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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. Mentoring: How You Can Give Back to the Profession

ALSC Mentoring Program

Applications are open for the spring 2016 mentoring cohort. Apply by Feb. 26, 2016. Image courtesy of ALSC.

January was National Mentoring Month, but there’s still time to make a difference. The ALSC Mentoring Program is in it’s third year of existence and it’s worth re-visiting what the program is all about.

In 2012, the ALSC Emerging Leaders team put together recommendations for a new mentoring program. The original intention was to pair early career professionals with experienced ALSC members. Since Fall 2013, ALSC has been matching mentors and mentees in an effort to make new connections in the profession and increase awareness of interest and familiarity with ALSC committee service and participation.

Mentors and mentees set their own goals and meet on their own time. Matches do a lot of different activities, including mock interviews, writing blog posts, and performing research.

What Does It Take To Be a Mentor?

One difficulty for the program has been in attracting as many mentors as mentees.  The misconception is that it is easy to be a mentee, but hard to be a mentor. It couldn’t be further from the truth.

To combat this, the ALSC Membership Committee and Managing Children’s Services Committees have come up with three suggestions for why you should be a mentor:

  1. Being a mentor is giving back to the profession
  2. Mentoring requires only a few hours of time per month
  3. It can be as easy as having a 30-min conversation every two weeks

ALSC has also sought to increase communication about what happens in the program. Every year, ALSC hosts two mentoring forums – one in the fall, one in the spring – to bring matches together to talk about goals and obstacles. If you’re curious check out the recorded webcasts of these events to learn more.

Thank You Mentors and Mentees!

Another one of the new practices of the program is to recognize mentors and mentees for their participation. The following mentors and mentees were matched in Spring 2015. We thank them and wish them well in their future endeavors:

Spring 2015 Mentors

  • Jordan Boaz
  • Anne Clark
  • Mary Cook
  • Cheri Crow
  • Carol Edwards
  • Lucia Gonzalez
  • Christie Hamm
  • Carol Hopkins
  • Abby Johnson
  • Kendra Jones
  • Julie Jurgens
  • Rachel Keeler
  • Laura Keonig
  • Marybeth Kozikowski
  • Mollie Lancaster
  • Meghan Malone
  • Angie Manfredi
  • Allison Murphy
  • Brooke Newberry
  • Carol Phillips
  • Marian Rafl
  • Julie Ranelli
  • Angela Reynolds
  • Kristina Reynolds
  • Katie Salo
  • Brooke Sheets
  • Robin Sofge
  • Kelly Von Zee
  • Marc Waldron

Spring 2015 Mentees

  • Emily Aaronson
  • Megan Ashley
  • Carly Bastiansen
  • Emily Bayci
  • Jeannine Birkenfeld
  • Amy Cantley
  • Katie Carter
  • Kathleen Dean
  • Jessica Espejel
  • Joie Formando
  • Haley Frailey
  • Rebecca Greer
  • Pamela Groseclose
  • Emily Heath
  • Ajarie Holman
  • Kimberly Iacucci
  • Amanda Jachec
  • Taylor Johnson
  • Kristen Jones
  • Naara Kean
  • Kari Kunst
  • Samantha Magee
  • Kate Mahoney
  • Kyra Nay
  • Alison O’Brien
  • Renee Perron
  • Jessica Ralli
  • Amy Steinbauer
  • Mary Watring

How You Can Participate

Want to be a mentor or mentee? ALSC is now accepting applications for the Spring 2016 cohort. The deadline to apply is Friday, February 26, 2016.

The post Mentoring: How You Can Give Back to the Profession appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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2. The REFORMA Children in Crisis Project: A Personal Account

Photo by Hendrik Terbeck

Photo by Hendrik Terbeck

The REFORMA Children In Crisis (CIC) Project was created by librarians who witnessed an inhumanity and felt compelled to act. There are several articles out there that introduce the great work of this project. However, for this piece, I wanted to bring in a perspective that captured the spirit of the movement — the very personal connection the members have to the work they do. Ricardo Ramirez is a Senior Library Assistant for Youth and Spanish Services at Butte County Library in Chico, California. Below is a personal narrative about his experience.

I started working on the REFORMA CIC in the summer of 2014. It was during my second semester as a MLIS student at SJSU, and in the very early stages of being a parent, that the contemporary plight of refugees from Central and Latin America came to the forefront of my attention. Because at the time I did not have a television, it was from following social justice non-profits on Facebook and being networked on social media with activists and educators, that I began to learn the issues affecting these refugees, and moreover, the fact that so many of them were unaccompanied children from some of world’s most dangerous regions. The keyword here, is children, very much like my own child, who would like to climb up on my lap while I did my graduate research. I was not surprised to learn that this type of child migration existed, but it was shocking none the less, and especially painful to see the conditions in which they were detained by immigration agencies. At the time I had just finished a pair of papers, Counter-Storytelling in Young Adult Literature and Braided Histories: Beyond Collected Biographies in Children’s Literature, both of which explored how “non-traditional” narratives can provide young people in hostile environments valuable resources and emotional support. A flicker of hope and inspiration occurred: I am a position to offer some type of support…

Before I had submerged myself in statistics of the crisis, before I understood the demographics of the refugee children, there were a handful of photographs that moved me. It is important for me to mention this because I was in the early stages of raising my own child and also deeply involved in the early learning programming at my library, and from that particular vantage point at that time in my life I was constantly motivated to explore how young minds could be shaped by positive learning environments and play. The photographs that I saw of the refugee children were in stark contrast to what I saw on a daily basis, and what my ideals were for creating spaces where children and families can thrive and explore. Far from learning environments, most child refugees from Central America are detained in spaces that are dark and heartbreaking. I held my own child as I encountered these images, and I knew that the one thing I could do for them was to extend my hand and my heart. I imagined a consortium of librarians and educators providing school, storytimes, and performance. I had witnessed on a daily basis how a genuine smile, a song, a story could brighten the spirit of child who was attending their first storytime, or listening to their parent hum a melody they had never heard before. As I daydreamed about all of this, in Austin, San Diego, Miami, Fresno, and in other parts of the country, librarians, the kind who have spent their entire library careers as advocates for the underserved and unrecognized, gathered their energy and came together to form what would become the REFORMA Children in Crisis Task Force. Somehow, because I raised my hand when they called for members, I was pulled in by their gravitational force, and have been along for the ride ever since.

Addressing the literacy and information needs of these children is a part of a complex issue. Children and teens who are fleeing from violent regions face extreme hardships that can cause a lifetime of trauma. Books and outreach are an important step. Librarians like Ady Huertas and David Lopez, two all-star members of the CIC Task Force, have provided outreach to detention centers and refugee shelters by providing books and programming, as well as giving tours of their libraries, library card sign ups, and summer reading programming. In both cases, they were supported by their local REFORMA chapters and members into action. Ady Huertas’ proximity to the US-Mexican Border Region and her connections with Tijuana librarians like Rosa Maria Gonzalez, has enabled our outreach to expand not only to refugee children, but also children and families who are living in extreme geographic and socio-economic isolation. 

It is eye opening work, that can be exhausting. But what it has done for me is to be constantly vigilant for causes of the underrepresented and populations of young people that have experiences that we may be unprepared to deal with. Challenges exist. At the core of the CIC is a continual fundraising and advocacy effort for a cause that is perpetual and variable from region to region. Add to this, working against a strong re-emergence of hostility towards migrants and refugees, librarians who serve youth and families have a strong responsibility to be inclusive to new communities and be prepared to provide resources that are focused on their evolving needs. Yet librarians and educators must also be able to create programs for all in their service areas that reinforce community building and positivity towards new immigrants. This can be as simple as taking the time after a storytime to personally welcome a new family with warmth and gratitude because they are spending their family time with you.

The most important thing about all of this, for us as information professionals and resource providers to children and families, is that refugee children are living their lives in a state of uncertainty. They don’t know if they will ever find a safe refuge, here or anywhere else. All take great risks to migrate towards safety despite increased violence and persecution on their route to the United States. Refugee children from Central America, much like their counterparts from distraught regions in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, have no other option but to keep moving away from violence. There is no home to return to. In the past few years many of us have been inspired by public libraries that open their doors to act as a refuge for communities in pain. At the same time, we are heartbroken by imagery of children in detention and being passed from nearly capsized fishing boat into the hands of rescue. What is at the heart of the CIC mission is that some relief is possible in this, be it through the gift of a book that a child can take with them on their journey, or in the outreach that we can offer as they prepare to resettle into a new life that has more hope for them.

To learn more about how you can get involved, visit the REFORMA Children in Crisis Project website. 

Sylvia Aguiñaga, LSSPCC Committee Member 

Ricardo Ramirez, Senior Library Assistant for Youth and Spanish Services, Butte County Library, Chico, CA

The post The REFORMA Children in Crisis Project: A Personal Account appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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3. 90 Picture Books for 90 Years of Black History Celebration

In 1926, ninety years ago, the group now known as The Association for the Study of African American Life and History sponsored a week in February to promote achievements of peoples with African ancestry.  February, being the birth month of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, seemed the ideal choice. After ninety years, we still celebrate in February, except no longer just a week, but now for the entire month.

The best way to celebrate Black History Month with your children is to read to them!

There are many informational books about Civil Rights, slavery, and African Americans’ great accomplishments. Black History Month can be celebrated by remembering those who have contributed to our past or by inspiring those who will create future history. I have prepared a book list, 90 Picture Books for 90 Years of Black History Celebration, which focuses on the past and also features African American children as main characters in everyday situations.

The initial motivation for this list began when assisting Toledo Public Schools with the Real Men READ-y program. This program pairs African American males with students to develop an interest in reading. Program administrators requested books that would interest their students with a focus on establishing pride in African American heritage. According to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, over 3,500 picture books were reviewed in 2014 and only 5% featured African American characters.  As a result of this, a child’s self-esteem could be affected in a negative way. To counteract this, we need to lift up our children with encouraging books that help African American children build confidence, pride, and self-acceptance, exactly what this book list sets out to accomplish.

All children, no matter what race, should read a variety of books that have characters that look, act, and believe differently, so we all can appreciate the diversity around us!

Here is a sampling of books from the booklist:90 Books for BHM-page-001Click HERE to get the printable, complete version of 90 Picture Books for 90 Years of Black History Celebration


Courtesy photo of guest blogger

Courtesy photo of guest blogger

Our guest blogger today is Angela Bronson. She currently works for the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library as a Children’s Librarian at the Kent Branch and is pursuing her MLIS at Wayne State University.

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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4. Program in a Post: Stuffed Animal Sleepover

Stuffed Animals Playing on the Bridge in Youth Services at RPL

With this post, a storytime, a camera, and a color printer you can have a grand time caring for stuffed animals overnight!

Back in 2011 the brilliant guest contributor and librarian extraordinaire, Kris Lill, posted about Allen County Public Library’s Stuffed Animal Sleepover program and now, all of these years later I am here to remind you about this wonderful, easy, awesome program that brings in the numbers and fuzzy friends!

The first Stuffed Animal Sleepover at Rochester Public Library (MN) was presented in June 2015 to 23 people and 7 stuffed animals. We followed that with a program in October 2015 for 150 people and 73 stuffed animals and THEN (are you ready for this) in January 2016 for 295 people and 115 stuffed animals! And the thing is, it is one of the easiest things you can do if you don’t mind working after hours on a Friday night.


  • A fabulous bedtime storytime
  • A camera

    Sleepover Book Cover

    Sleepover Memory Book Cover

  • A color printer
  • A stapler
  • A template for your Stuffed Animal Sleepover Memory Book (Ours is available by request, just ask in the comments and I will email it to you. It is a Publisher file.)
  • A list of photo ops for the animals
  • Rubber bands, binder clips, and other tools to use while posing the animals.
  • Other optional activity items as desired
stuffed animal poster

Stuffed Animal Sleepover Poster

Prep work: Advertise your program at storytimes and other events for preschoolers and elementary school kids (I would be happy to share our Publisher poster template as well). We also created a Facebook ad for our January program, which we think was part of the reason for the through-the-roof attendance. Gather your storytime books, props, and music. Have your Sleepover Memory Book template ready to go and prepare a list of photo ops.

Crafts Sleepover Memory Book Page

Optional prep work includes: Make simple braided friendship bracelets from yarn, art projects, or sleepover buttons for all of the animals. These activities also make great photo ops as you can take pictures of the animals making bracelets, art, and/or buttons.

Puppet Show Sleepover Memory Book Page

Washing Machine Sleepover Memory Book Page

Room Setup: Set up for a storytime with one small addition: have a blanket or two spread out at the front for the kids to use to put their animals to bed. For our next event, we are going to use an adjacent meeting room as a bedroom for the animals.

Program format: We schedule our Stuffed Animal Sleepover for 4:30pm on a Friday (one hour before closing). The storytime lasts about 25 minutes and then we invite the children to tuck their stuffed animals into bed and remind them to pick their friends up the next day.

After all the animals are tucked in and tears are dried, we start setting up the animals for photos in several “behind-the-scenes” shots. For this last event we took photos of the animals “sleeping”, playing the piano in the auditorium, putting on a puppet show with our puppet theater, experimenting with art supplies in the back room, and jumping on the bed. Once the library was closed we took some of the animals out into the Youth Services Division to play in our Minnesota Children’s Museum Smart Play Spot for a few more photo ops.

Sleepover Jumping on Bed

Jumping on the Bed Sleepover Memory Book Page

After we had all of our photos, including a few extras to post on Facebook, we uploaded them to the computer and filled in the memory book with the best of the best. While 125 books were printing, we cataloged the animals and put them on carts for pick up. It required several carts for 115 animals! After stapling the books together, we left them on the Youth Services Information Desk for distribution with the animals. We usually finish with everything around 7pm. Pick up time made for a busy Saturday morning with happy smiles and hugs all around!

Playing on the Bus Sleepover Memory Book Page


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5. Newbery is Over, Long Live the Newbery Award

The coronation  of ALSC’s latest Newbery winner is so new that as of this writing the official Newbery page has not been updated to include this year’s winner, Last Stop on Market Street. Still, even with the latest winner fresh in our minds, at my library we have started looking ahead to the potentials for the 2017 Award. The reason for our future-flung eyes? It’s time to start Newbery Visionaries again!

Harold W. McGraw, Jr. fellow and fellow ALSC Blogger Lisa Nowlain designed our awesome logo!

Newbery Visionaries is our mock-Newbery award book group. In previous years, it has run from September-January. It’s a registered, after-school program that meets once a month and requires participants to use their best critical thinking and evaluation skills on 16 potential Newbery Award winners. As in previous years, we got a huge amount of registrants for our program by sending out an eblast to parents highlighting the various Common Core-required skills this book group would build in their tweens. And we promised pizza!

We made a few changes to the program as well. This year, for the first time ever, we are expanding the time frame. Our first meeting is in three weeks! Participants used to read four books each month over a four month period, and then vote on their winner in January. Our expanded schedule will allow them to read two books a month instead, which is a more manageable expectation. The other change we made was to bump up the ages participating in the program. In previous years we’ve offered the group for kids in grades 4-6, but I started to rethink that in 2014. One of the books we read was The Family Romanov and several of our fourth graders were horrified by what had happened to the royal family. This year, we are offering the book group to kids in grades 5-7. Interestingly, as the program will run from February – January of 2017, we will end up with kids in grades 6-8.

We’re all looking forward to kicking off our discussion with Sara Pennypacker’s Pax!

Our new start date does present me with an interesting conundrum. In previous years, I’ve created our booklist of potential winners in mid-summer. This gives me nearly six months of personal reading, perusing of starred reviews, and preview attendance to base my selections on, not to mention the unending usefulness of blogs like Heavy Medal. This year, I needed to purchase at least our first few months of books with nothing more than my own opinion and Heavy Medal’s  extremely early 2017 Reading List to guide me. Our first discussion will take on Sara Pennypacker’s Pax and Joan Bauer’s Soar.

Which books would you add to a mock-Newbery list in February? I am extremely open to suggestions!


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6. Using Scarves in Storytime

Scarves are one of my favorite props to use in storytime because:

  • They’re colorful!
  • They’re fun to wave around and something that most of our kids probably don’t have at home.
  • We ordered a ton of them so they’re a good choice when we’ll have large storytime crowds.
  • They’re lightweight and pack down very small, so they’re easy to take on the road to outreach visits.

Lately, I’ve been collecting lots of ways to use scarves in my storytimes because I love them so much, and I’m here today to pass on what I have learned.

  1. How do you pass out scarves? 

They’re hard to smoosh down into a basket, so how do you pass them out? One of my colleagues showed me this way:

Photo by Abby Johnson

Photo by Abby Johnson

Lay out your scarves and then tie them into a bundle. Hold the bundle by the knot as you’re going around and each child can select the color he or she wants and gently tug it out of the bundle. I like the give the kids a choice of color whenever possible, to let them know that I value their preferences. But if I have an unruly crowd, I can also take my bundle around and hand them out.

2. What do you do with scarves?

I always start with a few little “warm up” activities to add some motor skills practice and because if I take the time to pass out the scarves, I want to spend a little time on doing scarf activities and not just take them up again after one song. I do these with everyone, babies through preschoolers.

  • We wave our scarves high and low.
  • We wave our scarves fast and slow.
  • We scrunch up our scarves and then throw them up into the air on the count of three.

Each of these activities helps kids practice listening and following directions, concepts like opposites and counting, and motor skills.

Then, we’ll sing a song or two with the scarves. I usually have at least one thematic song if I’m using them in preschool storytime and then I might throw in a general song just to extend our scarf play a little bit.

3. How do you put scarves away?

Since they’re so light, it can be difficult for kids to put scarves back into a basket or bag. With the babies, I go around the circle and collect each scarf and just hold them in my hand. With the preschoolers, I love to use scarves to practice colors and another activity that helps them learn to listen and follow direction.

I ask everyone to look at their scarf and notice what color they have (they will start shouting out what color they have, it’s okay). Then I tell them they’ll need to listen for their color and when I call their color, bring the scarf back up to me. And I sing this song:

(Tune: Do You Know the Muffin Man? [but this can also be sung to many different tunes])

If you have a red scarf, a red scarf, a red scarf,
If you have a red scarf, please bring it up to me.

Repeat with different colors until everything’s been brought up. If you have any stragglers that missed their colors, you can also add a last verse “If you have any more scarves, any more scarves, any more scarves…”

With this activity, we’re practicing color knowledge, listening/following directions, taking turns, and encouraging children to approach an adult who’s not a member of their family. These are all great school readiness skills!

4. Where can you find more scarf songs and rhymes to use in your storytime?

There are tons of great resources out there for scarf songs! Once you have started using scarves in your storytime, you may also find it pretty easy to adapt other songs & rhymes with movements for your scarves (anything with waving, flying, falling, up & down, fast & slow). Of course, you can also just wave scarves to any nursery rhyme, song, or recorded music!

Get started with these great resources:

5. Where can you get scarves?

Many stores that carry storytime or early childhood supplies will carry scarves. Our scarves (pictured above) came from Lakeshore Learning, but you can also find them at Constructive Playthings and there are many choices available from Amazon.com. If buying sets of scarves is not in your budget, you can also do any of these activities with small squares of fabric or something like washcloths (they would be thicker, but have much the same effect).

What are your favorite songs or rhymes to use with scarves? Do you have a special way you like to distribute or collect scarves in storytime?

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

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7. A Magnificent Midwinter #alamw16

MW Pic 1

From the moment touching down at Logan airport it was a great Midwinter!

I’m excited to share some of my adventures from Midwinter a couple of weeks ago and update you on the ALSC Board’s work together in Boston.

Kicking things off on Thursday, I attended an Information Policy Workshop with our veep, Betsy Orsburn, and our Executive Director, Aimee Strittmatter. As one of the key elements of ALA’s Strategic Directions, learning more about this important area was very insightful and you can learn more about the day here.

Tips for advocating for Information Policy

Tips for advocating for Information Policy

Quick selfie with Betsy during a break at the Information Policy Workshop at Midwinter.

Quick selfie with Betsy during a break at the Information Policy Workshop at Midwinter.

Friday began with the happy task of welcoming attendees to the 2016 Bill Morris Seminar: Book Evaluation Training, which is held every other year thanks to the generosity of the William C. Morris Endowment. The Morris Seminar provides mentoring in children’s media evaluation techniques, and I couldn’t be more grateful to this year’s spectacular co-chairs Deborah Taylor and Sylvia Vardell and to all of those who shared their experiences and wisdom with attendees, one of whom, Lisa Nowlain, shared her visual impressions in an earlier blog post.

With Ashley in East Boston. (Note the Babies Need Words Every Day poster and great interactive elements in the children's room!) Photo by Branch Librarian Margaret Kelly

With Ashley in East Boston. (Note the Babies Need Words Every Day poster and great interactive elements in the children’s room!) Photo by Branch Librarian Margaret Kelly



That afternoon I took the opportunity to visit some libraries in the area which I’d never been to before as part of my #ALSCtour. I really appreciate the expertise of my excellent tour guide, Ashley Waring from the Reading Public Library, as we visited the East Boston branch of Boston Public Library and the Watertown Free Public Library.




Fabulous mural in the Watertown children's room by Craig Bostick (http://www.aquaboy.net/).

Fabulous mural in the Watertown children’s room by Craig Bostick (http://www.aquaboy.net/).


Photo credit: Aimee Strittmatter

Photo credit: Aimee Strittmatter

Of course a major highlight was the Youth Media Awards, and I can assure you that it’s as fun to reveal the winners to the world as I always imagined it would be when I would practice in front of my mirror! And now that we all know which books and media were honored and you’re busy celebrating them with your kids, we look forward to also celebrating their creators and selection committees at Annual in Orlando in less than 5 months.

Photo credit: ALA

Photo credit: ALA

The ALSC Board held two meetings during Midwinter (#ALSCboard).

The 2015-216 ALSC Board (Photo credit: ALSC office)

The 2015-216 ALSC Board (Photo credit: ALSC)

We discussed Summer Reading & Learning as a strategic mega-issue for our association, and are looking at how ALSC can help members even more with our important summer work. We established a task force to continue this exploration and I’m delighted that Board member Christine Caputo will lead this eager group’s work as chair. Our next Community Forum, to be held later this month, will an important opportunity to hear your thoughts on this issue.

We talked about how ALSC can more thoroughly integrate the concepts of Día into all of our work throughout the year, rather than limiting its focus to one specific day, and heard from Past President KT Horning about her request to enact a statute of limitations on the confidentiality of ALSC award committees. (A Board subcommittee will explore this further over the next couple of months.) We signed on to collaborate with the Black Caucus of ALA for their new and forthcoming Walter Dean Myers Annual Memorial Lecture and began discussions (continued here) on how ALSC can support REFORMA‘s Children in Crisis project, a true example of how library services can create better futures for kids.

We got a chance to meet our Emerging Leaders, heard from the Media Mentorship Award Task Force on their proposal for recognizing those using digital media with kids in innovative ways, and also looked closely again at the current landscape for app evaluation and recognition. I believe we are moving the needle forward in these areas–please stay tuned!

Our budget is healthy, with strong award seal sales and a greater attention to policing unauthorized use of our seals on editions of award winning titles published abroad; and the work of the Diversity Within ALSC Task Force continues. Finally, in the future, all of this work will happen using Roberts Rules of Order if an item to be placed on the spring ballot to bring ALSC’s parliamentary procedure bylaw into accordance with ALA’s is approved by members.

If you have any thoughts and/or questions on any of the above, please feel free to e-mail me at andrewalsc@outlook.com, and tweets from the meeting can be founding using #alscboard.

And I would like to give a special congratulatory shout-out to our fantastic Executive Director, Aimee Strittmatter, on achieving the extremely prestigious designation of Certified Association Executive. Aimee is the first ALSC Executive Director to earn this highest ranking for association professionals and we couldn’t be prouder of her and more grateful for all she does. (Her Twitter handle isn’t @LibraryCrusader for nothing!)


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8. Toddler Participation

The best part of my week is Toddlin’ Tales, when I have a room full (usually 50 plus) of excited, active, curious toddlers and their parent, nanny, or grandparent. As you well know, their enthusiasm is delightful, their antics hilarious, and their adoration of the reader endearing. You also know that the child’s attention can flit from their plastic container of Cheerios to Daddy’s belt buckle in a nano second. A brief moment later she wants to demonstrate how well she can twirl, then tumble to a fall, followed by checking out her neighbor’s supply of bunny crackers. And then back to Daddy, for a reassuring hug and a glance at the librarian to see if anything interesting is going on at the front of the room.

“Look! There’s a puppet dog! He’s silly! He wants me to clap my hands and sing. Oh, I like that song. I can sing, too. “Storytime is here. Give a great big cheer. Yeah!” That’s my favorite part because I get to throw my hands up in the air and yell really loud. “Now quietly. Listen and see.” I like that part, too, when I put my hands by my ears and then around my eyes. “Storytime is here.” Now what is she going to do?”

Keeping a wiggle of toddlers (you know, like a business of ferrets) focused on storytime can be a challenge, but it is easily remedied with one word—participation. Find every opportunity to actively involve their bodies and voices and most will happily jump, roar, shake, hiss, tiptoe, blow a kiss, and whatever else you invite them to do. Here are four tips on participation opportunities that have been successful for me:

  • Tickle MonsterBe silly! For a recent program on monsters I knew I had to choose carefully so as not to cause undue stress and fear. We began with “Going on a Monster Hunt,” which I do as a call and answer, so they were involved with the repeating chant, as well as the actions. When we found the monster in the cave, he was fuzzy, had 3 googly eyes and made a silly sound that made them giggle before we ran back home and repeated all the actions at high speed. Then I read Tickle Monster by Edouard Manceau. Whenever the tickling occurred we wiggled our fingers at the illustration and flapped our tongue between our lips, making that sound one makes that I can’t possibly figure out how to spell but sounds something like the noise Jerry the mouse would have made, with his thumb in his ears and his fingers wiggling, to harass Tom the cat. The result—total participation, no fear, and several wanting to check out the book after storytime.
  • Read! Any time a book has a repeating phrase I invite them to “read” it with me while I point out the words. For instance, “I can’t sleep here,” in The Very Lazy Ladybug by Isobel Finn, and “Puff, puff, toot, toot, thrump, thrump, peep, peep, grump, grump, mew, mew, flip flop, bump, bump, off we go,” along with actions, in Down By the Station by Will Hillenbrand. Sometimes it requires moving a few words around so that the same pattern is used, and they get the cue they need to join in. When the story is finished we clap and I congratulate them on “reading” with me, so they get the connection between the words I pointed to and the words we spoke.
  • I got the rhythmAction! If you find yourself interpreting the words with a wiggle or a stomp, then include the children. Some stories are obvious, such as Down By the Cool of the Pool by Tony Mitton or I Got the Rhythm by Connie Schofield-Morrison. Others require ingenuity, such as having them walk along with Grumpy Bird in Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard, or looking right and left, hand horizontal above the eyes, to find a moose in Looking for a Moose by Phyllis Root. One of my favorites is Funny Face by Nicola Smee, and watching the expressions on their faces for the different feelings. Anger is hi-larious!
  • In-betweens. After every story, get the children up and moving to a rhyme or song. Not just a finger rhyme, but an actual stand-up-and-move-your-body action. After. Every. Story.

When a child is vocally or physically involved with the stories, songs and rhymes at storytime he’ll be more likely to remember and repeat the story (vocabulary and narrative skills), ask for the book to check out (print motivation), begin to comprehend how print works (print awareness), and retain whatever other early literacy skill you were slyly presenting, such as letter or rhyming knowledge. Plus he’s following directions and learning to wait, both of which are important social skills for kindergarten readiness. And you’re role modeling for caregivers ways they can have fun with books at home.

“What’s she doing now? Oh, I love that book! We get to dance when she reads that book, and I am very good at dancing. I liked singing with Pete the Cat in the other book, too. I want to take him home so Daddy can read it to me tonight. And tomorrow. And every day, every day, every day. Yeah, Pete!”

What are your favorite books for participation?


HeatherMonkey2Heather is a Public Services Manager for Deschutes Public Library in Bend, OR, where she supervises Youth, School, Latino and Impact Services.  She has been presenting storytimes for over 35 years and they remain the best part of each week.  She is also a professional storyteller, and the author of Read, Rhyme and Romp: Early Literacy Skills and Activities for Librarians, Teachers and Parents.  You can reach her at heatherm@deschuteslibrary.org.

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

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

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9. Apply Now for Día Turns 20 Mini-Grants

Día Turns 20

Día Turns 20 in 2016! Image courtesy of ALSC.

Have you already started planning for your big Día Turns 20 Celebration? April 30 of 2016 marks 20 years of the celebration of Día as the connection of children and books, so ALSC has a funding opportunity to make the celebration even bigger!

Applications for 20 mini-grants of $2,000 are now available. ALSC members in public libraries within 20 miles of a Dollar General retail or corporate location are welcome to apply. Start thinking about how your library would like to celebrate 20 years of connecting children with diverse books and apply now!

Applications are due Monday, February 22, 2016.

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10. Backlist Booklist: Mystery Edition

The weather outside is…pretty gross, let’s be honest. It’s the perfect time to snuggle up with a great mystery! We focus a lot on new and upcoming titles (because they’re EXCITING!) but our library shelves are filled up with backlist. Let’s take a look at some charming and fun mysteries that your tweens will be mad about.

Source: Goodreads

Theo is delighted when she finds a beautiful painting hidden underneath an other painting at her grandfather’s home–she’s trying to find money to save their family house. But her grandfather had been a security guard at the art museum. Could the painting be stolen?

Source: Goodreads

Being an Inquisitor is not a job for a nice Jewish boy, but once the police get wind of the fact that Sacha can see witches, he’s apprenticed anyway. This alternate history of early 20th century New York–with magic–is delightful. If your tweens love it, no worries! There’s a sequel.

Source: Goodreads

Enola Holmes is the 14-year-old sister of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes. When her mother disappears on her birthday, her much older brothers swoop in to haul her off to boarding school. But Enola is just as clever as her siblings and is determined to figure out where her mother is. She soon escapes to London and begins investigating all on her own. First in a 6-book series.

Source: Goodreads

Sophie and Grace are in the seventh grade, are best friends, and they spy on their neighbors. Just as a game. But one night, they witness a really scary, really bloody scene at the home of their school counselor, and they’re determined to get to the bottom of it–and it quickly isn’t a game anymore. If you love Young and Yang, don’t worry–a second book has just been released!

Source: Goodreads

What’s a discussion of mysteries without a good heist story?? Jackson Greene is a reformed schemer and conman. Those days are behind him, and he just wants to get on with his middle school life. But when he gets wind that the upcoming school president elections may not be on the up-and-up, he can’t stop himself from assembling a crack team to make sure everything goes the right way. Excellent, diverse cast, and super fun adventure, and a sequel came out just this week!

Our cross-poster from YALSA today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a library consultant at the Mississippi Library Commission.

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11. ALSC Member of the Month — Bina Williams

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, Bina Williams.

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

BinaI have been a children’s librarian at the Bridgeport Public Library for 18 1/2 years. Right now, I am at our North Branch but have also worked at another branch and at the main library.  I spent a year at the Stratford Library Association while I was in library school. Before that, I was a children’s book buyer in several independent bookstores around New Haven CT for about 20 years.  I spent my childhood wandering around the Wallingford CT Public Library while my mom attended board meetings.

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

I am a firm believer in professional involvement–whether it be on the local, state or national level. Fortunately, my supervisors and library board have been very supportive of my work with ALA and ALSC.  I also belong to YALSA and EMIERT. I have been very fortunate to be on ALSC committees of both the nuts and bolts type and the notables/awards type. For all that I may (or may not) have contributed to these committees, I have received back so much more. I have made deep and lasting friendships with people from all types of libraries in all kinds of places through this work. Thank you, ALSC!

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

Much the same as we are now but with newer technology thrown into the mix. Storyhours, craft programs, technology classes, book talking, advocacy, community outreach and customer service will never go out of style for we children’s librarians.

4.  If you could enjoy a dinner conversation with any author – living or dead – who would it be?

Just one??? Jane Austen? I would love a table with Jane Austen, Ashley Bryan, Clyde Edgerton, Laurie Halse Anderson, Maya Angelou, Lois Lowry, Jason Reynolds, and maybe a few more…mixing up genres as much as possible!

5.  You’ve just been given a million dollars to donate to a worthy cause. How do you give it away?

Is it just one? I would split it (not necessarily equally) to ALA/ALSC for Early Education, Save the Children, FIrst Book, Reading is Fundamental, and Reach Out and Read.

6.  What is one thing you wish people knew about you?

I used to do Vintage Dancing which is historic ballroom dancing. We performed and put on events including balls from the 1850s era and jazz nights from the 20s. I made two Victorian ballgowns along with the corset to wear underneath! We did lots of research into the clothing, foods, and manners of the era as well as the dance and music. Very fun!

7.  Do you prefer winter or summer?

Winter because I don’t like hot hot weather. I love to bundle up under several quilts while watching it snow. Sitting by a crackling fire with a good book is a great way to wile away the cold days. Spring because of the beauty of each day being filled with different shades of green or yellow as trees and flowers begin to bud.  Summer because I don’t like driving 35 miles each way to work in a snow storm. I love to sit on a dock with friends and watch the clouds overhead and reflected in the water.  Or lying on the dock looking for the Perseid Meteor showers. Fall because it is when I was born and there is nothing like the New England trees in autumn. And the air is so crisp  with the scent of fireplace smoke.

8.  Are you a dog person or a cat person?

Dog person who has a cat. I live too far from work for a dog to be happy at home…I love my cat even if she isn’t a dog!

9.  What’s your favorite thing to do at your Library?

I have two programs for 0-3 year olds…Little Bears is a storyhour for them with a caregiver and Little Hands is an artsy crafty program involving crayons, paper, cutouts, rubber stamps, paint, and lots of glue! I love these little people! Watching the progression from a silent observer to an active participant is so rewarding…and feedback from parents is wonderful especially when I hear that a particularly shy child talks about the library and what we do all the time when at home.

10.  What was your favorite book as a child? 

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett because I loved the idea of renewal and growth. The sourpuss Mary Lennox was redeemed by the wonderful family of Dickon and went on to save her crotchety cousin Colin who was the only person more selfish than Mary. And who doesn’t love a secret place that comes back to life?


Thanks, Bina! 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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12. 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten Update

In last month’s post I shared my library’s experiences during the planning phases of our 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten reading initiative for preschoolers. This month we launched the program, and I have some updates to share with you.

Our 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program launched the day we started our first 2016   session. Since last Monday we have been registering children in person and on our website. If caregivers sign up online, we e-mail them the reading log for the first 100 books. To receive prizes and subsequent logs, they must visit the library in person.

Photo courtesy of the author.

Photo courtesy of the author. Bulletin board created by Melody Perez.  Yes, the leaves on the tree are books!

We publicized the start of our new program in several ways:  we inserted a PowerPoint slide at the beginning of every story time presentation, our bulletin board artist, created a colorful display showing a tree with books for leaves, and we included a blurb about it in our January youth events flyer.

In the past nine days, 141 children have registered for 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten and one child already even returned the first reading log and has moved on to their next 100 books!

We are still preparing the prize pack that we will distribute for children who reach the half-way point (500 books) and complete the program. Allison Chao, the Youth Services Librarian who has been overseeing this project, has been creating the Apples and Ants booklets (originally created by Nancy Stewart) and the felt-piece sets. We’ve found that children might be half-way done sooner than we anticipated!

I will keep you updated on when our first young patron reaches 500 and 1,000 books. So far thing are going very well!

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13. I’m Saying It: Down with Summer Reading Club

OK, not totally down with it, but now that I have your attention…  see, at my library, we’re looking hard at what our SRC has become and asking ourselves what we really want for the kids in our community over the summer.  And I’m not sorry to say, it’s a heckuva lot more than sitting in a room reading 30 books over the summer – and maybe (eek!) it’s not that at all!

For about 5 years now, I’ve felt like the traditional SRC structure is outdated and only serving avid/passionate readers.  And frankly, those readers will read no matter what. What I want for my kids in the summer, is great ways to have fun, get engaged, get involved, meet new people, relax, and through allllllllllll of that, maybe learn a few things. But see, it’s the fun, engaging, involved, meeting and relaxing bits I want to focus on.  The reading comes after…or, not at all.  I know that’s an insane thing to say as a librarian. But I’m thinking if we get kids interested in doing stuff, then perhaps we can sell them on reading about that stuff they’re doing!  And if not, well, they’re still learning and that’s ultimately what we want.

So we’re not even going to take registrations for a reading club this year. Cough cough. That’s right.  In fact, I wouldn’t even say we’re doing a ‘reading club’ this summer.  We’re headed away from all that in a big way.  We’re looking at Maker, STEAM and Digital Learning, people.  Bring it ON!

I live in a city where we have a Hive Learning network which is part of a larger ReMake Learning movement in Pittsburgh for kids K-12.  And last summer, our city and a ton of organizations (including a few libraries) did the City of Learning thang.  6 cities in the country are involved so I feel pretty darn lucky to have something like this to plug into.


My staff and I are starting a 4-month journey away from SRC.  We’re packing up and heading out.  I think we’re done here and we’re ready to break out and start a revolution. I’ll be posting in February, March, April and May about what we’re doing (who knows!), where we’re headed (who knows!) and how it’s going to work (who knows!)  Maybe you’d like to tag along.

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14. Call for Program Ideas – 2017 Annual Conference

What programs would you love to see sponsored by ALSC at the 2017 ALA Annual Conference? The call for proposals will be released in early April 2016, and for the first time ever, you can help your colleagues develop proposals on topics that are most of interest to ALSC members.

Complete this survey by February 29, 2016. In March, the ALSC blog will publish a “wish list” of the most requested–and most fascinating–program topics. Potential presenters, you’ll take it from there; peruse the list, get inspired, and develop proposals you know your colleagues will love!

We can’t promise every topic on the wish list will end up as an ALSC-sponsored program, and no proposal is guaranteed acceptance. Final decisions on program acceptance will be made by the Program Coordinating Committee. We’re eager to collect member feedback and ideas in a broader way than ever before. Feel free to contact PCC Chair Amy Martin (amymartinalsc@gmail.com) with questions.

— ALA Annual 2017 Program Coordinating Committee

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15. Get ready to celebrate wonderful women

photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

Do you know which president got the ball rolling for National Women’s History Month? It was Jimmy Carter who did (although it started as only one week) by saying that while both men and women worked together to build America, “Too often the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed.”  President Carter called on “libraries, schools and community organizations” to focus their observances on leaders who struggled for equality.

So in that spirit, I’m sharing several interesting resources to find material for your activities in March.

Amelia Bloomer resources: 
When I start planning programs and book talks for Women’s History Month, the first thing I think about is The Amelia Bloomer Project.  Born in 1818, she was a women’s rights advocate, a writer and she even invented “bloomers” or loose pants that were controversial in their day.  A project of the ALA’s Feminist Task Force of the Social Responsibilities Round Table, this group creates an annual booklist of the best feminist books for young readers, ages birth through 18.

This website if filled with information for celebrating women, creating amazing book lists and sharing educational ideas. I review their suggested criteria and questions with the books I’m planning on using for book talks and programs.   For example, when considering a book for their list they ask, “Do females blaze new trails for themselves and those who follow them?”

Lists from 2002-2016 are available online. They are organized from Early Readers-Fiction, Early Readers Non-Fiction, Middle Grade-Fiction, Middle Grade-Non-Fiction, Young Adult-Fiction to Young Adult-Non-Fiction.

More Amelia Bloomer resources:

Have you been to the Girl Museum online? 
“Girl Museum is the first and only museum in the world dedicated to celebrating girls and girlhood. Established in March 2009, we believe girls are the key to a brighter, better future and that girls deserve to have a museum of their own.”

Explore past blog posts, book lists, and resources which include “How to Handle Bullying” and ”empower girls” organizations. My favorite section is under “Learn” where the reader can join a girl’s book club, take a girl quiz and use amazing educational resources.

photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

ALSC Notable Children’s Books:  The 2016 ALSC Notable Children’s Books Committee discussed over 200 books at ALA Midwinter in Boston and ALA Annual in San Francisco. The nominee list included many women in history children’s books:
Queen of the Diamond: The Lizzie Murphy Story by Emily Arnold McCully
One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and The Recycling Women of the Gambia by Miranda Paul
Swing Sisters: The Story of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm by Karen Deans
The House That Jane Built: A Story About Jane Addams by Tanya Lee Stone
My Name is Truth: The Life of Sojourner Truth by Ann Turner
Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries who Shaped Our History…and Our Future! by Kate Schatz

The ALSC Notable Children’s Books complete list.

More Women’s History Month Links:

My favorite non-fiction books before 2015: 
• Amelia and Eleanor Go For a Ride by Pam Munoz Ryan
• My Name is Georgia: A Portrait by Jeanette Winter
• Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales
• Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World by Sy Montgomery
• When Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson by Pam Munoz Rya

Amazing Women in History riffle book list.

What are your favorite books to talk about during Women’s History Month?  Please share 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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16. Digital Services Despite the Storm

Photo courtesy of the author. No books were harmed during this photo!

Photo courtesy of the author. No books were harmed during this photo!

Trapped inside this weekend, like many Northeast residents, I became restless after just a few hours of being snowbound. Avoiding my Saturday librarian duties, as my library announced its closure early Friday, I searched to see what many libraries in the area were doing in terms of marketing their services amidst winter storm Jonas. One thing that moving online has accomplished is a way to engage with patrons and the opportunity for users to access services despite inclement weather closures.

Even if the physical doors are closed, there is still an opportunity to share all the digital resources that the library offers. After sledding and snowball fights, families might be taking respite online with social media, or at least posting family albums of #jonas2016. The Adult Programming Librarian, who manages our library Tumblr, did not break for the storm.  Many librarians reached out to followers no matter what the circumstances. Whether it’s Tumblr, Facebook, Yik Yak, or other social media outlets, they used the opportunity to share tips and tricks for weathering the storm.

Want to hear the Frozen soundtrack one more time? Highlighting services like Freegal and Hoopla will give patrons options for a little background music throughout the winter. The amount of children’s content on Hoopla continues to wow our community, and the expanded offerings in digital comics this past year makes it a much more favorable service for kids and teens.

Finding it a challenge to keep up your database numbers in the children’s department? Perhaps engaging virtually with trivia questions might bring exposure to some disappearing resources. You can even make an impromptu event out of it depending on your audience. It’s amazing that many patrons still have no idea about the online databases and reference services available through the library. Specifically when it comes to language learning, access to free services such as Mango Languages and Muzzy Online through the local library put other products to shame. A few hundred dollars for some language learning packages – quelle horreur!

Last, but certainly least, if it’s impossible to grab a book from the library pre-storm, there’s always a chance to remind patrons their digital library is still accessible. Stocking up on Magic Tree House favorites or the latest Imaginary Veterinary series installment, is possible at any time of day. Sometimes even our young users need to be reminded of that.

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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17. Did You Know This is Advocacy

At the recent Midwinter Meetings in Boston, new ALSC Competencies for Librarians Serving Children in Public Libraries were officially announced. The changes reflect the way members of ALSC are accomplishing our work. One of those changes is the creating of a new Outreach and Advocacy section. We are very excited that advocacy has been highlighted in this way! Advocacy is definitely a core part of the services librarians have the opportunity to provide to children and their families every day.

As the Advocacy & Legislation Committee discussed our work for the upcoming year, we hit upon the idea of highlighting how librarians might be engaging in advocacy without even knowing it. In fact, as we were discussing our advocacy stories, one of our members said, “I don’t have an advocacy story,” and then went on to talk about her after-school programs in her school library, staying open so children have a safe place to stay until their parents are able to pick them up.

This scenario repeats itself daily. Librarians are doing heroic activities as part of their day-to-day work, and never realizing they are engaging in library advocacy. Our hope is that over the upcoming year, the Advocacy and Legislation Committee will be able to highlight areas where librarians are already practicing advocacy. Ultimately, we are hoping that people will submit their advocacy stories to the Everyday Advocacy website and increase awareness of the work everyone is doing.

Related to this is the opportunity to share these stories with Federal and national stakeholders who are developing legislation and policy. You are aware of the recent passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) which includes school librarians as an essential part of successful school curriculum, and you are probably aware that it’s passage was thanks in part to the many calls librarians, teachers, students, and parents made to their elected leaders.

You may not be aware that ALSC and the Advocacy and Legislation Committee gets requests from these same leaders and stakeholders to include best practices in policy and issues briefs of activities that libraries are already doing. When elected officials can see success that is already happening, they have a greater willingness and motivation to enact change based on those models. The stories you share can be used as best practices that might be seen by elected leaders at the highest levels.

For the rest of the year, the Advocacy and Legislation Committee will be writing posts on the theme, “Did you know this is advocacy?” We’ll be discussing different ways librarians engage in advocacy and connecting your day-to-day activities with advocacy, and by extension, the new Competencies. Some of the areas we will be discussing include: Hunger, at-risk kids, diversity, libraries as safe spaces, early literacy, schools, family literacy, community engagement, partnerships, outreach, and barriers to access.

As we engage in these discussions, we are hoping to develop a list of potential resources for future opportunities to share our stories with stakeholders. We’ll be asking for you to submit your names to us as you realize you are engaging in important advocacy. Then we can connect with you when we get asked for examples of leaders in libraries that are modeling great activities in one of these areas!

We are looking forward to these discussions! Now go Advocate!

Matt McLain is the Co-chair of the ALSC Advocacy and Legislation Committee, and works at the Manager of the South Jordan Branch of the Salt Lake County Library. mmclain@slcolibrary.org

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18. Applications Open for ALSC Mentoring Program

ALSC Mentoring Program

Applications are open for the spring 2016 mentoring cohort. Apply by Feb. 26, 2016. Image courtesy of ALSC.

ALSC announced the opening of spring 2016 applications for the mentoring program. The program, which is open to members and non-members, is intended to help build a new collection of leaders in the field of library service to children. Applications are now open for both mentors and mentees. The application process ends on Friday, February 26, 2016.

The program lasts one year. Mentee applicants do not need to be ALSC or ALA members. Mentees have some connection to children’s library service and must be 18 or have permission from a parent/guardian. Mentees may be students, early career professionals, individuals returning to the profession, or those who would like to refine their skills, make connections, and learn more about children’s librarianship as a career.

ALSC especially invites mentor applicants. Mentors are those individuals who seek to be re-energized and re-invigorated in their work. Mentor applicants must be ALSC members and should have experience working in the field of children’s librarianship or children’s literature.

Mentors and mentees who apply to the program will be matched by members of the ALSC Membership and Managing Children’s Services Committees. The mentoring program was developed through the hard work of these two committees. ALSC cannot guarantee that every applicant will be matched. Matches will be notified of their status by Friday, April 8, 2016.

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19. 5 Things You May Have Missed from #alamw16

Don’t you just love all of the conference liveblogging that happens here on the ALSC Blog? We at the Public Awareness Committee certainly do–it’s a great way to keep in the loop if you can’t be at a conference, or even if you’re attending but have to be choosey about where you spend your time. There are always so many interesting and important things happening at conferences, it can be hard to keep up with everything. So, to help everyone continue to be as informed as possible, here are…

5 Things You May Have Missed from #alamw16

1. ALSC is working with First Book for a Día initiative, and First Book is offering ways to make sure libraries with an e-rate of 90% and/or serving communities with 70%+ students eligible for free/reduced lunch have access to low cost or free books. That’s excellent, multicultural books in the library and in the hands of the children you serve. Find out more information here.

2. The toolkit for Library Services to Special Population Children and their Caregivers made its official debut. Does your library serve any of the following?: homeschoolers, LGBTQ families, children on the autism spectrum, children with incarcerated parents, Spanish-speaking families, children with print disabilities, and/or teens with children? My guess is that 100% of libraries are situated in communities with these populations, and that most of us could use some tips and refreshers on providing them with the best possible service. Take a look at the super resourceful toolkit here.

3. A four-part webinar series on Managing Children’s Services starts Tuesday, January 19. All of the webinars are free to register, and they’ll cover topics like communication; scheduling and time management; finances and budgeting; and supervising. Whether you’re currently a manager, have that goal for your career, or simply want to see things from a supervisor’s perspective, you’ll want to participate. More information and links to register here.

4. REFORMA, as part of their Children in Crisis project, has created a bilingual flier to invite Spanish-speaking immigrants and refugees to the library. You should be aware of these fliers, in particular if you’re in a library in the American southwest where the bulk of this population influx is located. Check out the flier here.

5. The 2016 Youth Media Awards marked the first time EVER that the Stonewall Book Awards recognized BOTH children’s and young adult winners. This news is big, folks, because the appearance of two awards is a direct result of the fact that more excellent literature capturing the GLBT experience is being published than ever before. That’s a huge win for everyone. Check out the winners and honors of the Stonewall Book Award, as well as all the other Youth Media Awards winners, here.

What are some things that you learned or encountered at Midwinter 2016 that you think others should know about? Please chime in below in the comments so we can all stay as informed as possible.

Amy Koester is Youth & Family Program Coordinator at Skokie (IL) Public Library and is writing this post for the Public Awareness Committee, of which she is chair. You can reach her at amy.e.koester@gmail.com.

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20. Silent books

Silent books exhibit, photo by A. R

Silent books exhibit, photo by A. R

Librarians usually call them “wordless books”;  recently I visited the Halifax Central Library to see the traveling IBBY exhibit of Silent Books. This is a collection of around 100 books, from all over the world, that anyone, no matter their native tongue, can read. In fact, that’s the whole idea of the exhibit—a collection of books accessible to newcomers – immigrants and refugees who arrive in a land where their native tongue is not the lingua franca. The collection was created, according to the IBBY website, in response to the waves of refugees from Africa and the Middle East arriving in the Italian island, Lampedusa. The collection created the first library on the island to be used by local and immigrant children.

Here in Nova Scotia, there are already Syrian refugee families arriving, even in our rural area, and we expect there to be more. What a wonderful idea that we can offer books for families to share, no matter their language. We all have wordless books in our collections, and I am working on creating a booklist so that it is easy to find them, both for the public and for our staff.

La caca magica" photo by A. Reynolds

“La caca magica” photo by A. Reynolds

Now on to the books in the exhibit. The complete catalogue of the books is available here. Take a look: the books truly are from all over the world. I saw books from Portugal, Spain, Russia, Thailand, France, Germany, Pakistan, and many other countries. And the thing is, I could read all of these books. I may not have understood the title, as it was in language I do not know, but I certainly understood the stories. That’s the beauty of a picture book – a short story that often makes one think about life. I read a book about an urban couple who went out to pick blackberries, only to find the neighbor’s dog peeing on the bushes. So they grew their own. I read a book about a Congolese deli with an International clientele. I read about three pigs who tricked a wolf and then made a nice rug for their home.

Some of these books made me sigh at the beauty and design, such as Loup Noir, from France. Illustrated in black and white, all angles and starkness, this story cleverly tricked the reader into thinking the wolf was bad, but in the end, the wolf saved the day. It reminds us that appearances are not what they seem, and our first impressions need deeper thought before we jump to conclusions. I laughed out loud at La Caca Magica from Spain. My inner five year old chortled at the graphic-novel style story of a bird who poops on a rabbit, but gets a big surprise in the end.

Loup Noir" cover, photo by A. Reynolds

“Loup Noir” cover, photo by A. Reynolds

These books were funny. They were endearing. They were absurd, beautiful works of art. I felt like I was on a world tour where I got a little insight into stories from other cultures, stories that felt very familiar. Look again at your wordless books. They are silent in one way, but then again, they speak volumes. And if you are lucky enough to be near this exhibit as it tours the world, go see it!

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21. #ALAMW16 – the British overview by @HelenSwinyard

img_0340Hi everyone. I am a school librarian from Britain who visited the #ALAMW16 as a first -timer this month. I found the conference enlightening and inspiring. Here is my overview of the weekend (without the tint of jetlag).

Why did I take part in ALA Midwinter?

In the first instance, because an American librarian suggested it. I thought it would be exciting to see what is happening in the US in libraries, and try to get lots of good ideas to bring back to the UK.

What were the highlights?

The Youth Media Awards! It was my 35th birthday and we got up so early, to get in the queue. It was worth it for a 5th row seat, and I met some lovely librarians in the queue too! It was wonderful to be part of something with such a buzz. I loved how all the committee members were honoured, and how everyone kept to time. Everyone in my row had their phones out eagerly announcing each award to the world as it came on the screen. I want to read all the winners and introduce such wonderful books to my students.

See all the winners here: http://www.ala.org/news/press-releases/2016/01/american-library-association-announces-2016-youth-media-award-winners.

The friendly and open nature of librarians and bloggers who I met over the weekend – in coffee queues, on an escalator, just wandering around, or on the exhibition stands. It was so nice to chat and share ideas!

Which seminars did you take part in?

I’d like to mention 2 of the seminars which I attended, which were fantastic not only for the speakers and their material, but for the contribution of the attendees too.

Teens’ Social Media Attitudes and Behaviors: what the research means for library services.

Denise Agosto talking about social media. I made so many notes and have so many ideas thanks to her clear explanation & thorough understanding of her research, and her excellent facilitation of discussion between all of us who attended. There are tons of ideas I can implement in the short term – and some long-term thinking about social media and mobile device policy.

Foundations of Young Adult Success: A developmental framework

A fascinating insight into new research from the youth development world about cognitive development and how we should keep valuing the contribution of libraries to developing soft skills, values, mindsets and outlooks. The notes from this session are something which will be up on my wall to ponder over for a good while!

What did I take away to work on in the future?

A whole suitcase of ARCs to read and to give to my students!

Social media, digital citizenship, design thinking, participatory learning, reflection & fun are all my keywords for 2016! I also have some articles on autism and libraries which I need to read emailed by someone I met at the conference. It’s amazing what a lunch conversation can lead to.

What do you wish had been better?

Sadly, I thought my highlight would be Nancy Pearl interviewing author Andrew Dubus III. You don’t get many ‘famous’ librarians but Nancy Pearl is someone I was very excited to see in real life, having her action figure proudly displayed on my library desk. Pupils always ask ‘who is this’? I was sorry that she couldn’t be there – but when I left I went to a great seminar instead, so it all worked out.

One of my targets for the weekend was to find other librarians who are familiar with the Accelerated Reader software, which my school uses. I really wanted to discuss the use of this with other professionals (as it’s an American product) – but I didn’t find anyone. Do you use it or have previously used it? I would love to connect with you – please get in touch!

I am also setting up an international bookgroup with one of the lovely librarians who emailed me following our business card swap, & shared ideas about an international book award with another. But – I gave my card to a lot of people! It would be great if others could get in touch & we can discuss how our schools could work together in the future.

What did I feel were the similarities & differences between our countries?

I now have twitter and facebook connections with librarians, bloggers & even Lyft drivers who I met over the weekend – that would not quite happen on the same scale in the UK, although I admit my accent is a novelty.

The little things that annoy school & children’s librarians in both countries are the same, no matter where or for whom you work. We would all like more autonomy, recognition, budget & time.

America appreciates its school librarians more in terms of professionality than in the UK. I think it helps that in the US there are standard qualifications for positions, whereas in the UK it is very much down to an individual school as to they standard of ‘librarian’ they employ and what they expect their job role to be. For instance, I have a Masters in Library & Information Studies, and over 10 years working in libraries – but I could go for a job at a school in the UK and be up against someone in interview who ‘likes books’. Each school also varies in whether they expect you to have teaching experience or not. It is also not statutory for UK schools to have a library or a librarian.

What would I say is important about the ALA for British librarians?

I think that librarians of any sector should seriously think about attending the ALA at least once for their own CPD. It has been so important for me to connect with other professionals on a massive scale. I believe around 10,000 librarians attended the ALA and we just don’t have those numbers. I luckily work with another librarian at my school, but so many UK librarians work solo and it can be isolating. I have come away feeling invigorated and enthusiastic about my role and passionate to share the best practice that I’ve come across. I really hope that wherever I work in my career, that I can attend the ALA conferences every few years to keep me going!

I would love to see a British delegation visit the ALA, a cohort of authors and librarians, to share goodwill & good practice. Anyone want to join me?




@HelenSwinyard @LibraryHHS



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22. Making Your Schedule Work for You in the New Year

We’re all in the same boat it seems—looming piles of professional reading that you’ll get to “someday,” schedules to create for staff and for upcoming programs—that sometimes it feels like there is too much to get done and not enough of you to go around!

Over the past decade in Children’s Services, especially when I’ve been managing a branch or a citywide program, I have definitely felt this way. So I would like to share two quick tips that I’ve found to be really helpful when I’ve felt like I’m on a treadmill going too fast that I can’t get off.

  1. The To Do List vs. Scheduling Appointments (spoiler alert—I’m pro scheduling appointments)
    We all have a to-do list, right? And there is always that one thing (or more than one thing) that somehow seems to always be on the list week after week. As much as I love procrastination, and sometimes the anxiety it gives me gets me over the hump of getting started, this is not a great way to live day to day. While I still have a small to-do list that consists of small, easily completed tasks or reminders, I’ve started scheduling appointments for the things I noticed I was putting off over and over. Professional reading?  There is an appointment on my calendar for 30 minutes of professional reading twice a week. This blog post?  I scheduled an appointment to write it. By creating an appointment instead of just having it on an open-ended to-do list, I’ve carved out a time I’m committed to it. Give it a try on something you are putting off, and let me know in the comments how it worked for you.
  1. Using Your Energy to Your Advantage (i.e., set yourself up to win)
    What does your energy level look like during the day? What time of day are you most productive? What times of day is it easier or harder for you to focus?  For myself, I find that I’m most able to tackle tasks that require mental focus and creativity early in the day. If I need to write a blog post, if I need to create a program outline, etc., I create an appointment for myself between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. By the end of the day—by say 3:00 p.m.-ish—I find that it’s harder for me to focus; something that would take me 20 minutes at 9:00 a.m. takes well over an hour in the afternoon. So I try to arrange my day with focused tasks that require creativity early in the day. That book-shifting project?  That’s definitely going to happen after 3:00 p.m., AND then there is the likelihood of kids and teens who want to help me. (Plus that is something I can easily go back to after being interrupted for homework help or finding just the right science project book). What about in your library?  When are your busy hours?  Early storytimes?  Afterschool hours?  When have you noticed that there is a block of uninterrupted time?  When are you more likely to be busy answering questions and finding books?  Try tracking the ebb and flow of your time for one week and see if you can identify patterns.

Those are two of the things I’ve learned over the years to help me not only be more productive, but that also help keep me sane when things get really busy. If you are interested in more tips from your ALSC colleagues, check out the upcoming webinars from the members of ALSC’s Managing Children’s Services Committee, with topics like Communication, Scheduling, Managing Financials, and Supervising: www.ala.org/alsc/edcareeers/profdevelopment/alscweb/webinars.

Rachel Fryd

Image courtesy of the author.

Rachel Fryd is the Young Adult Materials Selector at the Free Library of Philadelphia. In the past she has managed citywide programs and partnerships as the Youth Services Coordinator and managed a neighborhood library in West Philadelphia. She is currently a member of ALSC’s Managing Children’s Services Committee as well as YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults Committee. She loves cheese, farmers markets, and pastries but hates broccoli.

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23. Child Soldier and the Refugee Experience

I just finished the great graphic novel Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls Are Used in War by Michel Chikwanine and Jessica Dee Humphreys and would encourage everyone reading this to pick it up. The story recounts how 5 year old Michel was kidnapped near his school by rebel militiamen in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He eventually escapes, but not after being forced to commit violent acts which haunt him. The book does cover very difficult territory, but does a good job of explaining the history of the conflict and not exhibiting images too disturbing or violent for it’s intended audience. This is an important story to tell and equally important to get into the hands of tween and teen readers. The book begins with Michel arriving in North America, and ends with more details about his journey to safety. He was first a refugee in Uganda, then years later in Canada, and touches upon what it was like to feel as if people here didn’t care about the issues in other countries.

Image from http://www.kidscanpress.com/products/child-soldier.

Image from http://www.kidscanpress.com/products/child-soldier.

This graphic novel sparked me to contemplate what role we can serve and what titles we can provide for children who come to the library looking for something that relates to the refugee experience. These books may not only be sought out by children who identify with such experiences, but may also be of interest to curious readers who want to better understand what it may mean to be a refugee. With the current Syrian refugee crisis making news headlines worldwide, young people may be itching for answers. Libraries are safe, inviting places to ask about what it means to be a refugee.

The UN Refugee Agency has a downloadable children’s booklist full of great titles covering the topic.  Below are some of my favorite recent titles for children that discuss the refugee experience.

  • I Lived on Butterfly Hill by Marjorie Agosín.  Atheneum Books for Young Readers;  2014.
  • The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 2014.
  • Azzi in Between by Sarah Garland. Frances Lincoln Children’s Books; 2013.
  • Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls Are Used in War by Michel Chikwanine and Jessica Dee Humphreys. Kids Can Press; 2015.
  • Two White Rabbits by Jairo Buitrago. Illustrated by Rafael Yockteng. Groundwood Books; 2015.

Here at the ALSC blog I’ve been excited to see two posts from fellow librarian bloggers just this week that touch on this discussion of the refugee experience and libraries. We learned about a great new bilingual flier from REFORMA inviting Spanish-speaking immigrants and refugees to visit the library. You can see the flier here. It was created as part of their Children in Crisis project, which is a truly wonderful initiative that aims to help the thousands of Spanish speaking children who are crossing the southern border into the United States. Read more about it on their website if you are unfamiliar with the project, it is inspiring! We also learned about the IBBY Silent Books exhibit, another amazing project.

What are some of your favorite books that help discuss this difficult topic with young readers? Are you currently serving any refugee families at your library? Please share in the comments!

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24. 13 Ways to Champion Literacy: Babies Need Words Every Day – The Blog Tour!

Well, friends, we here at the Public Awareness Committee hope that you’ve been learning A LOT by reading the daily entries in the Babies Need Words Every Day Blog Tour this week. As a refresher, you can find a link to all of the posts here from Early Childhood Programs & Services Committee chair Brooke Newberry.

BNWEDBlogTourOur committee is tasked with wrapping up the blog tour by sharing some simple, high-impact ways in which you–yes, YOU!–can get these amazing resources created by the Early Childhood Programs & Services Committee out into your library and your community at large. Many of these are field-tested, so you know they’re legit. So challenge yourself to be an early literacy advocate in the next few weeks by doing one (or more!) of the following.

13 Ways to Champion Early Literacy using Babies Need Words Every Day Resources

1. Send the posters home with your storytime parents with the specific invitation to share it with a friend who can’t make it to storytime.

2. Next time you head to a preschool or daycare for an outreach visit, bring some of the posters with you for the center to hang in their halls or lobby. Bonus: Share the link to the posters so the center can print their own and send them home with families!

3. Give your local child-serving establishments a call and ask if you can bring some posters to them to display on their community boards and/or above changing tables. Bonus: Create a small banner to hand below the posters to advertise your library!

4. Think of existing service bundles that you offer to young families and add a poster and the book list to the mix. For example, the Lake Oswego Public Library has “new parent” gift bags that they give to patrons who have babies under 6 months old. Each bag contains 4 board books, a brochure about the library, and Babies Need Words Every Day literature and a poster.

5. Share the posters and other resources on your library’s social media platforms.

6. Share the link to the Babies Need Words Every Day page on your local library and early childhood listservs. Work those networking connections!

7. Share this very blog post, and the others from the tour, with your supervisor and ask that Babies Need Words Every Day be one of your initiatives for 2016.

8. Send a personal note, along with a poster, to your community contacts who may have influence and connections that can give the posters wider use.

9. Make it a goal to include each of the four poster practices in your next four baby storytimes.

10. Reach out to your local newspaper and other news sources to see if they’d cover the library’s early literacy initiatives, making sure to include Babies Need Words Every Day resources.

11. Hang the posters over changing tables. Use the Changing Table Locator website to find changing tables at establishments in your community frequented by families, then head to those locations with poster and tape in hand. Add any changing tables you visit to the locator if they aren’t already included.

12. Think of existing programs you do, both in-house and outside, and think of a way to work in the posters and the practices they tout. For example, if your library offers parent-baby classes at a hospital, bring some posters with to share with families and hang up in the waiting room.

13. Think creatively about where families in your community spend time, then bring posters to those locations. Think community centers, transit stations, laundromats, doctors’ offices, the post office, the DMV, banks, parks, schools, restaurants, grocery stores, shopping centers… truly, families are everywhere, and early literacy support can be, too!

How have you been inspired to promote early literacy throughout this week’s Babies Need Words Every Day blog tour?


This post was written by the Public Awareness Committee.

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25. Youth Media Awards Tween Round-Up

With all the whooping and screaming and unbridled enthusiasm during the Youth Media Awards announcements, the hundreds of librarians in the room at ALA Midwinter might have been mistaken for a group of shrieking tweens.  But no!  Few if any actual tweens graced the room that morning and none of the awards target that slippery upper elementary, middle school-ish group in particular.  Good news for tween readers and the librarians and teachers who serve them: Many of the wonderful titles celebrated earlier this month suit tweens perfectly.

Immediately after the announcements, members of the School Age Programs and Service Committee met to go over all the newly-minted winners and honorees, identifying titles for independent reading and/or classroom use.  If you work with tweens, these books might just be the next great reads for your kids.  These include novels, pictures books, comics, and audiobooks, both fiction and nonfiction.  Because some were awarded in multiple categories and for multiple creators, I’ve simply listed them in alphabetical order by author (so you can find them quickly in the catalog).  Enjoy reading and sharing them with your tweens!

Trombone Shorty, Troy Andrews

Adam and Thomas, Aharon AppelfeldSM-front-cover

The Smoking Mirror, David Bowles

The War That Saved My Life, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans, Don Brown

Drum Dream Girl, Margarita Engle

Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings, Margarita Engle

George, Alex Gino

First Flight Around the World: The Adventures of the American Fliers Who Won the Race, Tim Grove

Fish in a Tree, Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Roller Girl, Victoria Jamieson

The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth, and Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore, Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

This Strange Wilderness: The Life and Art of John James Audubon, Nancy Plain

The Boy in the Black Suit, Jason Reynolds

Echo, Pam Muñoz Ryan

Sex Is a Funny Word, Cory Silverberg

Hoodoo, Ronald L. Smith

Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, Laurie Ann Thompson

Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras, Duncan Tonatiuh

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, Carole Boston Weatherford

Gone Crazy in Alabama, Rita Williams-Garcia

Robbin Ellis Friedman is a Children’s Librarian at the Chappaqua Library in Chappaqua, NY, and a member of the ALSC School Age Programs and Services Committee. Feel free to write her at robbin@chappaqualibrary.org.

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