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The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) is a network of more than 4,200 children’s and youth librarians, children’s literature experts, publishers, education and library school faculty members, and other adults committed to improving and ensuring the future of the nation through exemplary library service to children, their families, and others who work with children.
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One of the things that I miss the most about working in the public library is the programming. I know, I know…when I was in the public libraries, programming could be overwhelming as I worked in large branches with loads of kids. I took to twitter to muse about missing crafting, and got some suggestions from my PLN that morphed into our “Maker Mondays”.
For a variety of reasons, I decided to make this pretty much a passive program. Because of our active after school program, I decided to make it happen before school when there are usually quite a few kids hanging out. Since I like crafting so much, that is the genesis of the idea of “making”.
I have chosen basic crafts to start (thank you pinterest!). Our first week, we simply cut out paper snowflakes and wrote some hopes and wishes for the New Year on them to hang in the students’ windows. The second craft (seen above) is a simple book mark using paint strips, construction paper, and ribbon.
So far we have had a variety of students ranging from 2nd graders to 7th graders take part. The program takes minimal planning, and induces many smiles. I’m so happy I tried it!
Today, we’re excited to welcome two participants in the ALSC Mentoring Program to the blog. Mary Fellows and Skye Corey are matched in the program and want to tell us all about it. They asked each other six questions and we’re running their interview as today’s post.
Skye Corey, participant in the ALSC Mentoring Program (photo courtesy of Skye Corey)
Mary Fellows: Hello, Ms. Mentee! To get us started, let me pose to you the questions I ask myself some hectic days: “What’s my name, where do I live, why am I here?”
Skye Corey: My name is Skye Corey, and I live just outside of London, Ontario, Canada. I’m in my final year of the University of Western Ontario’s Library and Information Science program, where, among other things, I’ve been having a wonderful time reading the writings of the early pioneers of children’s librarianship. What vision they had!
I’m here because after attending the “ALSC 101” program at the ALA Annual Conference this past year in Chicago, I was overcome by the passion, intelligence, compassion, and vision of leaders and members alike. “These are the kind of people,” I said to myself, “that I want to learn from.”
Mary Fellows, past president and ALSC mentor (photo courtesy of Mary Fellows
Skye: Just to give those new to ALSC (like myself) an understanding of who you are, I’m going to ask the same questions of you. What’s your name, where do you live, and why are you here?
Mary: My name is Mary Fellows. I live and work in the Albany, New York area. In New York State we have 23 public library systems that exist to provide expertise and economies of scale that make individual public libraries better. I have the best job in my organization (don’t tell my coworkers!), Upper Hudson Library System: working with the librarians who serve kids, teens, and families in their libraries.
Why am I here? I love learning. And I love helping others develop their skills, challenge their boundaries, and grow. A major part of my job is influencing people: modeling, training, informing, and motivating staff members to take risks and improve their service. One of my favorite quotes is from Anais Nin: “Life expands or contracts in proportion to one’s courage.” I try to foster the development of courage!
When ALSC initiated a mentorship program, I thought, “I can do that!” I signed right up, and here we are!
Mary: In getting to know you, Skye, I’ve enjoyed your optimism, can-do attitude, and humor. You have another characteristic, though, that our readers may be curious about: you’re Canadian, going to school in Canada. Why ALSC?
Skye: Well, Mary, I wish I could tell you that I undertook a thorough investigation of all possible associations before signing up, but the words “Christmas list” and “time crunch” come to mind when thinking about an answer to “Why ALSC?”
I was finishing up my first semester of library school and my parents wanted my Christmas list immediately. I’d already been hoping to subscribe to a journal that discussed current practice and issues in the field, so I figured I’d better hurry up and choose a journal to put on that list or else I’d end up with a scratchy turtle-neck sweater under the tree. After checking out the different journal options, I discovered that I could get free access to Children & Libraries if I became a member of ALSC, so I quickly put “ALSC Membership” on my Christmas wish-list. My parents, how I love them, did one better and not only paid for my membership, but also paid for me to attend the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago. There, through the pre-conference and other sessions, I became extremely impressed by the abundance of learning opportunities that ALSC offered. You better believe that an ALSC membership renewal is on my Christmas list this year!
Skye: You mentioned the importance of mentoring in a previous ALSC blog post, stating that, alongside being an ambassador and a visionary, leaders mentor. Can you tell me about an individual who has played an important mentoring role in your life? What sorts of qualities did she or he exhibit?
Mary: Let’s take a recent example. I was elected vice-president/president-elect of ALSC in 2010, following Julie Corsaro, whom I barely knew. The three-year presidency track (vice/elect, president, immediate past) loomed quite scarily ahead of me. But to my great good fortune, Julie chose mentorship as her theme (this project we’re in came originally from her), and lived out her value by mentoring me in ALSC leadership skills. She was open, frank, able to laugh about things that were exasperating, and shared information and helpful hints that only someone who has made hundreds and hundreds of committee appointments would know. Julie was also organized, poised in her presenting, and always gracious. You can bet my eyes were glued to her as she presented our part of the webcast Youth Media Awards and presided over the Newbery-Caldecott Banquet – and what a good model she was!
Mary: Now back to you . . . when you signed up to join the mentorship program, what were your hopes? What benefits are you gaining from our mentoring relationship thus far?
Skye: When I signed up to join the mentorship program, my one major hope was to learn. I wanted to learn both about the things I knew I needed to learn, and about the things I didn’t even know I needed to learn. For example, I knew that I wanted to learn about how I could help strengthen the next generation of children’s librarians, in my role as co-leader of our school’s student group, “The Student Librarian’s Association for Children and Youth Services.” I also wanted to learn about things I didn’t even know I needed to learn. I wanted to identify the gaps in my knowledge of the field, and find ways to fill in those gaps.
In terms of benefits gained from the mentoring relationship thus far, I feel like I’ve learned so much already! Just by listening to how you articulate answers to different questions has taught me how to think deeply and broadly. More specifically, by going through ALSC’s core competencies you’ve helped me identify areas for growth, and connected me to resources that will foster that growth.
Skye: One last question: if you could pick one character from a children’s book that was the ultimate example of a good mentee, who would you pick and why?
Mary: Here you are, really challenging me again! I pick Olivia (Olivia, by Ian Falconer). She’s a pig with creativity and aspirations. Olivia is open to outside influences, and can learn both by observing and trying, so she’s mentally flexible. Olivia knows the importance of being prepared, and she thoroughly investigates the options before making a decision – useful habits to develop. On the emotional skill level, she’s able to be firm when needed, which means that Olivia has boundaries – hugely important! Mainly, though, Olivia’s not afraid to take risks – and that kind of “let’s try it see what happens” attitude is very appealing in a mentee. Olivia reminds me a lot of you, Skye – well, except that you’re not a pig . . .
By: ALSC Advocacy and Legislation Committee,
Blog: ALSC Blog
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The Pew survey, How Americans Value Public Libraries in Their Communities by Kathryn Zickuhr, Lee Rainie, Kristen Purcell and Maeve Duggan, was released on December 11, 2013, and it provides us with some solid food for thought with regard to advocating for the services that we provide. It notes that Americans strongly value the role of public libraries within their communities, but also indicates some areas where we need to “get the word out,” so to speak. Questions addressed in the survey included:
- The importance of public libraries to their communities and the impact to family and community should the library close.
- The importance of particular library services to the individual and his/her family.
- How well-informed those surveyed felt about different services offered by their library.
- How many had used a public library in the past 12 months.
- How many have had a positive experience in using a public library.
While survey responses were mostly positive, there was variation as to the importance of specific services offered depending upon the group to which the respondent belonged. Those of us who serve young people should note that parents with minor children were more likely to respond that many services offered by the library are “very important.”
As an advocate for library services in general and services to young people in particular, the response to the question “How well-informed do you feel about the different services your public library offers?” was the one that I found most frustrating and the one that seems to me to call out to us with regard to promoting and advocating for the services that we provide for our communities. The report noted that 23% felt they knew most or all of what the library provided, 47% knew some, 20% indicated not much and 10% said that they knew nothing.
In effect, the survey indicates that the majority of people surveyed like their libraries, feel that they are valuable to the community, know where their library is located, and have used it within the past twelve months. On the other hand, their knowledge of what the library offers in the way of services varies considerably. So the question is; how do we more effectively advocate for and promote the services that we provide?
I encourage you to read the report and to view it from the perspective of your library and its services. It does provide you with positive data about how Americans view their public libraries. This is data that you may well be able to use as you talk with local government and other agencies about library service needs within your community. It can be found at http://libraries.pewinternet.org/2013/12/11/how-americans-value-public-libraries-in-their-communities/.
Many thanks to Joanna Ison, ALSC Program Officer for Projects and Partnerships, for sharing the report with me.
Chair, ALSC Advocacy and Legislation Committee
I really enjoyed writing for the ALSC blog about how I use Evernote for my storytime archive and thought it would be fun to share another online tool I make heavy use of, and see what your experience has been.
Diigo is a social bookmarking tool (like delicious or Google Bookmarks ) that you can use to save links to websites, pdfs, slide sets, and other sites on the web. Because it’s cloud-based, it’s available to you no matter where you are. I’ve used other systems before, but in 2011, Google Bookmarks rolled back their lists feature and hundreds of my carefully curated links were left in one untagged pile in my account, grrr, and Delicious looked for awhile like they were going to get shut down (they weren’t, just sold from Yahoo.) So I looked around for an alternative and found Diigo, which I’ve been using happily ever since.
Caveat: This is NOT an exhaustive Diigo tutorial. I know I am not using this service to the max, and if you are using it too you probably know things I don’t, so share them in the comments! At the same time, I know other services may have similar features; Diigo is just the one I know best.
Once you set up a Diigo account (there are free and premium options), to add a url to Diigo, you can use the “Add” button on your Diigo page, or use a bookmarklet or a browser extension. You fill in a form with the url, title of resource, and then can add an annotation and some tags. If you use the bookmarklet, the url and title will auto-fill and Diigo will suggest tags for you. Then the links go into your Diigo library in a big list, most recent on the top.
Search & Tags
It doesn’t matter how the links are stored, however, because there’s a search available that checks for keywords in the url, title, annotation, and tags. Before I started building up my library, I spent some time thinking about my taxonomy, and really made a commitment to tagging, and I think this has helped me a great deal. I thought about how I remember the resources I come across, and decided to tag for format (PDF, slides, blog post, website, abstract, etc.), for content (I use the six skills and five practices from ECRR a LOT as tags for my work), and also by project (staff newsletter, storytime, collection development, etc.). I’ll think, “Oh, there was that pdf handout with vocabulary activities I came across while I was writing the last newsletter,” and then I can look for “vocabulary” and “pdf” and “newsletter” and pull it up. Your tags will be different, but don’t hesitate to use them–there is an advanced search so you can look for combinations of tags or keywords and narrow your results list.
Highlights & Notes
The search feature is great but what I REALLY love about Diigo is the ability to mark up the webpage and save those notes with the site. You can do two things: highlight specific text on the page, and write general sticky notes. Both are saved with the site in your Diigo library, so when you come back later, you can see what your thoughts were and what you liked from the site. PLUS you can send a marked up link to a colleague, who can see your notes and highlights with without needing a Diigo account of their own.
Here’s a link to an article I came across last month while I was looking for great quotes about why writing is an important early literacy skill. You can see my highlights–I didn’t make any notes on this one. http://diigo.com/01d9jo
My colleague Laurie Anne thought this might be something she could use in her outreach work with busy preschool teachers: She could send them a regular email with a link to a new article every month, with certain points already highlighted. It could also be a quick way to start discussion within your own department.
Here’s a really little thing that I appreciate: say I come across a website or article and I’m not sure if I’ve read it before. I open up my Diigo bookmarklet and if I’ve already saved the site, the bookmark form pops up filled in, and any highlights I made previously appear. I don’t have to go searching through my links to see if I’ve already saved it.
Groups & Lists
Diigo is a social network, though you can decide how social you want to be. You can allow followers and can follow other users, and see what they are bookmarking on your Network page, but you can also set your account so no one can follow you and you can mark your bookmarks private so no one can see them. You can also make a group, inviting specific users to join, and use it as a way to gather resources for a department or library-wide project, joint presentation, or paper. You can post notes to the group, so there’s room for general conversations as well; you’re not limited to comments on links to communicate.
Another helpful feature is the ability to make lists. You can manually add links to a list, which you can then print (your annotations will show up along with the title and url), give out as a simple url (like a bit.ly), or play the list as a slideshow. I’ve used the printed lists for quick handouts for staff trainings and the list url during presentations as a “consult later” resource for attendees.
You can also link your Twitter account, and Diigo will save your favorite tweets (up to 20 a day for free users); you can tweet or Facebook your links; you can have Diigo generate a blog post with a link you saved and your annotations; save links to Diigo via email; use Diigo via app on your phone; and probably a million other things I’m missing.
Are you on Diigo too? Let us know how you use it!
Melissa Depper is a Librarian in the Child and Family Library Services department of the Arapahoe (CO) Library District, where she starts every week off right with baby storytime. She serves on the ALSC Children and Technology Committee, is on Diigo as MelZed, and is on Twitter, right now probably, at @MelissaZD.
It is the eternal battle for storytime librarians. I see it on Twitter and listservs, I hear it from co-workers and neighboring libraries — how and when do you schedule your storytimes?
In an ideal world, there would be a storytime that began every fifteen minutes in every library so that any child would be able to attend regardless of their never-ending schedule of naps and feedings and preschool and Mommy & Me classes and doctor’s appointments. But we don’t live in an ideal world.
We do the very best that we can to provide for our patrons.
This past year, I added a monthly evening storytime for my patrons to work around their busy schedules. And for the first time since I started at my job, evening storytime is flourishing and gaining numbers while morning storytime is lagging.
I’ve decided to take the months of December and January off from morning storytime to try and figure out what I need to do to increase my morning attendance again.
Previously, we’ve done Tuesday or Thursday mornings at 10:00 a.m. since 2006. Should we be having storytime at 9:30 or wait until 11:00? Do I need to change my day? Is it finally time to start doing a babies/toddlers storytime in the morning and save preschool for immediately after-school?
I wish I could say that I have the answers that I know many of us are seeking. But all I can say is that I have the willingness and chance to change my habits to try and better serve my patrons.
So, tell me, have you radically changed when you schedule your storytimes? What worked? What flopped? Let me know!
- Katie Salo
Youth Services Manager
Melrose Park Library
“You play Minecraft at work?” Sometimes my friends get jealous, so I explain: “Yeah, I play Minecraft at work, but I’m usually running around the lab helping people, and there’s more to it than just playing the game – it’s about building community.” Playing Minecraft at the library is a way to get kids in the door and create connections. That I’m a fan of Minecraft outside of work serves as another layer of common ground.
I’ve been playing Minecraft in our computer lab with groups of kids and teens for about two years now. We’ve done a lot of different things with the game: free play, adventure maps, working together to survive, player vs. player battles, redstone circuits, pixel art. At times we’ve played every other week, sometimes once a month, sometimes once over the summer. I’ve gotten to know my Minecraft kids pretty well. I know that they are creative and knowledgeable about the details of the game. I know who loves to explore, who is a fearless monster fighter, who can give me a porkchop when my food meter is low, and who knows how to build a shelter where no zombie will ever find us. And they know me this way as well. They know I probably have a secret shelter hidden somewhere, that if they need a place to hide they can come in, and that my avatar is probably standing there doing nothing because I left myself logged in while I got up to help someone at their computer.
By providing a space for kids to play, we have explored building communities in the game, and we have created a community outside the game based on our shared interest.
I hear a lot of talk about how Minecraft can be used educationally to teach STEAM skills, executive functioning skills and social skills like sharing and cooperation. I agree that all of these opportunities are available with the game, but the truth is that sometimes in the middle of a program, things can get pretty chaotic. Sometimes I’m just running around the lab trying to help kids learn crafting recipes, or mediating between disputes. I knew I had strong connections with a lot of kids because I know them from Minecraft, but I wasn’t thinking about the way that these connections might go beyond the computer lab until recently.
The other day a couple of my regulars, twin brothers, came in to the Children’s room. I marveled at how tall they were getting. They signed up for the next Minecraft program, next month, near their birthday. They will be 11. I have known them for over a year. In addition to wondering when the next Minecraft program was, they were also looking for books for school. They had reports to write. The topics: roller coasters and locksmiths. We looked for books and I walked them back to the stacks to show them how Dewey Decimal call numbers work. We found some books, but we had to put others on hold from libraries in our consortium. I explained that with a little notice, we could get books that they could use for their projects from libraries across the state. Then, I showed them around the databases.
It turns out roller coaster is two words and locksmith is one. This is something I wasn’t entirely sure about when I went to type in search terms and it gave me a concrete example to show that database searching is specific and you need to try rephrasing your terms when you aren’t finding the information you’re looking for.
I explained how they could access the databases from home and told them they could always call the Children’s Room or send me an email to if they needed more help.
This ten or fifteen minute interaction had a lot of positive outcomes: The twins got the resources they need for their projects as well as an in-depth reference interview from a librarian they know cares about them. I got to see two enthusiastic Minecraft adventurers in the context of fifth grade students. I also got a feeling of satisfaction along the lines of that quote from Field of Dreams: “If you build it, they will come.” Connections made by gaming translated into a connection to the more traditional resources the library has to offer. So, not only do these two kids know I’ve got their backs when there’s a zombie, they know that the library will support their information needs for school projects with a variety of resources.
It was a moment I wanted to share.
Do you have an anecdote about making connections in your library? Share it in the comments!
YALSA Blogger Erin Daly works with babies, teens and every kid in between as the Youth Services Coordinator at the Chicopee Public Library in Western Massachusetts. You can follow her tales of library life and the occasional cat picture on Twitter @ErinCerulean
Are you interested in reading more tween-related posts? The YALSA Blog and the ALSC Blog both offer information of interest to librarians who work with tweens.
Working with tweens can be fun and also frustrating. My branch will have a large after school crowd of tweens but they’re not at the library to attend a program or hang out. Instead they are at the library to meet with a tutor, work on homework, or grab a book quickly before they rush off to their extracurricular activities. No matter how much we advertise programs to this age group, our attendance can sometimes be low. Or at least it feels low when we’ve put a lot of effort into planning a program that we hope will be a big success.
It’s hard to get caught up in numbers and statistics when it comes to programming. It’s also hard not to compare programs with each other. Sometimes I think about how we can get a group of 30 or more toddlers for storytime but I’m lucky if I can get a few tweens for a program.
But I can’t get caught up in measuring program success by numbers. Instead I focus on the stories. Like the middle schooler who came to every single Hunger Games program we provided last year, won the movie tickets in the giveaway, and came to the library this year and said “thank you so much for having those programs about The Hunger Games! They were my favorite and I met my best friend-and we’re still friends today and we met at the library.”
Or the tween who attended a recent program and was excited to win a set of books she hadn’t read yet.
Or the tween who gets excited to meet someone else who shares their interests when they thought they were the only one who liked Doctor Who, or Origami Yoda, or Cupcake Club.
When I feel down about tween programs and wonder what we could do better to reach this age group, I remind myself of all that we have provided for tweens and that we are successful. We are providing a place for tweens to come, meet other tweens, and participate in a program just for them-and that’s a success.
It’s December – the time to ponder the best books of 2013, and to wonder which ones will receive the coveted awards of January.
It’s also time to come clean and admit the books still languishing on your TBR pile.
What book did you want to, plan to, or have to read this year … but didn’t?
Here are the two that I most regret not having read this year:
- Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell (Simon & Schuster)
- Serafina’s Promise by Ann E. Burg (Scholastic)
So, now that I’ve made you (and me!) feel guilty, take heart – we have 21 days left until next year. Grab a book and start reading!
Luckily for me, I’ll be reviewing the audiobook version of Rooftoppers soon for a magazine, and I’ve got time to squeeze in Serafina’s Promise. How about you?
What do kids love more than making a huge, awesome mess? Nothing! Unfortunately, most kids aren’t allowed to dig in to paint, glitter, and glue at home on a regular basis. Thankfully, we have a library for that! With this in mind, I created a “Baby Rembrandts” art program for children ages 1-5 and their parents.
I set up everything in the room before kids and their parents began to arrive. The program lasted around one hour and had four art stations. I covered all the tables with plastic table cloth, pre-poured paint onto small plates, and placed all the materials on the tables. I kept all the paint on a high counter until we started to prevent eager artists from digging right in.
As parents and children arrived, I gave them a paper leaf to write their name on and tape to their shirt. This made it easier for me to address people I didn’t already know from storytime. After they made their leaves, everyone came to sit on the carpet and we read Wow! Said the Owl by Tim Hopgood.
After the story, I broke the group up into four smaller groups to go to the stations. I had 24 kids in attendance, and I kept friends and family members together. I told everyone at the start of the program that I would alert the group after 15 minutes had passed so that everyone could make it to every station, but nobody was forced to move if they weren’t finished. Then, I let them go to town!
The four stations I included were: Finger painted leaves and Indian corn (pictures of Indian corn and leaves on card stock) Pumpkin Sun Catchers (two pieces of contact paper with a pumpkin shaped outline and tissue paper pressed between) Movable Scarecrows (a scarecrow shape with arms and legs detached. They added arms and legs with paper fasteners so that they moved, and decorated) and a Library Mural (Large pieces of butcher paper taped to the table for everyone to collaborate on with paint. I changed this paper one time so that there was enough room for everyone to contribute.)
While I did alert the group every 15 minutes or so, most groups moved around at their own pace. I had baby wipes available to wipe off messy hands, and I had a bunch of oversized shirts that were available as smocks. Only a few kids wanted smocks, though, because I was sure to put in the program description that we would be getting messy. We also have a sink in our program room, which allowed little ones to wash their hands.
Overall, Baby Rembrandts was a huge success. This program had all fall themed crafts (it was held October 25) but it can easily be adapted for any season or no season at all. It was a great time, and I highly recommend it!
Our guest blogger today is Ellen Norton. Ellen is a children’s librarian at the White Oak Library District in Crest Hill, IL. When she’s not making messes with little ones, she likes going on outdoor adventures, cooking, and reading of course! Ellen can be reached at email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Download your free copy today! Image courtesy of ALSC
Looking for books for tweens? ALSC recently announced the release of a Tween Recommended Reads booklist, intended to engage and encourage tweens to read throughout the year.
The Tween Recommended Reads list includes 25 titles chosen specifically to appeal to tweens and to encourage them to read. PDFs of the booklist are available online in full color and black and white and are free to download, copy and distribute.
A big thank you to the 2013 ALSC School Age Programs and Services Committee who put together this awesome list!
It’s that time of year again, when we gather around our families and friends to observe the various winter holidays. Kwanzaa, Hanukkah and Christmas are important holidays that are marked during the month of December. The Public Awareness Committee makes a special effort to promote programs and books that celebrate multiculturalism through promotion of El día de los niños/ El día de los libros, commonly known as Día, and below you will find some of my favorite multicultural holiday picture books. What better way to honor and educate others about these festivities than with a fun holiday book? Little ones and adults alike are sure to enjoy sharing these stories. Any of these titles would make a great gift as well!
Hanukkah Bear by Eric A. Kimmel; Illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka. Holiday House, 2013. Old Bear is mistaken to be the rabbi by Bubba Brayna on the first night of Hannukkah.
Sadie’s Almost Marvelous Menorah by Jamie Korngold; Illustrated by Julie Fortenberry. Kar-Ben, 2013. After Sadie breaks the menorah she made at her Jewish school, her mom helps to convert it into a shammash holder to light the family’s other menorahs.
Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama by Selina Alko. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2012. Every December, a young girl enjoys celebrating the uniqueness of two winter holidays with her family.
The Christmas Coat: Memories of my Sioux Childhood by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve; Illustrated by Ellen Beier. Holiday House, 2011. In this winner of the American Indian Library Association’s 2011 Youth Literature Award, Virginia dreams of the perfect coat that will keep her warm during the harsh South Dakota winter.
Pablo’s Christmas by Hugo C. Martin; Illustrated by Lee Chapman. Sterling, 2006. When Pablo’s father leaves him in charge of the small, rural farm in Mexico, Pablo does his best to make Christmas special.
The Legend of the Poinsettia retold and illustrated by Tomie dePaola. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1994. This retelling of a Mexican legend explains the meaning of the beautiful flower and how it served as a significant gift.
Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story by Angela Shelf Medearis; Illustrated by Daniel Minter. Albert Whitman & Company, 2000. This original African folktale tells the plight of many brothers who are constantly fighting while cleverly outlining the seven principles of the holiday.
My First Kwanzaa by Deborah Chocolate; Illustrated by Cal Massey. Scholastic, 1999. Lovely illustrations and simple text serve as an excellent introduction to the Kwanzaa holiday as we see one family celebrate their heritage.
What are some of your favorite multicultural holiday books to share during December?
Nicole Lee Martin is a Children’s Librarian at the Grafton-Midview Public Library in Grafton, OH and is writing this post for the Public Awareness Committee. You can reach her at email@example.com.
December is an exciting time for the Library Services to Special Populations and Their Caregivers Committee as we begin to review applications for the ALSC/Candlewick Press “Light the Way: Outreach to the Underserved” Grant. Reviewing applications is a wonderful way to learn about the accessibility and literacy challenges facing children and their caregivers throughout the U.S. It’s also an opportunity to learn about and support the creative programming happening in our libraries to meet their needs and help them feel at home in the library.
In addition to the grant, committee members remain busy writing about library services to special populations for the ALSC blog. This year, we’ve written about welcoming LGBTQ families into the library, providing fun financial literacy education during storytime, and getting started as a new librarian serving special needs populations. Committee members have also highlighted books to celebrate National Adoption Month and suggested ways the library can get involved with Hunger Action Month.
Contributing to the ALSC blog is the committee’s way of increasing awareness around these and many other important issues facing our library patrons. We see it as a way of advocating for those who aren’t always top of mind when it comes to services. What I love about this particular work of the committee is that we’ve written about the many faces of special populations, recognizing that special populations are not limited to those with disabilities. We hope our posts inform and inspire the work of fellow librarians, and we look forward to continuing this work. Stay tuned for more blog posts and activities from the committee.
And, if you’re interested in collaborating feel free to contact any committee member listed below:
Sara E. Hathaway
Rebecca Anne Hickman
Amy Seto Musser
Posted by Africa Hands, Librarian, Library Services to Special Populations and Their Caregivers Committee Chair.
For some reason, I’m not fully into the Christmas season yet. I’m sure a lot had to do with the fact that Thanksgiving was so late this year. I’m just startled whenever circulation staff tells patrons that their materials are now due 12/26 (12/28 by the time you read this!). Three weeks!
My inability to grasp the inevitable is the reason why I decided to post about “Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day!” It may not be as well known as Talk Like a Pirate Day, but it does have its own official Facebook page, at least. Even if you decide to not wear a costume for Time Traveler Day, you can mark the occasion by booktalking or displaying time-travel books and/or DVDs, such as the following:
A Holocaust time-travel book might have turned into a cringeworthy and/or exploitative read if written by a less capable author than Jane Yolen. When Hannah opens the door for the Prophet Elijah during her family’s Seder, as is customarily done during the feast, she is transported to Poland. It is now 1942, and Hannah (now Chaya) is captured by the Nazis and sent to a concentration camp. Friendship, family, and the importance of memory are themes finely woven into this provacative children’s novel about the Holocaust.
Dan Gutman’s Baseball Card Adventure series is a fast-paced and fun ride through baseball history. Joey meets baseball greats when he travels back in time, thanks to a valuable baseball card featuring Honus Wagner found while cleaning an elderly neighbor’s attic. Additional titles feature Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, and other elite players.
I read Home Sweet Rome before I realized that it was the second entry in Marissa Moss’s Mira’s Diary series (the series begins with Mira’s Diary: Lost in Paris). Luckily, Moss includes enough background material that reading the series in order isn’t imperative. Mira must rescue her time-traveling mother in Rome; to do so requires Mira to travel back to 16th century Rome, in which she meets Caravaggio and his controversial group of scientist and artist friends. There’s lots of humor and hijinks in Mira’s adventures, but history (including the treatment of Jewish Romans during this time) is learned in adventures that will appeal to a wide variety of readers.
(Source: Macmillan website)
Lottie Stride’s The Time Travelers’ Handbook is a wacky and fascinating look at life throughout the ages. Readers will “learn” how to compete at the ancient Olympics, how to build a Viking ship, and how to fight a samurai, among other skills that would have been very useful in the past. Give this to readers not quite ready for the Worst Case Scenario Survival books.
What are your favorite time-travel books? Tell us about them in the comments!
Constructive Play is a valuable experience for child development and for the acquisition of early literacy skills. When children play with blocks they are engaged in the use of fine and gross motor skills, developing problem solving skills, hand eye coordination and visual/spatial awareness. Beyond these developmental skills needed for growth and school success block play also allow children to develop social/ emotional skills. Children can learn conflict resolution, build self-confidence and engage in open ended play with free expression. By creating new worlds, designing imaginary stories, engaging in identifying shapes and relationships between them while playing with blocks, children are developing early literacy skills.
Block come in all shapes and sizes!
Including Blocks in your Library
- Select the blocks that work for your branch. Think about the space you have to allocate and the noise level you prefer to keep.
- Plan a way for blocks to be stored. Will you use a block cabinet, baskets, bins or shelves? Whatever you choose make sure you have a plan in place for your customers to know where to put away the blocks when their play time is over. This keeps your blocks nice as well as saves on staff time.
- Encourage Customers to put away their blocks after playing. When kids clean up blocks and put them into your planed storage system they have to sort them which is a math skill! Offer a stamp or sticker for kids who clean up their mess. We post signs around some of our more messy centers that encourage kids to clean up. After they clean up what they played with they can show the Librarian and get a stamp. Most children will do anything for a stamp or sticker. They are low cost and will save you and your staff a lot of cleaning.
- Sanitize Your Blocks! All you need to sanitize these items is water, bleach and a spray bottle. Mix 1 teaspoon of bleach with 1 gallon of water and fill the spray bottle. This mixture is good enough to kill germs but will not damage items, clothes, carpet or furniture. Spray your items liberally at night and leave them to dry overnight.
- Know that all children will play with blocks differently depending on their developmental stages.
- Carrying (blocks carried, not used for construction; young children around age 2)
- Stacking (horizontal or vertical stacking; beginning around age 3)
- Bridging (children create a bridge using two blocks to support a third; also around age 3)
- Enclosure (blocks enclose a space; around age 4)
- Patterns and Symmetry (balanced structures, decorative or symmetrical patterns; ages 4 & 5)
- Early Representational (name structure during or after construction; age 4 ½)
- Later Representational (announce name before building begins, often use props for dramatic play;age 5
- Watch the Magic Happen! Observe the great creations and learning opportunities happen before your very eyes!
Photo taken by Abby Johnson, NAFCPL
My library is offering its first Winter Reading Club for teens and kids this winter! We borrowed heavily from Angie Manfredi’s Winter Reading program at the Los Alamos County Library System and we’re really excited to try it out!
For us, Winter Reading differs significantly from the Summer Reading Club because, where in summer we’re truly trying to REACH ALL THE CHILDREN! and GET EVERYONE TO READ!, in winter our goal is to get people to visit the library and discover the resources we have for them here. In summer, we’re trying to help bridge that gap and help kids keep up their reading skills. In winter, they’ll be in school most of the time our program is going on, so we’re trying to give them something interesting to do during those cold winter months, and we’re inviting them to explore their library.
What we really liked about the program Angie developed is that it helps us showcase some of the wonderful books that patrons may not know we have. Picture book biographies! Award winners! And on each BINGO card, they can fill a square by getting a suggestion from a librarian (come use us for reader’s advisory!).
We are really keeping it simple this first year. Kids get a BINGO sheet (like in Angie’s program – really, go check it out). For their first BINGO, they get their choice of scratch and sniff bookmark (we have candy canes, popcorn, and cookies) and they get to put their name on a mitten and add it to our bulletin board. If they want to keep going, they can earn another bookmark by filling in all the squares. Kids and teens can also earn “fine bucks” for participating in the Winter Reading Club so they can unblock cards if they’ve not been able to use them because of fines.
I really want to emphasize to families that the actual “prize” is having something to do and getting to know your library. We’ll see how it goes. If we feel that we need to add additional incentives next year, we can. Our teen program (developed by our teen librarian) is also a BINGO sheet, but has some additional prize drawings to help get those busy teens in the door.
Photo taken by Abby Johnson, NAFCPL
To help folks find some of the categories on our BINGO sheet, we’ve created some displays like the shelves under our bulletin board, which feature Coretta Scott King winners and honor books and Pura Belpré winners and honor books.
Do you offer a Winter Reading Club? Any tips for this Winter Reading newbie?
– Abby Johnson, Children’s Manager
New Albany-Floyd County Public Library
New Albany, IN
This time of year, many of us hear cautions against over-eating. The cookies! The candies! The parties with melted cheese appetizers! But do we caution ourselves against over-reading? I have been on a reading binge this year. Next year my reading will be reserved for committee work, so this year, I have been a reading maniac. On Twitter, I have been part of a “50 Book Pledge”. It is a reading campaign put on by The Savvy Reader. Basically, you sign on to read at least 50 books in the year, and Tweet about your reading. For those of us who use picture books on a regular basis, 50 books is a breeze. But this year I’ve been wolfing down adult books, too! And my diet contains YA novels just for fun, in addition to all the picture books and middle-grade fiction. Just for fun! I am only 1 book away from my 200-Book goal – if you want to see my bookshelf, here it is.
Photo of book shelf by Angela Reynolds
How many books have you read this year? Do you keep track? If so, where and how do you keep track? I love having this online bookshelf, it is easy for me to go back and find a book that I read but can’t recall the title. I want to hear your over-reading stories – there’s lots of room in the comments…
The ALSC slate for the 2014 spring election is online now at http://www.ala.org/alsc/aboutalsc/governance/election. More information about the elections will be posted to this webpage as it becomes available.
The slate also will appear in the December issue of ALSC Matters!
An organizational note: The slate will not appear in the Winter issue of Children and Libraries, as in the past. By recent Board action, the journal is being reorganized to publish quarterly, resulting in a shift in content to timely, substantive research and programmatic articles.
‘Tis the season for making lists!
I am an inveterate list maker and reader. As a seasoned pro, (-crastinator, that is), I rely on them as valuable tools to organize and prioritize tasks that require attention, (and those that provide distraction). I have even made lists of the lists that I need to make!
December, with its flurry of both personal and professional activity, provides expanded opportunity for their implementation and perusal. In addition to the usual daily to-do lists, there are the “best” lists of books and other media, shopping lists for holiday gifts and meals, and, of course, the ever growing list of all the loose ends to finish up by the end of the year.
One item on the latter list is to send in my contribution to Friends of ALSC. Friends of ALSC was founded to enhance both our established programs and to support growth and innovation in the organization. Funds are used for organizational support and to provide scholarships for individuals. If desired, donations may be designated for one or more of the following areas of ALSC’s efforts: Professional Development, Early Literacy Projects, Innovative Conference Programs and Institutes, and 21st Century Challenges. For more details visit http://www.ala.org/alsc/donate.
Contributors to Friends of ALSC receive a special listing in, ALSConnect, and on the ALSC. Members of the Friends of ALSC President’s Circle receive an invitation to the VIP reception preceding the Newbery/Caldecott banquet. Additionally, donors are recognized in the slide presentation at the Newbery/Caldecott banquet.
But truly, supporting Friends of ALSC enriches the experience and expertise of our membership, thus ultimately effecting service to the children and families we serve as we work together creating a better future for children through libraries. The effect is exponential and the list of possibilities is endless!
Looking for some holiday gifts?
Commemorative mugs, tote bags and T-shirts for the Caldecott 75th Anniversary celebration featuring the wonderful anniversary logo created by Brian Selznick are available for purchase by *ALSC members while supplies last!
The Caldecott 75th Anniversary logo playfully gathers Caldecott characters from across the decades and now can be yours for all time!
Please fill out the ORDER FORM with the items you would like to purchase. You may pay with cash, check, or credit card.
We will notify you if we are out of a product/size you would like to order. ALL SALES FINAL.
Caldecott 75th Anniversary Merchandise, photo courtesy of ALSC
Vintage Grey T-Shirt/Large Logo: $14.00
S, M, L, XL, 2-XL, 3-XL, 4-XL
White T-Shirt/Large Logo: $14.00
S, M, L, XL, 2-XL, 3-XL, 4-XL
White T-Shirt/Corner Logo: $14.00
S, M, L, XL, 2-XL, 3-XL, 4-XL
Women/Tween Fitted T-Shirt: $14.00
S, M, L, XL (sizes run small)
Kids White T-Shirt: $12.00
S, M, L
Tote Backpack: $10.00
Coffee Mug: $8.00
Merchandise in photos:
1. White T-shirt, size M
2. Vintage Grey T-shirt, size 2-XL
3. Coffee Mug & Vintage Grey T-shirt, size M
4. Tote bag
5. White T-shirt/Corner Logo, size M
6. Women’s Fitted T-shirt, size XL (great shirt for tweens too!)
7. Vintage Grey T-shirt, size S
* Per licensing agreements only ALSC members can purchase items
Explosions are almost always a hit with the school-age crowd. When my library offered a Volcano Science program last year, the excitement in the room was palpable as we erupted individual volcanoes; there’s just something about witnessing a destructive force that connects with kids. If that’s what it takes to get school-age library visitors interested in STEAM concepts, well, hook me up with the (child-safe) explosives. Geyser Science is just the thing.
Photo by Amy Koester
First, we talked about the science. I had planned to use some terrific geyser resources from the National Park Service, but my program took place during the government shutdown and so these resources were largely inaccessible. Luckily, one Park Service video was still on YouTube. After watching the video, I pulled out a paper model of a geyser that I had made. Using the pieces of the model, we talked about the geological processes that create a geyser and its eruptions. We spent a few minutes on questions and fun facts shared by kids who had visited Old Faithful at Yellowstone National Park.
Next, we explored the science behind geysers through a series of hands-on activities. One of the main scientific elements in geysers is pressure, so our experiments largely focused on how pressure works and its affects on objects.
- Pressure of water in a bottle – This activity required a tub, a clear 2-liter bottle with the label removed, a thumb tack, a funnel, and a pitcher of water. I used the thumb tack to poke a small hole in the 2-liter bottle. With the children watching, I removed the thumb tack from the bottle and poured water from the pitcher directly into the bottle. When the water level in the bottle rose above the small hole, a slight trickle of water escaped the bottle into the tub. We next placed the funnel atop the bottle, then quickly poured more water through the funnel. This time, the water escaped through the hole in a shooting stream. We talked about how the funnel wouldn’t let any air escape while the water entered the bottle, causing pressure to build and push more water out through the tiny hole.
- “Breathing” balloon – This activity used an empty plastic water bottle and a balloon. After placing the balloon completely over the opening of the bottle, kids took turn squeezing the bottle and causing the balloon to stand straight. This activity demonstrated that, when the bottle was squeezed, the pressure caused the air in the bottle to move to the only available space: an expandable balloon.
- Blowing up a balloon in an enclosed space – This activity used two empty plastic water bottles, two balloons, and scissors. This time, the balloons were placed completely over the bottles’ openings with the balloon oriented inside the bottle. One plastic bottle had a hole cut out of it, and the other was pristine. First, I had a child try to blow up the balloon in the bottle with a hole; the child had no problem doing so. Then, I had another child attempt to blow up the balloon in the pristine bottle. Too difficult! (I prepped a few extra no-hole bottles so multiple children could try blowing up the balloons, all to no avail.) We talked about displacement and how, without something like a hole through which air could escape, more air couldn’t easily be added to an enclosed space.
- Paper bag explosions – We moved outside for this and the next activity, which required paper lunch bags and baking soda (or flour, or cornstarch, etc.). I put a bit of baking soda in each child’s bag, and I demonstrated how to blow up the bag like a balloon. The children next popped their bags and observed what happened to the baking soda. Because the force that causes the bag to pop pushes against the air in the bag, the explosion causes the bag’s contents (air and baking soda) to fly from the explosion in all directions.
- Mentos & Diet Coke geysers – This activity requires a 2-liter of Diet Coke, a sleeve of Mentos mints, and a safety zone around the blast radius. It is a demonstration of how a chemical reaction can cause a buildup of pressure, and it’s a magnificent demonstration at that. Carefully drop all the Mentos into the Diet Coke bottle and watch a huge geyser spray out. Cheers usually abound.
Photo by Amy Koester
We ended with science in action as we created and tested our own geysers. We were back inside for this final series of activities, and each child had a filled water bottle, several tablets of Alka-Seltzer, and space over a tub to catch splash. I first demonstrated an Alka-Seltzer geyser eruption by crushing up two tablets, quickly dumping them into a water bottle, and holding my hand completely over the bottle’s opening to allow pressure to build up. After counting to five, I moved my hand and a modest geyser explosion occurred. From there, the children experimented with geysers on their own. They used as variables the size of the bottle, the number of Alka-Seltzer tablets, and the length of time of pressure buildup to try to determine what combination of factors creates the most impressive geysers. We even have a child put her crushed Alka-Seltzer tablets in a balloon, cover the mouth of the bottle with the balloon, and then allow the Alka-Seltzer to fall into the water to see if the balloon would expand (it did, slightly). The children drew their own conclusions about making their own geysers before the program room turned into a bit of a splash zone, at which point I wrapped things up.
There were a variety of geyser and pressure resources, both books and DVDs, available for the attendees to check out. What I most enjoyed about the end of the program was hearing the children’s plans for continuing their optimum-geyser experiments at home. Any time a library program inspires interest and a desire to pursue a topic further, I consider it a success.
What sorts of eruptions have you hosted in your library in the name of science?
We have a policy in my library regarding books based on movies and tv shows: we don’t buy them. In general, we try to avoid Dora, Sponge-Bob, and their friends. Of course there are always exceptions, especially when the books in question satisfy a need in our population or when they are of the highest quality. The graphic novelizations which accompany the Nickelodeon TV show Avatar: The Last Airbender fit that latter category to a T.
Avatar Aang and his friends Katara and Sokka.
Copyright © 2005-2008 by Nickelodeon
Avatar, or ATLA, premiered on Nickelodeon in 2005 to rave reviews. I first learned of the show when my boss at Barnes and Noble started praising its quality storytelling to high heaven. She was so enthused about it that I decided to check it out. Soon I too was hooked on a show about a 100-year old boy-monk frozen in ice and destined to save the world.
Our library owns all 3 seasons (or books, as the creators call them) of the show: Water, Earth, and Fire. We have two copies of each and they are never on the shelf! The element-related action can be intense but is never too scary, and the stories have real heart, which makes the entire series an easy sell to kids and parents.
Cover of the first graphic novel released in 2012
The series concluded in 2008 and launched its critically-acclaimed sequel show Avatar: The Legend of Korra in 2012. Also launched in 2012? My favorite media tie-in, ever! The continuing adventures of Aang and the gang can be traced in sequel graphic novels. These self-contained, 3-part graphic novels are written by recent National Book Award finalist Gene Yang. The stories have amazing flow and lovely illustrations, and they have proved as popular with our patrons as the original series was. Two 3-part series have launched so far. 2012 saw the publication of Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Promise and last month saw the release of the third part of Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Search.
Both series were among the best graphic novels I read this year, and a further illustration that not all media tie-ins should be kept out of the library.
Many parents and educators agree young children and technology, namely television and computers, shouldn’t mix. However, with our rapidly changing society, where our technology dominates and has a considerable amount of control over how we interact, communicate, and learn, mixing is inevitable. For some, it can seem like a world spinning out of control, while many others embrace the changes head on. These changes in the way we communicate and learn, and the way out children learn, don’t come without their own set of problems. And, as technologies such as tablets and other portable devices become increasingly prevalent and in the hands of children, shouldn’t we ask if we have their best interests in mind? Is the technology really being used to their benefit?
First, let’s look at how things are shifting. It’s somewhat fair to give Apple a piece of the credit, along with Amazon. Since the debut of the Apple iPad in 2010, the company has pushed an education angle for the device. Additionally, Amazon helped to popularize e-readers, with the release of the first Kindle 2007. Both devices strived for usability and accessibly in terms of hardware and software. Ideally, for the devices to be successful in the education space, competing with traditional bound books, they have to be as simple and intuitive to use as a book (or surpassing books in terms of usability). In some respects, these devices have accomplished this (searchability), but in other ways, not so much (affordability).
However, these types of devices are merely the next stage of computing and computers have been a part of many schools and libraries for the past two decades, if not longer. In the earlier years of the child/computer relationship, a child generally had access to a computer for roughly an hour a day and that access may not have been an everyday occurrence. Of course, access varied, but generally access was limited. Plus, it was fairly uncommon for kids to have access to a computer anywhere beyond the school or library. It wasn’t until the late 90s and into the early 2000s this began to alter significantly. Initially, it wasn’t a requirement for a child to have access to a computer, but over the years they’ve become increasingly essential as learning and information tools, moving beyond a “supplemental” status.
Now if a child lacks access to a computer, they’re seen to be at a disadvantage. Whether or not that’s truly the case is debatable, but it often seems that books and libraries are becoming marginalized in favor of various devices, which helps to eliminate the perceived disadvantage. More and more people have access. But are these various devices really becoming more essential than books (or even libraries)? It all comes down to how they are used.
In terms of literacy, when the devices are used as an alternative to books, they can be genuinely useful. Tablets and e-readers are an excellent way to eliminate heavy books (and textbooks), plus they’re wonderlands for creating interactive and rich learning experiences. But not everything that calls itself “educational” (or is marketed as an app designed to foster literacy) is indeed “educational.” And, like anything else, book or device, a child can’t simply be handed the device and expected to learn. There is still very much a dependence on outside influence. Kids still need guidance to develop literacy skills.
Then there’s the distraction factor. Like television, computers offer an element of distraction and passivity and can be non-conducive to learning and developing strong literacy skills. Sometimes it’s in the form of games, other times it’s just purposeless internet activities (of which there are plenty). While many schools tend to make attempts to curb these distractions, libraries typically don’t. It’s another one of those debatable issues. Should things be blocked? Should everything be accessible? There’s a lot of uncertainty.
But looking beyond the familiar computer to tablets, does the learning experience change with the technology? Tablets are an accessible tool, much more so than the old-fashioned computer, due to its smaller, portable form factor and ease of interactivity. The touch screen is closer to that of the tactile experience of a book than the keyboard and mouse. At the same time, it might not be much of an improvement. That is to say, if the device is being used as a means of pacification (a digital babysitter, a means of distraction) and the user is accessing content of a passive nature, then not much has been accomplished.
Again, it’s a changing landscape. We’re going digital and the future will be filled with less of the traditional bound books. Libraries are making room for more computers, sometimes at the expense of the books. Perhaps tablets and e-readers offer a balance that desktop computers can achieve. Desktop computers require a considerable amount of space, while tablets don’t, being, quite literally the size of a thin book or magazine. Perhaps we can have the best of both worlds and we can explore different means of learning and developing literacy. On that note, we’re still left with many questions as to the way kids learn. Our teaching tools are evolving rapidly and we all want our children to become literate with access to a number of opportunities going into the future.
Elaine Wynn is a former grade school teacher and mother of 3. Since taking time off to raise her family, she remained dedicated to education as a supporter of both literacy and the arts and has recently taken an interest in personalized books for children as a way to encourage reading in young children.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am thankful for Sensory Storytimes. I’m also thankful to the ALSC community for giving me the support I needed to start something new. What’s more, I’m thankful for your Sensory Storytimes. I’m thankful that library services to families with children with special needs are continuing to expand in communities across the country because of librarians like you. You are thinking outside of the box, learning, growing, and developing new programs and services to serve an underserved group of our communities. It’s no wonder that the perception of the public library is starting to change. Parents and caregivers are now looking to libraries for recreational and educational opportunities where their children with special needs can be included. Now that’s truly something to be thankful for.
For many parents and caregivers, though, the public library is not a comfortable place to visit. If we are to continue expanding services to children with disabilities, we must directly confront the perception that the public library is not a place for children with special needs. In short, we must advocate for our library to non-users. One way to do that is to talk openly about the benefits for children with special needs when they attend inclusive library programs. Not sure what to say? Here are a few talking points.
- Storytimes are open to the public: Programs like Sensory Storytime–just like all other library programs–are free, recreational opportunities that are easily accessible. Most libraries do not require advanced planning, though some require advanced registration.
- Storytimes are literacy rich environments: Sensory Storytime programs have many opportunities for talking, reading, singing, writing, and playing. This can help increase language skills, vocabulary, and syntax development. Storytimes and other library programs also foster a love of reading and support learning for all children.
- Storytimes are sensory rich environments: Programs like Sensory Storytime offer many fun and stimulating sensory experiences for children to see, touch, hear, and smell new things in their environment. Increased sensory input helps stimulate brain development, not just for children with special needs, but for all children. Sensory rich environments also help children develop imagination, think creatively, and experiment.
- Storytimes provide opportunities for practicing life skills: Life skills help children with special needs function independently. So, it’s important for children to have opportunities to practice these skills, which include listening, attending, following directions, transitioning between activities, taking turns, and sequencing. Storytime programs offer these and more!
- Storytimes provide opportunities for socialization: A wise librarian once told me that storytime is, at its heart, about connection between people. The individual connections we librarians make during storytime with children, parents and caregivers is one of the most valuable aspects of our programs. In programs like Sensory Storytime, children with special needs not only have the opportunity to connect with other children, but they practice how to work cooperatively and collaboratively with their peer group.
- Storytimes are inclusive environments: One of the main goals of a program like Sensory Storytime is to welcome families into the library who might not be included in other areas of community life. It does not matter one’s level of ability, all children are included to participate equally. Isn’t that the mission of our public libraries, after all?
If you are working at a library who has already began developing new and innovative services and programs for children with disabilities, I just want to take this moment to share my gratitude and say thanks. If your library has yet to make this as a goal, I hope this post inspires you to be fearless and try new things. I guarantee your community will be thankful.
By: Digital Content Task Force,
Blog: ALSC Blog
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Photo courtesy of blogger
As my library’s collection of apps for our iPads grows, so does our collection of photos. I have to admit our digital camera is really getting a work out lately. Photo-documenting the use of these devices reinforces their popularity and shows the many ways they are used. I recently added several such photos to reports sent to our library board. They were very impressed when I provided them statistical information on the devices usage, but the photos clearly were the bigger hit. We are planning to purchase several more iPads to circulate as part of a new early literacy initiative and hope this type of documentation will help to secure funding.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words and as we all know words tell a story. The ALSC Digital Task Force is very interested in seeing your story in photographs.
We are asking libraries that use tablets, e-readers or other devices to take pictures. Whether it’s of a child exploring a new book app or a staff member hosting a digital story time, we ask you to share your photos with us. The Task Force is very interested in what libraries are doing across the country. We are presently gathering digital content photos and photos of tablets and iPads in libraries. Please feel free to contribute images of your favorite apps. We’ll be curating these images and sharing this virtual collection with the ALSC membership soon.
If you have images that you would like to share, please be mindful of your library’s policy on minor children in photographs. Please make sure that the proper documents such as photo release forms have been signed by the child’s grown-up.
Please send your photos to email@example.com . Make sure to include your name, your library’s name, and other relevant information.
ALSC Digital Task Force
Princeton Public Library, NJ
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Display Books – Adventure
This summer my library offered a unique book club called READ Quest for the third year. READ Quest is for entering 3rd and 4th graders and focuses on genres–Fantasy, Mystery, Humor and Adventure in Fact & Fiction. The program encourages kids to read for the fun of it, discovering the enormous benefits of reading for pleasure. The children who participate don’t all read the same book, but choose a book for themselves from each week’s genre. In this way we are able to accommodate a wide variety of reading levels and interests. Kids can sign up for any one or more of the genres.
We decided to target 3rd and 4th graders because it is such a critical time in children’s development as readers–when they shift from learning to read to reading to learn. Focusing on genre and series fiction and non-fiction, providing reading choice and presenting a physically active program also helped encourage boys to participate. And they did–we sometimes had almost twice as many boys as girls! This format also makes the program attractive to both reluctant and enthusiastic readers.
This year we were awarded an $8,200 Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant to expand the program, increasing the dates offered from 4 to 8, adding a community event, and buying additional copies of titles from our recommended reading lists. We also added one adult volunteer and 14 teen volunteers, both male and female, to act as reading role models. The inclusion of these volunteers turned out to have pretty magical results!
Fun with Books
Kids enjoying read aloud
To determine the program’s effectiveness we administered 2 surveys to the children who participated and their parents–one before the program and one soon after, with a 3rd to come at the end of the school year. Parents and children reported that:
- Entertaining and active elements of the program really engaged the children.
- Teen helpers inspired the kids to read.
- Exposure to a variety of genres broadened the children’s reading interests.
- Children fell in love with new series and read more during the summer as a result.
Besides this, I noticed that children returning week after week became increasingly comfortable in the library and felt a stronger connection to it. I believe that this was a result of being known by name (they wore name tags), having a great time and the opportunity to talk and listen and get to know each other, as well as the teen helpers and their librarians.
Teens greet participants
In our community we have a program called Project Cornerstone which promotes children’s and teen’s healthy development through the Search Institute’s developmental assets approach. One of the reasons I became so excited to work with the teens was that I realized, as the program progressed, just how beneficial the inclusion of the teen volunteers was for the children, and how much the teens were gaining as well. The teens were reading right along with the children and were eager to share with the kids what they had read. And they loved talking with the children about favorite books they had read when they were younger, and recommending stories they had great affection for.
A few of the developmental assets that READ Quest cultivates in teen volunteers are:
- Community Values Youth: Young person perceives that adults in the community value youth.
- Youth as Resources: Young people are given useful roles in the community.
- Caring: Young person places high value on helping other people.
- Reading for Pleasure: Young person reads for pleasure three or more hours per week.
One of my favorite pieces of feedback from our after-program survey was from a 7-year-old who had just arrived from another country:
“I liked that you got to take some books and share what you read. I liked that you had big kids helping and they were really kind. There were fun stories and games.”
Much of what we do in the library promotes kindness, but inviting teens to contribute in a significant way to a valuable program draws the best from our teens, and has a marvelous impact on the children. The teens’ sense of self-worth and leadership skills increase as they experience being role models and small group leaders. And for the children, reading’s cool factor grows as they hear the teens’ enthusiasm for books–a benefit that’s hard to overstate.
Seeing wonderful outcomes, such as what resulted from the magical mix of fun with books + kids + teens, keeps my job continually fresh and gratifying.
– All photos courtesy of blogger
Our guest blogger today is Sharon McClintock. Sharon is a Children’s Librarian at the City of Mountain View Public Library in Mountain View, CA. Sharon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.
If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at email@example.com.