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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. Great Websites for Kids needs you!

Today I’m writing on behalf of the Great Websites for Kids Committee.

In case you missed the December 5, 2014,  press release, the following seven sites were added to Great Websites for Kids.  

The committee works very hard to find and evaluate new sites, and ensure that previously chosen sites maintain their “great” status.  If you’re unfamiliar with the site or the committee, here is a short primer from the press release:

“Great Websites for Kids (GWS) features links to high-quality websites of interest to children 14 years of age and younger, organized into diverse subject headings from cultures of the world to games & entertainment to weather & environment, and many more. Each site entry includes a brief annotation and a grade-level rating. Users can also rate sites, save favorites for easy access, and share sites via social media and email.

Members of the ALSC GWS Committee review potential sites for inclusion and vote on the sites to be included. They also regularly check the entire database of great sites to ensure currency, and re-evaluate sites when necessary.”

As the new year begins, the Great Websites for Kids Committe would like to enlist your help. If you see a site that you believe should be evaluated for inclusion on GWS, please submit your suggestion by following this link:  http://gws.ala.org/suggest-site. Similarly, if you find broken links, etc., please alert us to that as well.  Finally, let us know how you’re using GWS.  Comments and suggestions are always welcome.

Best wishes for a great new year!


GWS Roster

Katherine Opal Scherrer (REFORMA Representative, February 1, 2013, to January 31, 2015)
Ms. Lara Anne Crews (Co-Chair, February 1, 2014, to January 31, 2015)
Ms. Kimberly Probert Grad (Co-Chair, February 1, 2014, to January 31, 2015)
Paige Bentley-Flannery (Member, February 1, 2013, to January 31, 2015)
Krishna Grady (Member, February 1, 2014, to January 31, 2016)
Joanne Kelleher (Member, February 1, 2014, to January 31, 2016)
Mr. Ted McCoy (Member, February 1, 2013, to January 31, 2015)
Ms. Alia Shields (Member, February 1, 2014, to January 31, 2016)
Lisa Taylor (Member, February 1, 2013, to January 31, 2015)
Gaye Hinchliff (Consultant, July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2015)
Laura Schulte-Cooper (Staff Liaison, July 1, 2008, to June 30, 2015)


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27. Ideas for Downtime

The week between Christmas and New Years is a really quiet time at my branch. I know that’s not the case at every library, but in our community, most of the parents are working this week and kids are staying with family or in daycares, or families are taking vacations. We don’t have much in the way of regular programming, but there are a few kids who wander in looking for something to do. Unfortunately, we’re also short-staffed this week, so I’m looking for fun ways to serve my kid patrons and also keep all three of our desks staffed. I’m going to be pulling out all the fun do-it-yourself activities this week:

  • Butcher Paper Art!

So the younger kids are going to love this, but as the tweens and teens see how much fun it is just to go absolutely nuts with the crayons, you’ll have a crowd around those tables. And at the end of the day, be sure to cut out your most creative art to decorate your department!

  • Wii Dance

So, when my part-time employee comes in in the afternoons, we’re pulling out the Wii. I mainly just want someone in the department to make sure that the remotes don’t get flung across the room in excitement, but this one also runs itself. And the kids LOVE it. Put it on contest mode and throw in something from your prize cabinet as a reward and watch out for blood.

  • Charging station/Tablet talk

A lot of my kids will have gotten kindles or iPads or various other technology for holiday gifts.  This one’s super easy: grab a couple of power strips and a table. Voila!  This is really neat because not only does it let your kids charge their devices, it opens the door to talk about fun things like new apps, games, and maybe even your library’s ebook collection!

  • Craft clean-out

I often do crafts with my preschool story time groups. Sometimes I have leftover materials just sitting in cabinets. They’re pretty low-level, but if you put the materials and the examples out, the masterpieces of variation that your older kids will come up with are awe-inspiring.

  • Free Lego Play

I’m not sure I’m brave or well-staffed enough for this one this week. But if you are? May the Force be with you.


For every idea I have, you’ll have 100 more. It’s a quiet week. Pull out some fun for your kids–get creative!

Are you interested in reading more tween-related posts?  The YALSA Blog and the ALSC Blog both offer information of interest to librarians who work with tweens.

Our cross-poster from YALSA today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a youth services librarian in Mississippi, and has worked with ages birth-18 for the last 5 years.

The post Ideas for Downtime appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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28. Top 10 Ways to Get Involved with ALSC in 2015

Get Involved with ALSC

There more than 10 ways to get involved with ALSC (image provided by ALSC)

If your 2015 resolution is to make a better future for children through libraries, it’s time to explore how you can become more involved in ALSC! Membership in ALSC makes your career and the profession richer! Fortunately for you, ALSC membership has many paths and opportunities! Here are 10 ways – there are many more – to participate in ALSC this year:

  1. Join a committee – this is a popular route, but it’s not always for everyone. Being on a committee means dedicating a lot of time and effort
  2. Apply for an ALSC award, scholarship or grant – did you know that ALSC gives away more than $100,000 in awards, scholarships and grants every year? It’s true and as a member, you’re eligible! Find one that’s right for you.
  3. Host a Día event – ALSC’s national recognized diversity initiative, El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Children’s Day/Book Day), commonly known as Día, is a celebration every day of children, families, and reading that culminates yearly on April 30.
  4. Become a mentor or mentee – being a mentor or mentee means being involved on a one-to-one level. The ALSC mentoring program will open applications for spring 2015 mentors and mentees in January.
  5. Take part in Take Action Tuesday – membership is more than just a membership card or line on a resume. It’s a belief in a cause. Take Action Tuesdays are part of the ALSC Everyday Advocacy initiative and a great way to showcase your advocacy on behalf of children’s library service.
  6. Participate in an ALSC Community Forum – held quarterly, these are discussions about important topics in youth library service. Interact with your colleagues and the ALSC Board of Directors in real-time!
  7. Investigate ALSC continuing education – whether you choose in-person (conferences) or online (webinars & online courses), ALSC has the right option for you. Members receive discounts!
  8. Write for ALSC – members are talented and passionate, and those traits come out in their writing! We’re always looking for bloggers and individuals to submit manuscripts for publication!
  9. Join in #alscchat – every second Thursday of the month, the Children & Technology Committee hosts a free Twitter discussion called #alscchat. Topics vary but always focus on issues central to the youth library.
  10. March on Washington – National Library Legislative Day (NLLD) happens every May and you can join in the party – both virtually and in-person.

The post Top 10 Ways to Get Involved with ALSC in 2015 appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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29. ‘Tis the Tablet Season

eBook signage designed by Harold McGraw Fellow Lisa Nowlain.

New eBook signage designed by Harold McGraw Fellow Lisa Nowlain.

You may have already noticed an influx of questions related to your library’s digital offerings within the past 48 hours. The holidays are an obvious time to increase exposure to the library’s eBook collection, the same way the pre-season calls for gift-giving guides and best books lists. Even while home for the holidays, I found myself pointing family to their local library’s Digital eLibrary. Similar to many patrons that we encounter, my family had no idea that the public library circulates eBooks.

As librarians approaching this upcoming week, there are definitely ways to be in tune to the needs of new tablet owners. At our most recent Family Tech Night, an evening reserved for eReader assistance, most of the attendees were senior patrons. Having a children’s staff open to collaboration with other departments benefits patrons of all ages in the community. The post-holiday week might be just the right time to seize the moment and call all library staff together to offer a few eBook open houses. Recently our User Experience department began hosting weekly tech drop-in sessions which can also be expanded to weekly/monthly eBook sessions.

If extra staff time is not a possibility at your location this week, remind your patrons where the information is found online. Create signage for digital titles within the physical collection, but don’t overwhelm patrons with pages and pages of information. Recently at our library there have been discussions about removing hard copies of downloading instructions, as they are difficult to maintain, with constant updates and a multitude of device options. Is your library’s digital collection info consolidated? If not, perhaps create a LibGuide similar to Alameda County’s guide. It also never hurts to plug children’s digital services in your library’s LibGuide like Tumblebooks, Bookflix, and even Hoopla which streams hundreds of movies and television shows for kids.

There are also small visual reminders that can be featured within the children’s room to remind patrons that there is indeed a collection within the library that is not visible. Making posters, bookmarks, and booklists can be a small yet effective means of raising eBook awareness. While revamping our Booklist webpage this past November, we chose to add an eBook category to the mix. The plan is to highlight new eTitles to readers and update selections on a monthly basis.

As new tablets make their way into the library doors this month, so might questions about the value of digital reading and screen time. Use the opportunity to provide parents and caregivers with current resources on the topic, and tips to encourage a valuable learning experience while using technology with their kids. During Screen-Free week in May, we provided handouts throughout the children’s room which sparked healthy dialogue with parents who were not so keen on the presence of technology in the library. From articles on 3D Printing in the library to tips on how to read an eBook, showing parents that their tech needs can be met at the library and that we as professionals are willing to dialogue about these issues is the real gift that keeps on giving.

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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30. 2014 Favorites

The majority of the 2014 “Best Books” lists are in (if you want a comprehensive coverage, look at Large Hearted Boy’s lists or Chicken Spaghetti’s children/YA lists). For my last post in 2014, I thought I would ask ALSC blog readers to mention their favorites, especially if you felt like they were overlooked among the lists from the major publications. Brown Girl Dreaming, The Family Romanov, etc were definitely among my favorite reads, but here are some that didn’t make many lists:

(Please forgive the lack of book covers–I had trouble uploading pictures today, for some reason!)


Annika Riz, Math Whiz by Claudia Mills

Claudia Mills’s Franklin School Friends series about a group of friends with passionate interests (Kelsey Green, Reading Queen was the inaugural entry) continues to charm. Annika is a math champion, but her friends don’t share her love of math. Annika’s school year is packed with preparations for the library’s sudoku contest and the school’s carnival. Will Annika’s math skills save the day when her class booth begins to lose money? Lessons are learned in an endearing and funny way without being preachy.


Bookmarks Are People, Too! by Henry Winkler

As a fan of Henry Winkler’s Hank Zipzer series, I was excited when a spinoff series featuring Hank at a younger age was introduced. Hank very much wants to be a part of the school play, but stage fright trips him up at the audition. An understanding teacher creates a part just for him, and the class bully learns an important lesson about teamwork and respecting other people’s feelings.


A Boy and a Jaguar by Alan Rabinowitz

Alan Rabinowitz’s extreme stuttering was only nonapparent when he communicated with animals. The renowned jaguar conservationist and scientist’s picture book biography is a remarkable read about a man who speaks up for those who cannot speak for themselves.


The Lion Who Stole My Arm by Nicola Davies

This book has now become one of my recommendations for reluctant readers. Although it’s fewer than 90 pages long, it’s a powerful story about a young boy who must make difficult life changes and decisions after a lion attack leaves him armless. This unique novel doesn’t paint the threatened status of lions in black-and-white terms; rather, it shows how African citizens and conservationists learn to work together in order to protect both farmland and lions.


Did you have any favorites that you feel were overlooked in 2014? Let us know in the comments!




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31. Speaking out about Holiday Programming at the Library

A few weeks ago, I wrote a rant about holiday programming in the library for Storytime Underground. We’ve been posting rants about things that we are super passionate about since October 2013 when Cory wrote about privilege and imposter syndrome. It became obvious that there are big issues our audience is riled up about, just like we are, but that not everyone is willing or able speaking up. So, we felt we should share our opinions in the hopes that perhaps others would feel comfortable to do the same, or that their point of view might be reflected in our writings. Additionally, we hoped to get people thinking more deeply (and dare I say, intentionally!) about what they are doing and why. To not blindly follow those who speak the most or loudest, or the majority, because that is sometimes easier than blazing your own trail.

So, after a discussion began on the Storytime Underground Facebook page about holiday programs in the library which left me feeling quite impassioned, I decided to publicly speak up in the form of a rant on Storytime Underground. Because, if a thing is not asked to change, it never will. To say this rant rattled some cages might be an understatement.

gifSchool Library Journal saw the post and asked if I’d be interested in writing a similar opinion piece for them. Of course! This issue is important and I want it to spark discussion among as many people as possible, and it has. Not everyone has been very satisfied with my statements, which bothered many others much more than it did me. One of the first things my mother said to me after reading the comments was, “I don’t know how you do this” and, second, I recognize that many people are afraid of the unfamiliar, which can manifest in defensive anger. There’s nothing I can do about that but let it go. I was quite blunt in my assertions and that can rub people the wrong way, but if there is one thing I have learned from working in libraries (and from being a blonde woman, actually), it’s that you must be assertive if you are to be heard and taken seriously. Even then, sometimes people make untrue assumptions about you.



Photo courtesy of guest blogger

Our guest blogger today is Kendra Jones. Kendra is a toddler and parachute wrangling Children’s Librarian in the Pacific Northwest and Joint Chief of Storytime Underground (storytimeunderground.org). She can be found on twitter @klmpeace, lurking on the Storytime Underground Facebook page, and sporadically on her own blog: Read, Sing, Play (klmpeace.wordpress.com).

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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32. Talkin’ ’bout Collaboration

splcCollaboration. You know it’s good; you’re probably doing it. But are you taking the time to talk about it? In the holiday spirit of sharing, the AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee on School-Public Library Cooperation encourages you to share the results and impact of your collaborations with your administration, stakeholders, and community, and with your professional peers as well.

Most of us may feel too busy to take the time – and we may think our experiences are no big deal, that they won’t be interesting or instructive to others. And certainly, we tend to keep our experiences to ourselves when they don’t meet our own high expectations.

But you may be surprised at who else would benefit, and how they will respond!

My colleague, author and educational consultant Cherie Pandora, and I surveyed Ohio public and school librarians in spring 2014 to learn about their collaborations, and how and with whom they share their results.

Our respondents offered up a fabulous array of collaborative projects and practices, including book clubs, Skype author visits, storytimes for kindergarten students, help with research assignments, sharing book collections and online research resources, and working together on summer reading lists. Some public libraries lend books via interlibrary loan, while others provide Book Looks for teachers, or share the 3D printer from their tech center or Makerspace, or host out-of-school social events for students.

We asked our survey respondents what groups and individuals they told about their collaborations:

• 92% of those who collaborated told their colleagues at their workplace.
• 64% told their direct supervisor.
• 45% told their school superintendent or library director.
• 45% shared with the local community (parents and students; library patrons)

Far fewer communicated with the school or library board, or with the professional library community. And very few reached out to local media, organizations or businesses, current or prospective funders, or elected officials.

Most librarians didn’t share the results of their collaborations beyond the network of their immediate coworkers and supervisors. Several respondents commented they wouldn’t get much more out of it than a “pat on the back.” But others who did share more widely gained significant benefits, from increased program attendance to enhanced community awareness of the library’s services. Annie Ruefle at St. Joseph Montessori School noted that “Parents always seem to like [it] when they discover their children are engaging with a wider community, and school administrators love [it] when their school extends beyond the school walls.” According to Becky Sloan at E.H. Greene Intermediate School, sharing the results of collaboration “convinces people that we are making the most of all our resources and informs them as to what is available outside of our school.”

Collaboration can even result in significant, high-level notice or additional funding when librarians make powerful stakeholders aware of their collaborations. Connie Pottle at Delaware County District Library reported that “the Library Board was surprised and pleased to hear about the ways we work with the schools. The Superintendent for the city schools is more aware of what the library offers and thinks of us for grant possibilities.” Kristi J. Hale at Washington-Centerburg Public Library wrote: “I was invited to work on an OELMA (state school library association) conference workshop; we have used this close relationship in support of a grant proposal; we have been able to show Ohio legislators that we are working closely together.”

The benefits are two-way – both sharing your own experiences, and learning from others. According to Elaine Betting at the Lorain Public Library System, “Reading about how other libraries make [school visits] work with staffing issues and difficult school schedules gives us ideas for new approaches or variations in offered programs.”

If you’re collaborating, please tell your local community and fellow librarians about it. Some ideas:

• Write a guest post for the ALSC blog or another library blog, or an article for a local newspaper or a professional journal.
• Propose a presentation to a local or national conference.
• Consider taking video at your collaborative events and posting to YouTube or TeacherTube.
• Easier yet, leverage Tumblr, Twitter or Facebook to spread the word about your projects. Post a status about the joint school/public library book discussion group. Snap a photo of the librarian-to-librarian booktalk session. Talk about the enthusiastic students who gathered for the pet care seminar at the public library.

Strategic communication about collaborations benefits advocacy efforts, creates positive PR opportunities, and contributes to the library and education professions. In addition, it allows you to shine; you deserve to brag about your efforts and to reap the rewards of “talking ’bout collaboration.”


Photo credit: Portrait Shoppe

Photo credit: Portrait Shoppe

Today’s guest blogger is Janet Ingraham Dwyer, posting on behalf of the AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee on School-Public Library Cooperation (SPLC), of which she is a member. Janet is youth services consultant at the State Library of Ohio. This post is based on “Talking ’bout Collaboration,” an article written by Janet Ingraham Dwyer and Cherie Pandora for Ohio Media Spectrum: Journal of the Ohio Educational Library Media Association, Vol. 66, no. 1, Fall

The post Talkin’ ’bout Collaboration appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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33. Passive Programming in Practice

The Lava Pit from the Superhero Training Academy at Denver Public Library. Photo courtesy of Kahla Gubanich.

The Lava Pit from the Superhero Training Academy at Denver Public Library. Photo courtesy of Kahla Gubanich.

Earlier this year my colleagues and I decided to boldly step into the world of passive programming in order to serve our busy patrons. Passive programming encompasses a variety of types of programs that allow patrons to participate with minimal to no staff direction. Often they allow for varying amounts of patron involvement and/or time commitment. On the spectrum of passive programming you can have something as simple as a jigsaw left out on a table for communal puzzling or as complex as a forensic science program with clues, activity stations, and prizes for participants who figure out the culprit. We’ve found that passive programming not only increases participation, but also caregiver-child interaction and exploration.

Thinking of trying passive programming? Here are some of the pros:

Clue Sheet from Animal-ology at Denver Public Library. Photo courtesy of Amy Seto Musser.

Clue Sheet from Animal-ology at Denver Public Library. Photo courtesy of Amy Seto Musser.

  • Less staffing at the time of the program.
  • Flexible length (a day/week/month) allows you to serve a large number of patrons
  • Easy to save, reuse, modify
  • Can draw in people who don’t necessarily like to be in a group setting
  • Customizable to the individual – self paced, self guided

On the other hand, there are some cons to keep in mind:

  • Often requires more prep time
  • Younger kids who cannot read may need an adult to help them
  • Difficult for groups with lots of kids and few adults (One way to work around this is to put multiple activities in the same space)
  • Some people are hesitant to do the program because it’s not what they’re used to, but this can be overcome by a friendly and welcoming explanation.

As you plan your program, here are a few elements to consider:

Quidditch Practice at Harry Potter Day at the Denver Public Library. Photo courtesy of Kahla Gubanich.

Quidditch Practice at Harry Potter Day at the Denver Public Library. Photo courtesy of Kahla Gubanich.

  • Keep your coworkers in the loop so they can help patrons
  • Make the space welcoming (signage, music)
  • Think about your target age range
  • Provide modifications for age levels if possible/appropriate
  • It’s ok to step away and let patrons figure things out
  • Signage and instructions -Enough that patrons can complete and reset activities, but not so much that they feel overwhelmed by text Check in during the program to clean up, check supplies, etc.
  • Having a “prize” for completion gives you a chance to interact with participants and glean feedback

If you can think it, you can probably figure out a way to make it a passive program. Here are a few of our favorites:

Monster Habitat Card from the Monster Hunt at Denver Public Library. Photo courtesy of Kahla Gubanich.

Monster Habitat Card from the Monster Hunt at Denver Public Library. Photo courtesy of Kahla Gubanich.

  • Staff Recommendation Bookmarks
  • Question of the Week: Posted in the foyer each week, kids get a prize for guessing the answer at the info desk
  • Who Stole the Cookies?: Forensic Science
  • In Your Own Words Display: Our big glass display case is divided into sections, each one showing a scene from a well-known children’s story, such as The Three Little Pigs or The Tortoise and the Hare. Signage encourages caregivers and children to retell the story with one another
  • Superhero Training Day (Recycled as The Batman Academy)
  • Animal Obstacle Course
  • Monster Hunt
  • Harry Potter (Recycled in December and called Holidays at Hogwarts)
  • A Day in Wonderland
  • Animal-ology: Animal Science
  • Art Heist
  • Mission: Spy Secrets
  • Out of This World: Outer Space Science

For more information, check out the Prezi from a recent passive programming training my colleague Kahla Gubanich and I presented.

I hope this post has given you some new ideas and encouraged you to explore passive programming. What kind of passive programming do you do at your library? Anything you’ve been hoping to try?


Amy Seto Musser Our guest blogger today is Amy Seto Musser. Amy has her MLS from Texas Woman’s University and is a children’s librarian at the Denver Public Library. She is always on the look out for creative ways to incorporate the arts into children’s services and programming to extend books beyond the page. Check out Amy’s blogs: http://picturebookaday.blogspot.com/http://chapterbookexplorer.blogspot.com/
Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

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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34. Happy Holidays, Happy Professional Development

ALSC Online Education

ALSC Online Education (image courtesy of ALSC)

Happy holidays from ALSC!

Know what makes for happy holidays? The encouragement and enthusiasm of learning alongside your peers in an ALSC online course.

Registration is now open for the winter 2015 ALSC online course season. Topics include children with disabilities, STEM programming, using puppets, and storytime. Classes start Monday, January 5, 2015.

Three of the courses being offered this semester are eligible for continuing education units (CEUs). The American Library Association (ALA) has been certified to provide CEUs by the IACET. ALSC online courses are designed to fit the needs of working professionals. Courses are taught by experienced librarians and academics. As participants frequently noted in post-course surveys, ALSC stresses quality and caring in its online education options. For more information on ALSC online learning, please visit: http://www.ala.org/alsced

Children with Disabilities in the Library
6 weeks, January 5 — February 13, 2015
CEU Certified Course, 3 CEUs

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Programs Made Easy
4 weeks, January 5 — January 30, 2015
CEU Certified Course, 1.2 CEUs

Storytelling with Puppets
4 weeks, January 5 — January 30, 2015

Storytime Tools
4 weeks, January 5 — January 30, 2015
CEU Certified Course, 2 CEUs

Detailed descriptions and registration information is available on the ALSC Online Learning site. Fees are $115 for personal ALSC members; $165 for personal ALA members; and $185 for non-members. Questions? Please contact ALSC Program Officer for Continuing Education, Kristen Sutherland or 1 (800) 545-2433 ext 4026.

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35. Best Multicultural Books of 2014

Each year, a select diverse committee of experts from the Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature (CSMCL) identifies the best in multicultural books. The mission of the CSMCL is to provide children, teachers, parents, educators, students, and librarians access to multicultural children’s books with high literary and artistic standards. CSMCL presents the Best Multicultural Children’s Books of 2014. Enjoy! This year’s list was complied by Dr. Claudette Shackelford McLinn, Dr. Naomi Caldwell, Dr. Sujin Huggins, Ana- Elba Pavon, Lessa K. Pelayo-Lozada, and Elsa Marston.

Best Books 2014

Best Books 2014 (photo courtesy of CSMCL)

BECAUSE THEY MARCHED: THE PEOPLE’S CAMPAIGN FOR VOTING RIGHTS THAT CHANGED AMERICA, by Russell Freedman, 83 pages, published by Holiday House, ©2014 (Middle school/High school, nonfiction)

BLOSSOMING UNIVERSE OF VIOLET DIAMOND: THE, by Brenda Woods, 222 pages, published by Nancy Paulson Books, an imprint of Penguin Group, ©2014 (Upper elementary school/Middle school, fiction)

BROWN GIRL DREAMING, by Jacqueline Woodson, 336 pages, published by Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Group, ©2014 (Upper elementary school/Middle school/High school, nonfiction/autobiography)

CROSSOVER, THE, by Kwame Alexander, 237 pages, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, ©2014 (Middle school/High school, fiction/novel in verse)

DREAMING IN INDIAN: CONTEMPORARY NATIVE AMERICAN VOICES, edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale, 128 pages, published by Annick Press, ©2014 (Middle school/High school, nonfiction/autobiography)

FREEDOM SUMMER MURDERS, THE, by Don Mitchell, 250 pages, published by Scholastic Press, ©2014 (Middle school/High school, nonfiction)

FRIDA & DIEGO: ART, LOVE, LIFE, by Catherine Reef, 168 pages, published by Clarion Books/ Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, ©2014 (Middle school/High school, nonfiction/collective biography)

GABI: A GIRL IN PIECES, by Isabel Quintero, 284 pages, published by Cinco Puntos Press, ©2014 (High school, fiction)

GREAT GREENE HEIST, THE, by Varian Johnson, 226 pages, published by Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic, Inc., ©2014 (Upper elementary school/Middle school, fiction)

GREEN IS A CHILE PEPPER: A BOOK OF COLORS, by Roseanne Greenfield Thong, illustrated by John Parra, 32 pages, published by Chronicle Books, ©2014 (Preschool/Elementary school, fiction, picture book)

HIDDEN LIKE ANNE FRANK: 14 TRUE STORIES OF SURVIVAL, by Marcel Prins & Peter Henk Steenhuis, translated by Laura Watkins, 211 pages, published by Arthur A. Levine Books, ©2014 (Middle school/High school, nonfiction)

HOUSE OF PURPLE CEDAR, by Tim Tingle, 326 pages, published by Cinco Punto Press, ©2014 (High school, fiction)

JOSEPHINE: THE DAZZLING LIFE OF JOSEPHINE BAKER, by Patricia Hruby Powell, illustrated by Christian Robinson, unpaged, published by Chronicle Books, ©2014 (Elementary school/Middle school/High school, nonfiction/biography)

KING FOR A DAY, by Rukhsana Khan, illustrated by Christiane Kromer, 32 pages, published by Lee &Low Books, Inc., ©2014 (Preschool/Elementary school, fiction, picture book)

LITTLE MELBA AND HER BIG TROMBONE, by Katherine Russell-Brown, illustrated by Frank Morrison, 34 pages, published by Lee &Low Books, Inc., ©2014 (Elementary school, nonfiction/biography, picture book)

LITTLE ROJA RIDING HOOD, by Susan Middleton Elya, illustrated by Susan Guevara, 32 pages, published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons, ©2014 (Preschool/Elementary school, fiction, picture book)

MADMAN OF PINEY WOODS, THE, by Christopher Paul Curtis, 363 pages, published by Scholastic Press, ©2014 (Upper elementary school/Middle school, fiction)

MALALA: A BRAVE GIRL FROM PAKISTAN & IQBAL: A BRAVE BOY FROM PAKISTAN, (Two stories in one book) by Jeanette Winter, 20 pages each, published by Beach Lane Books, ©2014 (Elementary school, nonfiction/biography)

NOT MY GIRL, by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, art by Gabrielle Grimard, 34 pages, published by Annick Press, ©2014 (Elementary school, nonfiction/autobiography)

PORT CHICAGO 50, THE,: DISASTER, MUTINY, AND THE FIGHT FOR CIVIL RIGHTS, by Steve Sheinkin, 200 pages, published by Roaring Book Press, ©2014 (Middle school/High school, nonfiction)

RED PENCIL, THE, by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Shane W. Evans, 308 pages, published by Little, Brown and Company, ©2014 (Upper elementary school/Middle school, nonfiction)

REVOLUTION, by Deborah Wiles, 495 pages, published by Scholastic Press, ©2014 (Upper elementary school/Middle school, fiction/biography)

SEARCHING FOR SARA RECTOR, by Tonya Bolden, 76 pages, published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, ©2014 (Upper elementary school/Middle school, nonfiction/biography)

SECRETS OF THE TERRA-COTTA SOLDIER, by Ying Chang Compestine and Vinson Compestine, 224 pages, published by Amulet Books, ©2014 (Upper elementary school/Middle school, fiction)

SEPARATE IS NEVER EQUAL: SYLVIA MENDEZ & HER FAMILY’S FLIGHT FOR DESEGREGATION, written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh, 40 pages, published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, ©2014 (Elementary school, nonfiction, picture book)

SHADOW HERO, THE, by Gene Luen Yang, art by Sonny Liew, 158 pages, published by First Second, ©2014 (Middle school/High school, graphic novel, fiction)

SILVER PEOPLE: VOICES FROM THE PANANA CANAL, by Margarita Engle, 260 pages, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, ©2014 (Middle school/High school, fiction/novel in verse)

STRIKE: THE FARM WORKERS’ FIGHT FOR THEIR RIGHTS, by Larry Dane Brimner, 172 pages, published by Calkins Creek, an imprint of Highlights, ©2014 (Middle school/High school, nonfiction)

TIME TO DANCE, A, by Padma Venkatraman, 307 pages, published by Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Group, ©2014 (Middle school/High school, fiction/novel in verse)

TWENTY-TWO CENTS: MUHAMMAD YUNUS AND THE VILLAGE BANK, by Paula Yoo, illustrated by Jamel Akib, 40 pages, published by Lee & Low Books Inc., ©2014 (Elementary school, nonfiction/biography)

VIVA FRIDA, by Yuyi Morales, photographs by Tim O’Meara, 34 pages, published by Roaring Book Press, ©2014 (Elementary school, nonfiction/biography)


Today’s guest blogger is Dr. Claudette S. McLinn. Dr. McLinn is the Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature. She has been a school librarian, teacher, adjunct professor, and bookseller.

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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Do  you get tired of disciplining the same patrons for the same offenses?   Have you ever considered implementing a character development framework to encourage patrons and staff to take responsibility for an overall change in the environment?   Five years ago, that’s just what the Kendallville Public Library did.  In conjunction with our local school system, we became a CHARACTER COUNTS library, committed to promoting ethical living and making a cultural change.   Simply put, we adopted a framework  that encourages kids to make better choices that will make everyone’s lives better.

CHARACTER COUNTS is not a new initiative, but rather has been embraced by schools, libraries, churches, communities around the world and is a requirement for all olympic athletes.   It is not a program, a curriculum, or an add on to anything you are currently doing, but is about developing a common language of core ethical values.   These values surpass religious, political and socioeconomic differences.

Launched by the Josephson Institute of Ethics, in 1993, CHARACTER COUNTS introduced the Six Pillars of Character – trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness,
caring, and citizenship.   UnknownOnce these pillars are introduced to your staff and patrons, agreements can be signed, language can be added to policies, applications, and infused into your daily programming and each and every function.

The key to success, is to make it visual and make it verbal.   Post the words and use them.  Rely on them when communicating with others in positive and constructive conversations and situations.   Over time, you will see a difference, and staff will feel better equipped to vocalize deficiencies in behavior, using the framework as a guide.

Are we now a perfect library, with zero disciplinary problems?   No, far from it!  However, we have set a common set of rules, that match up with what patrons are hearing at school, the YMCA, church, and other places in the community (and we hope at home) that allows us to be more consistent in handling each and every situation that arises.

Want to learn more?  Visit www.charactercounts.org.

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How likely are you to investigate CHARACTER COUNTS or another character development program as a library?


Pictures courtesy of: East Noble School Corporation and the Josephson Institute.


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37. A Prescription for Reading

Sharing books with very young children is important. The simple act of reading aloud to them, consistently, builds their language and socio-emotional skills. Children who enter kindergarten with these skills in place are most likely to thrive.

Libraries have, for years, acted on this knowledge in order to help children get ready for kindergarten.

Last summer, The American Academy of Pediatrics, partnering with Reach Out and Read, began encouraging parents to read, talk, and sing during early childhood checkups:

“With the increased recognition that an important part of brain development occurs within the first three years of a child’s life, and that reading to children enhances vocabulary and other important communication skills, the group, which represents 62,000 pediatricians across the country, is asking its members to become powerful advocates for reading aloud, every time a baby visits the doctor.”

This endorsement of reading is an excellent opportunity for advocacy. Invite caregivers to baby and toddler storytimes. Tell them that library staff carefully plan 15-20 minute sessions with a blend of books that are just right for the age group with songs, activities, and opportunities to move. Not only do the kids soak up the experience – adults also participate in the rhymes and bounces, bonding and learning fun things to try at home. What a perfect chance for babies – and caregivers – to make new friends. And leave with a wonderful impression of the library and how it directly benefits their lives.


Robyn Lupa, Coordinator, Kids & Families at the Jefferson County Public Library (Colorado) wrote this post for the Advocacy and Legislation Committee.

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38. The Stories of L., M., N., O., P., and the Freedom to Read

What’s a librarian to do when a patron adores certain genres, but his or her parent wants to restrict the child from reading them? There have been several such families in our community—all zealous library users and participants in our book discussion groups. As we’ve worked with them over the years, we’ve tried to maintain the trust of the parents while respecting the rights of their children. It’s often a delicate balancing act!

When L. was younger, his mom could bend him to her will fairly easily, but by the time he was ten he was more resistant to her wishes and more adamant about what he chose to read for pleasure. This was certainly appropriate to his growing maturity, but since his mother asked us to guide his selections we struggled to keep L. engaged as we kept the peace between them. Their conflict hinged on his attraction to graphic novels. L.’s mom didn’t regard graphic novels as “real” or “challenging” reading and the two were at a stalemate. I was able to change her mind by showing her Don Brown’s THE GREAT AMERICAN DUST BOWL. “I learned so much from this book, myself!” I exclaimed, turning to pages illustrating the devastating extent of a dust storm in May of 1934. The high quality of Brown’s artwork and his source notes and bibliography convinced her that this was a serious work of nonfiction. Then I introduced them to Matt Phelan’s AROUND THE WORLD, a fascinating triple-biography about people who circumnavigated the globe. Though that was a bit more whimsical than Brown’s book, it still seemed worth reading to L.’s mother (and, more importantly, to L.) and after that, he encountered much less resistance when he selected other books from our graphic novel collection.

M. loves fantasies and action-filled novels. She’s a fan of Riordan, Rowling and Paolini. Her father prefers her to read “The Classics” and “educational books”. One of our librarians has pointed out that many of the ideals M.’s dad wants espoused in his daughter’s reading are also advocated in the very books she enjoys: courage and cooperation as well as self-knowledge and directedness. He was briefly mollified by such assurances, but then the conflicts reemerged. One happy afternoon I was able to find two works of non-fiction that satisfied them both (Deborah Kops’ THE GREAT MOLASSES FLOOD and Sally Walkers’ BLIZZARD OF GLASS) by showing M. the sensational photographs of the disasters while loudly extolling the primary source material the authors had consulted so that her father, who was lurking behind a pillar, could hear.

The differences between our philosophies of book selection were readily apparent when N. registered for our 4th-6th grade book discussions. Unlike two of our other book discussions, this group is for kids only. N.’s mother had to be dissuaded from forcing her way into the room to lecture the group about their reading choices! Though that tested our diplomacy skills, we were able to keep the peace by pointing out that the choices of books for that group’s discussion is at the discretion of the librarian. Though that resulted in several further discussions between N.’s mom and the librarian, at least the rest of the kids were spared the harangue.

It’s different for the group for 5th-7th graders and their parents, who vote on the next month’s book from three titles the librarian introduces. Even before the first meeting, O.’s mother was trying to influence the process. She wrote, “We hope this…discussion group will read from the finest authors and titles carefully chosen by ALA and other trusted organizations.” Later she suggested, “For next month’s select titles, realistic fiction or non-fiction that reinforces values, particularly respect for others and self-introspection (sic) would be ideal.” The librarian who leads this group has pointed out that the democratic process at work with this group is, in itself, a valuable learning experience. She stressed that each group member’s voice and vote was equally important.

Lately, P. has been able to negotiate a compromise with her parents without our intervention. Her mother once told us that P. had “exceeded her quota of fantasy fiction titles over the past three years.” (!) She’s now allowed to take one book she chooses if she also borrows the ones her parents approve. It’s been interesting to witness P.’s increasing skill at justifying her opinions and sticking to her guns. Maybe it’s reading about spunky kids that has given her courage…

We hope that, by encouraging their participation in our book discussions, we are helping children to be able to defend their own tastes in reading. We are pleased to see them gaining confidence in expression and developing effective bargaining skills. And the end is always in sight: in a few more years, they will be grown.

Miriam Lang Budin, ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee

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39. ALSC Member of the Month — Pat Bashir

Each month, an ALSC member is profiled and we learn a little about their professional life and a bit about their not-so-serious side. Using just a few questions, we try to keep the profiles fun while highlighting the variety of members in our organization. So, without further ado, welcome to our ALSC profile, ten questions (plus one) with ALSC member, Pat Bashir.

1.  What do you do, and how long have you been doing it?

Pat Bashir

Photo courtesy of Cassandra Welch

I’m a Children’s Librarian and I have been working with libraries since 2003.  Currently I work at the Southeast Branch of the Nashville Public Library in Antioch, TN.  My official title is Librarian 2 which essentially means I’m the Children’s Services Supervisor.  I joined the Nashville Public Library two years ago as the children’s librarian for the Main Library.  I transferred to the Southeast Branch in January where I had the opportunity to help them move to a brand new building.  I’m responsible for the training and development of two Library Associates and a page.  I’m also the volunteer leader in my branch.  In this role, I communicate with the volunteer coordinator and let him know when and where we need volunteers, as well as being the point person for the volunteers. I also ensure that we offer programs for all ages, offer outreach visits and that our patrons get excellent customer service.

2.  Why did you join ALSC? Do you belong to any other ALA divisions or roundtables?

I joined ALSC because I believe it helps with my professional development and helps me stay abreast to the latest trends in the library world.  I haven’t joined any other division yet but eventually I would like to join REFORMA.

3.  Do you have any Winter Holiday traditions?

I celebrate Christmas with family and friends every year.  I’m originally from Colombia and I have tried to maintain some of the Colombian traditions in my family.  During the holiday season we do something called Novena in which we pray and sing Christmas Carols in front of the Nativity Scene.  Most Colombians make a pretty elaborate Nativity but I have a very simple one.  We do this starting On December 16th until Christmas Eve when we celebrate with a special dinner and open the presents at midnight.

4.  E-books or Print?

I love them both.  I specially enjoy reading picture books in print. I read  juvenile fiction and young Adult e-books and I also like to listen to a good book on my way to work.  I download my audiobooks from Overdrive or I borrow them from the library.

5.  How do you keep up with library news?

I subscribe to the ALA newsletter and follow different blogs though a website called Feedspot.  I get a daily update on different blogs and electronic journals through this website.  I also subscribe to Listservs such as PUBYAC and the Tennessee State Library.   I enjoy reading Library Sparks to get ideas for programs and different themes for story times.

6.  What’s the best thing about your Library?

The best thing about the Southeast branch library is the great amount of resources and new technology that we have available to our patrons.  We have a 24/7 free movie rental kiosk and a 24/7 vending machine that offers books and movies for all the audiences.  Also a laptop and iPad check out station.

7.  How much time do you spend reading each week?

I listen to a book for 3 hours a week.  I also read print or e-books for about another 2 hours per week.  Every chance I can find, I read picture books and professional journals as well.

8.  Favorite part of being a Children’s Librarian?

My favorite part of being a Children’s Librarian is doing story time and the hugs that I get from the kids after it.

9.  What is your favorite type of food?

My favorite type of food is Colombian cuisine of course.  I love to eat soups such as “Sancocho”, a very typical chicken soup we make in Colombia with plantains, potatoes, yucca and corn.

 10.  Favorite age of kids to work with?

I love to work with all ages but my favorite age is toddlers 1-3 year olds.  They are so cute and they always have a smile for me.  I totally love doing toddler story time.


Thanks, Pat! What a fun continuation to our monthly profile feature!

Do you know someone who would be a good candidate for our ALSC Monthly Profile? Are YOU brave enough to answer our ten questions? Send your name and email address to alscblog@gmail.com; we’ll see what we can do.


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40. Providing Activities During Storytime Breaks

My library has seven storytimes a week and we typically see around 30 kids at each storytime. We’re also the headquarters branch with the most traffic and additional programs, so I think it’s vital for my staff to take breaks during the year to regroup and refresh and plan for our next round of storytimes. We take off the months of May (to help us promote, prepare for, and kick off the Summer Reading Program) and the month of December (typically we have lower traffic in the branch and we noticed that between iffy weather and so much being packed into patron’s schedules, our attendance is much lower).

I’ve learned to present these storytime breaks to our storytime families by telling them that we are taking a break  to get ready for our next round of storytimes and we want to plan and prepare the best programs for them. I also let them know that while we won’t be hosting weekly activities, we still will have things happening in the library and that they are always welcome to visit the library! I found that in presenting it this way is a great approach and our patrons feel like we care about them and want to provide the best we can. I even have several patrons comment on how we work so hard that we deserve a break, which is nice!

We want to make sure we do still have various activities going on, so we use the months we’re off from storytime to focus on a lot of passive programming as well as a few special programs throughout the month. Here’s what we have going on during our storytime break this month:

-Cookie Club-We kick off our Cookie Club Winter Reader’s Club in December. I got this idea from Marge Louch-Waters from Tiny Tips for Library Fun and adapted it for my library. In our club, the kids get a card to get stamped each time they visit the library. They are also invited to decorate a cookie (a brown circle) and place it in our workroom window. If the kids get six stamps by the end of February, they get a special invite to our invite only Cookie Club party in March. At the party we read books about cookies, play cookie games, make cookie crafts and of course eat cookies! The parents and the kids get excited about this. This is our third year doing the Cookie Club and I had a family say “Oh yes! The Cookie Club is back!”

-Missouri Building Block Picture Book Award Voting-The Missouri Library Association sponsors The Missouri Building Block Picture Book Award that is voted on the kids of Missouri birth-Kindergarten. I spend all of my Fall storytimes reading the nominees and the kids can vote during the month of December. We have a voting box and a poster of all the nominees as well as ballots out on display. When the kids vote for their favorite, they get an “I voted” sticker to celebrate. Each week during December we’ve been rotating passive activities based on the nominees from mustache making for Mustache Baby to an elephant finger puppet for Little Nelly’s Big Book. The kids have loved it!

-Special Movie Marathon Days-Once the kids are out of school, our phones start ringing non-stop with the question “what does the library have going on today?” To help offer something for families that doesn’t take up a lot of staff time and planning, we host several movie marathons in our auditorium. We show double features of popular movies like Cars and Cars 2 or a princess theme with Tangled and Sofia the First. We also will occasionally set up simple crafts or trivia to go along with the movies. Our patrons love the chance to take a break and watch a favorite movie on a large screen.

-Crafterspace & Builderspace-This year we’re hosting an afternoon of crafting and an afternoon of building. These programs were also designed to be lighter in planning and staff time and are very easy to set up. For the craft afternoon, we clean out of craft supply closet and let the kids create whatever they can come up with. For the building program, we put out Legos, giant foam blocks, wooden blocks-any block we can find and let the kids build. These are programs that are easy to gather supplies for, easy to set up, and great for families to spend an afternoon together.

We found that providing a lot of passive family activities during our storytime breaks offered the perfect balance between still offering programs and giving staff a break.

Do you take storytime breaks? And if so, any tips for providing activities for your patrons while on break?

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41. Suggestions for the Batchelder Award?

ALSC Personal Members are invited to suggest titles for the 2015 Batchelder Award given to an American publisher for a children’s book considered to be the most outstanding of those books originally published in a foreign language in a foreign country and subsequently published in English in the United States during 2014. Please remember that only books from this publishing year are under consideration for the 2015 award. Publishers, authors and illustrators may not suggest their own books. The deadline for submission is December 31, 2014.

You may send recommendations with full bibliographic information to the Chair, Diane Janoff at diane.janoff@queenslibrary.org.

The  award will be announced at the press conference during the ALA Midwinter Meeting in February 2015.

For more information about the award, visit the ALSC website at http://www.ala.org/alsc/. Click on “Awards and Grants” in the left-hand navigation bar; then click on “ALSC Book & Media Awards.” Scroll down to the “Batchelder Award Page”.

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42. Puppet Shows at Storytime

“Where’s Rockie? Is Rockie going to be here today? He’s so funny!” Preschoolers call out their excitement as soon as they see the puppet stage set up and ready for action. Rockie is the main character for our series of puppet shows about a raccoon and how he learns about his world. Each show is an original script, written by two librarians. It is usually based around a topic that is of some concern to young children—new baby, sharing, fears, exercising, learning to read, manners, moving, etc. Although the themes are somewhat serious, the antics of the puppets are always silly and broad, causing plenty of laughter as well as discussion.

The basic format is as follows:

  • RockieDig_smallAct One brings on Rockie and his friend(s).  One librarian is working the puppets, the other is outside the stage, interacting with the puppets and encouraging the children to participate in the conversation.  The “problem” is identified, there is some conversation, and the puppets exit.
  • The librarian reads a story related to the theme, followed by a movement rhyme.
  • Act Two brings back Rockie and pals.  There’s more conversation and lots of silliness, such as a chase scene, a puppet that appears and disappears, bubbles or a water pistol, and a movement song that everyone joins in on.  Then the puppets exit.
  • The librarian reads another story related to the theme, followed by a movement rhyme.
  • Act Three always offers either a resolution to the concern, or at least a conversation with Rockie (or whoever is experiencing the issue) and a promise to find a solution, based on the possibilities identified during the puppet show. For instance, in our show about getting a pet Rockie imagines having a porcupine, a monkey and a snake, each of which causes laugh-out-loud mayhem and chaos.  He finally decides to get a book at the library to help him choose.

Each of the puppets has a distinct personality. Rockie is melodramatic, Zelda the Zebra is logical, Tembo the Elephant can be a bit grumpy. One of my favorites lately has been Dig the Squirrel, who is always digging, never paying attention, and just when he finally gets around to talking with the librarian he suddenly stops, looks out, yells, “Dog!,” and disappears. Kids think it’s hilarious, especially when a dog really does appear at the end and calls out, “Squirrel!”

SheilaRockie_smallThe best part about Rockie Tales is that whatever we’re doing, the kids really listen and take the lessons to heart, while laughing and participating with the puppets. One mother said, “I could never get my son to follow best manners at the table, but after Rockie Tales, he was telling us how to behave!” Plus we’re demonstrating to care givers that the library has book resources to help with many of life’s challenges.

One script is here for you to review, but feel free to contact me if you need more examples or information. I hope you’ll try your own version of Rockie Tales; it is guaranteed to be a great way to teach as well as have fun.

(Pictures courtesy guest blogger)


Our guest blogger today is Heather McNeil. Heather is the Youth Services Manager at Deschutes Public Library in Bend, OR.  She is the author of Read, Rhyme and Romp: Early Literacy Skills and Activities for Librarians, Teachers and Parents, as well as a professional storyteller and author of two collections of folklore.  You can contact her at heatherm@deschuteslibrary.org.

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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43. Particpate in the Newbery Selection Process

Dear ALSC Members,

ALSC personal members are invited to participate in the 2015 Newbery Award selection process by submitting titles for consideration.

The Newbery Medal is presented annually to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children published in the United States during the preceding year.  Honor books may be named.

“Distinguished” is defined as:

o    marked by eminence and distinction: noted for significant achievement

o    marked by excellence in quality

o    marked by conspicuous excellence or eminence

o    individually distinct

For more information about the award, including a full list of criteria, terms and definitions, visit the ALSC Website.

Reflect on the 2014 books that you have read which clearly meet the Newbery Award Criteria and submit for the committee’s consideration with the following information:
1) author, 2) title, 3) publisher, 4) a brief explanation as to why you think the book meets the Newbery Award Criteria, and 5) your name.

Send your suggestions to Randall Enos, Chair at renos@rcls.org.

Suggestions should be submitted as soon as possible but by December 31 at the latest.
Thank you for your support and participation.

Remember: Only books from the 2014 publishing year are under consideration for the 2015 award.   Publishers, authors, illustrators, or editors may not nominate their own titles.

The award will be announced at the ALA Youth Media Awards Press Conference during the ALA Midwinter Conference to be held in Chicago, February 2, 2015.

The award will be presented at the Newbery/Caldecott/Wilder Banquet during the ALA Annual Conference to be held in San Francisco, June 28, 2015.


Our guest blogger today is Randall Enos, Chair of the 2015 Newbery Selection committee.

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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44. Diversity Matters

We know diversity matters. It is a part of our strategic plan, it is a major focus of our work and it is critical to our customers and our communities. Figuring out the best way to help increase diversity awareness in our communities and having this reflected in our libraries isn’t always easy. Libraries have been at the forefront of realizing the value of diverse content. Our communities are changing and it is challenging to build content that really reflects the world we live in today. It starts with our collections and our collections are dependent on what is available from publishers. ALSC has taken up this charge by organizing a dialogue around diversity with publishers in Chicago as part of the Midwinter meeting.

On the heels of ALSC’s invitational dialogue on diversity in publishing, Sunday, February 1, 2015 – 1:00pm to 2:30pm McCormick Place West W183b there will be an opportunity for all interested attendees to learn more about what we can do, as children’s libraries, to increase diversity awareness in our communities and to lay the groundwork for a more promising future

Join us! Bring your ideas, examples of what works where you live and help us create a real exchange between publishing and library work and further define what diversity means to us as a profession. Together is where change happens. The time has come.

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45. The Original Art Show


2014’s Gold Award winner, Benjamin Chaud for The Bear’s Song (Chronicle Books)

Each year, the New York Society of Illustrators hosts The Original Art, which showcases the exquisite work of children’s book illustrators in the previous year. If you live in the Northeast, the show, which is in its 34th year, is an absolute must-see.

“In 1989, The Original Art found a permanent home at the Museum of American Illustration at the Society of Illustrators in New York City. It also became a juried event, with a committee of art directors, editors, publishers and illustrators selecting the best books from among hundreds of submissions and awarding Gold and Silver medals to the top pieces.” NY Society of Illustrators 

Monday, December 8th was the Society’s fourth annual Reading Pictures event, a sold-out afternoon and evening seminar for librarians and children’s book lovers alike. Three amazing illustrators (Melissa Sweet, Barbara McClintock, and E.B. Lewis), all with pieces in the show, spoke at length about their backgrounds and creative processes. Melissa Sweet and E.B. Lewis even gave demonstrations of their techniques! Then art directors led groups on tours of the show, which fills two galleries with 166 works, to speak at length about the creation and successes of the art. Check out this year’s amazing artists!


Gary Kelley won the Silver Award for Harlem Hellfighters. This book was also a NYT Best Illustrated Book!

The show began on October 22nd and runs through December 20th. If you happen to be in New York in the next few weeks, I cannot recommend this experience enough! For anyone who loves picture books or art, the chance to see such exquisite work up close- to examine the minute pieces of paper in a Steve Jenkins picture or be overwhelmed by the size of a painting from Neighborhood Sharks- is a rare and wonderful thing. It’s also an excellent reminder that among the many attributes of the picture book, when you give one to a child, you are letting them hold a piece of art in their hands.

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46. Teaching Early Literacy to Library Staff

Play" and the objects that belong to that practice. [Image courtesy of the author.]

“Play” and the objects that staff decided belong to that practice. [Image courtesy of the author.]

My library recently gave me an incredible opportunity: thirty minutes of early literacy training with every staff member in our organization.

Everyone at my library is incredibly supportive of training and professional development, but not all 100 staff members are able to go to conferences or workshops regularly. Our administration staff and department heads worked together to create a “Year of Learning Opportunities” (YOLO) to give everyone the chance to learn some new skills. Six classes were chosen as mandatory sessions, including mine. Staff can sign up for additional non-mandatory classes including topics like Evanced, inter-library loan, local history, Arduinos, STEM, social media, and more.

But since my session was mandatory, I spent a lot of time thinking about what would be most beneficial for all staff to learn. Using Every Child Ready to Read’s five practices as a framework, I decided to focus on teaching everyone a few reasons why/how staff promote that practice in storytime and in the library.

To introduce “Sing”, I gave a few early literacy tips about why singing is important:

  • Singing slows down language which helps young children process what you’re saying
  • Each syllable/word gets a different note making it easier for children to hear individual sounds
  • Songs are repetitive (chorus) and children learn best through repetition

Next, I led the group in a discussion about how the library supports that skill; here’s what we came up with for “Read”:

  • Reading books in programming, like storytime (Kids&Teens)
  • Signs and postings around the library (Marketing)
  • Modeling reading (Kids&Teens, Adult, Circulation, and Technology Services)
  • Providing multiple formats to read on (Technology & Technical Services)
  • Having quotes on the wall (Building)
  • Hosting book-based programming like book and play discussion groups (Adult Services)
  • Providing books for check out (everyone — from Building staff who bring the boxes in to Technical Services who processes it to Admin who handles the bills to Kids&Teens/Adult recommending and finding the books to Circulation who get the books home

Last, I gave a few tips for staff to encourage that practice with young children; here’s what I said about “Talk”:

  • Greet all patrons, including young children who are often overlooked
  • Ask and answer questions — even if it’s an adult conversation, children are still hearing great vocabulary
  • Be patient and understand that tantrums/noises are a part of communication and can be the child’s way of trying to “talk”/li>

The table full of early literacy tools, sorted by staff members. [Image courtesy of the author.]

The table full of early literacy tools, sorted by staff members. [Image courtesy of the author.]

And that was it for the formal presentation. Afterwards, I invited staff to touch and sort different kinds of early literacy tools according to the five practices to “test” their knowledge. I prefaced this “test” with the fact that each item could go in multiple practices, so there were no right or wrong answers. This was my favorite part — to hear the conversations between staff members made me feel like I had given them useful, practical knowledge.

What a gift for me!

If you’re interested in learning more, please feel free to email me [simplykatie.at.gmail.com] or to leave a comment on this post.

– Katie Salo
Early Literacy Librarian
Indian Prairie Public Library

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47. Retro Tech: How “Old” Technology Helped with a “New” Problem

This fall at the Enoch Pratt Free Library’s Central Library in Baltimore, MD, we welcomed a traveling exhibit of Maurice Sendak’s works. Maurice Sendak, The Memorial Exhibition: 50 Years, 50 Works, 50 Reasons features exactly that, 50 of Sendak’s works spanning his career accompanied by 50 quotes from authors, academics, and celebrities about his art and books.

Our incredible Art Director, Jack Young, immediately got busy finding a way that we could help the exhibit be interactive. While we knew that the artwork was impressive on its own, we wanted to really make Sendak’s seminal book Where the Wild Things Are truly come alive. In Young’s artist’s eye, Max’s bedroom and ship took physical form.

A family explores Max's bedroom come to life. Photo owned by the Enoch Pratt Free Library.

A family explores Max’s bedroom come to life.

The result of all of this is an experience of Sendak’s art: seeing it in person, up close and experiencing it by physically stepping into the art of a beloved children’s book.

And here’s where we ran into what my dear colleague and friend would call a “high class problem”: we started drawing groups of students from schools all around the greater Baltimore area. Lots of them. Sometimes, one hundred kids would descend upon our library unannounced.

That’s when my awesome colleagues (Hi Wesley and Selma!) came up with an idea to do a video introduction to the exhibit. It was something we could show to a large group of students that would frame their visit, but wasn’t dependent on staff. It was more engaging than paper brochures. With the help of our technology guru, Ryan O’Grady, it became a quick reality.

Had we had limitless resources and time, we could have made an app! We could have done a badge-type scavenger hunt that would have connected to other library materials and resources! We could have let kids 3D print their own wild things to take home!

But we didn’t.

Frankly, we couldn’t.

Sometimes, even though we can dream it up, we just can’t do it. Librarians feel a lot of pressure to be sure that we’re keeping up with what’s cutting edge, providing experiences we know we want students to have with technology, and challenging ourselves as professionals to innovate.

And then sometimes, there are one hundred fourth graders staring you in the face and you realize that in this case, really, it’s about the art and bringing books alive for children and families. It’s about sharing an opportunity that might be once in a lifetime.

Opening the door inside of Max's bedroom reveals this fun surprise: Max himself!

Opening the door inside of Max’s bedroom reveals this fun surprise: Max himself!

Here’s my big aha: it’s okay not to make an app. And it’s okay to be okay with it.

So while we didn’t make use of any real 21st century technology, we did make use of what’s becoming a bit “retro” in the land of tech: video. Teachers have been thrilled by this simple introduction to the exhibit, and students sit up and pay attention.

My takeaway from this is to let the content, the intent, the purpose be your guide with technology. Choose what makes sense for your population and your mission. And while you shouldn’t shy away from opportunities to engage with and utilize what is new and cutting edge, don’t forget about those tech resources you have from days past that are still with us, still useful, and might just be the solution to your one hundred student problem.

— Jessica Brown
Children’s Services Coordinator
Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore, MD

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48. Building a Home Library for Friends and Family

Do you often field gift book questions from patrons around the holiday season? I’ve had my share of parents ask me for the best new picture book of the year for their daughter or a grandparent who wants to gift their tween a book but has no clue where to start. If you have also had these experiences, check out ALSC’s updated booklists! These are a great resource to help parents, grandparents and caregivers of all sorts purchase great books for the children in their lives during the winter holiday season- or any time of year.

Image from http://www.ala.org/alsc/building-home-library-2014-update.

Image from http://www.ala.org/alsc/building-home-library-2014-update.

The ALA-Children’s Book Council (CBC) Joint Committee, with cooperation from ALSC’s Quicklists Consulting Committee, have updated the four Building a Home Library booklists to provide advice to caregivers and others interested in constructing an excellent, star quality library for children at home. The committee looked to include less mainstream gems, wonderful multicultural books, beloved classics and new, notable titles.

The CBC Committee has included two printer-friendly versions of the bibliographies for four specific age groups. You will find suggested titles of exemplary content and quality for children from birth to age 3, children ages 4-7, children ages 8-11 and even for tween-aged children 12-14. The brochures are great for putting out at your desk for interested patrons. Does your library receive donation gifts for area shelters, churches or other organizations? You can place these brochures next to your donation bin for easy suggestions the busy patron can bring to their local bookseller when shopping.

Some of my favorite choices from the lists that would be perfect gifts are:

Carle, Eric. La oruga muy hambrienta/ The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Philomel/ Penguin, 2011.

This classic story from beloved author and illustrator Carle is indeed a great gift for babies birth to age 3.  This publication is particularly great because it will introduce both English and Spanish words to your little one.

Snicket, Lemony. Illustrated by Jon Klassen. The Dark. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013.

The Dark by Lemony Snicket. Image from www.hachettebookgroup.com.

The Dark by Lemony Snicket. Image from www.hachettebookgroup.com.

Children ages 4-7 are sure to enjoy this wonderful picture book that gives a voice to the dark. This is an especially fun read-aloud with two readers and a perfect opportunity for caregivers to participate in their preschooler’s reading time!

Palacio, R.J. Wonder. Knopf/ Random House, 2012.

8-11 year olds of all reading levels will appreciate this heart-warming story of a 5th grade boy with facial abnormalities. It’s realistic tone and kind message make it a lovely holiday gift choice.

Telgemeier, Raina. Drama. Graphix/ Scholastic Inc., 2012.

Encourage caregivers to snag this title if they have a reluctant tween reader to please. This graphic novel about middle-school drama club and making new friends will become a well-read book at home.

What books do you love to recommend for holiday gifts? If you have any favorites, please share them with us in the comments!

From everyone on the Public Awareness Committee, happy holidays!


Nicole Lee Martin is a  Librarian at the Grafton-Midview Public Library in Grafton, OH and is writing this post for the Public Awareness Committee. You can reach her at nicolemartin@oplin.org.

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49. Expand Your Collection with Bookapalooza!

Submit your Bookapalooza application by Feb. 1, 2015

Submit your Bookapalooza application by Feb. 1, 2015 (image courtesy of ALSC)

Dream of expanding your collection with a huge shipment of books, videos, and audio books and recordings? Boy, have we got an offer for you!

ALSC and the Grants Administration Committee are now accepting online applications for the 2015 Bookapalooza Program. This program offers select libraries a collection of materials to be used in a way that creatively enhances their library service to children and families. The materials are primarily for children age birth through 14 and include newly published books, videos, audio books and recordings from children’s trade publishers.

Applicants must be personal members of ALSC, as well as ALA members to apply. Deadline for submissions is Sunday, February 1, 2015. For more information about the award requirements and submitting the online application please visit the Bookapalooza Web page.

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50. Happy Hanukkah!


Pinkwater, Daniel, and Jill Pinkwater. Beautiful Yetta’s Hanukkah Kitten. New York: Feiwel and Friends, 2014. Print.

Like many of Daniel Pinkwater’s books, his latest release features a large chicken. Yetta is a poultry farm escapee who lives in Brooklyn with a flock of runaway (flyaway?) parrots. (To learn more about Yetta’s  escape from the poultry farm, read the prequel, Yetta: The Yiddish Chicken.) One day the birds find a lost kitten. They don’t know how to take care of it, so they bring it to a human grandmother for help. The birds see that the grandmother is celebrating Hanukkah which they refer to as “the festival of lights, when the humans are in a good mood.” The grandmother is in such a good mood that she takes in the kitten and feeds latkes to the the birds.

Unlike most Hanukkah books, this story includes Spanish, as well as Yiddish and English words. The birds are bilingual–Yetta speaks Yiddish and English, and the parrots speak Spanish and English. The grandmother is also bilingual; she speaks Yiddish and English. The cat speaks only English, but with a Chicago accent. (The author confirmed this last fact via Twitter.)

This book may not teach you about the deeper meaning of Hanukkah, but it will make you smile, and it’s perfect for story time. I give it five latkes.


Our guest blogger today is Rebecca Scotka. Rebecca is the Children’s and Young Adult Librarian at the East Lyme Public Library in Niantic, Connecticut.

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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