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The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) is a network of more than 4,200 children’s and youth librarians, children’s literature experts, publishers, education and library school faculty members, and other adults committed to improving and ensuring the future of the nation through exemplary library service to children, their families, and others who work with children.
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26. Advocacy, Not Pity: An Interview about Early Literacy for Special Populations

For this blog post I interviewed Sarah McNeil, Outreach Librarian and Read Aloud Program Coordinator, and Lauren Dennis, Library Program Associate, both from the Early Literacy Department (ELD) at the Denver Public Library, CO (DPL). I have compiled our discussions, however, please note that the answers in this post are not verbatim quotations.

What special population(s) do you serve?

The largest special population served by DPL’s ELD is children who are affected by poverty or lower socioeconomic factors. They may be from immigrant families, families with low levels of literacy, and/or English language learners. This population is not identifiable by sight, which can make it difficult to serve.

Do you create programs specifically for this special population or  make your programs more inclusive?

ELD aims to make programs more inclusive, while still targeting the special population. If something is good for a special population it tends to be good for all community members. For instance, ECRR applies to all families, not just special population families. ELD assumes that everyone can use this information, regardless of socioeconomic status, race, etc.

What are some of the planning elements you consider when serving this special population?

  • Look to create partnerships with organizations that are already working with your target audience.
  • When choosing materials, look for a diversity of titles that reflect the experiences of your target audience, as well as provide a window into other cultures. Consider all the demographics of your target audience, not just one facet.
  • Movement is a great way to get everyone involved, no matter the language in which you are reading or speaking.
  • Use humor to establish trust as you build relationships.

What can libraries do (in-house or outreach) to make early literacy more accessible this special population?

Book/material giveaways are attractive to this special population. ELD tries to pair them with modeling opportunities, so that giveaways can be used to bring early literacy activities home. you can model dialogic reading when giving away books or make a song cube with parents and show how it can be used to encourage singing at home.

ELD has had great success with their Play and Learn Groups. These sessions take place at community centers outside of the library and use a storytime + craft format to connect with families and model early literacy practices. Each session focuses on a different ECRR2 practice (read, sing, talk, play, write). These sessions allow ELD to frame storytime as a learning activity and the library as a community resource.

What are some of the challenges serving this special population?

  • The Fear Factor – If you’re not a part of a population, it’s common to feel as though you don’t have anything to offer. No matter your life background, you have something to offer. It’s hard to walk the line between being a community resource and being preachy. Just remember, your job is to advocate, not pity.
  • The Language Barrier – If you don’t speak the language of your audience, choose materials that can be understood by language learners, such as picture books that rely on visuals to tell the story. Whenever possible, bring materials in the language of your audience.
  • Generalizing – Every person is a unique individual, so don’t expect all members of a special population to behave or like the same things. Think about validating the individuals’ experiences.
  • The Slow Build – It can take a while for a program to settle in and become successful. Start small and slow to give your program time to succeed.

How do you measure the success?

Lauren and Sarah admitted that the success of their programs can be difficult to determine. Attendance numbers are important, but they have found other ways to define success. For instance, ELD provides many parent presentations on early literacy. At the close of a presentation, a provider will often ask for participant feedback, such as what they will take home and use. They also look for evidence of relationship building, such as being invited or referred for another presentation or establishing a new community relationship, as successful markers.

Experience shapes brain architecture by over-production followed by pruning. Source: Center on the Developing Child - Harvard University.

Experience shapes brain architecture by over-production followed by pruning. Source: Center on the Developing Child – Harvard University.

How do you get special population parents/caregivers to buy into the importance of early literacy?

Sarah suggested showing them brain research. Caregivers always love to see and hear about the brain development of children when delivered in an easily digestible and humorous. Visuals, such as images of brain scans, are universal and helpful.

Sarah also encouraged library staff to think about what families want to do or be, rather than what they have or do now. It can help to show them how their goals can be met using the resources you are sharing with them. Because at the end of the day, parents are parents and they all want the best for their children.


Amy Seto Musser. Photo courtesy of Sherry Spitsnaugle/Denver Public Library

Amy Seto Musser. Photo courtesy of Sherry Spitsnaugle/Denver Public Library

Amy Seto Musser has her MLS from Texas Woman’s University and is a children’s librarian at the Denver Public Library. She is always on the look out for creative ways to incorporate the arts into children’s services and programming to extend books beyond the page. Check out Amy’s blogs: http://picturebookaday.blogspot.com/http://chapterbookexplorer.blogspot.com/

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

The post Advocacy, Not Pity: An Interview about Early Literacy for Special Populations appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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27. The Joys of Reading through Windows

We all know that when it comes to stories, children need both mirrors and windows to understand their place in the wide world.

This never ending winter has given my life a different pace. Curtailed from Saturdays scheduled with errands and voice lessons, sewing lessons and play dates, my children and I have been reading aloud. They are both independent readers and have been for some time. My son is 16 and my daughter turns 11 this month but the joys of reading aloud are even richer than when they were little. Our options are more varied and their views of the world are wider. As librarians we have always known and advocated for reading aloud to older children but at least for me, making the time has been a challenge.

My pledge is that after the snow melts, I will still suggest and make space for Saturday morning readings that start our day with ideas, passion and a look into other worlds. This ability to glimpse into other worlds and gain greater empathy for others is the kernel of our concern and commitment to diversity in all its forms in our profession. While this is a personalized call to action and one I tend to avoid, having time to share books with my children in this amazing and profound way, reading aloud, makes me grateful for our public library and all its offerings. I really have everything I need in our literary backyard.

For our families, El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Children’s Day/Book Day), celebrates the stories in our communities. Our libraries are the perfect place of acceptance, inclusion and harmony. While we celebrate Día on one special day, April 30th, its name also stands for Diversity in Action and through this work, we reaffirm our daily commitment to ensure that all families have access to diverse books, languages and cultures. Without access to stories from other cultures, places and passions, we are a lesser world.

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28. The Beekle Experience

beekleAs a member of the 2015 Caldecott committee, making “the call” to Dan Santat on the morning of February 2 was such a thrill. The good folks at ALA make it possible for you to experience it HERE. Once the announcements of the Caldecott awards were made public, the Internet buzzed. One of the first things I saw online after the announcements was this short video from Dan Santat. It melted my heart. I was running on adrenaline, very little sleep, and home-made ginger cookies at this point, and that little clip just really got me. Dan Santat’s first Tweet of that day was “I’m so bummed the Patriots won the #SuperBowl last night. My whole day is ruined.” I immediately thought, “The guy is funny!” You can follow him on Twitter @dsantat. When I got back to my hotel room, I saw this amazing craft from This Picture Book Life blog. It inspired me to create my own Snow Beekle once I got back home.

When I was home I really dug in to read the Caldecott news. There are several interviews that will give you more about Dan Santat, like this one from Publisher’s Weekly, this one from NPR, this one from Dan’s local station in Pasadena, and this one on the 7 Impossible Things blog. And there’s this fun podcast from Picturebooking.

So, there’s a lot of Beekle love out there, and it is well-deserved. This year’s Caldecott medal book is one that you can share at preschool storytime. There’s already a craft you can make (with preschoolers I’d use frosting scribblers instead of Sharpie marker to make the face because you know they are going to want to eat it). You can use The Adventures of Beekle, the Unimaginary Friend with older groups, too. It is a seemingly simple book, but so much is going on. Embedded in this story is the archetypal Hero’s Journey: Beekle leaves home on a quest, heeding his call to adventure. He leaves his normal world and ventures out into the unknown. He then experiences trials in that world: he is looking for something, and searches valiantly. Once Beekle finds what he is looking for, and has bonded with his new friend, he can return, and do the unimaginable. For more on the Hero’s Journey, and how Beekle relates, try this link.

Photo by Angela J. Reynolds

Photo by Angela J. Reynolds

Look closely at that art! Each section of the journey is denoted by color and slight style changes, and fits the pacing just right. Look for the color yellow to tell you that change or something significant has occurred. Look at the emotion on our hero’s face when he meets his friend. Explore those end pages. Take that dust jacket off and revel in the lovely board cover underneath. Find the joy in this book that so many young children do. And don’t forget to look for the Beekle Bum – that image gets noticed every time I share this book in storytime.
Have fun with this book, and if you have more ideas on how to use it in storytime or in the classroom, share in the comments!

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29. Children’s Literature Connections in San Francisco

San Francisco is thrilled to host the ALA Annual Conference again this June. The Bay Area has a rich literary tradition and children’s books definitely are a part of it. Years ago, I wrote an article for School Library Journal (Déjà Views: A Tour of San Francisco Settings You’ll Recall from Children’s Books, SLJ, June 1997) that highlighted the city’s ties to Mark Twain, Robert Louis Stevenson, Kate Douglas Wiggin, Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter Rose Wilder Lane, Kathryn Forbes, Berta Hader, Jade Snow Wong, Virginia Lee Burton, Eleanor Cameron and Laurence Yep. Several of the books mentioned in it are now in limited supply, if not out of print. This is not surprising: Wilder’s letters to her husband Almanzo, chronicling her journey to the city to visit their daughter, popular journalist Lane, and the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, were written 100 years ago (West from Home). Wiggin’s work to establish the first free kindergarten in San Francisco (funding it with proceeds from the sale of The Bird’s Christmas Carol) took place almost 30 years before that. Maybelle’s uphill battle to save her species—can anyone conceive of a San Francisco without its cable cars?—was based on the successful Citizens’ Committee to Save the Cable Cars, almost 70 years ago (Maybelle the Cable Car, by Virginia Lee Burton).

But the literary spirit lives on, and thrives. A list of current local children’s and teen authors and illustrators, or books set here, would be a long one.

Indulge me, then, as I mention just a few, and the ALSC Preconference: Distinguished and Diverse: Celebrate the 2015 ALSC Honor Books, on Friday, June 26, 2015, 11:30 AM – 4:00 PM, as there are several Honor Books (and their authors and illustrators) with Bay Area connections:

  • Yuyi Morales (Caldecott Honor Viva Frida) lives part time in San Francisco, and learned to make puppets from books borrowed from the Western Addition Branch Library.
  • Jon Klassen’s partner-in-imagination, Mac Barnett (Caldecott Honor Sam & Dave Dig a Hole) is from Oakland, and as teen, he was Peter Pan at Oakland’s Children’s Fairyland.
  • Belpré Illustrator Honor Little Roja Riding Hood, Susan Guevara, received her BFA from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Author Susan Middleton Elya lives in the Bay Area.
  • All California children benefitted from Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation (Belpré Illustrator Honor, Sibert Honor), written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh.
  • Several of the illustrious people profiled in Portraits of Hispanic America Heroes (Belpré Author Honor, by Juan Felipe Herrera) are well-known to the Bay Area, including Joan Baez and Rita Moreno.
  • We are so proud of talented local illustrator Christian Robinson, who created the Sibert Honor book Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker with author Patricia Hruby Powell.
  • And of course, those top-of-the-food chain Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California’s Farallon Islands (Sibert Honor by Katherine Roy) are from our neighborhood (on a clear day, I can see the Farallon Islands from the park at the end of my street).

The Gold Rush may have ended almost two centuries ago, but San Francisco continues to offer literary gold—and several have shiny silver medals this year. Please join us in honoring them, and all other ALSC book honor winners, at the ALSC Preconference. Welcome back to the Bay Area, ALA!


Today’s blog post was written Carla Kozak, the Children’s and Teen Collection Development Specialist at the San Francisco Public Library, for the Local Arrangements Committee.


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30. Do Drop In?

ALSC Stock #12

Photo from ALSC Stock Photos

Baby, it’s cold outside (at least it is in Indiana), but we’ve got summer on our minds.

If you, too, are thinking about your Summer Reading Club, make sure that you hop on over to Marge Loch-Waters’s blog Tiny Tips for Library Fun and check out her series on shaking up your Summer Library Program.

The question that’s been on my mind as we’ve started planning our summer programs is whether we need to have registration for programs. I’ve been back and forth and back and forth.

When I first started at this library six years ago, I found that asking folks to register in advance really helped our attendance. We were able to do reminder calls and I think that really helped bring people in.

For the past two summers, our program registration has been a disaster. I’m not sure what switch has flipped, but what we’ve found for the past two summers is that our programs filled up really quickly. We were turning folks away for days or weeks before our programs and then on the day of the program (even with reminder calls AND emails), less than half of the registered attendees would show up. This left us with small groups, leftover supplies, and sometimes dozens of people we had turned away, believing the program would be full.

So this year, I challenged my staff to come up with programs that could be done as drop-in programs. Not only will this be easier on my staff (no program registration!), I’m hoping it will improve attendance and our relationship with our patrons (no having to turn people away!).

What does that mean for our programming?

  • We’re moving more towards “unprogramming” and focusing on creative and experiential programs instead of crafts with lots of prepared pieces. Please read Amy Koester’s and Marge Loch-Waters’s series on Unprogramming for a complete guide.
  • Instead of crafts, we might play a game or do an activity or do an open-ended art project.
  • We’re going easy on theme this summer. We always do. I’d rather have excellent, fun programs that staff are REALLY EXCITED about than “meh” programs that fit a certain theme.
  • We’re actually going easy on programming this summer, too. We’ll have all our regular weekly programs and we’ll have several large performers, but we’ve been so very active in our outreach to schools this year that I don’t want to overdo it over the summer. (Guess what? It’s going to be fine!)

I’m hoping that this is going to make a big difference this summer, for both our patrons and our staff.

What are you revamping or rethinking about your summer programs?

— Abby Johnson, Children’s Services Manager
New Albany-Floyd County Public Library
New Albany, IN

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31. Upcoming ALSC Online Learning

ALSC Online Education

ALSC Online Education (image courtesy of ALSC)

Online Courses

Explore new ideas and great library thinking with ALSC online courses! ALSC is offering four great options including three CEU-certified courses. All courses are offered asynchronously (self-directed) meaning you won’t need to logon at a specific time. Learn new youth library-specific skills at a pace that’s comfortable and convenient. Courses start Monday, April 6, 2015.


Because life in a library moves fast, ALSC webinars are the perfect solution for someone who wants and needs educational information but doesn’t have a lot of time or resources.  These short (one to two hour) interactive sessions taking place in Adobe Connect give librarians and library support staff the opportunity to learn right at their desks.


Building STEAM with Día: The Whys and Hows to Getting Started
Tuesday, March 17, 2015, 12 pm Eastern/11 am Central


Celebrating with Poetry Snapshots
Thursday, May 7, 2015, 3 pm Eastern/2 pm Central

Archived Webinars

Missed a webinar you wanted to attend? Don’t worry! ALSC presents archived versions of webinars, which are offered at a discounted price. Archived webinars cost only $25. Please note that recorded versions are not available until all of the live sessions of that webinar have taken place.

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32. Still Building!

We librarians are still building our Everyday Advocacy muscles, but we need to add one other thing to the mix, diversity. How can we as librarians connect advocacy and diversity? The talk of the day, the happening of our time, the attention grabber of our consciousness is the conversation taking place currently about diversity. The events in Ferguson, Missouri and similar events in other locations, the insensitive remarks spoken at a National Book Award event honoring Jacqueline Woodson and the on-going We Need Diverse Books campaign are stories which have captured our attention.

At breakout sessions during an ALA Midwinter meeting on diversity sponsored by the Children’s Book Council and ALSC, some takeaway ideas included the following:

  • Use parents and caregivers as resources.
  • Create virtual programs to reach untapped communities.
  • Develop partnerships which are crucial.
  • Create more diverse books.
  • Contact Barnes and Nobles to suggest a list of books that are not on its shelves, and then ask why.
  • Go to patrons wherever they are.
  • Be a change and a leader in your community

Issues raised during the meeting included: There should be more diverse staffing at publishing companies, there should be more characters with disabilities in literature for children. Jason Low of Lee and Low Publishing, suggested that a diversity problem is a cultural problem. Librarians asked these questions: How do you create a more diverse library? How do you reach out to diverse communities? ALSC and the CBC asked librarians in attendance,   what are some gaps you think we can fill? There were even more questions. One of the speakers asked the audience, what changes are you willing to make as librarians? When will you make a change, in one week, one month, one year?

There are many unanswered questions. There are even some final questions to ask ourselves: What are some of the challenges that your library is facing concerning diversity? What are the gifts you bring to the conversation? Gifts is a key word here.

We librarians bring our gifts every day to the jobs we do as librarians. It is part of the everyday advocacy that empowers us. Conversation is the thing that is being added to the mix, and the thing that will ultimately bring closure to the unanswered questions.


Today’s blog post was written by Barbara Spears, a member of the ALSC  Advocacy and Legislation Committee.

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33. Planning for Tweens

Like many of you, I’m feverishly planning for summer reading. My complete schedule is due at the end of this week and even here in the Deep South, everything has been thrown off by ice and snow and power outages and missed deadlines…as crazy as Summer Reading is in a public library, I’m definitely looking forward to summer.

My library isn’t large enough to have separate programming for tweens in the summer, so I encourage rising 6-12th graders to come to my teen programming. Which means I’ve had kids as young as 11 at teen programming. This can work. This is good for socialization and some of your kids will really enjoy it. Fun mentor-type relationships have sprung up among my group. You just have to remember a few things.

  • Adult Supervision. I’ve never had any issues at teen programming among the actual teens, but y’all, there is a big age gap between 11 and 18 and we have to be responsible around that. Make sure your programs are staffed properly. Safety first.
  • Participation, not humiliation. Try not to plan any programs that call anyone out specifically, but do encourage participation. Last year I talked about my photobooth program, which was well-attended and wildly popular. Kids were able to participate without feeling like I’m going to call on them at school.
  • Casual forever. My tween/teen programming is MUUUUCH less structured than my kids programming. Part of this is numbers: I’m never going to get 100 kids at a teen program. But part of that is that junior high and high school kids have their lives structured down to every single second and having a place where they can come make a craft or watch a movie without having to ask permission to use the restroom.
  • Have fun with them.  My main problem in the summer is that while I’m trying to do multiple programs a week, I forget to sit down and actually enjoy myself. The teen and tween programs are an ideal place to do this, as they ARE less structured and require less of me running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I try and take this hour every week during the summer to relax and have a chat with my kids. I love it.

Good luck on those summer plans, fellow public librarians! You can do it!

Our cross-poster from YALSA today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a youth services librarian in Mississippi, and has worked with ages birth-18 for the last 6 years.

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34. Professional Development Opportunities for Serving Special Populations

Earlier this week ALSC held an online forum to continue the Day of Diversity conversation from Midwinter. I chair the committee, Library Services to Special Population Children and Their Caregivers, so I thought about the conversation in terms of special populations served by our libraries. “Special populations” is rather weird terminology (“underrepresented” may be a better term). What is considered a special population really depends on each library’s community. A special population in Richmond, CA may not be a special population in Nashville, TN. Even within a city, special populations may vary from branch to branch.

Forum attendees generated lots of suggestions about how to make our libraries more diverse, welcoming places for everyone in the community. This is a huge task – one that requires ongoing assessment to learn who is underrepresented in your community and at your library, one that requires ongoing training of library employees. To this end, I searched library-related continuing education websites for upcoming professional development opportunities focused on services or resources for diverse or underrepresented populations.

Here are some upcoming professional development opportunities:

Library Juice Academy
Bilingual Storytime at Your Biblioteca
March 2-27, 2015 $175
“Participants will discover new books, rhymes, songs, plans and resources that they can immediately put to use in their bilingual storytime programs.”

Texas State Library and Archives Commission
Technology Planning for Patrons with Disabilities – Where Do I Start?
March 12, 2015 FREE
“Learn about resources…including low-cost or free basic assistive equipment [to] download immediately.”

University of Wisconsin – Madison
Library Services for the Hmong Community
March 10, 2015 FREE
This webinar will discuss “barriers that prevent Hmong from using libraries and share the Appleton Public Library’s successful outreach strategies for reaching out to Hmong patrons.”

Improving Library Services for People with Disabilities
March 2-29, 2015 Registration fee varies
Attendees “will review the current level of service to people with disabilities then explore materials and sources that provide additional support or new ideas.”

Spice it Up with Pura Belpre!
April 30, 2015 Registration fee varies
In this session attendees will learn about these award-winning titles and “discover how they enhance multicultural collections as well as contribute to instructional strategies.”

These are but a few online opportunities for you to learn more about diverse populations that may seek library services in your community. Another way to learn is to get out of the library and into your community. Attend cultural meetings, local chapter meetings of the (insert special population here) association, and special events. Think about who you don’t see in your library and find a way to learn more about that population. Then make a plan for proactively invite them in.

Africa Hands is chair of the Library Services to Special Population Children and Their Caregivers committee and author of Successfully Serving the College Bound (ALA Editions). She’s @africahands on Twitter.

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35. Music, Movement and Stories

A new highly interactive early literacy storytime featuring instrument exploration, songs, fingerplays, dance and books for ages 3 and up.

Chandra and Sheila playing the drums. photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

Chandra and Sheila playing the drums.
photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

Created by Community Librarians Sheila Grier and Chandra vanEijinsbergen, Music, Movement, and Stories (MnMS for short) is one of my favorite new children’s programs for ages 3-5 at Deschutes Public Library.  The music cd’s, books, and musical instruments circulate between all six branches.  The program includes two stories and lots of dancing, singing and playing musical instruments.

I joined Sheila and Chandra in our Early Learning Space at the Downtown Bend Library and we made some noise!   We talked about the most asked about questions and shared favorite books and ideas.

How did MnMS start?

“Music Movement and Stories started when I began to read about doing a music program at our library and wondered why most music programs at libraries do not include the great books we have about music, dancing or sing-along books.  We can feature these books along with our cd collection,” says Sheila.

Do you use a different theme each week?  (scarves flying around…)

Chandra vanEijinsbergen, Community Librarian photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

Chandra vanEijinsbergen, Community Librarian
photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

Chandra VanEijinsbergen says, “Some of the librarians do.  Like with regular story time, I like the idea of using themes in MnMS.   Some themes came together naturally, for example farms.  Easy to find both books and songs about farms and farm animals.   Food was more difficult- books were easy and songs to use with shakers or musical instruments, were sort of easy.”

When do you offer MnMS?

“We do MnMS on a different day than our regular story times, Baby Steps, Toddlin Tales and Preschool Parade,” says Sheila

 What is your story time structure?

  • Welcoming/Hello song
  • Listening song
  • Two movement songs
  • Story (book or felt board)
  • Two musical prop songs – ribbons, scarves, bean bags, hoops, etc.
  • Story (book or felt board)
  • Two musical instrument songs
  • Goodbye song

Ideas for handing out and getting materials back?

“Sing a song”, says Sheila.  For example, Kathy Reid-Naiman’s “I’m Passing Out the Sticks” & “Time to Put Away”.  “Talk about the instrument or prop as you are handing them out.  Put a container in the middle of the room, they will happily return items.”

Any great tips to share?

Sheila Grier, Community Librarian photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

Sheila Grier, Community Librarian
photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

Sheila’s tip:  Telling the parents that it’s ok to look silly and dance it’s a must, their child, grandchild will think they are wonderful and mimic what the adult is doing.  I love seeing the dads and grandpas dancing.

Chandra’s tip:  Remove chairs from the story time space.  This encourages caregivers to sit and participate with their childIf you have a smaller group, sitting in a circle is nice.

Paige’s tip:  Take over the whole story time room.  Wiggle, shake, shimmy, jump and march across the room backwards.

Thank you Sheila and Chandra!  Check out their recommended books and music below!

 Traditional Song Picture Books

  • Down by the Station by Will Hillenbrand
  • Hush Little Baby by Sylvia Long
  • Old MacDonald by Jessica Souihami
  • On Top of Spaghetti by Paul Johnson
  • Over in the Meadow by Jill McDonald
  • Pete the Cat Wheels on the Bus by James Dean
  • Ten in the Den by John Butler
  • Twinkle Twinkle Little Star by Sylvia Long

By Jane Cabrera

  • Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
  • Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush
  • Row Row Row Your Boat
  • If You’re Happy and You Know It
  • Ten in the Bed
  • Wheels on the Bus

by Iza Trapani

  • Baa Baa Black Sheep
  • The Bear Went over the Mountain
  • Here we Go Round the Mulberry Bush
  • How Much is that Doggy in the Window
  • Itsy Bitsy Spider  *
  • I’m a Little Tea Pot
  • Row Row Row Your Boat
  • Shoo Fly
  • Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
MnMns Photo by Tina D.

Photo by Tina D.

Scarves or Ribbons

  • Wiggle Song by Dragon Tales from Dragon Tales-
  • Freeze by Michael Plunkett from Shakin the Chute
  • Fast Slow by Laura Berkner from the Best of
  • Parachute (or ribbons)
  • Got the Wiggles by Michael Plunkett from Ribbons and Rhythms
  • Long Ribbons by Michael Plunkett from Ribbons and Rhythms
  • Shake Your Reader Ribbons by Pam Schiller  from Leaping Literacy
  • Ribbon Dance by Michael Plunkett from Rhyme and Rhyme movement

Bean Bags

  • Beanie Bag Dance by Greg and Steve  from Kids in Action
  • Bean Bag Boogie by Learning Station from Me and My Bean Bag
  • Bean Bag Rock by Georgiana Stewart from Action Songs for Preschoolers
  • The Bean Bag by Hap Palmer from Can a Jumbo Jet Sing the Alphabet

Dancing/Movement Stories

  • Baby Danced the Polka by Karen Beaumont
  • Croaky Pokey by Ethan Long
  • Dance with me by Charles Smith Jr.
  • Dancing Feet or Farmyard Beat by Linda Craig
  • Dancing in my Bones by Sylvia Andrews
  • Down by the Cool of the Pool by Tony Mitton
  • Hilda Must be Dancing by Karma Wilson

Listening and Free Dance Songs 

  • Wiggle Walk by Georgiana Stewart from Toddlerific
  • Jump Jump by Lolly Hollywood from Go! Go! Go!
  • March Around by Lolly Hollywood from Go! Go! Go!
  • Put Your Little Foot by Carole Peterson from Dancing Feet
  • My Energy by Laura Berkner from Under a Shady Tree
  • Jump Up by from Imagination Movers
  • The Wiggle Song by Carole Peterson from Sticky Bubblegum
  • Rock and Roll Freeze Dance by Hap Palmer from So Big
  • Clap Your Hands by Singalong Kidz from Singalong Kidz
  • Parachute (or ribbons)
  • Clap Your Hands by Kathy Reid Naiman from Preschool Songs 1
  • Walking Walking by Ann Marie Akin from Songs for Wiggleworms
  • Put Your Finger On by Parachute Express from Feel the Music
  • Stretch!  by Dragon Tales  from Dragon Tales
  • Clap Clap Clap Your Hands by Carole Peterson from Sticky Bubble Gum
  • Statues by Georgiana Stewart from Action Songs for Preschoolers
  • Hands are for Clapping by Jim Gill from Jim Gill Sings the Sneezing Song and other contagious tunes
  • Twist Stop Hop by Ronno from Jump Start Action Songs
  • I Can Do It by Patty Shukla from I Can Do It
  • Say & Rhyme by Pam Schiller from Leaping Literacy
  • I Can Dance by Ronno from Jump Start Action Songs
  • Spaghetti Legs by Jim Gill  from Jim Gill Sings the Sneezing Song and other contagious tunes
  • Warm Up Time by Georgiana Stewart from Action Songs for Preschools
  • The Freeze by Steve and Greg from We All Live Together
  • The Airplane Song by Laura Berkner from Whaddya Think of That
  • I have a little scarf by Eine Kleine NachtMusick from Moving with Mozart
  • Dancing Scarf Blues by Carole Peterson from Dancing Feet      


  • Bell Horses by Kathy Reid Naiman from I Love to Hear the Sounds
  • Tideo By Kathy Reid Naiman from More Tickle Tunes
  • Oh children ring your bells by Kathy Reid Naiman from I love to hear the Sounds
  • Ring them on the Floor by Kathy Reid Naiman from I love to hear the Sounds     

Rhythm Sticks

  •  Nursery Rhyme Tap  by Pam Schiller from Leaping Literacy
  • Tap your Sticks By Hap Palmer from Rhymes on Parade
  • When the Saints Come Marching in by Georgiana Stewart from Rhythm Sticks Rock
  • Sticks on the Move by Georgiana Stewart from Rhythm Sticks Rock
  • Rhythm Stick March  by Michael Plunkett from Rhythm Stick Rap and Tap
  • Chim, Chimmy Chimpanze By Pam Schiller from  Leaping Literacy


  • Milkshake by Anne– Marie Akin from Songs for Wiggleworms
  • We’re going to the Market by Kathy Reid-Naiman from I Love to Hear the Sounds
  • Shaker Hop by Carole Peterson from Dancing feet        

For more great MnMS recommendations, please email Sheila Grier at sheilag@deschuteslibrary.org

Paige Bentley-Flannery is a Community Librarian at Deschutes Public Library. For over fifteen years–from Seattle Art Museum to the New York Public Library to the Deschutes Public Library-Paige’s passion and creative style for art, poetry and literature have been combined with instructing, planning, and providing information. Paige is currently serving on the ALSC Notable Children’s Book Committee, 2015 – 2017. She is a former Chair of the ALSC Digital Content Task Force and member of the ALSC Great Websites Committee.  


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36. Funny Read Alouds for the Elementary School Crowd

I’ve been invited to a local elementary school’s Family Reading Night. I missed last year’s event due to scheduling conflicts, so I’m super excited that I’m able to participate. One of the activities in the Family Reading Night program is rotating throughout classrooms in which guest readers read a variety of picture books.

The books I chose for this program have to meet certain criteria (my own criteria; the school allows you to choose your own material). If it’s a funny read aloud, it usually goes into my stack of books. I need to be able to read it several times in succession without getting bored with it. Although the audience in mind are elementary school students (and their families), I want them to entertain any younger or older siblings. Quite a tall order!

Throughout my experiences with this program, I’ve kept a list of tried and true sure-fire, attention-grabbing read aloud favorites:


(Image taken from Scholastic)

When it’s football season, I usually choose Aaron Reynolds’s Buffalo Wings. Football season is over, so Chicks and Salsa it is. If you had nothing to eat but chicken feed, you might also look for ways to spice it up. These intrepid barnyard animals make a delicious spread, although no one is quite sure how the ingredients are procured.



(image taken from Scholastic)

John and Ann Hassett’s take on The Three Billy Goats Gruff is a hilarious read aloud about a school-avoidant boy who has a taste for jelly doughnuts.  If you love to employ lots of voices in your read alouds, check this one out. It’s just as much fun to read as it is to hear.


(image taken from Scholastic)

When I discovered this book, I loved it so much that I immediately had to share it with my toddler story time. While it was such a failure with that particular group that I haven’t tried it again, I have read What! Cried Granny to enough preschool and elementary school classes that I know its humor comes across loud and clear for older students. Patrick and Granny are all set for his first sleepover….or, so they think! Seems that Granny’s house is lacking in several key items, but her impressive resourcefulness carries them through. Unfortunately, it’s at the expense of a restful night! If you need a not-so-sleepy bedtime story for a pajama story time, you need to include this book.

I’m also planning to read The Book With No Pictures for the first time; very excited about that one as well!

Do you have any favorite funny read aloud titles for elementary school classes? Let us know in the comments!




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37. Researching and Writing

I am alone. It is quiet, but I am happy because this is when I do my best writing. I compose my rough drafts for non-fiction science books and articles (and now, blogs) the old-fashioned way. My words meet a pad of paper and a pen before any keyboard or computer. I also write at my local public library where I can be by myself and it definitely is quiet. Although I conduct much of my research on-line, I do a great deal of exploring in the presence of books at the library. Reviewing what already has been published is essential for gathering inspiration and information.

Just as researching what information exists is necessary to my writing process, so is going out into the field. My favorite part of this job is field research for my writing. I have been fortunate to travel to different parts of the world–Europe, Africa, Central and South America, and soon Asia–with my mind open to material for children.

Even as a school child, I loved to research in the library. I remember well the days of Dewey Decimal drawers in card catalogs. I always enjoyed writing research papers and learning new things. Sometimes when I could not locate a reference, my high school librarian proved to be a magician. She made books and articles appear from nowhere. I wish I could remember her name.

When researching my first book, The Lucy Man: The Scientist Who Found The Most Famous Fossil Ever!, I discovered picture books for elementary-age children on human evolution and more complicated texts for high school students. But few books existed for middle school children. I found a similar deficiency when researching astronomy for my next book, Explore The Cosmos Like Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Space Science Journey. My books fill the gap for this age group.

I chose to use the life stories of famous living scientists to bring science alive for students. I hope children become more excited about being scientists when they learn about the important work real scientists are doing and the science work that can be done by those very children in the future. So far, I have written about finding fossils on land and searching for stars and planets in space. Where am I going in my writing next? Last year I snorkeled off the coast of Belize to research ocean science. Now, I am in the library reading books about the ocean and focusing on women marine biologists and oceanographers to interview. Then I will sit down with my beloved pen and a pad of paper to begin another book.


Our guest blogger today is CAP Saucier, a former pediatric nurse who writes science-related materials for children. She has published two books and two articles in children’s magazines. CAP serves on the board of the Institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

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38. More on Assistive Technologies

I’ll confess, like many of you I collect apps. I have an old tablet devoted to nothing but “kid” apps. Finding information about a variety of book apps is relatively easy now that so many of us are using them and reviewing them. One question I am asked frequently is “Can you recommend any assistive technology apps?”

There are several that have caught my eye recently so I decided to give them a try. I was impressed with the continued growth and development of these types of applications. There are many people, both young and old that could benefit greatly from using these simple programs. All the apps mentioned are intuitive, easy to use, some have a nominal fee and others are free.

Kidspiration Maps is a kid friendly mind-mapping app for the iPad. Kidspiration is similar to the Inspiration Maps, but Kidspiration includes more kid friendly templates and clipart like graphics. Kidspiration allows users to create mind mapping webs to help organize ideas and information visually. Unlike Inspiration Maps, Kidspiration allows users to insert a large variety of clipart images into their maps. Kidspiration also includes the ability to add a recorded voice note; a feature that is unfortunately missing in Inspiration Maps.

Kidspiration Maps includes a large number of pre-loaded templates for reading and writing, social studies, science, and math. These templates are geared for elementary school children and range from an “all about me” web to sorting and matching activities. If no template is applicable there is an option to start a new document. One template contains a number of words and instructions to arrange the words into alphabetical order while another asks kids to match states to their capitals. With the nice visuals these activities can be engaging and easier than using physical manipulative. One drawback is when the student is completing the activities there is no way to program the correct responses in order to give the student immediate feedback. Also, when searching for clipart students cannot search for an image by keyword, but instead must scroll through long lists of images.

Bookshare is an essential service for people with print disabilities. Bookshare.org provides accessible e-books for qualified students. Members can choose from over 200,000 downloadable titles including many textbooks. Bookshare books can be downloaded in a DAISY format for use with text-to-speech software or in a Braille format. Similar to Kurzweil, the combination of text-to-speech and highlighted text can greatly speed up and reading and increase comprehension for qualifying students. Thanks to a grant from the United States Department of Education Bookshare is free to U.S. students.

 Learning Ally is another provider of accessible books for the blind and dyslexic.Learning Ally mostly provides human narrated audio books for their members. Learning Ally is also expanding to provide “VOICEtext” books which include human narration and highlighted text. The highlighting of “VOICEtext” books is not word by word like in Bookshare and Kurzweil but rather is paragraph by paragraph. Learning Ally books can be read on iOS and Android devices using the Learning Ally Audio app.

 Co:Writer by Don Johnston is an app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. Co:Writer has exceptional word predication capabilities that can help struggling spellers. Co:Writer’s most unique and noteworthy feature is the ability to use topic dictionaries to improve word prediction based on the topic a student is writing about. For example, if a student is writing about World War II he or she can turn on the World War II topic dictionary in order to get more targeted word prediction.

Prizmo is an optical character recognition (OCR) app for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. The app gives students the ability to take a picture of a text documents and have it read back to them using text-to-speech in seconds. So if a student comes across a document that they can’t read they can use Prizmo to quickly take a picture and have it read back to them. Prizmo can also act as a portable scanner that can convert printed document into a digital PDF format.

These were are just a few of the many assistive technology apps available. If you are using or recommending and other apps that fill this niche, send me an email and let me know: asantos@princetonlibray.org

Allison Santos

ALSC Digital Task Force

Princeton Public Library, Princeton, NJ




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39. How to Claim Your Advocacy Button

Creating a Better Future Button

The advocacy button, available from the Everyday Advocacy site (image courtesy of ALSC)

At the 2015 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Chicago, ALSC announced the launch of the advocacy button campaign. Tied to the Everyday Advocacy initiative, the button campaign is designed to help youth service librarians articulate the value of their profession.

The buttons, emblazoned with the slogan “Creating a Better Future for Children through Libraries,” will be available at the 2015 ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco and various state/local conferences.

Attached to each button is a tip sheet, created by the ALSC Advocacy and Legislation Committee, that includes talking points to help articulate the value of youth library service. A virtual button will be available soon.

ALSC is also inviting prospective advocates to claim their own button. By submitting a question, an elevator speech, or a news item for the Everyday Advocacy Matters e-newsletter, participants can get a button mailed to them. This is only available for individual buttons. ALSC does not currently have the capacity to mail bulk orders of buttons and tip sheets.

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40. ‘Children’s Services Librarians’ or ‘Community Facilitators’?

I was lucky enough to land my dream job four months after completing my library science degree. I had dreamed of being a children’s librarian since I was five years old and received my very own library card. I was thrilled to announce to the world that I was going to be the new “Children’s Services Coordinator” at my local library! I got a lot of questions from loved ones: “Wait – but didn’t you go to school to be the librarian?”

In my early tenure, I assumed this title was chosen to encompass all that I was expected to do in the library, in addition to providing the standard library services to children (Ex: managing staff schedules, attending county meetings as a library representative, collection management, etc.) I soon realized, though, that the title of “Coordinator” best represented what all of these tasks quickly enabled me to do: make connections between patrons and needed community resources.

Some examples of resources that I regularly refer both patrons and other agencies to include: various contacts in the school system, homeschooling groups, public health offices, local specialty businesses, crisis pregnancy center, food banks, and environmental agencies.

While I will admit that all of our communities and libraries are unique in the best manners to become effective community facilitators, here are some of my own tips for children’s services librarians for creating or strengthening community relationships that will ultimately better serve patrons.

1. Become an Engaged Community Member

This is probably something that you are already doing as part of your duties as a librarian. If not, it’s easy to plug in to your community quickly! Volunteer at community events as a library representative, join local committees, and make a point to follow local newspaper, radio, community events, and relevant Facebook groups.

2. Vocalize Struggles

After a few months on the job, I had become extremely frustrated at many failed attempts to make a connection in our school system’s central office. I finally mentioned this in my department recap in a board meeting, not laying blame on any one party, and one of our board members knew so-and-so who worked there and could stop in and put in a good word for the library. This simple act has opened so many doors for partnerships between our library system and the school system. Sharing what I thought of as my “failure” has led to years of invaluable collaborations. Be sure, though, when vocalizing struggles to always use a positive approach. Bashing another community member or group is never going to get you a good end result!

3. Make Yourself Available to Patrons

I believe that my most important facilitating work has come about during regular programs in our Children’s Department. We host a twice monthly early literacy play program, in which I do about 10 minutes of hands-on, focused program, and the rest of the hour is spent playing and socializing with our patrons. The other program in which I more often than not get to wear my facilitator hat is our twice monthly Lego Club. In this program, I set the kids up with all of their gear, give a challenge, then again, have the rest of the hour to socialize with patrons. In each of these situations, I receive many community type “reference” questions. I believe that I get these questions more often in these programs because the patrons are more comfortable approaching me while I’m in the program rather than in my office. I’ve also learned much about our community gatherings and opportunities in these programs while sharing information with patrons, which I very much believe is making me a better librarian.

4. Put Your Connections into Action

By becoming a more informed librarian/citizen, you will be able to quickly connect families in your library to other needed/wanted services. Obviously, setting up services for families is outside the scope of our role as librarians, but connecting patrons into the community is a valuable service that we can easily provide.

Why Work to Become a Community Facilitator?

Serving as a community facilitator will only strengthen your relationship and foster trust with patrons. It will also potentially open doors to future collaborations and prove commitment of the library to the community as a whole.

What are your thoughts on serving your community as a ‘facilitator’? What practices do you employ to help you better engage with your community?


Today’s blog post was written by Amanda Yother, the Children’s Services Coordinator at the Putnam County Library in Cookeville, TN on behalf of the ALSC Managing Children’s Services Committee.

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41. Self-Censorship

Lately, there have been many questions regarding censorship floating around social media. A majority are phrased as collection development questions. e.g. “Is it okay to put this book in the Children’s Department?” Librarians are becoming increasingly concerned with themes such as a character’s sexuality or gender identity, and wonder if these topics belong in children’s collections. Some librarians are also hesitant for fear of community backlash, or maybe they just aren’t comfortable with the themes themselves. Nonetheless, it’s important to remember that as librarians, it is our job to protect everyone’s access to information, from babies to great-grandparents!

If you’re unsure if you’re self-censoring I encourage you to check out the New York Library Association’s Self-Censorship Test. The test hasn’t been updated in a while, and I encourage you to add the question “Have I not shelved a book in the children’s section because of it’s themes or content?” There is also a great article about self-censorship on the CCBC website, written by Megan Schielsman about the controversy that swirled around The Higher Power of Lucky.

Finally, reach out to the Intellectual Freedom Committee -we’re not just here for help with challenges! Feel free to email us with any questions you might have.

Aly Feldman-Piltch, ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee

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42. Partnering with your local 4-H group

My branch of the Geauga County Public Library has been lucky to have a long standing partnership with a local 4-H club. Our branch is the home to a vibrant genealogy reference department. Over the years library staff and 4-H clubbers have worked on family trees, family history projects, photography and scrapbooking.  The library staff shares expertise with the members and in turn the members help create local history displays in the library and plan library volunteer parties.

Don’t have a genealogy department? Here are some ways that other library youth services departments are partnering with local 4-H clubs:

  • Small Pet Information day – club members brought in gerbils, rabbits, etc. in cages and spoke about how to care for pets (also a Chicken Day and a Rabbit Day!)
  • Agricultural Literacy Day – club members read farm stories to young patrons, passed out gardening informational materials and introduced 4-H to young children
  • A Pet Club judged one library’s pet show on the library lawn.

Live in a city? Don’t think 4-H works in your area? Many suburban communities also have 4-H clubs and here are some projects that work anywhere:

  • A drama club performed short skits at Saturday Morning storyhour
  • A rocket club demonstrated rocket design and showed how to make small “rockets” to shoot indoors.
  • A food club set up a grill at the library summer concert series and sold hot dogs, pop, chips and homemade goodies. The proceeds were shared with the library.
  • The 4-H organization offers hundreds of project choices. When you think of 4-H you may think of sheep and chickens, but these are also current 4-H projects: gardening, sewing, recycling, fishing, bicycling, robotics, and astronomy. The possibilities for partnership topics are huge.

Where do I start?

  • Ask around your staff and patrons if anyone has a connection to 4-H.
  • Call the local Cooperative Extension office in your county. In every state 4-H groups are organized by county and overseen by the Cooperative Extension Service headquartered at that state’s  land-grant university.  Here in Ohio it is Ohio State University, in Montana it is Montana State University, etc.

Have other 4-H partnerships that have worked at your library? Please add them in the comments!

–Judy Lasco, Geauga County Public Library, Ohio

Member of ALSC Liaison with National Organizations committee

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43. Dreaming of Spring

The weather outside is frightful.  In southern North Carolina, we have dealt this week with an ice storm and power outages. While this winter weather in no way compares to the months and months of freezing temperatures and blizzards in the Northeast and Midwest, it is safe to say that many of us all over the country are sick and tired of winter by this time of year. We long for warmer temperatures and blooming flowers.  We long for spring.  At work we are also anticipating the change in seasons as we prepare for all of the special programs we offer during the next few months. What special events or services are rolled out during the springtime at your libraries?

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

Spring in many ways allows us the time to finish our last minute plans for our busy summer reading program. We promote our summer reading schedule to the schools in May and are fine-tuning our programming plans during these last few months.  Is spring your busiest time of year as you prep for summer reading or do you complete most of your program planning right before the programs begin in the summer? How will these next few months get you best prepared for summer reading?

Spring is also a special time of year for us as we participate in system-wide festivals.  We anticipate the spring season with a Storytelling Festival at all eight library branches at the end of February. At the conclusion of the Storytelling Festival, we turn our attention from storytelling to science. During two weeks in April, library staff present interactive science programs as part of the North Carolina Science Festival.  Spring is associated with science in our state. What special festivals, programs, or services are associated with spring within your library system?

School partnerships are also an important focus for public library staff during the spring.  The highly popular Battle of the Books Competition is gearing up with county contests. Library branch staff have connected with public school teams to practice questions with students to help them prepare for their upcoming competitions.  Other public library staff serve as judges or volunteer in various roles during these all-day events.  Are there any special collaborations you enjoy with your school systems during these spring months?

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

In our library, spring is associated with summer reading planning, festivals, and special school partnerships.  The cold, dreary weather may still be upon us, but starting this discussion may help us leave the ice and cold behind as we imagine warmer days ahead. What services or programs will be the focus at your library when the season changes? Please share your plans for spring in the comments below!

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44. Looking ahead to Women’s History Month


Each March, in addition to working, blogging here at the ALSC Blog and at Shelf-employed, I host KidLit Celebrates Women’s History Month! along with fellow librarian and blogger, Margo Tanenbaum, of The Fourth Musketeer.

Active only during Women’s History Month,  the blog features readers, commenters, and contributors working together to create a dynamic resource of thoughtful and thought-provoking essays, commentaries, and book reviews. Each post is related to children’s literature and women’s history.

The blog is a great resource for finding new books (we’ll be featuring several new and upcoming titles!) and useful links. Previous contributors include Jen Bryant, Andrea Davis Pinkney, Donna Jo Napoli, and Betsy Bird.  Contributors for 2015 include Emily Arnold McCully (Queen of the Diamond), Misty Copeland (Firebird), Michaela McColl (The Revelation of Louisa May), and more.

The complete 2015 lineup may be found on the site’s sidebar.  You can sign up to follow the blog, or receive it via email. Visit the site at http://kidlitwhm.blogspot.com to see “following” options, an archive of past contributions, and links to educational resources.  It’s suitable for parents and teachers, too.

The official Women’s History Month theme for 2015, is “Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives.” If you’ve got great plans for WHM, please share! :)

In March, stop here first, then head on over to KidLit Celebrates Women’s History Month!

KidLit Celebrates Women’s History Month blog header by Rebekah Louise Designs.

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45. Blogs to Love

Since it’s Valentine’s Day, it’s a great day to show some love to my favorite blogs. Early in my career, blogs became my go-to resource for program planning and I follow quite a few in an RSS feed I can barely keep up with. (Am I the only one who still uses an RSS feed? I hear they are not widely used anymore, but I still find it quite useful!)

These are blogs, all authored by children’s/teen librarians, that I use time and again when planning programs, whether technology-based or otherwise. I hope you’ll find them useful in your own program planning!

Robot Test Kitchen—I don’t think this newish blog has been mentioned here before and I am super duper excited to tell you about it. Run by four librarians in Illinois (hi Heather, Jacquie, Michelle, and Sharon!), it covers all things tech as they relate to children’s and teen services in public and school libraries. They do product reviews (littleBits, Cubelets, LEGO WeDo, Sphero, Bee-Bots—they’ve all been covered), share program plans, and have a series called Ten Dollar Tuesdays, which features inexpensive programs that cost—you guessed it—under $10. My favorite feature is their True Confessions posts, in which they lay bare their doubts, fears, and frustrations. If you’ve ever experienced imposter syndrome or felt like you failed at a program (and haven’t we all?), these posts are so reassuring!

Library Makers is run by librarians at the Madison (WI) Public Library and features “non-traditional” programs they do for all ages. There’s WonderWorks, a series of STEM classes for preschoolers; Supper Club, an evening app-based storytime; Toddler Art Class; Craft Lab for teens; and even NeedleWorks, a sewing class for teens and adults. They provide everything you need to know to replicate the programs at your library, including materials lists and “hindsight tips.”

Jbrary—If you haven’t taken a look at all the fabulous resources offered by Jbrary, you must do so immediately! Dana and Lindsey, the two librarians who run Jbrary, write about a wide range of library programs and services, including storytimes, tween book clubs, reading lists, booktalking, and many other varied topics. And what’s really amazing is the wealth of additional resources they produce. Looking for new songs and rhymes to use in storytime? Look no further! Check out their YouTube station (which has over ONE MILLION views) or their Pinterest boards (which have almost 4,000 pins).

Thrive Thursday—Ok, so this isn’t a blog so much as a monthly round-up of blog posts about programming for school-age kids. But if you’re looking for program ideas for the elementary school set, you’ll definitely want to check this out! All their round-ups can be found on this Pinterest board.

Hopefully some of these are new-to-you resources that you’ll find invaluable. I also want to give a shout out to a few other favorites: Little eLit (new media in libraries), Mel’s Desk (baby storytimes) and Storytime Underground (all things storytime). If they’re unfamiliar to you, I encourage you to check them out as well!

Liz Fraser is Coordinator of Children’s Services at the Belmont (MA) Public Library and serves on the ALSC Children and Technology Committee. She writes about library programs for kids at Getting Giggles and can be found on Twitter as @lizfraserlib.

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46. The Newbie’s Guide to Hosting a Día Program

Learn more about  Día at dia.ala.org

Learn more about Día at dia.ala.org

Thinking of hosting a Día program at your library? While the ALA Building STEAM with Día grants deadline has passed, it’s never too late to set up your own program. Have questions about where to start, who to contact, and what kinds of things you should do? Well, look no further—we will answer your questions right here!

First thing you must do, is log onto http://dia.ala.org, read a bit about Día and what others have done in the past, then register your program. This registry creates a searchable database of Día programs of all sizes from across the county that highlight Diversity In Action. Not only is the database a resource for you to find ideas, and printables that may work for your community, but it’s also a great place for your library patrons to find programs they might be interested in attending.

Then you need to take a deep breath. For those who have not held a Día program before, it does not need to overwhelm you. This is Children’s Day/Book Day, a celebration of the importance of literacy for children of all backgrounds. So, do what you do best…invite the community to join you in celebrating literacy.

Who should you contact? Everyone! Start with the list on the dia.ala.org website under the Learn More – Partners and Supporters page. This list links you to great national organizations who have indicated interest in celebrating Día. From there, look to your communities. Other agencies who serve children are a natural fit, but restaurants, and ethnic grocery stores can also be great partners and add a completely different element.

What should you do? Host a Book Fest, each room of your library is a celebration of a book, culture, or language. If you have enough partners involved, have them each be responsible for a room. Then families can move through the library, experiencing and discovering a variety of new things. Hold a Books Alive Parade, encourage children to dress up as their favorite book character and march around the library. Hold a few sessions that offer tips and tricks to create a love a reading in every home. Start a book club, using books that are offered in both English and another language. Encourage the sharing of cultural and personal experiences. Offer a variety of extension activities that coordinate with a book, showing children that literacy is more than just reading a book, but also all the things you can do with what you’ve read and learned.

Best tip: invite organizations and agencies to join you, and let them create their own activities to share with your patrons.

Pictures courtesy of the Kendallville Public Library bethmunk2 bethmunk3 bethmunk4















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Post written by Beth Munk, Kendallville Public Library, Kendallville, IN

Pictures courtesy of the Kendallville Public Library

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47. Post-Caldecott

The books! Photo by Angela J. Reynolds

The books! Photo by Angela J. Reynolds

Shovels in hand, 15 brave souls entered a room in a hotel in Chicago. We knew there was treasure to be found, we knew that we would have to dig deep into our year of looking at over 500 picture books in order to find the gems. We tried to find the right words (vocabulary, phrases, terms) to express how our favorite books met the criteria. We bravely donned our capes of red wool; we dreamed of art, and lost things, and finding friends. We picked up pebbles of wisdom, like stones at the beach that one summer. Our minds were filled with noisy colors. And together, we did the unimaginable.

It has been just two weeks since the 2015 Caldecott Awards were announced, and I still feel the warm glow of that experience. The seven books that our committee chose to receive those shiny stickers have me still reeling. I look at them and smile. Each one of them means something to me, and I have realized that our set of books is all about discovery. Just like Beekle on his heroic journey to friendship, our committee set out to find the most distinguished book published in 2014. There were many amazing books, and I know that each and every member of our committee has a few books that did not make our final list that they will always treasure. You just don’t spend that much time re-reading and looking closely without developing a relationship with the books. Together we found the books that we agreed met the criteria and rose to the top of the pile.

Caldesnacks! Photo by Angela J. Reynolds

Caldesnacks! Photo by Angela J. Reynolds

Being on the Caldecott Committee has been a longtime career goal. Now it is a career highlight, and I have found 14 new friends that shared an experience (and a lot of great snacks) that no-one can know about (actually, I can tell you all about the snacks if you want to know). The Adventures of Beekle, the Unimaginary Friend, by Dan Santat, was announced on Monday, February 2. Sitting in the convention center hall, my hands were shaking. Never had the announcement of the awards been so personal, so exciting, so nerve-wracking. I had to remind myself to breathe. Since we knew who the winner was on Saturday night, one of our committee members thought it would be fun for us to wear crowns like Beekle’s after the book was announced. She made them on Sunday and kept them secret until the book was named on Monday morning. Donning that yellow paper crown marked one of my happiest moments as a librarian. Our committee was so proud of those books.

The Caldecott Buzz was enormous. In years past, I have chatted with others about the awards. I engaged in the “why didn’t my favorite book win” banter with friends and colleagues. I read the blogs with fervor, and sometimes even joined in on the second-guessing that naturally goes on each year. “What were they thinking?” is often bandied about when the awards are announced, and I fully understand why. These book awards mean a lot to us. They recognize, very publicly, that children’s books matter. They celebrate art and literature and story and make us look closely at books, and at ourselves. This year the comments, both in person and online, were somehow louder. I love hearing people’s reactions, and I enjoy reading the critical analysis that has resulted. For those who are disgruntled, upset, or still wondering why our committee chose the books we chose, I say, read the Caldecott Manual, linked here. Read the criteria. And read them again. Read them a third time. Our committee heeded (observed, abided by, adhered to) that manual; we read it many times. My copy has margin notes, tabs, highlighter, tea stains. The manual was our guide, our touchstone, our handbook. And because the committee deliberations are confidential, you’ll never know exactly what happened in that room, other than the fact that we did what we were tasked to do, and we chose a winner and six honor books. Celebrate that with us. Find the joy in those books, like we did. Find the readers who will love those books, because they are out there. And like the Newbery committee’s t-shirts said, “Trust the Process”.

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48. Making the Bulletin Board Your Patrons’ First Stop

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 8.53.55 AM

Urban Dictionary’s definition of Shelfie.

In our library we have a bulletin board just to the right as folks walk through the door.  We’ve always kept it looking “nice”.  Some timely book displays…occasionally some student work (our second graders’ tall tale characters are a favorite) graced the construction paper background.  But honestly?  I was getting bored looking at it all the time.

So I did what any good librarian would do and I headed to Pinterest for some ideas.  Sure there were lovely book ad type of displays, but this is exactly what I wanted to get away from.  And I realized, what I wanted was for our students to have an interactive experience.

We started with gratitude.  Modeled off the Gratitude Graffiti Project we seeded our bulletin board with post-its featuring things we are grateful for. Every time anyone (teacher, parent, student) walked through our doors they were invited to add something.  In no time our board filled up with positivity.

Next, I found this fabulous first lines interactive board on Pinterest. Intriguing first lines have always been of interest to me, and I knew some titles that would have to be included.  It’s super easy to switch out the titles after a little while to freshen the board up, and I have to say, circulation of the titles featured has gone up as well!  Bonus!

Our next venture helps our students see that not just our fabulous team of librarians are readers, but all the folks in our school.  We put out a call for staff and faculty to send us a selfie AND a shelfie.  We will ask our students to see if they can pair up the person with their shelf!  The next month we will put out a call to the students, and feature their selfie/shelfie combos.

Our bulletin board is quickly becoming a talked about, interacted with and exciting part of our space.

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49. Five Things I Wasn’t Prepared For…

Here is a story, told in pictures, of five things I wasn’t prepared for before I became a storytime librarian:

[Image courtesy of the author; originally posted on Instagram.]

[Making finger puppets after a day at ALA Midwinter. Image courtesy of the author; originally posted on Instagram.]

1. That I would chose to spend so much of my free time doing things I love that happen to relate to work.

First of all, this is 100% my choice to spend my time researching beginning readers and making flannelboards. And I wouldn’t do it if it didn’t make me happy.

Working with felt and sewing finger puppets have become my favorite way to relax. Seriously, I sewed a set of five little ballerinas during last year’s Stanley Cup play-offs and it was the only way I could avoid a panic attack while cheering on my team.

[Me, dressed as Princess Anna from Frozen. Image courtesy of the author; originally posted on Instagram.]

[Me, dressed as Princess Anna from Frozen. Image courtesy of the author; originally posted on Instagram.]

2. That I would suddenly develop the talent to make anything that I needed out of craft supplies.

Do you need a musical instrument? Give me two pieces of paper, two rubber bands, and two popsicle sticks and I will give you a harmonica. Do you need a traffic light prop for storytime? Easy — one piece of foam board, three small paper plates, three recycled paperclip boxes, three sheets of felt and hot glue.

How about a Frozen costume? I made my Princess Anna costume in about an hour and a half using discounted black fabric, a few felt sheets, a spool of ribbon, a $5 tshirt, and a recycled formal dress.

[Storytime scarves in the washer! Image courtesy of the author; originally posted on Instagram.]

[Storytime scarves in the washer! Image courtesy of the author; originally posted on Instagram.]

3. That I would become very conscientious about germ exposure!

My weekly routine involves taking our scarves home to wash after every use. (My library is lucky enough to have about 120 scarves — more than enough for multiple classes and a single weekly wash.)

My daily routine involves washing shaker eggs and wiping down board book pages. Lately, I’ve upped the game to include spraying the room with disinfectant and wiping down all surfaces (doors, cabinets, handles, counters, etc.). It may seem like a lot of work, but I want my little ones to stay healthy!

[Ukulele & accessories. Image courtesy of the author; originally posted on Instagram.]

[Ukulele & accessories. Image courtesy of the author; originally posted on Instagram.]

4. That I would never stop learning or wanting to learn new skills.

The great thing about storytime is that there are always new books and songs and rhymes to explore. I love finding a new favorite read-aloud and sharing it with my storytime families.

As you might guess with the picture, my big goal this year is to learn how to play the ukulele and to feel confident enough to perform in storytime! I’ve still got a long way to go, but I’m slowly improving. I feel like I’ve finally got strumming down after a weekly practice session.

[A thank-you note from a patron. Image courtesy of the author; originally posted on Instagram.]

[A thank-you note from a patron. Image courtesy of the author; originally posted on Instagram.]

5. That I would feel such fulfillment and joy each day of work.

I have the best job in the world. I spend my days connecting preschoolers with books, dancing with toddlers, and watching babies grow up.

There is absolutely nothing better than seeing a child’s face light up when they see you and have them demand a hug. Or hearing about how a child insists on playing “Miss Katie” when they get home.

Obviously these are all pretty sweet things that I wasn’t prepared for (well, except for the germs!), but how about you? What were you unprepared for with storytime?

Let me know in the comments!

– Katie Salo
Early Literacy Librarian
Indian Prairie Public Library


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50. Fairytale to Film: Cinderella

Prince Christopher serenades his Cinderella, 1997

This afternoon, as part of our Black History Month film festival, we showed 1997’s Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. The color-blind casting process led to a diverse finished product that our patrons really responded to. Librarian Krishna Grady introduced the film, and talked about the casting director and how producers set out to find the best person for each role, no matter their skin color. This led to a pleasingly diverse royal family with Queen Whoopi Goldberg and King Victor Garber acting as parents to Paolo Montalban as Prince Christopher. Add in the phenomenal vocal talent of Bernadette Peters, Whitney Huston, and Brandy, and its no wonder our patrons responded so well to the film! Their extremely positive reactions made me think about the many, many Cinderella films available to children’s librarians today for programming purposes. There are too many to list entirely, but we can talk about a few!

A very young Julie Andrews arrives at the ball, 1957

Of the Rogers and Hammerstein adaptations, I remember loving the above version as a child. I also loved the decidedly less diverse 1965 version, starring Lesley Ann Warren, Ginger Rogers (!), and Stuart Damon, which my  mother grew up watching. You can even see the original version, which starred a young Julie Andrews in one of the cheesiest made-for-tv movie sets of all time, from 1957. They hold a sparkler in front of the camera while her transformation is occuring! It’s magical.

If musicals with real people are not your cup of tea, there’s always the classic Disney animated film or the upcoming live adaptation of that film starring the incomparable Cate Blanchette and Helena Bonham Carter (though the 2015 version, as far as I know, will be without songs).

Those looking for a Cinderella with agency and a mind of her own would do well to check out 1998’s Ever After, in which a feminist Cinderella (here named Danielle) schools her Prince on the plight of his people and the power of the written word. That movie also features a delightful turn by Anjelica Huston as the evil Stepmother and Leonardo DaVinci’s character plays the part of the fairy godmother.

1955’s Caldecott Medal winner

Of course, all of these movies are based on the same fairytale, which most of us are familiar with through the work of Charles Perrault. There’s a Caldecott-award winner based on a translation of his work, and too many picture books to list. The “Cinderella story” has been found all over the world, making for a wonderfully diverse list of books to pair with any of the films above. For older readers, there’s Newbery Honor-winning Ella Enchanted (skip the dreadful film adaptation, no matter how winsome Anne Hathway is), Chinese CinderellaCinderella: As If You Didn’t Already Know The Story, and many more!

What did I miss? What is your favorite Cinderella book? How about your favorite Cinderella movie?

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