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APRIL 2013

MackinVIA Unveils New Features

MackinVIA, a popular content management system for educational eBooks and databases, recently launched robust features. These features include an EasyBib citations button on the full record, a tablet-friendly slider control for advanced search filters, and a new “My Notebook” page containing the user’s synced highlights/notes created in the MackinVIA Reader app. Additionally, as a result of a strategic partnership with Renaissance Learning, the makers of Accelerated Reader (AR), MackinVIA users who are current customers of the Accelerated Reader Enterprise system can set up their MackinVIA programs to provide direct access to AR quizzes.

For assistance with the new features, to learn more about MackinVIA, or to take a test drive of the digital content management system, contact Mackin Educational Resources at 800-245-9540 or

Shannon Shares: “Oh, The Places You Go”...
To Connect To Authors and Illustrators and
Bring Them Into Your Library and School

In the modern classic, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! Dr. Seuss shares the perfect message tochildren, no matter what age, as we send them off to new places in the journey of life. Hiswords of inspiration, encouragement, and fun leave us with a sense that we can do anything we set off to do.

As I read this book to my second graders a few weeks ago in the library, I thought about feeling this way when I talk to students, teachers, and parents about connecting to others through social networks and Skype that brings our schools outside of the four walls and into the world....and also the world to us.

There are so many different ways to get to these places but just where do we start? I am going to tell you about a few of my favorites and this will give you a map to help you get to these places you want to go.

And just as Dr. Seuss says....

“Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places. You’re off and away.”

Being a teacher librarian, I love connecting my students and school community to authors, illustrators, publishers, and others in the book industry. Our connection might be the person telling their story of becoming an author or illustrator, reading their books, or answering student questions. It might be a fun activity we do together like creating poetry or finishing the ending to a story started in class. Peter Reynolds, author and illustrator of books like The Dot, even gave us a tour of his studio where he created all of the wonderful illustrations we just love.

Last year author Michael Buckley, Skyped with our 4th and 5th graders after they read his books within literature circles. In the picture above, you can see that the students led most of the conversation, along with Michael, who deepended the learning experience and made it one they won’t forget. You might ask how I found these connections along the way.

I have made dozens of connections through Twitter, Facebook, at conferences, through websites, and also through friends. With social media, we now have the opportunity to reach out to people in a unique way and use the connections we have to make even more.

On Twitter, you can search for authors and illustrators, even follow hashtags such as #kidlit, #yalit, and #childrensbooks to make connections through conversations about these topics. I also follow publishers and educational companies on Twitter to see what they tweet and who they follow. I have had some neat things come to my students and schools by connecting to them.

You can follow authors and illustrators on Facebook. It is fun to share these connections with your students. I always find lots of interesting and neat things on their Facebook book trailers, illustrations they are working on, announcements that readers love, and much more.

I have a favorite story about connecting on Facebook.

My cousin Christa McClintock who teaches kindergarten at Van Meter asked me at the beginning of the year if we could try to connect with children’s author and illustrator Mercer Mayer. Our kindergarteners focus on Mr. Mayer in September through classroom and library connections. We created our very own Just Little Critter and the Van Meter Kindergarteners LittleBirdTale with an illustration and spoken story from each student. We then put our story on Mr. Mayer’s Facebook Page. I wrote a nice note asking him if he would like to connect with our school and students.

In January, I heard from Mr. Mayer on Facebook and he told me he would like to Skype with us. Our kindergarten through third graders Skyped with Mr. Mayer in February....It was so special to all of us. And from the image of Mercer Mayer’s Facebook Page above....He had so much fun with us too! He even drew us our very own Little Critter that now lives in our library. You can read all about it in the post Mercer Mayer and Little Critter Visits Van Meter and Amana Elementary...What A Special Day It Was!

I tell you that story to inspire you to reach out and ask too. Once you find people to connect with, just connect and ask them to “visit” your school. One of my author friends once told me, “We are active on Facebook and Twitter to connect with our readers. We love making these connections just as much as all of you.

There are two websites that are also wonderful and extremely helpful in finding authors to Skype with. Author and teacher Kate Messner has a page on her blog called “Authors Who Skype With Classes & Book Clubs (For Free!)”. It is incredible and I love looking through the list of all the authors who are available to Skype.

Kate states on her blog, “I’m Kate Messner, the children’s author and educator who maintains this site. I started it because I’ve found that virutal author visits are a great way to connect authors and readers, and I realize that many schools facing budget troubles don’t have the option on paid author visits. With that in mind, this is a list of authors who offer free 15-20 minute Q and A sessions with classes and book clubs that have finished reading one of their books.

The second website is Skype An Author Network created by author Mona Kerby. The website states, “The mission of the Skype an Author Network is to provide K-12 teachers and librarians with a way to connect authors, books, and young readers through virtual visits. Wouldn't it be great to invite authors into your classroom or library to video chat with students before, during, and/or after reading their books? We are growing a list of authors who want to make that connection with you via Skype.

These two websites will help you often and make it a little easier to get started with Skyping authors into your school and library.

One more little tip....

Skype In The Classroom is inviting educators to apply for free group video calling which can bring up to 10 connections together at one time. You can apply here.

We have used group video calling by bringing other schools into our connections withauthors. When we Skyped with Mercer Mayer we brought in my sister Heather’s school in Amana, Iowa so we could both enjoy the connection. It is easy to do and so much fun bringing even more together.

As the last page of Oh, The Places You Go says....

You’re off to Great Places! Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So....get on your way.”

Sharon Creetch, Tom Angleberger, Mrs. P, Robert Forbes, Laurel Snyder, Libba Bray, Peter Reynolds, Seymour Simon, Susan Reagan, and many other special authors and illustrators have been there along my journey and the one I am taking with my students, teachers, school community, and others.

We are definitely off to Great Places and I can’t wait to see where our journey takes us next.

Take TumbleBooks for a
Test Drive Through MackinVIA!

Have you discovered the wonderful world of TumbleBooks? If not, your school can take the TumbleBooks libraries for a test drive through MackinVIA this summer. TumbleBooks offers an online interactive library for K-12 students to listen, read along and listen, or read independently. Engaging readers of all ages, TumbleBooks are available in three packages:

  • TumbleBookLibrary—an online collection of animated, talking picture books
  • TumbleBookCloud—eBooks, audiobooks, videos for middle and high school students
  • AudioBookCloud—high-quality online streaming audiobooks

Get free access to TumbleBookLibrary, TumbleBookCloud, and/or TumbleBookCloud Junior through September 30, 2013. (MackinVIA account required.) Learn More

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Author Spotlight: Rick Yancey
Dreamer turned tax collector turned
award-winning writer

With one of the most anticipated books of the year being released this spring (5th Wave, Putnam), Rick Yancey has finally realized his dream to be a writer. It all started for him when, as a 14-year-old boy, he turned in a creative writing assignment that was five times as long as it should have been. He was ashamed and afraid of a receiving a bad grade until he saw the note his teacher had written on his story: Never apologize for something you should be proud of. According to Yancey, that was the point he knew he would be the next Ernest Hemingway.

Rick Yancey went on to earn an English degree and dabbled in playwriting and screenwriting, but with little success. Eventually, he discovered he needed work with benefits and a steady salary. Responding to an advertisement for a government job offering just what he needed, Yancey soon found himself working as a tax collector for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

After 12 years of pursuing individuals and businesses for the payment of taxes due, Yancey reached a place where he just couldn’t imagine himself doing the same thing for years to come. “I always had the dream to write, and I felt the opportunity was there to make that leap, to burn the bridge, and to be the person I dreamed of being when I was 14.”

“Sometimes I sit down to write and I still can’t believe it is my job.”

Yancey left the IRS with the encouragement and support of his wife and family in pursuit of his dream. But, like many dreamers discover, he found the road to his dreams was paved with potholes instead of gold; and it took much longer to get to his destination than he had planned. However, after numerous rejections, his first book, A Burning in Homeland, was finally accepted and he was on his way.

“You have to have faith in yourself, keep knocking on doors, and don’t take ‘no’ for an answer,” advises Yancey. “Don’t stop until you find someone who has the same amount of faith in you that you have in yourself.”

Since the initial acceptance of his first book, Yancey has written several more books for teens and adults and has been a Printz Honoree (The Monstrumologist) and a Carnegie Medal Nominee (The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp). In May, his newest book, 5th Wave, will be released. The first of a fresh science-fiction trilogy for young people, 5th Wave is one of the most anticipated books of the year. According to Yancey, the book is a love story with science fiction as a backdrop. It focuses on a young girl’s love for a boy and for her family and reveals what makes people human when ultimately everything else is taken away.

Success for Yancey seems a sure thing for years to come. However, he has a back-up plan just in case. “If the writing thing doesn’t pan out, then I’ll go to work in a bookstore because I really fell in love with books when I was young, then life pressed in, and then I rediscovered my love of books after I started writing again.”

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Stock Your Shelves While Building Your eLibrary

Mason Crest, in partnership with Mackin Educational Resources, is offering customers one free hardcover book for every eBook purchased for eBook orders of at least $500. Simply place an eBook order for $500 or more of Mason Crest eBooks through MackinVIA™ using promotional code MASON. In addition to filling the order, Mackin will catalog and process the free printed books that correlate to the Mason Crest eBooks purchased. The following options, in any combination, are available at no additional cost: MARC record, one applied barcode, one applied spine label, one applied reading program label, and a Mylar cover on jacketed books.


Patricia Polacco Presents
Anti-bullying Workshop on April 20

There are still a few seats left for the April 20, 2013, professional development workshop at Mackin’s Burnsville headquarters. Early registration is only $25 ($30 at the door) and includes two continuing education credits (2 CEUs) for Minnesota educators, an autographed copy of Bully, and a continental breakfast. Attendees will also be eligible to receive a discount on six additional titles by Patricia Polacco. Learn More

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James Patterson and Dwyane Wade
Go One on One April 25

Don’t miss the national online webcast for kids featuring James Patterson and Dwyane Wade! Created especially for kids in fifth grade and up, the webcast, “One on One: Fundamentals with Dwyane Wade and James Patterson” will highlight the significance of reading. The webcast is free of charge and will air on April 25, 2013, at 1 pm (EST). To register for the 40-minute webcast, visit To enter a drawing for signed books, basketballs, and pictures, visit the Special Events page at

Spring 2013 Compendium Available Now

Featuring a professionally compiled collection of the most recent highly reviewed K-12 titles and an in-depth interview with Patricia MacLachlan, the Spring 2013 issue of Compendium is now available. Provided free of charge, the printed publication is published twice a year—once in the autumn and once in the spring—and mailed directly to customers and distributed at trade shows. It is also available for viewing on

Mackin Customer Wins Playaway® Giveaway

Mackin Customer Cindy Bishop of Rebecca Creek Elementary in Spring Branch, Texas, is the winner of the $1,000 Playaway® starter collection as advertised in the January 2013 eMackin. Congratulations!

Mackin Educational Resources is honored to be one of a select few distributors of Playaway products in the nationwide K-12 school market. Playaway is the simplest way to listen to more than 17,000 audiobooks. Unlike CDS, audio cassettes, or downloads, Playaway does not need a separate player. Instead, it comes pre-loaded and ready to use. Learn More

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