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1. Comics for back to school!

I know, I KNOW. It’s July 29th. It doesn’t feel like it’s time to go back to school.

And for lots of districts, it’s not.

But for huge swatches of the South and the Midwest, it’s happening this week or next week. It’s so early, it’s so hot. The kids are so cranky (I would be, too, if I had to go back to school so soon!)

What’s the solution?

COMICS.

Here’s some great, recent comics/graphic novels to give to your kids. Throw these up on a display, handsell them, or stealthily slide them across your circ counter. Your tweens will thank you.

Gotham Academy Volume 1. Do your kids love Batman? This comic is set in a prestigious prep school right in the heart of Gotham. With great supporting characters, secrets, and possibly a ghost, this hits all the superhero buttons. The mysterious Wayne family might even make an appearance…

Oddly Normal! Image Comics just reprinted this with a new cover. It’s INCREDIBLY fun. Oddly is a half-witch and having a mother from Fignation isn’t always a walk in the park. It’s even less fun when her parents disappear and she has to go live in Fignation. She’s the only being in the whole world that’s even remotely human. Hijinks ensue.

Baba Yaga’s Assistant is out next week. It’s a bit spooky but not outright scary. Masha needs some adventure so when Baba Yaga advertises for an assistant, she decides to try it out. But she has to be clever and wily enough to earn her place.

BONUS:

I am Princess X is actually a novel, but there’s a story-within-a-story here that’s told in comics, and it’s a very cool example of mixed-format storytelling. May’s best friend Libby passed away a few years ago in a really tragic accident, and she’s been lonely ever since. But all of a sudden, she sees Princess X popping up all over Seattle: Princess X was a childhood creation that only Libby and May knew about. As May dives into the world of Princess X and webcomics, she begins to wonder–could Libby be alive?

Enjoy the last part of your summer!

*

Our guest blogger from YALSA today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a Library Consultant at the Mississippi Library Commission.

The post Comics for back to school! appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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2. Fantastic Family Film Festival

Last year I needed a last minute program to fill in our last week of Summer Reading. We have weekly performers at my branch every Thursday afternoon and we didn’t get one for the final week of July. So my staff and I threw together a Frozen-Sing-Along and had over 150 kids show up!

This program was so easy to put together and had such a huge draw that I wanted to repeat our success again this year. We cut back on the number of performers, so I had three open Thursday afternoons to fill with staff led programming. So our Fantastic Family Film Festival was born.

Our first one happened yesterday afternoon with a Big Hero 6 Robot Build-Along.

 

Movies tend to be hit or miss at our branch and we have more success with recent popular films with kids and families. The hero theme of Big Hero 6 went perfectly with the Summer Reading theme of Superheroes and the kids are still talking about the movie, so I knew it would draw a crowd. But I didn’t want to just have the kids sit and watch a movie-I wanted something else to happen to make it worth the trip. So we made robots!

I received a huge donation of shoe boxes from a local community theater who had used them in a recent performance. This was a fantastic gift because all of the shoe boxes were wrapped in nice white paper-a perfect surface for creating a robot. I set the room up with several tables and chairs for a work surface but left the front open for floor seating. I put out the boxes on one table and various art supplies on another (crayons, scissors, ribbons, glue, stickers) and told the kids they could gather supplies anytime throughout the movie. In order to help cut down on the mess I kept googly eyes, feathers, and pom-poms back at the table staffed by librarians and the kids had to come and get these from the librarians so we could ration these out and have a more controlled mess. This ended up working out great and we had very little clean up!

The kids loved making a robot while watching the movie and we had multiple parents comment on how they thought it was a wonderful idea. We even had an adult wander by the room and poke her head to tell us we needed to do programs like this for adults!

We ended up with just over 50 kids building robots on a rainy afternoon and the robots turned out great. Of course now I’m kicking myself for not taking photos of all their wonderful creations! My staff and I loved seeing the kids creativity shine through their projects and they had a blast creating while watching a movie.

Next week we’re repeating our Frozen Sing-A-Long and the week after that we’re hosting an Incredibles costume contest and mask making. This programming has been a big draw for families and is a nice break from very staff intensive programming as we finish up our Summer Reading Program.

The post Fantastic Family Film Festival appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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3. Ideas with Crossover Possibilities

Creative Commons search - maker supplies

Creative Commons search – maker supplies

Sometimes, school life and library life overlap.  Sometimes they don’t. Often I read the posts of my public library friends and find myself nodding my head and then I read the posts of many school librarians and my experience doesn’t mesh with theirs.  There are two hot topics that are happening right now in both the arenas of education and libraries and we should definitely be expanding our thinking and reading outside of the library and the school publications proper.

Makerspaces.  Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past 3-5 years, you’ve been reading about, learning about, or implementing some aspect of making whether you are in a school, a school library or a public library. I know that as children’s librarians we have been participating in maker culture for years, but the new focus really is more than a rebranding.  The blending of digital and analog, the open ended and problem solving nature of presenting students and patrons with possibilities instead of directions are both different from some of the making that we were doing early in my career as a youth services librarian.

Design Thinking. I recently participated in my own school’s Innovation Institute which brought together members of the faculty to use design thinking to solve a problem or create something new to share with our faculty and students.  The Gates Foundation and IDEO have created a Design Thinking Toolkit for Libraries.  While this way of thinking and problem solving is definitely taxing on the brain, it does tend to lead to innovation. We are always telling our students to take risks in their learning, and as librarians we should be willing to take some risks in ours as well.

The following are some links from the education world that easily lend themselves to library environments.

Edutopia – Design Thinking

Maker Ed – Projects and Learning Approaches

Teacher Librarian – The Philosophy of  Educational Makerspacea

Knowledge without Borders – Design Thinking for Kids

I’d love to hear back from librarians who have successfully used design thinking either with colleagues or kids. Also, feel free to drop your favorite maker link into the comments!

The post Ideas with Crossover Possibilities appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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4. Instagram of the Week - June 22

A brief look at 'grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then what is a video worth? Instagram may be best known as a platform for sharing images that have been enhanced with just the right filters and photo editing tools, but it also comes in handy for sharing video content. The app may limit video to only fifteen seconds, but users can either shoot video live through Instagram or export content created through another app to Instagram of sharing. From book reviews and clips of programs in progress to behind the scenes looks and how to use library resources, the videos that can be shared with users are endless. Do you take so many photos at programs that you can't decide which ones to post without overloading your followers? Apps like SlideLab, Replay, and Flipagram allow you to select and organize your photographs to create a slideshow, add music, share the final product on Instagram, and not feel the pressure to pick only a few favorite pictures. Looking for something different to spice up your feed? With the Dubsmash app you can take video of yourself lip-synching well known bits from movies, tv shows, commercials, or songs for a post that's hilarious and shows a different side of the library staff. Turn up your volume and take a look at a sample of library Instagram videos that we've included below. Have you posted videos on your library's Instagram? Tell us about it in the comments section below!

 

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5. Engage tweens with technology through Stop Motion Videos

Stop motion is an animation technique “to make a physically manipulated object or persona appear to move on its own. The object is moved in small increments between individually photographed frames, creating the illusion of movement when the series of frames is played as a continuous sequence,” (from Wikipedia). So, like Wallace and Grommet but, in our case, DIY and low-budget. I planned a stop motion program as a way of engaging tweens with the new set of iPads the Wellesley Free Library received thanks to a grant from the Wellesley Media Foundation. Tweens are a difficult audience to capture with technology programs, and after an unsuccessful QR code scavenger hunt, this seemed to be a fun idea that would attract tweens and leave them with new skills in using technology.

As I have written before, I am not the most technologically savvy of the new generation of children’s librarians. So I am always looking for a program idea where I can learn along with the kids, rather than needing to have prior knowledge or expertise. This hit the nail on the head. And it was fun too!

Here’s how it worked:

-I used Stop Motion Studio, a basic free app for iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. If your library has any of these devices, you can pre-load the app beforehand. Otherwise, kids who have their own personal devices may use these. Don’t worry if you do not have a large number of devices to use, because this is an activity that lends itself to working in teams. Having one device for every four kids is not only completely reasonable logistically, it also builds teamwork and collaboration. Kids will enjoy creating a story together, and taking turns playing different roles in the process.

-Next is the fun part: gathering the materials. What you need are basically toys, toys, and more toys. Working in a library that values play as an important practice for building early literacy skills, I have access to plastic animals, plushy body organs, dolls and doll house furniture, puppets, vehicles, wooden food, blocks, LEGOs, playdough, and much more. I’m sure most of you have a similar treasure trove at your fingertips. I gathered this all together along with an assortment of craft supplies, paper, and markers.

-When the participants arrived, I gave them a brief tutorial of the app. Because we were using the basic free version, we did not have access to all of the extra features which can be purchased within the app, such as sound effects, movie themes, and the ability to import images. But for a beginner class lasting only an hour, simple was fine. Some of the kids had made stop-motion videos before using the Nintendo DS, but none had used the app. They picked it up in no time. The free version of the app does include a function to change the speed of the video, and the ability to have the previous photo appear as a translucent image in the background of the camera finder, in order to more precisely see the minute change in each frame. These features were very helpful in creating the videos.

-Next I explained the concept of story-boarding, and encouraged the participants to plan out their frames before executing the video. Then they collected supplies and began to take pictures. In the end, we shared our videos with each other. The three who chose to share their video through the library’s Youtube channel can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEE6nkJzxnsQCemP82YXmZfLVhYE8uEzy

Overall summary:  Tweens enjoyed this fun and simple program, learned new skills on devices with which they were already somewhat familiar, and left with a sense of pride about their creations which some chose to share with the public through Library social media channels. The program’s success is determined greatly by the variety and whimsy of the materials you provide for making the videos.

Skills developed and strengthened: working using a tablet, digital photography, animation, story-boarding, working as a team.

Cost: $0

What programs have you done to engage tweens in technology? What has worked in your community?

The post Engage tweens with technology through Stop Motion Videos appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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6. Unconventional heroes

Summer Reading is underway for most everyone at this point.  And everyone using CSLP is knee-deep in superheroes!  Here are a few comics for your kids that involve heroes that might be a bit…unusual.

Nimona might be the epitome of a nontraditional hero. She’s actually…a villain. I know! But this medievalish epic has it all–science, symbolism, monsters? And hilarity. Originally a webcomic, this one will appeal to everyone.

You might remember energetic and fun Claudette and her pals from Giants Beware, which came out a few years ago. But now she’s determined to get the dragon who ate her brave and beloved father’s legs years ago.

Volume 1 of Gotham Academy collects issues 1-6 of the DC comic, and it’s a delight. Set at Gotham’s most prestigious prep school, the secrets are everywhere! Why is Olive acting so weird? What’s her beef with Batman? Bonus: an EXCELLENT character named Maps, who might be my favorite comic character in quiet some time.

This is just a small sampling, and I guarantee–you’ll love these as much as your kids do!

*

Our guest blogger from YALSA today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a Library Consultant at the Mississippi Library Commission.

The post Unconventional heroes appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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7. Spring is here!

It's springtime! In Mississippi, at least, it's been spring for quite some time and actually hit 80 degrees last week. In celebration, let's highlight some springtime tales for your displays! These books either have or are coming out this spring!

It's the latest Penderwicks book! These are so lovely and the latest one is no exception. Available now, the fourth book in the Penderwicks series has a lot of heart and surprises for each family member. Your kids that have loved the last three books won't be disappointed by this one.

Listen, Slowly is a gorgeous tale of a California girl who spends her summer with her grandmother in Vietnam. She must learn to find the balance between her two worlds. An excellent follow-up to Lai's National Book Award Winning Inside Out and Back Again, this one is gorgeous and evocative. Your students that love to read about other places will devour this one.

Astrid and her best friend Nicole have always done everything together...until Astrid discovers roller derby. Derby is amazing and Astrid is learning so much...but what does this mean for her relationship with Nicole? An excellent addition to the growing canon of upper middle grade graphic novels that is so wonderful.

The first book in an exciting new series! Horace is absentmindedly looking out the window of the bus...when he sees a sign with his name on it.  What he finds under the sign will change his life forever. Gifts! Magic! New friends! Perfect for the fantasy lovers in your library.

Out next month, Murder is Bad Manners is a charming tale of murder and Mayhem at an English boarding school in the 1930s. Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong have formed their own secret detective agency...but they never thought they'd have a real murder to investigate! This one hits all the high points: historical fiction, mystery, and friendship.

*

Our guest blogger from ALSC today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a Library Consultant at the Mississippi Library Commission.

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8. Spring is here!

It’s springtime! In Mississippi, at least, it’s been spring for quite some time and actually hit 80 degrees last week. In celebration, let’s highlight some springtime tales for your displays! These books either have or are coming out this spring!

It’s the latest Penderwicks book! These are so lovely and the latest one is no exception. Available now, the fourth book in the Penderwicks series has a lot of heart and surprises for each family member. Your kids that have loved the last three books won’t be disappointed by this one.

Listen, Slowly is a gorgeous tale of a California girl who spends her summer with her grandmother in Vietnam. She must learn to find the balance between her two worlds. An excellent follow-up to Lai’s National Book Award Winning Inside Out and Back Again, this one is gorgeous and evocative. Your students that love to read about other places will devour this one.

Astrid and her best friend Nicole have always done everything together…until Astrid discovers roller derby. Derby is amazing and Astrid is learning so much…but what does this mean for her relationship with Nicole? An excellent addition to the growing canon of upper middle grade graphic novels that is so wonderful.

The first book in an exciting new series! Horace is absentmindedly looking out the window of the bus…when he sees a sign with his name on it.  What he finds under the sign will change his life forever. Gifts! Magic! New friends! Perfect for the fantasy lovers in your library.

Out next month, Murder is Bad Manners is a charming tale of murder and Mayhem at an English boarding school in the 1930s. Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong have formed their own secret detective agency…but they never thought they’d have a real murder to investigate! This one hits all the high points: historical fiction, mystery, and friendship.

 

*

Our guest blogger from YALSA today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a Library Consultant at the Mississippi Library Commission.

The post Spring is here! appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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9. 'Daisy and Bartholomew Q' -- EPIC FAIL Syndrome!


Fantastic Fantasy

Daisy and Bartholomew Q


PLUS outrageous critters like--
The Dynoroar, The Oogledork, The Featherbutt Bird,
and. . . Evil Big Crow.

by Margot Finke
Cover Art: Ioana Zdralea.



 This young tween fantasy will be published as soon as the cover to be completed.
Then, Soft Cover and Kindle pop-up will be your purchase choices.
(on Amazon and my website)

Daisy and Bartholomew Q. are an unlikely twosome.
She is a stubborn and feisty young teen girl. She likes to do things her way.




He is a slightly pompous fellow who loves books and reading.
He lives in a world of words, and his friends are astonishingly odd--to say the least.



With Daisy's procrastination teetering at EPIC FAIL,
Bartholomew Q. is sent to guide and advise her.

He will show her where to discover those
fantastic words that will earn her garden essay an 'A.'


QUESTIONS:
#1- Where would he take Daisy?
#2 - Who would she ask?
#3 - WHAT words would she choose?


ANSWERS:
#1 - the Thesaurus ('G' for Garden section)
#2 - the Cousin Adjective Tree, the Mother Noun Tree, the Father Verb Tree,
and the Depressed Raccoon--WHO ELSE?
#3 - Fabulous words that describe a garden.
Essay due tomorrow morning.
PLEASE HURRY!

Of course if you're like Daisy, you've put off writing your essay until
the last minute. A failing grade looms--plus the wrath of Mom!



OH. . .
and did I mention attacks by bizarre World Word residents,
Talking Trees, a depressed raccoon, and being kidnapped by Evil Big Crow?

So much fun and adventure--so many fabulous words.


I can't wait to see the cover. (the art here is only temporary)




STAY TUNED, MATES!




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

Books for Kids - Skype Author Visits
http://www.margotfinke.com
Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/nogbdad

********************************* 




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10. Putting it all together

Other than a few favorite story times that I repeat yearly, I always like to try something new. Similarly, I’m always interested in learning something new.  In February, I put it all together – mixing things that interest me with several of the library’s most wonderful assests –  technology, diversity, creative space, and kids.

I offer you the ingreadients for “Read, Reflect, Relay: a 4-week club”

Ingreadients

  • 1 part knowledge from ALSC’s online class, “Tech Savvy Booktalker”ALSC Online Education
  • 1 part inspiration from ALSC’s online class, “Series Programming for theElementary School Age”
  • 1 new friendship spawned by networking and a love of nonfiction books
  • a desire to participate in the #weneeddiversebooks campaign
  • computers
  • books
  • school-aged kids#WeNeedDiverseBooks
  • space and time to create

Each club participant read a Schneider Family Book Award winner of her choice.  If you’re unfamiliar with the Schneider Family Book Award, I’ve linked to its page. Winning books embody the “disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.”

I asked each of the participants to distill the message of her book into a sentence or two – something that would make a good commercial.  Then I gave them a choice of using Animoto, Stupeflix, or VoiceThread to create a book trailer or podcast.  All three platforms were kind enough to offer me an “educator account” for use at the library.  Other than strict guidelines on copyright law and a “no-spoilers” rule, each girl was free to interpret and relay the message of her book as she pleased.

Coincidentally, after I had planned the club, I was chatting online with Alyson BeecherWe were both Round 2 judges for the Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction CYBILS Awards.  I had no idea that she is also the Chair of the Schneider Family Book Award Committee!  When I told her about my club, she immediately offered to Skype or Hangout with the club members.  We hastily worked out a schedule, and Alyson’s visit on the last day of the club was one of its highlights!

The girls ranged in age from 10 to teen.  I think you will be impressed with their creativity.

WordPress does not allow me to embed the actual videos and podcasts, but you can access them via the links below – or visit them on Alyson’s site where she was able to embed them.  Enjoy! :)

·        Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick (2012 winner, Middle School)  https://animoto.com/play/kUdNM1sa4fWKfZOXId63AQ

·      After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick (2011 winner, Middle School)   https://voicethread.com/new/myvoice/#thread/6523783/33845486/35376059

·    Anything but Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin (2010 winner, Teen)  https://animoto.com/play/qFPwi1vYP1ha2FF0vVUuFg

·      Anything but Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin (2010 winner, Teen) (another one)    http://studio.stupeflix.com/v/9GKeiQfgsj9Q/?autoplay=1

·      A Dog Called Homeless by Sara Lean (2013 winner, Middle School)    http://studio.stupeflix.com/v/DQ4tJG8mnsYX/?autoplay=1

If you’d like more information, or if you’d like to see my video booktalk (or adapt) my video advertisement for the program, just leave a message in the comments.  I’ll be happy to respond.

 *All logos used with permission and linked back to their respective sites.

The post Putting it all together appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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11. Instagram of the Week – November 10

A brief look at ‘grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform. From cupcakes to duct tape and candy sushi to spin art, this week we’re looking at how libraries advertise for teen programs, show off what participants made, and recruit new members for TAB and TAG groups. Does your library have an Instagram account specifically your teen population or TAB group? Who decides what gets posted on there?

Secondly, we mustache you… are you doing anything special for MOvember? If yes, please don’t shave it for later! We want to see your crafts, displays, and decorations in the comments section below.

Have you come across a related Instagram post this week, or has your library posted something similar? Have a topic you’d like to see in the next installment of Instagram of the Week? Share it in the comments section of this post.

Due to technical difficulties, please follow this link to view this week’s post directly on the Storify website: Instagram of the Week – November 10

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12. On THE BLOOD OF OLYMPUS by Rick Riordon (The Heroes of Olympus #5)

Fangirling by Reagan THE BLOOD OF OLYMPUS Age Range: 10 - 14 yearsGrade Level: 5 - 9Series: The Heroes of Olympus (Book 5)Hardcover: 528 pagesPublisher: Disney-Hyperion; First Edition edition (October 7, 2014)  Audiobook Publisher: Listening Library Audible | Goodreads | Amazon Though the Greek and Roman crew members of the Argo II have made progress in their many quests, they still seem no

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13. LEGO Mindstorms for Tweens (Or How I Had to Give Myself a Crash Course in Robotics)

Mindstorms Robot 2.5At my library, LEGOs are perpetually popular. We host a LEGO Contest at least once a year with a continual level of success. Also at my library, we are currently focusing on new technology initiatives to enhance our programming. Thus, my idea to combine the two and try a LEGO Mindstorms program was born.

As I had never used LEGO Mindstorms before, I did a ton of research well in advance. I put a call out on several listservs for help and ideas, and received a plethora of valuable insight. Then, I asked my IT department to order a Mindstorms EV3 kit to try out to see if it would be doable for us. I worked closely with one of our IT technicians to tentatively make a plan: he would familiarize himself with the robots, be there to troubleshoot, and help with more advanced questions; and I would learn the very basics and come up with the program outline.

We ended up DSC00589purchasing 6 LEGO Mindstorms EV3 core kits to use and downloaded the free software from the Mindstorms website. (Note: You can purchase a site license from the LEGO Education site to get the Teacher’s Edition of the software. It’s much more expensive, but it’s supposed to come with lesson plans and such already done for you.) One day, about a month before the program, I went up to the IT office to work on the outline when I received the news: the IT technician I had been working with was leaving the next week for another job! This meant I was on my own and needed to be good enough to not only use the robots, but also teach the tweens how to use them.

I borrowed one of the robots and set to work giving myself a crash course in LEGO Mindstorms. I found The LEGO Mindstorms EV3 Discovery Book by Laurens Valk to be extremely helpful. I decided to break the program up into three 1-hour sessions and a final 2 hour session that would meet weekly after school. I opened up the program to tweens in grades 4 to 7 and geared it towards those with no programming or robotics experience. You can find a detailed outline of each of the sessions here, but this is basically how I broke down my program:DSC00595

Day 1: I wanted to give the tweens a good foundation for programming/coding language which would help them with the LEGO Mindstorms software, so for the entire first day we worked with the Hour of Code website. The nice thing about it was that the programming blocks on code.org looked almost identical to the programming blocks from the Mindstorms software. We went though the first hour of code together, but since I anticipated that some tweens would work faster than others, I told them where to stop (which was before the next video) and gave them extra mazes to complete if they finished early.

Day 2: I introduced the tweens to the LEGO Mindstorms software, the parts of the robot, and the steering blocks. Then I gave them some challenges to try based on what we learned, which you can find in my outline. (Note: To save time for this program, we pre-built the robots for them. We chose the Track3r bot with the claw arm as pictured at the top of this post.)

Day 3: We went over the rest of the action blocks (display, brick status, and sound) and the flow blocks. Then I gave them some more challenges based on what they learned that day, which you can find in my outline. We didn’t bother learning any of the other more complicated blocks since this was a beginner class, but I encouraged them to play around with these blocks if they felt comfortable.DSC00599

Day 4: I began with a very brief overview and asked if they had any questions. Then I gave them some time to just play around and experiment with programming their robots. With about an hour left, I gave them one final challenge using the mission pad mat that comes with the Mindstorms kit.

Here are some videos of the neat things they programmed the robots to do:

What I Learned:

  • The tweens had the most fun when they had free reign to experiment and play.
  • The final challenge that I gave them seemed to be too difficult and they got frustrated and just didn’t try. Next time I would either make up an easier version of that challenge or just forget it altogether.
  • Because we only had 6 kits, we put the tweens in groups of 2 and 3. This seemed to be a good number per kit.
  • I didn’t end up needing the full 2 hours for the last session day, so the next time I might just host four 1-hour sessions.

Tips:

  • I realize that these robot kits are expensive and not every library has the funds to purchase multiple kits. One of the suggestions from the listserv was to work with your school’s robotics team to see if they would lend you kits and/or work with you to run the classes.
  • I was the only adult in the room with 16 tweens most of the time. For one of the sessions, I had the help of an older teen who had been on his school’s robotics team. It made all the difference when it came time for the tweens to complete their challenges. If you can have a second person in the room, especially if it’s someone who has advanced robotics experience, you’ll be much less overwhelmed.
  • For any challenge you give the tweens, have an answer key ready in case they get truly stumped so you can give them hints. I made up answers to my challenges, which you can find here and here. They helped me immensely, though please note that they aren’t the only possible answers and I am still not a robotics expert by any means.
  • I also tried this as a standalone 2 hour program. I geared it towards kids in grades 4 to 7 who had a basic understanding of programming or Mindstorms. I ended up getting a mix of beginners and non-beginners. The outline of this session was 30 minutes of software and robot overview followed by 90 minutes of challenges. Because I wasn’t sure about the experience level of this group, I gave them options for each challenge: an easy option and a more challenging one (make your robot move in a square or make your robot move in a triangle). This worked out really well!
  • If you don’t want to use the mission pad that comes with the kits, you can also download and create your own challenge maps here.

Other Helpful Links:

Beyond Legos: Coding for Kids (ALSC Blog)
Build Better Robots with LEGO Mindstorms Education EV3 (The Digital Shift)
Tinker Group
Getting Giggles
Robotics for the Rest of Us (YALSA Blog)

Have you hosted a LEGO Mindstorms program at your library? If so, any other tips/tricks?

Kim Castle-Alberts is a member of the School-Age Programs and Services Committee. She is also a Youth Services/Emerging Technologies Librarian at the Hudson Library & Historical Society in Ohio. You can find her on her blog, on Twitter, or at kim.alberts@hudson.lib.oh.us. 

All photos are courtesy of the Hudson Librar & Historical Society.

0 Comments on LEGO Mindstorms for Tweens (Or How I Had to Give Myself a Crash Course in Robotics) as of 11/29/2014 12:48:00 AM
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14. Middle Grade and Young Adult: An Author(s) Interview

It's a holiday weekend, hooray! I hope everyone has had a most excellent Thanksgiving. I thought for a holiday weekend treat, we'd do something fun here today, so I asked a couple of authors to participate in an interview just for ALSC and YALSA blog readers!

The two authors I asked to participate have something in common: they write both middle grade and young adult books. As a librarian who works with all ages, and especially with the "tween" ages (where ALSC and YALSA's services overlap!), I find myself needing to be familiar with both types of books.

The exact definitions of Middle Grade and Young Adult are subjective and amorphous. For the purposes of this post, we'll just say that the intended audience for middle grade is slightly younger than the intended audience of YA, but both can be enjoyed by all ages.

Our authors:

Alison Cherry

Books:
Red (2013), Young Adult
For Real (2014), Young Adult
Look Both Ways (2016), Young Adult
Grandma Jo's Guide to Prim and Proper Pilfering (2016), Middle Grade

Claire Legrand

Books:
The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls (2012), Middle Grade
The Year of Shadows (2013), Middle Grade
The Cabinet of Curiosities (coauthor) (short stories) (2013), Middle Grade
Summerfall (2014) (prequel novella), Young Adult
Winterspell (2014), Young Adult

***

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

Claire: Regardless of genre or age category, I approach writing all my books the same way: How do I write the best story I can, in a way that shows I respect my audience and their intelligence? Beyond that, any differences between writing YA and MG are primarily stylistic. For me, it's all about voice and language. YA is generally more introspective than MG. YA characters process experiences internally and think a lot about their emotions, whereas MG characters are still externally focused, looking outward for examples and understanding. MG characters are distilled, pure--not innocent, but rather mutable and unfinished. There's a rawness to MG characters, a lack of sophistication, that lends itself to a certain straightforward, unfettered voice. It's not that MG characters don't feel a complexity of emotion; they simply aren't as adept at understanding and expressing it as their YA counterparts. So, with this in mind, I strive to craft my MG voice using careful language that feels true to the spirit of this emotional purity and inexperience.

Alison: This might sound callous, but once I've chosen the subject matter for my books, I rarely think about my readers at all! As I see it, my job as a writer is to tell the truth through the medium of an engaging, well crafted story, and that's the case whether I'm writing for twelve-year-olds or eighty-year-olds. I think readers of all ages want basically the same thing: a plot that hooks them right away and continues to surprise them throughout the story, and characters who feel three-dimensional, relatable, and flawed. I certainly consider whether or not a sixth grader would know a certain word or a specific cultural reference, but those are minor details, and the important parts of storytelling are way more universal. I'm not writing for kids and teens, specifically. I'm writing for anyone who wants to read stories about kids and teens.

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

Claire: I hope to continue writing both, yes. I certainly have ideas for more of each! Currently I'm ensconced in three different MG projects, so those will probably surface first. Unfortunately I can't talk about any of them yet!

Alison: Absolutely! I love the variety that comes from switching back and forth between them. Right now I'm working on a new MG that involves a prank war at a sleepaway camp. My YA work-in-progress, which comes out in 2016, is about musical theater and the fine line between obsessive, platonic female friendship and romantic love.

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

Claire: From a craft perspective, making the transition was a bit challenging. The MG voice comes more naturally to me, so refining my YA voice required a lot of work (especially since my YA debut, Winterspell, is high fantasy-esque, and that's a tricky voice to get just right). However, since joining Twitter back in 2009, I've made many friends with bloggers, authors, and readers in both the YA and MG communities. There's a lot of overlap between the two. So in that way, I felt like I already had many supporters in the YA world before my YA debut even released, for which I'm incredibly grateful!

ALLY: Alison, your MG hasn't been published yet. Do you anticipate major differences in the entire experience?

Alison: I do! First of all, I anticipate having a lot more contact with actual young people this time around! Although I do get to chat with my teen readers sometimes, tons of adults read YA, and nearly everyone who has contacted me about my books so far has been a grownup. I'm excited for this experience to be a little more kid-centric! Relatedly, I'll have to change my publicity strategy; for YA books, most promotion can be done online through Twitter and blog tours and such, but those tactics won't get my books into the hands of the fifth graders I want to reach this time around. Honestly, the thing I'm most excited about is that the cover for Grandma Jo's Guide to Prim and Proper Pilfering will feature an illustration instead of a stock photo. My editor has already asked me for character descriptions so she can start looking for the right artist, and I'm bouncing in my chair just thinking about it!

***

Y'alllll, aren't they great?!

Claire's latest book, a YA fantasy retelling of the Nutcracker (perfect for Christmas!) is out now, And Alison's latest, a fun YA sister story about a reality show trip around the world will be out December 9:

      

You can find them on twitter at @alison_cherry and @clairelegrand!

Are you interested in reading more tween-related posts?  The YALSA Blog and the ALSC Blog both offer information of interest to librarians who work with tweens.

*
Our cross-poster from ALSC today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a youth services librarian in Mississippi, and has worked with ages birth-18 for the last 5 years.

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15. Middle Grade and Young Adult: An Author(s) Interview

It’s a holiday weekend, hooray! I hope everyone has had a most excellent Thanksgiving. I thought for a holiday weekend treat, we’d do something fun here today, so I asked a couple of authors to participate in an interview just for ALSC and YALSA blog readers!

The two authors I asked to participate have something in common: they write both middle grade and young adult books. As a librarian who works with all ages, and especially with the “tween” ages (where ALSC and YALSA’s services overlap!), I find myself needing to be familiar with both types of books.

The exact definitions of Middle Grade and Young Adult are subjective and amorphous. For the purposes of this post, we’ll just say that the intended audience for middle grade is slightly younger than the intended audience of YA, but both can be enjoyed by all ages.

Our authors:

Alison Cherry

Books:
Red (2013), Young Adult
For Real (2014), Young Adult
Look Both Ways (2016), Young Adult
Grandma Jo’s Guide to Prim and Proper Pilfering (2016), Middle Grade

Claire Legrand

Books:
The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls (2012), Middle Grade
The Year of Shadows (2013), Middle Grade
The Cabinet of Curiosities (coauthor) (short stories) (2013), Middle Grade
Summerfall (2014) (prequel novella), Young Adult
Winterspell (2014), Young Adult

***

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

Claire: Regardless of genre or age category, I approach writing all my books the same way: How do I write the best story I can, in a way that shows I respect my audience and their intelligence? Beyond that, any differences between writing YA and MG are primarily stylistic. For me, it’s all about voice and language. YA is generally more introspective than MG. YA characters process experiences internally and think a lot about their emotions, whereas MG characters are still externally focused, looking outward for examples and understanding. MG characters are distilled, pure–not innocent, but rather mutable and unfinished. There’s a rawness to MG characters, a lack of sophistication, that lends itself to a certain straightforward, unfettered voice. It’s not that MG characters don’t feel a complexity of emotion; they simply aren’t as adept at understanding and expressing it as their YA counterparts. So, with this in mind, I strive to craft my MG voice using careful language that feels true to the spirit of this emotional purity and inexperience.

Alison: This might sound callous, but once I’ve chosen the subject matter for my books, I rarely think about my readers at all! As I see it, my job as a writer is to tell the truth through the medium of an engaging, well crafted story, and that’s the case whether I’m writing for twelve-year-olds or eighty-year-olds. I think readers of all ages want basically the same thing: a plot that hooks them right away and continues to surprise them throughout the story, and characters who feel three-dimensional, relatable, and flawed. I certainly consider whether or not a sixth grader would know a certain word or a specific cultural reference, but those are minor details, and the important parts of storytelling are way more universal. I’m not writing for kids and teens, specifically. I’m writing for anyone who wants to read stories about kids and teens.

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

Claire: I hope to continue writing both, yes. I certainly have ideas for more of each! Currently I’m ensconced in three different MG projects, so those will probably surface first. Unfortunately I can’t talk about any of them yet!

Alison: Absolutely! I love the variety that comes from switching back and forth between them. Right now I’m working on a new MG that involves a prank war at a sleepaway camp. My YA work-in-progress, which comes out in 2016, is about musical theater and the fine line between obsessive, platonic female friendship and romantic love.

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

Claire: From a craft perspective, making the transition was a bit challenging. The MG voice comes more naturally to me, so refining my YA voice required a lot of work (especially since my YA debut, Winterspell, is high fantasy-esque, and that’s a tricky voice to get just right). However, since joining Twitter back in 2009, I’ve made many friends with bloggers, authors, and readers in both the YA and MG communities. There’s a lot of overlap between the two. So in that way, I felt like I already had many supporters in the YA world before my YA debut even released, for which I’m incredibly grateful!

ALLY: Alison, your MG hasn’t been published yet. Do you anticipate major differences in the entire experience?

Alison: I do! First of all, I anticipate having a lot more contact with actual young people this time around! Although I do get to chat with my teen readers sometimes, tons of adults read YA, and nearly everyone who has contacted me about my books so far has been a grownup. I’m excited for this experience to be a little more kid-centric! Relatedly, I’ll have to change my publicity strategy; for YA books, most promotion can be done online through Twitter and blog tours and such, but those tactics won’t get my books into the hands of the fifth graders I want to reach this time around. Honestly, the thing I’m most excited about is that the cover for Grandma Jo’s Guide to Prim and Proper Pilfering will feature an illustration instead of a stock photo. My editor has already asked me for character descriptions so she can start looking for the right artist, and I’m bouncing in my chair just thinking about it!

***

Y’alllll, aren’t they great?!

Claire’s latest book, a YA fantasy retelling of the Nutcracker (perfect for Christmas!) is out now, And Alison’s latest, a fun YA sister story about a reality show trip around the world will be out December 9:

      

You can find them on twitter at @alison_cherry and @clairelegrand!

 

Are you interested in reading more tween-related posts?  The YALSA Blog and the ALSC Blog both offer information of interest to librarians who work with tweens.

*
Our cross-poster from YALSA today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a youth services librarian in Mississippi, and has worked with ages birth-18 for the last 5 years.

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16. Ideas for Downtime

The week between Christmas and New Years is a really quiet time at my branch. I know that’s not the case at every library, but in our community, most of the parents are working this week and kids are staying with family or in daycares, or families are taking vacations. We don’t have much in the way of regular programming, but there are a few kids who wander in looking for something to do. Unfortunately, we’re also short-staffed this week, so I’m looking for fun ways to serve my kid patrons and also keep all three of our desks staffed. I’m going to be pulling out all the fun do-it-yourself activities this week:

  • Butcher Paper Art!

So the younger kids are going to love this, but as the tweens and teens see how much fun it is just to go absolutely nuts with the crayons, you’ll have a crowd around those tables. And at the end of the day, be sure to cut out your most creative art to decorate your department!

  • Wii Dance

So, when my part-time employee comes in in the afternoons, we’re pulling out the Wii. I mainly just want someone in the department to make sure that the remotes don’t get flung across the room in excitement, but this one also runs itself. And the kids LOVE it. Put it on contest mode and throw in something from your prize cabinet as a reward and watch out for blood.

  • Charging station/Tablet talk

A lot of my kids will have gotten kindles or iPads or various other technology for holiday gifts.  This one’s super easy: grab a couple of power strips and a table. Voila!  This is really neat because not only does it let your kids charge their devices, it opens the door to talk about fun things like new apps, games, and maybe even your library’s ebook collection!

  • Craft clean-out

I often do crafts with my preschool story time groups. Sometimes I have leftover materials just sitting in cabinets. They’re pretty low-level, but if you put the materials and the examples out, the masterpieces of variation that your older kids will come up with are awe-inspiring.

  • Free Lego Play

I’m not sure I’m brave or well-staffed enough for this one this week. But if you are? May the Force be with you.

 

For every idea I have, you’ll have 100 more. It’s a quiet week. Pull out some fun for your kids–get creative!

Are you interested in reading more tween-related posts?  The YALSA Blog and the ALSC Blog both offer information of interest to librarians who work with tweens.

*
Our cross-poster from YALSA today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a youth services librarian in Mississippi, and has worked with ages birth-18 for the last 5 years.

The post Ideas for Downtime appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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17. Ideas for Downtime

The week between Christmas and New Years is a really quiet time at my branch. I know that's not the case at every library, but in our community, most of the parents are working this week and kids are staying with family or in daycares, or families are taking vacations. We don't have much in the way of regular programming, but there are a few kids who wander in looking for something to do. Unfortunately, we're also short-staffed this week, so I'm looking for fun ways to serve my kid patrons and also keep all three of our desks staffed. I'm going to be pulling out all the fun do-it-yourself activities this week:

  • Butcher Paper Art!

So the younger kids are going to love this, but as the tweens and teens see how much fun it is just to go absolutely nuts with the crayons, you'll have a crowd around those tables. And at the end of the day, be sure to cut out your most creative art to decorate your department!

  • Wii Dance

So, when my part-time employee comes in in the afternoons, we're pulling out the Wii. I mainly just want someone in the department to make sure that the remotes don't get flung across the room in excitement, but this one also runs itself. And the kids LOVE it. Put it on contest mode and throw in something from your prize cabinet as a reward and watch out for blood.

  • Charging station/Tablet talk

A lot of my kids will have gotten kindles or iPads or various other technology for holiday gifts.  This one's super easy: grab a couple of power strips and a table. Voila!  This is really neat because not only does it let your kids charge their devices, it opens the door to talk about fun things like new apps, games, and maybe even your library's ebook collection!

  • Craft clean-out

I often do crafts with my preschool story time groups. Sometimes I have leftover materials just sitting in cabinets. They're pretty low-level, but if you put the materials and the examples out, the masterpieces of variation that your older kids will come up with are awe-inspiring.

  • Free Lego Play

I'm not sure I'm brave or well-staffed enough for this one this week. But if you are? May the Force be with you.

For every idea I have, you'll have 100 more. It's a quiet week. Pull out some fun for your kids--get creative!

 

Are you interested in reading more tween-related posts?  The YALSA Blog and the ALSC Blog both offer information of interest to librarians who work with tweens.

*
Our cross-poster from ALSC today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a youth services librarian in Mississippi, and has worked with ages birth-18 for the last 5 years.

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18. Instagram of the Week - January 5

A brief look at 'grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

Happy New Year! For many, the changing year brings with it a list of resolutions. What can we do for those who have made it a goal to read more books? For starters, we can share reading challenges with our teen patrons or create our own for our communities. The 2015 Goodreads Reading Challenge has users set a goal of a specific number of titles to read, but other sources like Popsugar, Book Riot, and the TBR (To Be Read) Jar Challenge give category guidelines in which readers select a title of their choice.  Others, like Epic Reads' 365 Days of YA reading calendar and YALSA's 2015 Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge (which counts toward the upcoming 2015 Hub Reading Challenge), ask participants to read a number of books from a provided list. Either way, these reading challenge avenues provide inspiration for creating your own reading challenge for your teens. Check out Random House of Canada's year-long Reading Bingo Challenge (one general card and one specific to YA) -- fun and motivating!

Another way to engage teens in a discussion of their reading is through book photo challenges. Offered monthly, these challenges ask users to take a book-related photo a day and post it on social media with the corresponding hashtags. The sky is the limit when it comes to daily photo tasks! Engaging library users in this type of discussion can provide clues to collection development and potential programming.

Has your library hosted a reading or book photo challenge before? Is there a "go to" reading challenge that you recommend to your teens? If so, share with us the comments section below.

 

Have a topic you'd like to see in the next installment of Instagram of the Week? Share it in the comments section of this post.

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19. YMA Favorites

When you’re reading this, a lot of us will be heading or preparing to head to Chicago for ALA Midwinter. There are many things to be excited about during Midwinter–meetings, exhibits, seeing friends.

But not a lot actually meets the level of excitement, that the Youth Media Awards. This will be my first YMAs in person! I’m so jazzed. So I thought I’d take a moment and reflect on my favorite winners of past YMAs. Honestly, I could go on for pages and pages about this, but I’ll just do a quick overview because y’all are packing or flying.  My very favorites of the Caldecott Medal, Newbery Medal, and Printz Award Winners:

I know this is everyone’s favorite, but it’s totally mine. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. It won the 1963 Caldecott award. This book was written over 20 years before I was born, but I adored it as a child. I remember asking my mom to read it to me over and over and over again. And it holds up. I use this one in storytimes often, and I’m lucky enough to live near the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection at the University of Southern Mississippi and have seen some of the original art. It’s as gorgeous as you think it is.

The View From Saturday by E.L. Konisburg won the Newbery Medal in 1997. This is one that I was wild about as a child. I was 9 years old when this book came out, and I was part of a program in my school that was similar to the Academic Bowl Team. Well, not entirely similar. But it felt similar. My fourth-grade self resonated with this one DEEPLY. I actually have not read this one as an adult. A part of me is terrified that it won’t hold up. But it will, right? Because Konigsburg? This is the first time in my life I remember being aware that the Newbery medal is something that was actually awarded, and that the seal didn’t just magically appear on books in my school library. I remember my school librarian telling us that this book had won and being very excited because I had read it and loved it so much. Maybe it’s time for a reread?

 

The Printz Award is a little different. It’s a much newer award. The first Printz was awarded in 2000. I wasn’t really aware of the existence of the Printz until college library school, but I quickly became obsessed. I actually wrote my master’s project on the Printz. In doing so, I read many Printz and Printz Honor titles. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, the 2009 winner, is my favorite, and continues to be my favorite Young Adult title of all time. I understand that my approach to this book was different. I was an adult the first time I read it, upon the recommendation of a colleague at my library, unlike the other two titles, which I came to as a child. But this book, like the other two, changed me and stayed with me. Marchetta is now one of my favorite authors. I’m fond of telling friends that if she wrote ingredients lists on the side of cereal boxes, I’d have them shipped over from Australia to read.

That’s the thing I love about award winners, and all books. Remember this when you’re putting award seals on books next week and when you’re teaching classes about the Caldecott and Newbery and when you’re excitedly handing your tweens and teens the Printz Honor book you’ll know they love: these are the books that will stay with them forever. And we get to be a tiny part of that.

*
Our cross-poster from YALSA today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a youth services librarian in Mississippi, and has worked with kids ages birth-18 for the last 5 years.

The post YMA Favorites appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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20. Instagram of the Week - February 2

A brief look at 'grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform. Thursday, January 29 was New York Public Library's #libraryshelfie day during which book lovers worldwide snapped photos of their bookshelves and shared them on Instagram. From library shelves and to-be-read bedside stacks to pets with books and color coded shelving, shelfies of all sorts were spotlighted. This week we've collected the posts of several libraries that shared photos of their YA collections. Did you or your library participate this year?

It's hard to believe that February is already here! Will you be doing any special displays for Valentine's Day?  Blind Date with a Book displays are always popular, but we found a few red-themed ideas as well (one of which provides an awesome use for those leftover bookmarks).

Have you come across a related Instagram post this week, or has your library posted something similar? Have a topic you'd like to see in the next installment of Instagram of the Week? Share it in the comments section of this post.

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21. Geek Girl by Holly Smale

Review by Reagan GEEK GIRL by Holly Smale Series: Geek Girl (Book 1) Hardcover: 384 pagesPublisher: HarperTeen (January 27, 2015) Goodreads | Amazon Geek + runway = a runaway UK hit! Geek Girl is the first book in a hilarious, internationally bestselling series that's perfect for fans of Louise Rennison and The Princess Diaries. Harriet Manners is a geek. She always has been, and she

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22. Planning for Tweens

Like many of you, I’m feverishly planning for summer reading. My complete schedule is due at the end of this week and even here in the Deep South, everything has been thrown off by ice and snow and power outages and missed deadlines…as crazy as Summer Reading is in a public library, I’m definitely looking forward to summer.

My library isn’t large enough to have separate programming for tweens in the summer, so I encourage rising 6-12th graders to come to my teen programming. Which means I’ve had kids as young as 11 at teen programming. This can work. This is good for socialization and some of your kids will really enjoy it. Fun mentor-type relationships have sprung up among my group. You just have to remember a few things.

  • Adult Supervision. I’ve never had any issues at teen programming among the actual teens, but y’all, there is a big age gap between 11 and 18 and we have to be responsible around that. Make sure your programs are staffed properly. Safety first.
  • Participation, not humiliation. Try not to plan any programs that call anyone out specifically, but do encourage participation. Last year I talked about my photobooth program, which was well-attended and wildly popular. Kids were able to participate without feeling like I’m going to call on them at school.
  • Casual forever. My tween/teen programming is MUUUUCH less structured than my kids programming. Part of this is numbers: I’m never going to get 100 kids at a teen program. But part of that is that junior high and high school kids have their lives structured down to every single second and having a place where they can come make a craft or watch a movie without having to ask permission to use the restroom.
  • Have fun with them.  My main problem in the summer is that while I’m trying to do multiple programs a week, I forget to sit down and actually enjoy myself. The teen and tween programs are an ideal place to do this, as they ARE less structured and require less of me running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I try and take this hour every week during the summer to relax and have a chat with my kids. I love it.

Good luck on those summer plans, fellow public librarians! You can do it!

*
Our cross-poster from YALSA today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a youth services librarian in Mississippi, and has worked with ages birth-18 for the last 6 years.

The post Planning for Tweens appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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23. Comics, Comics, Comics!

It's a great time to be a comics fan.

There are loads of amazing ones coming out right now. The Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz committees all recognized graphic novels as honor books this year. People are starting to sit up and pay attention to the world of comics and graphic novels, so I am here with a list for your kids (AND YOU!). Happy reading! And welcome to the comics life.

Lumberjanes is by  Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Brooke Allen. It's published by Boom studies in single-issue format, but the first trade paperback (collecting issues 1-4) is out on April 7th. Y'all, this one is so incredible. Feminist, funny, and constantly focused on friendship, this series is set at a summer camp and shouldn't be missed.

PrinceLess by Jeremy Whitley has been a relatively new find for me and I'm obsessed. Princess Adrienne is tired of sitting around in her tower waiting for a prince to slay her dragon and rescue her. So she and her dragon decide to go do the rescuing themselves. Completely turns sexist and racist tropes on their head, as displayed by this panel:

PRINCELESS_PREVIEW_Page2

PrinceLess hasn't been checked in since we got it. Your kids are gonna love it.

The Explorer books (there are three) are comics anthologies edited by Kazu Kibuishi, whom your students already know because they adore amulet. This trilogy asks well-known comic artists like Raina Telgemeier, Emily Carroll, and Faith Erin Hicks, to write comic shorts based on a topic. They're amazing. There's something for everyone in this series!

Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson. Kamala Khan is a Pakistani-American teenager in Jersey City who suddenly and quite accidentally becomes empowered with extraordinary gifts. She has to figure out how to handle being a typical Muslim teenager--who's now a superhero.

Honestly, when I discovered these (there are two so far), I bought them based solely on the tagline: "Yet another troll-fighting 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl." Basically, that's enough to sell me, but Mirka is fun and amazing and her religion is shown as something that's part of her life, not something to be overcome or chafed against. Plus, dragons.

This is just a really small cross-section of all of the wonderful comics for kids that are being published right now. I hope you and your kids love them as much as me and mine do!

*
Our cross-poster from YALSA today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a youth services librarian in Mississippi, and has worked with ages birth-18 for the last 6 years.

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24. Comics, Comics, Comics!

It’s a great time to be a comics fan.

There are loads of amazing ones coming out right now. The Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz committees all recognized graphic novels as honor books this year. People are starting to sit up and pay attention to the world of comics and graphic novels, so I am here with a list for your kids (AND YOU!). Happy reading! And welcome to the comics life.

Lumberjanes is by  Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Brooke Allen. It’s published by Boom studies in single-issue format, but the first trade paperback (collecting issues 1-4) is out on April 7th. Y’all, this one is so incredible. Feminist, funny, and constantly focused on friendship, this series is set at a summer camp and shouldn’t be missed.

 

PrinceLess by Jeremy Whitley has been a relatively new find for me and I’m obsessed. Princess Adrienne is tired of sitting around in her tower waiting for a prince to slay her dragon and rescue her. So she and her dragon decide to go do the rescuing themselves. Completely turns sexist and racist tropes on their head, as displayed by this panel:

PRINCELESS_PREVIEW_Page2

 

PrinceLess hasn’t been checked in since we got it. Your kids are gonna love it.

 

The Explorer books (there are three) are comics anthologies edited by Kazu Kibuishi, whom your students already know because they adore amulet. This trilogy asks well-known comic artists like Raina Telgemeier, Emily Carroll, and Faith Erin Hicks, to write comic shorts based on a topic. They’re amazing. There’s something for everyone in this series!

Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson. Kamala Khan is a Pakistani-American teenager in Jersey City who suddenly and quite accidentally becomes empowered with extraordinary gifts. She has to figure out how to handle being a typical Muslim teenager–who’s now a superhero.

Honestly, when I discovered these (there are two so far), I bought them based solely on the tagline: “Yet another troll-fighting 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl.” Basically, that’s enough to sell me, but Mirka is fun and amazing and her religion is shown as something that’s part of her life, not something to be overcome or chafed against. Plus, dragons.

This is just a really small cross-section of all of the wonderful comics for kids that are being published right now. I hope you and your kids love them as much as me and mine do!

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Our cross-poster from YALSA today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a youth services librarian in Mississippi, and has worked with ages birth-18 for the last 6 years.

 

 

 

 

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25. Let’s talk about Caldecott: This One Summer

TOSLet’s talk about This One Summer. I know many of you have already talked about it, and I’m sure some of those conversations have been very interesting. As a member of the 2015 Caldecott Committee that chose This One Summer by Mariko & Jillian Tamaki as an honor book, I’ll try to clear up some points that have lead to questions.  According to the Caldecott definitions, “’A picture book for children’ is one for which children are the intended potential audience. “Children are defined as persons of ages up to and including fourteen and picture books for this entire age range are considered.” (Caldecott Manual, page 10) The Expanded Definitions also says, on page 69, “In some instances, award-winning books have been criticized for exceeding the upper age limit of fourteen. If a book is challenging, and suitable for 13-14 year-olds, but not for younger readers, is it eligible? Yes…” Yes, this book is for older readers. Here’s an interesting look at that question in Travis Jonker’s interview with the Tamakis.

This One Summer is a coming-of-age story about a girl entering adolescence and both appeals to and is appropriate for young readers age 12-14. Twelve, thirteen and fourteen year-olds fall well within the scope of audience for the Caldecott Medal and Honor books. Although this book is challenging in many ways, the committee found it to be “so distinguished, in so many ways, that it deserves recognition” as well as “exceptionally fine, for the narrow part of the range to which it appeals, even though it may be eligible for other awards outside this range.” (page 69 – Caldecott Manual). There are many people who do not realize that the Caldecott terms include books for older readers. I see this as an opportunity for us, as ALSC members and librarians, to deepen understanding of the award.

Committee member Tali Balas add sticker to the book. Photo by Angela Reynolds

Committee member Tali Balas add sticker to the book. Photo by Angela Reynolds

According to The Caldecott Manual, a “picture book for children” as distinguished from other books with illustrations, is one that essentially provides the child with a visual experience. A picture book has a “collective unity of storyline, theme, or concept, developed through the series of pictures of which this book is comprised.” (page 10) The committee followed this definition closely, and This One Summer shows, through pictures, a collective unity of all three, with particular strength in storyline and theme. Graphic novels certainly provide us with a visual experience. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has a great article on using This One Summer in a classroom, which you can read here, and a “make your case” article for adding it to your collection here. And for those of you who are graphic novel fans, don’t miss this podcast with Mariko Tamaki. I love how she talks about the images being like paragraphs.

The Caldecott Committee, as directed by the manual, considered each eligible book as a picture book and made our decisions based primarily on illustration. The committee gave This One Summer an honor because of its excellence of pictorial presentation for children, as defined in the manual. If you haven’t seen it, take a look at the amazing use of just one color. Jillian Tamaki creates mood so vividly with her washes of indigo, deepening the shade when the plot gets darker. The story has much to do with water; the monochromatic blues remind us just how changeable a lake (and an adolescent girl) can be. The images in the book intertwine and play with the words, creating an authentic summer experience. I just love the image on pages 70-71 where Windy is dancing around the kitchen. It shows her personality, and Rose’s, perfectly:  setting up the tension of youthful energy and quiet contemplation. There are many images throughout the book that give us this deeper insight. Go looking for them. They will astound you.
*Special thanks to fellow committee member Sharon McKeller for help with this article.

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