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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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1. School Poems

Goodbye Summer Reading!  Hello School Time!

My cape is tucked away and our library super hero readers are almost off to school!

Laura Purdie Salas’s poem captures the summer reading theme of “Every Hero Has a Story” with imagination and books just as our super readers return to class.

Her cape is sewn from favorite pages
He battles bullies, beasts, and crooks
Their weapon is another world–
the world they choose–
inside of books

Laura Purdie Salas, all rights reserved

I picture students just like Salas’s poem with flying capes made out of book pages, backpacks filled with school supplies and lunches ready to eat.

School supplies ready! photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

School supplies ready! photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

Let’s start off the school year with some poetry noise. From Messing Around on the Monkey Bars: and Other School Poems for Two Voices by Betsty Franco to Shout!: Little Poems that Roar by Brod Bagert.  Sharing school poems is the perfect way to start the school year out.

Favorite school poetry books created on Riffle.

School Poetry Activities:

  • Listen to Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s poem, “New School New Year.”  After record your own.  Start out with the same word, “School.” Have everyone say it together, “SCHOOL!” Then go around the classroom and have the whole classroom share one word.  Maybe it’s their favorite subject in school, maybe it’s what school smells like or maybe it’s a favorite time like recess.  Go around the classroom having each student share one word then again faster and louder.  End the poem with everyone saying the word “school” together.
  • Create a School Poetry Display with your favorite school poems and school supplies. (If you have a school poetry display already created please share in the comments below.)
  • Attach a long piece of butcher paper in the shape of pencil on the back of a classroom or library door.  Invite students throughout the day to write what the pencil might say if it could talk.  Then read the poem, “Things To Do If You are a Pencil” by Elaine Magilano.
  • Write a school bus concrete poem or shape poem-Draw a HUGE school bus, add school bus noises and things students might say on the way to school.
  • Write a separate poem on “How are you getting to school?” Read “The Very First Day of School” by Deborah Ruddell.  Have the students use their imagination and create their own vehicle or way to get to school.  Examples: Flying chair, jumping shoes, rainbow wings…
  • Find an unusual object in the classroom and write a concrete poem.  Stuffed hedgehog, cuckoo clock on the wall, pink velvet chair—what unusual object do you see in the classroom? Describe it! Use butcher paper, crayons, pencils, markers and make it BIG or use colorful sticky notes and make a tiny concrete poem.  Display them around the room.
  • Write a list poem about what the desk, chair or chalk board (smart board) are saying when children are in the room.  One word after the other-Ouch! Thud!  Write another poem about the same object but when the classroom is empty. What do they when everyone has gone home?
  • Read “On Menu for School Today” by Rebecca Kai Doltish then write a quiet and LOUD poem about a pencil sharper and create new sounds! Thud! Clank!  The first word is in lower case and is quiet and then the second word is in all caps and is LOUD. Continue with one quiet word and then one loud word.
  • Act out “Kids Rule” by Brod Bagert.  Everyone up!  Tell everyone, we are going to do three things (hold up three fingers) and we are going to do those three things three times.  The three things are Run, Chew and Read! (act out)  Practice the three things. Run three times while saying run, run, run.  Pretend to eat your lunch while saying chew, chew, chew.  Hold up your hands like a book and read, read, read. At the end of the poem, have everyone shout out together, “Kids Learn!” “Kids Rule!”  Ready?

Explore more school poems and poetry ideas with Laura Purdie Salas, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater and Betsy Franco.

photo by istockphoto and poem by Deborah Ruddell

photo by istockphoto and poem by Deborah Ruddell

Enjoy and share, “The Very First Day of School” by Deborah Ruddell.   Check out her new book, The Popcorn Astronauts. 








Paige Bentley-Flannery is a Community Librarian at Deschutes Public Library. For over fifteen years–from Seattle Art Museum to the New York Public Library to the Deschutes Public Library-Paige’s passion and creative style for art, poetry and literature have been combined with instructing, planning, and providing information. Paige is currently serving on the ALSC Notable Children’s Book Committee, 2015 – 2017. She is a former Chair of the ALSC Digital Content Task Force and member of the ALSC Great Websites Committee.




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2. Outreach to Students with Disabilities in Mainstream Classrooms

People with disabilities can celebrate two legislative landmarks this year. The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) celebrated its 25th anniversary on July 26. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), signed into law in 1975, is now 40 years old.

IDEA, which guaranteed children with disabilities the right to be educated in the “least restrictive environment”, has been especially important for students in K – 12 schools. However, in many cases it seems that successful implementation of these laws is still in its infancy. One method of providing the “free appropriate public education” mandated by IDEA has been inclusion of students with disabilities in mainstream or general education classrooms. Educational support is provided by an aide in the classroom or scheduled visits to a resource room.

Several recent children’s books describe the experiences of fictional young people with disabilities in inclusive classrooms.

  • El Deafo by Cece Bell is the story of a girl with a hearing impairment who uses an FM amplification system in the classroom.
  • Image2

    Books with students in mainstream classrooms (Photo by Kate Todd)

    Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt describes how Ally, who has undiagnosed dyslexia, learns of her disability and develops strategies for reading successfully.

  • Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper is the story of Melodie, a girl with cerebral palsy who is supported by computerized text-to-speech equipment and a student teacher.
  • Rain Reign by Ann Martin is a narrative about Rose, diagnosed with autism, who has an aide working with her at school.
  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio tells the story of Augie, who has mandibulofacial dysostosis and begins attending middle school after years of home schooling.

Research has provided insights into the attitudes of adults and students toward inclusive classrooms. Although educational experts (faculty, consultants and doctoral students who published articles about inclusion) believe “inclusion students should be placed in general education settings surrounded by general education students of approximately the same age,” teachers and parents expressed reservations about practical implications such as behavioral disruptions or lack of time for collaboration. (Kimbrough, R., & Mellen, K. (2012). Perceptions of inclusion of students with disabilities in the middle school. http://www.amle.org/BrowsebyTopic/WhatsNew/WNDet.aspx?ArtMID=888&ArticleID=308 )

On the other hand, studies using middle school students, both with and without disabilities, found “Young people today consider it right and natural for students with learning and behavioral difficulties to be in their classes.” (Miller, M. (2008). What do students think about inclusion? Phi Delta Kappan, 89, 391.) It is interesting that the interviewers doing this research were often surprised when some students indicated that they, themselves, received special education support.   This demonstrates that students with disabilities may not always be obvious to the casual observer.


Inclusion class at the library (Creative Commons license, adapted by Kate Todd, from https://openclipart.org/detail/639/point-to-board)

Outreach to students with disabilities in inclusive classrooms is important for librarians. It is the first step to making sure that all students have a positive library experience. If inclusion is working effectively, it may be impossible to know which students have special needs. However, preparing simple accommodations or setting up assistive technology can make library visits more successful. Alerting library staff to situations that may be distressing—such as visual or communication anomalies—will avoid embarrassing responses.

Here are some suggestions for working with schools that can help assure that students with disabilities in inclusive classes feel welcome in the library:

  1. When collecting information for class visits, ask a question such as, “Are there special needs students in your class?” or “Are there any students that need accommodations when visiting the library?”
  2. Since students, both with or without disabilities, are easily embarrassed when singled out from their peers, remind staff to treat all students equally in the library.
  3. Do book talks of titles that contain characters with disabilities, such as Out of My Mind, Wonder or Rain Reign. Incorporating these books into presentations sends a signal to students, parents and teachers that inclusive classrooms are typical and children with disabilities are welcome at the library.
  4. There are a variety of organizations that serve people with disabilities. Some focus on specific diagnoses while others are more general. Identify these organizations in your community and provide a link to their resources on the library web page.
  5. Tweet about workshops or programs that are sponsored by the organizations in your community. This not only spreads the word about important events, but lets the organizations know you consider their work important.
  6. When possible, attend some of these events yourself so you can begin building personal relationships with others in your community that are also interested in services to people with disabilities.
  7. Design workshops for teachers and parents that highlight advantages of library use for children with disabilities. A good topic outline can be found in the parent blog by Karen Wang, “10 Ways Your Child With Special Needs Can Benefit From a Trip To The Library” (http://www.friendshipcircle.org/blog/2014/10/28/10-ways-your-child-with-special-needs-can-benefit-from-a-trip-to-the-library/ ).

Inclusive classes may mean that children with disabilities are hidden in plain sight. It might require additional inquiries and awareness to identify these children and make sure their needs are met when they visit the library.


Photo courtesy guest blogger

Photo by Kate Todd

Our guest blogger is Kate Todd, a retired librarian who worked at The New York Public Library and Manhattanville College. She especially wants to thank Jordan Boaz, who taught the RUSA online course, “Reaching every patron: Creating and presenting inclusive outreach to patrons of all abilities.” This blog began an assignment for her course.

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

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

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3. Turning Your Library into a Haunted House

For the last few weeks, the crickets in Philadelphia have begun playing at night. This is the signal for the end of Summer Reading, the time to begin planning back-to-school visits, and the time to start planning a haunted house.

Haunted houses can be easily created, relatively inexpensive, and a fantastic draw that remind community members that the library is vibrant and exciting. They can also be nightmares for staff and patrons if they’re not planned and executed properly. A “well-planned” haunted house does not have to be an “expensive” haunted house.

Floorplans are your friends

The first time I created a haunted house for my branch, I was at a location that had a very large meeting room. This was a blessing and a curse because we had room to do things… and we also had room to fill. Because the neighborhood was excited for the event, I had to plan it out properly. Thankfully, I had a fantastic security guard, Dan Ross, who loved the idea as much as I did.

Dan and I created a simple floor plan of our meeting room space to guide us while we brainstormed. The floorplan gave us a bird’s eye view of the room, which allowed us to see where volunteers would be located, how evenly the scares were spaced apart and where problematic areas might exist. Because we knew that the room would be dark, we needed to eliminate as many “blind spots” as possible. Here is the floor plan from our second year:
Haunted House BlueprintSitting down for 30 minutes and planning saved countless hours of moving and adjusting plans. It also allowed us to know how many volunteers and staff members we would need to operate the gags and keep an eye on the tweens and teens entering the haunted house.

Don’t reinvent the jack-o-lantern

As Dan and I planned, we knew we needed outside advice. Thankfully, Philadelphia has a very active and highly dedicated staff of Children’s Librarians who are always willing to offer advice and support. Librarians who had been running haunted houses for years offered advice. We reduced the group size patrons in the haunted house from five to three. We also had staff members guide the groups. Usually the after school leader or I would walk with the groups to create a “safe” person if things became too scary.

We also went online to various websites to ask advice from professionals and amateurs who ran their own haunted houses. Here are a few places I visited and sought advice:

Haunted World Fright Forum

Haunt Forum

Halloween Forum

In later years, I also started following Halloween-enthusiasts on Pinterest. This was also a great resource for easy DIY projects.
DSCN0758An early suggestion from a haunted house forum became one of our favorite scares. A ghoul on a broom handle “flew out” from behind a fake wall, while the volunteer lowering her screamed. We named the ghoul Cindy, and she’s been in every haunted house since.

Choose your volunteers wisely.

I began canvasing for volunteers at the beginning of the school year and insisted on speaking with parents or guardians before event set-up began. Because the holiday is not celebrated by everyone, I wanted to ensure that parents knew exactly what the eager teens were volunteering to do.

All volunteers were told that secrecy was paramount to the success of the haunted house. They could tell as many lies about what was going to happen as they liked, but they couldn’t reveal any of the actual scares.

Scares require all six senses

Sure, there are only five senses normally – Aliki’s My Five Senses didn’t lie to you. But when it comes to haunted houses, there are really six. The thing that separates an okay haunted house from an excellent haunted house is the sense of anticipation. The feeling of “something is about to happen” needs to always be present to make your haunted house memorable. No matter what your budget, this can be obtained. A dark room and a few strobe lights will do it.

Click to view slideshow.

An effective scare can be created with dollar store bats spray-painted with neon colors and hung near a black light. We “upped” the scare value in later years by hiding volunteers behind fake walls. Each volunteer had a can of condensed air that they would use to move the bats. As people walk past, the back of their head would also be sprayed with air. One bat attached to a black pole provided additional movement.
IMG_2838Another easy scare involved dollar store water guns. Volunteers dressed in all black hid behind a table full of rubber snakes. As groups of patrons walked through with a guide, they were told that they snakes did not bite, but they occasionally spit. This phrase was the cue for the volunteers to squirt patrons in the face with water.

Speed is the key to success

The first year we ran our haunted house, over 300 people from our neighborhood came. We allotted an hour and a half for the program, but thankfully volunteers stayed until everyone was able to go through once. We quickly realized that future haunted houses would require speedy walk-throughs. Some of our great scares like the Witch’s Sarcophagus had to be dropped because they took too long.


The Witch’s Sarcophagus was a staff favorite and we were sorry to see it go. Starting on the right, patrons reached inside each opening of the sarcophagus. Her hair was oily angel hair pasta, the eyes were peeled grapes, and the brains were gelatin and cottage cheese. A volunteer hid inside and grabbed patrons when they reached into the “Hands.” As sorry as we were to see this go, we knew this was better themed for a program and not a haunted house.

Our goal was to get a person through the haunted house in less than 3 minutes. We also limited the number of times a person could enter the haunted house. By a third trip, many ‘tweens knew where the scares were coming from – and tried to scare the volunteers back. Obviously, this is problematic, so everyone could enter two times only. After the first visit, everyone’s right hand was stamped. After the second visit, the left hand was stamped. Once someone had two stamps, they knew they could not enter the house again.

Inexpensive is not the same as cheap

When Dan and I first started the haunted house program, we had a budget of $100 from our friends group. Because the budget was small, we had to improvise. We created fake walls by hanging black garbage bags connected with shipping tape from the ceiling. We’ve used the wall design every year since. They are easily assembled by volunteers, can be reused, and they ripple slightly when people walked. They created the perfect ambiance for the house.
2013-10-31 10.30.01The room looked chaotic during set-up, but there was a system in place. Our other big purchases the first year were strobe lights and a scary music soundtrack. If you use strobe lights or fog machines, always advertise it on all fliers and announcements so people with health concerns are aware of the effects.

2013-10-29 18.21.19Items from around the branch were frequently repurposed for the haunted house. A desk fan hidden behind a tombstone powered Tiffani, our graveyard ghost. She was made from PVC tubing, garbage bags, plastic wrap and green plastic table cloths. A neighborhood wig shop donated the Styrofoam head, and a patron donated the wig (from an old Halloween costume.)

Advertising is your friend

Fliers advertising the Haunted House were distributed to the local schools in early October. Local businesses in our neighborhood were also asked to display fliers in their windows. When Dan and I began, we had an age limit. We dropped it in later years because many parents wanted to bring younger children through the haunted house.
Haunted House FlierWe also used our Facebook page to advertise the ghouls moving into the library. Absurd pictures advertised the ghouls slowly moving into the library in the weeks before the haunted house was set up. Each picture featured the caption “There’s something for everyone at the Library.”
Cindy 1As wonderful as our advertisements are, a tween with a big mouth is worth 1,000 fliers. Let your ‘tweens know that you’re planning to scare the pants off of them, and they’ll let the entire neighborhood know.

Never stop planning.

Over the years, we collected items for the haunted house. After a roof leak, roofers left a large roll of clear plastic at our branch. We used it to create a corridor of shredded hanging sheets for people to walk through inside the haunted house.

Items from dollar stores, yard sales, and staff members’ house cleanings were used to enhance the atmosphere of the Haunted House.

IMG_2836Taking a vacation day on November 1st and hitting local stores is a great way to find discounted Halloween Supplies.

I hope this inspires you to plan your own Haunted House. It takes some planning to run smoothly, but it was always my favorite program throughout the year.

(All photos courtesy of Guest Blogger)


ChristopherChristopher Brown is a the Curator of the Children’s Literature Research Collection at the Free Library of Philadelphia.  Chris is a  former Children’s Librarian, who served many communities in Philadelphia.  He received his MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh in 2005 and his MA from Memorial University of Newfoundland in 2013.  For more information about the Children’s Literature Research Collection, please visit us at http://libwww.freelibrary.org/collections/collectionDetail.cfm?id=3

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.

The post Turning Your Library into a Haunted House appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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4. Tips when Changing Jobs (in the Library Profession and Beyond)

Creator: Live Life Happy, © 2013, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0

Creator: Live Life Happy, © 2013, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0

I’ve recently changed jobs, moving from one public library to another 25 miles east. The new-to-me position is in a different city, with different coworkers, different policies and procedures, and a different organizational culture. It’s the same kind of job that I did previously, but in a different setting.

Changing jobs is frequently included in the lists of most stressful life changes. This most recent move has me thinking about compiling a list of tips for myself and others who may change positions, either within their current organization, or shifting to a role at a different institution. I’ll start with several that are somewhat specific to Youth Services, and we’ll see what you think too in the comments.

My list of things to consider for Youth Services Librarians (ok, and others) when changing jobs:

  1. Compile favorite program ideas (e.g. story time themes and extenders, past successful elementary and family events, and teen programming ideas that you don’t want to forget). Also while working on the programming idea list, save bookmarks of favorite places to visit online when creating new programs, so they available and ready when needed.
  2. Save work-related contacts to be imported into the new e-mail system – especially the local performer and vendor contact information if you’re not moving far. Also get the personal contact information for your colleagues if you want to keep in touch. (I forgot to do that last bit when I changed jobs most recently.)
  3. Purge the documents and files that you’ve been saving – you know which ones I’m talking about. Changing jobs is a good time to declutter.
  4. Put things in writing for the person who will be taking on your responsibilities – best practices, your planning notes, even a To-Do list. (I’ve written about this before.) Make the task delegation easy for your supervisor by creating a list of your current responsibilities.
  5. Be ready, willing and open to see new ways of conducting library services. You have your way of doing things (and you might think it’s the best way), but it’s not the only way to be successful.
  6. Remember that there will be things left undone at the previous job – that’s just how it goes.

Have you changed jobs recently? What are other things to consider? This could also be addressed from the perspective of a team that is taking on a new member. What are good tips to help new coworkers feel welcome?


Claudia Wayland is the Youth Services Manager at the Allen Public Library in Allen, TX and Adjunct Professor at the University of North Texas College of Information. She was a participant in this year’s TLA TALL Texans Leadership Institute, and is a member of the ALSC Managing Children’s Services Committee.

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.

The post Tips when Changing Jobs (in the Library Profession and Beyond) appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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5. ALSC Member of the Month – Tracy Geiser

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 with ALSC member, Tracy Geiser.

Courtesy photo from Tracy Geiser

Courtesy photo from Tracy Geiser

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

I am currently the fulltime Head of Children’s Services at the Half Hollow Hills Community Library in Dix Hills, NY as well as being a parttime Youth and Family Services Librarian for the Hauppauge Public Library in Hauppauge, NY. This October will be 3 years at Half Hollow so I’m still relatively new there but I’ve been at Hauppauge for about 13 years now.

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

I joined ALSC back when I first started library school because it was a place where I could go for answers and ideas. It was a HUGE help back then and still is! I also belong to YALSA (I actually used to be a Teen Services Department Head) and PLA.

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

With so much of our programming turning towards STEAM workshops or being based on Common Core, I definitely see us in more of a teaching role.

4.  E-books or Print?

Print! I do have a tablet that I use BUT I only started reading e-books because all of my books wouldn’t fit in my suitcase when I went away.

5.  Do you have any tattoos or piercings?

I currently have 3 tattoos but have 2 more in the works…one being a gorgeous book themed one that I can’t wait to get!

6.  Who is your favorite book character?

Jo from Little Women is still to this day my favorite book character. She was such a tomboy and that’s how I grew up. It was easier to relate to her and with her being a bookworm.

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

It’s bittersweet but I love meeting children when they’re very little and watching them grow up in to teens and then seeing where they head to in the future.

8.  Who is the last person you said thank you to?

More like people – my staff at Half Hollow. The summer is always crazy for every library and everyone is short staffed nowadays. They are just amazing to work with and always pull through. I can’t begin to even thank them enough!

9.  When you were a kid, did you excitedly look forward to the first day of school? Or did you dread the thought of the end of summer?

I was the school geek – I LOVED the first day of school! I would wait impatiently for the name of my teacher to come in the mail and I couldn’t wait to go school supply shopping. I still love to shop for office supplies. I’m very picky about my pens.

10.  What volunteer or altruistic activities are you involved with?

I have done the AVON Breast Cancer Walk and would love to do it again but that’s something that you need to have a team as support. It’s emotionally draining as well as physically. It’s absolutely amazing and I would highly recommend doing it at least once. I also walk in honor of my Dad for Heart Association Walks.


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

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

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6. Girl Power! Graphic Novel Favorites

I have been absolutely devouring graphic novels this summer. Everything from epic adult space sagas, to tales of imaginary unicorns (who occasionally rock leg warmers), and everything in-between has graced my desk this summer. I was very happy to read some stand-out graphic novels for youth that depicted positive female role models, heroines and generally solid lady-centric narratives. Below are a few of my new favorites!

Cleopatra in Space: Book Two- The Thief and the Sword by Mike Maihack; Graphix. 2015. This fun book would be a great choice for the 3rd -6th grade crowd hungry for some sci-fi adventures with a brave heroine. I particularly enjoy the futuristic Egyptian setting. If you have readers who are loved Zita the Spacegirl and are looking for similar graphic novels, be sure to name drop Cleopatra.

Unicorn on a Roll: Another Phoebe and Her Unicorn Adventure by Dana Simpson; Andrews McMeel Publishing. 2015. Phoebe’s best friend is a unicorn named Marigold Heavenly Nostrils. If that isn’t enough to make you want to immediately pick this book up and read it, there is an incident referred to as “Boogergate” in this book. Older grade-schoolers will giggle at this gem.

The Baby-Sitters Club: The Truth About Stacey by Raina Telgemeier; Based on the novel by Ann M. Martin; Graphix. 2015. I grew up reading the original Baby-Sitter’s Club stories by Martin and am so excited that one of my favorite youth comic stars, Raina Telgemeier, is adapting those classics for a new generation to enjoy. This second book in the series contains vibrant art, an accessible story and Telgemeier already has a devoted following after her prior hits Drama and Smile. A perfect pick for older school-age and tween readers.

Ms. Marvel: Vol. 3- Crushed  by G. Willow Wilson; Marvel. 2015. Kamala is back for Volume 3 of the new Ms. Marvel and I really can’t say enough good things about this series. I know, I know, you are tired of hearing about how awesome these books are…but seriously read this right away. I’m sure it will become a go-to recommendation for your teen patrons. It’s full of personality, great artwork, a diverse cast and relatable young adult issues amidst the superhero stuff.

I’m a little late to the party on this title, but I recently picked up Lumberjanes: Vol. 1-Beware the Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevenson and it has made me laugh out loud multiple times already and I’m not even to the halfway point! Exclamations like, “What the Joan Jett?” will appeal to young adults (and librarians such as myself) as will the Lumberjanes sarcasm and rad fashion sense.

If you are new to the world of comic books and graphic novels for youth, I urge you to check out the stellar graphic novel booklists ALSC has put together for readers of all ages. They provide great starting points for newbies and can be a nice place to refer to if you aren’t sure what to recommend to interested patrons.

You can find more great resources, like discussion guides, educational information, and booklists from ilovelibraries.org and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.  Extra bonus, if you end up loving Ms. Marvel as much as I do, the CBLDF put together an awesome page for using Ms. Marvel for education that you can access here! Happy reading!


Nicole Lee Martin is a Children’s Librarian at the Rocky River Public Library in Rocky River, OH. You can reach her at n.martin@rrpl.org.

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

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

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7. Setting the Stage with Tech

The Summer Reading program this season has had a special place in the children’s department’s heart as we unanimously chose to go with a Lights! Camera! Action theme. We are a group of cineastes and Broadway enthusiasts, and were hoping to share our love of the big screen and stage to inspire some upcoming filmmakers, set designers, and makeup artists.

Looking back on our programming this summer, technology had a huge presence in providing kids with an opportunity to explore various ways of storytelling and performance. Perhaps you can also add to your programming repertoire!


Mini-movie Makers program during Summer Reading.

Using the TableTop Moviemaking set, mini-movie makers built their own set to develop a scene or entire film depending on the length of the class. The studio is easy to assemble and we asked each group to develop their own scenes with the included characters and props. LED lights can also be used to adjust lighting for mood and effect. Once everyone was ready to film we took iPads and book easels to set the stage for filming. Book easels are always a thrifty way to encourage a steady camera. The kit comes with iPad and iPhone holders depending on the desired device.

For filming one can use either the iMovie app, or the Camera app on the iPad for quick recording and easy editing. There’s also the option to make a stop-motion project, which would call for using the  iMotion app, most favored among our librarians. This class was part of Tween Make Week which is a collaboration with the teen librarian and the participants ranged in age from 10 to 14.

Young animators can learn the basics of the art form through the Easy Studio app. This app is a versatile tool which can be used as an intro to animation, and I have seen both early elementary students and tweens engaged in using Easy Studio. Using basic shapes and colors, there are several exercises that kids can complete for them to learn how to animate using the shapes provided. This app can also be used as a precursor to any stop-motion activity because it has the creators capturing each object movement and ultimately pulling them together for the final animation.

Another clever animation app, ABCya! Animate, can also be used for a wide audience in the library. A simple taste of animation, users are able to add their illustrations frame by frame and adjust their projects with editing tools. They will also learn new vocabulary such as design to scale, foreground, and background.


Stage Makeup 101

There are several movie makeup camps and classes for stage F/X, but who ever thought all the tutorials you need could be found online. One of our librarians, Krishna Grady, has always wanted to teach a stage makeup class in the library. Using her theatre background and love for tech, Krishna grabbed some foundation, brushes, and the iPads to give kids their own personal makeup studios. Using a Mirror app, and pulling up some YouTube application videos, the kids were able to transform themselves into senior citizens and loved every minute of it! End scene.

Any new tech programming that you wish to share from Summer Reading?

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

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

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8. Curiosity Creates Grants Now Open

Curiosity Creates Grants

Applications for Curiosity Creates grants are due September 25, 2015

ALSC is excited to announce the availability of a new grant to help fund creativity programming in public libraries. The grant application is officially open!

Your library could be one of 77 lucky recipients of a $7,500 grant to encourage creativity for children ages 6-14. The grants may be used to expand existing programming and/or create new opportunities for children to explore their creativity.

  • Applicants must be public libraries; individual branches within a library system are welcome to apply separately.
  • Grantees may be invited to participate in the development of a best practices publication for creativity programing in libraries. Selected grantees will be expected to participate in interviews and/or site visits by a consultant who will be developing this publication.
  • Projects should be for the development and implementation of a program or series of programs to serve children ages 6 to 14.
  • Projects should focus on one or more of the following seven critical components of creativity:

1) Imagination & Originality
2) Flexibility
3) Decision- Making
4) Communication & Self-Expression
5) Collaboration
6) Motivation
7) Action & Movement

Selection Criteria Includes:

  • Creativity components addressed
  • Program reach (including diversity, inclusion and community partnerships)
  • Project design and replicability

Apply now for the Curiosity Creates grant program

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9. Early Reader Backpacks

As a way to expand on our previously created Early Literacy Boxes and provide something for the next level of readers, our emerging readers, we created  Early Reader Backpacks. The backpacks are designed for children from kindergarten through the second grade. They contain early reader and nonfiction books that have been paired with a toy or game that reinforces the book’s theme. Many of the Early Reader Backpacks have a science, logic or math component, complementing the Common Core and STEM curriculum in our schools.  More than that, they’re fun! One back pack, for example, is about castles. Children can read a nonfiction book about castles, enjoy a story about a knight and then challenge their logic and special reasoning skills with a game of Camelot Jr. These kits may be checked out for up to three weeks, and are funded by our library Foundation.  We created an initial 20 kits and are in the process of adding an additional 20 because they have been such a hit.

backpack1   DSC00041 DSC00044

Kara Fennell Walker works as the Head of Youth Services with the Geauga County Public Library in Middlefield, Ohio. She is writing for the ALSC Early Childhood Programs and Services Committee. If you would like to learn more about her early reader backpacks, you can email her at kara.walker@geaugalibrary.info.

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10. Back to School Connections

Recently I attended a meet-and-greet at one of our local public libraries. This library is located near one of our elementary schools. Along with my fellow district librarians, I’d been invited to the event as a kickoff to the new school year.

Although it was – and still is – a busy time for school librarians (book displays, helping teachers, moving shelves, getting virtual and physical spaces ready), I thought it was important to attend. Indeed, I was so very glad (and honored) that I did!

Along with the pastries (my favorite was the blueberry coffee cake) and coffee, there were enthusiastic introductions and reconnections. We met staff members, heard about recent summer programming, and upcoming kidlit author visits. (I’ve already put them on my calendar.) I was given an “I Love My Library” button. I think I’ll wear it every day!


(Image courtesy of the author)

A tour of the library’s children’s and teen areas came next.  I was pleased to hear so many great conversations coming from the shelves. There were talks about seasonal displays, Caldecott books, and genres. Also, I heard lots of “oohs” and “aahs” over tech gadgets, media spaces, and reading areas. Eager questions were followed by friendly answers, and ideas began brewing.  Also, there was laughter!

In the middle of the visit, while we were all discussing our love of reading, and books that were important to us as children, I realized some things I’d always known, but just never articulated. (1) When librarians connect, all patrons benefit. I know we walked away with many ideas, and I hope it was reciprocal! (2) We each serve our patrons (students) in many of the same ways, and each way matters.

Heading back to my own library to continue in beginning-of-the-year prep, I know I enjoyed this time very much because it connected me to librarianship again in a very lovely way.

I’m grateful to the Irving Public Library for the hospitality, and I hope we can one day return the favor. I also hope that we can connect more often. Blueberry coffee cake really isn’t required (although it would be nice).

Cynthia Alaniz is a school librarian at Cottonwood Creek Elementary in Coppell, Texas. She is a member of the ALSC Liaison with National Organizations Committee and a 2014 Morris Seminar participant.

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11. Apps, Online Tools, and More!

Being a children’s librarian has to be one of the most fun and rewarding jobs a person could have, but that doesn’t mean it is easy! Balancing multiple responsibilities, tight scheduling, and having to constantly be “on” are just a few of the everyday challenges. Luckily, for us, there are tools out there to help us along the way. I posed the question to the ALSC Listserv “What are your favorite apps or online tools that help you stay organized, focused and energized?”

Here are some of the ways youth service staff are using technology to their benefit.


Google Keep is a post-it style system for checklists and notes. Share across your devices or with others. See real time progress on collaborative checklists or setup location reminder notifications.

30/30 is a task management system with a built in timer that tells you when to move on to your next task. The task list is controlled completely by gestures, and is the recipient of many awards and positive reviews.


Professional Development:

Many people use Evernote for note taking, but it can also be used for much more. Save program resources and collection development resources, tweets, bookmarks and more!

Pocket  allows you to store articles, videos or anything else to read at a later date. Save directly from your browser or from apps and access anytime, even without internet.



Headspace is a meditation app that provides personal training for your mind. Learn the basics of meditation and participate in guided or unguided exercises ranging from 2 minutes to one hour.

Pocket Yoga  lets you take your yoga instructor with you anywhere you go! Choose between different practices, different durations and different difficulty levels.



Canva  allows anyone to create visually appealing graphics. Flyers, social media posts, ads, and even presentations can be created by dragging and dropping images and fonts. Canva for Work is coming soon.

Finally, this one isn’t available yet but I know it will be worth the wait!

The Mother Goose on the Loose Online Construction Kit (OCK) is a free cloud- based tool developed by Mother Goose on the Loose, LLC that is designed to make planning storytimes easy by utilizing three big databases. One database aggregates nursery rhymes information such as:  lyrics, instructions, pictures, relevant illustrations, etc. The second database stores titles and bibliographic information of quality children’s books. The third database consists of developmental tips that can be used to explain the value and purpose of certain activities being done with children. There is also a wizard friend who will help users combine information from all of the databases mentioned above to generate either a barebones outline or a fully-fledged script with lyrics and instructions to help make planning high-quality programs for young children a breeze. OCK is still in beta testing, and anyone  who is interested can contact info@mgol.org

We hope these tips will help you further the amazing work you are already doing!

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12. Romance and Writer’s Block

So there I was, on my honeymoon in St. Croix, weeks after the debut of my first syndicated cartoon strip, Hartland. And while I had romance on my mind, I was also thinking about the fact that as I was sitting on that beach, one of the strips I had already written and inked was being printed in the papers-and if I didn’t keep thinking of more ideas I’d fall behind! My brain locked on the fact that (at the time) Charles Schulz had been doing his Peanuts comic strip for 35 years. 35 years? Let’s see….35 X 365…THAT’S A LOT OF IDEAS! I proceeded to try to write 35 years worth of comic strips right there on the beach. The result was the first and worst case of writer’s block I’ve ever experienced. No matter what I tried, I couldn’t come up with a single idea, let alone 35 years worth (which is 12,775).

HartlandI arrived back from my honeymoon convinced my comic strip career was already over. But it soon dawned on me that what was causing my writer’s block was my unrealistic expectation. I didn’t have to write 35 years of strip ideas-I only had to write one. And with that, the vice that had been tightening around my cranium loosened, once more allowing the free flow of ideas.

Over the next decade, I gained tremendous insight into how to control my life and environment so as to get optimal creative output. As John Cleese talks about in his wonderful lecture on creativity, I learned the importance of following a regiment.

I found my quiet place to create and carved out a specific block of time that was set aside every day for that purpose (early morning through noon). In my chamber of solitude, with the necessary time to get into my creative mode, I would wait for the ideas to come, and they did. Not only could I write one idea…most days I could write ten-sometimes twenty. The other half of my day was spent sketching and inking the comic strips. I followed the words of Flaubert: “Be regular and orderly in your daily life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”

When I began working for Frank Deford’s sports daily, The National, my workday followed a similar pattern-albeit a more hectic one.

The National editorial cartoon copyEvery day I was called upon to submit sketch ideas with an editorial slant based on what was going on in world of sports. Those ideas were then faxed (this was before computers) to The National prior to their morning editorial meeting for consideration. Once given the green light on a particular idea, I had to complete the final art by one o’clock so it could be sent, via courier, into New York City in time to be scanned and placed it in the layout for the following morning’s edition.

The next morning, the process started all over again.

Today, nearly twenty years removed, I make my living as an author/illustrator of children’s books, ranging from stories about sports, to my latest, a story about a girl who thinks she’s a dinosaur. Yet, by and large, I still follow the same regiment I learned in my syndication days, with the same objective of slipping into that creative mode. The difference is I now have the luxury of holding on to ideas for weeks or months to tinker and tweak instead of having to send out finished, publishable work on a daily basis.

This September my wife and I celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. Perhaps we’ll go to St. Croix. And while I will, of course, have romance on my mind, I will also be thinking about the fact that while I’m sitting on that beach, the 14 books I’ve created have either already been published, or soon will be. That means I better start thinking of more ideas! Because Eric Carle has written over 70 books. 70 books! THAT’S A LOT OF BOOKS!…

(All images courtesy of Guest Blogger)


Promo photoRichard Torrey’s latest books include Ally-saurus and the First Day of School (Sterling), which received starred reviews from both Kirkus and Publishers Weekly, and My Dog, Bob (Holiday House). Learn more about Richard and his books at: richardtorrey.com and follow him on Twitter at: @richtorrey

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

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

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13. 2016 Penguin Young Readers Group Award Applications Are Now Open!

Have you been a children’s librarian for less than 10 years? Have you been yearning to attend ALA Annual Conference, to get energized and inspired and learn from others in the profession?

The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) and the Grants Administration Committee are now accepting online applications for the 2016 Penguin Young Readers Group Awards. This award, made possible by an annual gift from Penguin Young Readers Group, provides a $600 stipend for up to four children’s librarians to attend their first ALA Annual Conference in Orlando.

Each applicant will be judged on the following:

  • Involvement in ALSC, as well as any other professional or educational association of which the applicant was a member, officer, chairman, etc.
  • New programs or innovations started by the applicants at the library in which he/she works
  • Library experience.

Applicants must be personal members of ALSC, as well as ALA members to apply. The deadline for submissions is Oct. 1, 2015. For more information about the award requirements and submitting the online application please visit the Penguin Young Readers Group Award webpage.


Today’s guest post was written by Sondra Eklund, this year’s Grants Administration Committee Chair.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

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14. Appreciating the Value of the Library

As an outreach librarian, my role within the community is to spread the word about library resources, engage with kids and their families, and urge them to visit our libraries. Once a month I spend a day at a branch to keep up my skills and help out when staffing is low. This weekend, I had the pleasure of working a shift and interacting with a variety of people…

  • A five-year who got his first library card and took pride in printing his name on the back.
  • A family, recently moved from Mexico, who were delighted to hear about all of the (free) services for both adults and kids.
  • A long-time patron who enthusiastically educated another about the interlibrary loan process while in line at the accounts desk.
  • New parents who didn’t realize that our storytime audiences included babies.
  • Visitors to the area who stopped in to ask directions, and ended up lingering and getting library cards.
  • A teen, picking up his summer reading book (with three days to spare before the report was due), admitting his procrastination (“It is going to be a LONG weekend…!”).
  • Waiving a fine for an elderly man who had broken his hip, spent weeks in the hospital, yet was concerned about not returning his books on time.

With so much of my work life outside of library walls, it was humbling to experience the energy and diversity of the public library on a busy Saturday. It made me appreciate the users we have already cultivated and reignited my passion for communicating the value of the library to many more.


Today’s blogger is Robyn Lupa, writing on behalf of the ALSC Advocacy and Legislation committee.

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15. Send ALSC to SXSWedu!


Delicious! (image courtesy the author)

A sure sign of the approaching end-of-warm-weather in my office is the farewell party for our summer interns. (While that’s bitter in several ways, it’s especially sweet when my colleague Michelle makes her amazing cookies for the occasion.) This year about half a dozen high school students joined us and, of course, we have asked them what they learned while working here the last couple of months and how their perceptions of libraries have changed. And it’s been interesting/fascinating/frightening to see how even among this group of engaged young people with library cards most had arrived without full awareness of everything libraries have to offer.

This is another reminder of how important it is for us to advocate and tell our story to all ages, and so, looking to reach out to new audiences, ALSC has submitted a program proposal, Library Media Mentors Transform, for SXSWedu, an educational innovation conference from the South by Southwest folks, which will be held in Austin, Texas, this coming March.

SXSWedu “fosters innovation in learning by hosting a diverse and energetic community of stakeholders across a variety of backgrounds in education” and is an ideal place for ALSC to bring our message about Media Mentorship and fighting the 30 million word gap. The objectives of our program proposal include:

• How to identify and support the roles librarians serve as media mentors to families in your community
• Evidence-based guidelines for media usage with young children
• How to partner with libraries to enrich your family engagement effort and support the goals of your educational program.

Media Mentorship in Libraries Serving Youth white paper

Media Mentorship in Libraries Serving Youth white paper (image courtesy ALSC)

And for ALSC to get there, we need you! SXSWedu sessions are selected by an advisory board and staff, but 30% of the decision comes from votes from the public, so please help us spread the word about youth services librarians as media mentors by casting your vote here for the Library Media Mentors Transform program proposal. Public voting is open now through September 4, and while it does involve creating a log-in to vote, it’s worth those extra couple seconds to bring ALSC advocacy to this new and emerging arena.

Thanks for your help!

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16. Considering Access and Library Spaces

A person’s right to use a library should not be denied to or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views. — Article V of the Library Bill of Rights

Photo courtesy of the author

Photo courtesy of the author

First, let me introduce myself demographically. I’m chronologically gifted. In other words, I’m older than rock and roll, and I began working as a public librarian in the 1970s. At that time, the cutting wave of censorship for the protection of innocent children from the degrading influence of the contents of the public library was to paint underpants on Mickey In the Night Kitchen with Wite-out®.

But that was then, and this is now. Now we have the Internet. Now kids can play games on the computer. And, as many in my demographic cohort express themselves, “THIS IS A LIBRARY, not a fun house for kids! Others are here to do important things on a computer!” (Remember if anyone is having fun it means they cannot be learning. If it’s educational it must be tedious and boring.)

To avoid this generational turmoil many libraries have installed a game room, complete with videogames. It’s as big a draw as afterschool snacks. Which brings me to the main topic of this post. Do age-segregated areas in the library violate Article V of the Library Bill of Rights?

Some libraries set aside computers for children, complete with child-size furniture to ensure that children have access to computers and don’t just get shunted aside by larger people. To me, this not a case of access being restricted that conflicts with Access to Library Resources and Services to Minors, because it’s designed to ensure that access. For its Children’s area, The Seattle Public Library has a laudable statement of this practice on its website:

Children’s areas within Library facilities are special parts of the Library housing special collections, programs and services designed especially for children. The purpose of the Children’s areas in Seattle Public Libraries is therefore to provide children and their caregivers with access to these special children’s materials, programs and services.

Children’s departments are available for use by those patrons who are accessing the special materials contained in the children’s collection and for use by children and their caregivers, to attend children’s programs, and to utilize other services provided by children’s departments. Patrons not included in these categories may be required to leave the children’s department and instead use other areas of the Library.

However, over the years at various libraries, I’ve encountered adult customers who don’t agree. Often, as mentioned above, they have important things to do on the computers and they aren’t any free in the adult area, or the ones in the children’s area are more convenient for them for other reasons.

  • What do you think about this line of reasoning, and how do you handle this in your library?

The next questions may be even stickier, or more problematic. The following was designed to remediate the problem of overcrowding in the game room with only a limited number of screens and game controllers.

Photo courtesy of the author.

Photo courtesy of the author.

  • How does it fit with the Access to Library Resources and Services to Minors? Especially the part that reads, “Children and young adults unquestionably possess First Amendment rights, including the right to receive information through the library in print, sound, images, data, games, software, and other formats.”
  •  Would you adopt a policy like this? If not, what do you, or would you, have as a policy?

And for extra credit consider these questions:

  •  What do you say to the eleven-year-old that wants to play Grand Theft Auto V?
  •  Would you, or have you, selected Grand Theft Auto V for your collection?

Your comments are invited.

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17. A Fresh Start for the New School Year

With our summer reading club winding down tomorrow, August 15th, now seems like a perfect time for us to focus on some new goals as kids return to the classrooms. What ideas do you have to improve your programs, services, and library spaces during this next school year?

Out with the Old           

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

During our busy summer it can be nearly impossible for us to organize everything we need as we scramble from one program to the next. It may not appear as exciting as some of our other tasks, but organizing our offices and closets during this time of transition after summer reading and before the school groups come rolling in can prove tremendously helpful. We complete an inventory of our closets and find some previously hidden treasures that could work perfectly as a prop for story time or an innovative craft. This also helps us save a lot of time when we have things better organized so we can best access our materials, and we use this time to order more supplies to ensure our closets are better stocked when we have those last minute programs we need to put together. Are there any special projects you are taking on to ensure your work space is better organized moving forward this school year?

Examining Our Early Literacy Efforts    

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

Our focus this fall is to streamline our efforts with our early literacy programs and services. Our December youth services training will review the latest edition of Every Child Ready to Read to ensure our new staffers have the skills and confidence to encourage parents and caregivers to participate in early literacy activities with their children at home. We will examine the agencies already available in our community to determine how they provide programs and resources to our children and their families. It is important for us to consider how to reach out to the customers walking through our doors as well as the day cares, preschools, and hospitals we may partner with in order for us to better serve our patrons. What projects or goals do you have to improve your services to your customers as we transition into this new school year?

Summer Reading Brainstorming                 

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

As soon as we complete one year’s club, we begin to focus on the next. The ALSC Blog has been a valuable resource for us as we read the creative ideas from librarians across the county interested in innovative ways to increase participation and get children excited about reading all summer long. We will review our prizes and programs to consider how to best reach our audiences next year. When we give our summer reading program the emphasis it deserves by debriefing our previous program and planning the next early in the year, we work to ensure our next year’s program is as successful as possible. It may seem light years away from now, but June and the start of our next summer reading club will be here before we know it. What ideas do you have to enhance your summer reading program for next year?

August is a month full of transitions from one busy season to the next. We will focus our efforts on decluttering our spaces, enhancing our early literacy efforts, and beginning our initial planning for next summer’s reading program. What plans and ideas do you hope to complete during this new school year? Please share in the comments below!



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18. Comic Book Club — Help Please!

Creative commons - free us superhero images

Creative commons – free use superhero images

I am writing this blog post hoping for a little help.

My school has a very active after school program, and I am proposing starting a Comic Book Club. The audience will be quite young —  most likely 1st and 2nd graders.  I have quite a few ideas for the sessions, but I also know that students aged 6 and 7 are consuming media at home that varies widely in content.  Part of my charge as a school librarian, is keeping kids in a range (content and ability wise) that is close to grade level.

I have the tried and trues down like the Toon Books, Babymouse and Squish, Starwars as well as Tiny Titans. I am learning more about superheroes myself, and am hoping you all can pitch in with some ideas for superhero series that are in synch with students of this age.

I appreciate any insights you may have, and thank the many of you that share your fantastic programs on this blog and beyond so that we aren’t constantly starting from scratch!

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19. On Debriefing the Summer Reading Club

Maybe you are lucky like me and your Summer Reading Club is finished or winding down, or maybe you still have some weeks to go. Either way, let’s talk about debriefing after the Summer Reading Club is over.

I always dedicate our early August/late July department meeting to discussing the Summer Reading Club. We talk about what worked and what didn’t. We make notes for what we should change or keep for next year. We go ahead and pencil in dates so that we’re all clear about our schedule.

Here are some things we did this summer that we had discussed last summer:

Photo by Abby Johnson

Photo by Abby Johnson

Our prize cart was decorated and we always pushed it out on one side of our desk (the side without shelving carts) because last year we had some confusion about which books were prize books. This worked really well for us this summer and having a special, decorated cart got the kids even more excited about choosing a free book.

Last year, we had a huge issue with registration for programs. We decided to try out having NO REGISTERED PROGRAMS this summer and it went smashingly. The only programs we had capacity issues with were our large performers where we give out tickets to ensure we’re staying within the fire code. And it was amazing the amount of work it saved us in not having to sign up kids for all those programs. That was a benefit we hadn’t even really considered, but it was huge.

And here are some things we discussed this year and that you should consider as you’re winding down your program and making notes for next year:

  • Is the registration and/or logging process easy for patrons and staff? If not, how can we make it easier?
  • Do the prizes given out encourage kids to read and are they easy for staff to manage?
  • How was your program attendance? If it was low, how could you bolster it? If it was unmanageable, how can you make it easier for staff to handle?
  • What great programs did you offer that you might like to repeat? What programs would be good to repeat with some changes?
  • How did you feel at the end of the summer? If you felt like you wanted to die, what made the summer so hard? Is there anything you can change to make it easier?
  • How did your Summer Reading Club affect other departments? Is there anything you can change to make it easier for Circulation, Pages, IT, Marketing, etc.?

Do you meet to debrief about the Summer Reading Club? What items do you make sure to discuss?

— Abby Johnson, Youth Services Manager
New Albany-Floyd County Public Library
New Albany, IN

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20. Supporting the Arts in Libraries

Summer Reading Club is winding down and as I look at the list of programs our branch libraries have hosted, I am impressed with the fantastic array of choices. For a rural library system, we’ve got the arts covered! From Musical Zoo (two musicians take a big box of instruments and let kids go wild), to marionette shows to photography and crafts, the arts are alive and well in our little libraries.

Backstage at the puppet show - photo by Angela Reynolds

Backstage at the puppet show – photo by Angela Reynolds

This summer we hosted a touring marionette show. This stood out for a few reasons — one, this show was visiting from Quebec, and we’d never seen it in Nova Scotia. Two girls I spoke to at a show in our area had never been to a live puppet show before! I helped organize the tour, which went to pretty much every cove and cranny of our little province. The puppeteer stayed a couple of nights at our house, and we had some great conversations about the arts and public libraries. He told me how much he loved performing at libraries, and how much he appreciated the fact that libraries still believe in things like puppet shows and storytelling. He mentioned that there’s something special going on in libraries these days- libraries are a community place that people feel good about.

Now I know this sounds like something I talked him into saying. I wish I’d had a tape recorder because it would have made a great advertisement for what we do in our libraries. Not only do we provide great programming that allows kids to explore their artistic side, we also support the artists who create great programs for kids and families. We do workshops for librarians so they can expand their horizons in the arts. We host music concerts, art workshops, craft programs, theatre demonstrations, and so much more! What do YOU do in your libraries to support the arts — and the artists?

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21. Call for suggestions – 2016 Newbery

In your year of reading so far have you encountered a character who came to life on the page?  Has an author transported you to a vivid locale? Is there a book with a plot that has lingered in your mind? Perhaps you’ve read a book presenting information or concepts in an engaging and informative way for a child audience.  Maybe a book has done all of this and more. Did you know you can suggest that book to the 2016 Newbery Committee for consideration?

NewberyThe 2016 Newbery Award Committee is asking the ALSC membership to submit titles for consideration. The Newbery Medal is presented annually to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children published during the preceding year. Honor books may be named (although on three occasions no honors were named *gasp*).

Distinguished is defined as:

  • marked by eminence and distinction: noted for significant achievement
  • marked by excellence in quality
  • marked by conspicuous excellence or eminence
  • individually distinct

Please remember only books by an American author from the 2015 publishing year are under consideration for the award. Also please note that publishers, authors, illustrators, or editors may not suggest their own titles.

Please send suggestions to Ernie Cox (Newbery Committee Chair) at ernest.cox@gmail.com


Today’s guest blogger is Ernie Cox, 2016 Newbery Committee Chair.

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22. Call for input: media mentorship

In March 2015, the ALSC Board of Directors adopted a white paper on Media Mentorship in Libraries Serving Youth. The paper outlines how librarians are well suited to serve as media mentors, and discusses the importance of this role to our communities.

The ALSC Children and Technology Committee is working on an article for Children and Libraries. They would like to include several examples of how librarians are incorporating media mentorship into their roles.

What are you doing already? What do you have planned for the future? Are you doing programming? Having conversations with caregivers? Vetting digital media resources?

Please send any contributions to committee member Rachel Keeler at rachelnk@gmail.com. Thank you in advance for any and all input.

ALSC Children and Technology Committee

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23. Apply for the Penguin Young Readers Grant Award

ALSC Professional Award

Applications for the ALSC Professional Awards are opening this fall (image courtesy of ALSC)

ALSC and the Grants Administration Committee are now accepting online applications for the 2016 Penguin Young Readers Group Awards. This award, made possible by an annual gift from Penguin Young Readers Group, provides a $600 stipend for up to four children’s librarians to attend their first ALA Annual Conference in Orlando.

Each applicant will be judged on the following:

  • Involvement in ALSC, as well as any other professional or educational association of which the applicant was a member, officer, chairman, etc.;
  • New programs or innovations started by the applicants at the library in which he/she works;
  • Library experience.

Applicants must be personal members of ALSC, as well as ALA members to apply. Deadline for submissions is Thursday, October 1, 2015. For more information about the award requirements and submitting the online application please visit the Penguin Young Readers Group Award Web page.

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24. 10 Recent & Upcoming Picture Books Featuring Everyday Diversity

I first heard the term “everyday diversity” from Anna Haase Krueger. Everyday diversity books feature diverse characters doing everyday activities and in everyday situations. My favorite example to give people unfamiliar with the term is The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. The focus of the story is that Peter is enjoying the newly fallen snow and not that Peter is African-American.

[There are many more titles that are worthy of inclusion on a recent publications list and I’ve left several other booklists at the bottom of this post for further reading. This is by no means a comprehensive list — I know that there are titles and resources missing. A few of the books on this list feature large diverse casts without a main diverse character.]

15 Things Not to Do With a Baby by Margaret McAllister
An older sister welcomes a new sibling by learning all the things not to do with a baby — lose it in the garden, snuggle with an octopus — and all the things you can do with a baby. This story is perfect to share one-on-one with children expecting new siblings, but would also work in a preschool storytime setting. Expect lots of laughter.

Fire Engine No. 9 by Mike Austin
This book is absolutely perfect for toddler storytimes, full of sound effects to make and colorful illustrations. Firefighters are varied in skin tones (although I don’t remember any female firefighters) and the book is engaging for all involved. Bonus points for a vertical spread down the firepole.

[Photo courtesy of the author, taken at ALA Annual.]

[Photo courtesy of the author, taken at ALA Annual.]

It’s Tough to Lose Your Balloon by Jarrett Krosoczka
A picture book version of the saying “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade”. A reassuring title featuring lots of diversity and everyday kid stresses. Also, make sure to watch the adorable YouTube trailer where kids narrate Krsoczka’s pages: YouTube.

Juna’s Jar by Jane Bahk
After Juna’s best friend Hector moves away without saying goodbye, she turns to the kimchi jars that they used to collect treasures in to find comfort. What she finds is more adventures and maybe even a chance to come to terms with Hector’s disappearance.

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña
CJ and his nana travel through their neighborhood every Sunday. CJ questions why they always have to take the bus and why he doesn’t have the latest gadget and Nana thoughtfully answers his questions. A great trip through an urban environment with a variety of colors, sizes, shapes, and status.

[Photo courtesy of the author, taken at ALA Midwinter.]

[Photo courtesy of the author, taken at ALA Midwinter.]

Music Class Today! by David Weinstein
One little boy is hesitant to join his more rambunctious classmates at music class. Lots of different skin tones are present in this fabulous book which will feel familiar for storytime librarians. An excellent read-aloud for large groups and one of my favorites of this year.

One Family by George Shannon
So much diversity is packed into this simple counting text. A great read for a storytime setting but also wonderful for one-on-one sharing to allow children to appreciate the details in each page spread. The last lines of the book are resonate and will (hopefully) remind children that we are all one family.

[Photo courtesy of the author, taken at ALA Annual.]

[Photo courtesy of the author, taken at ALA Annual.]

Say Hello! by Linda Davick
My new favorite toddler storytime book. Lots of children with a variety of skin and hair colors show how they say hello to each other in a rhyming text. The big vibrant colors and basic illustrations make this book ideal for sharing with a large group.

The Smallest Girl In the Smallest Grade by Justin Roberts
Best suited for an older crowd or a classroom read, this title is great because it includes a diverse classroom setting and also talks about size diversity. As a short person (5’2″), I’m always happy to see my height reflected in novels and stories. I know from experience that short kids feel the same way! Noteworthy: This book is written by children’s music superstar Justin Roberts.

Stella Brings the Family by Miriam A. Schiffer
This is the book that slightly toes the everyday diversity line, but it’s so wonderful that I had to include it. Stella has two dads and isn’t sure who to bring for her class’s Mother’s Day celebration. She finds a unique solution to the problem after talking with her classmates about what kinds of things moms do. The last few pages reflect a variety of family situations perfect for making kids of all families feel accepted.

[Book covers from SWAN Libraries catalog, an Illinois library consortium.]

[Book covers from SWAN Libraries catalog, an Illinois library consortium.]

(Ten bonus older favorites: The Babies on the Bus by Karen Katz, Counting Ovejas by Sarah Weeks, Jazz Baby by Lisa Wheeler, I Got the Rhythm by Connie Schofield-Morrison, Lola at the Library by Anna McQuinn, Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match by Monica Brown, My Nose Your Nose by Melanie Walsh, Peekaboo Morning by Rachel Isadora, Round is a Mooncake by Roseanne Thong, Say Hello! by Rachel Isadora)

Additional Booklists:
Best Picture Books of 2014 That Celebrate Diversity, Kirkus Reviews.
Culturally Diverse Books Selected by SLJ’s Review Editors.
A Diverse Book List for the Under-Five Set by Lisa G. Knopp, published by School Library Journal.
Picture Books About Diversity and Acceptance, Storytime Standouts.
Multicultural Books, What We Do All Day.

ALA Awards:
Coretta Scott King Book Awards
Pura Belpre Award
Schneider Family Book Award
Stonewall Book Award

ALA’s Día (Diversity In Action)
School Library Journal’s Resources for Diversity
Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Diversity Resources
We Need Diverse Books & School Library Journal Booktalking Kit
We Need Diverse Books & We Need Diverse Books Guide to Where to Find Diverse Books

So, which books or resources did I miss? Tell me in the comments!

Katie Salo is an Early Literacy Librarian at Indian Prairie Public Library in Darien, IL and is writing this post for the Public Awareness Committee. You can reach her at simplykatie(at)gmail(dot)com or at Storytime Katie.

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25. How PBS Inadvertently Prepared Me for Librarianship

[Author dressed as Ms. Frizzle for Halloween in 2013. Photo courtesy of the author.]

[Author dressed as Ms. Frizzle for Halloween in 2013. Photo courtesy of the author.]

This post has been percolating in my brain since I heard Ms. Frizzle’s voice fly out of my mouth during a session of “Little Hands Art” (art class for 2-4 year olds) this summer. We were painting with ping pong balls and one of the kids put her hand in the paint. She immediately wanted to wash her hands and I challenged her to see what she could do with the paint on her hand. Without thought, the words “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!” came spilling out of my mouth. While my young patron didn’t know where my words came from, they gave her the courage to use her fingers to spread the paint that day.

I grew up in a golden age of PBS. And fortunately for me, I held on to PBS for far longer than my peers thanks to my little sister and my younger cousins. Though I do not have a reason to watch PBS now, I smile every time a patron asks for “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” or “Martha Speaks!” since I know these shows are just as beloved to them as mine were to me.

A brief list of small thank yous:

  • Sesame Street: for giving me Big Bird and preparing me for the questions that my preschool patrons constantly ask.
  • Mister Rodgers’ Neighborhood: for teaching me how cool cardigans are and for showing me *how* things happen. I still remember that crayon factory!
  • Kidsongs: for singing to me the multitude of silly songs that I use constantly. Who knew that Michael Finnegan would stick around this long?
  • Ghostwriter: for learning about the importance of teamwork and that words/letters/stories have great meaning.
  • Wishbone: for sharing the great stories in an accessible way. You sure taught me how to spin a tale/tail!
  • Zoom: for teaching me how to do activities and experiments with kids. I practiced on my “patron” — sister and cousins — all the way back in high school!

And of course…Arthur for showing me that having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card!

When I’m buying DVDs for our collection, I’m always happy to add the latest PBS show. Who knows what kind of job I’m preparing kids for today!

Do you have favorite PBS shows/memories that help you in daily library life? Are you shocked and appalled that I never watched Reading Rainbow? Let me know in the comments!

– Katie Salo
Early Literacy Librarian
Indian Prairie Public Library

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