Making Books Holiday-ish!

Ok, Thanksgiving has passed so I can officially put up the tree. We usually head out and find a live tree to put on our window seat. But this year inspired by Pinterest and clever librarians everywhere, I made a book tree. So here is my baby.

It's a little crooked but it has lots of our favorite books (Ulysses!  1001 Arabian Nights!). The advantage is it never needs water. The disadvantage is that I can't pull out books from it to read...I must be patient. Gack!

If you are looking for more bookishly holiday things to make, check out Book Riot's post here!


Where Were You When I Was Young?

Ok, here's an Ohio YMCA summer camp that gets it!

Weeks are themed to popular book (and movie) series like Ranger's Apprentice, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and the new Brotherband Chronicles by Flanagan.  The skills kids learn - horseback riding, survival skills, team building, archery - are much the same as any summer camp but with a literary twist that lets kids experience favorite books vicariously.

Hmm, sounds lots like some of the fun book-themed fun we create. You go, Ohio Y!


Brown Bear Brown Bear Birthday Bash

I heart book parties! No surprise there. They are the perfect storm of fun mixed with a laser focus on a book , character or series that resonates with kids. Whenever possible, we like to tie in parties with events about the book that are creating buzz - a book, movie or DVD debut; an anniversary of a book's publication; a tie-in with Kohl's stuffed book character promotion or a nationwide celebration (think Read for the Record or Read Across America).

When we were thinking about what would be our special 1000 Books Before Kindergarten event for the fall, we decided to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the classic Bill Martin- Eric Carle collaboration.  And the ingredients?

Thanks to Pinterest, I had found some easy to reproduce templates for the characters at 1+1+1+1 blog.  We used volunteer help over the summer to create a little take home packet in a baggie of cut-outs and the text of the book.  For the party I made some 8.5 x 11 sheets with each character on them. Our business manager had found loads of the Brown Bear titles on sale at Kohl's along with other titles by Martin and Carle and purchased 15. Those became our special "birthday presents" to be raffled off. The finishing touch - I ordered a few dozen mini-cupcakes (no cake cutting!).

On party day the families flocked in for some exclusive time before we opened. All families could enter their name for our book drawing. For the program we did a quick Itsy Bitsy Spider to settle the tots in. Then I invited kids from the audience to come up and hold a piece of the story and everyone told the story together. I thanked everyone in 1000 Books for their participation and encouraged those not signed up to join. We drew for the book prizes (displayed around the room - as names were called, kids could come up and make their book choice), then sang happy birthday to Brown Bear and ate our cupcakes (nom nom nom). Simple, effective and fun. That's MY kind of program!


Diary of a Wimpy Kid Party - Third Wheel Edition

I love nothing - nothing! - more than a good party based on a kid's book.  We had two home runs this week. In this post, let me tell you about our latest celebration - Jeff Kinney's publication of his seventh book  on 11/13/12, The Third Wheel.

I knew it was going to be good because I lucked out and picked up a 2013 Wimpy Kid calendar signed (in silver, no less) by Jeff Kinney at ALA. That would be the centerpiece of the party that we would schedule on the eve of the book's publication.

We downloaded the event kit from Abrams books to help us decide  what games and activities to use at the party. They have always been generous in making bookstores and libraries look good with the latest trivia, games and puzzles.  We chose the Shame Game and trivia from this year's event kit;  downloaded masks from the Wimpy Kids Club and used the "Worm Chase" activity from a previous party (a picture of a worm colored by the kids and glued on a craft stick in honor of Rowley being accused of chasing kindergartners with a worm on a stick).

It's not a Wimpy Kid party unless we take a toilet seat, prop it atop a wastebasket and let kids chuck mini-cereal boxes into it. And of course there were "Mom Bucks" aplenty that we made and gave out with abandon for any and no reason.
Best of all, School Library Journal and Abrams Books (bless their hearts) made a live webcast of Jeff Kinney available today at noon (our party started at 3pm).  During the webcast, I took screen shots and made notes to share with the kids in a word doc. To start the party off, we spent 15 minutes just recapping what Jeff had said. The kids were rapt. The webcast should be available more widely in an archived version in a week or so.

Finally, to the mad delight of the kids, we picked for the lucky winner of the calendar and six magnetic Wimpy kid bookmarks we had purchased. The rest of the kids received a ridiculous but highly prized monkey pen.  Everybody was happy and books and literacy = fun won again!

For other Wimpy Kid parties we've done, check here and here .


Raising $$ for the Library

Decorated library pre-opening
Our library held it's 10th annual Give-a-Gift (referred to by staffers, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, as GAG) fundraiser last night and it was an unbelievable success. We pre-purchased and processed over 600 books for all ages; decorated the library  (and ourselves) in an elegant style in a mere 3 hours; arranged for evening-long catered finger foods and celebratory champagne along with the traditional wine and lemonade. Then we opened the doors from 4-7 pm for people to come in and purchase the books for the library.

People come in, peruse the books and choose ones they will "donate" to the library. Each book has a tag with author, title and barcode that they fill out with their donor info and a book plate inscription. We put the book on a cart and they take the tag to the purchase area and pay for it.  The tag info is subsequently used to generate a bookplate, reserve the book for the donor and generate a thank you letter with tax exempt information. The laden book carts return to Tech Services at the end of the night to be dealt with in coming weeks.

An adult area display
The community always comes out in force but this time....well, we sold out of every book after 2.5 hours. Usually we sell maybe 60-70% of the books. To say the staff was giddily stunned would be an understatement. As the books were purchased at a mad pace, staffers kept closing down displays and shoring up remaining ones with stock. Every kind of book for every age sold, sold and sold.

We had advertised heavily because we wanted to hit an overall goal of raising $150,000 worth of books being sold during the ten years we've held the event. It clearly paid off. We won't get the final numbers until next week...but no books left - that's gotta be good.

A children's area display
The preparation for the event is pretty massive. Planners meet monthly year round to get ducks in line - from fancy invites, to live music and food and beverage choices. Selectors start buying stock in late May and the Technical Services dept catalogs and processes them all. After the night, they generate bookplates with donor's inscription and reserve the books so donor's get first check-out privileges.

Most of our crack YS team
In general, it's a very tough event - while good things happen, staffers often gag at GAG - so much work and effort in the months before and after. Decorating, breaking down and working the event in an eight hour span are all exhausting. But it also builds staff camaraderie and teamwork.  There is laughter and compliments  and the pleasure of working on a front-line crazy busy event.  Probably, most important for me, is a feeling that can't be beat when the public - from all income levels and age groups - comes in and buys books to thank us for our work. That warms my heart and keeps me willing to do this crazy thing!


Dear Teen Me

To celebrate the publication of Dear Teen Me: Authors Write Letters to Their Teen Selves ( a new book of letters from 70 different authors to their teenage selves), edited by Miranda Kenneally and E. Kristin Anderson, bloggers have been writing a note to their young selves as well. Although  I am not a part of the blog tour supporting this effort, I have a couple things to say to my young self anyway.

Dear Teen Me,

You will use those four years of Latin throughout your academic career and life and be counted as one smart cookie.

Ignore those bad boys and don't be in a hurry. You will meet your partner whom you cherish and who cherishes you in your old-maidhood-mid-20s and will truly live happily ever after.

Those cranky librarians who kept asking you "if you had checked the catalog first" every time you asked a question did steer you into librarianship. You swore you would be kinder and more friendly to the public...and you did it - mostly!

The library will remain your inspiration, your refuge and your university throughout your life. That will never change. It's good to know that there are stable things out there.

You will never lose the fire that makes you care deeply.  So keep speaking truth to power. It won't hurt you a jot.

Finally, never give up; never surrender! You will make all your dreams come true by hard work and caring. Really. Truly. 

And hang in there, tootsie, life does get better!


And NEVER Say You Don't Have a Program Idea...

Feeling like your tank is on empty? Then stop on by these two generous library association sites and grab some program ideas, wouldja?

Illinois Library Association Youth Forum's blog

ALSC Kickstarter - School Age Program Ideas

And don't EVER whine to me about why you don't think joining a professional association is important. Because now you know what they - and you - do!

Image: 'Ding! Ding! - Fill 'er Up!http://www.flickr.com/photos/98019953@N00/5343969456 Found on flickrcc.net


KidsLit Cares Auction Hurricane Relief Effort

Please head on over to author Kate Messner's blog  and consider bidding on one of a number of items to benefit the efforts of the Red Cross in helping victims of Hurricane Sandy. From Kate's website: "It’s an online talent auction to benefit the Red Cross relief effort for Sandy. Agents, editors, authors, and illustrators have donated various services to be auctioned off to the highest bidder, with donations being made directly to the Red Cross disaster relief fund."

So head on over and bid, my friends (but not on the people we want, OK?)

Thanks to Bookshelves of Doom and my colleague Linda Jerome for this "heads-up!"