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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. Music, Movement and Stories

A new highly interactive early literacy storytime featuring instrument exploration, songs, fingerplays, dance and books for ages 3 and up.

Chandra and Sheila playing the drums. photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

Chandra and Sheila playing the drums.
photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

Created by Community Librarians Sheila Grier and Chandra vanEijinsbergen, Music, Movement, and Stories (MnMS for short) is one of my favorite new children’s programs for ages 3-5 at Deschutes Public Library.  The music cd’s, books, and musical instruments circulate between all six branches.  The program includes two stories and lots of dancing, singing and playing musical instruments.

I joined Sheila and Chandra in our Early Learning Space at the Downtown Bend Library and we made some noise!   We talked about the most asked about questions and shared favorite books and ideas.

How did MnMS start?

“Music Movement and Stories started when I began to read about doing a music program at our library and wondered why most music programs at libraries do not include the great books we have about music, dancing or sing-along books.  We can feature these books along with our cd collection,” says Sheila.

Do you use a different theme each week?  (scarves flying around…)

Chandra vanEijinsbergen, Community Librarian photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

Chandra vanEijinsbergen, Community Librarian
photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

Chandra VanEijinsbergen says, “Some of the librarians do.  Like with regular story time, I like the idea of using themes in MnMS.   Some themes came together naturally, for example farms.  Easy to find both books and songs about farms and farm animals.   Food was more difficult- books were easy and songs to use with shakers or musical instruments, were sort of easy.”

When do you offer MnMS?

“We do MnMS on a different day than our regular story times, Baby Steps, Toddlin Tales and Preschool Parade,” says Sheila

 What is your story time structure?

  • Welcoming/Hello song
  • Listening song
  • Two movement songs
  • Story (book or felt board)
  • Two musical prop songs – ribbons, scarves, bean bags, hoops, etc.
  • Story (book or felt board)
  • Two musical instrument songs
  • Goodbye song

Ideas for handing out and getting materials back?

“Sing a song”, says Sheila.  For example, Kathy Reid-Naiman’s “I’m Passing Out the Sticks” & “Time to Put Away”.  “Talk about the instrument or prop as you are handing them out.  Put a container in the middle of the room, they will happily return items.”

Any great tips to share?

Sheila Grier, Community Librarian photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

Sheila Grier, Community Librarian
photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

Sheila’s tip:  Telling the parents that it’s ok to look silly and dance it’s a must, their child, grandchild will think they are wonderful and mimic what the adult is doing.  I love seeing the dads and grandpas dancing.

Chandra’s tip:  Remove chairs from the story time space.  This encourages caregivers to sit and participate with their childIf you have a smaller group, sitting in a circle is nice.

Paige’s tip:  Take over the whole story time room.  Wiggle, shake, shimmy, jump and march across the room backwards.

Thank you Sheila and Chandra!  Check out their recommended books and music below!

 Traditional Song Picture Books

  • Down by the Station by Will Hillenbrand
  • Hush Little Baby by Sylvia Long
  • Old MacDonald by Jessica Souihami
  • On Top of Spaghetti by Paul Johnson
  • Over in the Meadow by Jill McDonald
  • Pete the Cat Wheels on the Bus by James Dean
  • Ten in the Den by John Butler
  • Twinkle Twinkle Little Star by Sylvia Long

By Jane Cabrera

  • Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
  • Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush
  • Row Row Row Your Boat
  • If You’re Happy and You Know It
  • Ten in the Bed
  • Wheels on the Bus

by Iza Trapani

  • Baa Baa Black Sheep
  • The Bear Went over the Mountain
  • Here we Go Round the Mulberry Bush
  • How Much is that Doggy in the Window
  • Itsy Bitsy Spider  *
  • I’m a Little Tea Pot
  • Row Row Row Your Boat
  • Shoo Fly
  • Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
MnMns Photo by Tina D.

Photo by Tina D.

Scarves or Ribbons

  • Wiggle Song by Dragon Tales from Dragon Tales-
  • Freeze by Michael Plunkett from Shakin the Chute
  • Fast Slow by Laura Berkner from the Best of
  • Parachute (or ribbons)
  • Got the Wiggles by Michael Plunkett from Ribbons and Rhythms
  • Long Ribbons by Michael Plunkett from Ribbons and Rhythms
  • Shake Your Reader Ribbons by Pam Schiller  from Leaping Literacy
  • Ribbon Dance by Michael Plunkett from Rhyme and Rhyme movement

Bean Bags

  • Beanie Bag Dance by Greg and Steve  from Kids in Action
  • Bean Bag Boogie by Learning Station from Me and My Bean Bag
  • Bean Bag Rock by Georgiana Stewart from Action Songs for Preschoolers
  • The Bean Bag by Hap Palmer from Can a Jumbo Jet Sing the Alphabet

Dancing/Movement Stories

  • Baby Danced the Polka by Karen Beaumont
  • Croaky Pokey by Ethan Long
  • Dance with me by Charles Smith Jr.
  • Dancing Feet or Farmyard Beat by Linda Craig
  • Dancing in my Bones by Sylvia Andrews
  • Down by the Cool of the Pool by Tony Mitton
  • Hilda Must be Dancing by Karma Wilson

Listening and Free Dance Songs 

  • Wiggle Walk by Georgiana Stewart from Toddlerific
  • Jump Jump by Lolly Hollywood from Go! Go! Go!
  • March Around by Lolly Hollywood from Go! Go! Go!
  • Put Your Little Foot by Carole Peterson from Dancing Feet
  • My Energy by Laura Berkner from Under a Shady Tree
  • Jump Up by from Imagination Movers
  • The Wiggle Song by Carole Peterson from Sticky Bubblegum
  • Rock and Roll Freeze Dance by Hap Palmer from So Big
  • Clap Your Hands by Singalong Kidz from Singalong Kidz
  • Parachute (or ribbons)
  • Clap Your Hands by Kathy Reid Naiman from Preschool Songs 1
  • Walking Walking by Ann Marie Akin from Songs for Wiggleworms
  • Put Your Finger On by Parachute Express from Feel the Music
  • Stretch!  by Dragon Tales  from Dragon Tales
  • Clap Clap Clap Your Hands by Carole Peterson from Sticky Bubble Gum
  • Statues by Georgiana Stewart from Action Songs for Preschoolers
  • Hands are for Clapping by Jim Gill from Jim Gill Sings the Sneezing Song and other contagious tunes
  • Twist Stop Hop by Ronno from Jump Start Action Songs
  • I Can Do It by Patty Shukla from I Can Do It
  • Say & Rhyme by Pam Schiller from Leaping Literacy
  • I Can Dance by Ronno from Jump Start Action Songs
  • Spaghetti Legs by Jim Gill  from Jim Gill Sings the Sneezing Song and other contagious tunes
  • Warm Up Time by Georgiana Stewart from Action Songs for Preschools
  • The Freeze by Steve and Greg from We All Live Together
  • The Airplane Song by Laura Berkner from Whaddya Think of That
  • I have a little scarf by Eine Kleine NachtMusick from Moving with Mozart
  • Dancing Scarf Blues by Carole Peterson from Dancing Feet      


  • Bell Horses by Kathy Reid Naiman from I Love to Hear the Sounds
  • Tideo By Kathy Reid Naiman from More Tickle Tunes
  • Oh children ring your bells by Kathy Reid Naiman from I love to hear the Sounds
  • Ring them on the Floor by Kathy Reid Naiman from I love to hear the Sounds     

Rhythm Sticks

  •  Nursery Rhyme Tap  by Pam Schiller from Leaping Literacy
  • Tap your Sticks By Hap Palmer from Rhymes on Parade
  • When the Saints Come Marching in by Georgiana Stewart from Rhythm Sticks Rock
  • Sticks on the Move by Georgiana Stewart from Rhythm Sticks Rock
  • Rhythm Stick March  by Michael Plunkett from Rhythm Stick Rap and Tap
  • Chim, Chimmy Chimpanze By Pam Schiller from  Leaping Literacy


  • Milkshake by Anne– Marie Akin from Songs for Wiggleworms
  • We’re going to the Market by Kathy Reid-Naiman from I Love to Hear the Sounds
  • Shaker Hop by Carole Peterson from Dancing feet        

For more great MnMS recommendations, please email Sheila Grier at sheilag@deschuteslibrary.org

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


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2. Funny Read Alouds for the Elementary School Crowd

I’ve been invited to a local elementary school’s Family Reading Night. I missed last year’s event due to scheduling conflicts, so I’m super excited that I’m able to participate. One of the activities in the Family Reading Night program is rotating throughout classrooms in which guest readers read a variety of picture books.

The books I chose for this program have to meet certain criteria (my own criteria; the school allows you to choose your own material). If it’s a funny read aloud, it usually goes into my stack of books. I need to be able to read it several times in succession without getting bored with it. Although the audience in mind are elementary school students (and their families), I want them to entertain any younger or older siblings. Quite a tall order!

Throughout my experiences with this program, I’ve kept a list of tried and true sure-fire, attention-grabbing read aloud favorites:


(Image taken from Scholastic)

When it’s football season, I usually choose Aaron Reynolds’s Buffalo Wings. Football season is over, so Chicks and Salsa it is. If you had nothing to eat but chicken feed, you might also look for ways to spice it up. These intrepid barnyard animals make a delicious spread, although no one is quite sure how the ingredients are procured.



(image taken from Scholastic)

John and Ann Hassett’s take on The Three Billy Goats Gruff is a hilarious read aloud about a school-avoidant boy who has a taste for jelly doughnuts.  If you love to employ lots of voices in your read alouds, check this one out. It’s just as much fun to read as it is to hear.


(image taken from Scholastic)

When I discovered this book, I loved it so much that I immediately had to share it with my toddler story time. While it was such a failure with that particular group that I haven’t tried it again, I have read What! Cried Granny to enough preschool and elementary school classes that I know its humor comes across loud and clear for older students. Patrick and Granny are all set for his first sleepover….or, so they think! Seems that Granny’s house is lacking in several key items, but her impressive resourcefulness carries them through. Unfortunately, it’s at the expense of a restful night! If you need a not-so-sleepy bedtime story for a pajama story time, you need to include this book.

I’m also planning to read The Book With No Pictures for the first time; very excited about that one as well!

Do you have any favorite funny read aloud titles for elementary school classes? Let us know in the comments!




The post Funny Read Alouds for the Elementary School Crowd appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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3. Researching and Writing

I am alone. It is quiet, but I am happy because this is when I do my best writing. I compose my rough drafts for non-fiction science books and articles (and now, blogs) the old-fashioned way. My words meet a pad of paper and a pen before any keyboard or computer. I also write at my local public library where I can be by myself and it definitely is quiet. Although I conduct much of my research on-line, I do a great deal of exploring in the presence of books at the library. Reviewing what already has been published is essential for gathering inspiration and information.

Just as researching what information exists is necessary to my writing process, so is going out into the field. My favorite part of this job is field research for my writing. I have been fortunate to travel to different parts of the world–Europe, Africa, Central and South America, and soon Asia–with my mind open to material for children.

Even as a school child, I loved to research in the library. I remember well the days of Dewey Decimal drawers in card catalogs. I always enjoyed writing research papers and learning new things. Sometimes when I could not locate a reference, my high school librarian proved to be a magician. She made books and articles appear from nowhere. I wish I could remember her name.

When researching my first book, The Lucy Man: The Scientist Who Found The Most Famous Fossil Ever!, I discovered picture books for elementary-age children on human evolution and more complicated texts for high school students. But few books existed for middle school children. I found a similar deficiency when researching astronomy for my next book, Explore The Cosmos Like Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Space Science Journey. My books fill the gap for this age group.

I chose to use the life stories of famous living scientists to bring science alive for students. I hope children become more excited about being scientists when they learn about the important work real scientists are doing and the science work that can be done by those very children in the future. So far, I have written about finding fossils on land and searching for stars and planets in space. Where am I going in my writing next? Last year I snorkeled off the coast of Belize to research ocean science. Now, I am in the library reading books about the ocean and focusing on women marine biologists and oceanographers to interview. Then I will sit down with my beloved pen and a pad of paper to begin another book.


Our guest blogger today is CAP Saucier, a former pediatric nurse who writes science-related materials for children. She has published two books and two articles in children’s magazines. CAP serves on the board of the Institute of Human Origins at Arizona 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. More on Assistive Technologies

I’ll confess, like many of you I collect apps. I have an old tablet devoted to nothing but “kid” apps. Finding information about a variety of book apps is relatively easy now that so many of us are using them and reviewing them. One question I am asked frequently is “Can you recommend any assistive technology apps?”

There are several that have caught my eye recently so I decided to give them a try. I was impressed with the continued growth and development of these types of applications. There are many people, both young and old that could benefit greatly from using these simple programs. All the apps mentioned are intuitive, easy to use, some have a nominal fee and others are free.

Kidspiration Maps is a kid friendly mind-mapping app for the iPad. Kidspiration is similar to the Inspiration Maps, but Kidspiration includes more kid friendly templates and clipart like graphics. Kidspiration allows users to create mind mapping webs to help organize ideas and information visually. Unlike Inspiration Maps, Kidspiration allows users to insert a large variety of clipart images into their maps. Kidspiration also includes the ability to add a recorded voice note; a feature that is unfortunately missing in Inspiration Maps.

Kidspiration Maps includes a large number of pre-loaded templates for reading and writing, social studies, science, and math. These templates are geared for elementary school children and range from an “all about me” web to sorting and matching activities. If no template is applicable there is an option to start a new document. One template contains a number of words and instructions to arrange the words into alphabetical order while another asks kids to match states to their capitals. With the nice visuals these activities can be engaging and easier than using physical manipulative. One drawback is when the student is completing the activities there is no way to program the correct responses in order to give the student immediate feedback. Also, when searching for clipart students cannot search for an image by keyword, but instead must scroll through long lists of images.

Bookshare is an essential service for people with print disabilities. Bookshare.org provides accessible e-books for qualified students. Members can choose from over 200,000 downloadable titles including many textbooks. Bookshare books can be downloaded in a DAISY format for use with text-to-speech software or in a Braille format. Similar to Kurzweil, the combination of text-to-speech and highlighted text can greatly speed up and reading and increase comprehension for qualifying students. Thanks to a grant from the United States Department of Education Bookshare is free to U.S. students.

 Learning Ally is another provider of accessible books for the blind and dyslexic.Learning Ally mostly provides human narrated audio books for their members. Learning Ally is also expanding to provide “VOICEtext” books which include human narration and highlighted text. The highlighting of “VOICEtext” books is not word by word like in Bookshare and Kurzweil but rather is paragraph by paragraph. Learning Ally books can be read on iOS and Android devices using the Learning Ally Audio app.

 Co:Writer by Don Johnston is an app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. Co:Writer has exceptional word predication capabilities that can help struggling spellers. Co:Writer’s most unique and noteworthy feature is the ability to use topic dictionaries to improve word prediction based on the topic a student is writing about. For example, if a student is writing about World War II he or she can turn on the World War II topic dictionary in order to get more targeted word prediction.

Prizmo is an optical character recognition (OCR) app for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. The app gives students the ability to take a picture of a text documents and have it read back to them using text-to-speech in seconds. So if a student comes across a document that they can’t read they can use Prizmo to quickly take a picture and have it read back to them. Prizmo can also act as a portable scanner that can convert printed document into a digital PDF format.

These were are just a few of the many assistive technology apps available. If you are using or recommending and other apps that fill this niche, send me an email and let me know: asantos@princetonlibray.org

Allison Santos

ALSC Digital Task Force

Princeton Public Library, Princeton, NJ




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5. How to Claim Your Advocacy Button

Creating a Better Future Button

The advocacy button, available from the Everyday Advocacy site (image courtesy of ALSC)

At the 2015 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Chicago, ALSC announced the launch of the advocacy button campaign. Tied to the Everyday Advocacy initiative, the button campaign is designed to help youth service librarians articulate the value of their profession.

The buttons, emblazoned with the slogan “Creating a Better Future for Children through Libraries,” will be available at the 2015 ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco and various state/local conferences.

Attached to each button is a tip sheet, created by the ALSC Advocacy and Legislation Committee, that includes talking points to help articulate the value of youth library service. A virtual button will be available soon.

ALSC is also inviting prospective advocates to claim their own button. By submitting a question, an elevator speech, or a news item for the Everyday Advocacy Matters e-newsletter, participants can get a button mailed to them. This is only available for individual buttons. ALSC does not currently have the capacity to mail bulk orders of buttons and tip sheets.

The post How to Claim Your Advocacy Button appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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6. ‘Children’s Services Librarians’ or ‘Community Facilitators’?

I was lucky enough to land my dream job four months after completing my library science degree. I had dreamed of being a children’s librarian since I was five years old and received my very own library card. I was thrilled to announce to the world that I was going to be the new “Children’s Services Coordinator” at my local library! I got a lot of questions from loved ones: “Wait – but didn’t you go to school to be the librarian?”

In my early tenure, I assumed this title was chosen to encompass all that I was expected to do in the library, in addition to providing the standard library services to children (Ex: managing staff schedules, attending county meetings as a library representative, collection management, etc.) I soon realized, though, that the title of “Coordinator” best represented what all of these tasks quickly enabled me to do: make connections between patrons and needed community resources.

Some examples of resources that I regularly refer both patrons and other agencies to include: various contacts in the school system, homeschooling groups, public health offices, local specialty businesses, crisis pregnancy center, food banks, and environmental agencies.

While I will admit that all of our communities and libraries are unique in the best manners to become effective community facilitators, here are some of my own tips for children’s services librarians for creating or strengthening community relationships that will ultimately better serve patrons.

1. Become an Engaged Community Member

This is probably something that you are already doing as part of your duties as a librarian. If not, it’s easy to plug in to your community quickly! Volunteer at community events as a library representative, join local committees, and make a point to follow local newspaper, radio, community events, and relevant Facebook groups.

2. Vocalize Struggles

After a few months on the job, I had become extremely frustrated at many failed attempts to make a connection in our school system’s central office. I finally mentioned this in my department recap in a board meeting, not laying blame on any one party, and one of our board members knew so-and-so who worked there and could stop in and put in a good word for the library. This simple act has opened so many doors for partnerships between our library system and the school system. Sharing what I thought of as my “failure” has led to years of invaluable collaborations. Be sure, though, when vocalizing struggles to always use a positive approach. Bashing another community member or group is never going to get you a good end result!

3. Make Yourself Available to Patrons

I believe that my most important facilitating work has come about during regular programs in our Children’s Department. We host a twice monthly early literacy play program, in which I do about 10 minutes of hands-on, focused program, and the rest of the hour is spent playing and socializing with our patrons. The other program in which I more often than not get to wear my facilitator hat is our twice monthly Lego Club. In this program, I set the kids up with all of their gear, give a challenge, then again, have the rest of the hour to socialize with patrons. In each of these situations, I receive many community type “reference” questions. I believe that I get these questions more often in these programs because the patrons are more comfortable approaching me while I’m in the program rather than in my office. I’ve also learned much about our community gatherings and opportunities in these programs while sharing information with patrons, which I very much believe is making me a better librarian.

4. Put Your Connections into Action

By becoming a more informed librarian/citizen, you will be able to quickly connect families in your library to other needed/wanted services. Obviously, setting up services for families is outside the scope of our role as librarians, but connecting patrons into the community is a valuable service that we can easily provide.

Why Work to Become a Community Facilitator?

Serving as a community facilitator will only strengthen your relationship and foster trust with patrons. It will also potentially open doors to future collaborations and prove commitment of the library to the community as a whole.

What are your thoughts on serving your community as a ‘facilitator’? What practices do you employ to help you better engage with your community?


Today’s blog post was written by Amanda Yother, the Children’s Services Coordinator at the Putnam County Library in Cookeville, TN on behalf of the ALSC Managing Children’s Services Committee.

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7. Self-Censorship

Lately, there have been many questions regarding censorship floating around social media. A majority are phrased as collection development questions. e.g. “Is it okay to put this book in the Children’s Department?” Librarians are becoming increasingly concerned with themes such as a character’s sexuality or gender identity, and wonder if these topics belong in children’s collections. Some librarians are also hesitant for fear of community backlash, or maybe they just aren’t comfortable with the themes themselves. Nonetheless, it’s important to remember that as librarians, it is our job to protect everyone’s access to information, from babies to great-grandparents!

If you’re unsure if you’re self-censoring I encourage you to check out the New York Library Association’s Self-Censorship Test. The test hasn’t been updated in a while, and I encourage you to add the question “Have I not shelved a book in the children’s section because of it’s themes or content?” There is also a great article about self-censorship on the CCBC website, written by Megan Schielsman about the controversy that swirled around The Higher Power of Lucky.

Finally, reach out to the Intellectual Freedom Committee -we’re not just here for help with challenges! Feel free to email us with any questions you might have.

Aly Feldman-Piltch, ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee

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8. Partnering with your local 4-H group

My branch of the Geauga County Public Library has been lucky to have a long standing partnership with a local 4-H club. Our branch is the home to a vibrant genealogy reference department. Over the years library staff and 4-H clubbers have worked on family trees, family history projects, photography and scrapbooking.  The library staff shares expertise with the members and in turn the members help create local history displays in the library and plan library volunteer parties.

Don’t have a genealogy department? Here are some ways that other library youth services departments are partnering with local 4-H clubs:

  • Small Pet Information day – club members brought in gerbils, rabbits, etc. in cages and spoke about how to care for pets (also a Chicken Day and a Rabbit Day!)
  • Agricultural Literacy Day – club members read farm stories to young patrons, passed out gardening informational materials and introduced 4-H to young children
  • A Pet Club judged one library’s pet show on the library lawn.

Live in a city? Don’t think 4-H works in your area? Many suburban communities also have 4-H clubs and here are some projects that work anywhere:

  • A drama club performed short skits at Saturday Morning storyhour
  • A rocket club demonstrated rocket design and showed how to make small “rockets” to shoot indoors.
  • A food club set up a grill at the library summer concert series and sold hot dogs, pop, chips and homemade goodies. The proceeds were shared with the library.
  • The 4-H organization offers hundreds of project choices. When you think of 4-H you may think of sheep and chickens, but these are also current 4-H projects: gardening, sewing, recycling, fishing, bicycling, robotics, and astronomy. The possibilities for partnership topics are huge.

Where do I start?

  • Ask around your staff and patrons if anyone has a connection to 4-H.
  • Call the local Cooperative Extension office in your county. In every state 4-H groups are organized by county and overseen by the Cooperative Extension Service headquartered at that state’s  land-grant university.  Here in Ohio it is Ohio State University, in Montana it is Montana State University, etc.

Have other 4-H partnerships that have worked at your library? Please add them in the comments!

–Judy Lasco, Geauga County Public Library, Ohio

Member of ALSC Liaison with National Organizations committee

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9. Dreaming of Spring

The weather outside is frightful.  In southern North Carolina, we have dealt this week with an ice storm and power outages. While this winter weather in no way compares to the months and months of freezing temperatures and blizzards in the Northeast and Midwest, it is safe to say that many of us all over the country are sick and tired of winter by this time of year. We long for warmer temperatures and blooming flowers.  We long for spring.  At work we are also anticipating the change in seasons as we prepare for all of the special programs we offer during the next few months. What special events or services are rolled out during the springtime at your libraries?

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

Spring in many ways allows us the time to finish our last minute plans for our busy summer reading program. We promote our summer reading schedule to the schools in May and are fine-tuning our programming plans during these last few months.  Is spring your busiest time of year as you prep for summer reading or do you complete most of your program planning right before the programs begin in the summer? How will these next few months get you best prepared for summer reading?

Spring is also a special time of year for us as we participate in system-wide festivals.  We anticipate the spring season with a Storytelling Festival at all eight library branches at the end of February. At the conclusion of the Storytelling Festival, we turn our attention from storytelling to science. During two weeks in April, library staff present interactive science programs as part of the North Carolina Science Festival.  Spring is associated with science in our state. What special festivals, programs, or services are associated with spring within your library system?

School partnerships are also an important focus for public library staff during the spring.  The highly popular Battle of the Books Competition is gearing up with county contests. Library branch staff have connected with public school teams to practice questions with students to help them prepare for their upcoming competitions.  Other public library staff serve as judges or volunteer in various roles during these all-day events.  Are there any special collaborations you enjoy with your school systems during these spring months?

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

In our library, spring is associated with summer reading planning, festivals, and special school partnerships.  The cold, dreary weather may still be upon us, but starting this discussion may help us leave the ice and cold behind as we imagine warmer days ahead. What services or programs will be the focus at your library when the season changes? Please share your plans for spring in the comments below!

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10. Fairytale to Film: Cinderella

Prince Christopher serenades his Cinderella, 1997

This afternoon, as part of our Black History Month film festival, we showed 1997’s Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. The color-blind casting process led to a diverse finished product that our patrons really responded to. Librarian Krishna Grady introduced the film, and talked about the casting director and how producers set out to find the best person for each role, no matter their skin color. This led to a pleasingly diverse royal family with Queen Whoopi Goldberg and King Victor Garber acting as parents to Paolo Montalban as Prince Christopher. Add in the phenomenal vocal talent of Bernadette Peters, Whitney Huston, and Brandy, and its no wonder our patrons responded so well to the film! Their extremely positive reactions made me think about the many, many Cinderella films available to children’s librarians today for programming purposes. There are too many to list entirely, but we can talk about a few!

A very young Julie Andrews arrives at the ball, 1957

Of the Rogers and Hammerstein adaptations, I remember loving the above version as a child. I also loved the decidedly less diverse 1965 version, starring Lesley Ann Warren, Ginger Rogers (!), and Stuart Damon, which my  mother grew up watching. You can even see the original version, which starred a young Julie Andrews in one of the cheesiest made-for-tv movie sets of all time, from 1957. They hold a sparkler in front of the camera while her transformation is occuring! It’s magical.

If musicals with real people are not your cup of tea, there’s always the classic Disney animated film or the upcoming live adaptation of that film starring the incomparable Cate Blanchette and Helena Bonham Carter (though the 2015 version, as far as I know, will be without songs).

Those looking for a Cinderella with agency and a mind of her own would do well to check out 1998’s Ever After, in which a feminist Cinderella (here named Danielle) schools her Prince on the plight of his people and the power of the written word. That movie also features a delightful turn by Anjelica Huston as the evil Stepmother and Leonardo DaVinci’s character plays the part of the fairy godmother.

1955’s Caldecott Medal winner

Of course, all of these movies are based on the same fairytale, which most of us are familiar with through the work of Charles Perrault. There’s a Caldecott-award winner based on a translation of his work, and too many picture books to list. The “Cinderella story” has been found all over the world, making for a wonderfully diverse list of books to pair with any of the films above. For older readers, there’s Newbery Honor-winning Ella Enchanted (skip the dreadful film adaptation, no matter how winsome Anne Hathway is), Chinese CinderellaCinderella: As If You Didn’t Already Know The Story, and many more!

What did I miss? What is your favorite Cinderella book? How about your favorite Cinderella movie?

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11. Five Things I Wasn’t Prepared For…

Here is a story, told in pictures, of five things I wasn’t prepared for before I became a storytime librarian:

[Image courtesy of the author; originally posted on Instagram.]

[Making finger puppets after a day at ALA Midwinter. Image courtesy of the author; originally posted on Instagram.]

1. That I would chose to spend so much of my free time doing things I love that happen to relate to work.

First of all, this is 100% my choice to spend my time researching beginning readers and making flannelboards. And I wouldn’t do it if it didn’t make me happy.

Working with felt and sewing finger puppets have become my favorite way to relax. Seriously, I sewed a set of five little ballerinas during last year’s Stanley Cup play-offs and it was the only way I could avoid a panic attack while cheering on my team.

[Me, dressed as Princess Anna from Frozen. Image courtesy of the author; originally posted on Instagram.]

[Me, dressed as Princess Anna from Frozen. Image courtesy of the author; originally posted on Instagram.]

2. That I would suddenly develop the talent to make anything that I needed out of craft supplies.

Do you need a musical instrument? Give me two pieces of paper, two rubber bands, and two popsicle sticks and I will give you a harmonica. Do you need a traffic light prop for storytime? Easy — one piece of foam board, three small paper plates, three recycled paperclip boxes, three sheets of felt and hot glue.

How about a Frozen costume? I made my Princess Anna costume in about an hour and a half using discounted black fabric, a few felt sheets, a spool of ribbon, a $5 tshirt, and a recycled formal dress.

[Storytime scarves in the washer! Image courtesy of the author; originally posted on Instagram.]

[Storytime scarves in the washer! Image courtesy of the author; originally posted on Instagram.]

3. That I would become very conscientious about germ exposure!

My weekly routine involves taking our scarves home to wash after every use. (My library is lucky enough to have about 120 scarves — more than enough for multiple classes and a single weekly wash.)

My daily routine involves washing shaker eggs and wiping down board book pages. Lately, I’ve upped the game to include spraying the room with disinfectant and wiping down all surfaces (doors, cabinets, handles, counters, etc.). It may seem like a lot of work, but I want my little ones to stay healthy!

[Ukulele & accessories. Image courtesy of the author; originally posted on Instagram.]

[Ukulele & accessories. Image courtesy of the author; originally posted on Instagram.]

4. That I would never stop learning or wanting to learn new skills.

The great thing about storytime is that there are always new books and songs and rhymes to explore. I love finding a new favorite read-aloud and sharing it with my storytime families.

As you might guess with the picture, my big goal this year is to learn how to play the ukulele and to feel confident enough to perform in storytime! I’ve still got a long way to go, but I’m slowly improving. I feel like I’ve finally got strumming down after a weekly practice session.

[A thank-you note from a patron. Image courtesy of the author; originally posted on Instagram.]

[A thank-you note from a patron. Image courtesy of the author; originally posted on Instagram.]

5. That I would feel such fulfillment and joy each day of work.

I have the best job in the world. I spend my days connecting preschoolers with books, dancing with toddlers, and watching babies grow up.

There is absolutely nothing better than seeing a child’s face light up when they see you and have them demand a hug. Or hearing about how a child insists on playing “Miss Katie” when they get home.

Obviously these are all pretty sweet things that I wasn’t prepared for (well, except for the germs!), but how about you? What were you unprepared for with storytime?

Let me know in the comments!

– Katie Salo
Early Literacy Librarian
Indian Prairie Public Library


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12. Making the Bulletin Board Your Patrons’ First Stop

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 8.53.55 AM

Urban Dictionary’s definition of Shelfie.

In our library we have a bulletin board just to the right as folks walk through the door.  We’ve always kept it looking “nice”.  Some timely book displays…occasionally some student work (our second graders’ tall tale characters are a favorite) graced the construction paper background.  But honestly?  I was getting bored looking at it all the time.

So I did what any good librarian would do and I headed to Pinterest for some ideas.  Sure there were lovely book ad type of displays, but this is exactly what I wanted to get away from.  And I realized, what I wanted was for our students to have an interactive experience.

We started with gratitude.  Modeled off the Gratitude Graffiti Project we seeded our bulletin board with post-its featuring things we are grateful for. Every time anyone (teacher, parent, student) walked through our doors they were invited to add something.  In no time our board filled up with positivity.

Next, I found this fabulous first lines interactive board on Pinterest. Intriguing first lines have always been of interest to me, and I knew some titles that would have to be included.  It’s super easy to switch out the titles after a little while to freshen the board up, and I have to say, circulation of the titles featured has gone up as well!  Bonus!

Our next venture helps our students see that not just our fabulous team of librarians are readers, but all the folks in our school.  We put out a call for staff and faculty to send us a selfie AND a shelfie.  We will ask our students to see if they can pair up the person with their shelf!  The next month we will put out a call to the students, and feature their selfie/shelfie combos.

Our bulletin board is quickly becoming a talked about, interacted with and exciting part of our space.

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13. Post-Caldecott

The books! Photo by Angela J. Reynolds

The books! Photo by Angela J. Reynolds

Shovels in hand, 15 brave souls entered a room in a hotel in Chicago. We knew there was treasure to be found, we knew that we would have to dig deep into our year of looking at over 500 picture books in order to find the gems. We tried to find the right words (vocabulary, phrases, terms) to express how our favorite books met the criteria. We bravely donned our capes of red wool; we dreamed of art, and lost things, and finding friends. We picked up pebbles of wisdom, like stones at the beach that one summer. Our minds were filled with noisy colors. And together, we did the unimaginable.

It has been just two weeks since the 2015 Caldecott Awards were announced, and I still feel the warm glow of that experience. The seven books that our committee chose to receive those shiny stickers have me still reeling. I look at them and smile. Each one of them means something to me, and I have realized that our set of books is all about discovery. Just like Beekle on his heroic journey to friendship, our committee set out to find the most distinguished book published in 2014. There were many amazing books, and I know that each and every member of our committee has a few books that did not make our final list that they will always treasure. You just don’t spend that much time re-reading and looking closely without developing a relationship with the books. Together we found the books that we agreed met the criteria and rose to the top of the pile.

Caldesnacks! Photo by Angela J. Reynolds

Caldesnacks! Photo by Angela J. Reynolds

Being on the Caldecott Committee has been a longtime career goal. Now it is a career highlight, and I have found 14 new friends that shared an experience (and a lot of great snacks) that no-one can know about (actually, I can tell you all about the snacks if you want to know). The Adventures of Beekle, the Unimaginary Friend, by Dan Santat, was announced on Monday, February 2. Sitting in the convention center hall, my hands were shaking. Never had the announcement of the awards been so personal, so exciting, so nerve-wracking. I had to remind myself to breathe. Since we knew who the winner was on Saturday night, one of our committee members thought it would be fun for us to wear crowns like Beekle’s after the book was announced. She made them on Sunday and kept them secret until the book was named on Monday morning. Donning that yellow paper crown marked one of my happiest moments as a librarian. Our committee was so proud of those books.

The Caldecott Buzz was enormous. In years past, I have chatted with others about the awards. I engaged in the “why didn’t my favorite book win” banter with friends and colleagues. I read the blogs with fervor, and sometimes even joined in on the second-guessing that naturally goes on each year. “What were they thinking?” is often bandied about when the awards are announced, and I fully understand why. These book awards mean a lot to us. They recognize, very publicly, that children’s books matter. They celebrate art and literature and story and make us look closely at books, and at ourselves. This year the comments, both in person and online, were somehow louder. I love hearing people’s reactions, and I enjoy reading the critical analysis that has resulted. For those who are disgruntled, upset, or still wondering why our committee chose the books we chose, I say, read the Caldecott Manual, linked here. Read the criteria. And read them again. Read them a third time. Our committee heeded (observed, abided by, adhered to) that manual; we read it many times. My copy has margin notes, tabs, highlighter, tea stains. The manual was our guide, our touchstone, our handbook. And because the committee deliberations are confidential, you’ll never know exactly what happened in that room, other than the fact that we did what we were tasked to do, and we chose a winner and six honor books. Celebrate that with us. Find the joy in those books, like we did. Find the readers who will love those books, because they are out there. And like the Newbery committee’s t-shirts said, “Trust the Process”.

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14. The Newbie’s Guide to Hosting a Día Program

Learn more about  Día at dia.ala.org

Learn more about Día at dia.ala.org

Thinking of hosting a Día program at your library? While the ALA Building STEAM with Día grants deadline has passed, it’s never too late to set up your own program. Have questions about where to start, who to contact, and what kinds of things you should do? Well, look no further—we will answer your questions right here!

First thing you must do, is log onto http://dia.ala.org, read a bit about Día and what others have done in the past, then register your program. This registry creates a searchable database of Día programs of all sizes from across the county that highlight Diversity In Action. Not only is the database a resource for you to find ideas, and printables that may work for your community, but it’s also a great place for your library patrons to find programs they might be interested in attending.

Then you need to take a deep breath. For those who have not held a Día program before, it does not need to overwhelm you. This is Children’s Day/Book Day, a celebration of the importance of literacy for children of all backgrounds. So, do what you do best…invite the community to join you in celebrating literacy.

Who should you contact? Everyone! Start with the list on the dia.ala.org website under the Learn More – Partners and Supporters page. This list links you to great national organizations who have indicated interest in celebrating Día. From there, look to your communities. Other agencies who serve children are a natural fit, but restaurants, and ethnic grocery stores can also be great partners and add a completely different element.

What should you do? Host a Book Fest, each room of your library is a celebration of a book, culture, or language. If you have enough partners involved, have them each be responsible for a room. Then families can move through the library, experiencing and discovering a variety of new things. Hold a Books Alive Parade, encourage children to dress up as their favorite book character and march around the library. Hold a few sessions that offer tips and tricks to create a love a reading in every home. Start a book club, using books that are offered in both English and another language. Encourage the sharing of cultural and personal experiences. Offer a variety of extension activities that coordinate with a book, showing children that literacy is more than just reading a book, but also all the things you can do with what you’ve read and learned.

Best tip: invite organizations and agencies to join you, and let them create their own activities to share with your patrons.

Pictures courtesy of the Kendallville Public Library bethmunk2 bethmunk3 bethmunk4















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Post written by Beth Munk, Kendallville Public Library, Kendallville, IN

Pictures courtesy of the Kendallville Public Library

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15. Blogs to Love

Since it’s Valentine’s Day, it’s a great day to show some love to my favorite blogs. Early in my career, blogs became my go-to resource for program planning and I follow quite a few in an RSS feed I can barely keep up with. (Am I the only one who still uses an RSS feed? I hear they are not widely used anymore, but I still find it quite useful!)

These are blogs, all authored by children’s/teen librarians, that I use time and again when planning programs, whether technology-based or otherwise. I hope you’ll find them useful in your own program planning!

Robot Test Kitchen—I don’t think this newish blog has been mentioned here before and I am super duper excited to tell you about it. Run by four librarians in Illinois (hi Heather, Jacquie, Michelle, and Sharon!), it covers all things tech as they relate to children’s and teen services in public and school libraries. They do product reviews (littleBits, Cubelets, LEGO WeDo, Sphero, Bee-Bots—they’ve all been covered), share program plans, and have a series called Ten Dollar Tuesdays, which features inexpensive programs that cost—you guessed it—under $10. My favorite feature is their True Confessions posts, in which they lay bare their doubts, fears, and frustrations. If you’ve ever experienced imposter syndrome or felt like you failed at a program (and haven’t we all?), these posts are so reassuring!

Library Makers is run by librarians at the Madison (WI) Public Library and features “non-traditional” programs they do for all ages. There’s WonderWorks, a series of STEM classes for preschoolers; Supper Club, an evening app-based storytime; Toddler Art Class; Craft Lab for teens; and even NeedleWorks, a sewing class for teens and adults. They provide everything you need to know to replicate the programs at your library, including materials lists and “hindsight tips.”

Jbrary—If you haven’t taken a look at all the fabulous resources offered by Jbrary, you must do so immediately! Dana and Lindsey, the two librarians who run Jbrary, write about a wide range of library programs and services, including storytimes, tween book clubs, reading lists, booktalking, and many other varied topics. And what’s really amazing is the wealth of additional resources they produce. Looking for new songs and rhymes to use in storytime? Look no further! Check out their YouTube station (which has over ONE MILLION views) or their Pinterest boards (which have almost 4,000 pins).

Thrive Thursday—Ok, so this isn’t a blog so much as a monthly round-up of blog posts about programming for school-age kids. But if you’re looking for program ideas for the elementary school set, you’ll definitely want to check this out! All their round-ups can be found on this Pinterest board.

Hopefully some of these are new-to-you resources that you’ll find invaluable. I also want to give a shout out to a few other favorites: Little eLit (new media in libraries), Mel’s Desk (baby storytimes) and Storytime Underground (all things storytime). If they’re unfamiliar to you, I encourage you to check them out as well!

Liz Fraser is Coordinator of Children’s Services at the Belmont (MA) Public Library and serves on the ALSC Children and Technology Committee. She writes about library programs for kids at Getting Giggles and can be found on Twitter as @lizfraserlib.

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16. Looking ahead to Women’s History Month


Each March, in addition to working, blogging here at the ALSC Blog and at Shelf-employed, I host KidLit Celebrates Women’s History Month! along with fellow librarian and blogger, Margo Tanenbaum, of The Fourth Musketeer.

Active only during Women’s History Month,  the blog features readers, commenters, and contributors working together to create a dynamic resource of thoughtful and thought-provoking essays, commentaries, and book reviews. Each post is related to children’s literature and women’s history.

The blog is a great resource for finding new books (we’ll be featuring several new and upcoming titles!) and useful links. Previous contributors include Jen Bryant, Andrea Davis Pinkney, Donna Jo Napoli, and Betsy Bird.  Contributors for 2015 include Emily Arnold McCully (Queen of the Diamond), Misty Copeland (Firebird), Michaela McColl (The Revelation of Louisa May), and more.

The complete 2015 lineup may be found on the site’s sidebar.  You can sign up to follow the blog, or receive it via email. Visit the site at http://kidlitwhm.blogspot.com to see “following” options, an archive of past contributions, and links to educational resources.  It’s suitable for parents and teachers, too.

The official Women’s History Month theme for 2015, is “Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives.” If you’ve got great plans for WHM, please share! :)

In March, stop here first, then head on over to KidLit Celebrates Women’s History Month!

KidLit Celebrates Women’s History Month blog header by Rebekah Louise Designs.

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17. Program in a Post: Marshmallow Building

Photo courtesy of the author.

Photo courtesy of the author.

With this post and $34 you can host a sticky sweet and innovative building program.

Supplies (for about 60 participants):

  • Toothpicks (Box of 800) – 5
  • Mini-marshmallows (16 oz bags) – 8
  • Wet wipes

Prep work: Purchase supplies and pull books for display. Some good topics to display: constellations, buildings, houses, cars, and construction.

Room setup: Tables with or without chairs and a book display at the front of the room. Cut open the long side of the marshmallow bags and put them in the center of the tables and pour some toothpicks into a flat tray.

Format: One hour long open house.

Photo courtesy of the author.

Photo courtesy of the author.

As families arrive welcome them to the program and let them know that they can build whatever they would like. Point out the book display in case they would like to find inspiration there. We had over 60 people attend and many stayed the entire time working on their projects. Some people wanted to take them home so have paper bags (large and small) and paper plates on hand. The prep is super easy for this fun and engaging program!

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18. Time For Reflection- ALA Midwinter Conference

After having some time to think about my first ALA conference, I have decided that I just have to go again!  At first I was quite overwhelmed by all the events, people, and travel, but in the end I had an absolute ball!  I met some interesting people, attended some eye opening sessions, ate some great food, saw a beautiful city, and bonded with my fellow classmates from ODU.  My boxes of books that I mailed to my school arrived today and I got all giddy going through them and sharing stories with my librarian.  I told her how excited everyone was to get into the exhibit hall and that people were waiting in line kind of like Black Friday shopping.  I laughed telling her that I felt as though I was stealing, because all of these great books were on display for us to take.  I confided in her how in awe I was to meet the authors and have them sign my books.  She was so jealous, by the way, that she didn’t get to attend the conference with me.  I told her that if the conference is ever within driving distance that we need to attend, because it is quite the experience.  I think a great selling point for administration is that we bring back more books than the cost of the registration fee.

So even though Chicago got the 5th largest snow storm in history while I was there and our flight to come home was cancelled twice, then delayed twice, and the plane had to be de-iced before take off- I would do it again in a heartbeat!  A big thank you to the NextGen Grant, ODU, and all my professors.  Without the program requiring me to attend this conference, I would have never stepped out of my comfort zone and flown to a large city like Chicago to attend a conference.  I think this was one of many firsts as I make my journey into the world of school librarianship.

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19. Kids Need Monstrous Words

“Procrastination,” “negotiation,” “dramatically,” “in-lieu”; these are words that you would probably not expect to appear in a picture book. Which, in my opinion, is unfortunate. I am a picture book author, (Monster & Me™ series published by Mighty Media Press) and one of the reasons I like to write is to introduce new and interesting words to kids. Vocabulary is so important in the art of communication, so why do we as parents, writers and educators insist that children can’t fathom a monstrous word?

When my first child was born I fell into the same idea that a young child would never be able to understand a big word. It wasn’t until my son was three and I needed to take him for a physical. Blood needed to be taken and I figured this was going to be a horror show of screaming and fear. I don’t like needles so I figured a three-year-old wouldn’t either. I didn’t want my son to fear the doctor from this day forward, so instead of saying we were going to the doctor’s office, I said we were going to see the Phlebotomist, the person who takes your blood. I used the word several times with him and by the time we sat down in the office he could say it.

Now saying it and understanding what it means are two different things. This is where things got interesting. As the technician came into the room and began to prepare the needle my son asked, “Are you the Phlebotomist?” At that point the technician put down the needle and walked out. He then returned with a nurse and asked my son to repeat what he said. My son did so and also added, “The person who takes your blood.“ They were stunned that not only could he say the word, but knew what it meant.

I figured my son was obviously a genius, but forthcoming spelling tests proved that theory wrong. All joking aside, I realized that if you say a word enough times and take the time to explain it, no matter how big or complicated, a child will understand it. Children are like sponges and are able to understand and absorb a great deal more than what we give them credit for. So why do we insist on dumbing down the first pieces of literature they come in contact with?

During the writing process I frequent a critique group with books that I have written and I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the comment, “Would a child say this word?” Or, “Would a child know what this word means?” My answer usually is no, not yet, but they will. During a library or bookstore reading of one of my books, I love it when a child asks what a word means. When they do, I know I’ve done my job. So let’s give kids the monstrous words they deserve. They may just surprise you and your Phlebotomist.



Photo credit: Tracey Czajak

Our guest blogger today is Paul Czajak. Paul is the author of Seaver the Weaver and his award winning Monster&Me picture book series with its most recent addition Monster Needs a Party published by Mighty Media Press. For more information on Paul please visit his web site at paulczajak.com.

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

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

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20. Mentoring and Me

Last year I read a post about the ALSC Mentoring Program, and it struck a nerve. To apply for the program, I had to fill in some basic information and state whether I would like to be a mentor or a mentee with another fellow librarian. ALSC would set up the match, and shepherd us through the program by offering helpful tips and guidelines.

When I came to the part where I had to check if I’d like to be a mentor OR a mentee, I checked both. Feeling a bit schizophrenic that day? No, I just could see myself in both positions. Even though I’ve been in the library world for about 10 years, I don’t feel that I ever had a true mentor. There was never one person who took me by the hand and showed me the whole world of librarianship, taught me what to do when a child started crying hysterically in storytime, or learn how to incorporate early literacy practices into my programs. Maybe I was asking for too much and should realize that most people aren’t lucky to have this kind of a mentor, or maybe this kind of person doesn’t even exist!

When the blogosphere exploded a few years ago, I suddenly had the internet at my fingertips and couldn’t learn fast enough. I pored through blogs like Mel’s Desk, Storytime Katie, and Abby the Librarian. Suddenly there were people out there that I could learn from, and boy did I learn. I actually contacted Melissa, of Mel’s Desk, one day when I recently started the Tiny Tots program for children aged 0-12 months. She was so kind to reply in a timely and caring fashion and her advice was invaluable. I almost cried because I wished she lived closer!

So, not having a mentor made me realize how important it is to help others along the way. I also have an elementary school teacher upbringing and educating is in my blood. I love to present ideas to people, see how they are collected, and watch them bloom. I know that I could really benefit from having a mentor, but maybe now was not the time. Maybe it was time for ME to help someone and give them the guidance I feel I lacked.

ALSC matched me with a wonderful young woman named Mary. During our first phone call, I knew that something would be a bit different about this match. Mary was also going to San Jose State University for her MLIS program, and she had started just about the same time I had. Not only was she going to graduate school full time, she was also working in a library, and teaching dance classes. Wow, she has energy!

Mary is almost the same age as my oldest daughter, so one would think that I should feel more mature and experienced. Not so, though! With all of her energy and enthusiasm, Mary has taught me more about the library world than I think I’ve taught her. She is dedicated and determined, and is already connected to committees and book award groups.

I hope I’ve helped Mary during this year, but I have also gained so much from her. We have talked about graduate school classes, shared book titles, and learned about the different book award committees we attend. It’s been a definite win-win in my opinion!

In a less formal manner, I have also been mentoring another young woman at our library named Alyssa. This came about because I told our Head of Children’s Services that I really wanted to gain some supervisory experience. She suggested that I mentor Alyssa with her first story time program – which would be a pajama story time. This was so exciting because I was able to work with Alyssa from the ground up. We discussed what books she would use and the songs she would sing. As we talked about the merits of certain titles, I could see that she was beginning to understand how a book would work in story time, and what would be the most engaging for the audience.

Working with Mary and Alyssa has taught me that my way of doing things is not always the right way, and I should offer guidance, but let them try and figure things out for themselves. I started the mentoring process because I hoped I could offer help to both young women, but I’ve learned more from them than I expected.


Allison MurphyOur guest blogger today is Allison Murphy. Allison has worked in the marketing department of a number of children’s book publishing companies. She has been a children’s library programmer and most recently, a children’s librarian, for about 10 years. Allison has been on the CT State Nutmeg Award committee and is currently pursuing her MLS degree from San Jose State University. She hopes to finish before she has grey hair or grandchildren, whichever comes first!

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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21. Making Early Literacy an Intentional Act

As I was flying home from Maryland after having visited relatives and gorged myself on way too much pie, I had the luck to sit next to a wonderful family of four. A mother, a father, a little four year-old boy and his sister, aged two.

First, the boy and his father sat next to me. They played a few games together on their iPad (all apps, I noticed, that we at the library recommend for young children). They were wonderful to listen to (admittedly, I was asleep through most of the father/son interaction – like I said, a lot of pie had been eaten!) — but the real treat came at the end of the flight when the mother and daughter switched to the seats next to me.

They also spent some time on the iPad, though the apps were different and much more developmentally appropriate for her. Again, there was lots of conversation being had, lots of counting, talking about animals, telling stories, laughter and smiles! Then the iPad was put away and a favorite book was brought out that had to do with rock and roll animals (who wouldn’t love that!). They read the book together, always taking time to stop and talk about the pictures in the book. At one point, the little girl even counted to ten in English and Spanish just for the fun of it!

My little librarian heart just soared listening to them having so much fun with literacy! Finally, at the end of plane ride, I began talking to the mother and wouldn’t you know it – she was a librarian too! She said she was an elementary and teen librarian and hadn’t had an opportunity to work in early literacy but had been going to classes and workshops at her library ever since her children had been born. Then she said something that I’ve heard before but I guess I’d never really heard until then.

She loved how intentional one can be with early literacy, and when that intentionality is focused on, how much more fun the process becomes for both her and her child. And they really were just having tons of fun, living in the moment and enjoying each other’s company. As a result, I was having tons of fun just listening to them!

Children grow up so fast and life can be so hectic that this sense of intentionality or purposefulness can sometimes be hard to find. I have a hard time finding it in the busy-ness of my work day. But her statement and her actions reminded me that finding even a little bit goes a long way. So I treat it like meditation. Before each story time or when I see a child approaching the desk, I take a breath and remember my purpose. My purpose is not something I will get to tomorrow or when my to-do list is clear. It is right now, with this child, this parent, and this moment.

How do you demonstrate intentional early literacy with your families?


Photo taken by Andy Laviolette

Photo taken by Andy Laviolette

Our guest blogger today is Lisa Bubert. Lisa is a Youth Services Librarian with the Frisco Public Library in Frisco, TX. Early literacy and writing are her two passions and she enjoys taking any opportunity to put them together.

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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22. ALSC’s Next Steps after Day of Diversity

On Friday, January 30, 2015 the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), in collaboration with the Children’s Book Council hosted the invitation-only Day of Diversity: Dialogue and Action in Children’s Literature and Library Programming. Recognizing the conversations at the event was of interest to a much larger audience than we were able to accommodate at the Day of Diversity, ALSC and the CBC Diversity Committee sponsored a follow up program at ALA Midwinter. ALSC will continue to share information and outcomes from this event widely.

On Monday, February 2nd during their Session II meeting, the ALSC Board of Directors reflected on the Day of Diversity and put together a list of commitments by the Association for the next three months and the next six months.

This isn’t the start of the diversity or inclusion conversation for ALSC, nor by any means is it the end. This list reflects the measurable next steps that ALSC’s leadership has committed the Association to taking in the short term. These steps include educational opportunities for our members and opportunities for all ALSC members to add their voice and ideas to this conversation. We look forward to your participation and feedback throughout.


  • At the ALSC Board of Directors Session II on Monday, February 2, 2015 – the Board voted to move the start time of ALSC’s All-Committee meeting, during Annual Conference only, to 10:30AM – 12:00PM to allow for more participation by ALSC members at the CSK Breakfast. The Board recognizes that this may limit the amount of time committees have to work, but encourages chairs to work throughout the year virtually between meetings to disperse the workload.

3 Months

  • ALSC President Ellen Riordan will host an open online Day of Diversity Forum in February 2015. Stay tuned for the finalized date and time.
  • ALSC will host a free Building STEAM with Día webinar.
  • ALSC will craft, and make available, a value based elevator speech about Día in order to assist youth services librarians in advocating for resources to plan Día and other multicultural programming.
  • ALSC will convene a taskforce that will review multiple areas within the Association including materials, services and profession; and propose high level changes to move the diversity needle forward within children’s librarianship.

6 Months

  • ALSC will complete a Building STEAM with Día Toolkit.
  • Together, ALSC and the Children’s Book Council, will compile Day of Diversity survey results, resources, and participant’s personal ‘next steps’ and make information available online.
  • An “action” tab will be placed on the Día website which will contain resources shared at the Day of Diversity with additional content added. Additionally, ALSC will link to these resources from the professional tools portion of the ALSC website.
  • ALSC award and evaluation committee chair trainings will include a discussion about inclusion and diversity.

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23. Mentors and Mentees Wanted!

ALSC announced the opening of spring 2015 applications for the ALSC 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 Saturday, February 28, 2015. Here are a few things to know about the program:

  • The program lasts one year
  • Mentee applicants do not need to be ALSC or ALA members The only requirement is that mentees have some connection to children’s library service
  • 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
  • Mentors should be ALSC members
  • There is no face-to-face requirements
  • Mentors and mentees set their own goals and work at their own pace

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.

For more information on the ALSC Mentoring Program or to apply, please visit http://www.ala.org/alsc/mentoring

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24. Dreams Do Come True

In the world of children’s literature, I can’t think of a day that hasn’t been better than the one before it. On Monday morning, February 2nd, this theory proved true. Diversity in children’s literature was honored in a multitude of ways. Librarians, families, teachers and kids all awaited the Monday morning Youth Media Award announcements with anticipation. They waited to hear if their favorite girl would win an award in more than one category, if their favorite author would garner the top prize, if the book that reflected their lives and spoke to them would stand tall and proud amongst the best of the best. As the medal winners’ names were spoken, dreams were coming true all across the country.

Each day that you have an opportunity to talk about diversity in children’s literature is a day when you are making the world more welcoming and real for all children. Literature awards can spark all kinds of conversations about why we need diverse books. (#WeNeedDiverseBooks).

The news spread far and wide like fire on a prairie (or snow headed for Chicago). Those announcements, though, were just a smattering of the literature awards that will be given this year. Also announced at the American Library Association’s Midwinter conference were the winners of the The Asian Pacific American Library Association (APALA) literature awards. These include a winner and honor book in children’s, young adult, and picture book categories.

The Asian Pacific American Library Association was established in 1980 to create an organization that would address the needs of Asian Pacific American librarians and those who serve Asian Pacific American communities. Since 2001 they have been honoring the best books published in the previous year for children and young adults related to Asian/Pacific American experiences (either historical or contemporary) or Asian/Pacific American cultures.

The APALA winners are announced during the midwinter meeting, but there is no fanfare until the annual ALA conference awards ceremony. And so, while we were all shouting “hooray” for the likes of Jacqueline Woodson, Kwame Alexander, Duncan Tonatiuh and others……..even more dreams were quietly coming true.

2015 Winners:Tiger Girl
Young Adult

Winner: Tiger Girl by May-Lee Chai (GemmaMedia)

Honor: Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang (First Second), illustration by Sonny Liew.


Winner: Gaijin: American Prisoner of War by Matt FGaiginaulkner (Disney/Hyperion Books)

Honor: Ting Ting by Kristie Hammond (Sono Nis Press, Canada)

Picture Book

Winner: Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin by Chieri Uegaki and Qin Leng (Kids Can Press)

Hana Hashimoto


Honor: Father’s Chinese Opera by Rich Lo (Sky Pony Press)






Andrea R. Milano is a Youth Services Librarian at Multnomah County Library in Portland, Oregon and she is writing this post on behalf of the Public Awareness Committee.

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25. How Good Night, Gorilla is preparing me for a Year of Committee Work

My one-year-old son’s latest favorite read is Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann. I came home from ALA Midwinter to a sick baby and a husband who had already read Good Night, Gorilla “hundreds of times.” As I stayed home and spent the past week with my son and read (and re-read) Good Night, Gorilla, I thought about the initial meeting I had with the 2016 Caldecott Committee, our comments about the committee manual and preparing for a year of reading (and re-reading) picture books.

Slow Down-The more I read the same book over and over again, the more I slowed down and really took in the story. I knew the text so I could look at the pictures and see how the two really combined.

Pay Attention to Detail-After reading Good Night, Gorilla many, many times, I started to notice details I hadn’t seen before. I looked at the pictures on the wall of the Zookeeper’s house that showed Mrs. Zookeeper holding a baby gorilla. I noticed how each animal had toys in their cage and that elephant had a nod to Babar. I followed the mouse’s story just as much as I followed gorilla’s. I saw the expressions in the animals faces.

Appreciate the Story & Art Working Together-Along with the various details, I really looked at how the story and the art work together. I saw the number of neighbors that appear in the window increase from one to three, adding a layer of humor to the story that maybe the animals following the Zookeeper home each night was a regular ritual that the whole neighborhood thought was pretty funny. My son finds the two page spread of black with just Mrs. Zookeeper’s eyes wide open (which I read with a corresponding “too many good nights!”) absolutely hilarious and made me think about how the art and text compliment each other.

The Caldecott Manual comes with a page of suggested reading and our committee has suggested other articles and books we felt would be good to look at to help prepare for our upcoming year. But I also found this past week that reading Good Night, Gorilla over and over again with my son has also made me stop and think about my upcoming committee year and in some ways, helped me prepare for my year of evaluating illustrations and picture books.

Take some time and re-read some picture books and see if you learn to slow down, pay attention to detail, and appreciate the story and art working together.



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