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As a child, there was nothing quite so thrilling as running downstairs on the first day of Summer Reading Club to find the children’s department transformed into a medieval castle, the snowy Arctic, or even outer space. As an adult, I find myself on the other side of the desk and responsible for orchestrating this transformation. As summer approaches, you may find yourself in a similar position. While I am not exactly Martha Stewart, I am a Martha who knows a thing or two about decorating a department for Summer Reading Club and I have a few strategies for making this project a little easier.
Divide and Conquer
Rather than thinking of your space as one big box, separate that box into different compartments. How do you want each compartment to work with your club’s theme? Are there any particular structural or physical considerations that will help or hinder your decorations? For example, we turned our fiction section into the Forest of Fiction because it had a pillar that was perfect for dressing up like a tree.
Our big tree in the Forest of Fiction
You can make your sections as simple or as complex as you want, depending on your space and resources. I usually assign a different subtheme or idea to each of my sections. For “Have Book, Will Travel,” each section was a different travel destination, such as the Picture Book Jungle, Computer Cove, and the Audiobook Arctic, among others.
To DIY or Not to DIY?
Handcrafted decorations are a double-edged sword. In many cases, I’ve been able to save money and stretch my budget using a cheaper DIY option from Pinterest. However, saving money can come at the expense of time spent laboring over a glue gun. Even relatively simple projects—like our paper bag trees from last year—can require a lot of planning, coordination, and help from other staff members. Before you commit to additional supplies or staff time, make sure you have a good understanding of what the project requires. Do a trial run if possible, and don’t be afraid to make modifications to expedite the process.
When you’re taking down decorations at the conclusion of the club, you may think, “When on earth am I going to use these inflatable monkeys again?” The answer may surprise you. Some of the supplies we bought last year will be making another appearance this year, which gave me a little more room in the budget. If you have the storage space, try to hang on to any reusable supplies for a future program. Your future self will thank you.
Repeat: It’s All Worth It
One of my favorite reactions to our decorations came from a little girl who asked if the penguins that had been in our audiobook section would be flying back for Winter Reading Club. I like to think about this story whenever things start getting hectic on the decoration front. Would it be easier to slap a poster on the wall and call it a day? Sure—you wouldn’t need a glue gun or a ladder, either. Does it transform your space in the same way? Not by a long shot.
Our guest blogger today is Martha Cordeniz O’Hara. Martha is a Children’s Services Associate at the Glencoe Public Library in Glencoe, Illinois. When she is not at the Glencoe Public Library, you can sometimes find her working at the Lake Bluff Public Library or attending class through the LEEP Program at the University of Illinois. She lives in Highland Park with her husband and two opinionated cats. You can follow her on Twitter at @marthacohara, especially if you are interested in pictures of the aforementioned cats.
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 email@example.com.
This month-long series of blog posts will explain author websites and offer tips and writing strategies for an effective author website. It alternates between a day of technical information and a day of writing content. By the end of the month, you should have a basic author website up and functioning. The Table of Contents lists the topics, but individual posts will not go live until the date listed. The Author Website Resource Page offers links to tools, services, software and more.
Should You Add a Blog to Your Author Site?
We’ve talked so far about doing an Author Website through WordPress. Now that you’ve built the thing, you need to decide if you will add a blog or not.
No, I don’t want a blog
First, let me quickly says that you do NOT have to have a blog. It’s just an option.
Blogging requires a commitment to writing that can be a strain on writing projects, family time and other time commitments. I’m not worried–really, I’m not–about whether or not you can find enough to write about. That’s the easy part. Time is the hard thing to find. If you commit to writing a blog the most important rule is this: be consistent in posting. You can NOT post just once or twice a month. Instead, just update your website. Or post on Facebook, Twitter or a social network. Don’t waste your time and your readers time by starting something you can’t keep up with.
Embrace uncertainty. On the other hand, when I started blogging six years ago, it was with uncertainty. Would I like blogging? Would I draw in any readers? Would I find topics to write about? And so on. I made a commitment to TRY. And here we are. You can do the same.
OK, I’ll try a blog!
Great! You will find an audience beyond your usual boundaries.
You will find topics that fascinate you and you want to delve into deeply. You will have a platform for doing that.
You will find the blog a task-master that you both love and hate.
You will find your audience to be an amazing group of people.
And when your first book/next book comes out, you’ll find people cheering for you. (Here’s my latest novel. Thanks for caring!)
You don’t blog to sell books. You blog to make friends.
What will you write about?
As I look around the blogosphere, I find bloggers using different strategies for content.
- Up-to-date news. One strategy for blogging is to keep your ears to the ground and as soon as you hear something, you blog about it in depth. Did Facebook just update it’s home page? Provide the killer tutorial on it before anyone else. As I am writing this, I got an email that Barnes & Noble’s Nook Press is going international. If I cared about the hottest publishing news, I would jump on this!
- Names. I once read about a small-town newspaper publisher who saturated the market with a single strategy: publish as many names as possible. When a baseball team played, the newspaper listed the name of every single team member. And the managers. And the coaches. Of course, people bought the newspaper to see their name in print. Cynthia Leitich Smith’s Cynsations blog uses this strategy by listing everyone’s good news, interviews with almost everyone in children’s literature and generally spreading the love.
- Teaching. This blog, Fiction Notes, is about observing my own struggles and the struggles of my friends and colleagues and writing about how to solve problems. In a word, I teach. (My friend says that I can’t NOT teach; she’s right.)
- Diary. Some people live a transparent life online and don’t mind the glass walls. If that’s for you, you’ll find many who’ll take the trip with you.
- Thoughtful or thought-provoking analysis. Maybe you only want to post once a week, but you want it to be a longer, more thoughtful piece. That would be great. Don’t think you must post daily. But be consistent. On Thursday, I look forward to reading Kristine Kathryn Rusch‘s thoughtful posts about the publishing industry. I don’t have to agree with everything she says to look forward to the posts, because they always make me think. For example, a thoughtful person could write an interesting post about the Children’s Book Council 7th Annual Children’s Choice Book Awards. One of the awards is for the Author of the Year; the five nominees are always based on best-seller lists. The controversy this year is that Rush Limbaugh’s book, Rush Revere and the First Patriots: Time-Travel Adventures With Exceptional Americans, is a best-seller, which put him on the list for Author of the Year. A thoughtful or thought-provoking blogger could write about this in depth. Lots of issues to delve into there! (Should children’s book awards be based on best-seller lists? How easy is it to manipulate best selling lists? If we reject the bestseller list as a starting point for awards, where SHOULD we start?) This isn’t something I would do on my blog; I avoid the controversial. But if you’re up for it. . .
- Topics for which you have a passion. Maybe you don’t want to blog about books, publishing, or other authors. One author friend is interested in true stories of ghosts. Since she writes mysteries, it sounds like a great topic for a blog! She could interview people who have seen a ghost, joke about ghostbusters, include photos of ghosts (NOT!) and so on. What’s your passion? Bulldogs? Kidnapped kids and how they survive? Whatever your passion, it’s fine–no, it’s GREAT–for an author blog to take off on a tangent. You’ll find readers beyond your books and that’s not such a bad thing.
- Photos, video or audio. Maybe you are a cartoonist and can provide a humorous 3-panel cartoon daily. Maybe your hobby is photoshopping dog portraits. Great. Just post one picture a day. Or post one a week and explain how you photoshopped it. Use YouTube and pull the videos into your blog. Or do a podcast. There may be platforms that are better for each of these areas (For video, you need a YouTube Channel.), but they can also feed into a blog.
- Your Ideas. You may have another strategy for writing a blog. Please share it!
Notice: These strategies are about giving an audience something interesting to read. Entertain. Inform. Persuade. Provoke. It’s not about you. It’s about your readers. What type of content can you write about that others would want to read on a consistent basis?
It’s time. Decide. Will you try a blog or just stick with your author website?
I got inspired to make a quick wreath after reading this blog post over on decor8 the other day.
I’d been planning to do something for our front door since our old wreath was so decrepit, but I hadn’t gotten around to it. I’d never considered using live greenery since the only ones I’d ever seen looked like they’d take a master’s degree in wreath artistry and a few months to create. Hello, Martha Stewart!
But the blog post made me see how pretty a quick, natural wreath could be, and I realized we had plenty of greenery in the back yard. I bought a form at Michael’s (about $4) and clipped various bushes: magnolia, Yaupon holly, rosemary, and wax myrtle.
Sadly, the regular floral wire was out at Michael’s, so I bought this stuff that’s kind of like a never-ending green twist tie. It’s not so bad. And I basically twist-tied the greenery on in a haphazard, overlapping circle. It took me about half an hour. The best part was not having to follow any directions.
Personally, I’m kind of smitten with its exuberant cowlicks. I would totally do this again. What about you? Have you made a wreath of your own?
In other news, with this being the last day of school for the year, I’m winding down my latest draft of my young adult novel and am readying it to send to a reader/ writer/ friend. Scary and exciting at the same time.
Hopefully I’ll be around a little bit over the break, but if not, Happy Holidays to you!
and p.s. We’ve been watching this hilarious show called Lilyhammer. It’s about an American mafioso-turned-informant who chooses Norway as his relocation destination. All kinds of funny cross-cultural issues come up. It stars Steven Van Zandt, of Sopranos and E-Street Band fame. You can find it on Netflix.
By: Jerry Beck,
Blog: Cartoon Brew
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Artist of the Day
, Music Videos
, Daren Rabinovitch
, Encyclopedia Pictura
, Grizzly Bear
, Isaiah Saxon
, Open Source Ecology
, Sean Hellfritsch
, Trout Gulch
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Encyclopedia Pictura is the creative association of Isaiah Saxon, Sean Hellfritsch and Daren Rabinovitch that has been producing striking, playful work since its inception. One of their early shorts, “Grow,” shows off the power of a simple, clever idea executed well:
The team has produced several music videos including work for Björk and Grizzly Bear. Here are a few stills from Grizzly Bear’s “Knife” video, which features their multimedia, practical/digital effects combination approach to direction:
There is a load of interesting behind the scenes footage and photos also on their website, such as this video:
Their claim of working in “film, art, game design, community building, and agriculture” is not a bit of bombast. From their about page:
From 2008-2011, EP led an effort to build a unique hillside neighborhood and farm called Trout Gulch. They lived and worked there along with 15 others. In 2012, they co-founded DIY in San Francisco, with Vimeo co-founder Zach Klein and OmniCorp Detroit co-founder Andrew Sliwinski. Saxon also volunteers as Media Advisor to Open Source Ecology.
They are passionate about gardening, farming, construction, villages, augmented reality, science visualization, social ecology, technological empowerment, adventure, and country living.
DIY is both a feature film in development as well as more recently a new and growing online community that encourages young people to become “Makers” and share their work, gaining confidence in their creativity and earning digital badges for their profile as they go. DIY meets kids where they already are, on connected devices, and encourages their natural creativity while learning real-world, off and online skills. The DIY “anthem”:
The Do It Yourself/Maker attitude is perhaps the most valuable thing that is being nourished as young people challenge themselves to new experiences inspired by the site.
When a person grows up understanding that they can create and mold the media and environment around them, they don’t have to resign to an existence of passively consuming at the corporate trough. An individual’s confidence in their own creativity is an essential survival skill for the future.
The Lee & Low office is closed today because of the storm, and our thoughts are with everyone affected by Sandy and the rain, wind, and flooding that she brought with her.
Drummer Boy of John John illustrator Frané Lessac has shared instructions on how to make masks for Halloween and Carnival, but they work just as well as a Hurricane craft for those still cooped up and looking for something to do, as most things can be found around the house or replaced easily with household items.
Enjoy, and stay safe and dry!
Crayons or colored pencils
12” elastic cord
colorful bits and bobs (beads, feathers, glitter)
1. Print off the mask or follow the simple outline and draw your own:
2. Cut almond shapes out for the eyes. You can ask an adult to help.
3. Poke 2 tiny holes on either side of the mask ½” from the sides.
4. Tie a knot on one end of the elastic and thread though. Then thread through the other side and knot.
5. Color the mask with bright crayons or pencils. (For inspiration, look at the Carnival masks in The Drummer Boy of John John)
6. Glue on the colorful bits and bobs.
7. Let dry.
8. Jump up and paaaarrrttiee !!!
Filed under: Activities
, Curriculum Corner
, Drummer Boy of John John
, frané lessac
It's a bit like a busman's holiday being a writer. I mean, how many other professions actually continue to do their job after hours, just for fun?
I don't know about you, but I seem to spend my days in front of the computer - or writing - or reading, it's how I earn a crust. So when it's time to put my feet up, or have a day off, what do I usually find myself doing? Yep, you've got it – sitting in front of the computer - or writing - or reading!
I mean, does a painter and decorator dash home after a day of painting and decorating to splash more paint on his walls? I don't think so! Or does a motor mechanic swop work boots for slippers and then slide under the chassis of his car? Probably not – and certainly not by choice!
So how come writers get so absorbed in the whole world of writing and books that it takes over our lives. (Unless it's just me and I really need to get out more!)
It is nice though when you do find time to do something completely different like going out into the countryside on a warm sunny day and relaxing with a friend over a refreshing drink. Trying not, of course to chat about books and writing.
Then there's visiting the grandchildren – that's always a lovely thing to do. Oh! But what's their favourite pastime? You've got it – reading. So it's either Sam aged 2 perched on my lap while I read to him or Megan and Brennan aged 7 and 5 respectively reading to me. And what's the routine before bedtime – yup! They get a bedtime story each.
|Me and my tribe - not reading!|
I enjoy trying to keep fit and visit the gym whenever I can or just go for walks. But even before I set out I'm deciding what to think about during my walk or gym session. Exercising, I've found is the perfect opportunity to think up new plots or solve difficulties in something I'm working on. It's sometimes a bit annoying if you find you've arrived back home and you're only halfway through a particular chunk of dialogue though.
Bedtime is my reading for relaxation time, and two great books that I've just read one after the other were Stephen King's Under the Dome and 23.11.63 – which is based around Kennedy's assassination.
By: Emily Smith Pearce,
Blog: Emily Smith Pearce
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, Cal Patch
, pattern drafting
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This project looks simple, but it has taken me many months to complete. Okay, I have to admit, over a year, but I wasn’t working on it that whole time. I haven’t sewn much for myself in the last few years, mostly for my kids and our home. Part of that has been not wanting to spend so much time on something that might not fit me in the end. So when I heard about Cal Patch‘s book, Design-It-Yourself Clothes, I fantasized about making something to fit me perfectly.
I really like this book. The instructions are clear and written with a sense of humor. The projects are just the right speed for me——beyond beginner but simple enough not to be intimidating. But my favorite thing is that the book leaves lots of room for experimentation. So I like to flip through often and just dream about what I might create. For me, dreaming is more than half the fun.
That said, my first project doesn’t involve a lot of experimentation, besides the pattern drafting itself. It’s the first project in the book, with very little deviation besides the added waistband.
I crossed off a lot of firsts with this skirt. Besides my first self-drafted pattern, I also made my first muslin (trial run of the pattern in a cheap fabric), sewed my first invisible zipper, and used my first French seam. I now realize flat-felled seams would be better here, but oh well.
I’m not completely crazy about the skirt. There are a lot of flaws you can’t necessarily see here, and although the fabric is lovely and soft, I’m not sure what to wear it with. Just having made it feels like a big accomplishment, though.
Since I had plenty of fabric left over, I offered to make a skirt for my daughter, too (just a simple gathered rectangle). If you know me well, you know I’m really not a matchy-matchy type. Our bridesmaids didn’t even match. But my Little Miss loves matching, so she was totally hip to it, especially when I offered to add a floral strip at the bottom.
I love her styling choices here. She’s a bold little fashionista. I feel a mother-daughter matching day coming on. Oh, the things we do for our kids!
3 Comments on The Great Pattern-Drafting Experiment, last added: 5/19/2011
I finally took some time to personalize the screensavers on my Kindle 3, thinking it would be a quick hour or less. And indeed, the process of jailbreaking a Kindle and hacking it to load your own screensavers is drop dead simple. That part really didn’t take any time at all.
The hard part is more deciding what pictures you want to see as a screensaver every day, a task that ended up taking me all afternoon. I first got caught up thumbing through the free downloads on the Kindle Wallpapers Tumblr, which is fascinating on its own.
Then I decided to add a few of my own pictures, so I found a half dozen of my favorites, converted them to black and white, and shrunk them down to 600 x 800.
When I posted on Facebook about what I was doing, someone lamented that she’d recently left her Kindle on a plane, which made me flash back to something I read several years ago. I can’t find a reference to it right now (little help?), but I remember reading about a guy who took pictures of himself and text on signs about how to return the camera if someone found it. He then kept those picture at the beginning of his camera’s memory card in case someone ever found the camera and looked through the photos.
I’ve always thought that was brilliant, so I figured I’d try it with my Kindle. I took a picture, added some text, and then loaded it as a screensaver.
Granted, it’s unlikely that this particular image will be displaying if I lose my Kindle, but my hope is that whoever finds it will be interested enough in the screensaver that is showing to scroll through them. I know it’s a long shot, but it was also something fun to do.
Which then got me thinking about libraries. Are there any libraries customizing the screensavers on their Kindles? As a librarian, I came across some free, library-related screensavers, so I put a few of them on my own device. If you, too, want some library-themed screensavers, here are the ones I’ve found so far:
Do you know of other images we could use to build a list for libraries and librarians?
3 Comments on Library-related Kindle Screensavers, last added: 5/17/2011