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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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By the time you read this I will in Beijing, China. Our fabulous Executive Director, Aimee Strittmatter, and I have been invited to speak about American children’s library work at the Chinese Library Association Conference. Our whirlwind visit will include a tour of the National Children’s Library, the Children’s Library of Beijing and another location intriguingly referred to as Juvenile & Children Reading Experience Wonderland. We also hope to see the Forbidden City, the Great Wall and maybe even (please, please, please) a panda cub or two.
Our Chinese counterparts are particularly interested in learning more about our Caldecott Award and the role that libraries play in making that award the catalyst for the creation of and celebration of great children’s picture books it has become. In 2009, China inaugurated their own award for children’s literature called the Zikai Award named for a famous Chinese cartoonist and modeled after the Caldecott . It is exhilarating to learn of the far reach of our distinguished and highly regarded awards. I know how hard our members work to ensure that every year the criteria and integrity of the award is maintained and the best books find their way, literally, into the world.
Saturday morning we are meeting to discuss children’s reading with some Chinese children’s literature experts. I look forward to discovering the common threads we will see in our respective “great books for children.” Is excellence in literature for children the same in every language and culture? We are always more alike than we imagine but the value of seeing life in another country also gives perspective to our own.
Many of the challenges faced by our countries are shared. The quality of education, the desire to provide the best opportunities for children and their families with limited public resources; these are human concerns, not American ones. Libraries play a role in that work not just in America, where personal freedom is assumed, but perhaps libraries play an even more critical role in communities vastly different from our own.
I can’t wait to share what we learn in China with our members back in the states. My hope is that our time will give important insights into the value of what we continue to hold dear. Our best resource remains each other, those of us who do this work, wherever in the world we are.
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Serving a diverse community can be difficult, especially when you are dealing with diversity across the physical, mental, and emotional spectrum. Often the social aspect of the library can be off putting for children, and parents of children with developmental disabilities. For children on the Autism spectrum, the child’s inability to regulate behavior can be problematic in a highly structured setting (such as a library program). Children with physical disabilities may feel that they are limited in how they can participate in library programs. But often the simplest programs can be the most effective and by offering a new or unique opportunity the library becomes a safe place to engage in something outside their preconceived limitations.
Do you have a pre-set program time for children with disabilities? Do you have a pre-set time for family programs? Consider a family program featuring beginner and child friendly yoga. No matter how you incorporate it, I encourage you to use yoga as a way to bring all your patrons together. If offers the opportunity for all children to interact in a safe social environment.
Children enjoy the same benefits of yoga as adults: increased body awareness, strength and flexibility, as well as stress relief and relaxation. Yoga encourages self-acceptance, compassion, kindness, and discipline. All of this while celebrating creative expression, individual differences, and their place in the community. All of these are extremely important in the life of a child dealing with developmental delays or physical restrictions. Anecdotal reports describe success in reducing obesity and discipline problems, decreasing anger and panic attacks, and enhancing concentration and academic performance. Health problems, such as headaches, stomachaches, constipation, back pain, and colds or sinus problems, are reportedly improved with a yoga practice. (1) A certified yoga instructor can lead and demonstrate proper technique and offer advice and tips. Activities in this program can include age-appropriate poses, breathing exercises, relaxation, and partner poses between parent and child. Even a child with physical limitations can participate in the regulated and guided breathing exercises that accompany yoga practice.
While the research on the effects of yoga in children is lengthy, a tertiary literature review only uncovered a few empirical studies on yoga and the disabled. But using the early literacy principle of “play” and its importance in early childhood development, if you use yoga as an inclusive game, the possibilities for reaching children expands.
A 2011 study published in the International Journal of Yoga examined the positive combined effect of inclusive games and yogic relaxation on selected domestic skills among physically challenged boys. (2)
Since 2001, in a north London hospital, Jo Manuel has been providing yoga therapy sessions for children with a variety of special needs, from autism to cerebral palsy. Manuel and her 12 colleagues see around 500 children per week, and while some children do have physical restrictions the simple act of rhythmic breathing can bring a sense of calm and relaxation to both the children and their caregivers. (3)
Consider adding these titles in order to make your program reflective of your collection.
You are a Lion:and other fun yoga poses is a fun interactive title that invites children to pretend to be different animals as they do various child friendly poses.
(Image from Pipin Properties)
My Daddy is a Pretzel: yoga for parents and kids is a great story time title. With it’s whimsical look at yoga practice, it offers great introductions for adults and children.
(Image from Barefoot Books)
Sleepy Little Yoga is a wonderful title that introduces nine poses perfect for preparing your toddler for bedtime.
(Image from Macmillan)
1. White, Laura Santangelo. “Yoga for children.” Pediatric Nursing Sept.-Oct. 2009: 277+. Expanded Academic ASAP. Web. 16 Aug. 2014.
2. Duraisami, V., K. Jaiganesh, and S. Parthasarathy. “Combined effect of inclusive games and yogic relaxation on the selected domestic skills among physically challenged boys.” International Journal of Yoga 4.2 (2011): 100. Expanded Academic ASAP. Web. 16 Aug. 2014.
3. Cooper, Catherine. “A calming influence: a yoga centre helping children with special needs has been achieving some impressively positive results.” Nursing Standard 24.50 (2010): 24+. Expanded Academic ASAP. Web. 16 Aug. 2014.
Lesley Mason is a children’s librarian at the District of Columbia Public Library. She earned her Master’s Degree in Library Science from Clarion University. She specializes in Early Literacy and can be reached at email@example.com
A Wordle (wordle.net) created by the author.
Let’s talk about naming storytime, shall we?
This post started in my head after a parent thanked me for my new preschool storytime (that I’ve named Discovery!) and let me know that her son has developed an aversion to the word storytime. She went on to explain that he loves books and stories and the library, but that “storytime” tripped him up. And I began to think about how we name our programs.
My previous library struggled with translating “storytime” into Spanish. Ultimately the official translation that was approved was “hora de cuentos” which literally translates back to English as “storyhour”. Patrons were constantly asking what kinds of activities happened in our programs. We kept getting the question: “Do you really read to them for an hour straight?” Eventually our Spanish-speaking patrons learned to see past the name of our program. But I often wonder if re-branding or re-naming would have created less confusion.
Before I started at my new library, staff had worked to re-brand all storytime classes under a name: Little University. The idea was to make patrons more aware of the early literacy components and goals in a storytime. Our patrons take Little U classes very seriously — we have a registration start date and classes have a teacher-student ratio, just like a real university. Our brand emphasizes the learning aspects of storytime in a way that’s marketable to patrons.
I know of libraries who make make their storytime names clear and easily understood for patrons: “Wonderful Ones” and “Terrific Twos”; “Walkers, Wigglers, and Crawlers” and “Lapsit”; “Family Storytime” and “On Our Own Storytime” — these storytime names use ages or development milestones or the target audience in their names.
So, what’s in a name? I think the point that I’m trying to make is that the name of your storytime program needs to make sense to your patrons. And that it isn’t necessary to have a clever name, but is necessary to have a clear name. Don’t leave patrons guessing if your program is right for them. Educate them. Reach out to them and make sure that your message is being heard.
No matter the name, a program is successful if it’s reaching your patrons and teaching them to love the library and to love learning those valuable early literacy skills.
What do you call your storytimes and why? Have any interesting name stories to share? And, of course, now is the time to have the library debate of “storytime” vs. “story time” in the comments.
– Katie Salo
Early Literacy Librarian
Indian Prairie Library
It was a mere two weeks ago that many of us gathered in Oakland CA for the 2014 ALSC Institute. And thank goodness you all blogged about it! For those that couldn’t come, or missed a crucial session, here’s your chance to catch up online.
Amy “The Show Me Librarian” Koester at Children’s Fairyland (photo by Kendra Jones)
From the Guerilla Storytime to the closing session, our live bloggers posted throughout the conference from different sessions, and many of you tweeted at #alsc14 …thanks to S. Bryce Kozla for this Storify version.
Many of you have provided wrap-ups at your own blogs: Penny Peck reports on the Institute at BayViews, Marge Loch-Wouters gives the low-down on the Instiute vs. ALA Conferences, and you can find reports on their programs from Amy Commers, Sylvia Vardell, Claudia Haines, and Amy Koester. Who did I miss? Tell us in the comments below.
There’s more to come, as our two Friends of ALSC-sponsored ALSC Institute Scholarship winners will be posting their thoughts soon: Gesse Stark-Smith on October 14th and Nicole Martin on October 21st. Stay tuned.
Nina Lindsay introducing Daniel Handler, Jenni Holm, and Mac Barnett at Children’s Fairyland (photo by MaryAnn Scheuer)
Many of you have reported on the value of this conference in your surveys:
“I brought back wonderful program ideas, and a renewed passion for my profession.”
“I thought the Institute was excellent. The sessions were all very helpful and the speakers were great too. The best part was hearing about what other Children’s librarians are doing, and being given a space to hear about and share ideas.”
I hope you all made new connections, sparked new ideas, and are putting them into play with a renewed sense of purpose and fun. The 2016 ALSC Institute will be held September 15-17, 2016, in Charlotte, North Carolina. See you there!
Nina Lindsay was the chair for the 2014 ALSC Institute, and is the Children’s Services Coordinator for the Oakland Public Library, CA.
You guys. It is October. ALREADY. Which means you’re probably inundated with requests for fall-themed books and storytimes. I’m here to help. There are tons of resources for Fall Storytime available on the internet, whether you’re a storytime newbie or a seasoned storytimer looking to shake things up a bit. Here are some of my favorites:
- Bear Has a Story to Tell by Phillip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead (Roaring Brook Press, 2012) – Animals are preparing for winter and Bear has a story to tell before he settles down to sleep.
- The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2006) – How does a squirrel get ready for winter? This could be a great STEM conversation starter!
- Fall is Not Easy by Marty Kelley (Zino Press Children’s Books, 1998) – This hilarious book will get kids laughing as a tree tries its hardest to put on proper fall colors.
- I See Fall by Charles Ghigna, illustrated by Ag Jatkowska (Picture Window Books, 2011) – Make sure you include books featuring diverse children in your fall storytimes!
- Kitten’s Autumn by Eugenie Fernandes (Kids Can Press, 2010) – Mixed media art and simple rhyming text make this one a great one for sharing.
- Leaf Jumpers by Carole Gerber, illustrated by Leslie Evans (Charlesbridge, 2004) – Rhyming text describes the different colored leaves we see on different trees in the fall.
- Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2005) – Illustrations made of fall leaves make this a great one for talking about leaves changing with older preschoolers or early elementary kids.
- Mouse’s First Fall by Lauren Thompson (Simon & Schuster Books for Children, 2006) – Simple text makes this a winner for sharing with very young children.
- Poppleton in Fall by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Mark Teague (Blue Sky Press, 1999) – I love to read the story “The Geese” with older preschoolers and early elementary kids.
- Pumpkins by Ken Robbins (Square Fish, 2006) – The photo illustrations make this a great nonfiction choice for adding some STEM content to your storytime. Don’t be afraid to paraphrase.
- That Pup! by Lindsay Barrett George (Greenwillow Books, 2011) – A spunky puppy has been digging and finding treasures all over the yard – acorns!
- Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White, illustrated by Megan Lloyd (Holiday House, 1993) – After a pumpkin went SPLAT! in the garden, Rebecca Estelle has too many pumpkins!
- We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt by Steve Metzger, illustrated by Miki Sakamoto (Cartwheel Books, 2005) – Using the familiar cadence of “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt”, this trio is off to find some colorful fall leaves.
(Thanks to the following awesome Twitter librarians for suggesting titles for this list: @Jbrary, @MelissaZD, @misskubelik, @pussreboots, @taletrekker)
Photo by Abby Johnson
The Perfect Pumpkin. A felt pumpkin and a lot of black felt shapes lead to experimenting with jack-o-lantern creation. Use different shapes to create different faces – some scary, sad, or funny – and ask the kids what shapes you should use to create the perfect pumpkin!
Build a Pumpkin Patch. Pass out felt pumpkins and call kids up to put their pumpkins in the patch based on what color they’re wearing (e.g. “If you’re wearing red today, red today, red today, If you’re wearing red today, please bring up your pumpkin!”). An alternative if you have a large crowd would be to make felt pumpkins of different shapes and sizes (large, small, flat, skinny, triangular) and build a pumpkin patch together, asking for the kids’ help in describing the different shapes and colors they see.
Photo by Abby Johnson
Fall is Not Easy. The trim size of the above-mentioned book by Marty Kelley is a bit small for sharing with a big group. We’ve turned it into a felt story for hilarious fun!
Photo by Abby Johnson
Fall Leaves Felt. You can do a lot with some felt leaf shapes. We hand them out to the kids and call colors to bring up to the board. You can also talk about what colors they are, use them with the above-mentioned story We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt by Steve Metzger, or use them with a “five little leaves” rhyme or song (try Five Little Leaves).
Bring in some real fall leaves to explore! You can make leaf rubbings, arrange the leaves to make pictures (a la Leaf Man), let kids sort by color or size, or put out some magnifying glasses to let kids take a closer look.
You can find more Fall Storytime plans at the following sites:
What are your favorite readalouds and activities for Fall Storytime?
— Abby Johnson, Children’s Services Manager
New Albany-Floyd County Public Library
New Albany, IN
With this post, $25 of pantry items and some junk, you can host a delightful Petite Picasso (preschool) program with playdough!
- Pantry items (flour, salt, etc., see recipe) ($25)
- Plastic bags or containers for storing the dough ($0-$5)
- Various junk (cookie cutters, receipt rolls, rulers, craft sticks, etc.)
Use the playdough recipe in MaryAnn Kohl’s First Art: Art Experiences for Toddlers & Twos to turn flour, water, food coloring and a few other items into pliable, shapeable, squeezable, colorful dough before your program.
Room setup: Tables (with the legs folded up, just put the tabletop directly on the floor) each with a variety of junk and one color of dough.
Format: Petite Picasso one hour long open house.
Preschoolers and their grown ups had a great time rolling out, cutting up and building with the brightly colored dough. There was a fair amount of prep work involved to make the stove top dough, but the consistency of the finished product was fantastic. Try this program for some squishy, squashy fun!
Build STEAM with Día Mini-Grants (image courtesy ALSC)
ALSC is now accepting mini-grant applications for libraries through the Día initiative. Mini-grants will be used to initiate a Building STEAM with Día program in libraries. Programs will focus on bringing culturally diverse and appropriate STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) activities to awarded communities. Up to 20 mini-grants will be awarded at $1,500 each.
Mini-grant awardees will also be invited to attend ALSC’s Diversity Forum which will be held at the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting on Friday, January 30, 2015 in Chicago. Awardees will receive a $500 travel stipend to attend.
Intended as an expansion of El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Día), the mini-grants will be awarded to libraries that demonstrate a need to better address the diverse backgrounds within their communities and demonstrate interest in hosting culturally diverse and appropriate STEAM programs.
The mini-grants are part of the Everyone Reads @ your library grant awarded to ALSC from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. In addition to these mini-grants, funding from this grant will also allow ALSC to host a National Diversity Forum and create additional resources including a Building STEAM with Día Booklist and Toolkit.
The application deadline is 5pm CST on Wednesday, October 17, 2014.
Please review the below documents prior to applying to this grant.
Grant Fact Sheet
Grant Requirements and Guidelines
By: Digital Content Task Force,
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In many ways, it is difficult to believe that my library has been circulating iPads in the children’s library for almost three years. Despite the continued discourse on the role of tablet technology among pre-readers, there is no question that children and families have continued to integrate such devices into their lives. In our community parents look to the librarians to guide their app selections, or at least point them towards the resources that can assist in discerning which purchases to make.
Kids grasping a new Tween Tab from the library.
Photo courtesy of Jacquie Miller.
It first began with the preschool set, as our library made the decision to circulate Early Literacy Kits. The idea was to infuse tech into what we as children’s librarians were already expounding to parents and caregivers about the practices they can master in order to cultivate a reader. Now after so many parents have expressed that their child has already “Spot the Red Dot,” so to speak, what’s next?
After the debut of our nonfiction reorganization we began thinking of ways to market the collection glades and showcase other resources that reflected these areas. Time and time again we kept hearing requests to circulate tablets for school-age children. Some of our initial concerns stemmed from the prevalence in the community of iPads in the home. Was there even really a need with most families already owning at least one device? We realized that this wasn’t the case for all families, and if anything a lot of the feedback has been that patrons look to our curated list of apps as the main draw. With this encouragement, why not mirror some of the same subjects we wanted to point kids to in redefining how we navigate nonfiction? Our focus would be to highlight apps that inform, engage, and are used to create. Looking to a previous attempt at providing tweens with circulating devices that dissolved, we knew that we could give our Tween Tabs new life.
The method of circulating, updating, and restricting the devices would match the process of the early literacy tablets. Due to other initiatives we wouldn’t be able to roll out six iPads at once, but decided to test-drive the service with two tablets. Instead of the 5 Early Literacy Practices, we would be dividing our apps into the new nonfiction glades: Facts, Traditions, Create, Sports, Self, Fun, Animals, STEM, Then & Now, adding Bio and Languages to round it out. Compiling some of our favorites from the past few years, which we have demoed in programs and sometimes spontaneously in the stacks, the total list included over 70 apps.
From homework help apps like Stack the States, Prezi, and the American Presidents for iPad, to brainteasers like Rube Works and American Girl Doll Trivia, the reception has been quite astounding. There are currently over 20 holds on the kits, while pitching the new offering has purely been accomplished through word of mouth. Families are eager to use language resources like Gus on the Go: Mandarin and Rosetta Stone Kids Lingo Letter Sounds, and STEM picks Motion Math: Match, Hopscotch, and Oh No! Fractions. Personally, my heart tends to gravitate towards apps that give kids the ability to produce art digitally, like Easy Studio, Photogene, Bloom HD, and Auryn Ink.
Whatever new technologies are making waves, let’s continue to make sure we are providing these services for a variety of age groups in the community.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit the Digital Media Resources page to find out more about navigating your way through the evolving digital landscape.
ALSC members are cordially invited to participate in the 2015 Notable Children’s Recordings list by submitting titles for consideration. The Notable Children’s Recordings Committee’s charge is to select, annotate, and present for publication an annual list of notable audio recordings (music, audiobooks, and read-along kits) of interest to young people from birth through age 14. The recordings must have been released between November 1, 2013, and October 31, 2014, and be available through a US distributor. Please follow this link to find out more details about the list and criteria for inclusion:
The column on the left of that page includes links for information about NCR, including Committee Members, Submission Process, and Past NCR lists.
Please send suggestions with full bibliographic information to chairperson Jennifer Duffy at email@example.com. The deadline to submit title suggestions is October 31st.
By: School-Age Programs and Services Committee,
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This summer at the Fayetteville Free Library in Fayetteville, NY we piloted our first ever week long summer camp during Summer Reading. The Fayetteville Free Library Geek Girl Camp is a camp for girls in grades 3 through 5 introducing them to hands on STEM skills and to female role models. Months of work went into planning this camp fulfilling a need in our greater community. According to the Girl Scout Research Institute, “Research shows that girls start losing interest in math and science during middle school. Girls are typically more interested in careers where they can help others (e.g., teaching, child care, working with animals) and make the world a better place. Recent surveys have shown that girls and young women are much less interested than boys and young men in math and science.”
We had 44 girls attend the FFL Geek Girl Camp from all over the greater Syracuse, NY area. We had over 10 girls on the waiting list and charged $25.00 for the camp to supplement the cost of food, t-shirts and supplies. We also offered four scholarship opportunities for those who might not be able to afford the cost of the camp. In addition to the 44 girls who came to the camp we had 9 speakers from across the country join us in person or via Skype. Speakers included students from Virginia Commonwealth University, Cornell University, Syracuse University and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Other speakers included women who worked for Facebook, the Air Force, a pharmaceutical research facility, and from national organizations, Girls in Tech and Girl Develop IT. Each day we heard from one or more speakers who talked about what they do at their jobs or in school and how important it is to have women working in these fields! They all made sure to relate to the girls in attendance and campers had great questions afterwards.
Throughout the week we had a great array of activities. We rented a cement mixer and made an oobleck pool for kids to run across after learning about density and viscosity, shot off model rockets, chucked books, apples and water balloons with a trebuchet after learning about projectiles, force, gravity and more. Girls learned about fractals, made mini catapults, 3D printed, used littlebits kits, Snap Circuits and computer programmed with Scratch and much more.
The camp was a huge success that the parents of those who attended were above and beyond appreciative and wanted to already sign up for next year. We learned from this particular camp that we created something valuable for our community and that we need to transition into this camp model for future Summer Reading programs. We were asked, “When are you having a camp for boys”? We will not only have camp for boys and girls but of different ages as well. Planning FFL Geek Girl Camp did take a lot of time; however the outcome of the camp was far beyond what we expected and worth the time spent planning for the impact it had on our community. Camps offer children an opportunity to learn more and make stronger relationships over a short period of time. Like camp as a kid it was a place to learn new things and meet new friends and create memories that last a lifetime.
The first day of FFL Geek Girl, the campers were a little shy but after just the second day the girls couldn’t stop talking and working together. We run bimonthly programs where kids come in every other week to work on projects but having children in the library everyday for a week gives you an opportunity to teach kids a skill and not have to worry about rushing or not being able to complete the task, plus you have an opportunity to do projects or lessons that take longer and are more complex. Camps also give us a great opportunity to get to know our patrons. Girls come in and out of the library now looking for their camp counselors to say hi! Cost is also a huge factor in running a camp at a library versus a different venue. We had materials donated to the camp and used many of the resources we already owned including our own staff to run and plan the program. Most science camps can range in price anywhere from $75-$600. We decided that $25 was not only affordable but fit into our budget for the camp as well to make it run successfully.
We think that camps are the future of Summer Reading. It gives us and the community an opportunity to focus on important topics like STEAM and produce content that is beneficial and influential. At the end of the week our campers said they wanted to be inventors, work at Google, become web developers and physicists. If it wasn’t for the atmosphere we created at the library and the week long camp we would have never saw these results and impact on our community.
Please check out our website for more information about the FFL Geek Girl Camp, our Flickr page and hashtag #geekgirl14 on Twitter and Instagram.
Modi, K. (2012). “Generation STEM: What girls Say about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math” Girl Scout Research Institute. http://www.girlscouts.org/research/pdf/generation_stem_full_report.pdf
Meredith Levine is the Director of Family Engagement at the Fayetteville Free Library. Meredith is a member of the ALSC School Age Programs and Services Committee. Find out more at www.fflib.org or email Meredith at firstname.lastname@example.org
Some of my favorite story time themes involve contrasting themes: Big and Little, Noisy and Quiet, and Awake and Asleep. While I have several favorite titles perfect for snuggling just before bedtime, they’re not stories that I want to include for a 10:30 story time full of wide-awake toddlers. Luckily, there are any number of rollicking stories that are bedtime-oriented, but won’t invoke drowsiness:
(image from HarperCollins site)
Although “beebee bobbi bobbi” runs through my head all day long after using this in story time, I can’t resist using The Baby Beebee Bird in story times about baby animals or my awake/asleep story time. This energetic story about a baby bird who prefers to (initially) sleep through the day and sing all night long (and making a very restless night for the other zoo animals, until they hatch a plan to teach the bird a lesson) will require creative and loud animal noises from the reader.
(image taken from John Butler site)
Although this take on “Over in the Meadow” certainly qualifies as a “cozy” bedtime story, the variety of animals and audience participation possibilities (counting, etc) make Bedtime in the Jungle a fun read for story times at any time of the day. It’s also great for story times involving baby animals, jungle animals, or counting.
(image taken from Random House site)
The Bunnies Are Not in Their Beds inevitably checks out with a story time patron after I include it in a story time; hopefully, the clever bits in the illustrations that go unnoticed in a large group setting (the headline in the newspaper, for instance) will be observed in an one-on-one setting. The increasingly racuous bunnies, who are clearly not ready for bedtime, are hilarious.
(image taken from Simon & Schuster site)
Stories in rhyme can be troublesome to read aloud; uneven rhyme schemes can make reading aloud awkward. You won’t have that problem with Piggies in Pajamas; this is a funny and bouncy tale of pajama-clad piggies who always manage to appear to be resting quietly each time Mama Pig checks out the commotion upstairs.
Do you have any favorite bedtime stories? Share in the comments!
Here we are in the middle of Banned Books Week again! This is one of my favorite celebrations of the year because I love to read and I love to defend everyone’s freedom to read. I appreciate the conversations that I get to have with customers around banned books and I have a lot of fun working with creative staff to plan our celebrations.
This year at Rochester Public Library (MN) we created posters of staff holding the top ten challenged books of 2013. We also created a banned/challenged books reading area which we put right inside the front entrance. The area includes piles of banned books, comfortable seating, signage explaining book challenges and bans and small cards with the staff photos on one side and the list of the top 10 challenged books of 2013 on the reverse.
There are many creative ideas for celebrating banned books out there. Have you seen the wonderful things that the Judith F. Krug Fund grant recipients are doing?
What are you doing to celebrate the freedom to read?
Love him or hate him, Melvil Dewey was the architect of modern library cataloging. His classification system added order to the world of books like the classification system of Kingdom, Phylum, Species, etc., made sense of the biological world.
In most instances, Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) makes for easy non-fiction browsing. Once in a while, however, it makes for some strange “shelf-fellows.” Here are two that you might enjoy:
Browsing the DDC 610s: Nothing goes together quite like Chiggers and My First Trip to the Dentist
© L Taylor
The Christmas Cookie Book and Flush: The Scoop on Poop – strange shelf-fellows indeed!
© L Taylor
What strange shelf-fellows are nesting on your shelves? If you’ve got a great photo, I’ll be happy to add it to the post.
(Be sure to tell me whom to credit for the photo.)
A few months ago, one of my frequent program-goers made a request: Would I please be able to offer a program that includes slugs, one of his favorite animals? I was inclined to agree to the challenge, even before said child had his mother email me a photo of him with his three pet slugs. How’s a librarian to say “no” to that?
I gave some thought to how I could meet the “slug” challenge while also closing out a season of many science-themed programs. I decided to return to a favorite concept with school-agers—slime—and explore it from two different perspectives: animal biology and physics. Thus “The Science of Slimy Things” was born.
A Slug Science information slide, slide and photo by Amy Koester
The program was divided roughly into two parts, the first considerably less messy than the second. We opened with an exploration of slugs—pictures, how they move, their scientific names, how they differ from snails, and the purpose of their slime. Happily, the non-fiction stacks had plenty of resources to support this exploration.
Then we got hands-on with slug slime. No, not real slug slime, as I don’t have regular access to the potionmaster’s storecupboard. Instead, I had prepared some gelatinous, fibrous slime (recipe below) the morning of the program and brought it with me to the library. It sat in the staff fridge with a note saying “NOT Jello—Do NOT eat!” until program time. Once we had talked about slugs, I doled out scoops of the orange goo on paper plates for each of the attendees. I provided them with popsicle sticks and index cards to use to explore and manipulate the slime, but many of them opted just to use their hands. I’m sure none of us are surprised.
Slug slime, photo by Amy Koester
When everyone felt that, having tested its viscous properties, they had had a good play with the slug slime, we scooped it all back up into the plastic container. After a brief stop in the restroom to wash hands, we all trooped outside to the library’s patio for the really messy activity of the program.
Our second exploration of slime was oobleck, that substance owing its name to Dr. Seuss. I had some sample oobleck to accompany the intro to this type of slime. We discussed how oobleck is a non-Newtonian fluid—that is, it has properties of both a solid and a liquid depending upon the force being exerted upon it. To demonstrate, I set a toy farm animal on top of a pool of water (it sank) and then on top of the pool of oobleck (it sank, albeit more slowly). With a minimal amount of pressure acting against the oobleck, it acts like a liquid. To demonstrate how it acts like a solid, I used a mallet as my tool. First, I slammed the mallet into the pool of water; it splashed magnificently. When I raised the mallet to slam it onto the pool of oobleck, many of the kids leaned backward in expectation of a colossal oobleck splatter. Instead, there was none; the sudden strong force of mallet against oobleck caused the oobleck to act like a solid. Cue the pronouncements of “How cool!”
After making sure the kids had retained the term “non-Newtonian fluid,” I split everyone into groups to make their own oobleck. It was a messy, experimental process, as kids had to fiddle with the balance of ingredients in their slime (recipe below). Once they all had slime, the patio was a mess of kids scooping up oobleck, rolling it into a ball in their hands, and then letting it drip through their fingers. (I am happy to report that it rained a LOT the day after the oobleck project, which had left the outdoor patio quite covered in dried slime.)
When kids had had enough of the messy oobleck, I handed out empty prescription containers so that kids could take a bit of slime home with them. Kids bottled it up, then went their merry way to wash hands.
My program-goer who requested the slug aspect of the program said he was very happy with how the program had turned out—he liked getting to play with slug slime, and the oobleck was a great surprise as well. Talk about enjoying the finer things in life.
The Recipe for Slug Slime:
- 7 cups water
- 10 tsp Metamucil powder
Pour the water into a stovetop-safe saucepan, then stir in the Metamucil until dissolved. When the mixture is dissolved, turn on the burner to medium-high heat. Heat the mixture for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until it reaches your desired consistency. The mixture will be gelatinous and gloopy. Let cool before handling.
The Recipe for Oobleck:
- 1 to 2 cups cornstarch
- 1 cup water
Pour 1 cup of the cornstarch into a mixing bowl. Slowly add in the water, gently stirring with a spoon or with hands. Keep adding water until the oobleck starts to thicken; you’ll know it’s ready when you tap on it and it hardens. If the oobleck is too runny, add more cornstarch; if too thick, add more water.
Do you have an innovative new program or service that requires funding? Are you looking to serve an underserved part of your community more fully? The ALSC/Candlewick Press “Light the Way: Outreach to the Underserved” Grant is a great opportunity for your library!
The Light the Way Grant was formed in honor of Newbery Medalist and Geisel Honoree author Kate DiCamillo. The spirit of the award honors the themes represented in her books. The award itself consists of a $3,000 grant to assist a library in conducting exemplary outreach to underserved populations through a new program or an expansion of work already being done. So, whether yours is a new idea or one that has already been put into place, your library would be eligible.
The ALSC Library Service to Special Population Children and Their Caregivers Committee has the honor of selecting the winner. Special population children may include those who have learning or physical differences, those who speak English as a second language, those who are in a non-traditional school environment, those who live in foster care settings, those who are in the juvenile justice system, those who live in gay and lesbian families, those who have teen parents, and those who need accommodation service to meet their needs.
Be inspired by the impact and the work of the 2014 ALSC/Candlewick Press “Light the Way” current grant winner. Don’t forget to check back on the ALSC website for the most current grant application to be available soon!
I was on Facebook the other day and many of my library friends were posting an article from the Atlantic Monthly called, “Millennials Are Out-Reading Older Generations.” Interested, I read the article and was excited to see that the millennial generation loves reading. The article shares the results of a Pew research report that studied the role of the influence of libraries on young readers, ages 16-29. “Eighty-eight percent of Americans under age 30, read a book in the past year, compared with 79% of those age 30 and older” and they also used the library slightly more than older adults. For a split second, I was ecstatic. I now, finally had proof that all my hard work as well as the hard work and tireless efforts of all my friends and fellow librarians who put in long days planning programs, recommending books, and advocating to parents and politicians, actually worked.
Then I read the following sentence: “At the same time, American readers’ relationship with public libraries is changing – with younger readers less likely to see public libraries as essential in their communities.” Only 19% of Millennials say that their local library’s closing would impact them, even though they are using the library as much as older patrons.
Before we throw our hands in the air and call in sick tomorrow, let’s take another look at the facts. We have created a generation of readers who use the library and are reading and utilizing the library more than the generation before them. Unfortunately, they just don’t understand the importance of the library to themselves and to their community.
As everyday advocates, we can fix that. Children do not have political power. They have limited say in decisions affecting their lives, but as we can see with this study, they are the future politicians, community partners, and parents with whom we will be advocating to justify our budget and staff. Instead of trying to convince adults to become library advocates, let’s focus on the youth to create life-long library advocates! As Children’s librarians, we have the unique ability to advocate from birth. The next time you are talking to caregivers about the importance of storytime, be certain to include the children in the discussion. When you find that perfect book for a child, remind them how the library is important to them. Sometimes, we focus so much on the political parts of advocacy, that we forget that it as simple as talking to a child. Who is with me?
Gloria Repolesk is a Children’s Librarian at the Emmet O’Neal Public Library. She is writing this blog post on behalf of the Advocacy and Legislation Committee.
Does your library limit attendance to children’s programs, requiring some sort of advance registration? Or are all programs planned with an eye toward accommodating any size group?
In a nod to Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, children’s librarians Lori Faust and Kendra Jones debate the pros and cons:
LF: Well, Kendra, I will begin with a very obvious “pro” in favor of pre-registration to a set limit: if staff knows how many people to expect at a program, it is much easier to plan, prepare and purchase supplies without over-buying and wasting those limited budgets.
KJ: True, but limiting attendance can create more work for staff as they will have to take registration, follow up, pass out tickets, etc., plus there is the unpleasant task of informing interested patrons that a program is full.
If we allow walk-ins, we are more apt to have kids attend whose parents do not want to/cannot commit ahead of time and those who do not know the great things the library has to offer until they drop in one day. To then be unable to attend a program is not great customer service.
LF: That’s a good point, Kendra, and we always want to make sure we have some programs that are open to all. I’ve worked at libraries that run things both ways. One did not like us to limit attendance; we had fabulous turn-outs, but because we always had to expect 100+ kids (on a very small budget), we could only offer inexpensive programs that accommodated huge groups. And I found that kind of limiting creatively.
In response to your point that turning people away isn’t good customer service, I’d argue that for some libraries, with limited space perhaps, keeping the crowd to a manageable size can make the experience better for those in attendance. I’ve had complaints from patrons when programs have been very crowded, too!
KJ: I understand how that can be challenging, however, there are other options for programming for large crowds of people. Identical programs can be held back to back, for example. Only one program has to be planned and is then repeated. Not only does this offer patrons more choice in time but allows more patrons to partake in a library program.
LF: That would be a great option, IF…Well, there are several “ifs” depending on an individual library’s situation – can the youth services staff book the space for double the time? Is there enough staff to cover the department and run multiple programs? Is there enough money to cover twice the program? I want to mention, too, that requiring registration for programs doesn’t necessarily mean that patrons get turned away. Often, a program doesn’t “fill up,” but having a good idea of how many kids will attend helps the staff prepare for (and sometimes tweak) the program.
KJ: So true, Lori, that some libraries do not have the resources to do a double header. However, if a program is not getting filled up, perhaps registration is acting as a barrier to one of our most prized resources.
When I worked in a system where registration was required, even with reminder phone calls, patrons did not come for the program. And since they were under the impression that registration was required, there were no drop-in patrons to attend the program, meaning supplies went unused and the program was smaller than intended. Which may not bode well with statistics loving stakeholders who often provide funding for youth programs.
Now we have had our say, but we know there is so much more to this issue! It is your turn to make some arguments for, or against, program attendance limits. Add your thoughts in the comments.
Our guest bloggers today are Lori Faust and Kendra Jones, who wrote this piece as members of the Managing Children’s Services Committee.
If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at email@example.com.
By: Karen Choy,
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“Pretend the window is a screen,” said poet Susan Blackaby at this morning’s #alsc14 session “The Poetry of Science.” People spend so much time with their eyes glued to their electronic devices that they’re liable to miss what’s going on in their environment. Imagine if people gave as much concentration to nature as they give to their computer screens. How many hawks would they see? What other wonders would they encounter?
Author Margarita Engle joined today’s panel, discussing how she uses both poetry and her science background to advocate for animal and environment conservation. As a child, Engle said, “No curiosity was too small for concentration.” She made the point that the phrase “the spirit of wonder” is applicable to both science and poetry. Because of this commonality, it’s possible to interest poetry loving kids in science phenomena and give science fans the chance to experiment with language.
Poet Janet Wong said that it’s easy–and vital–to create science literacy moments in the classroom and at the library. The key is to be bold. “Science and technology are accessible to people if they’re not afraid.” As gatekeepers of information, teachers and librarians should embrace the responsibility to expose kids to all subjects. Linking language and science may be a key way to make science more approachable. It doesn’t even have to be an elaborate lesson: just a few science literacy moments a week will have a lasting impact on children’s lives.
Check out these great resources:
Jill’s post about Thursday’s edition of “The Science of Poetry”
Presenter Sylvia Vardell’s Poetry for Children blog
Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong’s blog and book, The Poetry Friday Anthology.
Andrea Davis Pinkney’s closing session talk was a great end to the ALSC Institute experience. In addition to giving us a wonderful peek into her creative process, she clearly identified herself as a lover of libraries and librarians. She called us “Fairy god-librarians!” (Time to make new business cards?)
And, you know what? We are. That’s one thing that I will take home from the ALSC Institute: the pleasure of meeting colleagues from around the nation who are incredibly generous, dedicated and brilliant. I hope this is something that you already know and that you hear on a regular basis, but regardless, please take a moment to recognize how amazing you are. You work so hard and your work has a huge impact on the children and families in your community. As Pickney said “Every day you do it!”
Renee Grassi led this informative session on serving children (and adults) with special needs. She started off by sharing the rationale behind expanding services to this population: To provide a supportive and inclusive environment for a traditionally underserved group in your community.
She also shared some startling statistics:
Nearly 20% of the US population lives with a disability- about 13% with a severe disability. Only 56% of students w/ autism finish high school, even though there are more than 1 million people w/ autism in the USA.
For those wondering where to begin w/ developing services for people w/ special needs, Renee suggests starting with conversations- get to know people and talk to them about what they need and want. One way to do this is by offering family tour services at the library. This can be available for any family- special-needs or just new to the community or library. They simply make an appointment and have a customized personal library tour with a librarian, just for that family, adapted to their needs and interests. Other ways to find out about community needs include surveys and focus groups.
Renee talked about where to find partners to help your library reach and serve families with special needs: parks, museums, disability organizations, therapists, health centers & hospitals, support groups, special educators & schools, and other librarians who are already working in this area.
Renee described her major partnership w/ her area special-education district- the spedial-ed teachers & specialists provided training and expertise to the library staff, and used their connections to get a community needs survey distributed to the families they serve.
Top 3 library materials requested in that community needs survey were:
- high interest/low reading level books & booklists
- chapter books paired w/ audio books
- more parenting books on special-needs topics
Top 4 services requested:
- storytime designed for children w/ special needs
- book discussion for teens & adults w/ special needs
- eReader & downloading demos
- social stories about the library- these are first-person stories used to introduce a person with special needs (especially autism) to a new concept or experience.
Next Renee discussed the concept of person-first language: Say “The child with autism” vs. “The autistic child” – or better yet, learn and use their name! It’s important to watch your language even when talking to fellow staff- you never know who hears you, and how disability has affected them.
We talked about ways to adapt existing programs to include children with special needs, and specially-designed programs just for this population. Libraries can offer integrated programs that are open to a mix of ‘”typically-developing” children and those with special needs, or programs that are just for those with special needs- there are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches, and what’s best to do depends on the needs and priorities of the families being served.
One great idea that Renee shared, that I hope to try at my own library, is for when you have a great big noisy program for a large crowd, like a magician or puppet show: ask the performer if they can offer a second, much smaller session that’s adapted to be sensory-friendly. This would mean keeping the lights on, turning the volume on the sound system down, reducing sudden loud noises, and allowing the audience to move around, talk, and fidget with toys. Publicise this extra session as “autism and sensory-friendly” and require registration or tickets to keep the crowd small.
There are many ways to make sure that your library services are accessible and welcoming to everyone, and Renee’s great ideas make an excellent starting point for doing just that.
Handouts from this program:
PowerPoint Slides (available online only)
Handout: People First Chart
Handout: Universal Design Checklist
Laurie Willhalm started off this session by telling the history of Books for Wider Horizons, an outreach program of the Oakland Public Library that sends well-trained storytime readers into childcare centers and preschools in the city’s poorest neighborhoods. They started with about 3 volunteers and have grown over the past 20 years into a corps to 60 volunteers making 71 weekly storytime visits to 1300 kids at 31sites!
Celia Jackson explained the logistics of how the program works:
They are continually recruiting, in order to replace volunteers who drop out or retire. The m ajority of their volunteers are reached by word of mouth, and they also list themselves on a website called Volunteer Match. Careful screening is key to ensuring that the volunteers area good match for this program and understand the training and time commitments. There is a wirten application with references (which they carefully check), and a phone interview with 4 key questions:
-how did you hear about our program?
-what interests you about this opportunity?
-do you understand the training requirements and volunteer commitments?
-Do your have any questions?
Once recruited, volunteers recieve a binder stuffed with all the info, resources, and paperwork they’ll need, and go through an intensive training institute of 7 session over 3 weeks. All the sessions are required; not only is every element of the training important, but this also weeds out those who may want to vounteer but can’t really committ- if they can’t make all the training sessions, they probably can’t make all of their weekly storytime visits over the long term.
Gay Ducey described the training program- it indeed sounds excellent and intensive! She starts every training session by saying: “Thank your for conisidering your time and your energy spent in the service of the children of Oakland, who deserve the very best that we have.” They teach that the role of a story reader is not to teach- there are plenty of adults in their lives to do that. Their role is to bring joy in reading- to create a special, protected, magical time with books and stories that will make the children associate reading with joy and fun, so that they never stop reading.
Training sessions consist of a brief lesson, a demonstration by a librarian or active story reader, then the volunteers practice what they’ve seen in triads. They get homework to go home and practice. They progress from familiar concepts like reaading alout & singing to more unfamiliar skills like fingerplays. and feltboards. There is a survey of classic and contemporary children’s literature, and lessons on child development. The hardest thing to learn is how to hold the book- the volunteers need lots of practice! Gay says: “Our training is long, and it’s hard sometimes, but it’s fun and entertaining and it moves along at a good clip. Otherwise we might all come down a case of terminal earnestness.”
Randi Voorhies is a longtime Books for Wider Horizons volunteer, who shared her experience in the program. She echoed what Gay had already said: if any of us decide to start a similar program, don’t water down the training! Its length and depth are essential in the volunteers’ success and long-term commitment. talked about her experience.
Laurie Willhalm, in her conclusion, responded to a comment from an earlier session from a librarian who despaired of being able to build a materials collection and volunteer corps on the scale of BWH- “You are sufficient as you are.” Start with what you have and build from there as you’re able.
Laurie Willhalm’s contact info for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org, 510-238-2848
By: Gesse Stark-Smith,
Blog: ALSC Blog
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At tonight’s Breakout Sessions I participated in Aiming for Inclusion in Public Library Early Literacy Programs. Tess Prendergast and Kelly Clark, of Vancouver Public Library, discussed strategies that they initially used in special programs for children with disabilities, but then found to be very useful and appealing to a group of children with a wide range of abilities. For example, children with special needs often benefit from getting to re-tell a story in several different ways. Guess what? So do typically developing children! They brought up some barriers that families with children who have disabilities may encounter with library programs, such as group size and program pacing, and discussed ways they’d tried to minimize these issues.
We got to meet Moe the Mouse and to sing the Pete the Cat song together. It was really nice to be in a smaller group where everyone was able to participate in the conversation and the lovely Fairyland back-drop didn’t hurt either. If you want to delve deeper into how to make your early literacy programs more inclusive take a look at Tess’s blog.
By: Karen Choy,
Blog: ALSC Blog
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Friday was a whirlwind of excitement, from start to finish–how can you top a day that begins with Breakfast for Bill and ends at Fairyland? It exceeded all expectations!
-Gene Luen Yang’s revelation that as a pre-teen, he smuggled home comics in oversized Egyptology library books. He also had an amazing, hilarious–and pretty convincing–theory about how Superman is really Asian.
-Rita Williams-Garcia read aloud parts of her childhood diary, which included a prophetic letter to William Morrow (which later became her publisher).
-Tim Federle’s astute observation that kids don’t classify books and authors as “GLBT” or “Asian.” To them, “books are books.”
-Pam Munoz Ryan said that she personally didn’t become an avid reader until she was in 5th grade. She pointed out that sometimes it just takes some kids a little longer than others and that books enter a person’s life at the right time.
-Author Ginger Wadsworth (First Girl Scout: The Life of Juliette Gordon Low) sat with my group at breakfast; she was lovely to meet. Each table at Breakfast for Bill featured a special guest local author.
-Saroj Ghoting and Pamela Martin-Diaz’s program about integrating math and science into our existing preschool storytime repertoire was inspiring. They made it sound extremely easy, as Erin discussed in her blog post “STEM and Nursery Rhymes.” It’s something I’ll definitely try when I get back to the library.
-Oakland, Oakland, Oakland! The amazing Friday Farmer’s Market, steps from the conference center; markets and restaurants in Chinatown; the sunset over sparkling Lake Merritt; and the wonder that is Fairyland!
-Mingling with #alsc14 attendees, who are so energetic, smart, and fascinating. There was even a group of librarians dressed up like pirates, in observation of “Talk Like a Pirate Day.”
-Fairyland guests Mac Barnett, Daniel Handler, and Jenni Holm, who pulled questions out of a bag and provided spot-on, hilarious answers that kept the audience thoroughly entertained. There were even hot tub jokes. This definitely wasn’t the type of Q&A you’d get during a school visit!
What a delightful day. This is my first time attending an ALSC Institute, and I am having the best time ever!
By: Gesse Stark-Smith,
Blog: ALSC Blog
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My new friend taking a moment to rest.
I have already learned so much at the ALSC Institute and my brain is buzzing with new ideas to take back to my library system. Thanks to our fabulous presenters I’m thinking about ways to advocate for the importance of the work we do, ways to collaborate with community partners, ways we could better welcome children with special needs into our branches….and so much more! I know this afternoon will bring even more great new ideas, but sometimes it’s important to take a step back and collect yourself for a moment. How do you keep yourself feeling energized at conferences? (Or during your work week?!) Whether it’s catching up with a colleague over lunch, taking a little walk to explore your surroundings or taking a nap with the stuffed llama in your ALSC gift-bag, I would recommend fitting a little self-care into your conference experience. It will help prepare your brain for all the new ideas coming at you!
By: Erin Warzala,
Blog: ALSC Blog
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In Beyond Sensory Storytime: Expanding Library Services to Children with Special Needs, Renee Grassi shared some great inclusive customer service strategies. These strategies include:
– Person First Language
Person First Language is words or phrases that that puts the person before the disability. For examples of First Person Language, visit www.disabilityisnatural.com.
– Adjust Your Mindset
Programs for people with disabilities will not look exactly like your usual program, and that’s okay.
– Be Patient and Allow Processing Time
Children with disabilities may have a hard time expressing what they need. By being patient and allowing processing time, we are giving them time to find a way to express themselves.
– Simple Questions and Offer Choices
Offer a choice board that features both text and pictures at the service desk so that nonverbal children (and adults!) can communicate.
– Make Accommodations
Is the program room too cluttered or too bright? Make accommodations to the best of your ability so that everyone can feel welcome.
– Offer Visual Supports
Use both text and picture supports for your program. Have the program plan written down with pictures. Remove the pictures as you complete the task. For example, for a storytime, have a picture of a book, then remove it when you finish the book.
– Assistive Technology
There’s a lot of great assistive technology that can be used in programs. For example, a Big Mac Button is a large, easy to press button that can be preloaded with a certain phrase. So if you’re reading Bark, George in storytime, you can preload the button with the phrase, “Bark, George” so that non-verbal children can participate.