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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. Take action with #VLLD 15, and let your voice be heard!

As most of us can’t physically travel to Washington, D.C., to participate in National Library Legislative Day (NLLD)ALSC’s Advocacy and Legislation Committee has developed resources so you can contact Congressional leaders from home!

Check out these easy-to-use resources for taking action from your library community during the week of May 4-8, 2015.

Creating a Better Future Button

Image courtesy of ALSC

Contact Your U.S. Senators and Representatives 

Talking Points to Use with Legislators 

Letter to Congress Template 

Sample VLLD 15 Tweets

The post Take action with #VLLD 15, and let your voice be heard! appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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27. 10 Ways to Make Your Summer Reading Program Inclusive

Youth services library staff have summer reading on the brain this time of year. My library is always looking for ways to make our summer reading program  as accessible and inclusive as possible. Renee Grassi’s post inspired me to create this list, 10 Ways to Make Your Summer Reading Program Inclusive!

  1. Start by becoming familiar with materials in alternative formats. Examples include large print books or braille and audio materials.

  2. For patrons seeking sensory experiences while reading, look into having volunteers create tactile books. This can even be a craft program during the summer so that kids can create their own original books to interact with.

  3. Allow flexibility within the program when measuring success. For some readers, it may be more encouraging to define each “level” not by number of books read but amount of time spent reading or being read to.

  4. Determine if you can provide your summer reading program through the mail. My library mails braille and audio materials via the USPS to all our patrons. For our summer reading program, we send prizes, event calendars and more to the youth who have registered. This way, patrons who can’t visit the library can still take part in the program.

  5. Communicate with special education staff  at your local schools to see about outreach opportunities. These contacts will benefit you long after the conclusion of your summer reading program.

  6. Think of ways the summer reading program’s theme can be inclusive. This year, we’re focusing on heroes of all kinds. For the children at my library, we took this idea beyond Hollywood superheroes. For our patrons, a hero may be a teacher of the visually impaired, a service animal or the postal carrier who delivers their books to them.

  7. Review the way that participants report their progress. Are they using a log? Is there a website online they can make updates to? Make sure you provide options so that all kids feel comfortable registering and updating you on their progress!

  8. If your summer reading program involves storytimes, select books for an inclusive audience. There are many posts on the blog with great suggestions (here and here for starters) and also lists on Goodreads, like this one.

  9. When selecting the prizes your library uses for summer reading, make sure they are as inclusive as possible. In the past, my library has taken into consideration how tactile a prize is, if the object is high contrast and if it suits a wide age range.

  10. Communication is key. Use flyers and word of mouth to spread the word. Make sure your community knows that your library is a place where children of all abilities can take in the fun of summer reading.

  11. Bonus tip: Make sure you have fun while making your programs inclusive! :)

Do you have any suggestions to add to the list? What does your library do to increase its inclusiveness?


Courtesy photo from Jordan Boaz

Jordan Boaz is the Children’s Librarian for the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library, a branch of the New York Public Library. She regularly plans innovative, inclusive programming and outreach for children with disabilities. Jordan is experienced with story times, summer reading programs and reader advisory. She currently serves on the Library Service to Special Population Children and their Caregivers committee. She can be reached at jordanboaz@nypl.org.


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

The post 10 Ways to Make Your Summer Reading Program Inclusive appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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28. Sentimentality & Storytime

I’ve spent the week with a case of the sniffles. And not because of a cold, thank goodness! It’s our last week of our spring storytime session and it’s a mixture of emotions.

Storytime Evaluation Sheet [Photo courtesy of the author, originally posted on Instagram]

Storytime Evaluation Sheet [Photo courtesy of the author, originally posted on Instagram]

Thank Yous
This week has been full of thanks. From one of my toddlers who has finally mastered signing “thank you” in American Sign Language to the parent who thanked me for teaching her child how to say his name with our name fingerplay. And of course, there’s a lot of gratitude in our evalution sheets. The one pictures is actually from our winter session since I forgot to snap a picture earlier today.

With all of that thanks comes the goodbyes. The graduates — some of which I’ve had in my toddler storytime since I started at my library a year ago. A year ago we were strangers and now we’ve both got separation anxiety as they move up to our preschoool class. And the families that are moving away, both far and near, who made sure to snap pictures with me and give me hugs at the end of their last class.

Thank you" picture; I'm the one with hearts coming out of my chest. [Photo courtesy of the author, originally posted on Instagram]

“Thank you” picture; I’m the one with hearts coming out of my chest. [Photo courtesy of the author, originally posted on Instagram]

Personal Connections
The babies who have become so comfortable with me after seven weeks that they reach out to be picked up and cuddled. The toddlers who run into class full-strength at my chair to get the seat next to Miss Katie. Seeing an entire room of patrons enthusiastically participating in our goodbye rhyme because they know it by heart now.

Basically, I’m a wreck and though I know I need that break before summer reading starts, I’m already missing my weekly kiddos. I’ll just have to keep looking at pictures and counting the days until kick-off.

Do you get sentimental at the end of storytime? I can’t be the only one with watery eyes! Let all those feelings out in the comments!

– Katie Salo
Early Literacy Librarian
Indian Prairie Public Library

The post Sentimentality & Storytime appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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29. Where do I live? Finding a Home for Puberty Books


Where should I live?

Certain collections are associated with a little bit more parental angst than others, and books about puberty, changing bodies, and human sexuality often seem to fall into this category. Some parents see their value and appreciate their inclusion in the collection, while others are aghast that a children’s library would carry such material.

While librarians agree that books dealing with these topics are important to own in a collection, the trickier subject of where these books should live often pops up, usually after a child has checked out a book with a puberty or human sexuality theme their parent is less than thrilled about. Do we keep these books in our offices and only offer them to those who ask, or is that censorship? Do we file them with the rest of the books and deal with whatever fallout may come as it happens, or are we inviting an unnecessary headache?

What about me?

What about me?

At my library, we use a two-fold solution. There is a collection in the Children’s Library called F5 Parents. The Parents collection contains a “best of” selection of parenting books, such as Raising a Digital Child and Your One-Year OldIt’s also home to a group of picture books we call “Special Topics” that parents can check out to facilitate conversations with their children about issues such as new babies, potty training, adoption, illness, and human sexuality. The younger human sexuality books, such as Hair in Funny Placeslive here, as do books designed to be shared between a parent and a child, such as It’s Perfectly Normal

Meanwhile, our Kids Self non-fiction section, which debuted Fall 2013 as a part of our non-fiction reorganization, holds the puberty and human sexuality books that are squarely aimed at the 10-14 year-olds who are experiencing these changes, such as The Care and Keeping of You and Will Puberty Last My Whole LifeThis allows kids to browse for books they might find helpful, while providing parents with a dedicated place to go for the same topics.

Where does your library keep the puberty books? Do you believe librarians should be cognizant of parental feelings on the subject, or check books out to children who want them regardless of potential parental objections?

The post Where do I live? Finding a Home for Puberty Books appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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30. Making Your Voice Heard: How to Participate in National Library Legislative Day from the Comfort of Your Desk

Ah, Spring! Flowers are blooming, the weather is finally grudgingly warming up…and at ALSC, planning is well under way for National Library Legislative Day. On May 4-5, library advocates from across the United States will travel to Washington, D.C. to raise awareness of issues librarians hold near and dear to our hearts.

Of particular interest to ALSC members is the advocacy that is being done on behalf of school libraries. As the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions works on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA–the rebranded No Child Left Behind Act), ALA is pushing for amendments that will mandate effective library programs in every school. In other words, by federal law, every student will have access to a school library that is staffed by a certified librarian, equipped with up-to-date materials and technology, and enriched by a curriculum jointly developed by the school’s librarian and teachers. Another push is for legislation that will permit state program funds to be used to recruit and train school librarians.

In addition, ALA is supporting the President’s budget request of $186.6 million for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and maintaining the fiscal year 2015 level of funding ($25 million) for Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL), a grant program for school libraries. Half of all IAL funding provides school library materials to low-income communities, while LSTA is used to target library services to people of many geographic, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds, to disabled individuals, and to people with limited literacy skills.

Clearly, these are important causes. I would like to say that if I knew my presence in Washington, D.C. could guarantee an effective school library in every school in the country, I would start walking that way right now. And while I won’t actually be able to make it this year, I know that I can be there in spirit, and that my voice will be heard, thanks to the power of Virtual Legislative Day. Very soon, a toolkit will be ready that will enable you to participate in Legislative Day from your computer keyboard. Keep an eye on the Everyday Advocacy site, where, in the next day or two, you’ll be able to find templates for writing your representatives and senators, talking points so that you can call your representatives and senators, and ready-to-post social-media messages, all in one easy-to-use package.


Today’s post was written by Eileen Makoff, a librarian at P.S. 90 Edna Cohen School in Brooklyn, for the Advocacy and Legislative Committee of ALSC.

The post Making Your Voice Heard: How to Participate in National Library Legislative Day from the Comfort of Your Desk appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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31. Spring is here!

It’s springtime! In Mississippi, at least, it’s been spring for quite some time and actually hit 80 degrees last week. In celebration, let’s highlight some springtime tales for your displays! These books either have or are coming out this spring!

It’s the latest Penderwicks book! These are so lovely and the latest one is no exception. Available now, the fourth book in the Penderwicks series has a lot of heart and surprises for each family member. Your kids that have loved the last three books won’t be disappointed by this one.

Listen, Slowly is a gorgeous tale of a California girl who spends her summer with her grandmother in Vietnam. She must learn to find the balance between her two worlds. An excellent follow-up to Lai’s National Book Award Winning Inside Out and Back Again, this one is gorgeous and evocative. Your students that love to read about other places will devour this one.

Astrid and her best friend Nicole have always done everything together…until Astrid discovers roller derby. Derby is amazing and Astrid is learning so much…but what does this mean for her relationship with Nicole? An excellent addition to the growing canon of upper middle grade graphic novels that is so wonderful.

The first book in an exciting new series! Horace is absentmindedly looking out the window of the bus…when he sees a sign with his name on it.  What he finds under the sign will change his life forever. Gifts! Magic! New friends! Perfect for the fantasy lovers in your library.

Out next month, Murder is Bad Manners is a charming tale of murder and Mayhem at an English boarding school in the 1930s. Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong have formed their own secret detective agency…but they never thought they’d have a real murder to investigate! This one hits all the high points: historical fiction, mystery, and friendship.



Our guest blogger from YALSA today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a Library Consultant at the Mississippi Library Commission.

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32. SF PRIDE: The last weekend in June

Gay Pride FlagWhen I think about Pride two songs come to mind: Pride (In the Name of Love)  by U2 and (Pride) A Deeper Love by C&C Music Factory. Pride is all about LOVE!

ALA Annual is happening when San Francisco is most vibrant. Are you ready for the blast of rainbows, exposed skin (don’t forget your sunscreen) and the hoards of proud people?!?

This Day in JuneFor a preview of the parade check out  This Day in June by Gayle E. Pittman, illustrated by Kristyna Litten or local news coverage from last year’s parade. Members of the GLBT Round Table  will be joining the SFPL contingent. I hear Christy Estrovitz , ALSC Local Arrangements Committee chair will be taking the new SFPL Book Bike out for a spin.

Be warned it’s going to be crowded. For those of you who love crowds, you may enjoy the carnival street party festival near the Main Library in the Civic Center Plaza. For those of you, who (like me)  prefer a quieter environment, do your best to be South of Market on Sunday morning because crossing Market once the parade starts will be a challenge.

HINT for crossing Market during the parade – go underground! Enter the BART/MUNI station on one side of the street and exit on the other side.

Come to SF ready to strut your stuff because the pride revealers are sure to outnumber the librarians.  And if there is just too much going on for your taste, there’s always Oakland!

Some LBGTQI places/events to consider while you’re in San Francisco.


Courtesy photo from guest blogger

Courtesy photo from guest blogge


Today’s blog post was written by Pat Toney, a Bilingual Children’s Librarian at the San Francisco Public Library, for the ALSC Local Arrangements Committee.

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33. Can Tech Lovers Still Celebrate Screen-Free Week?

Screen-Free Week begins May 4!

Screen-Free Week begins May 4!

In early May people nationwide will be celebrating Screen-Free Week for a chance to unplug and smell the roses. For the past two years our tech-savvy children’s librarians have participated and it has actually sparked valuable dialogue with parents and caregivers about actively participating in their child’s screen-time activities. Last year we removed the iPads in the library and asked the community to pledge what they would do with the additional time as a result of the screen fast. Comments ranged from riding a bike, to playing more basketball, and of course our favorite response from a mystery patron – find a job asap. The librarians offered resources and articles to parents on monitoring screentime, while also sharing some of our favorite apps which include award-winners and professional recommendations.

The question is can we still advocate for the appropriate use of tech with kids, while also valuing a little unplugging of media from time to time?

Of course!

Last year's SFW pledges

Last year’s SFW pledges

I’ve always believed that something designed for good has the potential to be misused. Just as children’s librarians explain to parents and caregivers in storytime the importance of modeling certain behaviors to encourage literacy development, the same goes for media usage.

The Joan Ganz Cooney Center recently published Family Time with Apps: A Guide to Using Apps with your Kids, which provides suggestions on how using apps together can support a child’s learning and development. When we featured the new Sight Word Adventure app on one of the mounted iPad stations in the Children’s Library, one parent immediately commented on the quality and effectiveness of the learning tool. She wanted additional information and suggestions for her child who was learning to read. This type of interaction can easily lead to a lengthy conversation on monitoring media use and making screen-time a family activity.

Thinking about the weighty topic of screen-time, I was deeply encouraged last week when I went to hear one of my role models as a child, Dr. Jane Goodall speak in Brooklyn. Her talk was entitled, Sowing the Seeds of Hope, and when asked what gave her hope in today’s world I was surprised that she brought technology into the equation. Dr. Goodall mentioned the ability of the young Roots & Shoots members to make global connections because of technology, as well as the rapid awareness brought to environmental causes via social media outlets.

So this year during Screen-Free Week, we plan to ask kids to think about how they can use the technology we have to help make the world a better place.

Claire Moore is a member of the Digital Content Task Force. She is also Head of Children’s Services at Darien Library in Connecticut. You can reach Claire at cmoore@darienlibrary.org.

Visit the Digital Media Resources page to find out more about navigating your way through the evolving digital landscape.

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34. Reminder: Apply to Host the 2016 Arbuthnot Lecture!

Pat Mora Arbuthnot Lecturer

Pat Mora will deliver the 2016 Arbuthnot Lecture (image courtesy of Pat Mora)

ALSC and the 2016 May Hill Arbuthnot Lecture Committee are proud to announce the opening of the application to host the 2016 event featuring award-winning children’s book author and pioneering literacy advocate Pat Mora.

Host site application forms can be downloaded at the Arbuthnot site. Applications are due May 15, 2015. Information about host site responsibilities is included in the application materials. The lecture traditionally is held in April or early May.

Born and raised in El Paso, Texas, Mora grew up bilingual and bicultural. With degrees in English and speech, she was a teacher and university administrator before writing children’s books. Known for her lyrical style, Mora’s poetry and prose have won numerous awards, including a 2005 Belpré Honor Medal for text for “Doña Flor: A Tall Tale of a Giant Woman with a Great Big Heart,” published by Knopf Books for Young Readers, and illustrated by Raul Colón. Her generosity for sharing bookjoy, the phrase she coined for the power and pleasure of words, led Mora to launch “Día,” which will observe its 20th anniversary in 2016.

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35. Opening the Eyes of Children to a World of Innovation – Where Anything Is Possible

How do we motivate today’s children to become tomorrow’s movers and shakers in the world of innovation? The answer might be simpler than it sounds. Children have a huge advantage over adults in the creativity department. Children are not predisposed to conclusions that something is impossible, or that there is only one way of doing it. To a child, superheroes are real, and so are their powers. And this is the time to open their minds to the world of new innovations through invention.

I have three young children of my own, and they are always coming up with new ideas. Some of those ideas might not be feasible – at least not today (“Dad, I want to invent a car that flies over this traffic”). But imagine if yesterday’s inventors had been told that “it can’t be done.”

When most of us were growing up, our parents would have laughed at the idea that someday nearly everyone would be carrying around a pocket-size device, not only for making phone calls, but capable of performing complex computer operations that even some desktop computers could not perform at the time. Never mind that this “futuristic device” would be giving us step-by-step directions to the nearest coffee shop, taking high-definition photographs, recording video on-the-go, and the list goes on. Today’s reality would have seemed like nothing more than a child’s fantasy.

Innovation is often born of a curious mind. And children have some of the most curious minds around.

So what can you do as a librarian or someone involved with your local children’s library to help spread the word? Let me introduce USPTO KIDS!

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently revamped their entire kid’s section to bring it into the 21st century. The new website features a section for kids, complete with coloring pages and even pamphlets that explain how to make and launch a model paper rocket, along with directions for making other inventions. The section for kids introduces elementary school age children to the world of inventions through characters such as Ms. Pat Pending and her robot cat Gears, and to the world of trademarks through characters such as Mark Trademan and his friend T.Markey.

The new website also features a section for teens, including biographies of teenagers who have recently received their very own patents. Teens can watch videos and play interactive games to “spot the invention.”

For librarians, the new website includes a variety of educational resources to help guide parents and teachers. Hands-on materials help link the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education curriculum to real-life innovations. These resources are categorized for elementary school, middle school, and high school age students.
Of course, if you are searching for more ideas, the USPTO KIDS site also includes links to other sites, including many free government resources that are geared toward introducing children to the exciting world of invention.

It is important to encourage children of all ages to explore new ideas. Today’s children are the inventors of tomorrow. Visit USPTO KIDS for ideas on how to bring the world of innovation to a library near you. And if you need another reason, remember that May is National Inventor’s Month!


Our guest blogger today Mark Trenner. Mark lives in Colorado with his wife and their three children, who regularly visit the local libraries to read about new things. He is an intellectual property (IP) law attorney, and works with leading edge inventors at his Denver-area patent law firm. For more information, view educational videos about patents and invention on his YouTube channel.

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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36. But What If…?

It might seem a bit like cheating, but I want to tag on to this terrific post by Chelsea Couillard-Smith regarding intellectual freedom training for all library staff. She makes excellent points regarding the sensitivity with regard to children, and staff’s own response to certain materials with which they may not be comfortable.

It is important for all staff to understand the intellectual freedom basis upon which libraries operate, to have the opportunity to receive training and to be able to ask all of those, “But what if…”questions that they may have. It is important even if that person never has to deal with a member of the public on the issue because it is an integral part of library culture and values.

Many years ago, my library director at the time, decided that everyone in that library system would be required to receive such training. She charged the management group with developing a training session, and then teamed us up and scheduled us to do multiple presentations over the course of several weeks. All staff, including custodial, were required to attend one of the sessions. Each session included an introduction to the ALA Bill of Rights and Freedom to Read statement as core values with regard to all library users, including children and teens, and how those impacted library policies. It introduced some of those “What if…” scenarios, for staff to work through and provided an opportunity to respond to additional questions and concerns raised by those in attendance.

Am I going to claim that everyone was happy once they understood how our commitment to intellectual freedom impacted what people, especially young people, could access?   No. It was actually fascinating to see how many ways some people could try to re-frame one of those “What if…” situations to try for a different answer. However, no one could claim that they did not understand that this was a core value of service and I believe that this created a system-wide base for communication with staff and therefore the public.

Toni Bernardi
Member, ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee

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37. WOW Moments for Children – The Importance of Author Visits to Schools and Libraries

If you want to inspire children to write, to read, to create and to enjoy the amazing world of books, invite authors to your schools and libraries.

As a retired teacher and a children’s book author, I am lucky to share many WOW moments when I read to children. Here are a couple of “typical” thank you notes from a recent visit to a school in Oregon.

Dear Ellen,
You are so inspirational! I hope I become a story writer like you. Where do you get your ideas from? When I read your books, my mind explores because your books are so good. You are such a great story teller. Thank you.
XX (age 8)

Dear Ellen Fischer,
It was an amazing experience for us to have you teach us about the publishing process. You inspired me to write more, but more importantly to stick with my stories. I am amazed at how hard you have to work to get books published. We all took a lot of meaning out of your visit. Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to make our day special.
Warm wishes,
XX(6th grader)

With over 20 years teaching experience, it’s natural for me to make school and library visits. I love doing readings/presentations with the students. Here are some personal tips I’ve learned along the way:

  • When a visit is scheduled, the school sends a flyer out to the parents. It informs them that an author will be visiting and offers the opportunity to purchase a book for their child, to be personalized and signed by me. For library visits, usually the librarian has purchased the book and I’ll sign it while I’m there.
  • My readings/presentations always involve student participation. I take hand puppets with me for each book. I do a book related activity either before or after the reading.
  • I want the schools/libraries to make the most of my visit, so I offer myself to all age groups. The books I write are geared toward younger children, but I can adapt my presentation to all ages:
    • Pre-K- Kindergarten: read my book & do a brief activity (15-20 min)
    • Grades 1-3, same as above but a Q&A added in. (20-30 min)
    • Grades 4-6, presentation about the publishing industry, the importance of editing followed by a lengthy Q&A. Often I explain to the older kids my goals for a particular book. Then I read the book, and have them listen to see if those goals were met.
    • As to group size, I prefer multiple readings to smaller groups, but have adjusted many readings for large groups, displaying my books on power point or even projected on an overhead projector.

Many schools/ libraries have budgets for author visits, which is wonderful. Some schools find “angels” to cover the author’s fees. For the schools/libraries with no budget for this, and there are many, there is a wonderful option. I have been participating in a program called SKYPE in the Classroom. Teachers can sign up for free and “invite” an author to their class/library. I have had the pleasure of visiting with students all across America. The visit can be anywhere from 15-30 minutes depending on the request. I might read one of my books or talk about writing and just answer questions. It’s a great opportunity for schools/libraries when funds are limited.

And did I mention how thrilled children are with an “author signed” book? It’s a treasure to keep forever.

Have I convinced you on the importance of author visits? I hope so, but just in case, read this:

Dear Ellen,
You are an amazing author. I love your book, If An Armadillo Went to a Restaurant. I think writing kids books is a fabulous job. Writing is so awesome!
XX (age 9)



Our guest blogger today is Ellen Fischer. Ellen’s publications include:

  • Where are All the Fireflies?, Fun For Kidz, May/June 2012


    Courtesy photo from Guest Blogger

  • The Count’s Hanukkah Countdown, Kar-Ben/Shalom Sesame, July, 2012
  • Grover and Big Bird’s Passover Celebration, Kar-Ben/Shalom Sesame, 2012It’s a Mitzvah, Grover!, Kar-Ben/Shalom Sesame, 2012
  • I’m Sorry, Grover, Kar-Ben/Shalom Sesame, July, 2013
  • If an Armadillo Went to a Restaurant, Scarletta Press, July 1, 2014
  • Latke, the Lucky Dog, Kar-Ben, August, 2014
  • If An Elephant Went to School, Mighty Media Press, July, 2015
  • Grover Goes to Israel, Kar-Ben/Shalom Sesame, spring 2016

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. Don’t Forget those Old Favorites!

Doing storytime multiple times every week can be exhausting. I for one am always looking for ways to include repetition while also adding in new books, songs and props that will make storytime more interesting for me. Many librarians are incorporating technology into their storytimes as well, which is a fascinating development. However, with all of these exciting new tools, don’t forget about one of those old favorite props, PUPPETS!!

I had the best children’s librarian when I was a kid. I absolutely adored Miss Barbara. When I would return home from the library each week, I would pretend to be her, putting on storytimes for all of my stuffed animals. One of the things I loved the best about storytime was the fun puppets she included every week. She had different voices and personalities for each puppet, and she made them all come alive during that magical half-hour.

I had forgotten about the pure joy puppets can bring to children. A few months ago, my coworker and I decided to start building up our branch’s puppet collection. I now use them every week in my toddler storytime.

Slippery Fish Puppets
Photo taken by the author of this blog post. 

With the addition of puppets, the Slippery Fish song has become a Brisbane Library favorite. The kids walk up to me throughout the song, hoping to get their hands “bitten” by the shark or the whale. After storytime, I let everyone play with the puppets and enjoy watching the little ones try to figure out how the puppets work.

In the midst of all the wonderful books and interesting new technology emerging, I’m happy to have rediscovered one of my old favorite storytime tools!

Stephanie Conrad is the Senior Librarian at the Brisbane Library in California and is writing this post for the Early Childhood Programs and Services Committee.

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39. Resources from Local, State and National Organizations to Make Your National Poetry Month Programs a Success

All across the country in classrooms and libraries National Poetry Month is celebrated during the month of April each year. We’re all familiar with highlighting poems in our storytimes and school aged programs and even hosting poetry slams in the library. But how many of us know about the countless organizations- local, state and national- who work to bring poetry alive for young people? These groups offer a wealth of information and resources to strengthen and invigorate our National Poetry Month offerings.

As librarians we are always looking ahead to our next innovative program, so as we wrap up National Poetry Month this year here are some organizations to consider partnering with in 2016 to bring poetry into your library.

Youth Speaks

Youth Speaks is a national spoken word and poetry organization headquartered in the Bay Area. Through arts education and youth development practices, civic engagement strategies, and high quality artistic presentation, the group seeks to create safe spaces that challenge young people to find, develop, publicly present, and apply their voices. Youth Speaks offer arts-in-education programs, year-long school residencies, Poetry Slam Clubs, writing workshops and other community events. For more information, visit http://youthspeaks.org/.

Poetry Out Loud

Poetry Out Loud is a contest that encourages the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage. The project is a collaboration between the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation and State arts agencies. To find out how to organize a competition in your school, or for additional resources to support poetry in the library, visit: www.poetryoutloud.org/state-contacts.

Teachers & Writers Collaborative

TWC provides writing and poetry programs led by professional writers in schools, libraries and community sites in the New York City area; however, they offer many resources for engaging children in poetry. Librarians can view their magazine website as well as the Digital Resource Center- a searchable archive of content from their five decades of print publications- on the website.

California Poets in the Schools (CPITS)

California Poets in the Schools is one of the largest literary artists-in-residence programs in the nation. CPITS serves 25,000 students annually in hundreds of public and private schools, libraries, juvenile halls, after-school programs, hospitals, and other community settings. CPITS encourages students throughout California to recognize and celebrate their creativity, intuition, and intellectual curiosity through the creative poetry writing process. CPITS offers professional development and trainings for teachers and librarians and coordinates their group of poets to visit classroom and libraries to teach poetry and writing to students. Their website is http://www.cpits.org/index.shtml.

Have you offered poetry programming at your library? Did you work with local organizations or groups such as your state’s poetry organization or a writers-in-residence program? Share your experiences and let’s continue the conversation in the comments below!


Diana Garcia is a Children’s Librarian at the Monterey Park Bruggemeyer Library in California where she has the privilege of serving a fantastic community through storytimes, creative library programming and tutoring. Her afterschool literacy program for English Language Learners won the PLA Innovations in Literacy award in 2013. Diana is currently serving on the ALSC Liaison to National Organizations Committee, 2014 – 2016. She is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Children’s Literature Council of Southern California and serves on their Awards Committee.

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40. Communication: the Spine of Supervision

If you are like most people in middle management, the word “supervisor” makes you break into a cold sweat. Your former lunch buddies are now your employees, and you are “the boss.” In fact, things might be feeling down right awkward as you transition into a supervisory role! But fear not – there are a few things that you can do to gain the respect of your colleagues and supervise with a smile (most of the time!) on your face:

1. Take a Personality Test

No really. See if you can find a Meyers-Briggs Personality Test training in your area, either in person or online. Knowing where you – and your staff – fall on the 16 personality type scale (are you an extrovert or an introvert? Do you use your senses or intuition for decision making? Are you a thinker or a feeler?) -can help immensely when it comes to supervising and decision making.

2. Let Your Staff Evaluate You

This one sounds scary, but I find it to be very useful –it helps show staff that you are serious about not just changing their behaviors, for instance, but your own as well. Ask staff to list three things they consider a strength of yours, and one area that they think could use some more attention or focus. For example, maybe you think you are great at having meetings – until someone points out that the last time you held a department meeting was six months ago! Scheduling regular times to meet and talk with staff helps keep communication flowing, and it clears any mis-communication up before it turns into a game of “telephone” throughout the department

3. Go Through Job Descriptions and Duties

Often, people inherit job duties and routines based upon the holes or needs of a department, or from a previous supervisor. But it can make the department stronger in the long run if you ask your staff to write down the following for you:

  • What projects, programs, services are they currently working on or responsible for?
  • Are they responsible for any areas of collection development?
  • What are three things that they like about the department?
  • What are three things that they would change about the department?
  • Is there an area of their job that, if possible, they would like to change or not be responsible for? What would they like to work on or try that they aren’t currently doing?

Once you gather these statements from your staff , take the time to read and reflect on them. Are there changes that can be made? Perhaps someone has been in charge of pre-school story time for years, and is looking for a change. Consider the strengths and weaknesses of the staff you have. As managers and supervisors, we can’t make everyone happy, but your staff can tell when you are truly listening and responding to their ideas and requests. Even if you can’t make a change directly or immediately, taking the time to meet one on one with staff members to discuss their ideas and visions for the department can help build a community of trust with a strong foundation of communication.

Finally, remember this: No matter how much communication and assessment you do as a supervisor, there will be days when being fair isn’t the same as being popular. But being fair will gain you the respect of your staff, which is a far greater benefit to have.


Lisa Gangemi Kropp is the Youth Services Coordinator at the Suffolk Cooperative Library System, and the First Steps early learning columnist for School Library Journal

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41. Present with ALSC at an Upcoming Conference!

2016 ALSC National Institute

Apply to present at the 2016 ALSC National Institute (image courtesy of ALSC)

ALSC is now accepting proposals for innovative programs for the 2016 ALA Annual Conference and the 2016 ALSC National Institute. Be part of this exciting professional development opportunity by submitting your program today! Each event has its own site for submitting a proposal:

2016 Annual Conference
To submit a program proposal for the 2016 Annual Conference, please visit the ALSC website at http://www.ala.org/alsc/AC16cfp for the submission form and instructions. All proposals must be submitted by Sunday, June 7, 2015. The 2016 ALA Annual Conference is scheduled for June 23-28, 2016 in Orlando, Florida.

2016 National Institute
To submit a program proposal for the 2016 National Institute, please visit the ALSC website at http://www.ala.org/alsc/institute for the submission form and instructions. All proposals must be submitted by Sunday, July 12, 2015. The 2016 ALSC National Institute is scheduled for September 15 -17, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The ALSC Program Planning Committee is looking for a wide range of themes and topics such as advocacy, technology, multiculturalism, administration and management, early literacy, research, partnerships, best practices, programming, and outreach. ALSC committees, members, and other interested individuals are welcome to submit a proposal.

Please note that participants attending ALSC programs are seeking valuable educational experiences; the Program Coordinating Committee will not select a program session that suggests commercial sales or self-promotion. Presentations should provide a valuable learning experience and avoid being too limited in scope.

Please contact the chair of the ALSC Program Coordinating Committee, Patty Carleton, at PCarleton@slpl.org with questions.

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42. Spring into Summer Reading

With summer just a few weeks away, our focus is on our upcoming summer reading program for children.  How can we best ensure children are engaged and actively involved in our program?  This year we are trying a few new ideas to encourage participation for our younger readers.

A Little Recognition

This year we are returning to offering certificates for children who have reached a certain milestone of participation within our club.  Our Community Relations Department is creating these certificates for children to receive after they have read for twelve hours during the summer, in addition to receiving a free book for reaching this mark. Do you use certificates as a way to recognize participation in summer reading?

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

Write it On the Wall

To tie in to our superhero theme this summer, our Community Relations Department is creating a super reader banner for each of our eight locations.  For those children who have reached the twelve hour mark for reading this summer, cut-out images of superheroes will be available.  Children will have the opportunity to write their names on one of these images and place it on the super reader banner.  We hope this will encourage children to find pride in their participation and that they will be encouraged to return to the library to find their name on the banner during repeat visits.  These super reader banners will be prominently displayed in our library locations and will help us promote our summer reading program to more participants as we market this program. Do you publicly acknowledge your youngest participants in any specific way?

Pick Your Prize

While we hope the opportunities for children to receive a certificate and recognition for their summer reading accomplishments will encourage future participation, we also have the goal that children will find more ownership over their reading by choosing their own incentive.  For their first and second prize this year, children will have the opportunity to select a prize from a range of options. We hope that giving children some ownership over their choice of incentive will appeal to our diverse and wide age range of summer reading participants, and that this opportunity will encourage their interest in participating in summer reading in the future.   How do you encourage your young participants’ involvement over their summer reading incentives or experiences?

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

This year we are hoping that our ideas to encourage individual achievement, recognize their participation, and encourage ownership in choosing their incentives will inspire increased engagement and participation in our summer reading program for children.  Please share your ideas to engage your children and encourage participation in this year’s summer reading program in the comments below!

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43. Putting it all together

Other than a few favorite story times that I repeat yearly, I always like to try something new. Similarly, I’m always interested in learning something new.  In February, I put it all together – mixing things that interest me with several of the library’s most wonderful assests –  technology, diversity, creative space, and kids.

I offer you the ingreadients for “Read, Reflect, Relay: a 4-week club”


  • 1 part knowledge from ALSC’s online class, “Tech Savvy Booktalker”ALSC Online Education
  • 1 part inspiration from ALSC’s online class, “Series Programming for theElementary School Age”
  • 1 new friendship spawned by networking and a love of nonfiction books
  • a desire to participate in the #weneeddiversebooks campaign
  • computers
  • books
  • school-aged kids#WeNeedDiverseBooks
  • space and time to create

Each club participant read a Schneider Family Book Award winner of her choice.  If you’re unfamiliar with the Schneider Family Book Award, I’ve linked to its page. Winning books embody the “disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.”

I asked each of the participants to distill the message of her book into a sentence or two – something that would make a good commercial.  Then I gave them a choice of using Animoto, Stupeflix, or VoiceThread to create a book trailer or podcast.  All three platforms were kind enough to offer me an “educator account” for use at the library.  Other than strict guidelines on copyright law and a “no-spoilers” rule, each girl was free to interpret and relay the message of her book as she pleased.

Coincidentally, after I had planned the club, I was chatting online with Alyson BeecherWe were both Round 2 judges for the Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction CYBILS Awards.  I had no idea that she is also the Chair of the Schneider Family Book Award Committee!  When I told her about my club, she immediately offered to Skype or Hangout with the club members.  We hastily worked out a schedule, and Alyson’s visit on the last day of the club was one of its highlights!

The girls ranged in age from 10 to teen.  I think you will be impressed with their creativity.

WordPress does not allow me to embed the actual videos and podcasts, but you can access them via the links below – or visit them on Alyson’s site where she was able to embed them.  Enjoy! :)

·        Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick (2012 winner, Middle School)  https://animoto.com/play/kUdNM1sa4fWKfZOXId63AQ

·      After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick (2011 winner, Middle School)   https://voicethread.com/new/myvoice/#thread/6523783/33845486/35376059

·    Anything but Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin (2010 winner, Teen)  https://animoto.com/play/qFPwi1vYP1ha2FF0vVUuFg

·      Anything but Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin (2010 winner, Teen) (another one)    http://studio.stupeflix.com/v/9GKeiQfgsj9Q/?autoplay=1

·      A Dog Called Homeless by Sara Lean (2013 winner, Middle School)    http://studio.stupeflix.com/v/DQ4tJG8mnsYX/?autoplay=1

If you’d like more information, or if you’d like to see my video booktalk (or adapt) my video advertisement for the program, just leave a message in the comments.  I’ll be happy to respond.

 *All logos used with permission and linked back to their respective sites.

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44. Summer Reading


Creative Common search.


It is time for school librarians to dust off their summer reading lists and refresh them.  I know that the public librarians are wondering how we can possibly just start thinking about summer reading now, but in the school things are a bit different.  We tend to release the students to you all to fulfill their summer reading duties!

Since the majority of librarians at my school came from the public systems, we are hyper sensitive to the look and feel of our summer lists.  We remember keenly the super long, out-of-print, completely off grade level lists that we had handed to us.  So we make sure not to contribute to that problem.

My own lists are updated every year with award winners, books that will give students a running start in terms of curriculum, books that provide both mirror and window opportunities as well as some personal favorites.  I don’t reinvent the wheel every year, but instead add about 30-40% new titles each year.

In the past I reformatted the lists to read “Lower Elementary” (grades 1 and 2) and “Upper Elementary” (grades 3 and 4). While I enjoyed the fluidity, the parents were much more comfortable with set grades.  So there is quite a bit of overlap in titles between the grades. And that is ok.

This year, I am thinking of embedding some book trailers into the lists as well to freshen them up even more.

What do you do to your reading lists to keep them fresh?

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45. Evolving the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Children’s Video

A core value of children’s librarianship has always included finding, evaluating, selecting, and collecting the best products for young people, and making them accessible to those we serve. The Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Children’s Video was established in the late 1980s (and first awarded in 1991) “to honor outstanding video productions for children.” The Medal reflected librarians’ desire to help shape the marketplace, by encouraging production of high quality videos for children.

At the time, video was the “new media” format of the time, and was rapidly expanding into libraries and children’s homes. Yet public opinion about videos for children varied. While some acknowledged potential for video to be a “constructive educational resource” (Project, 1989, p. 3), others felt that video presented “dangerous commercial interests,” along the lines of broadcast television.

Fast-forward 26 years, and video is now perceived as an “old” media format, slowly going the way of the typewriter, the land-line telephone, and the floppy disk. New media formats, which may or may not have useful educational value, are eliciting the same types of worries that video once did, and more. And librarians still want to have a voice in encouraging and shaping quality new media products.

To address these changes, in summer 2014, ALSC President Ellen Riordan formed the Evolving Carnegie Task Force to investigate how the existing Carnegie Medal might be “evolved” to encompass some of today’s new media formats.

The Task Force started by interviewing a panel of new media experts, including Faith Rogow, Senior Fellow at the Fred Rogers Center; Betsy Bozdech, Executive Director of Common Sense Media; Tanya Baronti Smith, Program Coordinator at the Fred Rogers Center; Jason Yip, Research Fellow at the Joan Ganz Cooney Center; ALSC Board Members Gretchen Caserotti, Ernie Cox, and Julie Roach; Kay Weisman, 1989 Carnegie Medal Chair (also on the ALSC Board); Martha Simpson, 2011 Carnegie Medal Chair; and ALSC’s Children & Technology Committee members Liz Fraser, Clara Hendricks, Tara Smith and Swalena Griffin.

The data from the experts provided a snapshot of the field, and helped us shape questions for the ALSC Membership survey. Yet after collecting responses, we ended up with even more questions. For example, it is relatively easy to compare books or videos, because the content is packaged in similar containers. In contrast, new media formats are not consistent. How do you find them, and how are they accessed? How can they be defined, compared, or evaluated? How should an award committee determine if a product is a “book app,” an “interactive e-book,” or an “enhanced book”? How would committee members be able to determine criteria for a “Best-of-List”? Is a new media product closer to a book or to a game, and how does that impact eligibility for inclusion?

And then there are the problems involved in evaluating new media products. Does the book app look and function the same on an iPad as it does on a different tablet? Does your library have tablets? Does your library provide access to its patrons? Does your library have a well-defined way to purchase content for tablets? Where do we begin . . . and where do we stop?

Despite the challenges in finding, defining, evaluating, and comparing new media, after the ALSC Membership survey results were in, we found general consensus among ALSC Membership that ALSC should have a leadership role in finding, evaluating, selecting and guiding the use of new media, just as librarians have always done with other media products for children, from books, to video, and beyond.

After presenting our report to the ALSC Board at Midwinter, it was agreed that this task force should have its charge extended to Annual. Stay tuned!

Evolving Carnegie Task Force Members include:

  • Mary Fellows (co-chair)
  • Marianne Martens (co-chair)
  • Gretchen Caserotti (ALSC Board Member, and liaison to the board)
  • Cen Campbell (former co-chair, now member)
  • Jessica Hoptay-Brown
  • Kim Patton
  • Laurie Reese
  • Soraya Silverman


Marianne Martens is Assistant Professor at Kent State University’s School of Library and Information Science, co-chair of the Evolving Carnegie Task Force, and a member of ALSC’s Children and Technology Committee. You can read more about her work at mariannemartens.org, and she can be reached at mmarten3@kent.edu.

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46. How are libraries celebrating Día?

What are libraries planning for Diversity in Action (Día) around the United States this year? ALSC’s Public Awareness Committee decided to find out.

Día Musical Bilingual Storytime (photo courtesy of Sujei Lugo).

Día Musical Bilingual Storytime (photo courtesy of Sujei Lugo).

Sujei Lugo at the Boston Public Library will have a Musical Bilingual Story Time (Spanish/English), two art workshop sessions with children’s books illustrator (Caldecott and Pura Belpré winner) David Díaz, and an afternoon of Afro Latin music with a youth percussion group. Impressive for someone who started working there three months ago!

The King County Library System celebrates Día throughout its 48 branches with performances and programs, world language story times, and book displays. This year, the celebration culminates in two grand events at local libraries the weekends before and after April 30. “In addition to the musical performances and book giveaways, we’re hoping to connect with community partners to help us celebrate. Yes, this is a library sponsored event, but really, our goal is to build community by connecting children and families through books, stories and our common experiences,” states José Garcia, Library Services Manager who works closely with Jo Anderson-Cavinta, Diversity Services Coordinator.

The Boone County Public Library in Northern Kentucky is taking their Día celebration on the road. On Saturday, April 25, the library’s Community Center on Wheels is rolling out their Día on the Lawn Program to Green Lawn Mobile Home Park, which is home to many Hispanic families in Boone County, Kentucky. The Boone County Community Center on Wheels is a custom-built, two-room bus equipped with a classroom to support on-board instruction, computers for access to educational software and the Internet, and resource materials for children and adults.

Coloring at a Día program

Coloring at a Día program (photo courtesy of the ALSC Office).

During the Día on the Lawn Program, participants will be able to check out library books and enjoy a visit from Tales, the BCPL mascot. There will be an emphasis on STEAM activities this year with different stations featuring science and art activities. Face-painting, a piñata, outdoor games, and music will also be available. A free book will be given to each family while supplies last.

This is the second year the Día on the Lawn Program is being held at the Green Lawn Mobile Home Park. Candace Clark, Youth Services Associate/Outreach with the Boone County Public Library, spoke about the success of last year’s program: “We were so pleased with how warmly we were received last year. It’s a family reunion kind of feeling. There were about 80 people in attendance last year, and we are expecting anywhere from 100-150 people this year. The goal for the Día on the Lawn program is to take the Día program into a variety of neighborhoods, allowing residents to have a library experience.”

Whitney Jones, Library Media Specialist at Old Settlers Elementary School in Flower Mound, Texas, is celebrating her first year doing Día; they are “closing the school for the day.” Teachers will oversee every child at 3 stations where the K-5th graders will participate in an obstacle course, bounce in a giant house, and learn to dance the cha-cha. K-1st will have a musical storytime, 2nd-3rd will have a drawing interactive storytime, and 4th-5th will have a Jefferson Knapp author visit. In addition, the 3rd graders have invited their sister school’s 3rd graders to have lunch and share their favorite picture book. The PTA generously donated hardcover blank books so that every student can write their own stories. They can also dress as a favorite book character. The students will also pair up for buddy reading for 30 minutes during the day. Parents have also been invited to lunch and have been invited to dress up in costume, read as mystery readers, and share a dish from their culture which includes Korean, Indian, Middle Eastern, and a small Mexican community.

A family reads together at a Día program

A family reads together at a Día program (photo courtesy of the ALSC Office).

Anne Miller from Eugene Public Library and Kristen Curé from Springfield Public Library start planning for Día in October with various community partners for their joint celebration on a Saturday and Sunday for 3 hours. Each celebration attracts 500 people, and Springfield Public Library is a past recipient of the Mora Award for its celebration. This year, they will host author Carmen Bernier-Grand, a local mariachi band, and a local artist, and the children will paint clay pots. Activities tables include face painting, science projects, and crafts. Each child receives a book. This year the organizers will dress up as a book character or person in history, and they expect Chavo and Frida Kahlo to be represented. Each of the cities’ mayors open the event and make a city proclamation. Día de los Niños/Día de los Libros is a state proclamation in Oregon. They build up to the day by sending projects to schools and daycares—this year they sent milagros kits—and by infusing different languages and cultures in the April storytimes.

Also on April 30, Meg Medina, Ellen Oh, Kwame Alexander, Tim Tingle, and Gigi Amateau are all on the same panel at the Library of Congress’ Young Readers Center, where Karen Jaffe is the Executive Director. Librarian Deb Taylor will moderate. This panel is for middle grade and older youths and will focus on strengthening the family. Medina states, “People on the panel decided to interpret Día and talk through each distinct lens. Make more mainstream all the multicultural literature and cycle back on the universal.”

As you can see, the ways to celebrate Día are as varied as the communities we serve. Check Pat Mora’s webpage and the official Día page for resources.

This post was written by the following members of ALSC’s Public Awareness Committee: Debbie Bond, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County; Robin Howe, King County Library System; and Ana-Elba Pavon, Oakland Public Library.

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47. Distinguished and Diverse at #alaac15

2015 ALA Annual Conference

2015 ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco (image courtesy of ALA)

ALSC and the ALSC Awards Preconference Pilot Program Task Force announced the theme and speakers for the 2015 ALSC preconference program. This program takes place 11:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. Friday, June 26, 2015, at the 2015 ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco.

The program, entitled “Distinguished and Diverse: Celebrate the 2015 ALSC Honor Books,” will spotlight 2015 Honor Book recipients for the Newbery, Caldecott, Batchelder, Pura Belpré, Sibert and Geisel awards. The keynote speaker for the program is K.T. Horning, and there will be a panel facilitated by Judy Freeman.

The event will feature authors, illustrators and editors such as Cece Bell, Jacqueline Woodson, Lauren Castillo, Mary GrandPré, Candace Fleming, Yuyi Morales, Jillian Tamaki, Katherine Roy, John Parra, Patricia Hruby Powell, Mark Siegel, Christian Robinson, Jon Klassen and Melissa Sweet. More speakers will be announced soon.

This is the first year that such a preconference will be held. The charge of the Awards Preconference Pilot Program Task Force is “to develop content and the program for a half-day preconference that will feature 2015 ALSC-only award honorees.” Based on the success of this year’s preconference, ALSC may or may not choose to hold similar events in connection with upcoming Annual Conferences. ALSC members receive a special discount (use code: ALSC2015) on registration.

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48. Sensory Storytime Resources on the ALSC Pinterest Account

As ALSC blogger Renee Grassi reminded us earlier this month, April is National Autism Awareness Month. For libraries, months that observe, celebrate, or raise awareness for a group of people or an issue should serve as annual checks for our services: “It’s National Autism Awareness Month; I should make sure that our library services to children with special needs and their families are excellent all year long.”

screen grab provided by the author

screen grab provided by the author

If you find yourself currently evaluating your programs for children with special needs of any type–in particular for young children and their families–I’m pleased to share that members of the Library Service to Special Population Children and their Caregivers (LSSPCC) Committee have been amassing and curating resources on a Sensory Storytime board on ALSC’s Pinterest account. They’re creating an excellent resource for libraries just setting out to offer sensory storytimes as well as for those of you in a place to evaluate and tweak what you’ve already been offering.

Thus far, the board offers a few dozen pins that link to program plans and write-ups; research related to special needs library services; and book recommendations for use in Sensory Storytime. Check out this resource for yourself to learn about some of the awesomely intentional ways you and your library can offer programs inclusive to every young library customer.

If you have favorite sensory storytime resources, link to them in the comments so our curators can add them to the board!


Amy Koester is the Youth & Family Program Coordinator with the Skokie Public Library and is writing this post for the Public Awareness Committee.

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49. Poetry Paige

Have fun this month by reading poems aloud, over and over!  Let’s yell out some words together to get ready for poetry month.  I’ll say the words first and then you repeat after me, ready? Me: POETRY! You: POETRY!  Me: 811! You: 811!

Let’s go up, up, up with “Oak Tree” by Georgia Heard from Falling Down the Page: A Book of List Poems Edited by Georgia Heard. Ready? Me: One!….

April is National Poetry Month! Whether you’re offering a poetry program at your library, visiting schools with interactive poems or creating a poetry display, April is the perfect month to share poems, read a poem at story time and introduce children’s poets including children’s poet laureate, Kenn Nesbitt to children of all ages.

This year, my interactive poetry school visits are focused on writing art inspired poems with 5th and 6th graders and writing a couplet, circle, animal and BIG poems with K-4th.   At the end of the month, the library will host a Poetry Fest at our local bookstore where students have an opportunity to share their art inspired poems.  I’m also looking forward to our Animal Poetry Party for families.  Puppets, poems and play!

Here are a few amazing poetry blogs (from three amazing children’s authors) with perfect “Poem-A-Day” projects that you can do in your library, classroom or share with children, parents, teachers and more!

photo by Laura Purdie Salas

photo by Laura Purdie Salas

Laura Purdie Salas: National Poetry Month and Poetry Tips for Teachers
A poem and new poetry tip each day!
Click on the “Educator’s” link for more great ideas. I love Laura’s “Things to Do if You Are a Bumblebee…” poem written with students on a school visit.  Write your own “Things to Do if…” poem.  Read, listen, write and connect with the poem!  (Read one of her new poems “Spaghetti”)

Irene Latham: Live Your Poem…ARTSPEAK

photo by Irene Latham

photo by Irene Latham

A Poem-A-Day Project for National Poetry Month 2015 writing from images found in the online collections of the National Gallery of Art and focusing on dialogue, conversations, what does the piece say.
My favorite art poem so far is from day #9.  Irene gave me permission to share her “Boat in Pond” poem.  Follow her blog, listen to her poems and write your own art inspired poem!

Amy Ludwig Vanderwater: The Poem Farm and National Poetry Month 2015-Sing That Poem!
Explore a game called “Sing That Poem” A new poem each day matched to a song. Guess which song and sing along!  Tuesday’s poem will be titled “Librarian’s Song.”
Also, from 2012, Dictionary Hike (I love this!)

Photo by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater

Photo by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater

Amy wrote a poem from each letter of the alphabet!

A few more favorite poetry blogs/websites:

Check out a few new children’s poetry books: 
Bigfoot is Missing! by J. Patrick Lewis and Kenn Nesbitt, Lullaby and Kisses Sweet: Poems to Love with Your Baby Edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins, Hypnotize a Tiger:  by Calef Brown, How to Draw a Dragon by Douglas Florian by Paul B. Janeczko and Jumping Off Library Shelves Edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins (September 8, 2015)

Children’s Poetry Book Lists:

Past ALSC Poetry Blog posts

Enjoy Amy Ludwig Vanderwater’s poem “Library Book.” 

I love hearing about poetry projects from other librarians.   Please share in the comments below.  Happy National Poetry Month!

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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50. April is Math Awareness Month

We are celebrating Math Awareness Month at our libraries this week (combining it with National Library Week), so I have math-related read alouds on my mind. Even if you don’t have a special program planned for Math Awareness Month, you can easily mark it with a counting-themed story time or display.


(image taken from Holiday House website)

Poor Iguana has stubbed her toe. As anyone who has stubbed his/her toe can understand, the pain in her toe distracts her from making her fabulous cactus butter desserts. Culebra (snake)’s idea to attach a number of kitchen utensils to her tail is an unorthodox but rather successful solution. Spanish words for the animals and numbers are included (as is a glossary in the backmatter for Count on Culebra).



(image taken from Scholastic website)

I use Feast for 10 not only in my counting story time, but also in my Thanksgiving-themed story time (which is centered on stories about families and food).  It’s a very simple story about a family that helps Mom gather the groceries, unload the car, and prepare the feast. Family members, food, and meal-related items (such as pots) are counted.


Mabela the Clever is one of my favorite Margaret Read MacDonald stories; this folktale from Sierra Leone not only incorporates subtraction (!), but imparts the importance of being aware of your surroundings (especially if you are a mouse in the vicinity of a cult-like cat society!).



(image taken from Barefoot Books website)

We All Went on Safari is a staple in my counting story time. As readers and listeners follow a group of Tanzanian women and children through grasslands, Swahili names and numbers are introduced in a very organic manner. A glossary of Swahili words, a map, and information about Tanzania are included.

What are your favorite counting (or any math-related) books? Let us know in the comments!

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