santa Cruz Carnegie library, with thanks to Wikipedia.

The Santa Cruz Carnegie library, with thanks to Wikipedia.

For 2015, we’re doing things a little differently—because the hard work is already done.

It started last fall when an 8th grade teacher from Tennessee asked if I would mind (mind?!) if he and a partner built a Common Core program around The Beekeeper’s Apprentice. Now, I’d always thought that Beekeeper could be a useful introduction to the Twentieth Century: World War One, the women’s movement, roots of conflict in Europe and the Middle East, the huge social and technological changes—all that plus Sherlock Holmes & villains & hansom cabs &—220px-HansomCab

well, let’s just say this is a book that I would have loved to study in school.

Now, thanks to Mr. Wilson and Ms. Russell (yes!), a generation of young Laurie R. Kings can study it—and, their teachers won’t have to reinvent this particular wheel, because these two fabulous individuals have built a unit with guided comprehension & discussion questions, vocabulary lists & worksheets, supplemental research materials, even chapter quizzes & tests, all in a ready-to-print format. (Yes, with a separate teachers’ answer packet, as well!)


What’s more, they’ve generously donated their hard labor to the world, lodging this superb study unit on my web site (where it joins the Beekeeper book discussion guide and my suggested background reading.)

I just can’t tell you how grateful and excited this makes me. Not only will it bring a lot of vulnerable young minds into contact with the Russell & Holmes gateway drug—er, book (to be fair, Beekeeper is both an ALA Notable Young Adult Book and an ALA Outstanding Book for the College Bound), it also creates another community around Mary Russell and her world: teachers eager for an excuse to teach a rousing good tale in the classroom.

So this year, to celebrate Library Week and the launch of our Common Core Beekeeper unit, we’ll focus on middle schools. I invite you and your friends to nominate any US middle school library to win a carton (28) of The Beekeeper’s Apprentice. Beginning Tuesday, I’ll draw the names of four of these libraries. The winners are free to hand the books out to their students, put them on the shelves, or turn them over to their teachers to accompany the Common Core guide. They can even sell them on eBay, if they’d rather have the cash.

I am truly thrilled about this whole Common Core project, and I hope you will be too, especially if you have anything to do with middle schools. Go to my web site before Friday to nominate your favorite library, and while you’re there, take a look at the Common Core unit. And as I said, please tell all your friends, especially those with middle school kids.

The nomination form is here.

The Common Core unit is here.


We Love Libraries!


  1. Merrily Taylor on April 13, 2015 at 5:59 am

    A wonderful project which demonstrates a LOT of work and thought. I wish we’d been able to study a book like BEEK when I was in middle school! And Happy National Library Week!

  2. Lenore on April 13, 2015 at 10:00 am

    I hope that reviewing the package will demonstrate, to anyone who didn’t know, how much work teachers put into their teaching. Teaching is not a 9 to 5 job!

  3. Margaret Wood on April 14, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    As a long retired teacher whose main aim was to woo children into the addiction and joy of reading, all I can say is “WOW!”

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