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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. We’ve Suffered Enough!

By Feťour via Wikimedia Commons

By Feťour via Wikimedia Commons

“It is of the opinion of Lemony Snicket, author, reader, and alleged malcontent, that librarians have suffered enough.”

This is how the opening of the description of the Lemony Snicket Award begins. Created by Daniel Handler (Snicket’s grownup name), the annual prize honors a librarian who has maintained their dignity and integrity while facing some sort of unfortunate events.

Adversity can come in many forms. For some, it may be budget cuts. For others, challenges to the collection and filtering mandates are everyday trials and tribulations. Last year’s award winner, Laurence Copel, opened a small library in her home (and created a bike bookmobile!!) through self funding and donations in order to provide the residents- especially the children- of the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans books.

Each year, Snicket provides the winning librarian with a $3,000 prize, as well as $1,000 to cover the cost of travel to and from Annual. Winners also receive a certificate and a symbolic object. Last year, Copel won a platter decorated by Mo Willems that depicted her riding her bike bookmobile.

The deadline for this year’s nominations is December 1st encouraged to nominate themselves and applications can be filled out online. Completed applications must have a description of the event, contact information for the nominee, and contact information for the nominator (if applicable). For more information on the award, visit the ALA website.

Alyson Feldman-Piltch, ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee

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2. You know you’re an (old) children’s librarian when …

You know you’re an old  experienced children’s librarian when …

… you make public school outreach visits and you can recognize some of the kids from baby story time!

I spotted one child I remember from when I visited with his preschool class years ago. He was always the one with yogurt and Cheerios ® smashed on his head! :)

 Child-Messy-8207

Photo: By Loadmaster (David R. Tribble) This image was made by Loadmaster (David R. Tribble) Email the author: David R. Tribble Also see my personal gallery at Google Picasa (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Have a great weekend, all, and remember – today’s babies are tomorrow’s library patrons.

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3. Thinking about STEAM as Pop-Up Programs

One of my goals for programming at my new library is to increase the frequency of pop-up programs in the youth area. We offer a great range of formal, specific-place/specific-time programs every quarter, but I’ve been thinking about whom these types of programs engage. I’m still learning the demographics of youth and families at my new job, but I do have the feeling that the Venn diagram circles of kids who come to the library and kids who come to programs are not wholly overlapping. Why not provide pop-up programs, then, that can take place in the open, without registration restrictions or time requirements, on days and at times when lots of kids are in the space? And why not structure these pop-ups around STEAM activities, which kids are hugely enjoying?

Here are five potential pop-up programs, one for each STEAM content area. These pop-ups would be facilitated and supervised by a staff member.

Science – Candy Chromatography, à la Steve Spangler

Stock up at post-holiday candy sales, grab some coffee filters and a cup of water, and you’re ready to see the true colors of kids’ favorite candies. Dunk a candy–preferably something that obviously has dye, like jelly beans, Skittles, and really dark candies–in the water for a few seconds, then set it on the coffee filter. Over the course of the next ten minutes, the dyes from the candy will separate and create something like colorful tree rings on the filter. Note: you can also do this with different types of ink pens to see the colors that actually make up black and blue ink.

Technology – MaKey MaKey!

Break out a fully-charged laptop and a MaKey MaKey kit so that kids can figure out how it works. Let them work collaboratively to figure out how to hook everything up (with plenty of options for conductive materials, like paper clips, dough, and even bananas), then play a game or two from the MaKey MaKey website with their homemade controller before letting another kid have a chance.

Engineering – The Perfect Paper Airplane

Offer all the supplies to make a wide range of paper airplanes: paper in different weights, paper clips, straws, tape, scissors, etc. Don’t forget to include books and/or print-out instructions for paper airplane designs to give kids a starting-off point. Mark out a flying course on the floor/ground (masking tape if inside, chalk if outside) so you can see how far planes fly. Encourage kids to modify their designs to produce longer flight distances.

Art – Friendship Bracelets

Set out different colors of embroidery floss, some masking tape and scissors, and a few books on bracelet designs and let kids spend some time making the designs of their choosing. This may seem like a pretty standard craft, not necessarily a STEAM arts activity; but in actuality, there’s a ton of math involved in figuring out how to weave and create patterns. Bonus of this activity: once kids have the basics of their design, they can socialize as they work, potentially building a camaraderie between kids who tend to be at the library at the same times but never really interact.

Math – Tangrams

Allow kids to engage in some visual problem-solving by setting out tangrams and designs for them to replicate using the shape pieces. You can offer plastic tangram pieces, or print out a tangram template so that kids can cut out and keep their pieces. For kids who get really into solving these puzzles, you can even have speed races to see how quickly kids can figure out different designs.

One of the great things about these types of pop-up programs is that they can translate to lots of different settings. Since they involve limited designated space and few materials, these activities can be “packed up,” so to speak, to accompany a library staffer on outreach, or to bookmobile stops frequented by families with children. When it comes down to it, STEAM pop-ups allow us to provide access to engaging activities and interesting ideas in a context that may be much more viable for many of the families who use our libraries, but never step through the program room door.

Do you offer pop-up programming at your library?

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4. Multiculturalism & Diversity: What is the Difference, and Why it’s Important

I’m going to be completely honest with you, I have written- and rewritten- this blog post about 10 times. It’s not because I don’t know what to say, it’s because I have too much to say. When you spend as much time, energy and passion on Multicultural Children’s Literature as I have, it sometimes becomes hard to step back and see the forest- not just the trees.

When this happens, I literally play entire conversations out in my head, just so I can streamline my thoughts. This is the conversation going on in my head right now:

My Brain (MB): Okay Alyson, here’s your chance to explain to all these people the one thing you’re so passionate about. Try not to make it so wordy (too late), and think, if there was one sentence that you could use to sum up multicultural literature, what would it be?

Me: I guess, well who I am I kidding, I know that that one sentence would be: “It’s all about authenticity.”

MB: See, that wasn’t so hard, was it?

___________________________________________

Multicultural literature can be a mirror, a window, and a sliding glass door 1: it can be a reflection of the reader, it can show them another world, and it can empower them to take action. It is written from an authentic perspective by a member of the subject’s culture or someone who has been privy to those experiences 2, and is respectful and free of stereotypical depictions both in words and images.

Multicultural literature is important, because all too often it allows us to hear the voices of those who have been silenced and whose stories have not been told.

Multicultural Children’s Literature is about more than just the Pura Belpré medal, and the Coretta Scott King award. It’s about making these stories, experiences, and lives- especially those that aren’t represented by awards- heard all the time.   Multiculturalism is about more than just race and creed. It’s gender, sexuality, religion- it’s identity; and it’s about insuring they are shared in an authentic way.

Right now, there is a groundswell of support for diversity in the book world. I urge you to take that one step further, and push for multiculturalism. I’m not asking you to write a letter to a publisher or even use a hash tag- not everyone is comfortable with that. I’m asking that you start looking through your collections to make sure that you have books that reflect the author’s unique and authentic perspective. That the works be free of stereotypes and that they make you feel as though you are looking at yourself while learning about someone else.

Recommended Reading:

Campbell, Shelley. “Windows and Mirrors: A Case for More Multicultural Children’s Books Illinois Children’s Choice Award Lists.” Illinois Reading Council Journal 38.  (2010): 33. Web.

Johnson Higgins, Jennifer. “Multicultural Children’s Literature: Creating and Applying an Evaluation Tool in Response to the Needs of Urban

Educators.” New Horizons for Learning (2000): n. pag. Http://education.jhu.edu/PD/newhorizons/strategies/topics/multicultural-education/multicultural-childrens-literature/. Johns Hopkins University. Web.

Landt, Susan M. “Children’s Literature with Diverse Perspectives: Reflecting All Students.” The Dragon Lode 32.1 (2013): 21-31. Print.

Norton, Donna E. Multicultural Children’s Literature: Through the Eyes of Many Children. 4th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Merrill Prentice Hall, 2013. Print.

Rochman, Hazel. Against Borders: Promoting Books for a Multicultural World. Chicago: American Library Association, 1993. Print.

Sims Bishop, Rudine. Perspectives: Choosing and Using Books for the Classroom. 3rd ed. Vol. 6. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 1990.

Woodson, Jacqueline. “Who Can Tell My Story.” The Horn Book Magazine 74.Jan/Feb  (1998): 34-38.

********************************************************

Footnotes:

1  Sims Bishop, Rudine. Perspectives: Choosing and Using Books for the Classroom. 3rd ed. Vol. 6. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 1990.

2   Woodson, Jacqueline. “Who Can Tell My Story.” The Horn Book Magazine 74.Jan/Feb (1998): 34-38.

********************************************************

Our guest blogger today is Alyson Feldman-Piltch. Alyson lives in Brookline, MA. She is almost done with her MLS/MIS program and will graduate from Indiana University at Bloomington in May 2015. She is the Chair for the Task Force for Establishing Guidelines for Selecting Multicultural Materials through EMIERT-ALA, as well as a member of the ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee and the 2015 Stonewall Book Award Committee.

When she isn’t reading, doing homework, blogging, or sleeping, Alyson can usually be found at Fenway Park or a midnight movie showing at the Coolidge Corner Theatre. She can be reached at alyson.fp@gmail.com and can be found on Twitter by following @aly_fp.

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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5. Mind Your Manners: Teaching Life Skills in the Library

A few weeks ago, a special education teacher approached our Youth Department, asking if a librarian might be able to plan a visit for her life skills class of high school students. Her class made regular visits to our library once a month to read and check out books. They were already comfortable visiting the Youth Department, since the materials that they were most interested in were housed in our part of the library. As much as she and her class enjoyed these visits, she wanted to explore the possibility of making the visit richer with learning and interaction, involving a librarian to lead 30 minutes of stories activities. Her goals for the visit were relatively simple: read books which demonstrate using manners in social situations, incorporate sensory and movement activities into the visit, and provide opportunities for her students to practice using manners in real life situations. Her students had been practicing using their manners in the classroom, in the lunchroom, and had plans to make a few field trips outside the school to extend the learning. We, of course, just had to say yes!

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51mudiN6ZZL.jpgA great tip for collaborating on a school visit is to ask questions and plan ahead. Ask if there is a particular reading level that works best for readalouds. As the teacher and I discussed the visit, I learned that picture books and easy non-fiction materials would work best for her class as readalouds. So, I selected several books to read—both fiction and non-fiction—that would be both informative and entertaining for the audience.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-bY_zPzSWXIo/TiN3vAyilHI/AAAAAAAAAYA/nUK76JhyEAo/s1600/symbol4.jpgAnother helpful tip is to ask what type of accommodations would work best for her students. For example, would creating a visual schedule of the visit’s activities help alleviate anxiety for her students? I also learned that her students would benefit greatly from the use of visual supports, as a way for them to see what was coming next. So, I put together a large group schedule, using Boardmaker images to coincide with the various activities. Each 8 1/2″  x 11” piece of paper included a large graphic as well as simple, easy to decode text. For example, I put together one sign that included the text “Play a Game” and displayed an image of a large, multicolored parachute.

You may also want to ask the teacher if her students have any specific triggers that might be helpful for you to know about in advance. For example, does music cause discomfort or distress in some of her students? If so, you may want to reconsider using a music CD and decide just to sign a song aloud using your own voice. The teacher did happen to mention that one of her students has the tendency to run when that student gets frustrated or upset. This was useful information for me to know, as I wouldn’t be caught off-guard in case this happened during the visit.

Here is an outline of the program that we implemented with her students:

  • Review Visual Schedule: As a way to let the students know what we would be doing, I reviewed the visual schedule by going over each activity individually using clear and specific “First… Then…” language.
  • Hello Activity: I began the storytime by introducing myself as “Miss Renee.” I then invited each students and teachers to introduce themselves to the classroom by saying “Hi, my name is…” Then, the group replied “Hello, [student’s name]” as a way to practice good manners by greeting others.
  • Read a Book: How do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food by Jane Yolen
  • Read a Book: Suppose You Meet a Dinosaur: A First Book of Manners by Judy Sierra
  • Play a Game with a Ball: I pulled out four different sized sensory balls and invited the group to move into a circle. The object of this activity was to have each student to ask another student or teacher if they could pass them the ball using their most polite manners. For example, “Daniel, would you please roll me that purple, spiky ball?” We passed, rolled, bounced, and threw the balls twice around the circle, allowing each student the chance to participate a few times.
  • Read a Book: Manners in the Lunch Room (Way to Be: Manners! Series) by Amanda Tourville
  • Play a Game with a Parachute: I brought out the parachute, and asked if everyone would stand up. This time, we went around the circle and each student was encouraged to dictate to the group (using their manners) what they wanted to do with the parachute. For instance, Jean would say “Could we please wave the wave the parachute up and down really fast?” Each student was allowed a chance to have the group play with the parachute in their own way.
  • Read a Book: Manners in the Library (Way to Be: Manners! Series) by Carrie Finn
  • Sing a Song “If You’re Happy and You Know It” (with ASL): We sung the first verse of this traditional song, but then incorporated ASL signs that aligned with our theme in the additional verses. For example “If you’re polite and you know it, just say “please.” (ASL sign for please) and “If you’re grateful and you know it, just say “thank you.” (ASL sign for thank you). Check out Jbrary’s great post about Using American Sign Language in Storytime for more ideas about how to utilize ASL in programs.
  • Library Activity: The teacher instructed the students to write note cards in advance with questions they wanted to ask librarians. The students took turns going to the desk and asking their questions, and the librarians took them to the shelves to help them find books that they liked based on their interests. After they practiced asking their questions and using their manners, librarians gave each student a small incentive (a sticker) for visiting to the library.

Overall, it was a fantastic success–so much so that the teacher asked if we could make this a regular part of their monthly visits.  And again, how could we say no?

Partnering with your local special education district is a great way to provide students with disabilities opportunities for learning outside the classroom. By giving students the chance to practice life skills in a library environment, librarians can help prepare them to be successful in their daily lives. It’s important that all library staff at all levels are aware and prepared to provide excellent, inclusive library service. Children’s, Tween, and Teen Librarians can work together to lead this type of programming. So, the next time that you are approached by a local special education teacher, think about getting your tween or teen librarians on board, too.

For more great ideas about lesson planning for tweens and young adults with special needs, check out this fantastic post written by Sarah Okner from the Vernon Area Public Library about her experience Visiting High School Special Education Classrooms.

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6. You Are Not Alone: My Experience at the 2014 ALSC Intitute

I returned from Oakland almost a month ago now, but I’m still processing much of what I experienced at the ALSC Institute and still pondering how to implement what I’ve learned in my own work.  As I look back at the conference as a whole, what comes into focus for me are particular moments when I saw the work we do in a new light.  We’re all so busy at our jobs that it can be hard to take a step back to think about the impact our work has and to be intentional about how we want to support our communities.  When I look at the Live Blogging coverage of the institute it seems like a lot of sessions have already been well-covered, so what I want to share with you are little moments that were meaningful for me.

 We’re all having breakfast and listening to incredible authors speak about their work and their experiences as young people.  I’m laughing at Gene Luen Yang’s story about hiding comic books in big library books, cheering when Tim Federle talks about how to kids diverse books are just books and scooting to the edge of my seat as Rita Williams-Garcia pulls out her actual teenage diary.  Then Pam Muñoz Ryan starts to talk about how she wasn’t much of a reader until 5th grade, when she switched schools and she needed books to keep her company.  Suddenly, I remember 4th grade when I became a reader.  I’d always loved stories, but reading was such a laborious process that I didn’t enjoy it.  Then it all came together and I took-off.  With all this focus on 3rd grade reading scores, it’s easy to get caught up in the stress of what level kids are “supposed” to be reading at.  But every reader is different and kids become readers at different times for different reasons.  If you know a struggling reader (or the parent of one), you can tell them that Pam Muñoz Ryan didn’t become a “good” reader until 5th grade and things turned out pretty well for her!  We should be looking for chances to help kids take-off as readers, not adding to the pressure for them to achieve.

 Later that day, I’m listening to a fabulous presentation about Oakland Public Library’s program to train volunteers to do weekly storytimes at Head Start programs.  It’s great for the kids and it’s great for the volunteers!  I’m busily thinking about how this could work at my library.  Didn’t we used to have a program like that?  Whatever happened with it?  Who would train the volunteers?  Then Gay Ducey says something that pulls me right back into the moment.  I’m going to have to paraphrase because I didn’t manage to write down her exact words, but it was something like: “Storytime is a break from the rest of a child’s day.  We are giving them a safe space to enjoy books and reading.  We are saying ‘You don’t have to do anything but listen right now.  Just be here and enjoy this moment.’”   When you left your extension activity at outreach, when your flannel board skills weren’t up to the task: all you really need is yourself and a book.  It doesn’t need to be flashy; we’re simply making a space for children to interact with books in positive ways.

 Flash forward to Fairyland a day later.  I’m warm, I’m sitting very close to people I’ve never met, but I don’t mind at all because I’m totally entranced by the conversation happening between Nina Lindsay, Mac Barnett, Jennifer Holm and Daniel Handler.  Suddenly Daniel Handler says something a little…risque.  (This should surprise no one.)  I worry for a moment and then I hear loud laughter from all directions.  I get to remember that although we work with children, we’re adults.  We can love children’s books and be devoted to helping kids and families, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be irreverent now and again.  In fact, having a sense of humor can often be our saving grace.

 There were plenty more notable moments, but I’ll leave you with these three.  All of them led me to my main take away from the institute: I am not alone.  When I’m strategizing how to balance my time, how to approach my manager with a new idea or how to entice that very active toddler to participate in storytime—someone else is dealing with these same problems.  As children’s librarians, I truly believe that we are each other’s best resource.  Having the opportunity to attend a whole conference with our colleagues has left me feeling connected, supported and heard like never before.


Hope to see you in Charlotte in 2016!

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7. ALSC Webinar: ECRR @ your library® Toolkit w/ Spanish-Speaking Communities

Every Child Ready to Read® @ your Library® Toolkit for Spanish-Speaking Communities is now available from the ALA Store (image courtesy of ALA)

Every Child Ready to Read® @ your Library® Toolkit for Spanish-Speaking Communities is now available from the ALA Store (image courtesy of ALA)

Join ALSC and PLA for an introduction to the 2nd edition of the Every Child Ready to Read @ your library Toolkit for Spanish-speaking Communities. This one-hour webinar is designed for librarians and library staff who are interested in reaching Spanish-speaking families with early literacy information.

This same webinar will be held two different times:

  • 11am Central/12pm Eastern, Wed., November 5
  • 3pm Central/4pm Eastern, Wed., November 5

The Every Child Ready to Read @ your library Toolkit for Spanish-Speaking Communities is available from the ALA Store. Information on webinar registration is available from the ALSC Online Learning site.

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8. Día Planning Starts Now!

The National Program Registry opens for Día on November 1st, so make sure to mark your calendars! The registry serves two purposes. First, your library will be recognized as participating in the El día de los niños/El día de los libros events on April 30, 2015. Additionally, by joining the registry, your library’s program will be part of a national searchable database in which other librarians can peruse your program ideas, get inspired, and hopefully design their own programs around diversity in literature. As a bonus, the registry also increases your library’s publicity and gives you some bragging rights.

I regularly check ALA’s Día website for program ideas, book lists, book club kit ideas, and free downloads. It’s where you can register your 2015 program and become part of the growing Día community. The Día booklist this year will have a STEAM focus, providing enticing possibilities of integrating STEAM content into your programs, displays, or book clubs. The booklist will be out in December, and I’m already anticipating it. I have in mind several STEAM-related programs or displays, including a scientist display honoring minorities in the field; a program on using technology to discover your own unique background and heritage (genealogy); and a program using blown-up prints of various engineering feats for children to guess which counties or persons designed them. The possibilities are endless!

Build STEAM with Día Mini-Grants

Build STEAM with Día Mini-Grants (image courtesy ALSC)

Don’t forget that there are mini-grants available this year. You can check out more information on how to apply for one, and the approaching deadline, via the Día website or the Día Facebook Page. In previous years, libraries across the country have hosted everything from poetry readings, border dances, festivals and food tastings as Día events. We can’t wait to see what you all come up with for 2015! Start thinking about Día now. Remember to put your program in the database so we can all be amazed at what you’re doing for your diverse and dynamic communities!

Reminder! ALSC is now accepting mini-grant applications for libraries through the Día initiative. Mini-grants will be used to initiate a Building STEAM with Día program in libraries. Up to 20 mini-grants will be awarded at $1,500 each. Applications are due Friday, October 17 at 5pm Central.

______________________________________________________________

Emily Scherrer is the Library Administrator for Sierra Vista Public Library, Arizona and is writing this post for the Public Awareness Committee. As a librarian living and working in a “border town,” she is a big advocate for diverse programming and collections.  You can contact her at mlescherrer@gmail.com

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9. Visiting Maker Faire Atlanta

This weekend I went to Maker Faire Atlanta. Maker spaces have been on my mind for the last year. I have looked into 3-D printers, laser cutters, Arduinos, sewing machines, jewelry making, stop-motion videos – the list goes on. There is so much to offer, but where to start. No one wants to purchase expensive equipment that will sit untouched. I want to know what will attract people and keep them engaged with the library and each other. So far I have decided on a mobile maker space, but what to add. A grant opportunity is looming so now is the time to strike. I took to the streets to observe what the people wanted.

The first exhibit drew my attention. It was surrounded by a dozen little boys and I soon discovered why. Two homeschool parents and their children had a table full of “Weapons of Miniature Destruction.” Now, I do not condone weapons, but those kids were having a lot of fun with the crossbows, catapults and other “implements of mayhem” made from clothespins, rubber bands and Popsicle sticks. The kids wore safety goggles and aimed beans at a cardboard castle. As I picked up the catapult, I could not help but admire the engineering and the spirit of sharing that led this group to share their talents with other makers. I quickly moved on before I was blinded by a bean.

Next, I saw a librarian helping children sew LED lights into fabric squares. The children and librarian had so much patience. I didn’t even know that kids knew how to sew these days. There were flying machines, screen painting, and a kite making table. A mobile maker space truck soon caught my eye. In front of the truck, were mini-maker trunks set on a table. Taped to each trunk was a maker challenge. Inside the boxes, there were everyday materials such as fabric, paper cups, pipe cleaners and tape. The table was so crowded I had to wait in line to peek over the kids’ shoulders. Moving on, I saw people making Morse code bracelets and trying a Morse code machine, using various keys to find the right lock, terrariums, more LED light stations, and of course lots of 3-D printers. Unfortunately, the only people demonstrating squishy circuits did not show up. I guess I have to make my own.

I was surprised at how popular the no-tech and low-tech stations were with the kids. So what is my take away? I should listen to the many people who have urged hesitant folks like me not to become intimidated or stymied by the big flashy items. Those kids really enjoyed those Popsicle catapults and so did I.

Swalena Griffin is the Branch Manager at the East Roswell Library in Georgia, and a member of ALSC’s Children & Technology Committee.

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10. ALSC Member of the Month — Constance Keremes

Each month, an ALSC member is profiled and we learn a little about their professional life and a bit about their not-so-serious side. Using just a few questions, we try to keep the profiles fun while highlighting the variety of members in our organization. So, without further ado, welcome to our ALSC profile, ten questions (plus one) with ALSC member, Constance Keremes.

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

Photo courtesy Patrick Heath Public Library

Photo courtesy Patrick Heath Public Library

I am the Youth Services Librarian at the Patrick Heath Public Library in Boerne, Texas. I have been a librarian for over twenty years. As such, I am responsible for conceptualizing and orchestrating storytimes, afterschool programs, and special events. I also oversee the youth department collection development, maintain the youth department budget, provide reader’s advisory, conduct library tours, visit schools and nursery schools, and go out into the community to promote the library through out-of-house programs/presentations. I also work to promote the library by writing a newspaper column and use of social media including e-newsletters and a Facebook page.

I have an undergraduate degree in Education and History from Adelphi University in Garden City, New York, and a master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the C. W. Post University in Brookville, New York. I have worked in libraries in New York, Arizona, and now Texas. I also have over thirty years of experience as an in- and out-of-house editor and writer of educational materials, and several children’s books published, along with numerous poems appearing in anthologies.

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

I joined ALSC because as a Youth Librarian, I wanted to be kept continually knowledgeable of the latest trends in the field of youth services, learning from documented research as well as the outpouring of shared knowledge from fellow librarians. I am also a member of the YALSA division.

3.  What are you proudest of having accomplished in your professional career?

I have had several children’s books published, along with numerous poems appearing in anthologies. Having a book published is a very great honor, but deeply meaningful to me is the experiences I have had here at the Patrick Heath Public Library with the many families who utilize our library. It is so very gratifying to establish a rapport with children through the bond of literature, and have a child return to the library to tell me he liked the book I suggested, hungry for more to read.

4.  What book are you currently reading?

I am reading the WEREWORLD series by Curtis Jobling. This series was suggested to me by one of my young patrons. I researched it and was delighted to find it described as a good series for fans of John Flanagan’s RANGER’S APPRENTICE series—my great favorite. The Jobling series is a liberally splashed with blood and gore, but very well written with compelling characters and suspenseful plotting.

5.  What’s the best book you’ve read this year?

On the adult end, it was the LIBERATION TRILOGY by Rick Atkinson, a brilliant account of World War II with deeply stirring you-are-there accounts of the action. On the youth end, how hard to narrow down to just one! Here are three: RANGER’S APPRENTICE by John Flanagan, GHOST HAWK by Susan Cooper and UNDER A WAR-TORN SKY by Laura Elliot, both of which are historical fiction.

6.  Do you dress up for Halloween?

I love dressing up for Halloween. Children take great delight in seeing adults show a playful side. I don’t only dress up at Halloween—I’ve loads of costumes that I use throughout the year at library programs.

7.  When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Ah, what a little dreamer I was as a child, forever pretending to be all manner of people. Books fueled my imagination, as I fancied myself everything from a ballerina to astronaut. I often played at being a librarian, enjoying the process of making my dolls little library cards and putting pockets in my books for stamping. Little did I know that I would one day become a librarian!

8.  What’s the best thing you’ve learned this year?

At the encouragement of my library director, I learned how to use apps via an iPad in my storytimes. As one of the older generation, this was a big leap for me into the digital world. I enjoyed so much the process of learning and sharing stories through this new medium.

9.  Would you rather explore outer space or deep, deep in the ocean?

As a member of the Space Race generation, I would love to rocket off to outer space and explore the galaxies on a starship similar to the old STAR TREK programs. Our library’s summer reading theme this year will be outer space, so my galactic dreams will be close to coming true.

10.  Favorite part of being a children’s librarian?

Definitely it is the opportunity to work with children and share my love of literature with them.

11.  What do you think libraries will look like fifty years from now?

Technology will have a greater impact on libraries in the coming decades, with more electronic resources available. However, I do believe that the printed word will always be an integral part of libraries. Naysayers have for years been lamenting a future world devoid of books, but throughout the decades the plucky printed word has endured, continually enriching young and old alike.

****************************************

Born and raised in New York, Constance has resided in Boerne for nearly eight years. She especially enjoys dance, music, and reading. Her published works include I Wanted to Go to the Circus (Harbinger House, 1989), Erni Cabat’s Wonderful World of the Carousel,  (Harbinger House, 1990), Hootenanny Night, (State House Press, 1991), as well as poems in anthologies edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins and Julie Andrews.

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

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

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11. Block Party

I first learned about Block Parties at ALA Annual 2013. The idea was to have kids come the library for a block building party. I knew I had to try this at my library, so I started our Block Parties during this year’s Summer Reading Program. They have become a huge hit and I am continuing the program after we had such a great success.

The Block Parties are easy to set up and run. The library has a large set of Legos already, but to add to the block collection, we purchased a set of wooden blocks and several sets of Duplos. I also have a large collection of styrofoam packing blocks from our computer packing (make friends with your IT staff!) that I use for block building. I also included other wooden blocks we had in our storyhour collection, shape sorters, foam blocks and any other block toys I had in our toy collection.

I put out all the blocks around the room and opened the doors for the kids to come build. Before we started, I read a book about building and talked about the types of things the kids could make with blocks. And then they were set free to build and use their imaginations to create whatever their hearts desired. I also put out a display of books on building and construction to give them ideas and hopefully keep the conversation about building and creating continuing at home.

The block parties run for an hour, but the kids would stay and build all afternoon if I let them! I’ve had success hosting them on Saturday mornings at 11am as well as Friday afternoons at 2pm. I roam the room talking to the kids about what they are creating and they are excited to show off their creations.

Our block parties are a fun, simple program that encourages creativity, imagination, and are a great way to get started in STEM programming. And with the partnership with LEGO DUPLO and ALSC with Read! Play! Build! this is the perfect time to start a block party of your own!

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12. October Means Fall Leaves, Halloween, and Summer Reading?

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

We often think of autumn as a time with cooler weather, changing leaves, and upcoming holidays on the horizon.  This October our thoughts are not only on all the fun fall has to offer, but the opportunities the upcoming summer season can provide.  Our library staff is currently assessing our summer reading services and evaluating the reasons behind why we do what we do.  During this autumn, we will examine many of the logistical aspects of our summer reading plans to ensure we offer the very best program for children and their families.  What plans does your library have to alter your reading program once summer rolls around?

What’s In a Name?

For many years, our Cumberland County Public Library & Information Center in North Carolina has referred to our months of summer reading programming as our summer reading club, or more informally as SRC. During the summer, we offer many special programs and also have the opportunity for children to be read to or to read independently to receive prizes during the summer.   This year we are evaluating the name of our Summer Reading Club to see if it best suits our library’s mission and goals.  Should we consider these special events to be part of a larger summer reading program, or do we consider our summer reading extravaganza to be a club that our young members can join?  In some library systems, SRC refers to a summer reading challenge where library staff asks participants to take a more active role in setting their own reading goals. What name do you give to summer reading in your library system?

The Art of Measuring

Perhaps you measure the success of your program by the number of library visits a child makes over the summer or the overall circulation figures within your children’s department.  Maybe you encourage your young participants to read so many minutes or a certain number of books, or your library encourages children to set their own individual reading goal. In the past, we tracked how many hours children read as a marker of success as children received different prizes for reaching each predetermined goal set by library staff. We are now considering providing an option where participants can set their own reading goal after they finish our traditional reading program.  Additionally, we are examining the incorporation of an Every Child Ready to Read component where young children may participate in family activities with their parents or caregivers to enhance their summer reading experience. How do you plan to measure the success of your program this summer?

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

A Plethora of Programming

Programming is essential to the value of our summer reading club.  In addition to our regularly scheduled story times, we offer various special programs and events to draw in large crowds during the summertime.  Some of these programs feature interactive art or science components while other events may feature special speakers, guest programmers, or costumed characters. This year we are discussing the idea of offering special mini-festivals at our various locations.  These festivals would incorporate some individual differences to distinguish the festivals from one another and to encourage customers to attend festivals at more than one location; this special programming would be tailored to meet the needs, interests, and resources available at our individual library branches. These festivals would also increase the opportunities staffers have to work with one another from our various branches.  Providing mini-festivals in addition to our regular programming could very well create a new opportunity for us to enhance our summer reading schedule.

We are still in the beginning steps of our summer reading plans for 2015.  There is so much value in assessing how we can maximize our summer reading experience for children and their families when June arrives. As we consider how we will name our summer reading events, measure our success, and examine some options for innovative programming, it is exciting to think of all the options ahead for an amazing summer reading experience. What new summer reading plans are you considering?  Sharing your thoughts may spark new practices or programs in other libraries.  Please add your ideas to the comments below!

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13. Harnessing the Energy

Photo from pixabay

Photo from pixabay

This is more of a question, than it is a post.

I work in a school that embraces technology. Many of our students have devices, either as part of our one to one program, or they have their own personal devices.  The library in the morning has shifted as a result of the omnipresent tech.

Don’t get me wrong…we do not expect a quiet library, especially in the morning. But now the groups of students are huddled around, eyes on screens, raucously commenting and enjoying their selfies/videos/games/instagrams/apps etc etc etc.

So. How to harness this? How to direct it? I have a couple of ideas brewing, but I thought I would put it out to the great brain. Any and all ideas appreciated.

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14. Deadline for Bechtel, Hayes, & Baker & Taylor is Nov. 1

ALSC is reminding members to apply for professional awards this fall. Applications are open and several deadlines are approaching. Below is list of ALSC professional awards which are available for submission or nomination.  Please consider applying or nominating a colleague:

Louise Seaman Bechtel Fellowship
Deadline: Extended to Saturday, November 1, 2014

This fellowship provides a $4,000 stipend to allow a qualified children’s librarian to spend a month or more reading at the University of Florida’s Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature.

Maureen Hayes Author/Illustrator Award
Deadline: Saturday, November 1, 2014

This $4,000 award was established with funding from Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, in honor of Maureen Hayes, to bring together children and nationally recognized authors/illustrators.

ALSC/Baker & Taylor Summer Reading Grant
Deadline: Saturday, November 1, 2014

This $3,000 grant provides financial assistance to a public library for developing an outstanding summer reading program for children.

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15. One World One Mission

By the time you read this I will in Beijing, China. Our fabulous Executive Director, Aimee Strittmatter, and I have been invited to speak about American children’s library work at the Chinese Library Association Conference. Our whirlwind visit will include a tour of the National Children’s Library, the Children’s Library of Beijing and another location intriguingly referred to as Juvenile & Children Reading Experience Wonderland. We also hope to see the Forbidden City, the Great Wall and maybe even (please, please, please) a panda cub or two.

Our Chinese counterparts are particularly interested in learning more about our Caldecott Award and the role that libraries play in making that award the catalyst for the creation of and celebration of great children’s picture books it has become. In 2009, China inaugurated their own award for children’s literature called the Zikai Award named for a famous Chinese cartoonist and modeled after the Caldecott . It is exhilarating to learn of the far reach of our distinguished and highly regarded awards. I know how hard our members work to ensure that every year the criteria and integrity of the award is maintained and the best books find their way, literally, into the world.

Caldecott

Saturday morning we are meeting to discuss children’s reading with some Chinese children’s literature experts. I look forward to discovering the common threads we will see in our respective “great books for children.” Is excellence in literature for children the same in every language and culture? We are always more alike than we imagine but the value of seeing life in another country also gives perspective to our own.

Many of the challenges faced by our countries are shared. The quality of education, the desire to provide the best opportunities for children and their families with limited public resources; these are human concerns, not American ones. Libraries play a role in that work not just in America, where personal freedom is assumed, but perhaps libraries play an even more critical role in communities vastly different from our own.

I can’t wait to share what we learn in China with our members back in the states. My hope is that our time will give important insights into the value of what we continue to hold dear. Our best resource remains each other, those of us who do this work, wherever in the world we are.

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16. Yoga as a Bridge for Serving a Cross Section of Your Library Population

Serving a diverse community can be difficult, especially when you are dealing with diversity across the physical, mental, and emotional spectrum. Often the social aspect of the library can be off putting for children, and parents of children with developmental disabilities. For children on the Autism spectrum, the child’s inability to regulate behavior can be problematic in a highly structured setting (such as a library program). Children with physical disabilities may feel that they are limited in how they can participate in library programs. But often the simplest programs can be the most effective and by offering a new or unique opportunity the library becomes a safe place to engage in something outside their preconceived limitations.

Do you have a pre-set program time for children with disabilities? Do you have a pre-set time for family programs? Consider a family program featuring beginner and child friendly yoga. No matter how you incorporate it, I encourage you to use yoga as a way to bring all your patrons together. If offers the opportunity for all children to interact in a safe social environment.

Children enjoy the same benefits of yoga as adults: increased body awareness, strength and flexibility, as well as stress relief and relaxation. Yoga encourages self-acceptance, compassion, kindness, and discipline. All of this while celebrating creative expression, individual differences, and their place in the community. All of these are extremely important in the life of a child dealing with developmental delays or physical restrictions. Anecdotal reports describe success in reducing obesity and discipline problems, decreasing anger and panic attacks, and enhancing concentration and academic performance. Health problems, such as headaches, stomachaches, constipation, back pain, and colds or sinus problems, are reportedly improved with a yoga practice. (1) A certified yoga instructor can lead and demonstrate proper technique and offer advice and tips. Activities in this program can include age-appropriate poses, breathing exercises, relaxation, and partner poses between parent and child. Even a child with physical limitations can participate in the regulated and guided breathing exercises that accompany yoga practice.

While the research on the effects of yoga in children is lengthy, a tertiary literature review only uncovered a few empirical studies on yoga and the disabled. But using the early literacy principle of “play” and its importance in early childhood development, if you use yoga as an inclusive game, the possibilities for reaching children expands.

A 2011 study published in the International Journal of Yoga examined the positive combined effect of inclusive games and yogic relaxation on selected domestic skills among physically challenged boys. (2)

Since 2001, in a north London hospital, Jo Manuel has been providing yoga therapy sessions for children with a variety of special needs, from autism to cerebral palsy. Manuel and her 12 colleagues see around 500 children per week, and while some children do have physical restrictions the simple act of rhythmic breathing can bring a sense of calm and relaxation to both the children and their caregivers. (3)

Consider adding these titles  in order to make your program reflective of your collection.

Cover-pict

You are a Lion:and other fun yoga poses is a fun interactive title that invites children to pretend to be different animals as they do various child friendly poses.

(Image from Pipin Properties)

 

 

 

 

my-daddy-is-a-pretzel_uspb_w

My Daddy is a Pretzel: yoga for parents and kids is a great story time title. With it’s whimsical look at yoga practice, it offers great introductions for adults and children.

(Image from Barefoot Books)

 

 

 

 

9780805081930

 

Sleepy Little Yoga is a wonderful title that introduces nine poses perfect for preparing your toddler for bedtime.

(Image from Macmillan)
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1. White, Laura Santangelo. “Yoga for children.” Pediatric Nursing Sept.-Oct. 2009: 277+. Expanded Academic ASAP. Web. 16 Aug. 2014.
2. Duraisami, V., K. Jaiganesh, and S. Parthasarathy. “Combined effect of inclusive games and yogic relaxation on the selected domestic skills among physically challenged boys.” International Journal of Yoga 4.2 (2011): 100. Expanded Academic ASAP. Web. 16 Aug. 2014.
3. Cooper, Catherine. “A calming influence: a yoga centre helping children with special needs has been achieving some impressively positive results.” Nursing Standard 24.50 (2010): 24+. Expanded Academic ASAP. Web. 16 Aug. 2014.

Lesley Mason is a children’s librarian at the District of Columbia Public Library. She earned her Master’s Degree in Library Science from Clarion University. She specializes in Early Literacy and can be reached at lesley.mason@dc.gov

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17. A Storytime By Any Other Name…

A Wordle (wordle.net) created by the author.

A Wordle (wordle.net) created by the author.

Let’s talk about naming storytime, shall we?

This post started in my head after a parent thanked me for my new preschool storytime (that I’ve named Discovery!) and let me know that her son has developed an aversion to the word storytime. She went on to explain that he loves books and stories and the library, but that “storytime” tripped him up. And I began to think about how we name our programs.

My previous library struggled with translating “storytime” into Spanish. Ultimately the official translation that was approved was “hora de cuentos” which literally translates back to English as “storyhour”. Patrons were constantly asking what kinds of activities happened in our programs. We kept getting the question: “Do you really read to them for an hour straight?” Eventually our Spanish-speaking patrons learned to see past the name of our program. But I often wonder if re-branding or re-naming would have created less confusion.

Before I started at my new library, staff had worked to re-brand all storytime classes under a name: Little University. The idea was to make patrons more aware of the early literacy components and goals in a storytime. Our patrons take Little U classes very seriously — we have a registration start date and classes have a teacher-student ratio, just like a real university. Our brand emphasizes the learning aspects of storytime in a way that’s marketable to patrons.

I know of libraries who make make their storytime names clear and easily understood for patrons: “Wonderful Ones” and “Terrific Twos”; “Walkers, Wigglers, and Crawlers” and “Lapsit”; “Family Storytime” and “On Our Own Storytime” — these storytime names use ages or development milestones or the target audience in their names.

So, what’s in a name? I think the point that I’m trying to make is that the name of your storytime program needs to make sense to your patrons. And that it isn’t necessary to have a clever name, but is necessary to have a clear name. Don’t leave patrons guessing if your program is right for them. Educate them. Reach out to them and make sure that your message is being heard.

No matter the name, a program is successful if it’s reaching your patrons and teaching them to love the library and to love learning those valuable early literacy skills.

What do you call your storytimes and why? Have any interesting name stories to share? And, of course, now is the time to have the library debate of “storytime” vs. “story time” in the comments.

– Katie Salo
Early Literacy Librarian
Indian Prairie Library
http://storytimekatie.com

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18. ALSC Institute … Recap Online!

2014 Institute LogoIt was a mere two weeks ago that many of us gathered in Oakland CA for the 2014 ALSC Institute.  And thank goodness you all blogged about it! For those that couldn’t come, or missed a crucial session, here’s your chance to catch up online.

Amy "The Show Me Librarian" Koester at Children's Fairyland

Amy “The Show Me Librarian” Koester at Children’s Fairyland (photo by Kendra Jones)

From the Guerilla Storytime to the closing session, our live bloggers posted throughout the conference from different sessions, and many of you tweeted at #alsc14 …thanks to S. Bryce Kozla for this Storify version.

Many of you have provided wrap-ups at your own blogs: Penny Peck reports on the Institute at BayViews, Marge Loch-Wouters gives the low-down on the Instiute vs. ALA Conferences, and you can find reports on their programs from Amy Commers, Sylvia Vardell, Claudia Haines, and Amy Koester.  Who did I miss?  Tell us in the comments below.

There’s more to come, as our two Friends of ALSC-sponsored ALSC Institute Scholarship winners will be posting their thoughts soon: Gesse Stark-Smith on October 14th and Nicole Martin on October 21st. Stay tuned.

Nina Lindsay introducing Daniel Handler, Jenni Holm, and Mac Barnett at Children's Fairyland (photo by MaryAnn Scheuer)

Nina Lindsay introducing Daniel Handler, Jenni Holm, and Mac Barnett at Children’s Fairyland (photo by MaryAnn Scheuer)

Many of you have reported on the value of this conference in your surveys:

“I brought back wonderful program ideas, and a renewed passion for my profession.”

“I thought the Institute was excellent. The sessions were all very helpful and the speakers were great too. The best part was hearing about what other Children’s librarians are doing, and being given a space to hear about and share ideas.”

I hope you all made new connections, sparked new ideas, and are putting them into play with a renewed sense of purpose and fun.  The 2016 ALSC Institute will be held September 15-17, 2016, in Charlotte, North Carolina.  See you there!

Nina Lindsay was the chair for the 2014 ALSC Institute, and is the Children’s Services Coordinator for the Oakland Public Library, CA.

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19. Not-So-Cozy Bedtime Stories

Some of my favorite story time themes involve contrasting themes: Big and Little, Noisy and Quiet, and Awake and Asleep.  While I have several favorite titles perfect for snuggling just before bedtime, they’re not stories that I want to include for a 10:30 story time full of wide-awake toddlers. Luckily, there are any number of rollicking stories that are bedtime-oriented, but won’t invoke drowsiness:

beebeebird

(image from HarperCollins site)

Although “beebee bobbi bobbi” runs through my head all day long after using this in story time, I can’t resist using The Baby Beebee Bird in story times about baby animals or my awake/asleep story time.  This energetic story about a baby bird who prefers to (initially) sleep through the day and sing all night long (and making a very restless night for the other zoo animals, until they hatch a plan to teach the bird a lesson) will require creative and loud animal noises from the reader.

bedtime_jungle

 

(image taken from John Butler site)

Although this take on “Over in the Meadow” certainly qualifies as a “cozy” bedtime story, the variety of animals and audience participation possibilities (counting, etc) make Bedtime in the Jungle  a fun read for story times at any time of the day. It’s also great for story times involving baby animals, jungle animals, or counting.

bunnies_bed

(image taken from Random House site)

The Bunnies Are Not in Their Beds inevitably checks out with a story time patron after I include it in a story time; hopefully, the clever bits in the illustrations that go unnoticed in a large group setting (the headline in the newspaper, for instance) will be observed in an one-on-one setting.  The increasingly racuous bunnies, who are clearly not ready for bedtime, are hilarious.

 

piggies_pj

(image taken from Simon & Schuster site)

Stories in rhyme can be troublesome to read aloud; uneven rhyme schemes can make reading aloud awkward. You won’t have that problem with Piggies in Pajamas; this is a funny and bouncy tale of pajama-clad piggies who always manage to appear to be resting quietly each time Mama Pig checks out the commotion upstairs.

 

Do you have any favorite bedtime stories? Share in the comments!

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20. Camps: The New Trend in Summer Reading

geek girl logo

This summer at the Fayetteville Free Library in Fayetteville, NY we piloted our first ever week long summer camp during Summer Reading. The Fayetteville Free Library Geek Girl Camp is a camp for girls in grades 3 through 5 introducing them to hands on STEM skills and to female role models. Months of work went into planning this camp fulfilling a need in our greater community.  According to the Girl Scout Research Institute,  “Research shows that girls start losing interest in math and science during middle school. Girls are typically more interested in careers where they can help others (e.g., teaching, child care, working with animals) and make the world a better place. Recent surveys have shown that girls and young women are much less interested than boys and young men in math and science.”[1]

We had 44 girls attend the FFL Geek Girl Camp from all over the greater Syracuse, NY area. We had over 10 girls on the waiting list and charged $25.00 for the camp to supplement the cost of food, t-shirts and supplies. We also offered four scholarship opportunities for those who might not be able to afford the cost of the camp. In addition to the 44 girls who came to the camp we had 9 speakers from across the country join us in person or via Skype. Speakers included students from Virginia Commonwealth University, Cornell University, Syracuse University and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Other speakers included women who worked for Facebook, the Air Force, a pharmaceutical research facility, and from national organizations, Girls in Tech and Girl Develop IT. Each day we heard from one or more speakers who talked about what they do at their jobs or in school and how important it is to have women working in these fields! They all made sure to relate to the girls in attendance and campers had great questions afterwards.

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Throughout the week we had a great array of activities. We rented a cement mixer and made an oobleck pool for kids to run across after learning about density and viscosity, shot off model rockets, chucked books, apples and water balloons with a trebuchet after learning about projectiles, force, gravity and more.  Girls learned about fractals, made mini catapults, 3D printed, used littlebits kits, Snap Circuits and computer programmed with Scratch and much more.

The camp was a huge success that the parents of those who attended were above and beyond appreciative and wanted to already sign up for next year. We learned from this particular camp that we created something valuable for our community and that we need to transition into this camp model for future Summer Reading programs. We were asked, “When are you having a camp for boys”? We will not only have camp for boys and girls but of different ages as well. Planning FFL Geek Girl Camp did take a lot of time; however the outcome of the camp was far beyond what we expected and worth the time spent planning for the impact it had on our community. Camps offer children an opportunity to learn more and make stronger relationships over a short period of time.  Like camp as a kid it was a place to learn new things and meet new friends and create memories that last a lifetime.

CaptureThe first day of FFL Geek Girl, the campers were a little shy but after just the second day the girls couldn’t stop talking and working together. We run bimonthly programs where kids come in every other week to work on projects but having children in the library everyday for a week gives you an opportunity to teach kids a skill and not have to worry about rushing or not being able to complete the task, plus you have an opportunity to do projects or lessons that take longer and are more complex. Camps also give us a great opportunity to get to know our patrons. Girls come in and out of the library now looking for their camp counselors to say hi! Cost is also a huge factor in running a camp at a library versus a different venue. We had materials donated to the camp and used many of the resources we already owned including our own staff to run and plan the program. Most science camps can range in price anywhere from $75-$600. We decided that $25 was not only affordable but fit into our budget for the camp as well to make it run successfully.

CaptureWe think that camps are the future of Summer Reading. It gives us and the community an opportunity to focus on important topics like STEAM and produce content that is beneficial and influential. At the end of the week our campers said they wanted to be inventors, work at Google, become web developers and physicists. If it wasn’t for the atmosphere we created at the library and the week long camp we would have never saw these results and impact on our community.

Please check out our website for more information about the FFL Geek Girl Camp, our Flickr page and hashtag #geekgirl14 on Twitter and Instagram.

[1]Modi, K. (2012). “Generation STEM: What girls Say about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math” Girl Scout Research Institute. http://www.girlscouts.org/research/pdf/generation_stem_full_report.pdf

Capture

Meredith Levine is the Director of Family Engagement at the Fayetteville Free Library. Meredith is a member of the ALSC School Age Programs and Services Committee. Find out more at www.fflib.org or email Meredith at mlevine@fflib.org

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21. What GREAT children’s recordings have you listened to this year?

ALSC members are cordially invited to participate in the 2015 Notable Children’s Recordings list by submitting titles for consideration.  The Notable Children’s Recordings Committee’s charge is to select, annotate, and present for publication an annual list of notable audio recordings (music, audiobooks, and read-along kits) of interest to young people from birth through age 14.  The recordings must have been released between November 1, 2013, and October 31, 2014, and be available through a US distributor.  Please follow this link to find out more details about the list and criteria for inclusion:

http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/notalists/ncr

The column on the left of that page includes links for information about NCR, including Committee Members, Submission Process, and Past NCR lists.

Please send suggestions with full bibliographic information to chairperson Jennifer Duffy at jenniferaudio@gmail.com. The deadline to submit title suggestions is October 31st.

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22. Tween Tabs Take Two

In many ways, it is difficult to believe that my library has been circulating iPads in the children’s library for almost three years. Despite the continued discourse on the role of tablet technology among pre-readers, there is no question that children and families have continued to integrate such devices into their lives. In our community parents look to the librarians to guide their app selections, or at least point them towards the resources that can assist in discerning which purchases to make.

Kids grasping a new Tween Tab from the library.  Photo courtesy of Jacquie Miller.

Kids grasping a new Tween Tab from the library.
Photo courtesy of Jacquie Miller.

It first began with the preschool set, as our library made the decision to circulate Early Literacy Kits. The idea was to infuse tech into what we as children’s librarians were already expounding to parents and caregivers about the practices they can master in order to cultivate a reader. Now after so many parents have expressed that their child has already “Spot the Red Dot,” so to speak, what’s next?

After the debut of our nonfiction reorganization we began thinking of ways to market the collection glades and showcase other resources that reflected these areas. Time and time again we kept hearing requests to circulate tablets for school-age children. Some of our initial concerns stemmed from the prevalence in the community of iPads in the home. Was there even really a need with most families already owning at least one device? We realized that this wasn’t the case for all families, and if anything a lot of the feedback has been that patrons look to our curated list of apps as the main draw. With this encouragement, why not mirror some of the same subjects we wanted to point kids to in redefining how we navigate nonfiction? Our focus would be to highlight apps that inform, engage, and are used to create. Looking to a previous attempt at providing tweens with circulating devices that dissolved, we knew that we could give our Tween Tabs new life.

The method of circulating, updating, and restricting the devices would match the process of the early literacy tablets. Due to other initiatives we wouldn’t be able to roll out six iPads at once, but decided to test-drive the service with two tablets. Instead of the 5 Early Literacy Practices, we would be dividing our apps into the new nonfiction glades: Facts, Traditions, Create, Sports, Self, Fun, Animals, STEM, Then & Now, adding Bio and Languages to round it out. Compiling some of our favorites from the past few years, which we have demoed in programs and sometimes spontaneously in the stacks, the total list included over 70 apps.

From homework help apps like Stack the States, Prezi, and the American Presidents for iPad, to brainteasers like Rube Works and American Girl Doll Trivia, the reception has been quite astounding. There are currently over 20 holds on the kits, while pitching the new offering has purely been accomplished through word of mouth. Families are eager to use language resources like Gus on the Go: Mandarin and Rosetta Stone Kids Lingo Letter Sounds, and STEM picks Motion Math: Match, Hopscotch, and Oh No! Fractions. Personally, my heart tends to gravitate towards apps that give kids the ability to produce art digitally, like Easy Studio, Photogene, Bloom HD, and Auryn Ink.

Whatever new technologies are making waves, let’s continue to make sure we are providing these services for a variety of age groups in the community.

Claire Moore is a member of the Digital Content Task Force. She is also Head of Children’s 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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23. 2015 Building STEAM with Día Mini-Grants Available

Build STEAM with Día Mini-Grants

Build STEAM with Día Mini-Grants (image courtesy ALSC)

ALSC is now accepting mini-grant applications for libraries through the Día initiative. Mini-grants will be used to initiate a Building STEAM with Día program in libraries. Programs will focus on bringing culturally diverse and appropriate STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) activities to awarded communities. Up to 20 mini-grants will be awarded at $1,500 each.

Mini-grant awardees will also be invited to attend ALSC’s Diversity Forum which will be held at the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting on Friday, January 30, 2015 in Chicago. Awardees will receive a $500 travel stipend to attend.

Intended as an expansion of El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Día), the mini-grants will be awarded to libraries that demonstrate a need to better address the diverse backgrounds within their communities and demonstrate interest in hosting culturally diverse and appropriate STEAM programs.

The mini-grants are part of the Everyone Reads @ your library grant awarded to ALSC from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. In addition to these mini-grants, funding from this grant will also allow ALSC to host a National Diversity Forum and create additional resources including a Building STEAM with Día Booklist and Toolkit.

The application deadline is 5pm CST on Wednesday, October 17, 2014.

Please review the below documents prior to applying to this grant.

Grant Fact Sheet
Grant Requirements and Guidelines
Grant Application

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24. Program in a Post: Playdough!

With this post, $25 of pantry items and some junk, you can host a delightful Petite Picasso (preschool) program with playdough!

Supplies:

  • Pantry items (flour, salt, etc., see recipe) ($25)
  • Plastic bags or containers for storing the dough ($0-$5)
  • Various junk (cookie cutters, receipt rolls, rulers, craft sticks, etc.)

Use the playdough recipe in MaryAnn Kohl’s First Art: Art Experiences for Toddlers & Twos to turn flour, water, food coloring and a few other items into pliable, shapeable, squeezable, colorful dough before your program.

Room setup: Tables (with the legs folded up, just put the tabletop directly on the floor) each with a variety of junk and one color of dough.

Format: Petite Picasso one hour long open house.

Preschoolers and their grown ups had a great time rolling out, cutting up and building with the brightly colored dough. There was a fair amount of prep work involved to make the stove top dough, but the consistency of the finished product was fantastic. Try this program for some squishy, squashy fun!

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25. Fall for a Good Storytime

You guys. It is October. ALREADY. Which means you’re probably inundated with requests for fall-themed books and storytimes. I’m here to help. There are tons of resources for Fall Storytime available on the internet, whether you’re a storytime newbie or a seasoned storytimer looking to shake things up a bit. Here are some of my favorites:

Books:

  • Bear Has a Story to Tell by Phillip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead (Roaring Brook Press, 2012) – Animals are preparing for winter and Bear has a story to tell before he settles down to sleep.
  • The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2006) – How does a squirrel get ready for winter? This could be a great STEM conversation starter!
  • Fall is Not Easy by Marty Kelley (Zino Press Children’s Books, 1998) – This hilarious book will get kids laughing as a tree tries its hardest to put on proper fall colors.
  • I See Fall by Charles Ghigna, illustrated by Ag Jatkowska (Picture Window Books, 2011) – Make sure you include books featuring diverse children in your fall storytimes!
  • Kitten’s Autumn by Eugenie Fernandes (Kids Can Press, 2010) – Mixed media art and simple rhyming text make this one a great one for sharing.
  • Leaf Jumpers by Carole Gerber, illustrated by Leslie Evans (Charlesbridge, 2004) – Rhyming text describes the different colored leaves we see on different trees in the fall.
  • Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2005) – Illustrations made of fall leaves make this a great one for talking about leaves changing with older preschoolers or early elementary kids.
  • Mouse’s First Fall by Lauren Thompson (Simon & Schuster Books for Children, 2006) – Simple text makes this a winner for sharing with very young children.
  • Poppleton in Fall by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Mark Teague (Blue Sky Press, 1999) – I love to read the story “The Geese” with older preschoolers and early elementary kids.
  • Pumpkins by Ken Robbins (Square Fish, 2006) – The photo illustrations make this a great nonfiction choice for adding some STEM content to your storytime. Don’t be afraid to paraphrase.
  • That Pup! by Lindsay Barrett George (Greenwillow Books, 2011) – A spunky puppy has been digging and finding treasures all over the yard – acorns!
  • Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White, illustrated by Megan Lloyd (Holiday House, 1993) – After a pumpkin went SPLAT! in the garden, Rebecca Estelle has too many pumpkins!
  • We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt by Steve Metzger, illustrated by Miki Sakamoto (Cartwheel Books, 2005) – Using the familiar cadence of “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt”, this trio is off to find some colorful fall leaves.

(Thanks to the following awesome Twitter librarians for suggesting titles for this list: @Jbrary, @MelissaZD, @misskubelik, @pussreboots, @taletrekker)

Flannel Stories/Rhymes/Activities:

Photo by Abby Johnson

Photo by Abby Johnson

The Perfect Pumpkin. A felt pumpkin and a lot of black felt shapes lead to experimenting with jack-o-lantern creation. Use different shapes to create different faces – some scary, sad, or funny – and ask the kids what shapes you should use to create the perfect pumpkin!

Build a Pumpkin Patch. Pass out felt pumpkins and call kids up to put their pumpkins in the patch based on what color they’re wearing (e.g. “If you’re wearing red today, red today, red today, If you’re wearing red today, please bring up your pumpkin!”). An alternative if you have a large crowd would be to make felt pumpkins of different shapes and sizes (large, small, flat, skinny, triangular) and build a pumpkin patch together, asking for the kids’ help in describing the different shapes and colors they see.

Photo by Abby Johnson

Photo by Abby Johnson

Fall is Not Easy. The trim size of the above-mentioned book by Marty Kelley is a bit small for sharing with a big group. We’ve turned it into a felt story for hilarious fun!

IMG_0442

Photo by Abby Johnson

Fall Leaves Felt. You can do a lot with some felt leaf shapes. We hand them out to the kids and call colors to bring up to the board. You can also talk about what colors they are, use them with the above-mentioned story We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt by Steve Metzger, or use them with a “five little leaves” rhyme or song (try Five Little Leaves).

Bring in some real fall leaves to explore! You can make leaf rubbings, arrange the leaves to make pictures (a la Leaf Man), let kids sort by color or size, or put out some magnifying glasses to let kids take a closer look.

Songs: 

More resources!

You can find more Fall Storytime plans at the following sites:

What are your favorite readalouds and activities for Fall Storytime?

— Abby Johnson, Children’s Services Manager
New Albany-Floyd County Public Library
New Albany, IN
http://www.abbythelibrarian.com

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