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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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Our local school is building a Natural Playground, and they are holding several fundraisers. I was recently asked to be part of a Really Good Idea for a fundraiser, which I think would make a fun library program! The idea, which was hatched and hosted by the owner of our local craft shop, was this: local artists would each lead a classroom in painting a large 2-foot square painting which would then be auctioned off.
I was happy to find out that I was chosen to work with the Grade Primary class (here in Nova Scotia that translates to Kindergarten). I went with a big flower for them to paint. I had them in groups of 3 — the painting had seven areas to be painted, and I had each group work on a section. I might be biased, but I love our painting the most. I love the colours and the freedom of expression that 4 & 5 year olds are unafraid to exhibit. I really didn’t paint much at all— I gave them tips, and once had to quickly grab a paintbrush from an over-exuberant artist who was about to turn the whole thing into a big smear.
I started in the classroom with a stack of books and talked to them about art in picture books. I read Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales to them and we talked about the art in that book. Their teacher had been part of some workshops I did earlier in the school year, and she had them looking closely at the art in picture books, so this group of 4-5 year olds were pretty savvy about examining the pictures. We had a lively discussion about the art and how everyone can do art. I was impressed that they were able to determine the medium, and talk a little about shape and colour.
I love to combine literacy with art lessons, and this project – and a Caldecott honour book – allowed me to do that. We also did a really great painting which will help raise money for a playground that will further their learning in the great outdoors.
So— to turn this into a library program, you could buy several large canvases (you can get them for a pretty decent price at dollar stores these days). Draw the outlines on the canvases, and have your program participants paint them in, using acrylic paint (again, a fairly inexpensive investment at dollar stores). These could hang in the children’s area, could be donated for charity fundraisers, or you could auction them as library fundraisers. Add a few books on art and a few art picture books, and you’ve got yourself a fairly simple, low-cost program that kids will remember each time they see those paintings. Host an art show in your library and you’ve got another program that will draw in the families of the kids who did the paintings. Art and literacy. They make good companions.
The post Painting with Primaries appeared first on ALSC Blog.
Environments are imbued with ideals and beliefs about the core values of their institutions. As public libraries move to a more patron-centered approach, library settings become less formal and more available for collaborative and creative practices. This year, ALSC President Andrew Medlar will share his vision for active and child-centered learning spaces throughout American Libraries at his Charlemae Rollins President’s Program: Libraries: The Space to Be.
Chicago Public Library is the home of Charlemae Rollins, and here at CPL, we see it as our role to enliven the spaces in our children’s rooms in order to encourage and promote what Fred Rogers called “the work of childhood” play-based learning. By creating meaningful and child-friendly spaces, we serve children and their families more deeply. It is our goal to create active learning spaces that are a meaningful educator for our children and our communities. Our libraries are considered pioneers in incorporating STEAM opportunities for child and parent engagement, and we are designing space across our system to meet the needs of 21st Century children and families. This means age designated ‘neighborhoods’ areas for creativity, collaboration and lots of ways to encourage moments of sharing. We believe sharing is learning and we want to encourage that in both formal and informal settings. As our new flagship main children’s library opens later this year, we will roll out even more ways upon which STEAM, early learning and school-aged families can read, discover and create.
In San Francisco, our libraries are family destinations for discovery and community engagement. As part of the library’s early literacy initiative, we partner with the Burgeon Group to design and embed Play to Learn areas in each location. These site-specific transformations are beacons of play incorporating colorful interactive panels, multilingual features, developmentally appropriate experiences, fine gross activities, texture and tracing elements all to spark spontaneous conversations and build key literacy skills. (Stoltz, Conner, & Bradbury, 2014) From nook to cubes and the flagship installation at the Main Library, parents, caregivers and most importantly children know play is welcome at the library.
Successful play spaces are those that engage children’s interest; inspire creativity; allow physical movement; and encourage interaction with both materials in the space and with other children. Many early childhood spaces are modeled on the Reggio Emilia approach, starting with a welcoming space that is arranged to provide opportunities for children to make choices and discover on their own. Once children have explored, adults facilitate play around subjects or objects in which the child shows interest. This child-driven model is a natural fit for an active learning setting in a library, where children have free access to a variety of resources from books to toys to art materials. Research shows that having quality books placed at children’s eye level supports literacy-related activities like those that occur when children play in library spaces. (Neuman, 1999)
The Reggio Emilia approach has also been shown to be equally effective for young children who do not speak English, a situation common in Chicago and San Francisco (Zhang, Fallon & Kim, 2009). Leslie William and Yvonne DeGaetano note the importance of creating culturally relevant spaces based on children’s own communities in Alerta: A MultiCultural, Bilingual Approach to Teaching Young Children.
Play is a necessary building block for children’s brain development, along with culture and the creative mindset. (Gauntlett & Thomsen, 2013) It is so essential for life that the United Nations recognizes play as a human right for every child. Play allows children to explore and experiment with their environments, building synaptic connections in the brain and helping children establish problem solving skills as early as 6 months of age. The American Library Association-Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) recommends that play be incorporated into library programming, recognizing the direct correlation between play and early literacy.
There are five general types of play that children engage in. These can all be supported in our libraries, and each type of play supports both children’s general development and literacy in a variety of ways. These include:
- sensory play
- constructive play with objects
- symbolic play
- pretend play
- rule-based play such as games.
Some of the elements that are shared by both Chicago Public Library and San Francisco Public Library include:
- Creation of connections and sense of belonging
- Flexible and open-ended materials
- Materials that support the ECRR2 practices ( TALK, SING, READ, WRITE, PLAY)
- Stimulation of wonder, curiosity and intellectual engagement for children and their caregivers
- Symbolic representations, literacy and visual arts
- Flexible furniture and arrangements
- Different levels and heights of displays or tools
- Nooks to read and/or work
- Open-ended activities and tools that can be transformed by the child’s interest
- Places for individuals as well as groups
- Creation Station and maker areas for encouraging design, exploration and creation
- Parent and caregiver incubator space
- Areas and resources for constructive, dramatic and creative play
- Appealing signage and parent tips to support family learning
As co-chairs, we are eager to have you join us at President Medlar’s Charlemae Rollins President’s Program to learn more about successful elements of library design for 21st Century Kids and hope to see you there!
— Liz McChesney, Director of Children’s Services, Chicago Public Library
— Christy Estrovitz, Manager of Youth Services, San Francisco Public Library
- Stoltz, Dorthy, Marisa Conner, James Bradbury. (2014). The Power of Play: Designing Early Learning Spaces. ALA Editions.
- Gauntlett, David & Thomsen, Bo Stjerne. (2013). Cultures of Creativity: Nurturing Creative Minds Across Cultures. The LEGO Foundation.
- Nespeca, Sue McCleaf. (2012) The Importance of Play, Particularly Constructive Play, in Public Library Programming.
- Zhang, Jie, Fallon, Moira & Kim, Eun-Joo. The Reggio Emilia Curricular Approach for Enhancing Play Development of Young Children.
The post Preparing for the 2016 ALSC President’s Program appeared first on ALSC Blog.
The summer season at our library is just about upon us. The reading portion will begin June 1st and the heavy-programming begins June 13th. Though we are busy getting the last pieces of our program’s structure into place for the launch next week, I’m not too busy to take a minute to rant (it comes quite naturally to me!) You can consider this post, Part 5 of my Attack on Summer Reading series. If you haven’t been following along with baited breath, the other posts are here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.
In April, I talked a bit about the information we gather through registration and reading tracking and what we do with it and don’t do with it. Turns out, there are some helpful info-bits in there (shocker!) My library director, who is totally supportive of our switch-up, really wanted us to find a way to track who’s participating all summer-long. Fair enough. That is helpful information to have. But, as you know, I am hesitant (to say the least) to employ any type of registration, so how to do it? I have been known to have moments of flexibility and we were able to come up with a compromise: kids/teens who get a LEGO to add to our sculpture when they tell us how much they’ve read, will also get a LEGO sticker (on which to write their name) and add to a silhouette/poster that will change each week. Then,
teen volunteers we can tally up who’s been coming all summer. Don’t worry, I see the potential for chaos, but I’m a risk-taker, so bring it on! I understand that this whole approach may throw our staff into chaos, but I am lucky enough to work with a stellar staff who’s willing to try new things!
Here are some of my big
fears questions about how this new approach is going to go:
- will parents rebel against our no-prize approach and take their kids to the numerous other libraries in our county?
- will fewer kids spend time reading and will that be a super bad thing?
- will our ‘tantalize them with in-depth programming’ approach really pique their curiosity enough to cause them to pick up a book?
- will our weekly camps be too much causing the staff to be totally depleted at the end of the summer?
- will there be long waiting lists for our camps resulting in disgruntled parents? (We are capping our camps at fairly small numbers for 2 reasons: we want to offer programs that got deep into a subject; and we want to provide substantial and meaningful exposure experiences which require a small librarian-to-child ratio).
So if I’m not hiding under my desk, you can rest assured I’ll keep the ALSC community posted the answers to the aforementioned questions and on how this whole thing goes, however, I’ll be at ALA next month (woohoo!) and will be blogging on how that whole thing goes!
The post Summer Is Nearly Upon Us: Part 5 of the Attack on Summer Reading appeared first on ALSC Blog.
In recent SPLC posts on this blog, we’ve talked building relationship with schools, starting points and more. So let’s say you have a school contact and would now like to leverage that relationship to reach even more teachers, kids, and parents. What are some events that a public librarian could participate in that would be a valuable investment? Here are some ideas:
Pre-service and Staff Development Days: Most school districts schedule several pre-service or staff development days that occur right before school starts. The students are not be at school, so this is a great time to talk with just teachers. The public library could be a great resource-sharing presenter during a lunch break, or even during a regular session. Because pre-service days happen before school begins, try to schedule this before the end of the school year.
Back-to-School Nights and Kindergarten Round-Ups: Your public library could set up a table outside the school office and share important information for parents and kids. Having a fun activity like an I-Spy Board can be an engaging activity to keep students busy at your table while you share information about the library with parents.
PTO/Parent Club Meetings: Some school programs, like Head Start, require parent meetings to feature a presentation by a community partner. Why not the public library? You can share tips for using the library successfully (to calm the anxiety around accruing fines), and special resources that parents may not know about (I share our Cultural Passes to Adventure). You could even offer to host the meeting at the library!
Pre-Assessment Party: About a week before standardized assessment time begins, many schools (particularly Title I Schools) hold special family nights to gear up for testing. Public librarians can be on-hand to share how recreational reading can help a student do well in school.
Familiarize yourself with the school district’s calendar and look for other unique outreach opportunities. Participating in these events shows your community’s families that you are on the same page, and you care about what is important to them.
School librarians: what special events does your school district have?
Public librarians: what unique school events have you attended as a library representative?
S. Bryce Kozla is the Youth Services Librarian for Washington County Cooperative Library Services in Oregon. Bryce blogs at brycedontplay.blogspot.com and tweets at @plsanders. She is a member of the AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee on School-Public Library Cooperation.
The post Gimme a C (For Collaboration): Strengthening Outreach Connections appeared first on ALSC Blog.
By: Digital Content Task Force,
Blog: ALSC Blog
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The summer months are almost upon us and with graduations, orchestra concerts, and field day happenings the end of the school year is at hand. The ALSC Summer Reading Lists have also just been released and children’s librarians across the country are making final preparations before June.
The start of our Summer Reading this year coincides with the launch of our library’s new website. Since so much focus is being placed on content for the website, last fall the children’s department decided to go old school and keep all the reading logs in the library. We are borrowing from Pop Sugar’s Reading Challenge and asking kids to read a total of 20 thematic books.
This decision has led us to think about other ways of incorporating technology into Summer Reading, after years of having patrons log books, minutes, and reviews online. Many libraries use services like Evanced Solutions (this year it’s the Wandoo Reader) and newer products like Beanstack. Beyond tracking and prize distribution online, what can we do to engage young audiences using technology this summer?
- Michael Santangelo wrote a compelling piece on downloadable audio. Kids and teens are on the go all summer long and for some travel increases. Are we pushing our digital collections and encouraging this format in our communities?
- For years we have incorporated Learning Quests into Summer Reading as one method of participating. Each week kids submit answers to trivia questions, email images of themselves in costume, and upload videos of their take on our creative challenges. Perhaps there are additional challenges that can be encouraged in a virtual space, while hosting a more traditional Summer Reading model.
- It’s hard to avoid video clips from Tasty and Buzzfeed DIY on your newsfeed. Why not use this medium to share library program activities or invite kids to make their own DIY videos in a similar style?
Share some of the methods you are using to incorporate technology into your Summer Reading activities!
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 email@example.com.
Visit the Digital Media Resources page to find out more about navigating your way through the evolving digital landscape.
The post How Tech Focused is Your Summer Reading Program? appeared first on ALSC Blog.
By: Early Childhood Programs and Services committee,
Blog: ALSC Blog
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I have worked for the San Mateo County Libraries in various positions for the last twelve years and have had a chance to be a part of some really wonderful and inspiring projects. My favorite project I’ve ever been a part of is working with the Big Lift Little Libraries.
You may have seen Little Free Libraries out in your neighborhood or around town near community gathering places. Big Lift Little Libraries operate on the same principle of taking a book and leaving a book, but they are filled specifically with books for children and families.
Over the last two years, we have placed 104 Big Lift Little Libraries around San Mateo County. The libraries reside in medical clinics, elementary schools, churches, parks, beaches, and in front of residential homes. One young girl contacted us about hosting a Big Lift Little Library in her local post office!
I have had a chance to spot a few of the libraries out in the community, which is always a fun treat for me. I also love when people share photos of their new Big Lift Little Libraries once they have it up and running. More information about this project and photos of the Big Lift Little Libraries out in the wild can be found here!
Stephanie Saba is a Senior Librarian at the San Mateo County Libraries in California and is writing this post for the Early Childhood Programs and Services Committee. She is also a member of the California Library Association and is currently serving on the California Young Reader Medal Committee.
The post Big Lift Little Libraries in San Mateo County appeared first on ALSC Blog.
The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) encourages participants to sign up for Summer 2016 ALSC online courses. Registration is open for all courses. Classes begin Monday, July 11, 2016.
One of the three courses being offered this semester are eligible for continuing education units (CEUs). The American Library Association (ALA) has been certified to provide CEUs by the International Association of Continuing Education and Training (IACET). ALSC online courses are designed to fit the needs of working professionals. Courses are taught by experienced librarians and academics. As participants frequently noted in post-course surveys, ALSC stresses quality and caring in its online education options.
NEW! Engaging Readers and Writers with Interactive Fiction
4 weeks, July 11 – August 5, 2016
Instructor: Christian Sheehy, Digital Initiatives Librarian, Xavier University
The Newbery Medal: Past, Present and Future
6 weeks, July 11 – August 13, 2016
Instructor: KT Horning, Director, Cooperative Children’s Book Center, University of Wisconsin- Madison
Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Programs Made Easy
4 weeks, July 11 – August 5, 2016
CEU Certified Course, 1.2 CEUs
Instructor: Angela Young, Head of Children’s Department, Reed Memorial Library
Detailed descriptions and registration information is available on the ALSC website. Fees are $115 for personal ALSC members; $165 for personal ALA members; and $185 for non-members. Questions? Please contact ALSC Program Officer for Continuing Education, Kristen Figliulo or 1 (800) 545-2433 ext 4026.
Images are courtesy of ALSC.
The post Register for Summer 2016 Online Courses appeared first on ALSC Blog.
I always knew I wanted to manage, but the traditional road to management can be difficult for youth services librarians. Storytime management does not count in the minds of many administrators so how else is one to gain the experience and skills needed to get that management position? I feel fortunate to have had varied opportunities in the youth services field and supervisors and co-workers who were more than happy to help me in my journey to rule the world. Er, um, enter management. Now, as a Coordinator, where I only supervise one person, I realize there is so much more to management than being a boss. Here are some ways to develop non-supervisory skills (though, let’s be honest, they totally apply to supervising) which just may help you explore the world of management, which often excludes supervising actual people (but possibly robots). .
We all have collections and they all need to be managed. Scheduled weeding and selecting are important which utilizes organization and time management skills. An understanding of your community is extremely important in collection development and in leadership roles. If you are looking to gain some management skills, start in the stacks.
Support co-workers when they have great ideas. If you are already a supervisor be sure to read more about your role in this here. For those who are not supervisors, you can demonstrate your leadership abilities by encouraging others to bring forth great ideas and supporting them in bringing those ideas to fruition. You are not solely responsible for idea creation as a manager. In fact, you will likely be a better manager if your skills lie less in idea generating and more in idea supporting.
Next time your supervisor asks for volunteers to lead a project, speak up. Even if the project is not your first choice, or something you would normally enjoy. Effective managers are not afraid to do the less desirable tasks and projects. The library cannot run on robots, glitter and unicorns all the time. We have to have safety training and attend meetings and join committees about things we may consider as boring as dust. But these trainings and committees are important to keep the library running smoothly and if you show your willingness to contribute, and put forth your best effort, people will take note of your leadership qualities.
Whether you serve on an ALSC committee or a local committee, you can gain valuable project management experience through your service. If you work hard and demonstrate your leadership skills while serving on committees you may have an opportunity to be Chair of a committee. Then, you might want to read up on facilitating meetings and hone your organization and communication skills.
Mentorship is an excellent way to sharpen management skills without direct supervision. With your mentee you will develop goals and work towards those goals together over the course of a year. This same process occurs between supervisor and employee. Plus, the ALSC Mentor program always needs more mentors. Read more about the program here.
What did I miss? What are other non-traditional management roles?
Kendra Jones is the Youth & Family Services Coordinator for the Timberland Regional Library in Washington State and a member of the ALSC Advocacy & Legislation committee. She is also a member of the Managing Children’s Services committee and Co-Chair of the Diversity within ALSC Task Force.
The post Develop Management Skills without Supervising appeared first on ALSC Blog.
As the children’s librarian at my branch I interact with hundreds of kids. I’ve had parents tell me they appreciate the impact I have on their kids, both as people and as readers. I feel that in some way, it is my job to show them all the ideas and viewpoints out there, so they can be better citizens of the world.
A few weeks ago, a colleague and I were getting ready to head to a school visit. We had been prepping for this for a while now. Each of us picked books that we thought would resonate with the tweens in our Boston neighborhood. A few days before, my colleague approached me and told me she wasn’t going to be utilizing one of the graphic novels she originally picked because throughout the book, there were numerous images of the main character smoking. She didn’t want the tweens receiving the message that smoking at their age was okay.
Since then, I’ve been thinking a lot about censorship. Not the censorship we hear about in the news, but the everyday censorship that may happen at our libraries. For the longest time, there has been a pile of anime DVDs on my desk. A majority of my system’s anime is classified as Teen, but for whatever reason, a few are not. The DVDs on my desk have been placed there by kids, parents, and even myself, because some of the cover images are suggestive in nature. More times than I can count, I have been told “these are not okay for the Children’s Room.” But why? I mean yes, I understand the suggestive nature of the images, but does that mean it needs to be removed from the shelf? If I remove it from the shelf, then what happens when a parent comes to me and complains about Sex is a Funny Word? Or even something like Harry Potter? Doesn’t my removal of these DVDs from the shelf create a slippery slope? Where do we draw the line? Who determines what is okay and appropriate?
I’m still thinking about these questions. One thing I know is that I get to decide what stays on my shelf and what doesn’t, and so in the mean time, the DVDs stay. Not because I think the images are appropriate, but because it’s not my job to tell someone else what is and isn’t appropriate. All I can do, is provide them with the tools and ideas to help them be the best people than can be.
Alyson Feldman-Piltch is a children’s librarian for the Boston Public Library. She likes dogs, ice cream, and baseball. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
The post Self-Censorship: A Reflection appeared first on ALSC Blog.
If you are anything like me, the first time someone asked you to be an advocate for the library you pictured attending some kind of librarian rally event, writing letters to congressmen, and making super scary presentations to library administration and other stakeholders. While all of these things are certainly advocacy, they were intimidating and sounded like they might take more time than I had. However, after becoming acquainted with Everyday Advocacy and doing a lot of thinking, I realized a lot of what I did every day was actually advocacy. Today, I’ll share an example of an early literacy program that I think of as developmentally appropriate advocacy.
In 2014, as a result of a random article from the internet and encouragement from many librarian friends, I gave Baby Storytime caregivers washable markers and oil pastels to use to decorate their babies’ faces (read more about the activity here). Every Child Ready to Read tells that practicing reading, singing, talking, writing, and playing with children every day helps them get ready to read. This activity encourages caregivers to talk to their babies and use vocabulary they might not typically use (how often do you talk about diabolical eyebrows with a baby?), caregivers are modeling writing, and are being extremely playful. This activity also encourages caregivers to photograph their babies and post these images on their Facebook pages or send them to family showing off what they did at the library today. This activity entered the regular rotation for an after storytime activity.
How is this advocacy? Caregivers learned, or had reinforced, the notion that the library is not a boring place just for reading and books. They learned that early literacy can be more than sharing books and that they have the tools already to help their child develop early literacy skills. They told all their friends that the library is a cool place because of this activity and others like it. Caregivers hated missing storytime because they were afraid to miss out on their favorite activities. Whenever we needed storytime participants to fill out surveys or comment cards they were more than happy to help. They would do anything to make sure storytimes continued and that storytime presenters were appreciated.
Do you have dedicated storytime families? Are your storytimes growing as a result? Do your storytime families help spread the word about the awesomeness of the library? If yes, congratulations, you are an advocate!
We would love to hear your stories! Matt McLain detailed in a previous Advocacy and Legislation blog, “Did You Know This Is Advocacy”, just how important these stories are personally, locally, and even nationally. Please take a moment to submit your advocacy story to the Everyday Advocacy website.
Kendra Jones is the Youth & Family Services Coordinator for the Timberland Regional Library in Washington State and a member of the ALSC Advocacy & Legislation committee. She is also a member of the Managing Children’s Services committee and Co-Chair of the Diversity within ALSC Task Force.
The post Did You Know This is Advocacy? Early Literacy Programs appeared first on ALSC Blog.
Over the past few years, there has been a growing awareness in public libraries that children within their service areas may not be getting enough to eat during the summer months when school breakfasts and lunches are unavailable. Many libraries have partnered with state and local organizations to address this “food insecurity” by offering summer food programs, but this may seem like a daunting enterprise for small, rural, and/or understaffed libraries.
Caroline County Public Library, one of eight rural Maryland libraries that my organization serves, began offering a summer food program last year. I decided to interview Amanda Courie, Youth Services Manager, to find out how this kind of program can work on a smaller scale.
Amanda, I understand that Caroline County Public Library is a small system. How many full time staff members are there? How many of them work in youth services?
“We are a small system! We serve a county of about 33,000 people on Maryland’s rural Eastern Shore. We operate a Central Library and two small branches. There are 15 FT employees and 8 PT. I am the only one who works full time in Youth Services. I have one FT employee who is our Early Childhood Unit Manager; about 50% of her time is in Youth Services, and 50% is spent staffing the branches and the Information Desk. Then there are three PT employees who contribute to Youth Services along with staffing our public service points.”
How does your summer food program work, and what made you decide to launch it?
“Our decision to launch the summer food program grew from a growing awareness nationwide and in our county of the number of families facing food insecurity. According to the MD Food System Map, produced by Johns Hopkins University, 40.2% of children in our county qualify for free lunch, and 11.1% of the total population is considered food insecure
We know that children rely on school meals throughout the school year, and that summertime is a big challenge for families who are food insecure. Our local Parks and Recreation Department runs summer camps throughout the county for five weeks out of the summer, and these sites double as Summer Meals Sites. Our concept was to help fill in the gaps not covered by this program, both for the other five weeks of summer vacation, and for the children who weren’t enrolled in the summer camps and couldn’t make it to those sites.
Looking at our resources, especially as far as having a small staff, we decided to serve an afternoon snack at our Central Library, Monday-Friday at 2PM, for 10 weeks in the summer.”
Which organization(s) do you partner with to make this program possible? Has this program led to any new partnerships?
“We partner with our local school system, Caroline County Public Schools. They make all of the registration and reimbursement arrangements with MSDE (Maryland State Department of Education), who in turn participates in the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program We received training from our school system’s food service program to ensure that we were following USDA guidelines. They also prepared the menus for us, making sure that we were meeting the federal nutrition guidelines. Once a week I picked up food and drinks from the food service workers at an elementary school about a mile from the library. The school system handled all financial aspects of the program; there was no cost to the library and very little paperwork.
We have partnered with our school system on many projects before, and we even share an ILS with them, so I can’t say that this program led to new partnerships. But it certainly enriched the partnership we do have with them, and they were happy to assist us in our efforts to serve nutritious snacks to children over the summer.”
What have been the benefits and drawbacks of the program? Have there been any surprises?
“When we went into the program, we assumed that the biggest benefit would be that kids who otherwise wouldn’t have access to a healthy snack over the summer would be able to come to the library and get it. That certainly has proven to be true. However, the biggest surprise, and another big benefit, has been the enhanced connections that we have formed with the kids who eat snack daily. In most cases, these are library “regulars” who spend a large part of their summer at the library. In past years, inevitably they grow restless by early afternoon are were often asked to leave for the day due to behavior issues—being too loud; running; fighting with each other. However, when we started serving snack every day, we noticed a drop in behavior issues. Early on, we made a practice of sitting with the kids while they ate, chatting and getting to know them. These connections proved to be invaluable in providing a positive library experience for them over the summer. Now, whenever I’ve seen these kids in the library during the school year—even last fall—they ask if we are serving snack again this summer.
I will be honest about the drawbacks of the program. Since we do partner with the USDA Summer Meals program, we must follow their very stringent guidelines on both what to serve and how to serve it. There is no flexibility to offer kids a variety of choices, or to give hungrier kids “seconds”. All participating children must receive one of each item offered to make a nutritionally complete snack. If they don’t eat it, it can go on the “share table”, but after that if no one takes it by the end of snack time, it must be discarded. While we understand these guidelines, it was still difficult to get used to this procedure. However, we decided that partnering with this program was the only sensible way for us to serve safe, approved, subsidized snacks to children.”
Do you have any advice for libraries who are interested in starting summer food programs (especially other small and rural libraries)?
“I would encourage libraries, particularly small, rural libraries, to look into partnering with an agency who is familiar with USDA guidelines and enthusiastic about extending Summer Meals services to more sites. I would also recommend planning to offer a summer food program that is realistic with the staffing levels available. Summer is already an extremely busy time of year for library staff, so offer a program on scale with your resources. Having said that, we have found that our summer meal program is extremely rewarding and helps fill the summertime gap for children in our community facing food insecurity.”
To find out more about offering a summer food program in your library, contact your local school system, or reach out to your statewide USDA School Meals liaison.
Rachael Stein is the Information Services Manager at Eastern Shore Regional Library in Salisbury, MD.
The post Food in the Library? An interview with Amanda Courie about Summer Food Programs appeared first on ALSC Blog.
Author Bridgette R. Alexander reflects on the mystery genre, her first book in a new series, Southern Gothic, and the influential impact of librarians and libraries. I received a complimentary copy of Southern Gothic: A Celine Caldwell Mystery in preparation for this interview.
How would you describe your novel Southern Gothic: A Celine Caldwell Mystery?
It’s intriguing. It’s passionate. It’s a contemporary urban Nancy Drew meets The Da Vinci Code. Southern Gothic introduces the reader to Celine Caldwell and the world of fine arts. Celine attends a private school on the Upper East Side, but more importantly has an internship in the Archives Department of the mighty Metropolitan Museum of Art, where her life suddenly changes with an explosive uncovering of an art theft; and in which her mother, the powerful curator of modern art at the Met, is accused of stealing paintings from her upcoming exhibition.
(Photo provided by Susan Raab, Raab Associates, Inc.)
How did the idea of the character Celine Caldwell develop? What inspired you during your writing process for Southern Gothic?
I wanted to bring children and young adults into the high-end world of fine art. I had studied art history as well as worked as a professor of art history. I’ve been in the art world for over fifteen years in various capacities. Throughout my years in the visual arts, I’ve always dreamed of sharing a lot of what I’d experienced with younger people. The art world has been very, very good to me; and I’ve always wanted other people to experience the same as I, or actually even better than I have, experience. So I created a character, a girl born in the world of art whose life would be deeper and richer for the reader to explore the inner workings of an encyclopedic art museum, a world-class auction house, and give them the experience of spending time in the homes of private art collectors; all the while seeing these worlds through the eyes of Celine, a young, fresh, impressionable person.
Some reviewers have compared Celine Caldwell to a modern Nancy Drew. How would you describe her to the librarians interested in sharing your book with young readers?
She’s curious. She’s intrepid. She’s a never-back-down type of girl, yet at the same time, she is very vulnerable. She has a high emotional I.Q., and at the same time, she’s very much like the modern day teen.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art plays a central role in Southern Gothic. What is your background with this famous institution?
While still an undergraduate in college, I took about a year off to get a job and save money to return to school. I didn’t want to incur a lot of debt. I moved to New York City and took a job working for a non-profit organization called Emmaus House of Harlem. I worked for the founder and director, the late David Kirk. At Emmaus House I taught a G.E.D prep course and a lifestyle class for residents. These were formerly addicted individuals who through Emmaus House would be returning to their homes and families with employment training, education and life skills. I’d been working there for about a month and the first Saturday the residents were allowed to have their children visit them for the weekend. The children would spend the afternoon into early evening reconnecting with the parent(s).
I was struck after that first Saturday with wanting to provide resources for those children, so they would have a different future than their present lives. I came up with an idea to create what I would later call an arts-integrated curriculum for those children. I connected the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s education department told them I was interested in connecting them with the Met program by getting a lot of materials and access to the Museum for me and for the children. That was my first public art education course.
What has been the most surprising feedback you have received from a reader about your book?
People in general love Celine Caldwell, but what I’ve been the most surprised by is the reaction about how much they have been excited to learn about art and its history. I say surprised, even though I am an art historian, because I never want to be heavy-handed or didactic as a scholar. I want people to be enthralled and engaged by the world Celine lives in and a major part of that is fine arts – the paintings on the walls and the experiences she has. I want people to be excited and inspired…that seems to be happening!
Has your book been marketed to a target audience? Would you consider this book to be a young adult novel that appeals to older children as well?
Certainly. Southern Gothic and the Celine Caldwell Mystery Series are targeted to people between the ages of 12 and 18 years old. Although, we’re finding a good number of readers that are much older than teens, from 21 on up. Southern Gothic has a great deal of elements in it that can be highly appealing to young adults – they can absolutely connect to the protagonist, Celine Caldwell a girl trying the best that she can to navigate herself in the world that her parents placed her in once they got divorced. She also has such a loyal and strong group of friends, and I think that is an element of the story resonates with a lot of readers. Additionally, there are several other aspects to Celine’s life that I believe readers connect with; such as her forging her independence and gaining her own voice in her work as an intern at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. That job offers Celine the opportunity to move about the world within the museum as well as meeting the people that she will encounter in her quest to discover the truth to solve the mystery in the story.
Why is the mystery genre relevant to children and teens? What connected you to this genre as a writer and what does its future look like to you?
I think children and teens connect to the mystery genre because there are a lot of unanswered questions that by the time you reach 10, 11, 12 or 13, you begin to seek out answers to. For me, it seems like a perfect fit. For me, mysteries represented the very nature of life itself. There is the beginning where you are met with some ease and then suddenly, a bit of an upheaval comes along and sort of unhinge everything. With that comes a discovery, a renewal…it’s utterly remarkable. I’ve always loved the thrill of mysteries and knowing that with everything in life, you have to go beyond the surface.
For children and teens, mysteries are a great genre. In your early years of life, you accept what’s been presented to you; as you get older, you start to question – or, at the very least, you realize that there is a much larger world outside your home and neighborhood and you’re beginning to be exposed to bits and pieces of that larger world. Mysteries are at once exciting and scary, just as life is for young people discovering the bigger world for the first time.
What should the role of children’s librarians be in encouraging children and youth to explore various genres and subjects?
That’s a great question. The librarians I was fortunate to have growing up as an early and teenage reader, engaged me by drawing on various interests I had in subjects and showing me how to explore those subjects through the books they’d find for me. I think it’s vitally important for a librarian to be the guide, to introduce new, exciting, scary, different subjects; and many types of books to children and young adults. The role of librarians can be a lot more fluid than an actual teacher. The librarian has the space and hopefully, the inclination to be the conduit between a child and the world.
How has your experience in libraries influenced your life as a reader and author?
Photo of Bridgette R. Alexander
(Photo by Sophy Naiditch)
Where the classroom introduced me to the world, the library became a guide helping me to navigate the world. The main Chicago Public Library back in the late seventies and early eighties was on Michigan Avenue occupying the same building as the Encyclopedia Britannica. I spent a great deal of time reading almost every book I could read. I attended, Whitney Young Magnet High School (during the same years as our first lady Michelle Obama). I had an amazing Economic and Society teacher, Mr. Minkoff.
In this class, he taught us about the development of and the histories of the stock market and US industries, such as the railroads and banking; and we learned about early wealthy American families such as the Vanderbilts, Rockefellers, etc. He talked about these subjects in such an exciting way that it captured me wholeheartedly. I would ask him a thousand and one questions about these people and, at one point, he suggested I go to the library — not the school’s library, but the main public library in Chicago. So I did. Sharing with the librarian there what I was looking for, she asked me why was I interested in those people and in that time period. I told her. And she led me to the library stacks and particularly to the areas where books on these subjects were and pointed to about five or six different titles and said, “here the world is yours.”
From that day on and for about another three to four years, I read everything about American industrial might. Later, I added in almost every biography of the Kennedys and all the individuals of the American political movements. I read so much and received so much guidance from the Chicago Public librarians at the main branch, that by the time I arrived at college, what I had read served as a strong foundation for my studying art history, philosophy and also some political science. In Chicago, we also have the cultural center that’s a part of the Chicago Public Library system. The Cultural Center houses everything in the arts: music (both popular and classical), visual arts, dance, opera; you name it – and biographies of artists and historiographies of genres. I devoured it all.
A librarian there gave me access to listening to old recordings of Leo Bernstein, Barbra Streisand, even Annie Lennox long before she became a member of the Eurhythmics. Another time in Mr. Minkoff’s class, we had to watch a CBS broadcast mini-series starring Henry Fonda, called “Gideon’s Trumpet” by the author Anthony Lewis. We had to write a paper about the television movie, which was based on the US Supreme Court case that ruled criminal defendants had a right to an attorney even if they could not afford it. Well, back to the library I returned to find out everything I could about this landmark case, and this time in the law section of the library.
The library has been and still is an integral part of my intellectual life!
What inspired you to write a series? What additional projects are you working on at this time?
My desire is to explore with readers the full spectrum that is the arts – visual art and culture, opera, the ballet and symphonies. Currently, I am preparing to release the second book in the series, Sons of Liberty; the third book in the series, Pasha will follow. Then I have a lot of ideas for the next nine books to follow that. Also, starting next month in June, I will be on a multi-city book tour that begins in Beverly Hills, California and then moves up the coast to Northern California. And in August I will be launching the Celine Caldwell Arts Council, which is a national initiative that I’m very excited about.
Thank you for sharing details of your new book and the role libraries and librarians have played in your life!
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With the popularity of robotics programs in schools and community groups, interest in robots and robotics is high! If you’d like to add a technological flair to your displays or booklists, consider these fun titles with high appeal for a wide range of readers:
(image taken from Penguin Random House)
Boy + Bot is a sweet and funny story that highlights friendship, kindness, and misunderstandings. When Bot’s power is accidentally switched off, he attempts to re-spark Bot with applesauce and books. When Boy falls asleep, Bot tries to rouse him with oil and by reading aloud from his instruction manual. Luckily, an inventor steps in to smooth things over.
(image taken from Penguin Random House)
Hilo Book 1: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth was one of my top favorite graphic novel reads in 2015; I am anxiously waiting for the sequel to arrive soon! Two friends befriend a friendly, entertaining, but somewhat odd boy who has literally crashed onto Earth. The characterizations of the three friends are realistic, charming, and heartwarming.
(image taken from Macmillan)
Little Robot is another fantastic robot-themed graphic novel from 2015; this nearly wordless story features an African-American girl (who lives in a trailer park) and her newly formed friendship with a robot that has crashed into her industrial town. The two pals explore and go on many adventures until the robot factory searches for its missing robot. The little girl (who is not named) is strong, courageous, and inventive, adding much needed diversity and characterization in robot-themed books!
(image taken from National Geographic)
Finally, if you want a nonfiction read for young independent readers, Robots (National Geographic Kids) should definitely be in your collection. National Geographic Kids’s nonfiction readers are highly recommended (and highly popular) for their graphic design, clear writing, and high-appeal to both reluctant and ravenous readers alike.
Do you have any favorite robot-themed books? Discuss them in the comments!
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At my library we have a monthly guessing game in a display case near the Children’s Services desk. Last month’s theme was guessing the number of drops of water in a bottle. This month’s game has lots of puppets stuffed in the case. In the winter it was about snowflakes. The library has been doing this since before I started working there, and I can see the positive effects of the game.
To participate in the month’s game, a library visitor must fill out a guessing form at the Children’s desk. A child doesn’t have to be able to write to participate; family members can help make sure the guess itself is legible. There is generally an employee working at the desk, and having the forms and pencils near us encourages interaction between the families and staff. Sure, we greet people as they enter the Children’s Library, but the guessing game allows for more meaningful interactions. Anyone can guess – it’s not just for children, so we have memorable conversations with caregivers too. The guessing game is a conversation starter, a recurring activity that children can look forward to every visit to our library, and builds upon skills like observation, counting and estimation in addition to incorporating several of the Every Child Ready to Read practices. The prize, generally a donated book in near new condition, is awarded on the first day of the following month, and the name of the person with the closest guess is posted near the display case.
On special days we also have scavenger hunts and the related sheets and prizes are at the desk. This is another way for us to show that we are not scary librarians, but rather nice and fun. This summer we are celebrating Beatrix Potter’s 150th birthday on July 28 with her character hidden around the room.
Does your library have passive programming like this? Do you have a way to encourage children and families to approach the Children’s service desk? Share your successes in the comments.
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ALSC’s Quicklists Consulting Committee has updated our Summer Reading Lists with new and exciting titles!
The lists are full of book titles to keep children engaged in reading throughout the summer. Four Summer Reading book lists are available for Birth-Preschool, K-2nd, 3rd- 5th and 6th-8th grade students.
Each list is available here to download for free. Lists can be customized to include library information, summer hours and summer reading programs for children before making copies available to schools and patrons.
Titles on the 2016 Summer Reading List was compiled and annotated by members of ALSC’s Quicklists Consulting Committee.
Image courtesy of ALSC
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By: ALSC Children and Technology committee,
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Downloadable and streaming audiobooks have been on my mind again. Recently, some articles came out about the benefits of audiobooks for literacy; a revelation that probably surprised few of us in children’s and school library services. We did not create the Odyssey awards for nothing. ALA Editions published a wonderful book about it by Sharon Grover and Lizette D. Hannegan “back” in 2012. Last year, Rachel Wood from Arlington Public Library wrote an ALSC Blog post that stands as a primer for building an e-audio collection. But it always feels like a topic needs to come around a few times before the greater profession and the greater public latches on.
Perhaps it is not always content that is the way to hook a reluctant reader but format too. Dan Cohen from the DPLA wrote an article for The Atlantic talking about the powerful role that smartphones play in the lives of today’s teens and how this may be a way to bridge the digital divide. One of my own young relatives revealed to me that because she has difficulty reading, she uses audiobooks to keep up with her English class assignments. She finds and streams audiobook editions of assigned books on her smartphone. Recognizing that most parents and caregivers have smartphones, many libraries, like Spokane County Library District, are emphasizing their media mentor skills to recommend downloadable and streaming audiobooks and related apps for them to use with their children.
In the past, a former children’s librarian could feel alone in the greater e-content world. Too often children were not considered during e-content discussions. (Besides my fellow children’s librarians, who else at a meeting would excitedly prattle on about an audiobook of Winnie the Pooh in which Judy Dench gives voice to Kanga.) Now, we live in a world of Bookflix, Tumblebooks, and Overdrive Read-alongs. When children’s e-material did not circulate well during the early years of e-content platforms, I still believed it was worth building a collection. I knew at some point, this part of the market would grow. And, with the growth in downloadable audiobook circulation and sales, the time is upon us.
Let’s admit. Unlike a book, a physical audiobook can be clumsy (yes I know, for some downloading from the library can be clumsy as well). I tried the entire carry ten discs onto the subway thing when I had longer commutes, and yes, I did miss a few stops because of a wonderful narrator. As well, technology has changed so rapidly as concerns personal electronics. A few months ago, a member of an audiobook award committee told me she had a hard time finding a store near her that still sold Discmans (she wanted one so she could listen for her committee while she went on her walks). In the age of tablets, smartphones, and smartwatches, I think more focus needs to be on downloadable and streaming e-content.
To paraphrase Ranganathan: every young listener, their downloadable audiobook, and every downloadable audiobook, its young listener.
Michael Santangelo is the Electronic Resources Coordinator for BookOps, the shared technical services department for the New York Public Library and the Brooklyn Public Library, and the current chair of ALSC’s Children and Technology Committee.
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Stuffed animals in the children’s area: Love ’em or hate ’em?
Most libraries have at least a few stuffed animals. Perhaps you use one as a “stand-in” during lapsit storytime. Perhaps you have a “character” stuffed animal that makes an appearance at storytime.
But what about those other stuffed animals? You know, the ones that just “hang out” in the children’s area? Are they beloved initiators of imaginative play or are they germ-carrying, dust-collectors sparking possessorship wars?
Share your opinion in our one question poll: Love ’em or hate ’em?
Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.
The poll will be up all month. I’ll share the results, your comments (leave them below), and my own opinion, in June.
Please share with your colleagues. I’d like a big sampling.
Image credit: MorgueFile
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By: Heather Acerro,
Blog: ALSC Blog
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With this post and $25 you can create an awesome glow-stick-party for kids and families at your library!
- Glow bracelets (you can get 12 for $1 in the dollar bins) we used 18 containers for 90 people
- A couple bags of large marshmallows
Set up: Turn a few tables into ramps, put out some glow sticks and marshmallows, and make some sample wheels. Turn the lights (mostly) out and put on some groovy music.
For our glow stick party we had 90 kids and grown-ups dancing to the music, going crazy with glow sticks, and making wheels and sending them down the ramp. It was glow-tastic!
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Maker programming is a large trend in public libraries throughout North America. By researching kit options and planning for added costs, public libraries can develop successful steam programming.
Moose Jaw Public Library has invested in a number of Maker programming initiatives which have been well received, including MakeDo, Squishy Circuits, and Little Bits. Prior to purchasing we sought reviews from a number of sources, including communications with other librarians, makezine.com, and reviews at PLA and at other conferences. We funded our Maker programs through a grant and through donations from our local Friends of the Library.
MakeDo encourages children to explore basic engineering principles. Each kit comes with a plastic safe saw, and several pins and hinges. Each library supplies cardboard boxes and the paper supplies required by the kits. Children can build anything they wish, or follow the kit instructions. While they cannot take their creations home, they can display their works of art and turn your library into a gallery!
With electrical circuit kits, it is important to consider the actual ongoing cost of the maker kits, including replacement parts. Squishy Circuits and Little Bits are very popular, however both kits have hidden costs. Squishy Circuits offers a fun, tactile way to experience electricity. However, librarians will need to factor in the cost of extra dough, replacement wires and time for cleaning equipment. Little Bits are fun! Kids love assembling these magnetic circuits. Buy the largest pack in your budget, as you will want multiples for a larger group. Additional budgeting is a must, as some pieces at the time of our kit’s purchase were only sold separately.
The Acton-Agua Dulce Public Library has also invested in various maker kits, with special emphasis on Snap Circuits Jr. kits. Each kit comes with an instructional booklet with projects that a child could do alone or in pairs. The baseline Jr. kit comes with 100 available projects that start from a basic closed circuit where a light illuminates or a fan spins to more complicated series and parallel circuits. I used this set for a S.T.E.A.M. centered program for ages 8-14 and it was very well received. Some kids already had lessons on circuitry and knew how they worked so I allowed them to have complete freedom with the kits and focused more on those who were just learning how the circuits worked.
The Snap Circuits kits turned out to be excellent for passive programming as well as more structured, lesson-based programming. We now have a couple different types of kits at the library as part of our Homework Center, and the afterschool kids love setting them up and seeing what they can create. And don’t worry if a piece gets lost or broken because you can easily buy replacement parts through their website. The only additional cost to the kits is the use of AA batteries, two needed per kit.
Three questions you may want to ask before buying your maker kit: Will it be something that kids will ask for again, over and over? Can you do a whole program around the kit? How easy is it to get replacement parts? The biggest takeaway with buying maker kits is that you have to try them for yourself to see what will work for you and your community.
Courtesy photo from Tina Docetti
Our guest bloggers today are Amanda Cain and Tina Dolcetti.Tina currently works for the Moose Jaw Public Library as a Children’s Librarian. By night, Tina can be found in her community, mentoring an adult with a cognitive disability for the Saskatchewan Association for Community Living. Amanda is a Children’s Librarian who enjoys opening young minds with stories, rhymes and activities at the Acton-Agua Dulce Public Library.
Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do
Courtesy photo from Amanda Cain
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.
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In early 2012 I decided I wanted to create a Sensory Storytime at my branch. After watching a few webinars, making contact with the Autism Society of Central Virginia, and talking with local teachers I began to design my program. I decided it would run in three week sessions on Saturdays and that I would offer it quarterly. It was designed for children on the spectrum ages of 3-6 years. I checked out our copy of The Out-Of-Sync Child Has Fun by Kranowitz and selected a variety of activities that I thought would work. Our Friends bought us awesome play items including no spill toddler bubbles.
Our first Sensory Storytime was in October 2012. I was blown away by the response! The most phenomenal part for me was watching parents talk with each other while their children played after storytime. They were all dealing with similar struggles and it was obviously a relief to talk with people who understood completely.
The October and February sessions were incredibly well attended. I followed up each session with a survey and got nothing but positive feedback from my families. I ran this program for a full year and each session had fewer and fewer participants. In October 2014 I could no longer justify the amount of time I dedicated to this program due to little to no attendance.
Soon after I made this hard decision I met Jessica who is a social worker for our county’s early intervention. She agreed to spend some time with me to revamp this program and evaluate why it had fizzled. We decided that the best idea would be to try to offer a weekly inclusive storytime with a sensory focus, open to any child between the ages of 1-5 years. Each program would have a presenter, an assistant and a representative of early intervention. We launched this program in January 2016.
This format has been very successful and feels more sustainable. Sensory Storytime’s goal is to be a welcoming, encouraging and supportive program that is smaller and more adaptive than other storytimes. Our group has been a mix of regulars, children who don’t thrive in other storytimes and children being served by early intervention. Having two other adults in the room to help parents and children navigate the program and troubleshoot issues has been immeasurably valuable.
Erin Lovelace works as a Children’s Librarian in Virginia and is a member of the Library Service to Special Population Children and their Caregivers committee.
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Apply to Host the 2017 Arbuthnot Honor Lecture featuring Jacqueline Woodson (image courtesy of Jacqueline Woodson)
Your library could host the 2017 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture featuring Jacquline Woodson!
The 2017 Arbuthnot Committee is looking for a host site for next year’s annual lecture. The site would host roughly 250-700 attendees, depending on the selected venue. Audiences typically include: librarians, publishers, literary critics, intrigued local patrons, and others interested in children’s literature.
The selected site will host Jacqueline Woodson, who is the 2014 National Book Award Winner for her New York Times bestselling memoir, Brown Girl Dreaming. The author of more than two dozen books for young readers, she is a four-time Newbery Honor winner, a recipient of the NAACP Image Award, the 2014 National Book Award winner for young people’s literature, a two-time Coretta Scott King Award winner and was recently named the Young People’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation.
Applications are due Friday, June 10, 2016. Information about host site responsibilities is included in the application materials.
Access the 2017 Arbuthnot Host Application!
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Summer reading is just around the corner for most public libraries, which means it’s crunch time for youth services staff with a goal to engage as many young people in the community as possible with the biggest initiative of the year. If we’ve got a goal to help combat the summer slide–which it seems many, if not most, of us do, based on the plethora of conferences and programs on the topic–then high student enrollment and participation is a major objective.
So how do you raise awareness of summer reading at schools in order to get as many kids as possible reading over the summer?
Rallies at Schools – I’ve heard many a library talk about their summer reading rallies–those springtime visits to area schools to get kids pumped up about summer reading. Some involve skits, some are just a quick overview of the most important details and highlights. Many a librarian has shared details of their school summer reading rallies online; here’s how I did them when I worked in Missouri.
A Teacher Newsletter – I’m also really interested in the go-straight-to-the-teachers method adopted by the Phoenix Public Library. They’ve got a regular teacher enewsletter, and from the looks of it teachers who read it get notice of major events for their students in that knowledge sweet spot: not too early that it feels irrelevant and then goes forgotten, but not too late as to drown among all the end-of-school-year announcements. Their April blurb on summer reading is brief and includes the basics like program dates, incentives, and who to contact for more info. I hope teachers who get this newsletter realize how great it is!
Image from the Skokie Public Library Summer Reads website, courtesy of Amy Koester
Special Summer Reading Lists – One of the most successful reading initiatives we do at my library is our annual summer reading list. We’ve got two age-specific versions: Cool Summer Reads for grades 3-5, and Hot Summer Reads for grades 6-8. Committees of staff select 10-12 titles each year for these lists, then in the spring staff visit schools to promote the lists and the library summer reading program. Every student gets a promotional bookmark listing the books, and kids positively flock to the library as soon as the visits start to get these books. To keep the enthusiasm running strong over the duration of the summer, we encourage kids to vote and rank their favorites on our summer reads website. Then, sometime during the next school year, we bring one of the top authors to local schools for in-person visits. Cue the excitement.
Register Participants Where They Are: Community Events – I’m sure many library staff are already getting families in the library asking when summer reading will begin. That’s great! They’re excited! If they’re in the library asking about the program, though, chances are they’re regular participants–which means their kids are going to read and be part of the program no matter what. What about the kids whose families aren’t currently aware of summer reading, or who can’t easily get to the library? At my library, we’re trying two new strategies this year for engaging as many kids in summer reading as possible. First, we’re offering a special weekend of advance signup for the club. Those signups will happen at our village’s annual Festival of Cultures. The library has always had a booth at the festival, which is highly attended, but this year we’ll also be signing folks up for summer reading. People are already at the festival–now the summer reading registration desk at the library is one less stop on their to-do list for summer.
Register Participants Where They Are: School – The second thing we’re trying is the automatic enrollment of students with library cards at one of our school districts. We’ve been working with schools for years to help every public school student get a library card, and for the school record to include the child’s library card number. Based on the permissions caregivers gave when they signed the library card form, and with the school’s partnership, we’re able to automatically enroll every student with a library card in our program. A letter is going home to all the students to explain the program and that kids are already involved, and it includes the game board for the program. This strategy means families with limited transportation need to find their way to the library only once over the course of the summer, to turn in their stuff–if that. We’re also working with the school to bring some special bookmobile stops to the school community, too, hopefully making access even easier for many families.
These are a handful of ways to think about raising awareness of your library’s summer reading program among kids and students in your community. How do you go about letting them know about your program?
Amy Koester, Youth & Family Program Supervisor at Skokie (IL) Public Library, is writing this post for the Public Awareness Committee. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is a world-wide phenomena, a life-changing read, and a children’s book. Harry and his friends are mere 11 year-olds at the start of their first school year. Though their adventures and world get older, darker, and infinitely more complex, the series is still entirely at home in a children’s library. This year, for the first time since the blockbuster release of the seventh book in the series, librarians will be faced with two J.K. Rowling-sized collection issues.
The first is due to a new movie, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The movie, starring Eddie Redmaye, tells the story of Newt Scamander, famous in Harry Potter’s world for having literally written the book on fantastical creatures. The film was written by Rowling herself. Technically, this is not an adaptation of the textbook (also written by Rowling) of the same name. That slim volume, published in 2001, has almost nothing to do with the upcoming movie. Published as a fundraiser for Comic Relief, the Fantastic Beasts book clocks in at a mere 128 pages. Despite this, we’ve seen holds on our copy balloon into the double digits. Will you be buying more copies of Fantastic Beasts for the name tie-in alone?
The second, and most pressing, conundrum is the question of The Cursed Child. On June 7, 2016, previews begin in London for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a sequel play based off an original story written by Rowling and two collaborators. When publication of Cursed Child was announced, it was announced as a new Harry Potter book, but Rowling later clarified that the book was actually the script of the play, and not an new prose story.
The issue for children’s librarians comes from the subject matter. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is described thusly:
It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.
While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.
It sounds amazing, but that is beside the point. Does a book about adult Harry Potter, an overworked government bureaucrat, belong in the children’s library, next to the books about Harry’s childhood? For now, we’re saying yes at my library. Our original order of 10 copies are all already on hold, so we’ve added 20 more. Our final decision won’t be made until we can read the play, and Baker and Taylor has already sent the embargo paperwork.
I was 11 when the first Harry Potter book came out. I attended every midnight release party for the books and saw every movie on opening day. I am SO PUMPED for new Harry Potter. I just hope both of these new stories are for all Harry’s fans, not just the adult ones like me.
The post The Cursed Child Conundrum appeared first on ALSC Blog.
As part of our yearlong LSTA/IMLS grant funded Movie Maker project at the East Lyme Public Library, we recently hosted a flipbook workshop series for tweens. Why flipbooks? When we were planning the roster of programs for the year, I contacted local filmmakers for creative ideas. Multimedia artist Ian Applegate immediately suggested teaching the tweens how to make flipbooks. Since I had never heard of flipbooks, I asked Ian a few questions:
What is a flipbook?
A flipbook is any hand-drawn animation containing pages of drawings which are slightly different from one another which gives the effect of a motion picture. It’s one of the only ways to produce the illusion of moving objects without the use of electronic devices.
What made you decide to make flipbooks?
I needed a way to take the computer animation program known as Adobe Flash and explain it to students without access to computers.
How do kids react to flipbooks? Are they excited to make their own?
Generally, kids and adults are immediately impressed by the smoothness of the animations which I highlight and feature to demonstrate the skills that I teach. Then they become overwhelmed and concerned by the process of developing the skills involved. My goal is to teach the acceptance that learning a skill is an investment of time. It’s just as important as the skill itself, because patience is transferrable to many other trades, even interpersonal skills, in life.
How do flipbooks promote STEM and STEAM education?
Flipbooks are the “A” in “Steam,” but they’re also the science in that the way that I teach flipbooks alludes to computer science in terminology. As far as technology, it’s “retro” in that it’s a bygone application for something which most people would easily recommend an “app” to make, particularly animations, yet the flipbook itself is a physical object, made of paper, not a work of software or a saved file. Creating a flipbook from scratch means utilizing a process which would be considered engineering. Mathematically, you can “program” physics equations in terms of bouncing objects, spinning things, and many other visualizations of formulas by varying the distance between objects based on specific equations.
The flipbook workshops were a smash hit with the tweens. We had perfect attendance all three days. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the program involved more than just STEAM skills. It actually became what I like to call a STREAM (Science, Technology, READING, Engineering, Art, and Math) program. The workshops elicited more reading tie-ins than I had expected. For example, one of the tweens asked if I had any pictures of birds he could copy. I retrieved Sibley’s Book of Birds as well as a few other basic birding books. Soon there were books sprawled all over the table as the other kids requested illustrated books of frogs, insects, dogs, and horses. After the program, many of the participants checked out field guides, graphic novels, books about cartooning, and more.
To see examples of flipbooks and to learn more about this art form, visit flipbookisland.com.
Multimedia artist, Ian Applegate lives and works in New Haven, Connecticut. As part of Yale University’s Splash program, he has taught animation at schools throughout New Haven. He can be reached at email@example.com.
The East Lyme Public Library Movie Maker project is made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Connecticut State Library. Funds have also been provided by the East Lyme Public Library through its Annual Fund Drive.
(Photos courtesy guest blogger)
Our guest blogger is Rebecca Scotka. Rebecca is the Children’s and Young Adult Librarian at the East Lyme Public Library in Connecticut. She 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.
The post Unplugged Movie Making appeared first on ALSC Blog.
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photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery
As I participated in Kindergarten Round Up at Sisters Elementary School last week and recognized 90 percent of the families in the audience, I was reminded of the amazing connection the public library and the school have. This made me smile. Last year, my Get Ready for Kindergarten story time at the library had the largest attendance in years! This was only possible with the support, time and enthusiasm of Stephanie Jensen, Title I Teacher and Becky Stoughton, Principal at Sisters Elementary School. They talked with new families at the school, sent out an email and a voice recording to all families with students attending kindergarten in the fall. The voice recording was amazing! But this connection didn’t happen overnight.
For the past six years, I’ve watched our relationship grow. What started out as a once or twice a year school visit or classroom(s) visit to the library has turned into a regular monthly connection. I have an amazing connection with all of the teachers but I have to give a huge shout out to Stephanie, reading specialist and overall extraordinary woman. Our weekly discussions at the public library when she was returning or checking out piles and piles of books turned into reading programs and the programs turned into parent meetings and the meetings turned into Book Bingo, family reading nights and more! Together with the encouragement and wonderful communication from Principal Becky, we created a new atmosphere of collaborating ideas. The connection grew and so did the events. Sometime the ideas were extreme – creating a live version of The Dot by Peter Reynolds and sometimes quite simple-open house-setting up a table of library information, iPad sharing our website and free giveaways-stickers, book marks, etc. Overall, each event connected families to books, education and fun!
Parent Information Night
photo by Stephanie Jensen
“The positive partnership established between Deschutes Public Library and the Sisters School District highlights the power of coming together to support students and families with local resources. Our schools, families and community benefit and thrive as a result of working together and connecting families with meaningful and engaging materials to support learning at home.” –Stephanie
By now you’re thinking, this is great! We do this every day too. But for me it’s been a goal to strengthen our relationships with our schools and community. A goal to see our public library filled with families excited about information and books, making the library part of their weekly routine, making the library their space: connecting families with new books and new resources. After each event, school visit or family night, I recognize more and more families in the library. Maybe it’s the following day and a young boy is getting a library card for the first time or maybe it’s a week later and a family attends a LEGO Block Party program. All of the above make me smile. I realize we still have a long way to go but I’m excited about the possibilities. I feel extremely lucky and appreciate all of the Sisters Elementary School staff’s time, excitement and energy. Parents too! – So many amazing parent/guardian volunteers.
“The Sisters Library provides added support and helps our kids engage in a different type of learning outside our school walls.” Principal Becky
Top 3 favorite connections and collaborations:
Book Bingo and Newsletter photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery
Book Bingo: A bingo card filled with library and school activities-weekly prizes and a free book after completing bingo. Activities are completed at home, in the classroom and at the library.
Sisters Parent Teacher Community meetings: A variety of morning or afternoon meetings to discuss reading nights, open houses, programming, special events, share new library books and library information. The meetings turn into task groups, special event planning and so many great discussions.
Family Reading Nights at Sisters Elementary School: A night filled with interactive stories, activities and information. A different theme each month.
Book Bingo display photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery
School Monthly Newsletters
Book Displays in the Library
Kindergarten Round Up
After School Programs
Interactive Story Activities
School Displays in the commons area
Classroom visits to the library
Summer Reading promotion
Common Core Reading Night
School Open House
Listen: Audio Books before the holidays
Art Gallery at the library and school
Please share your collaboration stories in the comments below.
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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