Happy Anniversary Bulldogs!

The Bulldog Reader Blog is FOUR years old!


Yes, I can’t believe it either! This blog has been going strong for four years and one month. (I couldn’t celebrate on the actual date because I was on vacation.) The Bulldog Reader Blog began on July 2, 2010 after I took a class on different technology tools I could use in the library. Blogging was one of the tools shared, and within a few days, we launched on a virtual journey into the reading, tech and library world. Oe of the first posts was about Theo Boone: Kid Lawyer, a series by John Grisham.. That series now has had four installments since we began.

cluster map

 It’s amazing to me how many visitors we have had through the years. The ClusterMap above shows how many have visited since July 9, 2013. Sadly I made a bad mistake last year, clicked the wrong thing at the wrong time, and the original visitor map disappeared. Poof – and GONE! I was very sad, but you know, sometimes things like this happen and you just have to move on. In the last year, people from every continent except Antarctica have visited the blog, including over 21,500 from different states within the USA and over 8,000 from countries around the world.


 The one counter I haven’t touched since the beginning is the visitor counter. I didn’t set it up on the first day, but close enough to the start. We have had over 171,000 page hits on our blog, and almost 100,000 of them are unique hits. A page hit is when anyone clicks onto the blog from wherever they are. A unique hit is when a person who has never been on the blog before visits. Returning, unique, first time, returning visitors is all kind of confusing for sure. What matters is that people from around the world connect with us everyday!

flag counter flag too

We have formed friendships with wonderful students and teachers. We have exchanged presents, holiday cards, reading photos, and countless comments through the years. I’ll never forget the day a box arrived from a teacher in Russia. She and her class had put together a box with a teddy bear, a flag and other items to celebrate our new friendship and share their country with us.

Here it all is! Thank you Burravoe Primary School!

Here it all is! Thank you Burravoe Primary School!

Another box came from a very small primary school in the Shetland Islands, including a book that none of us could read because it was written in the native language of the islands. They just celebrated their third anniversary as well! Congratulations Burravoe Primary School!


Mrs. Yollis, my mentor from California and I have had lots of fun conversations, dinner and photo exchanges. She runs a classroom blog and also a photo 365 blog that I try to contribute to periodically. She introduced me to Mrs. Morris in Australia, who introduced me to a very special blogger named BB.

AA and BB in Australia. Not pictured, BB's cousin.

No mention of the history of this blog could happen without mentioning AA and BB in Australia. When BB and I first met virtually, she had a blog of her own, and we commented on one anothers’ posts regularly. BB is now older and busy with other activities, but her mom AA still visits us and keeps us up to date on what is happening in Australia. We have talked to each other via Skype and online, but have never met and sat in the same room. Someday, I hope to visit Australia, and then we will meet! In the meantime, we have fun comment conversations and share photographs with each other. The conversations that happen via blogging is what I cherish the most.


Last year during Super Bowl series, Mrs. Arnett’s class dressed up in their Broncos gear. We had a fun exchange about football and what it means to be a good sport.


During the Poetry Month we exchanged poems with Mrs. Camp in Klein, Texas. Our students wrote acrostic class poems which we published on our blogs.

partner poem

So much has happened in the last four years, that I can’t begin to mention all the highlights. What I do know through writing 368 blog posts is that I love blogging. If it wasn’t for blogging and the Incredibly, Awesome, Fabulous, Newbery Winning book The One and Only Ivan, we wouldn’t have met Katherine Applegate at our school! ivanc

On October 7th, her new non-fiction picture book will be released and ubookshe will be visiting the University Bookstore here in Seattle!

Woo-hoo! We can all share some Ivan love all over again! Here is a link to the premier of the new book trailer.

true story

Another connection that really matters to me is our partnerships in our Books to Africa program. In September we will begin year three of sending books overseas. This summer I had that opportunity to Skype with some children in Sovenga, South Africa who had just received a shipment of books from us. Wow! Look what technology does for us now!


Recently I had a chance to meet a fellow librarian who follows this blog. “Don’t you ever take the summer off?” she asked. “Nope!” I never do. Blogging is certainly not something I have to do because it’s assigned to me. It’s something I have to do because the words are just itching to get out of my system. I like to write, not as much as I love to read, but I enjoy writing. Until four years ago, I thought I would eventually write a children’s fiction book. I slogged through some drafts and kept putting it aside. The book wasn’t working at all. Then book trailers entered my world. I  love to make book trailers. It’s my style of writing. The One and Only Ivan, Breadcrumbs, Real Boy, Duke – book trailers have played a huge role in my life in the past two years.I don’t make as many as I would like, but everytime I read a book, I think about how I’d make a trailer for it. 11387515 The creative juices are always churning in my head. Because of blogging and my experiences with book trailers, I’ve learned what kind of writer I am. I’m not really a fiction writer at all. I much prefer creating something that is a mixture of fiction, non-fiction and storytelling. What a relief! You don’t have to be just a fiction writer, or a non-fiction writer. You can be a mixture of it all. It doesn’t matter! I do have a book goal in mind, but it won’t be a picture book or novel. I think it will be a non-fiction book series for K-2 readers. Now, with all the advancements in technology, eBooks and eReaders, the question is more about when I will make the time to write the words.   Which leads me to my goals for the upcoming year. Next year will be our 5th anniversary. What do I hope to accomplish by next July?

  1. Continue the fabulous connection with our Books to Africa program. I had the chance to Skype with some students in South Africa this summer. Those few moments weren’t enough – I want to get there somehow, some way!
  2. Create a makerspace area in the library and begin incorporating more STREAM activities into blog posts and classroom lessons. STREAM = Science, Technology, Engineering, Reading, Art and Math.
  3. Experiment more with digital tools to advertise books whether it’s through book trailers, or podcasts, games or other activities.
  4. Write the draft to a book series.
  5. Celebrate reading with our students and teachers!

That’s it – 5 goals. I don’t have to be perfect, I just have to try. If you noticed, none of them are “do it now or fail” type of goals. They are all long-term. By next July, I need to review these goals, see what’s worked and figure out what to change to make it succeed. That’s what blogging has taught me. Things may not work out the first time or fifth time. You just need to persist, try again,figure it out and have fun!.


What goal have you made recently?

What post do you remember the most?

How will you connect with someone this year?

Leave us a comment and let us know!


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The Places They Go

Books can be read anywhere and with anyone!

mackenzie plato

This week our posts have focused on places you can read – at home, on a day trip, camping, on vacation or in the garden. I love this photo of Mackenzie and her dog Plato. Our furry buddies can be awesome reading partners. I wonder if that article in the magazine is about dogs since Plato seems so interested in it!

mackenzie garden
mackenzie carrotseed

Mackenzie also visited Hovander Homestead Farm in Ferndale, which is between Bellingham and the Canada border in northwest Washington State. Swedish architect Hakan Hovander emigrated and settled in Ferndale, and 1901 began building  a huge 6,800 foot house on a 333 acre farm. It is now restored and owned by the Whatcom Parks and Recreation, where you can visit the grounds on self-guided tours. The gardens, benches and surroundings seem like perfect places to relax and read a book!

mackenzie yard

Of course, you don’t have to travel anywhere to read. You can stay home with your dog, or you can go outside on these hot sunny days and stay cool with some water, a slide, bubbles and a fun magazine! Looks like fun!

Thanks for submitting these photos Mackenzie!

Keep reading! Mrs. Hembree

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Take a Road Trip

Readers read everywhere!

josa chair

Sometimes people think you need to be in a special place to read, but really that’s not true. Readers read everywhere – in the car, on trains, on vacation and in the barber shop! Josa is reading Road Trip by Gary Paulsen. This author may be familiar to you. He also wrote the famous adventure novel Hatchet. If you haven’t read Hatchet yet, you MUST put this on your summer reading list. Road Trip is also an adventure story, with funny overtones and written for grades 5+. I believe it’s on the Battle of the Book list for our middle schools. Here is a book trailer by Donna Yliniemi.

Thanks for sharing your photo Josa and showing our readers that people can read anywhere! What did you think about Road Trip? Leave us a comment and let us know.

Happy Reading from Mrs. Hembree



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Reading in Coulee Country

Do you know what a Coulee is?

Gabe Coulee Dam

Nicole and Gabe are reading near the Grand Coulee. The Grand Coulee is part of the Columbia River Plateau and is an ancient riverbed located in the eastern part of Washington state.



The Grand Coulee is one of 18 national natural landmarks in Washington state. Visiting this area is like stepping back millions of years into the times of dinosaurs.


The rock formations are a geological wonder and anyone who has any interest in rocks and geology would love this area. Just down the road is the Grand Coulee Dam. My husband and I visited this area a few years ago and I couldn’t believe how different this area looks from western Washington.

coulee dam

Thank you Nicole and Gabe for sending us photos of you reading while on vacation! The Bulldog Readers really appreciate it!

Keep Reading! Mrs. Hembree


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We Can Read with Pete

Look out! Pete’s in the house!

Anthony Jason

It looks like Pete the Cat has convinced Anthony and Jason to do some summertime reading! Pete is one cool cat and isn’t it great that he is not afraid to go to the beach? A problem happens when Pete gets hot after playing in the sand at the beach. Most cats I know are scared of the water. Do you think Pete was scared of going into the water? Maybe? Did he try swimming anyway? Read Pete the Cat – Pete at the Beach or Pete the Cat – Too Cool for School by James Dean to find out. Thank you Anthony and Jason for sharing your reading photos with us!

Any of our readers can share photos with us for our summertime reading fun! You don’t have to be on a fancy vacation or in an exotic place to have your reading photo taken. Readers read anywhere and everywhere! Simply take a photo and send it in! We love student and adult readers as well. There’s only three more weeks to get your photos submitted. Our summer reading program ends on August 31st, so get those phones and cameras out! Send the photos me at this address:

summer read email pic


If you love Pete the Cat, then I recommend you also try a new book by Eric Litwin, one of the original authors of the Pete the Cat series–The Nuts: Bedtime at the Nut House. The book was just published on July 29th and it’s a winner!
When Mama Nut tries to get her little Nut children to go to bed, they don’t hear her! They are having too much fun! Check out the book trailer and then leave me a comment! What do you think about this new book?

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Reading in the Rain

Yikes! It’s pouring!

gabe in rain

I’ve heard of singing and dancing in the rain, but reading in the pouring rain is a new one. I’ve always been fearful that I would ruin the book. However, knowing Gabe, he figured out a way to read in the rain AND protect his book from water destruction! We have a theme this week of reading anywhere, and certainly reading in the rain fits right in!
Thanks for sharing Gabe and be sure to let us know if your book is safe! What are you reading? Do we all need to read it? Inquiring minds want to know!

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The Yankee Reader

What gets you excited about your day?


For my nephew it’s baseball with a healthy dose of reading (and maybe a couple computer games). He is a diehard Yankees fan as you can see from his room decor. Everything is Yankees from tip to stern.
My favorite part of his room are the stacks of books. I wish I had taken more pictures, but trust me. He loves to read and his shelves prove it. We are DEFINITELY related! Like a true reader, the books closest to his bed are the important ones. The sports books by Tim Green, Mike Lupica, and Dan Gutman. Florida adventures by Carl Hiaasen. Then there are the top tier books- Wonder and The One and Only Ivan. These are the ones that will stay in his room, or at least that’s my prediction.


 Now he has a copy of Comics Squad. It never even made it downstairs to get read. Nope! It was consumed in one night. Right there in my nephew’s personal Yankee Stadium.

Now, where will it go on the pile?

PS. I have another sport book to suggest. If you like baseball, look for Screaming at the Ump by Audrey Vernick. This middle grade novel puts a twist on the typical baseball story by looking through the lens of a 12 year old and umpire camp. Cool sports story and well paced.

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Never a Mariner

I’ve been at sea for most of the summer.


It started right after school ended when I found my shell collection. It had been missing for a couple years, but we found it in the garage tucked behind some boxes. I was thrilled because I have been collecting shells since I was a little girl. I always come home with a shell from every beach I walk along. I also like to buy pretty shells. I just have a  “thing” for shells and the ocean. In fact I love the ocean so much, that I can’t live far from the water. Except for a brief summer in Denver, and a year in Germany, I have only ever lived on the East coast or West coast where I can see salt water within minutes.


That box of shells inspired me to create a new ocean/shell display in our living room so I could get those shells and seastars out of the box where we could see them every day. Then I went back East with my daughter to see my family, traveling around Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York. We were near the ocean every chance we could get, walking along the shore, collecting shells or enjoying some time in the sun or fog.

Nubble Lighthouse, Maine

Nubble Lighthouse, Maine

The Motif, Rockport, Massachusetts

The Motif, Rockport, Massachusetts

Hampton, Maine

Hampton, Maine

I started and ended my vacation in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Gloucester was settled in 1623 and was one of the first English settlements in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It’s known as America’s oldest seaport and if you have ever eaten Gorton’s fishsticks, they come from Gloucester!

 The Gloucester Fishermen Memorial honors the thousands of lives taken by the sea.

When I’m in Gloucester, I visit my cousin, the owner and captain of the Aaron and Alexis. Captain Swicker is a cod and lobster fisherman and knows first hand how dangerous the sea can be.


On my last day in Gloucester, he took me to the Bookstore of Gloucester to outfit me with some books he wanted me take home, share with the family and read.

Photo courtesy http://goodmorninggloucester.wordpress.com

Photo courtesy http://goodmorninggloucester.wordpress.com

Reading Fatal Forecast, Lone Voyager, and the Perfect Storm immersed me into the lives of famous Gloucester fishermen. Fatal Forecast is the true story of Ernie Hazard, a fisherman aboard the Sea Fever, who during a hurricane was thrown overboard and survived fifty hours alone in a tiny life raft. Of the three books, this was my absolute favorite. It’s a terrifying tale with a happy ending, unlike The Perfect Storm. This book was made into a movie and filmed in Gloucester. Again, it’s the story of fishermen caught out in the fishing grounds in the Atlantic in 1991 in what was known as a ‘perfect storm’ – not perfect as in nice, but perfect as in the worst storm nature could put together with 100 foot waves and hurricane winds. Many of the fishermen and women made it home, but not the crew of the Andrea Gail. (I do not recommend the Perfect Storm for young readers due to language, and serious subject matter.)


I saved the Lone Voyager- a story about Howard Blackburn and his absolute love for sailing in the late 1880’s for last. In the winter of 1883, Howard and a crewmate were in an open dory (a small boat) and got separated from the main schooner during a blizzard. For five days he rowed himself toward land and when he eventually reached the shore, his hands were frozen to the oars, and his friend was frozen to death. While Howard lost all his fingers, and most of his toes from frostbite, the disability never stopped him from life on the sea. He went on to record the fastest solo sail voyage across the Atlantic. Of course, this time has since been beaten, but the fact that Blackburn sailed alone without fingers is still an amazing feat.


I have learned one main lesson on my summer sea-vacation. First, while I love the ocean – the smells, the sand, shells – I respect how dangerous it is. My cousin lost 800 traps in the storm of ’91 and I still remember how afraid we all were for the fishermen at sea. I love to go out on the boats and be on the open sea, but only in nice, sunny, summer days. When the storms hit, I want to be inside a house, warm and dry. I am a landlubber librarian, who only can take trips on the ocean through stories. I will leave fishing to the experienced mariners, and pray that they come home safely from every trip they take.



Do you prefer land or sea?

Have you ever been on the ocean in bad weather?

Leave a comment and let us know! 


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Reading in Ancient Greece

Look where Ema is reading!

ema greece1

Did you figure it out? Yes, Ema is reading Anne of Green Gables in Ancient Greece! She has certainly traveled a long way to do some reading!


We have had photos from readers in  Washington, Massachusetts,  and Canada! These places are in North America.  We have also had reading photos from our friends in Sovenga,  South Africa.  Ema’s photo is our first from Europe. Now we have had photos from three different continents.  Here is a map of the world.

map of world

Do you think it’s warm in Greece right now? What kind of buildings and sites do you think Ema is seeing in Greece? Leave us a comment and let us know! Our goal this summer is to promote student reading and see if we can find readers from every continent in the world. Spread the word on how important and fun reading can be! Send us your photo to:

summer read email pic


Happy Reading! Mrs. Hembree

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The Sweetness of Books

Happy Summer Vacation!

The Bulldog Readers have been sending in their photos showing what fun it can be to read in the summer! Maybe their choices will lure you to the library this summer.





I hope you are having a great vacation! I am having a great time on the east coast visiting my family. On Friday we went to New York City and I saw the New York Public Library. Yesterday we went to the Bronx Zoo. Don’t forget, you can be included on the blog. Just have your adult family member email me the picture.
summer read email pic
Simple and easy!
Happy Reading!
Mrs. Hembree

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