What is JacketFlap

  • JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans.
    Join now (it's free).

Sort Blog Posts

Sort Posts by:

  • in

Suggest a Blog

Enter a Blog's Feed URL below and click Submit:

Most Commented Posts

In the past 7 days

Recent Comments

MyJacketFlap Blogs

  • Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.

Blog Posts by Date

Click days in this calendar to see posts by day or month
new posts in all blogs
Viewing Blog: ALSC Blog, Most Recent at Top
Results 26 - 50 of 1,968
Visit This Blog | Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
Blog Banner
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.
Statistics for ALSC Blog

Number of Readers that added this blog to their MyJacketFlap: 72
26. Hooray to Simon & Schuster for dropping the “Buy It Now” requirement on their ebooks!

In June, when Simon & Schuster made their ebooks available only to libraries who agreed to add a “Buy It Now” option to their catalog, I was torn between two important promises libraries make to kids and families: we will do everything we can to get you the books you want, and everything we offer is free.

My library holds the line on keeping things free in many ways, even to the point of refusing to offer summer reading coupons that require an additional purchase to get that free ice cream cone. Parents value libraries as places where they know they can escape the relentless pressure to buy stuff, and our commitment to keep it so extends online.

But what happens when the trade-off is keeping popular titles out of our ebook collection? I was stumped. I spent the past few months not taking a stand, simply delaying. Looking askance at every detail of the program and trying to find a good way out of two bad choices.

So I’m thrilled now that the requirement is gone and I can welcome Simon & Schuster to our ebook offerings! Welcome Bunnicula, Olivia, Lucky, Caddie, Derek and Rush! Thanks to libraries who tried “Buy It Now” and those who didn’t and everyone who keeps lines of communication open and advocates for books and readers. Thanks Simon & Schuster for listening and being flexible and working with us to find the way.


This month’s blog post by Rachel Wood, ALSC Digital Content Task Force & Materials Division Chief at Arlington (VA) Public Library.

We would love to hear from you. Please email us at digitalcontenttaskforce@gmail.com.

0 Comments on Hooray to Simon & Schuster for dropping the “Buy It Now” requirement on their ebooks! as of 11/23/2014 12:38:00 AM
Add a Comment
27. Music and Movement at the Library

This past summer, the Fayetteville Free Library (FFL) offered several new early literacy programs targeted at improving family health and nutrition. Perhaps the most popular of these were our “Music and Movement” programs for infants through preschoolers. We know that music and movement are important at every stage of a child’s development, and can be made applicable for children who are at different stages. We were especially interested in creating new ways to engage families with babies and toddlers, and this series provided a fun, dynamic way to do that. In fact, libraries are well positioned to provide access to music and movement opportunities for children. As children’s librarians we already sing, clap, and engage in dramatic play through action rhymes in our storytimes. And while there might be other businesses that offer these types of programs, we found that they are often expensive and cost prohibitive to some families. I don’t claim to be a music educator, but I do think that, as librarians, we can instill in children a love of music in much the same way that we encourage a love of reading.

So why is it important to offer a music and movement program? Research shows that “movement education is basic physical education that emphasizes fundamental motor skills and concepts such as body and spatial awareness, but that it is also a philosophy of physical education in that it is success-oriented, child-centered, and non-competitive”  (Pica, emphasis mine). We also know that childhood obesity rates in American are at an all time high. Music and movement programs not only aid a child’s physical development, they help children “feel good about their movement abilities, [thus] they are more likely to make physical activity part of their lives” (Pica). An active lifestyle is essential for a child’s overall physical fitness and health.

Benefits to Movement

  • There are many obvious physical benefits to movement, including cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, and body composition.
  • Children need 60 minutes of play with moderate to vigorous activity every day to grow up to a healthy weight (letsmove.gov).
  • Movement also has social and emotional benefits, as it helps children unleash creativity through physical expression like dance. Certain games and activities can also teach them cooperation and help them work together with peers and adults.
  • Finally, movement also helps children develop cognitively; “studies have proven that they especially acquire knowledge experientially–through play, experimentation, exploration, and discovery.  Though a developmentally appropriate movement program, instructors can help nurture the bodily/kinesthetic intelligence possessed in varying degrees, by all children” (Pica).

Benefits of Music

  • Music is vital to the development of language and listening skills. We know from Every Child Read to Read that singing is an important early literacy practice, and is a key way children learn about language.
  • Music’s melody and rhythmic patterns help develop memory, which is why it’s easier to remember song lyrics than prose text. This is why we learn our ABC’s in a song.
  • Music engages the brain, stimulating neural pathways that are associated with higher forms of intelligence such as empathy and mathematics. (National Association for Music Education)
  • Music and language arts both consist of symbols and ideas; when the two are used in combination, abstract concepts become more concrete and are therefore easier for children to grasp. (National Association for Music Education)

Program Plan

MusicMovementblurred2Hopefully, now you’re convinced and wondering how to implement a Music and Movement program of your own. Chances are you already have most of the ingredients! I used a combination of acapella singing and children’s CDs for the music. I then broke the 30-45 minute program down into different activities and skills, for example, exploring up and down/ stretching and jumping; clapping and rhythm; clapping/singing and tempo; etc. Many of the songs and rhymes I used to correspond to these activities are familiar and beloved: “Pop Goes the Weasel” for jumping, “If You’re Happy and You Know It” for clapping, “Row Your Boat” for rhythm. For each song we sang as a group, I also played a song from the CDs. Other favorites included stop and go, or statue games. Children dance and move until the music stops and then have to freeze in place! Playing “statue” develops listening skills and helps children distinguish between sound and silence. It also helps them practice self control, starting, and stopping. “Stop and Go” by Greg & Steve and “Bodies 1-2-3” by Peter & Ellen Allard are perfect songs for this activity, but you can really use any song and then manually stop the music unexpectedly!  

In the second half of the program, we explore an instrument. Shakers and bells are perfect for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, and rhythm sticks are fun for older groups. There are tons of great shaking songs, including “Shake Your Sillies Out” by Raffi, “Shake, Rattle & Rock” by Greg & Steve, “Shaky, Shaky” by the Wiggles. “Frere Jacques” is a classic if you’re using bells. If you can’t afford a large set of instruments, you can also make your own and explore the sounds of common household items. I sometimes intersperse this half MusicMovementBlurredof the program with movement activities like jumping jacks and toe touches. Finally, we end with the parachute activities. We bought a 12’ parachute for $25-30 and a smaller 6’ one for use with the babies and toddlers. Not only are the parachutes endlessly entertain to children of all ages, they have a myriad of uses and promote teamwork and coordination. If you have bean bags, small balls, or a beach ball to add, even better.

Our Music and Movement Program at the Fayetteville Free Library was wildly successful with 40-50 attendees at each session. It was the perfect way for us to reach families with young children of all ages and support family health and an active lifestyle at the same time. Do you offer a music and movement program at your library? Tell us about it in the comments!

Resources for Music and Movement Education

  1. Pica, R., & Pica, R. (2010). Experiences in movement & music: Birth to age 8. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.
  2. Early Childhood Music and Movement Association
  3. LetsMove.gov
  4. National Association for Music Education

(Photos courtesy guest blogger)


Stephanie Prato is a member of the ALSC Early Childhood Programs and Services Committee. She is the Director of Play to Learn Services at the Fayetteville Free Library in NY. If you have any questions, email her at sprato@fflib.org.

0 Comments on Music and Movement at the Library as of 11/22/2014 12:22:00 AM
Add a Comment
28. Is Hello Kitty a Cat or a Girl? And Does it Matter? News from the 1st ever Hello Kitty Con!

Is she a girl or a cat? This question about iconic Japanese character Hello Kitty was hot on the Internet not long ago, but the thousands of fans of all ages who attended the sold-out first-ever Hello Kitty Convention in Los Angeles over Halloween weekend were unconcerned with the answer. Instead, they were indulging in an overload of “kawaii,” the Japanese word for “cute”, as Hello Kitty mania took over Los Angeles.

If you’ve never attended a fan convention (or “con,” as they are known among insiders), it’s a must-do for anyone interested in popular culture and the many characters who live in our imagination. Children in particular are drawn to familiar characters, as any children’s librarian can attest. Sanrio’s Hello Kitty is especially popular among patrons young and old alike at my library, and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to get up close and personal with her at the convention.

Hello Kitty Apple

Hello Kitty Apple

As a blogger, I snagged an invitation to a super-exclusive press preview and elegant VIP party the night before the “con” opened officially to the public. This was a special delight for me as not only was I able to see the exhibits without the sold-out crowds of the convention, but we even got swag bags filled with exclusive Hello Kitty goodies (these included an actual apple with a Hello Kitty logo in an elegant box with a gold ribbon–an inside joke for Hello Kitty fans, since Hello Kitty is described as five apples tall and weighing as much as three apples).

As you might guess, a retrospective of Hello Kitty merchandise from her 40-year career was on display, including the original Hello Kitty coin purse, the first item manufactured, which was on display for the first time in the U.S. Normally kept in a vault in Japan, the tiny purse was exhibited in a special darkened room where it was shown as proudly as the crown jewels! A huge reproduction was also on display for photo ops.

There were many special opportunities for fans, including free Hello Kitty tattoos designed especially for the con–the real kind for adults, although the stick-ons for kids were also available. The tattoos were in such demand that fans had to line up at 5 a.m. to get a spot. FashionOther highlights included an incredible high fashion installation curated by Stephiee Nguyen of JapanLA clothing, with one-of-a-kind creations by 13 designers from all over the world, special workshops with designers such as Paul Frank where fans could learn Hello Kitty-themed jewelry making, nail art, scrapbooking, and other crafts, and of course lots of exclusive shopping with merchandise available only at the convention. Fans waited in line over five hours for a chance to spend money at the special Sanrio pop-up store, although a Super Supermarket with other exclusives from Sanrio licensees offered slightly shorter lines (Hello Kitty SPAM, anyone? Or how about Hello Kitty headphones from Dr. Dre?)

booksLibrarians and booklovers were not ignored, since the Super Supermarket included representatives from Viz Media’s  Perfect Square imprint. Viz is one of several publishers who produce high quality Hello Kitty books suitable for the library market. Currently five volumes are available in their Hello Kitty graphic novel series; this suitably adorable series is wordless, and thus suitable for pre-readers as well as older children who can use these graphic novels to develop their own narrative skills by imagining the stories through the images. Perfect Square was also promoting a new release, Hello Kitty, Hello 40: a Celebration in 40 Stories, in which a variety of authors and illustrators pay tribute through stories and art.

As at other conventions, fans could attend an array of panels with Hello Kitty experts, including one with Hello Kitty head designer Yuko Yamaguchi. Although Hello Kitty was created “to inspire happiness, friendship, and sharing across the world,” she was initially a minor–i.e. not very profitable–character at Sanrio. It was not until Ms. Yamaguchi took over her design in 1980 that she increased in popularity until she became the #1 character in Japan. Ms. Yamaguchi’s aspirations for Hello Kitty do not stop there, as she would like to see her become the #1 character world-wide. As to whether she’s a cat or a girl, Ms. Yamaguchi replied that she didn’t understand what all the fuss is about. “She’s not a cat and she’s not a human,” she responded. “What’s Mickey Mouse? I don’t think he’s a mouse…Hello Kitty is Hello Kitty and it’s my wish to continue to nurture her as a very special brand.” (you can read more of Hello Kitty’s back story here ).

It is clear from the enormous response to Hello Kitty con that, whatever she is, this deceptively simple and widely marketed character has a very special place in the hearts of both children and adults. I don’t doubt that Hello Kitty will be around for many years to come.

(All photos courtesy guest blogger)


Margo Tanenbaum receives a hug from the famous Kitty

Margo Tanenbaum receives a hug from the famous Kitty

Our guest blogger today is Margo Tanenbaum. Margo is a children’s librarian in the Los Angeles area.  She blogs about children’s books at The Fourth Musketeer and is co-curator of Kidlit Celebrates Women’s History Month, a group blog with posts published in March.  

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.


0 Comments on Is Hello Kitty a Cat or a Girl? And Does it Matter? News from the 1st ever Hello Kitty Con! as of 11/21/2014 1:44:00 PM
Add a Comment
29. Circulating Science Kits

My manager and I toss around What Ifs all the time. What if we tried this? Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could do that? What if it’s finally time to try that crazy idea out? The Fizz Boom Read summer reading theme seemed like the perfect time to try one of our most beloved What Ifs: circulating science kits.

Backyard Science Kit

Backyard Science Kit

This was a challenge firmly outside our wheelhouse. We’ve done some science programming in the past, generally for preschoolers, but it’s no one’s passion. I browsed Lakeshore Learning and Amazon for ideas and divided my favorites by age, preschool, elementary and tween (4th to 6th grade), while keeping some practical guidelines in mind: we wanted to include a related, high-quality nonfiction book in each kit, everything had to fit the backpacks I had already selected, and we needed to avoid consumable items. I split most of my orders between Lakeshore Learning and Amazon. My favorite exception was owl pellets, which came from a school supply store complete with forceps and identification booklets. That kit has received a lot of responses – mostly amazed and thrilled, only a few horrified.

Disection... Owl Notes

We ended up with 17 themes, 3 copies each at the main library and about a dozen total at each of our two branches. Prepping the backpacks was probably the most onerous part of the project; it took me several days and plenty of assistance to organize, de-package, and pack. We photographed each kit’s contents to assist patrons, but ran out of time to laminate and include them. We included small notebooks for comments, but these are not often used and most of the feedback has been verbal. We allowed three exceptions to the “not consumable” rule: owl pellets, rainbow scratch sheets and sunpaper. For these, I put ten into a baggie labeled with a request to only use 1 to 2 per child, and everyone has respected that. Our library associate Jenny doubles as our Kit Mistress, doing random checks of the kits every month and any necessary restocking or repair. For labeling, we bought badge holders and luggage loops. The badge holders contain color coded cards with the zbar on one side and the title/recommended age on the other. These are the one thing that often seem to go missing! We had to re-barcode several before we swapped the loops out for zipties. I chose to use coatracks and hangers for display, which didn’t take up much room and made browsing simple. Due to space issues, we chose not to make the kits available for holds. Brief catalog records were suppressed so patrons couldn’t search for them but we could access them from the staff side. On day one, 25 out of 51 were checked out. Day two, they were all out! We never had more than 10 checked in at a time all summer long. Even at our branches, which always see much lower circulation stats, there were only 1-2 available on any given day. We checked the numbers after three months – in 13 weeks, with one-week checkouts, every kit had circulated between 8-10 times, a few as high as 13. A month later, after school started, each kit had gone out another 1-3 times. Even the Bedtime Math kits, offered only because we already had the logs, went out consistently. Now that we have about 20 checked in on any given day, we store them in a divided cart, which offers more room. The kits were a runaway success, and we’ve heard so many positive comments from kids and caregivers alike. When I was given more money this fall, though, I knew what changes I wanted to make.

  1. Discovery Kits Logo

    Discovery Kits Logo

    We tend to call them our science kits, but we’ve never wanted them to just be science. Officially, they are Discovery Kits, and our next round will include writing, music, art, foreign language and more technology.

  2. Age groupings are too limiting. Anyone can do just about anything if they have the interest and adult support. Geometry (Spirograph, Playsticks, Growing Spirals) was color-coded elementary, but preschoolers and tweens like it, too. We’re still finalizing our new categories, either mostly All Ages, with a handful of Beginner and Advanced, or by topic: Physical Science, Life Science, Math and Engineering, Technology, Arts and Music, Language Arts.
  3. We bought an extra of every activity for what we thought were inevitable replacements, but no more! It takes too much storage space, and people have been handling everything so carefully that we’ve only had to replace two things. We’ll repurchase on an as-needed basis.
  4. Cubby

    Discovery Kits Cubby

    The divided cart holds all the backpacks, but gets messy quickly. We purchased cubbies from Lakeshore Learning – one backpack per cubby. This will make the kits easier to browse and easier to keep neat. This is important as we add another 30 backpacks into the mix.

  5. Patrons want to know what’s inside. On our next set, the attached cards will list out brief descriptions of content. They’ll also include our brand new kit logo, from our in-house graphic designer.

Our full list, including new themes, is here: http://bit.ly/OPPLKitList This has been an exceptionally fun and rewarding collection to launch. The planning and organizing were a bit time-consuming, largely because I started out so ambitiously, but the returns have been incredible. I love seeing the kids marching out of the library wearing their new Discovery Kit – although it’s even better when they bring it back and beg to get another one right away! I can’t wait to see the response to the expanded selection of themes.

(All pictures courtesy of guest blogger)


ShelleyElevenShelley Harris is a Children’s Librarian and Family Learning Coordinator at the Oak Park Public Library in Oak Park, IL. She can be contacted at ssh.librarian@gmail.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.

0 Comments on Circulating Science Kits as of 11/20/2014 1:36:00 PM
Add a Comment
30. A Sweet Story: Girls Scouts and Libraries

Girl Scouts. Cookies. The two have become synonymous, but there is much more to being a Girl Scout than selling cookies. As it turns out, libraries and librarians are often right there helping the troops during their non-cookie-selling time. Juliette Gordon Low organized the first troop in Savannah, Georgia, in 1912, and since then this organization has grown to include over 59 million American women and 10 million international members spread over 145 countries (source). Chances are that many of you reading this blog post are counted among that number.

That was definitely the case when I inquired across the listservs to see how libraries across our nation are working with their local Girl Scouts. Many of the responses were from librarians that were once Girl Scouts themselves and were more than happy to help the next generation of young females earn their badges. The responses ranged from as simple (but important) as offering space for troops to meet and public places to display their projects, to more hands-on collaborative planning and implementing programs for girls to earn badges and Gold/Silver/Bronze Awards. Here are a just a few of the wonderful ways that libraries across the country have worked with local troops:

Library and GS Program Ideas

For the sake of space, I’m unfortunately not able to share all the great responses I received, but I do want to highlight a few library/Girl Scout collaborations that have made big impacts on their communities. The first is an official partnership between the Girl Scouts of Kentucky’s Wilderness Road, the Kenton County Public Library and a few other community partners to host a day-long program titled Transition Quest to help prepare incoming 6th graders for middle school.  The second is the official partnership that the Girl Scouts of NE Kansas and NW Missouri and the Johnson County Public Library (Kansas) formed to assist the girls in completing their Journey entitled It’s Your Story: Tell It!

JCL library

Photo provided by Barbara Brand, Youth Services Manager, Johnson County Library (Kansas)

Just last month, JCL librarians, Megan Bennen and Kelly Sime presented this program at the Kansas Library Association Conference and their sessions handouts provide a lot of information on how other libraries could implement a similar collaboration with local Girl Scouts.

kansas library

With 2.3 million active girl members and 890,000 adult members serving mostly as volunteers (source), chances are there is an active Girl Scout troop in your community and they would love to work with their public libraries (search for a local council here).  The most important piece of information that I gathered from those librarians that have worked with their local girl scouts is to make sure that there are no communication glitches along the way.  The librarians that did experience a few obstacles along the way mentioned that they were usually because of travel accommodations (getting the girls to the library), timing (try to avoid school holidays, such as Fall and Spring breaks), publicity (whose responsibility is it to publicize the event), and budgets (who is going to purchase the supplies, including the badges).  Youth Serices Librarians, Karen Lucas from Madison Public Library-Sequoya Branch in Madison, WI, and Deidre Winterhalter, from Hinsdale Public Library in Hindsale, IL, both encountered the transportation problem when working with their local Girl Scouts.  Ms. Lucas helped her local troop earn their Reading Badge by asking them to write a brief paragraph about their favorite books and then she used this information to compile a bibliography for 1st and 2nd graders.  Ms. Winterhalter also worked with a local troop that could not travel to to the library by having them create a banner to promote the library’s summer reading program.  This banner, with their names and troop number proudly displayed, satisfied not only their badge requirements, but also fulfilled a service the library needed.

Here’s a fun idea from Abbe Klebeanoff, Head of Public Services for Lansdowne Public Library in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania, that might help brighten your library this winter!

(video owned by Abbe Klebeanoff, Head of Public Services for Lansdowne Public Library and shared with her permission)

QOTD: Have you worked with your local Girl Scout Council?  What did your library do and what did you think was most successful about the program?


Lori Coffey Hancock is a school librarian for The Lexington School, an independent private school in Lexington, Kentucky.  Her involvement with Girl Scouts began when her daughter joined the Girl Scouts as a Daisy in 2009.  She is currently the Awards chair for the Kentucky Association of School Librarians and serving as co-chair for ALSC Liaison to National Organizations Committee. You can reach Lori on Twitter (@onceuponarun_lh).

0 Comments on A Sweet Story: Girls Scouts and Libraries as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
31. No one came to your Sensory Storytime. Now what?

This is not an uncommon situation.  I’ve had many conversations with librarians who share similar stories.  “I did all this research and developed this awesome new Sensory Storytime program…but no one came.  I want to draw new families to the library, but I don’t know how to reach them.  What should I do?”  My response if often much longer than the inquiring librarians ever intended, but that’s because it’s a multifaceted issue.  There are many different things to consider when hosting a program for children with special needs.  So, if no one is coming to your Sensory Storytime at your library, here are a few things you can do:

  • Cultivate Partnerships: Partner with local organizations to help spread the word.  There are many places in your community that serve families with children with special needs, including hospitals, health centers, therapy centers, doctor’s offices, park districts, and museums.  Contact your local chapter of state-wide and national disability related organizational groups.  Consider hosting a special needs resource fair at your library, like Evanston Public Library did just this month, and invite these organizations to present at your library.  Otherwise, ask if you can attend one at a local school or community event.  Many organizations are looking for free recreational opportunities to share with families, and Sensory Storytime would be just the kind of program they might be willing to help promote.
  • Rebrand: To keep a program fresh and appealing to our communities, sometimes we need to repackage and rebrand it. Maybe the name “Sensory Storytime” is not a draw to families.   Consider changing the name to “Special Needs Storytime,” or use more inclusive language like “Storytime for Children of All Abilities.”  Maybe your program is being offered on a day of the week or a time of day that doesn’t work for families in your community.  Switch it up and change the day and time, but don’t forgot to ask families first what works best for them.  Here are also 10 Quick Tips for Marketing to this audience.
  • Focus on Inclusion: The reason your library is receiving low attendance–or none at all–could be because a storytime program specifically for children with special needs doesn’t work for your families.  It can be hard to attend a program for one child, when there are two or three other younger or older children that don’t fit in the correct age bracket for that program.  Consider a more inclusive approach and develop programming that is open to the entire family, including siblings.  There are many benefits to having the family attend as a unit, including the fact that it is a lot easier for families to attend together.
  • Try a Different Program: You could switch gears and focus on developing a completely different program all together.  Perhaps you might want to target a different age group, offering Sensory School-age Programming for older children or Sensory-Friendly Films for the whole family.  You might even want to host a Board Game and Pizza Night for Tweens of All Abilities, like Deerfield Public Library did.  For whatever reason, a storytime program may not be a draw in your community, but there are many other things you at your library can do to offer programming for this audience.

If you have already tried these tips and still aren’t reaching families, perhaps library programming is not what your community wants.  And that’s okay.  Many families with children with special needs are over-scheduled with doctor visits, therapies, parent/teacher conferences about IEPs, and play dates.  Instead, here are some other things your library might want to consider to expand services to families with children with special needs:

  • Focus on Outreach: Instead of trying to invite kids to the library, make trips to the local schools and make visit their classrooms.  Bring Sensory Storytime on the road, or even consider asking if their class would be able to do a community outing to visit the library.  There is a lot you can do to make these visits meaningful.  Here are just a few ideas, including curriculum on life skills teaching manners, as well as some general tips about visiting classrooms.
  • Develop Your Collections: Don’t forget about your library materials!  You can serve the needs of families with children with special needs by developing your existing collections, or creating new ones.  You may want to consider Early Literacy or Sensory Kits, connecting with your local Braille and Talking Book Libraries or ordering more books in braille, offering more hi-lo reading material, or developing your parent/teacher collection to include more books on special needs related topics.  Don’t forget about the Schneider Family Book Award, which recognizes books that highlight the disability experience.  Just as we work to make our programs and services more inclusive and diverse, we shouldn’t forget that our collections should represent and reflect the diversity in our communities as well. 
  • Train Staff:  Even if your library has the best new program or service, it won’t matter if other library staff members in other departments are not committed to serving families inclusively.  This could be a huge deterrent for some families.  Disability Awareness Training is necessary for us in libraries to make our libraries more accessible and friendly for everyone. No matter what your library does to welcome children with special needs–whether it is programming, outreach, services, or collections–it’s important that your entire organization is on board with inclusive customer service.


What are your ideas for welcoming families to your Sensory Storytime programs?  Feel free to share below!

0 Comments on No one came to your Sensory Storytime. Now what? as of 11/19/2014 10:14:00 AM
Add a Comment
32. Wearing our Library Hats

I am privileged to coordinate a team of outreach staff who give over 120 storytimes each month in preschool and Head Start classrooms. We also visit babies and toddlers at private and in-home daycares to provide early literacy-based sessions for the kids and model new techniques for their caregivers.

While recently observing a storytime conducted by one of my team members, I was struck by the wrapt attention demonstrated by adults in the room. While my staff is ostensibly providing a single service for a primary audience – preschoolers and their caregivers – they also, though these interactions, stand as advocates for the resources available within our system. In my role, I encourage staff to interact with adults as much as possible and be well versed in their ability to communicate all of the offerings at our libraries – especially those that can empower parents. This advocacy has proven to be effective, as it encourages our citizens to be empathetic to the importance of the library in the lives of kids. This then garners greater possibility for their financial support or support via a vote.

Not only do my team members do this on a professional level, but it carries over to their interactions with people at the grocery store, at church, playing with their own kids at parks, and while socializing at parties. We are ambassadors of the library by spreading the joy of the opportunities available, for free, to all. Everyone in the library family is an advocate, even in their daily activities. That’s the kind of grassroots support that is effective. No matter where we go, we are wearing our library hats!


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

0 Comments on Wearing our Library Hats as of 11/18/2014 12:21:00 AM
Add a Comment
33. Awards for Inspiration


Photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc

Inspiration doesn’t come along everyday. Finding someone or something that inspires you is rare and should probably be rewarded. For example:

  • Do you know someone who deserves to be recognized for outstanding service?
  • Do you know someone who has gone the extra mile to provide outreach services to underserved communities?

ALSC is reminding members to apply for professional awards this fall. Applications are open and several deadlines are approaching. Below is list of ALSC professional awards which are available for submission or nomination. For more information, please visit: http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/profawards

ALSC Distinguished Service Award
Deadline: Monday, December 1, 2014

This award honors an individual member who has made significant contributions to and an impact on, library services to children and ALSC.

Light the Way: Library Outreach to the Underserved Grant
Deadline: Monday, December 1, 2014

This $3,000 grant is sponsored by Candlewick Press in honor of author Kate DiCamillo and the themes represented in her books. The grant will be awarded to a library with exceptional outreach to underserved populations in efforts to help them continue their service.

Deadline: Sunday, February 1, 2015; applications open soon!

Three libraries are awarded a full collection of newly published books, videos, audiobooks, and recording from children’s trade publishers to be used in a way that creatively enhances their library service to children and families.

0 Comments on Awards for Inspiration as of 11/17/2014 2:09:00 AM
Add a Comment
34. Are You Prepared?

Photo courtesy of Rochester Public Library (MN)

Photo courtesy of Rochester Public Library (MN)

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how we prepare library staff to handle intellectual freedom issues that arise. While most libraries have a reconsideration policy in place, public service staff is not always prepared to actually respond to concerns about library materials. Even managers may not have any specific training in issues of intellectual freedom. How do you talk to an angry parent about the graphic novel that’s “too explicit?” What do you say when a local school board member questions why the library won’t label “controversial” material? And what is your responsibility, as a library employee, towards those titles with which you disagree?

Supporting the freedom to read isn’t easy, and it can be especially sensitive where children are concerned. Most of us in youth services will probably deal with many more questions about our collections than your average adult reference librarian. Parents have widely different opinions on what is “appropriate” for children at different ages, and if we’re honest with ourselves, we can all probably name at least a few titles in our library collections that we would like to see disappear. It’s one thing to talk abstractly about how important it is to have materials that represent diverse perspectives, but what does it feel like to confront a title that you find personally offensive? I think that’s a question that every library employee could benefit from considering and perhaps talking through with co-workers in a supportive environment. And I think a better understanding of that question is integral to each employee’s ability to communicate effectively with library patrons about issues of intellectual freedom.

What if we incorporated intellectual freedom training into every new employee’s orientation? What if everyone from the shelvers to the branch manager knew about the Library Bill of Rights and The Freedom to Read statement that we display so proudly on our website? And better yet, what if they actually had some training in the hows and whys behind those documents? I believe we need to empower all of our staff to be able to articulate, to themselves and to our community as well, the reasoning behind our commitment to freedom of choice and open access to information.

So what do you think? Does your library incorporate intellectual freedom into staff training? Would you consider requiring staff to understand your library’s policies on intellectual freedom? I’d love to hear how other libraries approach this issue. Please share your experiences in the comments!

Chelsea Couillard-Smith, Youth Materials Selector, Sacramento Public Library
Member, ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee

0 Comments on Are You Prepared? as of 11/15/2014 1:05:00 AM
Add a Comment
35. ALSC Member of the Month — Jane Breen

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, Jane Breen.

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


Photo courtesy of Dorothy Breen

I am a Family Literacy Advocate and Educator, Teen Volunteer Coordinator, award winning program innovator and Community Outreach Librarian.* swish cape *  As  the Children’s Specialist in the Faxon Branch Library, part of the West Hartford Public Libraries, I am responsible for Children’s and Teens programs, services, collection development and all things creative within my department.  I have worked in Youth Services in the small but mighty state of CT for 27 remarkable years – both schools and public libraries. I am a believer in the statement: “childrens librarians are the Jacks and Jills of all trades.”

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

I joined ALSC to grow, learn and be informed. The professional development along with the many resources and national networking opportunities are outstanding. I’ve come to believe that good librarianship is collaborative so with that in mind…I am sending a virtual hi-five to all members for the many things you have shared so willingly.  You rock my little branch.  Up high!

Oh,  I’m a  member of the incredibly creative, supportive and inspiring group known as Flannel Friday which makes me a flannelizer – and no, that’s not a cult!

3.  What do you think children’s librarians will be doing ten years from now?

Love this question because for the life of me…I do believe we will be doing nearly the exact same things we do now. We will be modeling and talking early literacy skills. We will provide reader’s advisory and assist our educators, families and community with all things “family literacy.”   We are the champions of bringing the village together to build readers and lifelong learners.  Through the joy of reading and taking ownership of their library, we help children build the foundation to become happy, healthy and successful adults.  Dual language families may move more into the spotlight as diversity plays a bigger role everyday in life and literature.  I hope libraries respond with practice Spanish classes, practice Vietnamese, etc;.. with native speakers as we do with our current practice English classes. I see this as a necessary step for U.S. kids.

4.  What is your favorite food harvested in the fall?

Ha!  May I just say Carrot Cake?  Thanks!

5.  Would you rather offer storytime to a large group of preschoolers or read one-on-one with a child?

There are positives to both and now that I am a grandmother I once again adore reading all snuggled up one-on-one.  In the library, the large group program is a parent and child confidence builder that I can not resist.  Long before I came to work at my branch – a colleague had established pajama story time on Monday nights and it is a do-not-mess-with-tradition!  Parents and preschoolers pack the house –  it’s my favorite program of the week.  This story time is rooted in ECRR, with literacy tips for the parents and excitement and energy from our story time mascot, Piper.  She is a black lab puppy…a very real puppet – the only one of her kind!  And she rules Monday night. Oh, and then there’s magic fairy dust.

6.  What’s one “rule” you wished every librarian followed?  

I truly only have one rule for library and librarianship.  I learned this rule from the amazing Mrs Clancy, Media Specialist in the Groton Public Schools, BE KIND.  That’s it.  It works everywhere, every way…try it!  It’s honestly all you’ll ever need.  Thank you Mrs Clancy.

7.  Have you ever skydived?

O.M.Gosh..I went to a full day training with a friend a very long time ago.  Learned to pack our chutes, did a zip line thing in full gear  Practiced counting, planning with partners, higher zip line trial, pull chutes, pack them again and get on the plane. Well long story short I came down with the pilot, sitting in the co-pilot’s seat.  Loved It!  My friend jumped.

8.  Would you rather go bungee jumping or deep sea fishing?

Fishing, of course!  I adore the ocean and I am obviously not so good at jumping into open air!  (see above)

9.  E-books or print

My preference is print all the way.  Honestly a large part of my work – is picture books and I feel that we have to be able to hold them and love them.  We have to experience the joy of the page turn and you know, the smelll!  To stay on top of the teen collection I often listen to the audio and for my own grown-up pleasure reading – it’s print or audio.  Maybe this is an age thing!

10.  Do you volunteer?

Yes…Light One Little Candle is a national non-profit foundation I’ve worked with since it’s inception.  We bring books to cancer centers across the country.  The approach is a bit different than you’d think – the patient is the adult.  The concept began with a friend of mine who unfortunately lost her cancer battle.  She knew the value of reading and found that it was all she could do with her daughter as cancer came to own her. That is, she could no longer run, swing, swim but she could cuddle and read.   So we make sure adult cancer patients have books to read with the children in their lives.  They get to keep the books forever. Pretty cool.


Thanks, Jane! 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.

0 Comments on ALSC Member of the Month — Jane Breen as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
36. Dinovember

Dinosaurs have invaded my library. We’ve turned this November into Dinovember. Dinovember is the month when the dinosaurs come out to play. It was started by two parents who decided to have some fun with their children’s dinosaur toys and a month of dinosaur antics was born. You can follow the dino adventures on the Dinovember Tumblr. The creators also recently released a book, What The Dinosaurs Did Last Night.

Inspired by these silly dinosaurs, my staff and I decided to have some fun. We transformed one of our giant workroom windows in a calendar. Each day we post a new picture of what the dinosaurs have been up to at the library. The kids (and the parents) are having lots of fun checking out the photos and have even been looking around the department to see if they can catch the dinosaurs in action. All the staff have pulled together to make Dinovember happen with taking pictures, sharing dinosaur toys, helping us come up with ideas, and letting us invade their departments with dinosaurs. It’s a very simple thing to put together and the response has been great. I love inspiring imagination in the kids and they are getting a kick out of all the silly things the dinosaurs come up with to do each day.

Here’s a peek of what our dinosaurs have been up to:

Photo Credit: Valerie Bogert

Photo Credit: Valerie Bogert

Photo Credit: Valerie Bogert

Photo Credit: Valerie Bogert

Photo Credit: Valerie Bogert

Photo Credit: Valerie Bogert

Photo Credit: Valerie Bogert

Photo Credit: Valerie Bogert

We’ve been having so much fun, I think we should make Dinovember a yearly treat. And I hope other libraries join us in the fun!


0 Comments on Dinovember as of 11/13/2014 2:23:00 AM
Add a Comment
37. Course Explores Services to Children with Disabilities

Changes have occurred since I wrote the blog post, Learning about Disabilities in December 2011.  At that time I said, “Many librarians say that no one with a disability has visited their library.”  This is no longer true.  Most librarians have interacted with patrons who have physical, developmental or cognitive disabilities.  It is satisfying that people with disabilities and their families now turn to the library for resources and programming.

However, in many cases librarians feel ill-equipped to provide appropriate services to this recently identified group of patrons.  Research supports this view.  An IMLS funded research study found “…librarians rated their knowledge and skills for working with students with disabilities lowest and no librarian reported providing differentiated instruction to students with individualized education programs (IEPs)”  (Small, R. V., Justus, K. A., & Regitano, J. L. (2014). ENABLE-ing school librarians to empower students with disabilities. Teacher Librarian, 42(1), 18).

In the courses that I teach, there are often recent library school graduates who tell me that their degree program contained no mention or assignment about serving people with disabilities.  That is why I am happy to again teach the ALSC online course, Children with Disabilities in the Library.  This is one of four ALSC sponsored online courses that will be offered beginning January 5, 2015.

Children with Disabilities in the Library will be a six week course that combines reading juvenile books, examining library services to children with disabilities and creating plans for services in your community.  The asynchronous course will use Moodle, which allows learners to log in and complete course work at a time that is convenient for them.

Four novels for children will be the centerpiece of the course.  We will read Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key by Jack Gantos, Deaf Child Crossing by Marlee Maitlin, Reaching for Sun by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer and Rules by Cynthia Lord.  After discussing the books, there will be assignments designed to understand public and school library services to children with disabilities.  Since appropriate library services are best when planned with an individual in mind, a final project will allow library staff to create a program, resource, training or presentation that can enhance their community.

Course participants who complete the six week (January 5 – February 13, 2015) course, Children with Disabilities in the Library, can earn 3 CEUs (Continuing Education Units).  Registration for this and other ALSC online courses is now available by phone (800-545-2433, ext. 5) or at ALA Online Learning.

Anyone with further questions about the course, Children with Disabilities in the Library, should feel free to contact me at EduKateTodd@gmail.com .


Photo by Kate Todd

Photo by Kate Todd

Our guest blogger today is Kate Todd. Kate has retired from her work as a librarian at The New York Public Library and Manhattanville College.  She now provides online courses and webinars for ALSC and ASCLA.  She has published several journal articles and made presentations at professional conferences and seminars.  In addition to services to people with disabilities, her professional interests include leveling of children’s books, library services to incarcerated youth and gaming in libraries.  Her Twitter handle is @katetodd42 .  

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.

0 Comments on Course Explores Services to Children with Disabilities as of 11/12/2014 12:05:00 AM
Add a Comment
38. Mindfulness in the Library


Photo by Stacy Dillon. Cossayuna Lake NY

In our lives as busy and distracted librarians, it’s easy to get sucked into always keeping that running list in our minds.  You know the one.  It has all of those “to-do” tasks on it that have to get done in the next 2 hours, shift, day, week and month.  I know that I always have several balls in the air and am trying to stay ahead of the game.  It often leads to worrying about what’s next rather than being present in the task at hand.

I was speaking with a teacher about this not so long ago, and she told me about a mindfulness workshop she had attended.  She told me that it had not only helped her practice as an educator, but she was using the techniques with her students and it was making a difference in their lives at school as well.

I started looking around the web for some articles not only just on mindfulness, but on mindfulness in the practice of librarianship as well.  Here are some links have proven helpful to me as I begin to slow down, take a breath and be present in my practice.

Mindfulness for Librarians, by Devin Zimmerman

Insights and Practical Tips on Practicing Mindful Librarianship to Manage Stress, by Kristen Mastel and Genvieve  Innes

Mindfulness 101, posted by The Nocturanal Librarian

The Resource Page from The Mindfulness in Education Network

Of course this takes time. And our connected lives give us some hard habits to break.  I am typing this up while at the breakfast table, with several tabs open at once! I hope that you will consider adding some mindful practice to your days.

0 Comments on Mindfulness in the Library as of 11/11/2014 6:25:00 AM
Add a Comment
39. The 2015 Día National Program Registry #dia15alsc

Build STEAM with Día Mini-Grants

Register your program today! (image courtesy ALSC)

The 2015 Día National Program Registry is now open, and ALSC is inviting libraries to begin registering their upcoming programs. By using the national registry, libraries help build a searchable database that showcases all types and sizes of library programs that highlight Diversity In Action.

Each registered event is given its own unique webpage allowing for libraries to share information about their Día program on their own website and through their social media outlets. Families are able to use the searchable Día map to find programs to attend in their communities.

The national registry is also a great way for libraries to share diversity programming ideas and best practices with collogues across the country. To learn more about Día and to download free resources including booklists, coloring sheets, toolkits, book club curriculums and more; please visit http://dia.ala.org.

Last year alone, there were over 6,000 program searches completed within the national registry, make sure you register your programs today to share with your community how you celebrate diversity!

0 Comments on The 2015 Día National Program Registry #dia15alsc as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
40. REFORMA and the Children in Crisis Task Force

Thousands of unaccompanied refugee children fleeing violence in their home countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras have crossed the United States border and turned themselves in where they are being held in detention centers and placed in removal proceedings. In June 2014, at the ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas, REFORMA (National Association to Promote Library & Information Services to Latinos & the Spanish Speaking) decided to form the Children in Crisis Task Force to get books into the hands of these children while their future is determined. The Children in Crisis Task Force Co-Chairs are looking for ways  to partner with immigrant youth centers. Co-Chair Patrick Sullivan states, “Vendors are waiting in the wings ready to donate books.” Through monetary donations REFORMA is ready to purchase books, backpacks and school supplies.

In September 2014, National REFORMA President Silvia Cisneros personally delivered the first shipment of donated books to McAllen, Texas. In October 2014, Theresa Garza Ybarra, President of REFORMA’s Estrella de Tejas Chapter coordinated a second shipment of donated books to Karnes City, Texas. REFORMA is currently working on a third shipment to Artesia, New Mexico with REFORMA de Nuevo Mexico Chapter President Flo Trujillo. Task Force Co-Chair Oralia Garza de Cortes says it is a slow challenging process that is important. She states, “(REFORMA) is the first group to put books into the detention facilities. No one has done that before.”

Sullivan says that the next phase of this project is to determine what REFORMA can do to help local chapters help newly arrived children in their region who have been re-united with their families but are still under order of removal. Some REFORMA chapters are already doing this such as Los Angeles and San Diego Libros. For example, Ady Huertas, Teen Center Manager for San Diego Public Library’s Central Library, is working closely with local community organization Southwest Key. They have a couple of centers that provide temporary housing and education for youth in transition. They arranged one class visit consisting of 2 centers and 3 classes with 20 youth aged 8-17 years old. Huertas gave them a tour, library cards, and introduced them to library resources. She also gave the youth free Spanish books and some incentives. She is now coordinating a second visit and hopes to schedule regular monthly visits. To her surprise, Huertas even received thank you notes in English! Huertas explains that libraries have a role in servicing this segment of the community. Huertas states, “We’re trying to introduce the library as a safe place and in cities anywhere where they end up, they should look for the local library and get resources and technology for free.”

Photo by Ady Huertas

Photo by Ady Huertas

Libraries have traditionally reached out to immigrant populations to help them navigate their way in a new country. Garza de Cortes notes that this population is different in that they have refugee protected status. When asked about the next steps, Garza de Cortes responded, “(We need to) create more awareness of our role and responsibility as librarians to provide accurate information for the families and work with agencies to be able to help them better understand the power of libraries and power of books to help children change their lives.”

To find out more information about this project or make a book or monetary donation, please visit the Children in Crisis site here.

Additional Resources:
* Tan, Shaun. The Arrival. A.A. Levine, 2006.
Tan, Shaun. Emigrantes. Barbara Fiore, 2007.
Graphic novel of the immigrant experience. Available in English and Spanish but completely wordless.

Art from "The Arrival". Image from Shauntan.net

Art from “The Arrival”. Image from Shauntan.net

* Department of State. Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. Office of Admissions Refugee Processing Center Affiliate Directory : From Boise, Idaho to Wheaton, Illinois, this official directory lists the many service agencies working directly with refugee children.

* Southwest Key Programs: Immigrant Youth Shelters : Information and map locator for shelters run by Southwest Key that temporarily house unaccompanied minors.


Ana-Elba Pavon is the Branch Manager of Oakland Public Library’s Elmhurst Branch in Oakland, CA and is writing this post for the Public Awareness Committee. You can reach her at apavon0405@gmail.com

0 Comments on REFORMA and the Children in Crisis Task Force as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
41. Using Apps to Explore the Natural World

I love nature and the outdoors, and like to build on children’s natural curiosity and sense of wonder in library programming. Technology is part of our world today, and even more so, part of our children’s world. I’m excited about some of  the ways that technology can encourage and enhance exploration of the natural world. Here are six apps that you can share with children and families. All require users to do something in the world, beyond the device itself. Most can be used by preschool children, with parent/caregiver assistance, and by elementary age and older children more independently.

Merlin Bird ID

(free, iPad, iPhone, Android)
I’m a big fan of citizen science11708506813_1a7185bc68_m projects and have participated in Project Feederwatch with my own children for close to ten years. A few years ago I starting sharing information about The Great Backyard Bird Count in a storytime on birds and birdwatching. I was delighted when the Cornell Lab of Ornithology developed the Merlin Bird ID app. The question and answer format is easy enough for preschoolers to use (with an adults help, at least initially, as it involves reading).  It asks where the bird was seen (on the ground, in a tree, flying, etc.), what three main colors it was, and what size using a comparison chart that preschoolers can relate to. Then it comes up with possibilities for that bird. We identified one bird as a group from a picture of a Northern Cardinal, the state bird of Ohio, that I had seen at my feeder that day. Then children explored on their own using the three ipads we have for use in programming. The Merlin app also has a bird guide for browsing and playing different bird calls, an aspect that the children were particularly drawn to. Just listen to the Wild Turkey and you’ll see what I mean!

Other apps that build on children’s interest in the natural world include:


(free, iPhone, iPad)


Developed by the Fred Rogers Center, this app for preschoolers encourages movement, physical activity, and early literacy. It requires interactivity, as you take a photo of your child doing different activities like pretending to climb a tree, to jump, to squat like a frog.  Then the app creates a storybook from the images, that can be read multiple times, saved, and shared.

Nature’s Notebook

(free, iPhone, iPad, Android)

From the USA National Phenology Network, Nature’s Notebook is a citizen science project focused on recording seasonal changes in plants and animals. You register with the website, and then use the app to record observations. Lesson plans are provided for students from elementary to high school.  I already do programs on hibernation (getting ready for winter), the frog and butterfly life cycle, and trees, so I’m looking forward to suggesting this app to parents and teachers.

Trees Pro HD

(free, iPhone, iPad; two additional tree packs for $2.99; Android: $12.99)

This app can help identify trees by leaf type, bark, and fruit, flower or nut. Take a quiz to test your tree knowledge.

Project Noah

(free, iPhone, iPad, Android)

Another citizen science opportunity that is very kid-friendly and encourages closer observation of the natural world. A child, or family together, can choose missions, local or global, to participate in. Earn patches as you record nature spottings along the way, from the initial Tadpole patch to Bug Lover (50 arthropods) or Reptile Specialist (20 reptile spotting). The field guide includes photos from other Project Noah participants with a map of where the plant or animal was spotted.

Night Sky Lite

(free, iPhone, iPad, Android)

Just hold your de9684969716_411c2d9bb4_mvice up to the sky and this app identifies stars, constellations, and planets overhead. Great for budding stargazers. For those who want to learn more, upgrades provide additional information about the wonders overhead (and eliminate the ads at the bottom.)

What are some of your favorite apps for nature or outdoor exploration?

-Robin L. Gibson is a Youth Services Librarian at the Westerville Public Library in Westerville Ohio and member of the Children and Technology Committee.

0 Comments on Using Apps to Explore the Natural World as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
42. Handouts in Storytime

Two storytime handouts, one for Toddlers and one for Families.

Storytime Handouts [Picture courtesy of the author.]

My library is preparing to end our seven-week Fall Session and it’s time to evaluate all the components of our storytimes. I currently do two kinds of storytimes weekly. One is a drop-in family storytime where we get around 40-50 people in the room. The second is a registration toddler storytime (and I do three sessions of it) where we limit classes to 20 pairs of adults/toddlers.

Lately I’ve been thinking about handouts in storytime and what purpose they serve. Why are we making handouts? What are our patrons gaining with these small sheets of paper?

Here are some of my thoughts about the benefits of making handouts:

  • Prepares the child for school. So many of our families have older siblings in school, handouts are a good way of making the youngest family members feel included and prepared for homework. I have one family who calls storytime “school” for their child and she loves getting her “assignment”.
  • Gets more information home in a reviewable way. Storytime providers can include a literacy tip in the storytime, but if that’s the moment that a child decides to start banging on the floor, some adults might miss it. Literacy tips on the handout allow everyone to read it when they have a chance.
  • Puts a suggested booklist in their hands and gives them the power to review the storytime provider’s choices. I can only work with/help one family at a time. But as I leave my class, they are twenty families who might want my assistance in finding materials. Including a booklist helps adults select materials on their own. It also is a great way to remember what books they wanted that might already be checked out.
  • Extends the storytime activities into the home for family members who can’t be present. I have a fairly large nanny/caregiver population bringing children to storytime. By including some of the rhymes and songs we sing in the handout, family members at home can learn what their child did in storytime that day.
  • Lets me have a one-on-one conversation with the children at the door. As the kids leave, I kneel down to their level and give them my handouts. This is where I can tell them something they did in storytime that I found helpful or have them tell me about their new shoes. The kids look forward to this moment and I feel like it helps cut down on the chatter in storytime. Also, this is the part where I occasionally get storytime hugs!

The inside and back view of a storytime handout, showing activities and literacy tips.

The back and inside of my Toddler Storytime Handouts [Picture courtesy of the author.]

Of course, handouts are a great resource if you have the time to make them and if you know how. I am twice lucky because my job allows me off-desk to make handouts and that I’m pretty handy in Publisher.

But remember: handouts don’t have to be fancy! You can easily type up a booklist and print an activity sheet on the back.

Do you use handouts in storytime? Did you find them all over the library after you gave them out? (Confession: I find at least two or three of the nearly 100 I give out weekly.) Let me know in the comments!

– Katie Salo
Early Literacy Librarian
Indian Prairie Public Library

0 Comments on Handouts in Storytime as of 11/7/2014 11:35:00 AM
Add a Comment
43. Where do your award-winners live?


ALSC Awards, the Children’s Librarian version of the Oscars!

With the end of 2014 on the horizon and all eyes turning towards the excitement of the ALSC awards in January, it’s a great time to talk about where we keep award winners in our libraries. There is something to be said for democratic shelving, where each book is shelved in accordance with a system that does not take into account its shiny, shiny medals. Are award winners too noble to mingle with their less-professionally-lauded brethren, especially when those other titles occasionally get more love from children themselves? At the same time, students and parents often come in and ask for award winners. Shelving them all together makes sense.

At my library, we’ve worked around this issue with the addition of two collections which did not subtract any books from the exisiting collection. First, at the direction of then-Head of Children’s Services Kiera Parrott in 2012, we added the F5 Favorites Caldecott section. The F5 (First Five Years) Favorites collection already contained all of the picture book award winners, so it was easy for us to add this collection without adding a new collection code. We purchased two more copies of each award winner, stickered them at the top of the spine with Demco labels, and shelved the new copies together at the end of the Favorites collection. In this way, patrons had the best of the both worlds: they could browse a section of excellent award winners, or find the same great books on the shelf if they were looking for a specific author. The new collection had a very successful debut – circulation was so high we  were able to allocate additional funds in 2013 to add popular Caldecott honors to the collection, too.

Harold W. McGraw, Jr. fellow Lisa Nowlain designed this AMAZING graphic to explain how awesome the Newbery award is.

Darien Library’s Harold W. McGraw, Jr. fellow Lisa Nowlain designed this AMAZING graphic to explain how awesome the Newbery award is.

With the success of the F5 Favorites Caldecott collection, we turned our eyes towards the Newberry award. Current Head of Children’s Services Claire Moore correctly reasoned that older readers (and their parents) would be just as happy to have a collection of librarian pre-approved titles, and this summer we set about ordering at least 2 copies of every Newbery Award winner. Contrary to popular belief, they are not all still in print (or at least, not all available from our vendor). Learning from our Caldecotts, we also purchased additional copies of extremely popular or excellent Newbery Honor books as well.

The Kids Newbery collection debuted in September and has proven to be just as popular, if not more popular, than the Caldecott collection. Shelves that were pleasantly full looking in August now look empty, a happy problem to have!

Although this idea isn’t new, implementing it at our library caused a noticeable bump in total circulation while not costing nearly as much in man-hours as other collection projects. Where do you shelve your award winners? Do they live together?

0 Comments on Where do your award-winners live? as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
44. Operation DIY Giant Flannel Board

Let’s Make an Early Literacy Play Space!
This year at the Central Children’s Library of the Denver Public Library we began updating our toy area into an early literacy play space. We used the five ECRR2 practices (sing, talk, read, write, play) to guide our design.

A while back we found a small flannel board in the back of a cluttered closet. It was too small for our big storytime crowds, so we die-cut some felt pieces and put it in our toy area. Our patrons loved it! Kids and caregivers retold favorite stories and made up a lot of their own.

Even though the board fell apart after a few months of use, the caregiver-child interactions it fostered stayed in our memory. We knew we wanted to include a giant flannel board in the new space. We were also inspired by the floor-to-ceiling flannel board used in a temporary installation exhibit at the Denver Art Museum.

Our play area before.

Our play area before the redesign.

Deciding we wanted a giant flannel board was the easy part; finding one to purchase ready-made wasn’t so easy. In fact, I couldn’t find one online or in any library vendor catalog. I’m sure we could have had something special-ordered, but that would have cost much more than our budget allowed. It was time for Plan B: Operation DIY Giant Flannel Board.

I scoured Pinterest and found many tutorials for making flannel boards, but I couldn’t find anything on making a board larger than a couple square feet. We contacted the very helpful people at the Denver Art Museum. They suggested we attach the flannel to wooden panels with wallpaper paste and then attach the panels to the walls. I used this idea as a starting point, than built upon it with the helpful advice of many wonderful friends and family members. After some trial, error, and much Googling, here’s what I came up with.

Supply List
(I made a 4’ x 8’ board, but it’s easy to customize to your space requirements)

Flannel and wallpaper paste

Flannel and wallpaper paste

  • Panels: I used ¼” Masonite purchased at Home Depot. They come in 4’ x 8’ sheets, but the Home Depot guy cut the panel into 2’ x 4’ sections so I could easily fit it in my little car. Most lumber stores will make cuts like this for free if you ask.
  • Wallpaper Paste: You’ll need enough to cover the front of your panels in a fairly thick coat, plus a bit to stick down the overlapping 2” or 3” of fabric on the back. I bought a 1 quart container and had plenty leftover.
  • Wallpaper Primer: This is different than regular primer! It’s important to use oil-based because water-based primers can breakdown the water-based wallpaper paste over time. I used every bit of a 1 quart can of Kilz Original Primer.
  • Paint Brush: For the wallpaper paste. I used a 3” brush with synthetic bristles. The bigger the brush, the faster the application of paste.
  • Roller, Roller Handle, Roller Pan, Pan Liner: Use these for the primer. You could use a paint brush, but it will add time to your project, especially if you have a big board. Also, oil-based primer is a pain to clean out of a brush. This way you can just toss the roller and the pan liner.
  • Flannel: Although you want to stick felt pieces to your board, flannel is actually the best material for the board itself. Felt will pill and fuzz quickly. I purchased my flannel by the yard at JoAnn Fabrics. We agreed on a nice grassy green, but you can pick any color or even use a different color for each panel. Make sure you take into account the width of the fabric. I bought 6 yards of flannel that was 48” wide. This gave me plenty of wiggle room for my 4’ x 8’ board.
  • Tarp/Plastic: Something to cover your work surface. Make sure it’s clean because everything sticks to flannel!
  • Sawhorses/Table: Optional, but helpful if you don’t want to lean down to the ground.

Putting It Together

The front and back of two completed panels.

The front and back of two completed panels.

  1. Prime both sides of the panels with the roller. Allow to dry completely. I had to prime one side, wait for it to dry, then flip it over and prime the other. Depending on your climate it can take a few hours or a whole day for the primer to dry.
  2. If your board is made up of more than one panel, like mine, cut the flannel into strips big enough to cover the front of the panel and overlap 2”-3” on the back. This will create nice edges. Figure out which side you want up (one side is usually softer and I like that side up).
  3. Lay the panel flat and face up on the ground, table, or sawhorses. Apply the wallpaper paste in an even coat that isn’t too thick, but not too thin. The flannel will absorb some of it, but it will also soak through if you put too much on. Think of putting a nice layer of butter on your toast.
  4. Lay the flannel on top of the panel, smoothing out the wrinkles from the center to the edges. Wallpaper paste takes a while to dry, so this step is very forgiving. You can lift the fabric and re-lay it as needed. You want it to be fairly taut. Press down to make sure the paste is smooshed into the fabric.
  5. Flip panels over and wallpaper paste the overlap to the back of the panel. This doesn’t have to be pretty, no one will see it. Just try to make it flat (think of wrapping a present!). Let dry completely. Wallpaper paste takes a few days to dry all the way, even in the driest of climates.
  6. Your board is now ready to attach to the wall! Our facilities department used screws and beauty washers.

Coming in at just $75, this board was much cheaper and easier to customize than anything we could have special ordered. We recently installed three of the panels and they look wonderful. We didn’t have quite enough room for the fourth panel, but that leaves one as a spare just in case. The bright green color really pops against the ivory of the wall and our patrons love it!

The finished flannel board at the center of our new early literacy play area.

The finished flannel board at the center of our new early literacy play area.

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.

0 Comments on Operation DIY Giant Flannel Board as of 11/4/2014 12:10:00 AM
Add a Comment
45. Winter 2015 ALSC Online Courses

ALSC Online Education

ALSC Online Education (image courtesy of ALSC)

Is it really 2015!?

It will be once January rolls around and what a perfect time to refresh your library programs! ALSC online courses are a great way to introduce new ideas and energy into your programs and services. Registration is now open for the winter 2015 ALSC online course season. 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.

0 Comments on Winter 2015 ALSC Online Courses as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
46. Young Children, New Media & Libraries Survey: The Results Are In!

Have you heard that librarians are using new media in their programming for young children? Are you perhaps one of these trail-blazers? Do you ever wonder what else is happening in the library world with respect to new media? For the first time, we have some answers to these questions and more, and we are going to share some teasers with you. The full results will be published in Children & Libraries in 2015. Many thanks to everyone who responded to the survey.

Between August 1 and August 18, 2014, 415* children’s librarians responded to a survey of 9 questions concerning the use of new media with young children in libraries. The survey was created as a collaborative effort between Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), LittleeLit.com, and the iSchool at the University of Washington, and was partially inspired by a similar survey created by Karen Nemeth, Fran Simon, and Dale McManis in the early childhood education world. They investigated technology use in the classroom and published and presented their results at a number of NAEYC-related events.

Cen Campbell and the LittleeLit.com community had been developing promising practices for the use of technology with young children in public libraries, but had no statistics on how widespread and varied this use was in the United States. So a team that included Cen, Joanna Ison, Liz Mills, and Amy Koester–in partnership with ALSC–designed the first survey of public libraries to find out about emergent technology access and programming for children. The survey was then pilot-tested with public libraries in Washington and California, refined and administered through SurveyMonkey.com, and disseminated through the ALSC listserv, the Little eLit Google group, Storytime Underground, and all parties’ respective social media accounts.

Pie chart of the respondents by legal service area population.

Pie chart of the respondents by legal service area population.

Here is some of what we learned:

How is new media being used?

  • More than 70% of respondents are using some kind of new media in their programming for young children. 40% are using devices in storytime; 31% are using devices in other programs that are not storytimes.
  • More than 20% of respondents are offering device mentoring in some form (e.g., appointment with librarian, office hours for devices, etc.). Of that number, 2% are offering mentoring for devices that are multilingual for non-native English speakers.

Who do our respondents represent?

  • 22% of respondents are serving a legal service area population of less than 5,000; 40% of those respondents are planning to increase their availability and use of new media devices in library programs and services.
  • 18% of total respondents serve the 25,000-49,999 legal service area population; 60% of those respondents are planning to increase their availability and use.

What types of new media are being used and how were they acquired?

  • Respondents indicated quite an array of devices being used: Tablets (iPads, Samsung Galaxies, Nexus 7), Kindles and Nooks, digital cameras and MP3 players, AWE stations and Playaways, as well as LeapPads, Nabis, Tumblebooks, and others.
  • 58% consulted some kind of outside source when acquiring their new media: personal experience, recommendation from colleague, training, professional journals, and others.

Is there another viewpoint?

  • 14% of total respondents indicated that no devices are present in their libraries either because of a lack of community need or because of budgetary constraints.

Thank you to everyone who responded to the Young Children, New Media, and Libraries survey. We greatly appreciate your collaboration to help us gain a better understanding of what is taking place in your libraries around the country. Stay tuned for further data analysis and an explanation of methods coming soon!

A map of where survey respondents are from.

A visual map of where survey respondents are from.

*The total of 415 respondents includes five duplicate submissions–that is, five libraries submitted two copies of the survey, each with different responses (presumably by two different staff members). These duplicates are included in our data and will be discussed as a possible contributor to margin of error in the comprehensive write-up of this study.

Our guest blogger today were Cen Campbell and Liz Mills. Cen is a children’s librarian and founder of LittleeLit.com. She is currently co-chairing the Evolving the Carnegie Award Task for ALSC. Liz received her MLIS in 2013 and is now a second-year PhD student at the iSchool. she is interested in studying how storytimes of all kinds are planned and designed with respect to learning theory and connected learning.

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.

0 Comments on Young Children, New Media & Libraries Survey: The Results Are In! as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment

On my trip to Beijing to attend the Chinese Library Association, I was struck by how different everything was from America. Perhaps this seems to go without saying but I had never been as immersed in a culture and a language that had no foothold for me. There to speak about our Caldecott Award, my only point of reference was the familiar illustrations from much beloved books though I couldn’t recognize a word of text.

One of our hosts, Mr. Wang, is head of the National Children’s Library. He is an energetic, brisk man who dresses very formally in a blue suit. Despite his habit of looking to our translators when he needed to make a point and wanted to talk fast, Mr. Wang understood English very well. I could tell by the way he would nod his head vigorously in agreement when we spoke about our work: its ability to build communication between parents and children, the elusive quality of “excellence,” the fact that every book, even excellent ones, is not good for every child. I sensed that Mr. Wang was truly one of us.

On our last day, over lunch, Mr. Wang and I found ourselves next to each other. It seemed as if there was an unspoken desire on his part to see if he could talk to me on his own. I was only too glad to try. I asked Mr. Wang if the conference and our participation in it was what he had hoped for. I didn’t look at my translator, seated nearby, but waited patiently to see what he would say.

“Oh yes.” He said in English. “We had a good discussion and a good time.”

I was glad about that. The Chinese Library Association Annual Conference is an important event, the premier professional event of librarians, and is filled with much pomp and circumstance: awards, speeches and an elaborate closing ceremony that was to take place that afternoon. I asked Mr. Wang if he were going to attend the closing ceremony.

“No.” he said emphatically, again in English, “I will not be there.”

I was surprised by his answer. Mr. Wang had been a careful, studious host who had presided over our talks, meetings and library visits with care and professionalism. That he would miss the official ceremony of the conference was not in keeping with his bureaucratic demeanor. I was careful not to ask why.

He looked at his watch. “I am telling stories to children at two o’clock today.”

I smiled.

“Yes, I tell stories to children in schools. I do this to show the staff, my staff, that we all must go out. It is a way to bring the children into the libraries.”

I nodded.

“Through stories then they will come back to us. “

I couldn’t have expressed our purpose more meaningfully in any language. Sometimes no translation is necessary.

0 Comments on ONE OF OUR OWN as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
48. That time of year again

I can’t believe it’s November and nearly time to select another winner of the ALSC/Candlewick Press “Light the Way: Outreach to the Underserved” Grant. Yes, applications are due December 1, 2014, and the Library Services to Special Population Children and Their Caregivers will meet during Midwinter 2015 to select a winner.

For inspiration, I share with you excerpts from the final report of the 2013 grant winner, Burke County Public Library in North Carolina. BCPL used the $3,000 grant to fund a programs serving children in the deaf and hard of hearing community.

Our outreach program started by providing weekly Summer Reading Program activities for children participating in the North Carolina School for the Deaf’s summer camp. We collaborated with the school to provide storytimes that were appropriately translated through an interpreter on a weekly basis as well as provided one training opportunity for parents with the main topic being the importance of literacy in the deaf community. We have continued this effort through out the year by providing weekly storytimes at both the Morganton Public Library and the Valdese Public Library for groups from the North Carolina School for the Deaf.”

In addition to programming, library staff organized a theatrical performance at the North Carolina School for the Deaf that was interpreted for students; hearing students from area schools were invited as guests. Grant funds were also used to build Burke County Library’s collection of materials featuring “biographies of famous deaf people and fiction material with the main character being deaf or hearing impaired.”

Can you use $3,000 to enhance programs and services for your local community of children with special needs and their caregivers?

We look forward to learning about your ideas for outreach and services to special population children and their caregivers. The application is available online.


Africa S. Hands is chair of the Library Services to Special Population Children and Their Caregivers committee. If you have questions about the grant application, you can reach her at asheri@rocketmail.com or @africahands on Twitter.

0 Comments on That time of year again as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
49. Book to Film: Anticipating Wait Till Helen Comes

The updated cover, a sharp departure from the eighties-tastic original design!

The updated cover, a sharp departure from the eighties-tastic original design!

Originally published in 1986, Mary Downing Hahn’s classic horror story Wait Till Helen Comes has remained a favorite of children and librarians everywhere due to its deeply frightening, malevolent ghost and realistic family dynamics. The story of a troubled young girl named Heather, her concerned stepsister Molly, and an evil ghost named Helen bent on revenge, Wait Till Helen Comes‘ staying power is a testament to the primal fear it evokes in readers.

Now Hollywood has come calling, with the announcement last month that Helen is being developed for film. Maria Bello is starring as the mother, while two actress sisters (Sophie and Isabelle Nelisse) will star as Molly and Heather. Isabelle was previously in the extremely frightening Mama, so her casting seems to indicate plans for a very scary movie, but producers say they’re aiming for a target audience of 8 and up. No release date has been announced, but tweets from the sisters indicate filming has begun, so perhaps we’ll see the film just in time for Halloween 2015!

The cultural power of Wait Till Helen Comes is so vast it was recently chosen for the website Jezebel’s Halloween throwback bookclub, “a week of straight of throwbacks to the spookiest stories from your childhood.” It’s always interesting to read a non-children’s librarian perspective on children’s literature. While my teeth were grinding at the post’s continued referral to the book as a “YA” novel, I loved how surprised the bloggers were that there was no parental supervision in the book, which we know is a hallmark of any great middle grade adventure!

There are many other delightfully spooky movies based on children’s books. While we wait for Wait Till Helen Comes, why not read and watch Paranorman or Coraline or The Witches?

0 Comments on Book to Film: Anticipating Wait Till Helen Comes as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
50. Changing Spaces

In October, I had the pleasure of taking a continuing education class on youth services management that got me thinking about small (and not-so-small) changes I’ve made to our Children’s Room to make the space more effective. I wanted to share a few things I’ve done over the past few years to make our collection easier to use.

Photo by Abby Johnson

Photo by Abby Johnson

1. I made board books accessible to their target audience. Previously, our board books were shelved spine-out on low shelves near the entrance to the department. I purchased bins, which we placed in our picture book area. Don’t have funds to order bins? Try a child’s plastic sandbox!

Photo by Abby Johnson

Photo by Abby Johnson

2. I expanded shelving for our overfull holiday section by taking the doors off these cabinets. About half our holiday books were in storage for most of the year and it was a giant pain to switch them in and out when holidays came and went. Plus, we all know some kids will check out a Christmas or Halloween book any time of year. Now these books are out and available year-round.

Photo by Abby Johnson

Photo by Abby Johnson

3. I put graphic novels front and center. We have had graphic novels pulled out into their own section for a long time, but previously they were shelved in the middle of the fiction section, under the G’s (for “Graphic”). We were constantly getting questions about them because they were practically hidden.

I weeded our print reference section, moved the Parent/Teacher shelves across the aisle, and then put the graphic novels at the front of the fiction section. Bonus: it makes more sense for the Reference books to be adjacent to the Parent/Teacher shelves and that area has a table, which gets lots of use from homeschoolers, tutors, and teachers.

Photo by Abby Johnson

Photo by Abby Johnson

4. This is our most recent (and most expensive!) change. I was lucky to have some money from a library trust and I ordered two mobile display units. Previously, our “display” spaces were shelving bays in the stacks that were designated by us as “display” space, but most probably looked to our patrons just like any other shelf. By ordering these display units, we can make displays that really stand out and highlight our collection.

What changes (small or large) have you made to your space to make your collection work better for your patrons?

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

0 Comments on Changing Spaces as of 11/5/2014 1:59:00 AM
Add a Comment

View Next 25 Posts