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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. Everyday Advocacy Challenge: Week 5 Reflections

The inaugural Everyday Advocacy Challenge (EAC) began its second half on September 29 with this Take Action Tuesday prompt:

Talk up the Everyday Advocacy initiative with a colleague.

Here’s what a few of our EAC cohort members said about the Week 5 challenge in six words or less:

  • “One of the easiest so far.”
  • “Sharing the proactive thinking.”
  • “Energizing!”
  • “Perfectly timed to coincide with newsletter.”
  • “Much easier to do!”

For Lynda Salem-Poling, the Week 5 challenge was both a fun opportunity and a great reminder of what Everyday Advocacy is all about.

Lynda writes:

This week’s challenge was to talk up the Everyday Advocacy Challenge to our colleagues. I took this opportunity to poll my co-workers to find out who was interested in learning more about ALA, as well as more about the EAC specifically. I sent out a general e-mail to all the librarians in my library system, linking to all of the ALSC blog posts, and asking if anyone was interested in participating and inviting them to contact me for more information.

The resulting conversations were fabulous and enlightening. I learned a lot about how my fellow librarians saw advocacy and their roles as advocates. And, as usual, I surprised myself by having insights while we were talking that I had never thought of before.

Talking over the EAC with my fellow librarians helped me find even more importance in doing it. Specifically, I realized the added benefit of talking to librarians from different types of public libraries from across the country, and even some “library folks” who work outside of libraries all together. One colleague pointed out that even if I never spoke to anyone about libraries again, it is good to have internalized the positive messages that I was creating.

We are now past the half-way mark, when it’s possible to suffer from a bit of burn-out, even for such a short experience. This week’s challenge was an invigorating, uplifting, reminder of how important the EAC is and how much fun.

Lynda Salem-Poling, is a librarian and supervisor at El Dorado (Calif.) Neighborhood Library. Lynda is a member of the inaugural Everyday Advocacy Challenge cohort, an 18-member volunteer group convening from September 1-October 20, 2015.

The post Everyday Advocacy Challenge: Week 5 Reflections appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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2. Getting to Know Your Way: Finding International School library Positions

I blame it all on movies like The King and I. It’s because of movies like this, that I want to work abroad. Watching Anna teach, the students, the scenery, (not to mention those amazing dresses of hers), and more, was enough to make me want to hop on a plane to somewhere wonderful and start teaching. The role of a Teacher Librarian abroad offers first-hand the sights, scents and sounds of a country other than your own; real-world application of a new language, a different school and different customs. It can truly be life-changing. Currently and happily on a stint in the U.S., wanderlust always calls; I keep an eye on international library job opportunities. Here are some suggestions about how to apply for positions via online recruiting services, and what to look out for.

Recruiting for the next school year often starts as early as December, for the following year. Recruiters may offer both online recruitment, and face-to-face job fairs. The process starts with creating an online profile via your recruiting company. Be prepared to fill out online information, including uploading your certifications, a CV, experience and information including confidential references, plus a video call address. Once your profile is accepted, you will gain access to information on teaching positions around the world, as well as job fairs. A small, one-time fee is charged during the initial sign-up process.

Think about where you want to go. Be open-minded, and when you open school profiles and job descriptions, read all the fine print, and know that this may change over the course of your application. This also means read the final contract before signing it. The job posting covers the contract requirements of the job posting, including the length of the contract, age limits, if any, degree specifics, curriculum information, salary (not necessarily USD), housing and flight reimbursement.

Be aware of the culture, customs and political climate of the country. Ask questions before, during and after your interview, which is generally via video call. Check U.S. government information online regarding your country of interest. Follow expat blogs, and try to get a feel for your level of tolerance; the language barriers, how to handle money and transportation, and homesickness. Search online and print resources for current information. Learn all you can about the countries you would like to teach in, because you will be happier if you do, and so will your students.

If applying online, write a cover letter, and hit “send”. If you want to go to a job fair, follow the online procedure as indicated in your profile. And remember one thing, sometimes, it doesn’t work out. Then this is what you do: channel Anna in The King and I, figure out what you need to do, and apply for another position. Your adventure awaits!


Courtesy photo from Guest Blogger

Courtesy photo from Guest Blogger

Our guest blogger today is Brenda Hahn. Brenda’s permanent home is in Florida, where she and her family live. As a Teacher/Librarian, she has worked in U.S. public schools, public libraries and in several international schools. Brenda’s vivid imagination keeps her library skills and literacy instruction both current and fun. She can be reached at neverendinglibrarian@gmail.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.

The post Getting to Know Your Way: Finding International School library Positions appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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3. ALSC Around the World: Ich liebe Bibliotheken!*

ALSC Around the World

I was really struck by the 25th anniversary of German Reunification (called the Day of German Unity or Tag der Deutschen Einheit) falling during Banned Books Week last week. Growing up during part of the Cold War, I certainly remember textbooks and other nonfiction titles that gave us not-very-favorable messages about East Germany and even recall being told that kids there weren’t allowed to pick the books they wanted to read on their own. During my visits to libraries in Germany and Poland this past month I thought and talked a lot about the freedom to read and the future of library service to children with some of our international colleagues.

Bibliothek am Luisenbad

In Berlin, librarians Heidrun Huebner-Gepp and Sarah Tscholl welcomed me to their Bibliothek am Luisenbad and shared a tour of their building, which was built in 1888 and is filled with Smart Boards, engaging face-out collections, programming spaces, and a diverse clientele with whom they focus on languages and digital media literacy. This community’s emphasis on welcoming those new to Germany is particularly relevant during this time when the country is seeing a significant influx of refugees from Syria.

Bibliothek am Luisenbad

Bibliothek am Luisenbad, circa 1888

Bibliothek am Luisenbad

Bibliothek am Luisenbad, circa 2015










Welcome to Biblioteka Publiczna Miasta i Gminy Słubice

Welcome to Biblioteka Publiczna Miasta i Gminy Słubice

The library I visited in Poland, Biblioteka Publiczna Miasta i Gminy Słubice, featured a fascinating display of local and national history while also providing tons and tons of e-content. Even with my limited knowledge of Polish, I could tell when it was trzecia, or three o’clock, as in a scene familiar to many of us, kids rushed in to sign up for computer time.



I spent a delightful afternoon with Benjamin Scheffler, who is the director of the Children’s and Youth Library and Learning Center of Berlin’s Central and Regional Library, where they really see the library as a place of learning, and their melding of traditional and innovative spaces, collections, and services was inspiring, both to me and their hundreds of thousands of annual users. The importance of adults and young kids making time together to sprechen, singen, lessen, schreiben, und spielen (talk, sing, read, write, and play) is truly universal!

Home of the Children's and Youth Library of the Central and Regional Library of Berlin (ZLB)

Home of the Children’s and Youth Library of the Central and Regional Library of Berlin (ZLB)


And I can highly recommend a visit to the Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm Center at Humboldt University of Berlin where thousands of documents from the Grimms’ personal library live and breathe. It also features, as Yelp aptly describes, “a reading room for mothers with children or pregnant women [where t]oddlers can play while mothers study.”

You can check out #ALSCtour on Twitter to learn more about these and my other visits in September to the Ottendorfer Branch of New York Public Library (the 1st free public library in NYC!) and the youth department of the Arlington Heights Memorial Library in Illinois. Also take a look at #KidsBookSummit for my account of the 2015 Nielsen Children’s Book Summit. This was an important event for ALSC to be represented at as publishers and librarians can learn so much from each other as we share this landscape of media for children, and I’m happy to report that the call for diverse books was a key part of the day.

*I love libraries!

The post ALSC Around the World: Ich liebe Bibliotheken!* appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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4. Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Apply for An ALSC Professional Award

ALSC Professional Awards

Get your application in for an ALSC professional award today! (image courtesy ALSC)

It’s ALSC professional award season and our goal this year is to see you apply for one of these great grants and scholarships. To help you understand why, we’ve prepared a list of the top ten reasons why you should apply for award or grant this fall!

1. Programs are expense

ALSC has a bunch of great grants that will help cover the cost of materials, speakers fees, and other assorted costs.

2. Your boss will love it

Nothing says, go-getter like going and getting a grant or award. Especially for early-career professionals! Go get ’em!

3. Your community will love it

Awards and grants are great public relations fodder. When you win, you can share the news with your local newspaper. Brag a little!

4. A gateway to becoming more involved

ALSC professional award winners are in a special community among themselves. Winning an award with ALSC shows that you are ready for bigger things. Think of the places you’ll go, for instance, if you won the Bechtel Fellowship and spent four week studying children’s literature at the University of Florida’s Baldwin Library!

5. Take advantage of membership

Most ALSC professional awards are open to ALSC members, so make sure to use this benefit to your advantage.

6. Host a famous author or illustrator

This is specific to one amazing award…the Maureen Hayes Author/Illustrator Award. You could bring a recognized author/illustrator to your school or library!

7. Showcase your great ideas

Think you have a really innovative and exceptional program? This is a great way to show it off. Apply for a grant like the Light the Way or Baker & Taylor Summer Reading Grant which recognize outstanding ideas.

8. We tailored these specifically to librarians involved in youth services

You’re probably already doing these things in your library, so why not get recognized for it?

9. You can also recognize someone else!

The ALSC Distinguished Service Award recognizes an ALSC member who has made significant contributions to and an impact on, library services to children and ALSC. Know someone like that? Nominate him or her!

10. Money doesn’t grow on trees..nor do books!

Maybe your parents told you this at one point, but it’s true! ALSC grants and awards are a great way to supplement your library budget. If you’re in a small library that wants to build your collection, consider applying for the Bookapalooza program (applications open soon)!

Hurry! Many ALSC professional awards have deadlines of November 1, 2015. 

The post Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Apply for An ALSC Professional Award appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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5. Partnering: Early Literacy and Early Intervention

We all love finding great partners in our community! One of my favorite community connections is the amazing staff at Early Intervention which is a part of our county’s Infant & Toddler Services. Libraries and Early Intervention are a natural complement to each other’s services. We target similar ages and both have a strong focus on early childhood development.

Our relationship with Infant & Toddler Services began two years ago when we offered a county wide inclusive playgroup. Our librarians developed the play ideas and Jessica, a social worker from Early Intervention came and played with us. We didn’t attract many families who were already receiving services but it did offer a wonderful opportunity for Jessica to talk with families about any developmental concerns. It was so powerful! There probably isn’t a parent in the world who hasn’t had questions about their child’s development at some point. Right!?!

This program opened a door for continued collaboration between Jessica and myself. I had previously provided Sensory Storytimes but had to discontinue them due to interest that fizzled after about a year. Jessica and I discovered we both have passion for “sensory kids” and have worked to revamp this program. It is launching in January 2016 and we are very excited to start this new adventure together!

Early Intervention also has the power to make sure families know libraries are a welcoming place for special needs children. Who else has partnered with your community’s Early Intervention? I would love to hear about what you have done!

If you haven’t made a connection with this service in your community I urge you to make a call today. You will have no regrets!



Erin Rogers is a Children’s Librarian in Virginia and a member of the Library Service to Special Populations and Their Caregivers Committee

The post Partnering: Early Literacy and Early Intervention appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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6. Messy Art and Creative Movement

This Fall, my staff and I got very excited about offering something new in addition to our regular weekly storytimes. We wanted to shake things up a bit in our schedule. Luckily I have staff members who are especially excited and inspired by change and trying new things. I wanted to offer a regular music and movement program ( more than my once a quarter dance party) and I had a staff member who wants to do an art program. So after brainstorming and scheduling we created Toddler Art (ages 18 months-36 months) and Preschool Wiggleworms (ages 3-6) to host on Friday mornings.

I was a bit worried about how changing our schedule and taking out Friday storytimes for something else would effect the rest of our programs. Would our other storytimes have a huge jump in attendance? Would we just end up with repeats from earlier in the week? So far, our storytime numbers haven’t had much change and while we do see some families come back for our Friday sessions, we’ve notice a whole new crowd coming into the library. Families are coming to the art program and exploring art activities with a space to get messy. Our preschoolers are loving the chance to do more creative movement, parachute play, instruments and rhythm sticks. We’re bringing kids and families in who haven’t attended a storytime and are discovering all the awesome things we do at the library. Plus, we’re offering this sessions for free where other similar music and art sessions have a fee.

We’ve been running the programs foe a month and have heard numerous comments from patrons thanking us for the programs, providing an opportunity to introduce the arts to kids, and for having a fun, creative family experience. I’m looking into our Spring and Summer schedule and thinking so it how to offer these programs in the evenings or weekends to accommodate working families. I love being able to offer a place for kids to explore art and music and adding these new programs has been a great scheduling change!

The post Messy Art and Creative Movement appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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7. Create a Kids Art Program with Inspiration from Museum Websites

Are you planning a family painting day, an art scandal mystery event or turning your children’s room into an ancient Egyptian maze? Finding new ways for creative kid programs are just clicks away at your favorite museum.

You might be surprised by a new update, an added blog, or an interactive art activity.

I recently followed an alien through the MoMA, popped yellow and red balloons through the Met and discovered William the blue hippo from Egypt is not very friendly.  (All of this online.)  Be part of art history through interactive museum websites.  The Smithsonian, J. Paul Getty Museum, Museum of Modern Art, and the National Gallery of Art are just a few amazing art websites filled with kids, family and teacher resources.

My new favorite art museum website to explore is #metkids at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.  MET Kids is a new feature launched in September with multi-media content aimed at 7 to 12 year olds.  The Met says kids from New York City and around the world “helped to shape the content, design, and user experience of the website. It is truly “Made for, with, and by kids.”

#metkids detailed map

#metkids map photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

Walk around the museum online with the Map, get in a Time Machine and travel to different centuries or watch a new art video made by kids today.

  • Map: touch a yellow or red balloon to learn about different art pieces.  (The directions say yellow or red pin but every time I see them I think of the balloons from You Can’t Take a Balloon into the Metropolitan Museum by Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman.) Learn about a sculpture, a new artist or a room by Frank Lloyd Wright.  Have you seen the “Celestial Globe with Clock Work” from 1579?
  • Time Machine: Push the red “push” button to explore different time periods all around the world.  “Program your destination to explore worlds of art.”  From 8000-2000 BC to 1900-present, get in the time machine and discover, learn and create.  Listen to an art curator talk about the selected piece or discover a “fun fact.”   The time machine is filled with ideas and questions for children to think about.
  • Video: The videos are separated into four different sections-Create, Made by Kids, Q&A and Celebrate.  Watch an original animation film about Degas’ dancer in “Made by Kids” and go behind the scenes in the animation lab.  “Jumping into the Met” is filled with great ideas-connecting famous paintings with stories and film.  Click on the “Create” section and follow step by step instructions to learn how to make scratch art, symmetrical prints, collage and more.

What amazing art resources! For more art websites, check out the ALSC Great Websites for Kids-The Arts

Please share your favorite museum website in the comments below.

For a selection of fun art books to use in your next museum program, explore my art shelf on shelfari.

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.  




The post Create a Kids Art Program with Inspiration from Museum Websites appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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We know this. We have been working with schools for decades and our summer reading programs are an integral part of our service to customers. With the advancement of research in summer slide, and libraries role in reserving the adverse effects of summer slide, we have new colleagues at our table. One of our most stalwart and enlightened partners are the folks at the National Summer Learning Association.  This year their annual conference is in my home town!! The speakers promise to be informative and inspiring. Join us and find new partnerships at every turn.

Our colleges at Urban Libraries Council ULC, partnered with the National Summer Learning Association, to collect a significant amount of information about the many innovative and meaningful ways in which public libraries are providing summer learning opportunities for youth and their families; contributing to closing the achievement gap and mitigating the summer learning slide. Both partners would also like to thank the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) who made this work possible.

Read more about these great summer learning programs at libraries across the country.

ULC will be highlighting the innovative summer learning programming developed by public libraries during NSLA’s Summer Changes Everything National Conference held October 12-14, 2015, in Baltimore. ULC will be hosting Schools + Libraries = Power to Leverage Summer Learning, a working session demonstrating how libraries and schools can leverage resources and develop partnerships to support summer learning initiatives. ULC members Chicago Public Library and Virginia Beach Public Library will also host sessions highlighting their programs. Click here to learn more about the Summer Changes Everything library programming and ULC’s special registration discount!

The post LIBRARIES ARE IN THE LEARNING BUSINESS!! appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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9. An Encore Career – A Children’s Author

I am a children’s author! Sometimes I have to pinch myself when I hear those words! I’ve enjoyed writing for as long as I can remember and can’t believe I have two children’s books published and a third written. Recently, I came upon some stories I wrote as a teenager. I think I’ve improved since then but that shows my journey has been a long one. For years, I focused on being a mother, wife, and daughter coupled with a demanding career. While my dream of becoming a children’s author was put on the back burner, the desire never wavered.

Telling StoriesSince retiring, my life is very different. Because I have been able to dedicate my time to writing and presenting my books to children’s groups, an encore career has taken shape. My professional wardrobe has definitely changed from business suits to jeans and sneakers. The stress of the long days and sometimes boring meetings are a distant memory. Although it took a little time to transition from the workforce to retiree, I think that I’ve found my niche. I love doing what I do. Recently, while reading aloud from my book to a group of children, I read that one of the characters had kissed the dog on his nose and a second grader got out of his seat and loudly announced, “I kissed my dog on the nose, too!” His spontaneity made my day! During a June visit to an elementary school, a third grader came up to me and told me that she could bark like a dog. After demonstrating a realistic bark, I recruited her to bark during the story. It added fun to my visit. I feel like I have been given a tonic after spending time with children.

barkleyillustration3When I enter a classroom, assembly or a meeting room, I feel the energy from the attendees and it energizes me. I love talking about books and the importance of reading. I want all children to see themselves as writers. I try to conduct an interactive presentation whereby children feel comfortable to share information. My two published books have lessons embedded within the text, and I discuss those points during my visit. For example, Barkley’s Great Escape is based on a true story. Several summers ago, Barkley, my daughter’s Lab, almost drowned in a neighbor’s swimming pool due to an open gate. As an educator, I was aware that drowning is the number one cause of accidental deaths in young children. I felt an obligation to write the story. While I wanted the book to be fun, my desire was to send a message about water-safety to the reader. Both of my books include teaching strategies.

I love the solitude of working on a book with the plot unfolding in my mind. I spend hours working alone at my computer. By the time I have a finished product, I have developed an attachment to the characters in my story. While I don’t draw the illustrations, I have a picture in my mind for every page.

I write a blog on my website on a regular basis which is dedicated to children’s issues. There are days that I don’t write, but there are no days that I don’t read. I can’t imagine life without having a good book in my hand.

(All photos courtesy guest blogger)


WandaatLibraryOur guest blogger today is Wanda Wyont. After retiring from over twenty five years of teaching ages birth through adulthood, Wanda was excited to published her second children’s book.  Throughout her career,  she has worked to be a champion of the library and the services available to families and children.  Her website is http://www.wandawyont.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.

The post An Encore Career – A Children’s Author appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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10. Everyday Advocacy Challenge: Week 4 Reflections

The inaugural Everyday Advocacy Challenge (EAC) reached the halfway mark on September 22 with this Take Action Tuesday prompt:

Write or call your elected officials to talk about your work at the library.

In six words or less, here’s what a few of our cohort members had to say about their Week 4 experiences:

  • “Voicing political opinion demands attention.”
  • “From library lover to library advocate.”
  • “Calling or email probably more productive.”
  • “This one just crushed me.”
  • “Afraid to start. Managed to complete.”
  • “Scary! Not a skill I’ve used!”

For Brittany Staszak, the EAC Week 4 challenge was a great opportunity to do her homework on the best ways to appeal to her representatives.

For Mira Tanna, the EAC Week 4 challenge helped her champion the critical roles of both school libraries and state-certified school library media specialists.

Brittany writes:

I decided to contact the state and national legislatures that represented both the district I work in and the district I live in via telephone, where I knew I would most likely be leaving a voicemail. After briefly researching the leanings of my representatives and having no specific piece of legislation I intended to lobby for (or against), I decided it was time get some hard facts and concrete numbers about libraries.

I quickly discovered that ALA has a handy “Quotable Facts about America’s Libraries” PDF. Utilizing the annotated version, as well as the Pew Research Center’s “10 Facts about Americans and Public Libraries,” I tailored a few quick and persuasive statements for each representative, hoping to demonstrate the importance of libraries in America, the importance of libraries to voters, and the huge toll legislation can take on the livelihood of America’s academic, school, and public libraries.

The talking points I found most useful were the following:

  • A 2012 poll conducted for the American Library Association found that 94% respondents agreed that public libraries play an important role in giving everyone a chance to succeed because they provide free access to materials and resources. —ALA
  • 90% of Americans say the closing of their local public library would impact their community and 67% said it would affect them and their families. —Pew
  • More than 92% of public libraries provide services for job seekers. —ALA
  • Research shows the highest achieving students attend schools with well-staffed and well-funded library media centers.  —ALA
  • 85% of Americans say libraries “should definitely” coordinate more closely with local schools. And 82% believe libraries should provide free literacy programs to young children, which may include traditional reading, writing and comprehension as well as technology and new media literacies. —Pew
  • Americans go to school, public and academic libraries more than three times more often than they go to the movies. —ALA

Mira writes:

As a new member of ALSC, I decided to join the Everyday Advocacy Challenge as a way to get my feet wet and get to know other ALSC members across the country. Our Week 4 challenge was to contact our elected officials about the work we do.

Conveniently, I had received an e-mail several days prior from YALSA (lucky that I joined YALSA, too!) about the need to take action to ensure that the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) includes provisions to fund school libraries.

ESEA is a big deal.  When the law was last authorized in 2001, No Child Left Behind (as it was called) made sweeping changes in education policy, the reverberations which have been felt not only on schools but on families, neighborhoods, and communities. School libraries were impacted as well.

I learned from ALA’s advocacy information that 8,830 public schools across the country do not have a school library, and that 17,000 schools don’t have a full- or part-time state-certified school librarian.

Luckily, the U.S. Senate passed the Reed-Chochran Amendment, which explicitly makes effective school library programs part of ESEA. I wrote my U.S. Representative, Corrine Brown, and my two U.S. Senators, Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, to urge them to support the Senate’s Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177), which reauthorizes ESEA and includes provisions for effective school library programs.

Although I work in a public library, I felt that this call to action was important both as a library assistant manager and as a parent. In our large library system, we work closely with the public school system to ensure that students have library cards, to inform families about the resources we offer to children and families, to improve literacy and pre-literacy skills, and to publicize our programs. Our main point of entry into individual schools is through the media specialist. We rely on media specialists to get the word out about the public library. Families also rely on media specialists to inform them about our resources.

As a parent, I also feel strongly that school libraries and effective media specialists are important to my children’s success. Having a quality school library or media center improves students’ love of literature, their digital literacy, and their academic success. My children have benefited by reading books as part of our state’s Sunshine State Young Reader Awards (SSYRA) with their classmates and by participating in televised morning announcements run by their media specialist.

I hope that others will answer the call to action, whether you are directly impacted by the funding of school libraries or—like me—simply understand how crucial these institutions are to our families, schools and communities.

Brittany Staszak is a librarian and supervisor; Mira Tanna is a new ALSC member. Both are participants in the inaugural Everyday Advocacy Challenge cohort, an 18-member volunteer group convening from September 1-October 20, 2015.

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11. Middle Grade and Young Adult: Another Author Interview

Back in November, I did an interview with two authors who have written both middle grade and youth adult books. It was fascinating to see their different and similar experiences in writing for two audiences.  Today, I’m interviewing Corey Ann Haydu, the YA writer of three books. Her first first middle-grade novel, Rules for Stealing Stars, is in stores today!

OCD Love Story (2013), Young Adult
Life by Committee (2014), Young Adult
Making Pretty (2015), Young Adult
Rules for Stealing Stars (2015), Middle Grade

ALLY: Are you in a different mindset when writing MG and YA? How do you think differently about your audience?

Corey: I’ve found there’s a bit of a mysterious, lovely thing that happens in my brain when I’m writing MG. It opens up a new little pocket of imagination for me that has its own life and really took me by surprise. It’s reflexive– writing MG loosens up my mind a little bit. I think it freed up my writing and gave me access to a whole new set of stories and worlds. It was a total surprise– like a path I stumbled upon in the woods.

I always write topics that are more difficult– a little scary and challenging and uncomfortable– but in MG I think my awareness of my audience has to do with my desire to have hope play a role.  I want to write honestly for young readers, but I also want to encourage whatever brightness is growing in them. I think there’s room for both. Mostly, I want my audience to feel feelings, whatever they are. And I want them to grasp that inner spirit can be more powerful than outer troubles.

ALLY: Do you think you will continue to write both YA and MG? What’s next up?

Corey: I’ll absolutely continue to write both. At the moment I’m working on a new YA project AND a new MG project, so I’m really working both muscles in tandem at the moment. It’s really liberating. I’m interested in challenging myself, and I’m a big believer in the power of getting out of my comfort zone. So readers can expect me to continue to push my own boundaries as a writer– as well as theirs as a reader, hopefully.   

ALLY: You started in publishing with YA. What was it like to make the transition to MG, both in your writing, and in terms of the way your book was received by the kidlit community? Does it feel very different?

Corey: Like I said, in terms of writing, I found transitioning to MG to be exactly what I needed– it freed me up, it got me out of my head, it let me explore new feelings, stories, textures, and sides of myself. It was sort of like falling in love with writing all over again.

In terms of the response from the kidlit community, I think I’ve gotten support across the board from the kidlit community for all my books, but it’s been wonderful to get support as I shift gears a little this fall. On a personal level, playing around with genres and age ranges lets me breathe a little, and that helps me be a better member of the community as well. But most of all I am thrilled I’m getting a chance to visit schools, talk to kids, and connect with a new readership. I think there’s something really special about younger readers– for me, 4th, 5th, 6th grades were when I really discovered the total joy of books. In that way, writing MG is unique, because I’m writing with the distinct memory of the books that shaped my life as a reader and a person — The Giver, Mandy, The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles, A Little Princess, Bridge to Terabithia, Tuck Everlasting, Sideways Stories from Wayside School. It adds sort of this magical thrill to the whole process, because I forget a lot of books I’ve read over my long career as a writer, but I never ever forget the books I loved when I was ten.

ALLY: Your first MG is out today! Can you give us a quick synopsis?

Corey: Rules for Stealing Stars is the story of four sisters who are trying to cope as their mother struggles with addiction and their family loses its balance. When Silly, the youngest sister, discovers her sister’s magical escape, a new world opens up to her. It seems like the solution to their problems– when things are difficult at home they can hide away in a world of magic. But even the fantastical world scares Silly and her sisters, and the magic they hope is fixing their broken parts might not be everything it seemed, or everything they need.


Corey’s middle-grade novel, Rules for Stealing Stars, is out today!


You can find her on twitter at @CoreyAnnHaydu!


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

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12. Whales Ahoy: Nautical Books to Gift and Share

Gifting board books and picture books at baby showers is a wonderful way to start a new child’s home library, especially if this is a first baby for the family. Including classics in your selection is always a good idea, such as any Dr. Seuss or Eric Carle title, but why not gift some books that align with the chosen nursery theme? Parents can then display titles cover out on shelving and suddenly those books also double as wall art.

As it appears to be baby shower season in my corner of Ohio, I’ve noticed a theme recently when perusing registries for gifts. What is that theme? (Hint: It is also the title of this post!) Nautical nurseries are apparently all the rage this year judging by the number of adorable whale onesies and anchor-printed crib sheets I’ve come across. Inspired by these ocean themes, I began to think about great nautical picture books to share. Books depicting adventures on the high seas, beautiful marine creatures, and coastal settings all came to mind.

I’ve put together some spectacular books for little readers that I personally think would make wonderful additions to a nautical nursery library, and will be sure to please readers for many years after they are out of diapers. You’ll find many books depicting whales below, mostly because I’m partial to whales when it comes to my favorite sea creatures, and there are so many sweet whale-centric picture books!

  • If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano; Illustrated by Erin E. Stead. Roaring Brook Press. 2013. This beautiful book combines two of my favorite talents in the children’s publishing world while sharing a quiet story of patience. Readers will learn what to do, and what not to do, when attempting to catch a glimpse of a whale.
  • Breathe by Scott Magoon; Simon & Schuster. 2014. A great read-aloud choice with bright, fun illustrations depicting an adorable whale as he experiences his first day out in the sea alone.
  • The Blue Whale by Jenni Desmond; Enchanted Lion Books. 2015. Another book filled with majestic illustrations, this nonfiction picture book would be great to gift as it is sure to be a sharable favorite full of interesting facts for readers up through elementary school.
  • Storm Whale by Benji Davies; Henry Holt and Co. 2014. A lovely story about a lonely boy, his father, and the discovery of a beached baby whale.
  • Following Papa’s Song by Gianna Marino; Viking Books for Young Readers. 2014. Little Blue and his Papa, two humpback whales, journey to their summer feeding ground together. Parents will especially enjoying sharing this special story of following and trusting Papa’s wisdom.
  • The Rainbow Fish Marcus Pfister; North South Books, 1999. A modern picture book classic about friendship that is  also available in board book format and perfect for little hands and eyes.

I was surprised by how many awesome titles fit into this theme once I started to compile my list. Clearly, I’ve left off plenty of titles as one could easily compile a nautical nursery library entirely of pirate stories, which I tried to avoid. What are some of your favorite sea-worthy titles for young readers? Do you have a special go-to book that you always give at baby showers? I’d love to hear your responses in the comments below!


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

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

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

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13. eBooks on the Decline? News On the Digital Shift

The eBook discussion was in full force this week as the New York Times wrote about declining eBook sales in the beginning of 2015. Also a surprise to digital book lovers was the announcement that Oyster was shutting down. The “Netflix for Books,” company is providing refunds for its customers, and CEO and co-founders are heading to Google Play.

The news allowed many librarians to breath a sigh of relief, and many within the industry felt that it was far from shocking. Libraries across the country have poured money into their digital materials, growing those materials to provide for an increase in patrons who prefer eReaders. Vendors like Overdrive have also focused on making the discovery and check-outs of eBooks easier for kids with the eReading Room. Is that truly enough to guide young readers into reading solely on a device? The New York Times piece discusses observations by some booksellers on what they call the, “reverse migration to print.”

Where do we go from here?

In other reports, libraries seem to be a big success story for the eBook market in 2015. New challenges include price models which seem to be a barrier for many organizations. Plus, if there is going to be a massive return to print, what should budget priorities be for libraries? Hoopla has been one of the major successes in our Library, particularly with comics and family films. As 2015 rounds out we will be paying close attention to our digital circulations, especially since providing the eReading room for kids and teens.

Whether eReaders are on their way out, or if tablets and smartphones continue to dominate, it appears as if the mighty book is here to stay!

What trends are you seeing in your library’s digital collections?

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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14. Registration Open for the 2016 ALSC National Institute

2016 ALSC National Institute

Registration is now open for the 2016 Institute (image courtesy of ALSC)

ALSC announced that registration for the 2016 ALSC National Institute has opened. The conference, themed “Believe. Build. Become.,” will be held Sept. 15-17, 2016 in Charlotte, N.C.

Prospective attendees will enjoy significant savings when they register before June 30, 2016. Included in the cost of registration are all programs and speaker events, networking opportunities, three meals and multiple Big Ideas Sessions featuring TED Talks-like presentations from partner organizations. A full list of registration rates and prices is available from the ALSC website. Housing will be located at the Charlotte Marriott City Center. Speakers and programs will be announced soon.

The National Institute is the premier event for programs and ideas related to children’s library service. This intensive learning opportunity with a youth services focus is designed for front-line youth library staff, children’s literature experts, education and library school faculty members, and other interested adults. It is one of the only conferences devoted solely to children’s librarianship, literature and technology and takes place every two years.

“The 2016 ALSC National Institute Planning Task Force has been hard at work putting together a great lineup of programs and speakers,” said Emily Nanney, chair of the task force. “We’re very excited to welcome attendees to Charlotte and show them all the wonderful things we have to see and do.”

For more information and registration details for the 2016 ALSC National Institute please visit: http://www.ala.org/alsc/institute

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15. Summer Reading > Numbers

Summer is over. But before I get out my cute new booties and pumpkin flavored everything, it’s time to reflect on what an awesome summer it was in the library.

The easiest way to evaluate the success of an initiative is through numbers and stats and pie charts, etc. While these are effective (and necessary) it’s not always the best way to boost staff morale or provide inspiration.

Our last Quarterly Youth Services Meeting was focused on the end of Summer Reading  and the beginning of back to school. I was supposed to share Summer Reading results but, honesty, the last thing I wanted to do was rattle off numbers to everyone. So I did something… very serious.

Throughout the entire summer, staff had been sending in amazing pictures of displays and programs that really only the people in my office were seeing. I wanted to share them with everyone as well as lighten the mood of the end of Summer Reading. The result? Our First Annual Summer Reading Awards! Here are some of our winners:

Clason's Point Library, Bronx

Clason’s Point Library, Bronx

Best Use of Ceiling  – The Clason’s Point Library is known for going all out on decorating. You know that one house during the holidays where everyone stops to take pictures? That’s Clason’s Point. They turned their ceiling into Spiderman’s web. The whole library was covered- even some of the circulation desk!

Hudson Park Library, Manhattan

Hudson Park Library, Manhattan


Best Use of Action Figure – In the Village lives a library that comes up with the craziest ideas… and then actually finds a way to do them! For their Summer Reading Kickoff Block Party, the Hudson Park Library wanted a superhero action figure to deliver a bookmark to a recently sign-up kid by flying down from the library into the street. Yes, it really happened and yes it really worked (evidence in photo). Leave it to librarians to make anything work with a little bit of twine.


Tottenville Library, Staten Island

Tottenville Library, Staten Island


Best Representation of Staff – If you take the ferry to Staten Island and a train all the way to the end, you not only find a gorgeous Carnegie building but one of the best staff artists in the city. The Tottenville Library turned all of their staff members into superheroes- literally! This photo shows a huge display by their circulation desk with every staff member turned into a 3-D superhero. If you don’t want to be a part of summer Reading after looking at this then I don’t know what will.

Other awards included:

Best Eye-Pleasing Incentive Packet

Best Use of Bulletin Board

Best Staff Uniform

Every winner got a certificate and a round of woo’s and applause fro their peers. A pretty good way to wrap up Summer Reading if I do say so myself.

Anna Taylor is the Coordinator of Youth Educational Programming at the the New York Public Library. She is a member of the ALSC School Age Services and Program Committee and serves on NYPL’s 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing. You may write her at annataylor@nypl.org and check out some sweet monthly staff picks at NYPL.org

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16. Happy Birthday, ALSC Blog!

ALSC Blogger Theresa Walls

First ALSC Blog manager, Teresa Walls

Eight years ago, under the able leadership of our first Blog Manager, Teresa Walls, the ALSC Blog was born. Since then we have worked to fulfill our mission “to provide a venue for coverage of time sensitive news in children’s librarianship, current issues in the field, and programs, conferences, initiatives, resources, and activities of interest to ALSC members and those interested in children’s librarianship.” In 2010, when Teresa decided to devote more time to her family, I was honored to take over as the ALSC Blog Manager.

As I write this, I find it hard to decide which of many amazing numbers related to the Blog I should share…

Since our first post in 2007, we have had:

  • nearly 3100 posts; in the last 12 months, we have had 533 posts. That’s an average of almost 1 1/2 posts per day!
  • 398 Guest Bloggers
  • live bloggers at ALA Conferences, ALSC Institutes, and PLA
  • thousands of comments

We only started keeping analytics stats in December 2010. Since that time, we have had:

  • 1,385,679 page views
  • 572,956 unique users

The top ten posts of all time on our blog are:

  1. The Three Little Pigs and the Preschool Science
  2. Body Science for Preschoolers: Using our brains to learn about our bodies
  3. Where to Download Classic Children’s Books for Free
  4. Color Science: A STEM Program for Preschoolers
  5. Beyond Legos: Coding for Kids
  6. Best Multicultural Books of 2014
  7. It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane… It’s a Superhero Training Academy
  8. STEM Takes Flight: Airplane Science
  9. Unusual Storytime Themes
  10. Sensory Storytime: A (brief) How-To Guide

Many, many of our posts elicited comments. The posts receiving the most comments were:

  1. A Great Loss in ALSC (115 comments)
  2. Pick Me! Pick Me! (53 comments)
  3. The Three Little Pigs and the Preschool Science (52 comments)
  4. Anti-Gay Books and Your Library (44 comments)
  5. Using Evernote for a Storytime Archive (29 comments)

The success of the ALSC Blog would not be possible without our ALSC Bloggers, children’s librarians from around North America who write intriguing and interesting  posts each month; to them I offer a heartfelt “Thank You!”

I truly value working with the ALSC Blog and am looking forward to seeing it celebrate many more anniversaries.  I’d love to know what you value about this Blog. How has it impacted your professional life? What issues would you love the ALSC Blog to cover? Let us know in the comments below.

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17. To holiday or not to holiday + Caption Contest



Original comic by Lisa Nowlain

So! This debate seems to be a great button-pusher in the Children’s Librarian world. Here’s my two cents – and I do want to locate my comic in my identity as an agnostic/white lady librarian. The comments and points were pulled from the following blogs, and were summaries and paraphrases:



This month’s Caption Contest (I promise it will be monthly! The summer break is over, officially – I’m even wearing a sweater today!) Write your caption ideas in the comments.


The winner of last post’s Caption Contest was Carrie Hummel! See the final comic below!


Lisa Nowlain is the Harold W. McGraw Jr. Fellow and Children’s Librarian at Darien Library in Darien, CT. She is also an artist-type (see more at www.lisanowlain.com).

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18. Gimme a C (for Collaboration!): Collaborative Book Talks

As a public librarian, I’ve found that book talks for state-wide award list titles are a great opportunity to collaborate with school librarians, teachers, and staff at the beginning of each school year. Teaming up to promote the lists aligns with ALSC’s core competencies by collaborating with other agencies serving children (6.4) and the programming guidelines established from YALSA’s Future of Library Services report by engaging teens via outreach to schools (3.2) and developing rich, mutually beneficial partnerships between public libraries and schools (5.0).

Many states sponsor young readers’ choice awards that provide many benefits to young readers, such as the opportunity to discover and read books that they will enjoy. The lists typically include a diverse selection of genres and voices. Deciding on titles to vote for presents opportunities for open discussion among students, library staff, and teachers.

Students in Illinois are served from kindergarten through twelfth grade by four different awards, all sponsored by the Illinois School Library Media Association. As a teen librarian, I read and book talk the nominees for the Rebecca Caudill Book Award at two different middle schools. This list includes 20 titles, so sharing the book talking load with other librarians saves my time and voice. At one school we split the list 50/50 (top half/bottom half), while at the other we just agree to read as many as we can.

Book talking together helps us to learn book talking techniques from each other. I openly admit to memorizing the best, most interesting bits from other peoples’ book talks to use whenever I am book talking on my own. The diversity of the Caudill list means there are always a few titles that I love, and a few that just don’t appeal to me. I can’t fake enthusiasm for a book, but another person’s enthusiasm – whether it comes from listening to their book talk or talking with them between talks about what they like about the book – is often contagious. At the very least, I can truthfully tell students that I know another great reader who loved the book.

Finally, collaborative book talking is a fantastic opportunity to introduce students to staff from both school and public libraries, while supporting and promoting each other’s library collections. If a title is checked out at one library, then we can invite students seek it at the other.

Since we are always pressed for time, here are some time-saving techniques:

  1. Arrange the books so that the students can see the covers, and let them choose what titles get talked.
  2. Have a 30-second “elevator pitch” prepared for each book, so that you can cram any that aren’t picked into the last few minutes of your talk.
  3. Ask the class whether they’ve read popular books on the list like Hunger Games or Cinder. If they have, then skip those and segue into a similar title: “If you liked that one, then you may like this one…”

Donna Block is a teen librarian at Niles (Ill.) Public Library District and a member of the AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee on School-Public Library Cooperation.

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19. Interview with Author Julie K. Rubini

In her latest work for young readers, Missing Millie Benson, author Julie K. Rubini discusses the influence of Nancy Drew’s most prolific author. Rubini also describes her family’s efforts to celebrate children’s books through Claire’s Day, in honor of Rubini’s late daughter. Recently, Ohio University Press sent a free Advance Review Copy of Missing Millie Benson to me in preparation for this blog interview.     

Author Julie K. Rubini (Image provided by author Julie K. Rubini)

Author Julie K. Rubini (Image provided by author Julie K. Rubini)

  1.  Please share about your background as a writer of children’s books.  How have public libraries and reading impacted your professional and personal life?

I have loved both reading and writing since I was a child. As I lived out in the country, the Lucas County Public Library’s bookmobile was my gateway to worlds beyond my backyard. I would fill my bike’s basket up from the mobile collection every week. Reading encouraged my writing in a variety of forms, from essays, to short stories, newsletters, and eventually children’s books. Public libraries have always provided answers for me. Whether for personal enrichment and growth, for research, for a story, or for countless books shared and enjoyed with my children over the years, libraries offer guidance, entertainment and sanctuary.

  1. What makes Nancy Drew so appealing to this day?  Why were you interested in capturing the life of Millie Benson, who wrote twenty-three of the first thirty books in this series?

Nancy Drew is independent, smart, and relies upon her own instincts to solve mysteries and to get out of challenging situations. I would like to think that we all aspire to be as such. I know I do. I was blessed to enjoy much of the freedom that Nancy experienced as a child. Sans the roadster! I’ve always admired Millie from a distance, and saddened that I never took the initiative to meet her. I loved her stories in The Blade, and tales I would hear from others about her. Writing and sharing her story offers readers, who, like me, never had the chance to meet her, come to appreciate Millie’s own independence and indomitable spirit.

  1.  How did libraries shape your research process as you prepared to write this book?  What was the greatest challenge in finding your information?

I had great assistance from the Toledo Lucas County Public Library, both staff at Main Library, as well as the Maumee Branch. I have the advantage of knowing our awesome library staff through my work with Claire’s Day, the children’s book festival we established fifteen years ago in honor of my late daughter. However, even if I did not have that relationship, I’ve never met a librarian who isn’t happy to assist in a research quest! This was the case with the New York Public Library, where I had the opportunity to spend time in the Stratemeyer Syndicate records in the Archives and Manuscripts division. I literally pinched myself while I was there! I had this incredible feeling while researching, that I was doing exactly what I was meant to do as a writer. I am naturally resourceful (and I don’t mean to sound arrogant in the least bit!) and determined. The greatest challenge, if one would call it that, was how to access information. Source notes from previously published works related to Nancy Drew were very helpful, as was staff both in Ohio and NYC to bring the pieces of the mystery in researching Millie’s life together.

  1.  What fun facts do you recommend children’s librarians share with young readers when they highlight this book in their collections? 

Great question!  I will offer them in chronological order:

Millie had her first story published when she was fourteen years old.

She was the first person to obtain a Master degree in Journalism from the University of Iowa.

Millie wrote twenty-three of the first thirty Nancy Drew Mystery Stories.

Her writing career included penning one hundred and thirty five children’s books, and serving as a newspaper journalist for fifty-eight years.

Millie loved aviation and obtained her private pilot’s license when she was sixty-two years old!

She applied for the Journalist in Space Program when she was eighty-one!

(Image provided by Ohio University Press)

(Image provided by Ohio University Press)

5.       Within Missing Millie Benson, “Did You Know?” sections add additional context to chapters.  “Extra Clues” includes even further information regarding Millie and this rich time period.  Why is it important to include this level of documentation in a work for younger readers?

The special sections included within Millie’s story hold true for each of the books in the Ohio University Press Biographies for Young Readers series. I am grateful that these sections are included within the text. I believe that readers will enjoy learning a little more in-depth information about Millie’s life. Perhaps all of the information contained within will spark interest in readers to learn even more about dime novels, Nancy Drew, the Gallup Poll and famous aviatrixes! I know when I read a book, content often encourages as such. After enjoying the novel, Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, I researched books on real American women involved in the French resistance. That’s just how my brain works.

6.       Please share more about Claire’s Day, the children’s book festival you and your husband founded in honor of your late daughter.  Why did you choose to highlight children’s books and what has been your proudest moment as this festival has progressed?

Claire was just ten years old when she died in 2000. She loved to dance, sing, play with friends, organize games with her younger sister and brother, swim and tell stories. Above all else though, she loved to read. She would often be late for dinner, as she had “just one more page to read” and tried to use reading as an excuse to get out of chores. Sometimes it worked. We felt compelled to remember her in a way that was true to her, and our thoughts always came back to books and reading. Six months after she died, while on a flight to a family wedding, I found an issue of Time in my seat pocket. I discovered an article about then First Lady Laura Bush (I’ve always been a fan!) and the Texas Book Festival. I loved that the festival featured Texas born authors and benefitted Texas libraries. I turned to my husband sitting across the aisle, and with tears in my eyes, I told him that I had discovered what we were going to create in Claire’s honor. Claire’s Day was born.

Proud C.A.R.E. Award Family with Brad Rubini, Claire's dad (Image provided by Patricia Ball of River Rd Studio)

Proud C.A.R.E. Award Family with Brad Rubini, Claire’s dad (Image provided by Patricia Ball of River Rd Studio)

As Claire was a child, it was apparent we should focus on children’s book authors and illustrators. Initially we featured picture book writers and artists, and eventually expanded to include middle-grade and young adult. We are both proud that the organization merged with Read for Literacy this past year, which allows me to pursue writing opportunities and revisit several partially completed manuscripts. The merger will also support our continued growth established over our fifteen year history. Claire’s Day isn’t just a day any longer!  We support a week of literary experiences, including school visits by our participating authors, and Claire’s Night, a fundraising reception for adults the evening prior to the book festival. Most significantly, a highlight of the day is the C.A.R.E. Awards (Claire’s Awards for Reading Excellence) given to children nominated as being most improved readers in their schools. Each nominated child receives a certificate as well as a coupon to choose a book from the selection Barnes & Noble makes available by our guest authors and illustrators. In 2002 we gave 25 C.A.R.E. Awards. This past year we recognized 800 children!

7.       In your author’s note, you share that you invited Millie Benson to attend Claire’s Day. Please share more about your connection to this author.

I wrote to Millie, inviting her to attend our first Claire’s Day. She responded with a phone call. I was not at home when she left her message, but I recall her sweet, feeble voice on my answering machine offering her condolences, her admiration for what we were doing in Claire’s honor, her wishes for great success. She was in poor health and did not make any public appearances any longer, however, so would not able to join us. Millie died just ten days after our first Claire’s Day. As I learned more about Millie, I found myself identifying with her carefree childhood filled with reading, and her desire to write from a young age. I could relate to her pain through her losses, and her way of dealing with it all…by doing.

  1.  Why is it important that children’s books are celebrated in this way?  How can public libraries ensure children’s books receive the recognition they deserve?

Children’s books and their creators should be celebrated, and I believe our avenue in doing so offers many learning opportunities to children, as well as adults. I’ve learned that children’s book authors and illustrators are just people too, incredibly talented mind you, but much like you and me. Successful children’s book authors and illustrators are as such because they dedicate every day to their craft. Writing and illustrating children’s books takes time, talent, and resources. Anything a library can do to support authors and artists, whether by featuring them in programs, or highlighting their books is always appreciated.

  1.  Why did you decide to partner with your public library on Claire’s Day?  What guidance can you provide children’s librarians who may wish to recognize families who have lost a child?

We visited our Maumee library branch at least weekly when our children were young. I remember making a rule that each of our three children could borrow as many books as they could carry! We read to them every night before bed, and I would read with them during the day. As they each became independent readers, they read on their own quite a bit. It was only natural to consider the library as the setting for Claire’s Day. The library building is beautiful, the grounds are large and lovely, and the staff incredible. It was and is our library. Every year Claire’s Day has given $2500.00 to the library system, earmarked for books written or illustrated by our upcoming authors and illustrators. This way educators and families have access to the books prior to the festival. Every book purchased by the system through this grant notes that it is a part of the collection as a result of Claire’s Day, in honor of Claire. Purchasing books for the system in honor of a child gone too soon is a lovely sentiment for a family. Or, recognizing children who have worked so hard in improving their reading skills by giving them a book in honor of the child is pretty impactful too.

  1.  What advice would you have for children’s librarians interested in beginning their own community celebrations highlighting children’s books?  What do you wish you knew when you began your work on Claire’s Day, almost 15 years ago?
Members of the Rubini family participate in one of the earliest Claire's Days (Image provided by Patricia Ball of River Rd Studio)

Members of the Rubini family participate in one of the earliest Claire’s Days (Image provided by Patricia Ball of River Rd Studio)

Wow, great question. As Brad and I formed the organization and then approached the library, I’m not quite certain how to answer that. I will offer that without the assistance of our volunteer committee members, we would never have turned the page from concept to reality. I would look to community volunteers who are passionate about supporting the library and reach out to them to assist in organizing a community celebration. We have many organizational documents created throughout the years, including a task list should any libraries be interested!

It would be our hope that perhaps Claire’s Day, or even the C.A.R.E. Awards could be established in other libraries around the country. It could be fairly easy to do. Start small! Invite a children’s book author/illustrator to present a program and sign books following! What I didn’t know then was what an incredible impact we would have on children and families in the community. I’m humbled by the support of the community, and the recognition in various forms for our efforts. I’m not certain I would have wished for anything other than what I have received through this process. Deeper bonds with my family and friends, new friends who lent their time and talents to the cause, and ultimately connections with established children’s book authors and illustrators have helped guide me on my path as a published children’s book author.  Claire would be amazed and proud.

Thank you for sharing your writing process for Missing Millie Benson, your connection to public libraries, and your inspiration regarding Claire’s Day!


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20. Important Resource

I consider myself a bit of an old hand at blogging.  While I may not be as on it as some of my peers when it comes to frequency of posting and such, I have been at this since 2005.  I have seen many blogs come and go, and I have seen many trends come and go.  But for the first time in a while, I got excited about a blog because of its message and its timely nature.

The blog I am excited for is Reading While White : Allies for Racial Diversity & Inclusion in Books for Children & Teens.  I have high hopes for the conversations this blog will be starting.  It is clear from initiatives like #weneeddiversebooks , and the #blacklivesmatter movement as well as the political climate, that discussions of race are on the forefront and are necessary.  The mission of Reading While White states in part-

“We are White librarians organizing to confront racism in the field of children’s and young adult literature.  We are allies in the ongoing struggle for authenticity and visibility in books; for opportunities for people of color and First/Native Nations people in all aspects of the children’s and young adult book world; and for accountability among publishers, book creators, reviewers, librarians, teachers, and others.  We are learning, and hold ourselves responsible for understanding how our whiteness impacts our perspectives and our behavior.”

I like that the creators state that their mission is a work in progress, and is apt to change.  I like that the creators are naming their own privilege, holding themselves accountable and are are leaning in and being action oriented.  I am excited about this resource because as a white educator and a mother of two white daughters I feel a strong need to be a part of this narrative.

My own school is embarking on bringing conversations about race to the surface in a very intentional way.  Our history and legacy is one of social justice, and it is increasingly apparent that everyone needs to be aware and action oriented on this front. Our Director’s expectation is that every member of our community — students, faculty, staff, administration and board members, along with parents and caregivers, will be having active discussions about race/ethnicity, racism and privilege. He states, “Until those of us who identify as ‘white’ can acknowledge and examine the privilege that comes with our race, race will divide us.” I am expecting to refer teachers and parents alike to this blog as a resource, a conversation starter and a source of different viewpoints.

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21. Are You Ready for Banned Books Week?

Alarm Clock and BooksBanned Books Week, a celebration of our freedom to read, takes place September 27- October 3.  Many libraries and book sellers will be offering activities, displays and events to remind us of the importance of everyone’s right to access materials and information.  As many books are challenged on the basis of protecting children, it is particularly important that those of us who serve young people be involved in whatever is being planned for Banned Books Week in our libraries.

What is happening in your library?

  • A read-aloud of banned/challenged books – Make sure that titles for young people are included, from In the Night Kitchen to Captain Underpants and a certain young wizard who created an international reading craze.
  • Displays – Create one in the children’s and teen areas (teen books are especially fertile ground for challenges), or include copies of books for young people if your library is creating one, all-purpose display.
  • An article in your library newsletter – If your library offers a newsletter for the public and is including an article on Banned Books Week with a list of frequently challenged books, include some younger titles.  Our library article included some challenged titles that might surprise readers; Charlotte’s Web and The Wizard of Oz among others.  
  • Radio and television – What about contacting a station about participating in a talk show?  Two of our children’s librarians are joining a local radio show to talk about the obvious and frequently challenged items as well as some of the more surprising titles.  
  • Speakers – If your library is hosting a speaker to talk about intellectual freedom and Banned Books Week, go ahead and ask if she/he is including information regarding challenges related to books for young readers.  Have a list ready to share!
  • A match-up game – On a bulletin board, sheet of paper or bookmark, list titles, plus reasons for challenges and see if people can put the right ones together.  Some will be obvious, others not so obvious.  

These are only a few ideas and I know that there are many more out there.  Please share yours!  

I want to close this post with a question and a recommendation.    Have you gone to the ALA web site and viewed the Banned Books Week site and the site for the Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF)?  These sites are rich resources for anyone who works with young people as well as those who work with adults.  They track frequently challenged books, update us on relevant legislation and provide supportive information.  If you haven’t visited them yet, I encourage you to do so.  Finally, don’t forget that ALA has just released the new Intellectual Freedom Manual, Ninth Edition.  It is available in print and e-book formats.  

Let’s celebrate our freedom to read!


Toni Bernardi, San Francisco Public Library

Member, ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee

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22. Why You Should Read the Diversity Issue of Children and Libraries

Children & Libraries - Fall 2015

The fall 2015 edition of Children and Libraries is now available to ALSC members and subscribers [image courtesy of ALSC]

By now, the special issue of Children and Libraries (login required), focused on diversity, has arrived in many ALSC members’ and CAL subscribers’ mailboxes across the country. As the Guest Editor for this special issue, I have imagined multiple reactions readers might have to the issue – from the cover, to the articles by respected authors and experts on diversity in children’s literature and libraries, to the columns geared to address this timely and critical topic. I hope that readers are drawn in by the cover image of diversity as a concept to be found in literature, absorbed in the articles, and left pondering their own role in the diversity they represent in literature and libraries. This issue is absolutely filled with engaging content that wrestles with some of the most challenging questions of diversity facing librarians and those who share books with children.

The Idea for a Diversity Issue

The idea for this issue grew out of a brainstorming session during a virtual meeting of the Children and Libraries Editorial Advisory Committee, and it has been the focus of our work and conversations for almost two years since that time. The Committee suggested having a themed issue of the journal to focus on topics of current interest to members as a new way to focus the journal and use it as a vehicle to bring about critical conversations. ALSC has already been engaged in work related to diversity, including:

Inviting journal submissions exploring diversity in the literature we share and the programs we offer in our libraries seemed like a natural next step to complement and support these important activities.

Thank You to Our Contributors

One of the greatest strengths of this issue lies in the authors who contributed their voices to the conversation.

  • KT Horning compiled an invaluable timeline of diversity in children’s literature that will surely find its way into many university children’s literature classes.
  • Allie Jane Bruce invites us into a deeply personal look at what it means to be white and how that informs her own lens on the importance of diversity.
  • Africa Hands synthesizes contributions from the field, highlighting powerful programming related to diversity happening in libraries.
  • Sarah Park Dahlen and Lessa Kanani’opua Pelayo-Lozada revisit the amazing Day of Diversity at the 2015 Midwinter Meeting.
  • We were pleased to include an article on serving children with disabilities in library programming by Denise Adkins and Bobbie Bushman, as it was important to us to not only represent diversity as a matter of race, but also of differences in other forms.
  • Venerable authors of diverse children’s literature contribute their voices to the discussion in an article bringing together Janet Wong, Kadir Nelson, and Pat Mora’s views on diversity and the role it plays in their work.
  • Debbie Reese closes out the issue with her well-articulated and impassioned views of diversity in The Last Word.

This list only touches on the fantastic pieces included in the issue, and the author list, both lengthy and highly respectable, is itself a “yearbook” of sorts of the strong voices in our field who are talking about, writing about, and practicing diversity.

The Conversation Begins

It was a privilege to work with Sharon Verbeten, the Editor of Children and Libraries, throughout this entire process. Her wisdom, experience, and leadership brought the issue together in the integrated, meaningful way in which it is presented. Acting as Guest Editor gave me the opportunity to get to know so many wonderful, kind, and knowledgeable members of ALSC, and I am so grateful to have had this opportunity to spread the word about diversity in literature and libraries. I truly hope you enjoy this issue, share it widely, and use it to spark the discussions that must be had about the diversity in (and out) of our literature and our libraries.

Please read the issue and share your thoughts in the comments below!


Today’s guest blogger is Mary-Kate Sableski, Ph.D. Mary-Kate is an Assistant Professor in the School of Education and Health Sciences at the University of Dayton. She is also a member of the Children and Libraries Editorial Advisory Committee. 

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

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

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23. Getting Ahead with Head Start

Head Start and Early Head Start programs support the comprehensive development of children from birth to age 5, in centers, child care partner locations, and in their own homes.  In fact, did you know that Head Start just realized a milestone 50 year anniversary? This five minute video gives you a quick history of this important community organization.

You can find a Head Start agency in your community by looking at their site locator. Many libraries partner with Head Start sites by sending library staff to the center to conduct early learning story time sessions. Sometimes, a center might have a grant to provide transportation services, so that they can bus students directly to the library for story time or other play based sessions.

One way I like to partner with Head Start is to work with their county based administration office, where I can provide trainings and workshops to staff and teachers, often utilizing resources from ALSC and ALA. Every Child Ready to Read and Babies Need Words are two great examples of program offerings through ALSC that have direct benefit to early education staff members in Head Start centers.

I was recently asked to provide resources to teachers and other staff members at a three day staff training conference for our local Head Start sites. I shared some of my favorite early learning websites: along with examples of activities and books they could use in their classroom settings. Of course, with limited funding, Head Start classrooms love to receive book donations – so I made sure I brought two suitcases worth of new and gently used, like new books for every person attending the workshop to take two books back to use in their classrooms.

Diversity is also an important topic for sites, as many Head Start families come from a multitude of cultures and backgrounds. I shared a booklist that School Library Journal published in July 2015, on Diverse Books for 0-5 year olds, with them, as well as making sure that my give-away items included diverse books.

Overall, for a day outside of my building, I got to connect with over 60 staff members from twenty-three of our counties’ Head Start sites, and tell them about early learning programs and services that their community libraries offer, hopefully strengthening and building a solid connection between the public libraries and another early learning organization. Which organizations do you like to partner with in YOUR community?

Lisa G. Kropp works for the Suffolk Cooperative Library System as the youth services coordinator. She has written this post as a member of the ALSC National Organizations Serving Children and Youth Committee.

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24. Encouraging Families to Play Outside

During the summer, libraries are a destination for families to play, learn, and escape the heat, but what about those beautiful sunny days when no one wants to be inside? This summer at the Fayetteville Free Library (FFL) we offered a new early childhood program simply titled: Play Outside. Families with young children were invited to join us in our library’s green space for free play fun. Our library does not have its own playground; there are no jungle gyms or climbing equipment, just an open, grassy field lined with trees and bushes. With a few new toys and some repurposing of old ones, we were able to turn this empty space into a rich outdoor play environment for a few hours each month.

play outsideOur play outside program featured a sand table and a water table that we made by borrowing two large plastic storage bins. We grabbed some plastic ocean animal figurines that adorn our children’s non-fiction shelves and brought those outside with us to play with in our “ocean.” We also incorporated many large manipulative toys including beach balls, bucket stilts, hop-along balls, jumping sacks, hula hoops, and a parachute. We also created a large seating area with picnic blankets, board books, sidewalk chalk, and bubbles. While our supplies were simple, their uses were varied and complex. One young child gave the toy fish “baths” with a bucket, while another built a sand castle, pretending to be at the beach. Two children enlisted parents and peers to play parachute games, and the group worked together to keep the beach balls in the air. On the picnic blanket, a mother read to her baby, while her preschooler drew pictures with chalk, next to them. As families moved organically from one activity to another, they connected with other families. Parents chatted and shared information about upcoming community events and new friendships were forged among the children. As the facilitator of the program, I also had the chance to have on-on-one conversations with parents and kids alike, and received valuable feedback on library programs and services.

play outside 2One of the great things about a program like this is that it’s easily customizable as there are no requirements except an outdoor space. Our program centered on a multipurpose open space and manipulatives, but other ideas include: wheeled toys, music and movement props, play houses, balance beams or stepping stones, flower or vegetable gardens, and much more. If your library doesn’t have an outdoor space, consider meeting at a local park or playground. But wait; can’t families just go to the park instead? We agree that families can and should still visit parks, but librarians who offer outdoor programs have a unique opportunity to bring their communities together to encourage a love of learning, nature, and a healthy active lifestyle. In fact, the Institute of Museums and Libraries (IMLS) has identified “improving family health and nutrition” as a national priority, because we know that children’s learning is inextricably linked to their health. Outdoor play encourages children to run, lift and carry things, to use their imaginations, and cooperate with other children. In fact a recent article by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) states that, “Children who regularly play outdoors tend to be fitter and leaner, develop stronger immune systems, play more creatively, have more active imaginations, report lower stress levels, and demonstrate greater respect for themselves and others (Fjørtoft 2004; Burdette & Whitaker 2005)” (Spencer & Wright 28). With all these benefits, I encourage you to give outdoor programs a try.

Do you already offer something like this at your library? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

(All photos courtesy of guest blogger)


Courtesy photo

Stephanie C. Prato is a member of the ALSC Early Childhood Programs and Services Committee. She is the Director of Play to Learn Services at the Fayetteville Free Library in NY. If you have any questions, email her at sprato@fflib.org.

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25. Everyday Advocacy Challenge: Week 3 Reflections

The Everyday Advocacy Challenge roared into Week 3 on September 15 with this Take Action Tuesday prompt:

Send an e-mail to a new or existing contact at a local school or community-based organization.

Here’s what members of our inaugural cohort had to say about the Week 3 challenge in six words or less:

  • “Eliciting collaboration is an exciting venture!”
  • “Stepping up to meet the challenge.”
  • “Networking takes us to unexpected places.”
  • “Ongoing.”
  • “Successful three times, left messages twice.”
  • “Emailed. She’s back on Monday.”
  • “Checking in is valuable.”
  • “Re-establishing shaky relationships is worthwhile.”
  • “Finally establishing a relationship!”

For Samantha Cote, the Week 3 challenge helped her take the next step in an already strong outreach plan.

For Ashley Burkett, the Week 3 challenge was a chance to reflect on what goes into creating long-lasting relationships with community stakeholders.

Samantha writes:

I feel like I’m lucky that I got my start in libraries with a strong focus on outreach. For me, as I’ve switched from library to library, it’s always been a question of how soon can I get started? Where are the local preschools I can visit? Fortunately, each new library I’ve worked at has also been supportive of me going out into the community.

This week, I had a few lucky coincidences that meshed with this challenge: I finalized visiting my local elementary school’s fourth and fifth grade during their school library time to promote the Maine Student Book Award, and the elementary school’s early kindergarten program called me about bussing their students over to the library for storytime.

This week’s challenge prompted me to evaluate whom I’ve collaborated with in the past and if there are any new organizations I should think about pairing up with. It prompted me to call three different people: the new principal at the local Catholic school, a local college president, and our local community action program.

I was able to meet in person with the principal, and I used one of my elevator speeches from last week in our quick talk. We have a reading therapy dog that visits once a month, and I was able to tell her that the library hosts a reading therapy dog so that children who are nervous about reading can get practice reading out loud to a nonjudgmental listener and thus become more confident readers. She seemed very excited about this program. Outreach is one of my favorite aspects of my job, but it was a good reminder to go beyond what I already normally do.

Ashley writes:

Our challenge last week was writing an elevator speech, an exercise that’s greatly needed. However, a one-time memorized speech will only take you so far. It will not cultivate a strong, lasting relationship with people. It will be ear catching and reel in your audience, but how will you keep them interested in you and what you do? How will you keep them involved long term?

This week I wrote to a school in our local community that I knew would benefit from resources the library has to offer. It is as simple as letting people know you care and you are still available. Here are a few ways to do that:

  • Pay attention to who comes in to your library.
  • Thank patrons or businesses for their continued support.
  • Make a list of people you never see come into the library and then reach out, possibly by using that invaluable elevator speech.
  • Remind patrons what else your library offers.

I also find it useful to evaluate yourself and your library often. Evaluate what your community needs and then see if your library offers resources in that particular area. If you do not offer them, you can come up with a program or obtain resources to best help important needs.

Most importantly, work with these school and businesses that you’re writing to because in the long run you are all trying to better the same community and the people in it.

Samantha Cote is a librarian at Winslow (Maine) Public Library; Ashley Burkett is a library assistant at Birmingham (Ala.) Public Library. Samantha and Ashley are members of the inaugural Everyday Advocacy Challenge cohort, an 18-member volunteer group convening from September 1-October 20, 2015.

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