New Library Signage!

We are so excited about the new shelf signage in our library and we are getting very positive feedback from our students! The shelf signage was creating right here at FCS through a collaborative effort that included our Light Lab, the Library, and our fantastic Physical Plant.

The National Geographic Kids Amazing Awesome Almanac Quiz Show


It’s the 10th anniversary of the world’s best-selling almanac for kids! To celebrate the 2020 National Geographic Kids Almanac, FCS Lower School hosted an interactive comedy show by the nationally acclaimed Story Pirates! The quiz show was made up of a series of interactive games and challenges that required student and teacher participation. Students loved the fast facts about animals, science, nature, technology, and conservation and the opportunity to display their knowledge!

April is National Poetry Month

Library Poet-tree #1


Lower School students celebrated National Poetry Month by learning about different types of poetry and then writing their own original poetry for two of our Library Poet-trees. We built one tree in the hallway outside of the library.


Library Poet-tree #2, designed and constructed by students




A second Poet-tree in the form of a sculpture made from natural materials was created by a 5th grade student with help from friends. This Poet-tree took up residence inside the library.




5th grade students focused on writing black-out poems: poems created by removing words from recycled book pages. Grades 3 and 4 wrote original poetry in a variety of forms including free verse, haiku, narrative, and limerick.

Students were invited to read aloud from their poems and our library class quickly turned into an authentic poetry reading with students stepping up on a library stool to make sure their poems were heard.

Matt Phelan Visit & the Lower School Book Fair

Author/illustrator Matt Phelan visits Friends' Central Lower School
Author/Illustrator Matt Phelan visits Friends Central Lower School


Knights vs Dinosaurs by Matt Phelan

On a surprisingly snowy morning in March, Friends’ Central welcomed celebrated children’s author and illustrator Matt Phelan to the Lower School. Matt is the author and illustrator of many picture books, graphic novels, and chapter books, including Knights vs Dinosaurs (2018), an illustrated chapter book and the first installment of an exciting trilogy. Speaking to two groups of students, Matt described his artistic process, where he finds his inspiration, and shared how he came up with the idea to include both knights and dinosaurs in the same book!



Our students found plenty of inspiration in Matt’s presentation, including 1st grade students who made a BOOK of their own in the shape of a pig (Pignic, 2018) to thank Matt for his visit. Our 4th grade had the opportunity to eat lunch with Matt and several students asked him for advice on their own personal drawing projects. In describing his career, Matt pointed out that he had taught himself to draw and he encouraged students to never stop drawing!


Matt Phelan’s visit coincided with our Lower School Book Fair where we highlighted his books, as well as our terrific book talk books, and our library wish list.

Friends’ Central Lower School Book Fair


And the winner is…


On Monday morning, January 28, students met in the library for a reveal of our Caldecott mock election results. Cheers went up when the first envelope was opened and the book Blue by Laura Vaccaro Seeger was announced.

The second envelope revealed our honor book choices Drawn Together by Minh Le and Dan Santat and The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld.

Students were invited back to the library later in the morning for a live-stream of the American Library Association’s (ALA) Youth Media Awards announcements. Excitement mounted as several of the picture books students reviewed for our mock election received Youth Media Awards in other categories.

And the ALA Caldecott Award for the most distinguished American picture book for children goes to…

Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall

The Caldecotts Are Coming!


The Lower School Library is buzzing with excitement about the upcoming Caldecott Awards! Students in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade have been learning about the American Library Association’s award for the most distinguished American picture book for children and the criteria used to select the award winner.

Students used the same criteria for choosing the Caldecott Award winner and worked in groups to discuss and review 12 picture books. In preparation for our mock election next week, students evaluated these picture books in four categories with a point system. The evaluation process produced rich discussion and debate as well as gave students the opportunity to become intimately familiar with each book. Students are now ready to cast an informed vote for the most distinguished American picture book for children published in the year 2018.

But our preparation was not over! Students in 4th grade spent extra time in the library during lunch and recess to review the evaluation forms and tally the points by title to create a new top five list. Next week we will use this shortened list to vote for the award and honor books! On January 28th, when the Caldecott Award is announced, we will compare our winners to the American Library Association’s picks. Stay tuned!

Author-Illustrator Laurie Keller visits the Lower School and teaches us how to draw!


Author-Illustrator Laurie Keller visited the Lower School on October 25th to discuss her newest book Potato Pants!, a wonderfully silly book about forgiveness. Using her main character, Potato, Laurie demonstrated for students in K-3 how to draw different emotions by changing the direction of an eyebrow or adding an eyelid.

Students followed along closely and created their own images of the popular characters, Potato (Potato Pants!, 2018) and Arnie (Arnie the Donut, 2003). Laurie also gave students an opportunity to use their social emotional intelligence skills to create a new story. Choosing from an array of everyday objects, students worked on character development and plot line to create a story about an ordinary baseball who, all of a sudden, becomes terribly sneaky because he is jealous of a popular football that everyone wants to play with!

After our assembly, Laurie signed books and met with fifth grade students. Last year, these students presented Laurie’s first book, The Scrambled States of America (1998), as a skit. Our students were thrilled to meet Laurie and show her the states they used for their performance. Laurie Keller’s visit to Friends Central Lower School was a delightful interactive author event that students will long remember!





FCS Lower School Welcomes Chelsea Clinton

           By Parker H. and Olivia A.

Reprinted from the Phoenix Press with the permission of the 5th grade newspaper club

            Have you ever wanted to meet a great author and an incredible woman? Well, we did on Monday, March 12th in the Lower School meeting room and her name is Chelsea Clinton! Chelsea Clinton is an author and also the daughter of former President Bill Clinton and former Senator Hillary Clinton. You might be asking yourself why such a successful author came to our school. She came here to present her new book called She Persisted Around the World. She is also the author of other books including She Persisted: 13 American Women who Changed the World, and It’s Your World. Fifth graders Sasha G. and Neha introduced her at the assembly.

          Chelsea talked about her books and she also talked about how we could make a difference. Something that inspired her to write these books was when Senator Elizabeth Warren refused to be silenced while reading a quote from Coretta Scott King. Here are examples of three women in her book that refused to be silenced in a man’s world:

  • When Sor Juana Ines De La Cruz was a child growing up in Mexico, it was common that most girls did not go to school, but she knew that was wrong, so Juana Ines decided to read and study on her own. Her plan was to disguise herself as a boy so that she could go to University, but her family didn’t allow her to. Still she persisted and spent lots of time looking for tutors that didn’t mind teaching a girl. Later on she became a nun so that she could focus on her writing. Her poems and plays are still being read today and her Respuesta a Sor Filotea de la Cruz was the first published argument for a woman’s right to education in the Americas.
  • Nellie Bly chose her job as a reporter because a male writer had once told her that working women were “a monstrosity” and she knew she could prove him wrong. She persisted by putting herself in danger while trying to expose real monstrosities. She pretended to be a sweatshop worker and even a patient in a mental hospital to show how badly people were being treated.
  • The first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a PhD and become a professor at the University of Nairobi was named Wangari Maathai. Wangari was horrified by how many trees were being cut down all across Kenya, so she planted new trees. She persisted by gathering friends, family, and strangers to help her. She was the first African woman awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. 

          Near the end of her presentation, people were allowed to ask questions. Someone asked what it was like living in the White House. She said that to her, “It was home”. One Kindergarten boy named Jack asked if men can persist. She said, “Absolutely!”  Abeneezer in 1st grade asked if she will ever run for president. She said you don’t have to be a president to make a change in the world. You just have to be passionate about something and find a way to make it better. And Olivia F. in 4th grade said that she lives in the house where Chelsea’s husband grew up. Chelsea said she would tell Marc (her husband).  

           Now that you have learned a bit about some wonderful women in this world, we hope that this encourages you, boy or girl, to persist. We are so grateful for Chelsea’s appearance and we encourage you to read her books!

Author Paula Young Shelton visits the Lower School



To kick off the upcoming Book Fair, Paula Young Shelton, author of Child of the Civil Rights Movement, presented two assemblies at the Lower School on Friday, February 9. Paula is the daughter of Civil Rights leader, Andrew Young, and her book describes what it was like growing up in the Deep South during Jim Crow. Lower School students learned about segregation, the Freedom Riders, and the Children’s March from Paula, who experienced these events in person as a child.




Our older students had many opportunities to demonstrate their own knowledge of the Civil Rights movement when Paula asked important questions like: “How do you think protestors passed the time when they were arrested and sent to jail?” and “Would you go to jail for something you believed in?” The highlight of the morning was when Paula taught us the freedom song, “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around” and explained that singing was how protestors communicated and passed time while behind bars. Paula’s powerful message that children can be activists too and change the world made a lasting impression on our young audience.




Ancient Civilizations

The 5th grade recently used the library’s digital and print resources to research ancient civilizations from around the world. Students explored the roles of men and women, the foods, the government, and the religions of civilizations from long ago. This exciting research project culminated in the creation of non-fiction books written by the students. These beautiful self-published titles have been assigned official barcodes and are now ready for circulation through our library collection!


Nursery in the Library

When Nursery comes to the library, we have the opportunity to share our love of reading together! Library time with this age group includes stories, nursery rhymes, songs, and movement. Students also spend time browsing picture books for old favorites and new discoveries. FCS Nursery teacher, Tuesday Vanstory, recently wrote an informative blog post about the wonderful Nursery program at Friends’ Central.

New Books: Nonfiction for young people



Refugees and Migrants by Ceri Roberts and Hanane Kai, 2017.
Poverty and Hunger by Louise Spilsbury and Hanane Kai, 2017.

From the Children in Our World nonfiction series, Refugees and Migrants and Poverty and Hunger address real world issues in a way that is accessible to children. Through beautiful illustrations and thoughtfully delivered informative text, lower school students will learn about current issues in our world. The refugee crisis, immigration, poverty, and hunger are discussed with sensitivity and important facts are provided to educate our students about current events. These new titles encourage empathy and understanding among young people and both books include a noteworthy section on what we can do to help.






5th Grade Book Club

The fifth grade book club is reading The Mixed-up Files of Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg and loving every minute of it! This book describes the adventures of Claudia and her brother Jamie, who decide to run away from home and hide out in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A perfect book choice for this year’s fall classroom theme of “the Arts,” The Mixed-up Files of Basil E. Frankweiler just celebrated 50 years since its first publication!

What’s New in the Lower School Library

In appreciation of the Quaker testimony of peace, the Lower School Library is highlighting the book Enemy Pie by Derek Munson and Tara Calahan King. This delightful story is about learning conflict resolution and how to turn an enemy into a best friend. After reading the book, third graders were asked “What special ingredient would YOU add to your enemy pie?” Here is what some of our students had to say: