Teen Fun

Jen over at Jen the Youth Services Librarian has a helpful post about ideas hatched by a group of teen librarians for fun programs.  Check out the great ideas to spark some creativity in your teen offerings!

Image: 'Prosciutto, anchovy and onion pizza.' http://www.flickr.com/photos/58862846@N00/459381964


This is One of the Many "Who We Are"s

My friend and colleague Georgia over at Come into Delight has a lovely post about working with a young, bewildered parent sharing custody of a child. In the course of offering assistance in finding AR books, she learns that the parent is worried about the loss of reading skills that the child might suffer over the summer while with the other non-library-using parent.  That interaction leads her to an idea of making a SLP on-the-go-pack so that parent and child can still share books over vacation.

This kind of hatching and evolving ideas to meet the needs of our library users is something that all library staffers can and should do.  Sometimes it is as easy as developing a quick list; sometimes it is a long-negotiated path to a new service that stretches us but really answers patron needs.  I believe this is the essence of our service - finding ways to bring books, literacy, information and people together.  With luck and persistence we listen and develop the library and services our community needs.


So I Was Just Saying Libraries Need Support...

...and whammo

Liz B. over at A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy mentions the cool Library Loving Blog Challenge (get the scoop at writerjenn) happening until March 27.  Bloggers are donating money to their local libraries for each comment made to their blogs 

So stop by writerjenn's blog, find the bloggers participating and start those comments (including thank you)!!

Image: 'Hang Glider'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/8938183@N04/2446567442

Library Support (and I Don't Mean Hose)

It's no surprise that the second wave (or is it the fifth?) in the economic downturn/recovery very much involves radical decreases in local and state funding for libraries.  And I am talking about libraries and librarians across the spectrum -school, public, academic and specials. If we haven't already done it, it is more than time to get out our best advocacy strategies and make the case to our publics about the need for libraries. 

Some concerned library users have had posts about the state of libraries. Dawn Morris at her blog Moms Inspire Learning has really been mobilizing her readers with her posts recently. Librarians have been on Facebook, Twitter, Friendfeed and other social networking sites keeping people updated with the latest news in places like Charlotte, Los Angeles, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Jessamyn over at librarian.net has a Save the Libraries Round up today and over at LISNews they are hosting a site called Save our Libraries that is trying to pull various real time sources together to keep us updated.

It is "tough times" everywhere (ask me about my immediate family members who have been downsized over the past eighteen months and are still jobless and struggling) but we must find room to support the very real work we do. 

Image: 'let-me-out!' http://www.flickr.com/photos/78364563@N00/30344572


All She Wants to Do is Dance....

Today we had a Toddler Dance Party at the library between storytime sessions.  It was a very funny and fun huge success.  My fab colleagues Lucy and Debbie decorated  with ribbons curled and hung from the ceiling and some spring flowers.  Little cookies and juice were available for treats. DJ Jazzy Sherri picked a selection of fun kid CDs to spin.  Rhythm instruments and egg shakers were in evidence.  All kids were given a tissue paper flower corsage or boutonniere.

Then the kids danced to familiar tunes and nursery rhymes and fun CDs.  Lucy and Debbie shared favorite tunes from storytime and scarves, bubbles and lots of participation ensued. Besides rockin' babies and toddlers, my favorite part of the program was the adults who showed up in force with their tots: grandmas and great grandmas; dads and moms in business suits; babysitters who grooved with the music all along with the little ones.

This is an easy fun program for the very youngest with little prep but maximum fun and gave us a chance to give our storytime regulars something unique to enjoy bewtween storytimes!  

Image: 'Groovy Baby!!!'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/32585800@N00/467176036

The Battle Marches On...

I am telling you...real life (congressional votes); sports life (B-ball's March Madness) and reading life (SLJ's Battle of the Books) are making this one amazing March!  Nothing is predictable, everything is changeable and everybody I am reading and talking to is twirling around going, "What?", "Woot!", "What!", "What next?!?!". 

I am right there whirligigging.  I cannot predict! Brackets shot! Eyes opened! Eyes squinched shut!  There goes a favorite!  Hurray, somebody agrees with me besides my spouse!  Throw the bums out! Foul! Fair! Out of bounds!  Are they crazeee?!?!

After a week of furious action at BOB, I am appreciating the impossible tasks we have set our judges to.  I am glad I get to be a peanut (thanks for the t-shirt, oh Battle Commanders..I shall wear it with pride!) and not be one of them! Talk about the horns of a dilemma each day .They are doing a great job weighing this and that as appples and oranges get compared. I am holding up, like a candle against the darkness, the return from the dead (perhaps) of my top favorite.  Krikey-o-mikey! Here's to the week ahead!


Goodbye Sid

I just got the news that Sid Fleischman died on Wednesday a day after turning 90.  I loved his books and I loved that I got a chance to meet him many years ago and share a meal while I was visiting a good friend in Milwaukee. My friend had been on the Newbery Committee that awarded the medal to Sid for The Whipping Boy.  It was a special evening for her and it was a thrill for me as a new ALSC member to see the respect and fondness and gratitude that the two shared as they chatted that evening. 

That bond between a committee member and an honored author is one I got to experience and witness again as a member of the Newbery and later the Caldecott Committees. It is why I think that service on those committees should be something that is rare in our careers - so it can be experienced by as many children's book lovers as possible.

Even without that personal experience, we readers take our authors to our hearts as we read their words. They always become friends. Lucky us to have had Sid Fleischman in our reading lives. 


Holiday Books ...On Holiday!

Over at Booklights, Susan has a delightful post that is worth a link on your library's blog if you have one for the public.  The audience for Booklights, a PBS sponsored blog, is parents and families.  The writers share tips on books and literacy and there is always a fresh bright perspective.

In today's post, Susan gently explains to people what happens when they look at the library for a holiday book to check out just prior to a holiday.  Usually, all they'll find is a few tattered and picked over titles - the dregs.  While this is obvious to us as library staffers, it is an important piece of info for folks who walk in and wonder why we don't have anything for them. 

Few libraries have the budget to spend endlessly on holiday materials; many of us create temporary limits on loan periods or limits on numbers of books that can be checked out.  We want everyone to have a little something.  And in the post, Susan reminds readers that it is good to be aware that many people want these same subjects - and that it is good to share!

We'll be posting this on our Parent's Page - it's good advice, well delivered!

Image: 'happy St Patrick's Day!'   http://www.flickr.com/photos/41403643@N00/424096833

The Battle has Commenced!

Have you been over to SLJ's Battle of the Books yet? The battle has begun and it is totally rock-'em, sock-'em action.  Now on day three, the distinguished judges have had the herculean task of making sure no entry is moved to the back of the bus in the evolutionary path that pits science and violence and books against each other. 

Wow...Jim Murphy, Nancy Farmer, Candace Fleming and upcoming judges have their work cut out for them. They are leapfrogging over each other, kissed by fate to find the lost, get real in their march, stay in the game show spirit, wend their way through the dust kicked up by the peanut gallery in a jazzy but positive way, and graphically face the comments and commentator who are probably muttering after each decision, "if you can't get justice...get even."  I think we all can make peace with the final decisions though because, agree or not, the reasoning is solid and fascinating to read.

If you are not making a daily stop here to watch the results, you are missing one of the best games in the kidlit- and library-blogosphere.  Be there or be square!


Wow! Wimpy Kid Party

Ok, this is simply a crime - putting on a party so crazy and fun...and I actually get paid to do this!  We hosted a Diary of a Wimpy Kid party this week during our Afterschool Adventure series of programs.  We opened it up to anyone who wanted to attend and got a pack of rabid fans.

We made up some "Mom bucks" ahead of time and used them to give out to kids throughout the program during games and activities. Here's what we played:
  • Wimpy Kid Trivia questions - Mom Bucks to kids who answered correctly.
  • Cheese Touch Game - used a piece of plastic cheese and played like "hot potato". Players received a Mom Buck when eliminated. Last kid with the cheese picked up two Mom Bucks.
  • Greg's Dressing Room Requirements - from the "Do-It-Yourself" book - kids each got a chance to add an outrageous requirement.
  • Clothes Relay Race -teams had to fold 2 shirts, a pair of socks and a pair of tightie-whities and run across the room with them. Two Mom Bucks to the winning team; one Mom Buck to the losing team.
  • Wimp Yourself Website (wimpyourself.com) -  each kid got to wimp themselves.
  • Manny Cereal Toss - Kids got a chance to try and toss three min-cereal boxes into a toilet seat placed atop a waste basket.
All kids then got to trade in Mom Bucks for a munchie snack bag that "Dad" had hidden. The kids and we had a wild time and it was great to celebrate a book with so many fans.  Big thanks to PUBYAC posters Danielle Dungey, Ann Hardginski and Hannah Owen who shared their own successful party tips.

Check out other Wimpy Kid parties here and here.


Getting a Spine

 Above is Travis' second attempt at a poem

Earlier this week, Travis over at 100 Scope Notes invited people to play with arranging random book spines into free verse poems and send him a photo of the results.  Today on the blogosphere's Poetry Friday, the amazing results are on display on his blog.  The poems are playful, thoughtful and, well, random!

This is waaay too much fun and I am afraid will become a new obsession especially in light of April's Poetry Month celebrations.  "Where's Marge....oh, right, in the stacks making poetry again."  Guess I better do a program with this idea - let's say tweens or teens - so I can get away with this most unique way to play with children's and young adult books.

Are You Sleeping?

Well you must be if you don't know about the action happening over at SLJ's Battle of the Books site! Overseen by an able battle commander (the very talented Monica Edinger and Roxanne Hsu) and chatty commentator (Jonathan Hunt), the second annual battle is about to begin.  Sixteen lucsiously interesting books are going to be pitted against each other in a battle royale beginning Monday (YES, THIS MONDAY) with judges that will whittle the pool of combatants down to the eventual winner.  And what judges - stop here to meet them all!

The battle has been preceded with weeks of hilarious build-ups: last year's winning book the Hunger Games gives sound advice to this year's contenders in hilarious cartoons; the Peanut Gallery revving up (helloooo!) and making its first appearance with Battle posts from around the blogosphere; and there is still time for you -yes, YOU - to vote in the "Undead poll" by March 14 for the book that you think is most worthy to stay in contention if it falls out of the brackets through a loss.  All of this is accompanied by tongue-in-cheek sassiness and hilarity. And of course it has given us readers more time to make sure we have finished reading the contenders we somehow missed reading last year!

I know where my first reading stop of the day for the next few weeks will be.  Hope it's your too.  And now let the battle begin!


Pairing Non-Fiction And Fiction for Kids

I am loving the Share a Story-Shape a Future blog tour...so much food for thought, so much to try. Thanks to all the bloggers who post and all the comments that are leading me to more. Yesterday's focus was on non-fiction and I love, loved, loved Sara over at the Reading Zone sharing fiction and non-fiction pairings that she does with her classes. It reminded me of some of my favorite pairings (or tripletting!) of books for elementary school kids I have used when I am booktalking.

The magic of mixing and relating fiction and non-fiction is easy to do. Look for fiction; poetry; biography and fascinating non-fiction to put together to make a greater whole. And being able to lead kids to worthwhile books in all these genres is like putting a jigsaw puzzle together. It's fun mixing reading levels too! I have over 100 three-book combinations. Here are just a few of my favorites:

The lamp, the ice and a boat called Fish - Martin, Jacqueline
Antarctic journal - Hooper, Meredith
White bear, ice bear -Ryder, Joanne

The dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins - Kerley, Barbara
Stone girl, bone girl: the story of Mary Anning - Laurence Anholt
Dinosaur babies - Zoehfeld, Kathleen

Nasty, stinky sneakers - Bunting, Eve
Sneakers meet your feet - Vicki Cobb
Shoeless Joe and Black Betsy - Bildner, Phil

Seeker of knowledge: the man who deciphered Egyptian hieroglyphics - Rumford, James
The shipwrecked sailor - Bower, Tamara
The tomb of the boy king - Frank, John

Beautiful warrior: legend of the Nun's kung fu - McCully, Emily
Master swordsman and magic doorway - Provensen, Alice
The emperor's silent army - O'Connor, Jane

Runt - Bauer, Marian Dane
Wolves - Simon, Seymour
To the top of the world - Brandenberg, Jim

How my parents learned to eat - Friedman, Ina
This is the way we eat our lunch - Baer, Edith
What you never knew about fingers, forks and chopsticks - Lauber, Patricia


All Gasoline; No Brakes

In an article in today's March 10, 2010 NY Times, there is a report on the eviction of the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood advocacy group from the Boston-based mental health center where they had been for over a decade. As the ripples of this decision lap out around the country the Times quotes a couple of health professionals on the decision. One, Dr. Carl Bell who is president and chief executive of the Community Mental Health Council in Chicago, was quoted as saying, "Children are all gasoline and no brakes and whether it’s cigarettes, alcohol or junk food, we need advocates to tell society to stop giving children so much gasoline.”

That quote really struck me as an interesting and all-too-true description of kids. And it also struck me that our work with kids and reading, recommending great books, nurturing their love of literature and language is a positive way of fueling that gasoline. When we ignite kids and support them in creating fun paths to literacy; when we encourage free reading choices so kids can pursue their reading passions, we - as adult guides to literacy - are saying clearly "Go for it!". That's fuel for a fire that I can get behind.

Image: 'LP640.' http://www.flickr.com/photos/26977717@N02/4388501292


Books Plus Theater = Literacy Excitement

The Almost Librarian (now at Cozy Up and Read) talks about story extensions as a way to enhance the literacy component of reading. One of my favorite extensions that has developed a life of its own is doing simple theater with kids based on kids books. With the librarian (or mom or teacher or dad) as narrator and the kids as the actors, children's books are brought to life in an immediate way that is fun, satisfying and enshrines the books in the players' hearts. At the same time, the kids learn basic stage craft and are empowered as actors on a stage.

The books we've chosen to present are all simple and have few lines but allow the kids to play parts. We've put on Chicka-Chicka-Boom-Boom; Where the Wild Things Are; Wise Monkey Tale; Anansi and the Moss Covered Rock; The Very Hungry Caterpillar as well as other plays over the years based on picture books. We read the book with the kids, then talk about what is happening: how the characters feel; what they might look like, and how the kids can play the part. We go over basic stage directions (how to face the audience; learning to use their faces to show emotions; staying quiet if they are off-stage; etc); rehearse a few times and off we go.

When I first started doing these "Preschool Players" programs, we would have the kids make costumes and have three weeks of rehearsals. Over the years we have streamlined and condensed. The costumes were actually more of a distraction for the kids so we don't use much. Kids can come as they are and become the characters. Scenery can be as simple as cut-outs pasted on the wall or crepe paper hung to simulate vines - or often, nothing at all. We can now have practice, put on the play and throw a cast party all in an hour.

There is always an improv element to the process and kids and parents (and grandparents and friends who make up the audience) love to see their kids as "stars". And in a very deep and satisfying way we extend the book into these children's lives. Break a leg!

Share a Story-Shape a Future blog tour is on!

The overall theme of the week is It Takes a Village to Raise a Reader and bloggers around the world are sharing amazing ideas to sparkle kids literacy. There is much to read and think about and incorporate into our work in public libraries. Day 1 of the tour was hosted at the Scrub-a-Dub-Tub (Reading Tub blog) with the theme of "The Many Faces of Reading". Bloggers weighed in with stories about people who dedicate themselves to reading with kids in our community.

It's Day 2 of the tour which means The Book Chook is graciously hosting all things "Literacy My Way/Literacy Your Way". BC says "... I don't just equate literacy with reading. I believe it encompasses a range of activities and skills, all of which contribute to a child becoming literate."

Upcoming themes:

Day3 - Just the Facts: The Nonfiction Book Hook
Host: Sarah Mulhern @The Reading Zone
This is the day for exploring the different genres of nonfiction (biography and memoir, science, nature, math, etc), as well as the use (or not) of historical fiction.

Day4 - Reading Through the Ages: Old Faves & New Classics
Host: Donalyn Miller @the Book Whisperer
Topics include "boy books" and "girl books," as well as newer titles that fit with some classics we loved as kids.

Day5 - Reading for the Next Generation
Host: Jen @Jen Robinson's Book Page
Join us as we talk about how to approach reading when your interests and your child's don't match. It may be that you don't like to read but your child does, how to raise the reader you're not, and dealing with the "pressure" of feeling forced to read.

Be sure to stop by, read the great posts and add your own ideas of putting books and kids together!


Frequent Reader Club

Kids love to be part of a club or group. What better way to promote literacy, the library and a love of reading and listening then to create a club that rewards kids for frequent reading? That was the idea behind a club based on frequent flying miles that we created at two of the libraries I worked at.

We created a credit card-sized "club card" with eight boxes. Each time a child came to the library during the two month program to check out books, we stamped off one of the eight spaces on their club card. We created an extra stamp opportunity at each library to promote something we wanted to accomplish with the kids (at one library, kids received double stamps if they had their library card at check-out; at my present library if they attended a night-time family storytime they received the bonus) and to optimize the kids opportunity to have all spaces stamped.

All kids who got their eight spaces stamped by the end of the program received a free paperback book that they chose by themselves. We found that this really motivated kids to use the library, to pick more materials and it helped to create a regular "habit" of coming in. We had a chance to talk to the kids about what they were reading , get to know them better and suggest good books for them to try. It was definitely a program worth doing!

Image: 'seasoned traveler' http://www.flickr.com/photos/63225294@N00/1874324170


Is the Book Future Now?

Travis over at 100 Scope Notes found a verrrry interesting post with a video of a publisher using Ipad to demo how its books might be accessed and it is pretty interesting. The Ipad to Kindle looks like a Maserati to a Model T. Whoosh!

As someone who spent her tween/teen/and early adult years voraciously reading science fiction (I kind of skipped the children's literature of that time) and thinking about what the future might hold, I have to say that the Ipad is getting pretty close to what I envisioned reading to be like -someday. Ipad potentially could combine the power of reading with the power of interconnectivity - and that is where I think I start moving away from books - whoops, did *I* say that?

I hope there is a way for publishers and authors to be part of this amazing gestalt - and earn the money they deserve. I am not looking for free content - I am looking to free the content up!

Image: 'robot invasion' http://www.flickr.com/photos/60648084@N00/2458233987


Mo Knows

Ok, from now on this is how I want to set the table!

Mo Willems Doodles: A gift of doodles!

(and yes, I know exactly what that fab contraption is and have craved one since I left my last job!)

Tellin' What We Do

Jennifer over at Jean Little Library has a great post about a presentation she did for a high school Child Development course. She enhanced a "librarian-as-a-career" presentation into a great tour-de-books and promo for reading aloud with kids. I especially like her book selections. Lucky high schoolers!


Gleeful Boys Unboxing New Books

Check out the Wisconsin Library Association's Youth Services Section blog for a great video of a couple of boys getting first dibs on new library books they get to unbox themselves. My buddy Sue Abrahamson over at Waupaca Area Public Library has caught the excitement of two young bibliofiles. And what a great idea to try at your library for your young book freaks!

Wimpy Kid Fun!

This is me wimpy-fied! Just in time for the movie premiere on March 19 and our big afterschool party scheduled for March 15. Are the kids going to have fun with this or what?

Thank you to 100 Scope Notes and Mishaps and Adventures for this great Wimpy Kid link. I will keep everyone posted with how our party goes.

Check out our Wimpy Kid parties here and here.

Servant Leadership and our Public

We had a very inspiring speaker at our 7:45 am staff meeting this morning who spoke about servant leadership and how to bring into our work and lives. Some of the points that stood out for me:
  • Relationships are one of the most important parts of our lives - not just our family relationships but those with our co-workers and people we interact with daily.
  • Speaking kindly and with thought towards others is of great value.
  • Be honest with each other.
  • People want to be treated well.
  • We as a community are stronger when we work together to create a common good.
  • "Public" has been devalued as a word (public school; public housing; public transportation; public library) in relation to "private" - but all of us are "the public".
Of course there was alot more than that...but I took great inspiration from his talk. One thing really brought home to me the meaning of servant leadership in one's work. The speaker gave an example of a local grocery business that uses this approach. It was eye opening for me because my husband and I started shopping there about six months ago because the staff was so unfailingly good to us and to every single person that we observed being helped - no matter their income and dress. The groceries aren't the cheapest but we were tired of spending our money at another store where we felt like customers were rather an inconvenience to staff. When the speaker mentioned this business it was my "aha!" moment - servant leadership works!

It reminds me again in this time of great need, when I work in a place that is public and anyone of any income level can come in to use our library, that is important to make each interaction as meaningful as I can no matter who is in front of me.