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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Collection Development, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. The Cursed Child Conundrum

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is a world-wide phenomena, a life-changing read, and a children’s book. Harry and his friends are mere 11 year-olds at the start of their first school year. Though their adventures and world get older, darker, and infinitely more complex, the series is still entirely at home in a children’s library. This year, for the first time since the blockbuster release of the seventh book in the series, librarians will be faced with two J.K. Rowling-sized collection issues.

fantasticThe first is due to a new movie, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The movie, starring Eddie Redmaye, tells the story of Newt Scamander, famous in Harry Potter’s world for having literally written the book on fantastical creatures. The film was written by Rowling herself. Technically, this is not an adaptation of the textbook (also written by Rowling) of the same name. That slim volume, published in 2001, has almost nothing to do with the upcoming movie. Published as a fundraiser for Comic Relief, the Fantastic Beasts book clocks in at a mere 128 pages. Despite this, we’ve seen holds on our copy balloon into the double digits. Will you be buying more copies of Fantastic Beasts for the name tie-in alone?

The second, and most pressing, conundrum is the question of The Cursed Child. On June 7, 2016, previews begin in London for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a sequel play based off an original story written by Rowling and two collaborators. When publication of Cursed Child was announced, it was announced as a new Harry Potter book, but Rowling later clarified that the book was actually the script of the play, and not an new prose story.

The issue for children’s librarians comes from the subject matter. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is described thusly:

hpccIt was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

It sounds amazing, but that is beside the point. Does a book about adult Harry Potter, an overworked government bureaucrat, belong in the children’s library, next to the books about Harry’s childhood? For now, we’re saying yes at my library. Our original order of 10 copies are all already on hold, so we’ve added 20 more. Our final decision won’t be made until we can read the play, and Baker and Taylor has already sent the embargo paperwork.

I was 11 when the first Harry Potter book came out. I attended every midnight release party for the books and saw every movie on opening day. I am SO PUMPED for new Harry Potter. I just hope both of these new stories are for all Harry’s fans, not just the adult ones like me.

The post The Cursed Child Conundrum appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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2. Comics Update!

It’s time for our semi-annual comics for tweens roundup.  Here’s a few comics that your tweens will adore!

source: Goodreads

A group of teenage girls used to be the Zodiac Starforce: they spent their freshman year fighting monsters. But that’s pretty much over two years later…or so they think it is until their leader, Emma, is attacked by a monster and infect her. Good for tweens and teens, Ganacheau’s bright coloring and magical girl style is fun to real.

source: Goodreads

AT LONG LAST, Amulet #7 has arrived! Your young patrons will be so excited! Emmy, Trellis, and Vigo visit Algos island, where they can enter lost memories, looking for knowledge they can use against the Elf King. This series continues to be great. Use it for displays to get your teens excited about comics!

source: Goodreads

Originally a webcomic, Help Us Great Warrior is a delightful tale of a deceptively tiny Great Warrior protecting her village from evil-doers. But she has a huge secret. How will her friends feel about her protecting them when they find out?

source: Goodreads

Sixth in the Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales series, this juvenile nonfiction graphic book takes on the Battle of the Alamo. Your kids that already like NHHT will, of course, love it, but it’ll stand well on its own.

BONUS: COMING SOON

source: Goodreads

We’re getting a new Raina this year! Did you know we were getting a new Raina this year?? It’s out in September, and here’s the copy to read to your kids to get them excited about the fall:

Catrina and her family are moving to the coast of Northern California because her little sister, Maya, is sick. Cat isn’t happy about leaving her friends for Bahía de la Luna, but Maya has cystic fibrosis and will benefit from the cool, salty air that blows in from the sea. As the girls explore their new home, a neighbor lets them in on a secret: There are ghosts in Bahía de la Luna. Maya is determined to meet one, but Cat wants nothing to do with them. As the time of year when ghosts reunite with their loved ones approaches, Cat must figure out how to put aside her fears for her sister’s sake – and her own.

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

The post Comics Update! appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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3. Fresh Graphic Novel Picks

Image from Penguin Random House.

Image from http://bit.ly/1StCQOy.

Hurrah! Spring has officially arrived- at least for the most part.  Although it seems to be a daily surprise here in my part of the country whether or not we will have spring or winter temperatures, I thought it was a great time for sharing some fresh, new graphic novels with you! Below are a few of my favorite titles that have been published so far this year. I’m sure you and your patrons will enjoy them!

Complete Chi’s Sweet Home: Part 2 by Konami Kanata. Vertical Comics; 2016.

Cat lovers of all ages will adore this manga series! This recently released title collects volumes four through six from Kanata’s original series. Follow Chi in her adorable adventures as she learns how to live with her adoptive family, the Yamadas, and searches for her mother.

Unicorn Vs. Goblins: Another Phoebe and Her Unicorn Adventure by Dana Simpson. Andrews McMeel Publishing; 2016.

The third volume in the Phoebe and Her Unicorn series delivers plenty of laughs, just like the previous two titles. Readers will follow Phoebe and her narcissistic unicorn best friend, Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, on some goofy adventures. The pair visit summer music camp, hangout with Marigold’s sister, Florence Unfortunate Nostrils (ha!), and encounter a goblin queen. An especially great pick for tween readers.

The Great Pet Escape by Victoria Jamieson, Henry Holt and Co.; 2016.

The amazing creator of Newbery honor book Roller Girl has now given us this gem! Have you ever wondered what classroom pets do once the students and teachers have went home for the day? Jamieson gives us a hilarious look at the after-hours antics of the pets of Daisy P. Flugelhorn Elementary as they attempt to escape, get into a food fight, and more. Younger readers in kindergarten through second grade will be cracking up, I know I was!

The Nameless City: Volume 1 by Faith Erin Hicks. First Second; 2016.

Image from http://bit.ly/21fQDus.

Image from http://bit.ly/21fQDus.

This title is slated to be the beginning of a new series from Hicks and it is filled with adventure and intrigue. Two kids from opposite sides of a long-held conflict become friends in the City. It remains nameless due to the constant invasions by other nations, seeking to control the only passage through the mountains to the ocean in this well-developed fictional world. Recommended for older tween readers, this graphic novel takes on more serious issues of identity while providing plenty of fun action.

What are some of your favorite graphic novels published this year so far? Happy reading until next time!

The post Fresh Graphic Novel Picks appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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4. Hamilton and the Children’s Library

hamiltonBroadway’s hit show Hamilton is nothing short of a cultural phenomenon: sold out until January 2017, its cast album just became a gold record, meaning it has sold more than 500,000 copies; meanwhile the cast recently performed live at the Grammy Awards and at the White House. For those not yet obsessed with the show, Hamilton mixes hip-hop with show tunes to tell the story of America’s “ten dollar Founding Father/without a father.” The cast is stunningly talented and diverse, and young people (and their friendly neighborhood librarians) across America are obsessed.

So how can we capitalize on this Hamilton hunger in the children’s library? True, the musical is based on a book, but not many 10 year-olds are wiling to haul an 800+ page, Pulitzer-prize winning behemoth to school. Prior to his recent fame, Hamilton was an oft-ignored Founding Father. In fact, Chernov’s book bills itself as the “first” full-length biography of the man, written nearly 200 years after he died. So what can we offer Hamilton‘s younger fans?

Luckily, offerings for the young reader are not as slim as you might think. The following books are in-print, well-reviewed, and fun to read:

Alexander Hamilton: The Outsider (2012, Gr. 6+)

The Duel: The Parallel Lives of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr (2009, Gr. 5+ )

The Founding Fathers!: Those Horse-Ridin’, Fiddle-Playin’, Book-Readin’, Gun-Totin’ Gentlemen Who Started America (2015, Gr. 2+)

Aaron and Alexander: The Most Famous Duel in American History (2015, Gr. 2+)

The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery (2013, Gr. 5+ – yes, this one is not about Hamilton. But it’s excellent, and tells the story of another early American whose story has been reduced to one thing: traitor)

Better Nate than Ever (2014, Gr. 5+ – again, not about Hamilton. But a kid who loves Broadway will love this book. And so does Lin Manuel Miranda!)

What books would you give to a young Hamilton fan? And what’s your favorite song from Hamilton? Mine is (currently) “Dear Theodosia.”

 

 

 

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5. Top Rainbow Reads for Kids

This weekend I had the most incredible book discussion experience of my life. No joke. I had the joy of meeting with 9 wonderful and incredibly smart people to decide on the best LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning) books for kids and teens that were published between July 2014 and December 2015. You can find the entire list on the Rainbow List site; I am going to highlight the top books for kids through grades 6 here. The final list includes over 40 titles and of these we selected a top 10. Top ten titles are indicated with an *.

I know that book budgets are not limitless, so if you can’t buy all of these titles for your collection, a good place to start is with anything on the top 10 list: Gracefully Grayson, The Marvels (who are we kidding, you already have this book!), and Sex is a Funny Word.
While no picture books made the top ten list, that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth having. They would all make excellent additions to a library collection, but if you can only buy three start with: Red: A Crayon’s Story, Stella Brings the Family and Heather Has Two Mommies.

Picture Books

Red: A Crayon's StoryHall, Michael. Red: A Crayon’s Story. 2015. 40p. Greenwillow, $18.89 (9780062252098). 3-7 yrs.

The label read, “Red.” However, all of Red’s strawberries and hearts come out blue. Friends and family try to fix Red until new buddy Berry helps this crayon discover his true color.

Newman, Lesléa. Heather Has Two Mommies. Written by Lesléa Newman, illus. by Laura Cornell. 2015. 32p. Candlewick, $16.99 (9780763666316). 3-7 yrs.

Heather’s favorite number is two: she has two arms, two legs, two pets, and two mommies. When Heather goes to preschool, she learns that not all families look alike, but that they all have one thing in common—love. New text and illustrations make this classic accessible to a modern audience.

Rotner, Shelly, and Sheila M. Kelly. Families. 2015. 32p. Holiday House, $17.95 (9780823430536). 3-7 yrs.

A beautiful diversity of family life is depicted through simple text and photographs.

Schiffer, Miriam B. Stella Brings the Family. Written by Miriam Schiffer; illus. by Holly Clifton-Brown. 2015. 36p. Chronicle, $16.99 (9781452111902). 3-7 yrs.

It’s Mother’s Day, and everyone is making invitations for their mothers to come to the school celebration. But Stella has two dads and no mom to invite…What should she do?

Tyner, Christy. Zak’s Safari. Written by Christy Tyner; illus. by Ciaee. 2014. 38p. CreateSpace, $15.00 (9781502325464). 3-7 yrs.

When young Zak’s outdoor “safari” gets cancelled because of the rain, he leads his readers (and his stuffed animal tourists) on an adventure through the story of his family. Zak introduces his two mothers and how they became a family of three with the help of a donor from a sperm bank.

Juvenile Fiction

Gino, Alex. George. 2015. 195p. Scholastic, $16.99 (9780545812542). Gr 3-7.

Stonewall Book Awards–Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s Award Book. When people look at George, they see a boy. But she knows she’s a girl. With the help of her best friend, George comes up with a plan, not just so she can be Charlotte in her school play but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.

Gracefully Grayson*Polonsky, Ami. Gracefully Grayson. 2014. 243p. Hyperion, $16.99 (9781423185277). Gr. 4-7.

Twelve-year-old Grayson, through a school play, finds the courage to reveal a deep truth: in spite of being seen as a boy, she knows for a fact that she’s a girl.  

*Selznick, Brian. The Marvels. 2015. 667p. Scholastic, $32.99 (9780545448680). Gr. 5-8.

In black-and-white pencil illustrations, Selznick depicts three generations of actors descending from the sole survivor of a legendary shipwreck. As that story closes, another unfolds in prose as young Joseph discovers his connection to the actors and his family history, and he embraces his uncle’s life story as it affects and changes his own.

Juvenile Nonfiction

Pohlen, Jerome. Gay & Lesbian History for Kids: The Century-Long Struggle for LGBT Rights, with 21 Activities. 2015. 192p. Chicago Review, $17.95 (9781613730829). Gr. 4-9.

From ancient China to the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision on marriage equality, this narrative history reference gives context to the challenges and achievements of both queer individuals and the broader quest for civil rights.

Sex is a Funny Word*Silverberg, Cory. Sex is a Funny Word: A Book about Bodies, Feelings, and YOU. Written by Cory Silverberg; illus. by Fiona Smyth. 2015. 159p. Seven Stories, $23.95 (9781609806064). Gr. 3-6.

For children with questions about bodies, gender, touch, sex, and love, this all-inclusive book guides the conversation between children and trusted adults in an accessible graphic format. Gentle, intelligent humor brings home the message of respect, trust, joy, and justice for everyone’s body. Stonewall Book Awards–Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Award Honor Book.

The Rainbow Booklist Committee had so many wonderful books to choose from this year! If you collect for teens or if you are just looking for something good to read, do check out the rest of the list here. I have already started reading for next year and let me tell you, there are some GREAT books on deck. John Corey Whaley’s Highly Illogical Behavior (May 2016) is so splendid, it is ridiculous. If you read a book for kids or teens published between July 2015 and December 2016 that you think the Rainbow Booklist Committee should consider for next year’s list, please send in a suggestion. We would love to hear from you. Happy reading!!

The post Top Rainbow Reads for Kids appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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6. Child Soldier and the Refugee Experience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The post Child Soldier and the Refugee Experience appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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7. Backlist Booklist: Mystery Edition

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

Source: Goodreads

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

Source: Goodreads

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

Source: Goodreads

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

Source: Goodreads

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

Source: Goodreads

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

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

The post Backlist Booklist: Mystery Edition appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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8. Parent Teacher Collection Re-Organization

Earlier this year, I took over the responsibility of the Parent Teacher Collection at my library. It was a natural fit since I had to keep bringing picture books to my boss and spending time together to figure out what collection a picture book like Todd Parr’s The Goodbye Book really belonged in.

I was also asked to re-organize the collection by de-Deweying and creating browseable subjects.

Instead of writing through every step, I made a quick infographic detailing my process:

[An infographic about developing a Parent Teacher Collection created by the author using Piktochart.]

[An infographic created by the author.]

Up-close photo of the spine labels of our Parent Teacher collection. [Photo courtesy of the author.]

Up-close photo of our spine labels. [Photo courtesy of the author.]


Collection Facts:

  • Collection has ten shelves; roughly 650 books.
  • Books are a mixture of adult books and children’s materials.
  • We decided on seven main subjects: Development, Health, Relationships, Safety, School, Special Needs, and Travel.
  • There are sub-subjects under every main subject except Travel.
  • While the collection is mostly comprised of books, it does have some DVDs and software.
  • At the bottom (in the red polka dot totes) are our Parenting Packs, which are kits geared towards parents/caregivers to use during milestone events.
  • Books show up in the catalog with the full call number: PARENTS DEVELOPMENT POTTY WILLEMS.

Our Parent Teacher Collection new materials shelf -- shows the range of what we're buying. [Photo courtesy of the author.]

Our New shelf — shows the range of what we’re buying. [Photo courtesy of the author.]

Purchasing:

  • Books are purchased by the Kids & Teens staff members from the children’s non-fiction budget line.
  • Generally, books that are used WITH children are shelved in the Parent Teacher Collection. Books about child psychology, parenting memoirs, and academic materials are shelved downstairs in the Adult Services collection.
  • I consult with the Adult Services librarian who selects for the 600s. We have determined that we are okay with purchasing doubles of materials.

Reception:

Up-close picture of a Parenting Pack from the Parent Teacher Collection. [Photo courtesy of the author.]

Up-close picture of a Parenting Pack. [Photo courtesy of the author.]

  • Every time I walk past the section, the shelves need to be straightened. This means that they’re being used!
  • I’m seeing 40% more of the collection moving based on recently returned books.
  • I see more browsers which is GREAT and the reason why we decided to de-Dewey the collection. Caregivers are often dealing with a difficult problem when they are looking in the Parent Teacher Collection. They might not be comfortable asking for help and may also want to get their information quickly. This project makes that possible.
  • A parent thanked me for integrating the picture books and parent books. It made finding the right resources a one-stop shop for her.
  • Another parent expressed gratitude that the subject she was looking for was all shelved together and easy to find.
  • Half of the Parenting Packs are currently checked out.

It’s only been a few months, but I think this is one of the best things I’ve done at the library. My co-workers are probably getting tired of hearing me squee every time I see the return cart packed with Parent Teacher Collection books. (I kid — they are all incredibly supportive!)

I’m still not 100% done and I never will be. I need to continually evaluate this collection and actively seek out new materials since they aren’t always readily available in traditional review journals. We’re also preparing a new marketing campaign to help show the organization of the shelves, as well as a brochure to help parents/caregivers navigate the section.

Do you have a Parent Teacher Collection? Any tips or tricks to share? Any questions for me? Let’s talk the comments!

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

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9. Discomforting Books

The recent controversy over A BIRTHDAY CAKE FOR GEORGE WASHINGTON provoked me to think about how we should react when a book that is already in our collection proves unsettling, hurtful or insulting to some readers.

I don’t want to rehash the discussions around Scholastic’s withdrawal of A BIRTHDAY CAKE. Rather, I’d like us to talk about whether and why we retain books—often considered classics—which are offensive to some in our society.

Of course, there are a multitude of reasons why readers object to certain books, but to focus our discussion, I’ll concentrate on a few books which have been criticized for racial, ethnic, or religious insensitivity (or worse).

Colorful library of booksHere’s a short list:

Banks, Lynne Reid.  THE INDIAN IN THE CUPBOARD (series)

Bannerman, Helen.  LITTLE BLACK SAMBO

Bishop, Claire.  THE FIVE CHINESE BROTHERS

Brink, Carol Ryrie.  CADDIE WOODLAWN

Clinton, Cathryn.  A STONE IN MY HAND

Harris, Joel Chandler.  TALES OF UNCLE REMUS

Lofting, Hugh.  THE VOYAGES OF DOCTOR DOOLITTLE (series)

Twain, Mark.  HUCKLEBERRY FINN

Wilder, Laura Ingalls.  LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE (series)

Some questions to consider:

Which of those do you own or have you withdrawn from your collections?

Does it make a difference whether you work in a school or public library?

If the books are still in your library, was this the result of a conscious decision? If so, can you explain your reasoning?

If they are still in your collection, where are they shelved?

If you have withdrawn them, can you explain your thinking?

Have you bought titles that might substitute for the challenged books, i.e. Julius Lester’s retellings of the Uncle Remus stories, Margaret Mahy’s THE SEVEN CHINESE BROTHERS or Fred Marcellino’s THE STORY OF LITTLE BABAJI?

If you bought retellings or substitutions, did you retain the older, challenged titles? Why or why not?

Let’s talk!

Submitted by Miriam Lang Budin, ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee Member

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10. Past the Cape: Quirky Graphic Novels

I began reading comic books in elementary school, checking out issues of Spider-Man along with my stacks of Goosebumps books. I eventually broadened my horizons past the amazing web slinger and onto the X-men, Batman and the rest of the Marvel and DC Universes. I mostly read this way until my late high school and early college years, during which I discovered Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comics and all the interesting stories Vertigo was publishing that didn’t involve characters in spandex. Now I will occasionally pick up a superhero book but typically gravitate towards stories outside of the caped universe.

The amount of interesting, quality graphic novels and comic books that are published for young readers today is impressive and exciting to see. I often think of how young readers can be exposed to the world of comics without feeling their only choice is a caped crusader. Of course, there is nothing wrong with loving and reading those stories but it’s important to have other choices in your collections for kids who are looking for something different.

I’ve highlighted three of my favorite quirky and fresh graphic novels for young readers, all published within the past 5 years, that will add something special to your shelves and make great choices for elementary school students in grades 1-5.

Hotel Strange by Florian and Katherine Ferrier. Illustrations by Katherine Ferrier. Translated by Carol Burrell. Graphic Universe; 2015.  This is indeed a strange story with odd characters and more dialogue than action, but both volumes #1 and #2 of Hotel Strange are charming and fun to read.

Image from http://lukepearson.com/Hilda

Image from http://lukepearson.com/HildStrange

Hilda and the Midnight Giant by Luke Pearson. Nobrow Press; 2012. I loved all of the Hildafolk books but Hilda and the Midnight Giant is probably my favorite. Pearson’s stories are a great mix of creepy moments, humor and modern fairytale magic. And his rich color palette- sigh. It is so beautiful you might just gaze at the pictures and forget to read the words!

The Only Child by Guojing. Schwartz and Wade; 2015. This book was heralded as a best book of last year from establishments like Entertainment Weekly, and rightfully so. It really is a wonderful piece of art and narrative. This wordless graphic novel is a bit nontraditional in it’s size and format, but is a touching story about a child’s loneliness and imagination that kids and adults will enjoy.

There are many other great titles that I would put into my quirky category, but I wanted to keep this post brief. What are some of your favorite non-superhero graphic novels? Do your young patrons seek out these types of comics or does Marvel rule your stacks? What comic books did you read as a child?

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11. Circulating Kits for Early Literacy

In the past few years, I feel like I’ve become an expert in circulating kits for early literacy. Since I started at my library two years ago, I’ve created thirty-nine circulating kits and have collaboratively helped seventeen more get on the shelves for our patrons. I thought I’d take some time today to highlight some of the kits.

LeapFrog Kits

Picture of LeapFrog circulating kits on the shelf. [Photo courtesy of the author.]

Picture of LeapFrog circulating kits on the shelf. [Photo courtesy of the author.]

I have four different kinds of LeapFrog kits on the shelf with a total of sixteen kits:

  • LeapPad 2.0 (4 copies)
  • LeapPad Ultra Tablets (4 copies)
  • LeapFrog Junior Tag Reader (4 copies)
  • LeapFrog Tag Reader (4 copies)

Each LeapPad tablet comes with cartridges in the kit and each LeapFrog reader comes with preloaded books. I do basic maintenance of these kits. As each one comes into the library, I check to make sure it’s charged or that the batteries are still in good condition. I also wipe the tablets clean of photos, art, videos, and stories to protect patron privacy.

These have circulated since the summer of 2014. I’ve had to replace one LeapPad 2.0 because it lost sound capabilities, a few cartridges (most notably the Cinderella ebook that came back in parts since the dog got a hold of it!), and a case that the zipper broke on.

Book Bundles

Early literacy circulating kits, sponsored by Target. [Photo courtesy of the author.]

Early literacy circulating kits, sponsored by Target. [Photo courtesy of the author.]

Book Bundles began circulating this past November. I received a Target early literacy grant (which they sadly do not offer any longer) to create these backpack kits. I have twelve kits, one each of the following themes: 123s, ABCs, Animals, Colors, Community Helpers, Feelings, My Body, Nursery Rhymes, Shapes, Time, Transportation, Weather.

Each kits has two or three books and manipulatives to go with the theme. I have puppets, puzzles, games, arts and crafts supplies, toys, CDs, and DVDs. For each item in the Book Bundle, I have written an activity guide for patrons to use with the items. A binder sits on top of the section for patrons to see what materials are inside the Book Bundles.

One of our volunteers inventories these as they are brought back. I’ve only had to replace a mesh bag with a broken zipper and tape up a page from Maisy’s Wonderful Weather Book — which is a pop-up book.

Parenting Pack

Up-close picture of a Parenting Pack. [Photo courtesy of the author.]

Up-close picture of a Parenting Pack. [Photo courtesy of the author.]

I talked a little bit about these Parenting Packs in my ALSC post on re-organizing the Parent/Teacher collection. These were also purchased with the Target grant money. I have eleven kits on the following themes: First Trip on an Airplane, Healthy Eating, New Baby in the House (2 copies), Potty Training for Boys (2 copies), Potty Training for Girls (2 copies), Starting School, Staying in the Hospital, Visiting the Doctor.

Parenting Packs are exactly like Book Bundles except that I also include parenting books and a resource guide. So far there have been no problems with the Parenting Packs and replacement items.

Tigglys & Playaway Launchpads

Circulating kits including Tigglys and Launchpads.

A cart full of technology, some of it pre-processed. Includes Tigglys and Playaway Launchpads. [Photo courtesy of the author.]

Tigglys are part of circulating kits in our makerspace: the Wouldshop™. We have one kit of each version (Counts, Shapes, and Words) in its own kit. These products interact with an iPad and we only circulate the product pieces; patrons must provide their own iPad. These are also inventoried by a volunteer.

Playaway Launchpads are new enough that I don’t have pictures of them processed! Our patrons have access to fourteen of these new self-contained tablets. These are the only devices that are on shelf in security cases. I don’t have much to do with these since they are an easy one-touch reset, as opposed to the LeapFrog products that can take me a while to clear private data from.

These examples aren’t the only circulating kits that my library has on the shelf. We also have three gardening kits, two Osmo kits, and a whole slew of circulating kits coming (Ozobots, Spheros, Little Bits just to name a few off the top of my head). I’m also in the planning stages to create more Book Bundles and Parenting Packs.

Is anyone else circulating kits for early literacy in their library? Do you want more specific details? Please feel free to email me at simplykatie[at]gmail[dot]com or comment with your quick questions.

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

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12. An Invisible Minority: Serving LGBTQIA Kids and Families

Rochester (MN) Public Library’s core values focus on being a welcoming and inclusive environment. A few years ago we started to hear from adults and teens in the community that there were not a lot of safe spaces for LGBTQIA teens to hang out, so in our 2015 Action Plans we included “Develop programming to specifically meet the needs of Rainbow Families and LGBTQIA teens” and got started.

Training posterBefore we share our ideas for serving LGBTQIA kids and families, let’s talk about “LGBTQIA”. LGBTQIA stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual or Ally. Without including the word “queer”, this alphabet soup is not inclusive of the entire spectrum of sexual and gender identities out there. But as you can imagine, when we use the word queer in our program descriptions or trainings, people have a lot of questions.

Queer is a word with a terrible history, a confusing present, and a bright future. It was used negatively for many years, but over the last 30 years or so has had a comeback as a word that is embraced by many people as an identity, and is used regularly as a positive umbrella term for the LGBTQIA community (think: “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”).

Like any word, it can still be used negatively. It is all in how it is used and delivered. We would not label someone as queer who had not self-identified, nor would we refer to someone as “a queer” – those would be negative and inappropriate uses of the word. Our use is to be inclusive of the many teens and grown-ups in our community who self-identify as queer or under the queer umbrella. Embracing their choice of word further proves our commitment to creating a safe space for them. If you would like to read more try this website, this article, or this.

Why are we focusing on serving LGBTQIA kids & families?

Rainbow Families booklistYouth Services at RPL started undergoing changes in 2011 that included things as small as purchasing and displaying more books with LGBTQIA content. Once these books were on display and available in the library catalog, we started to hear from customers who appreciated having access to them. We also started regularly printing and keeping on display a Booklist for Rainbow Families which received a lot of positive attention. The conversations that we had around the books and booklists brought to light a need in the community: LGBTQIA kids and families needed safe spaces, they needed to see themselves represented in the library collection, and they needed to feel welcomed!New non-fic display

We also have bigger reasons for wanting to provide a safe space for LGBTQIA youth and families.  The Human Rights Campaign study “Growing up LGBT in America”  reports that 4 in 10 LGBTQIA youth say the community in which they live is not accepting of LGBT people, and and only 21% say there is a place where LGBTQIA youth can go in their community and get help or be accepted.  LGBTQIA youth face higher rates of bullying, homelessness, substance abuse and suicide, but teens who have supportive families and friends or safe spaces in their community are better equipped to deal with these additional challenges.

So what can libraries do to serve LGBTQIA kids & families?

Create a Safe Space

The most important step a library can take to create a safe space for LGBTQIA patrons is to train staff to be LGBTQIA allies and hold staff accountable. It is important that you have buy-in from the library administration, and that the people at the top understand why safe spaces are important, but it isn’t necessary to start there. Start with yourself and the staff Promaround you, sometimes change has to trickle upwards. If you don’t have resources in your community such as an LGBTQ Community Center or a local college Gay/Straight Alliance which can provide you with training, there are plenty of options online to get started:

There are easy things you or your staff can start today to be good allies.  Being inclusive with your language doesn’t hurt anything, and can go a long way to making everyone feel more comfortable.  For example, when talking to kids about their parents, use “grown-ups” or “adults” or another neutral term that feels natural to you. Not every kid has a “mom” and/or a “dad”.  You can also choose to use gender neutral terms to refer to individual kids or groups of kids. Use “people” or “friend(s)” instead of “guys” or “ladies”.

Pronoun name badgeAnother easy change is to wear a pronoun name badge. Even if you have never been mis-gendered, wearing a name badge with your pronouns on it sends a message to everyone who sees you that you accepting and welcome conversations about pronouns. It also opens up opportunities to talk about how and why your library is a safe space or the LGBTQIA programs you offer.

Once your staff is better equipped to be allies, you’ll need to make sure you have policies in place to protect your LGBTQIA kids and families, and train staff on how to handle issues that may arise.  For example, does your written code of conduct include a statement about harassment? Are staff ready to step in with words connecting back to your code of conduct if they overhear teens saying, “That’s so gay!” or “No homo.”? For example: “The library doesn’t allow abusive language and your words are not inclusive or nice.”

All staff should pay attention to what is happening in your space (bullying). Some bullying can be subtle; watch the way teens are interacting in your teen space. When a certain group arrives, does another group always leave? Talk to your teens and make sure you know what is going on. Some bullying that starts at school may continue at the library after school.

Your library may also have business practices and procedures that need to be updated in Pride Cakeorder to be inclusive to your LGBTQIA community.  Does your library card application ask for a person’s gender?  Does it need to? Do you allow a patron to use a preferred name on their library card in addition to or instead of their legal name?  What about your bathrooms – do you have single stall restrooms that you could convert to gender neutral spaces?

The next step is to start the safe space conversation with the rest of the community. Meet with other youth workers in your community to talk about LGBTQIA services and creating safe spaces. The library can be a great neutral ground for offering training that is open to community youth workers.

Create LGBTQIA Inclusive Collections & Displays

ZinesIt’s important for LGBTQIA youth to see themselves reflected in the books they read.  According to GLSEN’s 2013 National School Climate Survey, only 19% of LGBTQIA students report that positive representations of LGBTQIA people are included in their school curriculum.

There are a lot of really great books (fiction and nonfiction) available with LGBTQIA content, with more and more books coming out (get it?) every year.  Not all of them are published by big houses, and not all get picked up for reviews, but it’s worth the time to seek out the titles to make sure your collection is representative of the full 5th grade booklistspectrum of gender/sexual identities.  To get started, check out the ALA GLBT Round Table’s Rainbow Booklist.  The Rainbow Booklist Committee reads hundreds of books with LGBTQIA content and publishes its best-of list for kids and teens annually.  In addition, ALA’s Stonewall Award and the LAMBDA Literary Awards  both have categories honoring Children’s anYA displayd Young Adult Literature.

Once you’ve got the books in your collection, you want your patrons to know they are there!   While special displays highlighting LGBTQIA materials are great, it’s important to include LGBTQIA materials in all of your displays and booklists.

Offer LGBTQIA Programs

Once you have created a safe space and opened dialogues with LGBTQIA customers and community members, you will start to hear about programs and resources that people would like to see in your community.

Our first program focusing on LGBTQIA teens was q club. q club began in September 2014 with just one teen; it now boasts regular attendance of over twenty at each meeting, and is hands down our highest attended teen program. Like all of our teen programs, we let the teens decide what activities we plan and what topics we discuss.  Last summer, in partnership with Gay/Lesbian Community Services of Pride Prom themeSoutheast Minnesota (http://www.glcsmn.org/), we hosted the first ever Pride Prom “Smells Like Pride Spirit” in Rochester. Forty-four teens attended and afterwards some called it the best night of their lives! We are currently in the early planning stages of our 2nd Annual Pride Prom.

q club teens are interested having the chance to just hang out and be themselves, and they are also embrace opportunities to have their voices heard in the larger community.  They have created zines to celebrate Pride, National Coming Out Day, and Transgender Day of Remembrance which they distributed at the library and at local businesses.  q club teens were a large voice in our October National Coming Out Day celebration, and will soon be participating in a community health needs assessment.

In addition to q club and in response to community requests we currently offer:

  • Parents Empower Pride: a meet up for parents of LGBTQIA kids to talk about how to PEP postersupport their kids on their journey.
  • Pride Prom: An annual a safe & welcoming after-hours party for LGBTQIA teens and allies in grades 7-12 held during Rochester’s Pride Fest.
  • Rainbow Family Storytime: During Rochester Pride we offer Rainbow Family Storytimes for preschool children and families.

Just in the last month we have received two more requests: one to offer a q club for tweens and the other to offer a meet-up group for kids of LGBTQIA parents. As staffing and space allows, we will make these programs happen. Even without special programming just for LGBTQIA youth, you can ge started by integrating inclusive LGBTQIA materials into your regular programs, such as storytime or book clubs. The possibilities for inclusion are endless. We would love to hear what you are doing to serve LGBTQIA kids and families at your library!

Heather Acerro is Head of Youth Services at Rochester (MN) Public Library.

Sarah Joynt is Teen Librarian at Rochester (MN) Public Library.

Heather and Sarah use the pronouns she/her/hers, but they are okay with they/them too, even when you are just talking about one of them.

**YALSA just released research on Teens, Libraries, and LGBT issues.**

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13. Send Us Rainbow Book Suggestions!

Red: A Crayon's StoryThe Rainbow Book List Committee, a committee of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Round Table (GLBTRT) of the American Library Association, is seeking suggestions from the field for the 2016 Rainbow Book List. Suggestions from the field will be accepted through September 30, 2015.

So what is the committee looking for? Excellent books for children birth through age 18 that reflect the LGBTQ experience for young people.

The Rainbow Book List Committee members are currently reading over 100 titles (and any that you suggest) and nominating the best of the best for inclusion on the list. The committee will meet at Midwinter to discuss all nominated titles and select those that will make the final list.

You can follow along with committee activities at the blog and see what titles have already been nominated. We would love to know about any great LGBTQ books for kids and teens that you’ve read that have been published since July 1, 2014! For more information about the Rainbow Book List Committee click here.

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14. New Baby Books

With the imminent arrival of my own new baby, I’ve had baby books on the brain these past few months. From the books we recommend to sleepless parents to the books about childhood and technology we give to the parents of savvy teens, librarians are sometimes intimately involved in the struggles of our patrons’ childhoods. Never is this more clear than when we’re asked for books about a new baby. A great new sibling book can help immensely in easing the transition from being an only child to being one of a group.

julius_baby_of_the_worldKevin Henkes’s Julius, the Baby of the World is one of my favorite picture books, period, but it also is one of the best new sibling books I think I’ve read. I recommend it to parents all the time, and have the personal experience to back it up – this is the book my parents gave to me and my sister before the arrival of my much-younger baby brother. Children of all ages can identify with Lily’s excitement about her new sibling before he arrives and her horror at the way her life changes afterwards! The resolution, when it comes, is perfect. Of course Lily can say mean things about her brother, but no one else can!

peter's chairAnxiety over a new sibling is a universal issue, which is why a book first published in 1967,  Peter’s Chair by Ezra Jack Keats, as relevant today as it was the day it was published. When Peter’s parents repaint his crib pink for his new baby sister, Peter is perturbed but willing to let it go. When they decide to paint his chair, however, Peter takes a stand. Again, Peter’s eventual acceptance of his sister’s place in his life shows a way forward for children hearing the story that is both natural and comforting. Life will change with a new sibling, but it doesn’t have to change for the worse.

What are you favorite books about new babies?

 

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15. How PBS Inadvertently Prepared Me for Librarianship

[Author dressed as Ms. Frizzle for Halloween in 2013. Photo courtesy of the author.]

[Author dressed as Ms. Frizzle for Halloween in 2013. Photo courtesy of the author.]

This post has been percolating in my brain since I heard Ms. Frizzle’s voice fly out of my mouth during a session of “Little Hands Art” (art class for 2-4 year olds) this summer. We were painting with ping pong balls and one of the kids put her hand in the paint. She immediately wanted to wash her hands and I challenged her to see what she could do with the paint on her hand. Without thought, the words “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!” came spilling out of my mouth. While my young patron didn’t know where my words came from, they gave her the courage to use her fingers to spread the paint that day.

I grew up in a golden age of PBS. And fortunately for me, I held on to PBS for far longer than my peers thanks to my little sister and my younger cousins. Though I do not have a reason to watch PBS now, I smile every time a patron asks for “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” or “Martha Speaks!” since I know these shows are just as beloved to them as mine were to me.

A brief list of small thank yous:

  • Sesame Street: for giving me Big Bird and preparing me for the questions that my preschool patrons constantly ask.
  • Mister Rodgers’ Neighborhood: for teaching me how cool cardigans are and for showing me *how* things happen. I still remember that crayon factory!
  • Kidsongs: for singing to me the multitude of silly songs that I use constantly. Who knew that Michael Finnegan would stick around this long?
  • Ghostwriter: for learning about the importance of teamwork and that words/letters/stories have great meaning.
  • Wishbone: for sharing the great stories in an accessible way. You sure taught me how to spin a tale/tail!
  • Zoom: for teaching me how to do activities and experiments with kids. I practiced on my “patron” — sister and cousins — all the way back in high school!

And of course…Arthur for showing me that having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card!

When I’m buying DVDs for our collection, I’m always happy to add the latest PBS show. Who knows what kind of job I’m preparing kids for today!

Do you have favorite PBS shows/memories that help you in daily library life? Are you shocked and appalled that I never watched Reading Rainbow? Let me know in the comments!

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

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16. Picking the library weeds

With my new position that I started last month I have adopted several collections. One of my new collections is the popular E (easy? everyone?) picture book collection. This collection is generally for a wide range of readers, consists of books that offer a rich vocabulary, and have stories told through text and images. Picture books, on average, are 32 pages.

I have picture books that I love to read in story times. I have a list of picture books that I recommend to adults when they are special guest readers in an elementary classroom. There are some great picture books that are informational in nature and sometimes hidden in the nonfiction collection, as they don’t necessarily tell a story but rather convey information. There are the picture books sometimes nestled in the 398.2 section, as they retell folk and fairy tales.

Today I am going to focus on the materials in the picture storybook collection – or the E’s and specifically how to weed them. I am currently engaged in the important task of weeding the E collection in my library, so it’s been on my mind.

Kendra Jones, a member of the ALSC Managing Children’s Services committee, wrote about the importance of weeding in her post from May 2015. In her post she mentioned the CREW Weeding guidelines published by the Texas State Library; when starting the weeding process, I refer to CREW to establish a quantitative baseline to decide how long to keep things that aren’t moving. Beyond the “MUSTIE” considerations, items in easy picture book collections should be analyzed according to last circulation date.

CREW states that easy picture book materials that haven’t checked out in 2+ years should be weeded. When I ran a report using this criteria, I found that there were less than 35 items (out of several thousand) that had been collecting dust and taking up valuable shelf space.

Another report that I generally run when “learning” the movement of a collection is used to find items that have been around for over two years but have never checked out. That doesn’t mean those items are automatically on the chopping block, but it is a good practice to know what moves and what doesn’t. This technique also highlights items that have not checked out because they are missing.

After looking at the most recent circulation statistics for items, I move onto items that may need to be replaced due to high usage and show normal physical wear. There isn’t one circulation number that universally works for all libraries; I’ve seen collections with items that have circulated over 200 times that are still in good shape; meanwhile other collections contain items that need to be considered for weeding due to poor physical condition after 50-75 checkouts. “Normal” physical wear is something that varies widely.

Is weeding part of your job responsibilities? If so do you have a circulation number that you use as your benchmark for replacement consideration? What constitutes “normal” in terms of physical wear for the collections you weed? Do you consider the size of your collection, regional standards, or the age of the collection? Does your library set aside a certain amount for replacements? What about audiovisual materials? I would love to discuss best practices from librarians in the weeds.

 

 

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17. Collection Wisdom

book cartOne month ago, I became the Head of Youth Services at a library in Western Pennsylvania and I’ve been thinking about budgets and physical space and the giant puzzle that is building a great youth services collection.  I tend to believe a smaller newer collection is more appealing.  Yep, fewer and newer books, even if that means we only have a few Goosebumps left on the shelf.  So I’ve been doing some weeding.  I think we all need a friendly reminder that it’s OK to cut your collection.  Go ahead!  Remove books that are in bad condition or outdated and don’t replace them. I know that Curious George and Madeline may still circulate; but I also know I have limited space (don’t we all!)

My library is fortunate to be part of a larger library consortium so our collection is technically 45 libraries-strong which means I could focus on what my community needs when they walk into my location.  Now that many (most?) of our patrons order their library books online so they can run in and pick them up quickly, what can I offer my area families when they walk through our doors to browse?  Maybe a juvenile bestsellers collection?   Maybe a toy-lending program?  Someone once said to me years ago, the library’s Achilles heel is its futile aim to be everything to everyone all the time.  I’m interested in what it would look like to get specific.  What if I tried to support a collection policy that relied on my specific community’s desires?  What would that look like?  Would that even be a good idea?

I’d love to hear your thoughts; how do you approach collection development at your library?

(Photos courtesy of guest blogger)

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

fall.jpgOur guest blogger today is Kelley Beeson. Kelley is the Youth Services Department Head at the Western Allegheny Community Library. She’s been working in libraries since high school and her favorite book is Marcus Zusak’s The Book Thief.

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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18. Eerie Graphic Novels for October

October is one of my most favorite times of year for a variety of reasons. Crisp weather makes for perfect hiking, my scarf collection makes a triumphant return from the closet, and all things pumpkin can be found. The real reason October stands out for me though is the mysterious mood cast thanks to Halloween. As a fan of spooky stories of all sorts, this month provides the perfect opportunity to share some of my top picks for eerie and ghostly reads. The graphic novels highlighted below are not holiday specific, and would be great recommendations for readers year-round, but are especially fun during this season.

Cat Burglar Black by Richard Sala. First Second; 2009. This quirky title by the talented Sala has it all-  dangerous mysteries, weird characters, hidden treasure, and creepy settings. K was raised in an orphanage where the children were trained to be professional thieves and now finds herself at Bellsong Academy, a suspicious boarding school with barely any other students. I’ll be discussing this title with my tween graphic novel book club next week and I can’t wait to hear their thoughts!

Possessions: Unclean Getaway by Ray Fawkes. Oni Press; 2010. First in the Possessions series. Possessions is both laugh-out-loud hilarious and totally disturbing, in the most fun way.  In Unclean Getaway, readers meet Gurgazon the Unclean, a demon who has possessed a 5-year old girl and is now bent on destroying the world…if she could only escape the Llewellyn-Vane House for Captured Spirits and Ghostly Curiosities. This is an ongoing series with the most recent title, The Final Tantrum, published in February of this year.

Photo by Nicole Martin

Photo by Nicole Martin

Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow adapted by Blake A. Hoena. Stone Arch Books; 2014. Irving’s classic tale of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman is adapted for graphic readers in this colorful title. This version is great for readers who may be new to the story as it provides an introduction discussing the real Sleepy Hollow and how Irving may have stumbled across the legend, as well as a glossary of vocabulary words.

Hans Christian Anderson’s The Red Shoes and Other Tales by Metaphrog. Papercutz; 2015. The dark story of Anderson’s The Red Shoes is wonderfully retold in this graphic novel, along with Anderson’s The Little Match Girl and an original story titled The Glass Case. The sickly color palette exhibited throughout this book really gives these stories an extra layer of spookiness.

Johnny Boo: The Best Little Ghost in the World by James Kochalka. Top Shelf Productions; 2008. First in the Johnny Boo series. Johnny Boo and his ghost pet Squiggle take on the Ice Cream Monster in this introduction to the world of Johnny. This series is a good choice for young readers interested in something ghostly but not-so-scary.

Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol. Square Fish; 2014. Anya’s Ghost mixes realistic young adult issues and a ghost story to make one awesomely scary graphic novel. Anya is part of a Russian family and is already having a hard time trying to fit in at school when she falls down a hole and finds herself face to face with a haunted skeleton. At first this ghost seems to be a friend to Anya, but quickly we learn that she is not to be trusted.

I suggest that these titles be read under dim lighting, while wrapped in a cozy blanket and sipping a mug of hot apple cider. Happy haunting!

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19. Final Week to Apply for Three ALSC Professional Awards

ALSC Professional Awards

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

November 1 is a significant deadline for three ALSC professional awards. Fall is professional award season for ALSC. Every year, more than $100,000 is given away through ALSC’s professional awards, grants, and scholarships. These funds are awarded to deserving individuals and libraries across the country. Submit your application or nomination for one of these great awards soon:

Applications open!

Opening soon!

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20. Organizing Easy Readers

Easy Readers

A still life with easy readers. Photo courtesy of the author.

Let’s talk best practices for organizing easy or beginning readers. I mean the books used by new readers to facilitate print word recognition. The easy reader collection is difficult to browse. Not easy! There are as many leveling systems as there are publishers that use different letters, numbers, or colors depending on the series; sometimes a level 1 is harder than something marked as a level 2 or 3. This makes parents and new librarians confused when browsing the collection. How can we simplify things?

I am looking to you for help! Give me some ideas of how your library treats the not-so-easy-to-browse easy reader collection. Help me (and maybe others) in future decision making by answering the following questions in the comments:

  • Does your library separate materials in the easy reader section using a leveling system?
  • How easy is it to browse the easy reader collection in your library?
  • Are fiction and nonfiction easy readers interfiled, or where are your leveled non-fiction books?

Every public library I’ve worked in (that would be four) has a different way of treating this collection. In the library where I work now, the easy reader fiction books are in near the picture books, organized by author’s last name (or popular character if there are multiple authors working in the same character series.). The easy readers that have the easiest-to-read content have a green dot on the spine label to help with browsing. The leveled non-fiction books are interfiled in the children’s nonfiction collection.

Now for more questions – Should we devise our own leveling system or use the A.R (or lexile or whatever) number to create levels for the titles in our easy reader collection, and shelve the books by those levels? Should the leveled non-fiction instead be interfiled with the easy reader fiction, or should we have a separate easy reader nonfiction collection? Is there another system that libraries have used successfully that you’d love to share here?

Please share your thoughts and best (or even pretty good) practices. I would love to learn how other libraries (public, school or otherwise) treat the easy reader collection.

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21. Roller Girl Rocks

Image from http://www.victoriajamieson.com/

Image from http://www.victoriajamieson.com/

I just got around to reading Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson (Penguin/Dial Books for Young Readers, 2015) and boy, was it awesome!

This great graphic novel for middle-grade readers follows twelve-year old Astrid, who is inspired to join a summer youth roller derby camp after her mother takes her to a Rose City Rollers derby match. Astrid immediately falls in love with the sport and aspires to be like the rad roller ladies, whose colored hair, witty names, and rainbow socks absolutely scream cool. Unfortunately, Astrid’s best friend Nicole doesn’t seem quite so impressed by the roller derby. Soon after Astrid discovers that her bestie will be spending her summer at ballet camp with one of her not-so-favorite people, Rachel. So begins Astrid’s summer of growth as she learns that sometimes friendships change and that skating is not quite as easy as it looks.

The story felt very authentic to me, capturing the sort of girl drama that can blossom between friends, especially during those difficult and emotional middle-school years. Jamieson herself is a roller girl, skating with the real-life Rose City Rollers under the name “Winne the Pow” (how cute is that?!). Jamieson’s personal experience provides readers with a realistic glimpse into the world of women’s roller derby, while her bright, colorful illustrations bring this world to life. This book just may inspire readers to seek out their local derby team and become roller girls themselves!

Roller Girl is a stand-out graphic novel and an impressive debut from Jamieson. I look forward to seeing what she comes out with next! This title is a perfect book to put in the hands of Raina Telgemeier fans or young tweens who may feel like outsiders looking for their own place to fit-in. I might even use this title for a future tween graphic novel book club meeting, as there is plenty to talk about and relate to for girls and boys alike.

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22. Comics Gift Guide

‘Tis the season for winter holidays!

Does the tween in your life or your library love comics? Here are a few that need to be on your radar and will make your kids go absolutely nuts.

Source: Goodreads

Peppi Torres is just trying to survive her first days middle school. Suddenly she finds herself being both the teased and the teaser, and in the middle of a club war! Can she figure out how to make middle school bearable for both herself and those around her?

Source: Goodreads

Do your kids love PrinceLess? Well, let’s not forget about Angoisse, the oft-forgotten middle Ashe sister. What’s she been up to lately? Wellllll, it seems that the swamp surrounding her tower is inhabited by monsters and goblins and vampires! Not to worry, though, because her sister Adrienne and friend Bedelia don’t think twice about helping Angoisse rescue herself! The PrinceLess books are all fantastic and volume 4 is no exception.

Source: Goodreads

Well, Squirrel Girl is 100% delightful for readers of all ages, and it’s just been announced that Shannon and Dean Hale are going to write a YA novel about Doreen Green, so this is a GREAT time to get caught up on this girl who has the powers of a squirrel, awesome tale included. Bonus? Volume 2 comes out before Christmas, too! Perfect for the superhero fan in your life that also loves humor.

Source: Goodreads

Source: Goodreads

Do you have a Steven Universe fan in your family or your library? Then get this fully-illustrated handbook to the Crystal Gems into their hands, stat! Fully authorized and written by Steven Universe creator Rebecca Sugar, this book is full of new facts and fun illustrations. I promise your SU fans will eat it up.

Happy gift buying and book ordering!

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

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23. The Competencies Awaken

Now that you’ve seen the new ALSC Competencies, do you need a refresh?

1. Commitment to Client Group. Because everyone deserves excellent library services.

1. Commitment to Client Group.

2. Reference and User Services. Considering context and format of delivery, along with the information itself.

2. Reference and User Services.

3. Programming Skills. Sometimes you need backup to keep it fresh.

3. Programming Skills.

4. Knowledge, Curation, and Management of Materials. When’s the last time you really looked at your collection?

4. Knowledge, Curation, and Management of Materials.

5. Outreach and Advocacy. Saying it in a way they will hear it.

5. Outreach and Advocacy.

6. Administrative and Management Skills. (It can take a while to refine the art.)

6. Administrative and Management Skills.

7. Professionalism and Professional Development. This is just the beginning. Even when it seems like the middle.

7. Professionalism and Professional Development.

Just remember, let the Competencies guide you. Because the library:

ALSC Core Competencies

This post comes from the ALSC Education Committee. Images are not the property of ALSC; shared as commentary under fair use guidelines.

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24. ALA Youth Media Awards 2016

#alaYMA @ #ALAmw16

It is always a highlight of my midwinter ALA journey to attend the Youth Media Awards Press Conference, and this year was no exception.

The excitement was palpable in the Boston Convention Center ballroom as hundreds of librarians and other children’s literature aficionados excitedly heard the announcements of the Youth Media Awards. As the winners were announced, they were greeted with (sometimes raucous) applause, hoots of delight, and gasps of surprise.

Tremendous thanks go to all the committee members who worked and read so diligently throughout 2015 to bring us this stellar collection of winners!

Here is a complete list of the winners announced this morning:

John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature:

“Last Stop on Market Street,” written by Matt de la Peña, is the 2016 Newbery Medal winner. The book is illustrated by Christian Robinson and published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

Three Newbery Honor Books also were named: “The War that Saved My Life,” written by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley and published by Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) LLC; “Roller Girl,” written and illustrated by Victoria Jamieson and published by Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) LLC; and “Echo,” written by Pam Muñoz Ryan and published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.

Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children:

“Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear,” illustrated by Sophie Blackall, is the 2016 Caldecott Medal winner. The book was written by Lindsay Mattick and published by Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

Four Caldecott Honor Books also were named: “Trombone Shorty,” illustrated by Bryan Collier, written by Troy Andrews and published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, an imprint of ABRAMS; “Waiting,” illustrated and written by Kevin Henkes, published by Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers; “Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement,” illustrated by Ekua Holmes, written by Carole Boston Weatherford and published by Candlewick Press; and “Last Stop on Market Street,” illustrated by Christian Robinson, written by Matt de le Peña and published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award, recognizing an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults:

“Gone Crazy in Alabama,” written by Rita Williams-Garcia, is the King Author Book winner. The book is published by Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Three King Author Honor Books were selected: “All American Boys,” by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division; “The Boy in the Black Suit,” by Jason Reynolds and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, and “X: A Novel,” by Ilyasah Shabazz with Kekla Magoon and published by Candlewick Press.

Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award:

“Trombone Shorty,” illustrated by Bryan Collier, is the King Illustrator Book winner. The book was written by Troy Andrews and Bill Taylor and published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, an imprint of ABRAMS.

Two King Illustrator Honor Books were selected: “The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth & Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore,” illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, written by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and published by Carolrhoda Books, a division of Lerner Publishing Group, Inc. and “Last Stop on Market Street,” illustrated by Christian Robinson, written by Matt de la Peña and published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Group USA.

Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award:

“Hoodoo,” written by Ronald L. Smith, is the Steptoe author award winner. The book is published by Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award:

“Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement,” illustrated by Ekua Holmes, is the Steptoe illustrator award winner. The book is written by Carole Boston Weatherford and published by Candlewick Press.

Coretta Scott King – Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement:

Jerry Pinkney is the winner of the Coretta Scott King – Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement. The award pays tribute to the quality and magnitude of beloved children’s author Virginia Hamilton.

Jerry Pinkney’s illustrations detail a world that resonates with readers long after the pages of a book have been turned. His five decades of work offer compelling artistic insights into the legacy of African American storytelling and experience. Beyond Pinkney’s technical brilliance, his support of differentiated learning through art and of young illustrators sets him apart as both artist and educator. His powerful illustrations have redefined the scope of the sophisticated picture book and its use with multiple levels of learners.

Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults:

“Bone Gap,” written by Laura Ruby, is the 2016 Printz Award winner. The book is published by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Two Printz Honor Books also were named: “Out of Darkness,” by Ashley Hope Pérez and published by Carolrhoda Lab™, an imprint of Carolrhoda Books, a division of Lerner Publishing Group, and “The Ghosts of Heaven,” by Marcus Sedgwick and published by Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group.

Schneider Family Book Award for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience:

“Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah,” written by Laurie Ann Thompson, illustrated by Sean Qualls and published by Schwartz & Wade Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, New York, wins the award for children ages 0 to 10.

“Fish in a Tree,” written by Lynda Mullaly Hunt and published by Penguin Group, Nancy Paulsen Books, and “The War that Saved My Life,” by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley and published by Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, are the winners of the middle-school (ages 11-13).

The teen (ages 13-18) award winner is “The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B,” written by Teresa Toten and published by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, New York.

Alex Awards for the 10 best adult books that appeal to teen audiences:

“All Involved,” by Ryan Gattis, published by Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

“Between the World and Me,” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, published by Spiegel & Grau, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.

“Bones & All,” by Camille DeAngelis, published by St. Martin’s Press.

“Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits,” by David Wong, published by Thomas Dunne Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press.

“Girl at War,” by Sara Novic, published by Random House, an imprint and division of Penguin Random House LLC.

“Half the World,” by Joe Abercrombie, published by Del Rey, an imprint of Random House, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company.

“Humans of New York: Stories,” by Brandon Stanton, published by St. Martin’s Press.

“Sacred Heart,” by Liz Suburbia, published by Fantagraphics Books Inc.

“Undocumented: A Dominican Boy’s Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League,” by Dan-el Padilla Peralta, published by Penguin Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

“The Unraveling of Mercy Louis,” by Keija Parssinen, published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Andrew Carnegie Medal for excellence in children’s video:

Weston Woods Studios, Inc., producer of “That Is NOT a Good Idea,” is the Carnegie Medal winner. In an innovative adaptation of this read-aloud favorite, Goose accepts an invitation to accompany Fox on a simple stroll – or is it? Watch along with a comical chorus of goslings as they react to this cautionary tale.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Award honors an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.

The 2016 winner is Jerry Pinkney, whose award-winning works include “The Lion and the Mouse,” recipient of the Caldecott Award in 2010. In addition, Pinkney has received five Caldecott Honor Awards, five Coretta Scott King Illustrator Awards, and four Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honors.     

Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults:

David Levithan is the 2016 Edwards Award winner. His books include: “The Realm of Possibility,” “Boy Meets Boy,” “Love is the Higher Law,” “How They Met, and Other Stories,” “Wide Awake” and “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist,” all published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.

May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award recognizing an author, critic, librarian, historian or teacher of children’s literature, who then presents a lecture at a winning host site.

Jacqueline Woodson will deliver the 2017 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture. Woodson is the 2014 National Book Award winner for her New York Times bestselling memoir, “Brown Girl Dreaming.” The author of more than two dozen books for young readers, she is a four-time Newbery Honor winner, a recipient of the NAACP Image Award, a two-time Coretta Scott King Award winner and was recently named the Young People’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation.

Mildred L. Batchelder Award for an outstanding children’s book translated from a foreign language and subsequently published in the United States:

“The Wonderful Fluffy Little Squishy” is the 2016 Batchelder Award winner. Originally published in French in 2014 as “Le merveilleux Dodu-Velu-Petit,” the book was written and illustrated by Beatrice Alemagna, translated by Claudia Zoe Bedrick and published by Enchanted Lion Books.

Three Batchelder Honor Books also were selected: “Adam and Thomas,” published by Seven Stories Press, written by Aharon Appelfeld, iIllustrated by Philippe Dumas and translated from the Hebrew by Jeffrey M. Green; “Grandma Lives in a Perfume Village,” published by NorthSouth Books, an imprint of Nordsüd Verlag AG, written by Fang Suzhen, illustrated by Sonja Danowski and translated from the Chinese by Huang Xiumin; and “Written and Drawn by Henrietta,” published by TOON Books, an imprint of RAW Junior, LLC and written, illustrated and translated from the Spanish by Liniers.

Odyssey Award for best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults, available in English in the United States:

“The War that Saved My Life,” produced by Listening Library, an imprint of the Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group, is the 2016 Odyssey Award winner. The book is written by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley and narrated by Jayne Entwistle.

One Odyssey Honor Recording also was selected: “Echo,” produced by Scholastic Audio/Paul R. Gagne, written by Pam Muñoz Ryan and narrated by Mark Bramhall, David de Vries, MacLeod Andrews and Rebecca Soler.

Pura Belpré (Illustrator) Award honoring a Latino writer and illustrator whose children’s books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience:

“The Drum Dream Girl,” illustrated by Rafael López, is the Belpré Illustrator Award winner.  The book was written by Margarita Engle and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Three Belpré Illustrator Honor Books for illustration were selected: “My Tata’s Remedies = Los remedios de mi tata,” illustrated by Antonio Castro L., written by Roni Capin Rivera-Ashford and published by Cinco Puntos Press; “Mango, Abuela, and Me,” illustrated by Angela Dominguez, written by Meg Medina and published by Candlewick Press: and “Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras,” illustrated and written by Duncan Tonatiuh and published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, an imprint of ABRAMS.

Pura Belpré (Author) Award:

“Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir,” written by Margarita Engle, is the Belpré Author Award winner. The book is published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division.

Two Belpré Author Honor Books were named: “The Smoking Mirror,” written by David Bowles and published by IFWG Publishing, Inc.; and “Mango, Abuela, and Me,” written by Meg Medina, illustrated by Angela Dominguez and published by Candlewick Press.

Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award for most distinguished informational book for children:

“Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras,” written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh, is the Sibert Award winner. The book is published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, an imprint of ABRAMS.

Four  Sibert Honor Books were named: “Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans,” written and illustrated by Don Brown and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; “The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club,” by Phillip Hoose and published by Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers; “Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March,” written by Lynda Blackmon Lowery as told to Elspeth Leacock and Susan Buckley, illustrated by PJ Loughran and published by Dial Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) LLC; and “Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement,” written by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Ekua Holmes and published by Candlewick Press.

Stonewall Book Award – Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award given annually to English-language children’s and young adult books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience:

“George,” written by Alex Gino and published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., and “The Porcupine of Truth,” written by Bill Konigsberg and published by Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., are the winners of the 2016 Stonewall Children’s and Young Adult Literature Awards respectively.

Two honor books were selected: “Wonders of the Invisible World,” written by Christopher Barzak and published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC; and “Sex is a Funny Word: A Book about Bodies, Feelings, and YOU,” written by Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth, illustrated by Fiona Smyth and published by Seven Stories Press.

Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for the most distinguished beginning reader book:

“Don’t Throw It to Mo!,” written by David A. Adler and illustrated by Sam Ricks is the Seuss Award winner. The book is published by Penguin Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA), LLC.

Three Geisel Honor Books were named: “A Pig, a Fox, and a Box,” written and illustrated by Jonathan Fenske and published by Penguin Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) LLC; “Supertruck,” written and illustrated by Stephen Savage and published by A Neal Porter Book published by Roaring Brook Press, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishing Holdings Limited Partnership; and “Waiting,” written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes and published by Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

William C. Morris Award for a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens:

“Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda,” written by Becky Albertalli is the 2016 Morris Award winner. The book is published by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publisher.

Four other books were finalists for the award: “Because You’ll Never Meet Me,” written by Leah Thomas and published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books; “Conviction,” written by Kelly Loy Gilbert and published by Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group; “The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly,” written by Stephanie Oakes and published by Dial Books, an imprint of  Penguin Young Readers; and “The Weight of Feathers,” written by Anna-Marie McLemore and published by Thomas Dunne Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press.

YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults

“Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War,” written by Steve Sheinkin, is the 2016 Excellence winner. The book is published by Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of Macmillan’s Children’s Publishing Group.

Four other books were finalists for the award: “Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir,” written by Margarita Engle and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing; “First Flight Around the World: The Adventures of the American Fliers Who Won the Race,” written by Tim Grove and  published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, an imprint of ABRAMS; “Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad,” written by M.T. Anderson and published by Candlewick Press; and “This Strange Wilderness:  The Life and Art of John James Audubon,” written by Nancy Plain and published by University of Nebraska Press.

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25. Displays, Circulation, and the Power of Wimpy Kid

The weather outside may not be this frightful, but circ is still down!  courtesy of Flickr user Phil Roeder/CC https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The weather outside may not be this frightful, but circ is still down!
courtesy of Flickr user Phil Roeder/CC

December is a traditionally slow month for circulation in our library. Though the library itself is usually packed with patrons on their school breaks attending our annual Stuffed Animal Sleepover and Winter Crafts programs, something about the combination of visiting relatives bringing children to the library and the lack of projects and homework over the break make our circulation dip. I recently pulled our monthly print book circulation for the past five years for a project I’m working on and was surprised to note that each year; December is our lowest-circulating month. The drop from November to December is not drastic, but it is significant, and it remains consistent no matter the weather, break schedule, or staffing of the children’s library.

With nowhere to go but up, this December we decided to play with different types of displays in an effort to see if we can raise circulation. Was December circulation destined to remain lower than the rest of the year?

I will always circulate!

I will always circulate!

Our motto was “Give the people what they want.” Instead of putting new books on display, we put popular books on display. We brought all the extra copies of older Diary of a Wimpy Kid and the original Percy Jackson series up from their homes in storage. We turned display space traditionally reserved for a broad array of holiday-themed books into a display of Dora, Daniel Tiger, and classic animated Holiday DVDs. Our themed displays, which traditionally circulate well (except in December!) came down in favor of “We Love Wimpy!” “We Love Harry!” and “We Love Percy!” displays centered on, respectively Wimpy Kid, Percy Jackson, and Harry Potter, plus close read-alikes that we knew kids would take out.  Our Non-Fiction display area became home to a wide variety of fact-based books, like Guinness World Records and This or That?

The results were encouraging. While circulation didn’t climb to the heights of summer reading, it did outstrip ever December for the past five years! Th experiment raised interesting questions. Are we doing our patrons a disservice if we only highlight new, well-reviewed books by authors they may not know? Is it elitist to keep books like Wimpy Kid off display because you know children will ask for them anyway? What matters more – keeping circulation high or giving the people what they want?

January is witnessing a transition back to our traiditonal types of displays, which truly drive circulation during other months of the year. But I wonder if we should be mixing more populist displays in with our regular displays on a monthly basis. How do you decide what goes on display in your library?

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