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The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) is a network of more than 4,200 children’s and youth librarians, children’s literature experts, publishers, education and library school faculty members, and other adults committed to improving and ensuring the future of the nation through exemplary library service to children, their families, and others who work with children.
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26. Guessing Games

At my library we have a monthly guessing game in a display case near the Children’s Services desk. Last month’s theme was guessing the number of drops of water in a bottle. This month’s game has lots of puppets stuffed in the case. In the winter it was about snowflakes. The library has been doing this since before I started working there, and I can see the positive effects of the game.

To participate in the month’s game, a library visitor must fill out a guessing form at the Children’s desk. A child doesn’t have to be able to write to participate; family members can help make sure the guess itself is legible. There is generally an employee working at the desk, and having the forms and pencils near us encourages interaction between the families and staff. Sure, we greet people as they enter the Children’s Library, but the guessing game allows for more meaningful interactions. Anyone can guess – it’s not just for children, so we have memorable conversations with caregivers too. The guessing game is a conversation starter, a recurring activity that children can look forward to every visit to our library, and builds upon skills like observation, counting and estimation in addition to incorporating several of the Every Child Ready to Read practices. The prize, generally a donated book in near new condition, is awarded on the first day of the following month, and the name of the person with the closest guess is posted near the display case.

On special days we also have scavenger hunts and the related sheets and prizes are at the desk. This is another way for us to show that we are not scary librarians, but rather nice and fun. This summer we are celebrating Beatrix Potter’s 150th birthday on July 28 with her character hidden around the room.

Does your library have passive programming like this? Do you have a way to encourage children and families to approach the Children’s service desk? Share your successes in the comments.

The post Guessing Games appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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27. New ALSC Summer Reading Lists Available

Download the new ALSC Summer Reading lists (image courtesy of ALSC)

ALSC’s Quicklists Consulting Committee has updated our Summer Reading Lists with new and exciting titles!

The lists are full of book titles to keep children engaged in reading throughout the summer. Four Summer Reading book lists are available for Birth-Preschool, K-2nd, 3rd- 5th and 6th-8th grade students.

Each list is available here to download for free. Lists can be customized to include library information, summer hours and summer reading programs for children before making copies available to schools and patrons.

Titles on the 2016 Summer Reading List was compiled and annotated by members of ALSC’s Quicklists Consulting Committee.

Image courtesy of ALSC

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28. Encouraging young listeners with downloadable and streaming audiobooks

Downloadable and streaming audiobooks have been on my mind again.  Recently, some articles came out about the benefits of audiobooks for literacy; a revelation that probably surprised few of us in children’s and school library services.  We did not create the Odyssey awards for nothing.  ALA Editions published a wonderful book about it by Sharon Grover and Lizette D. Hannegan “back” in 2012.  Last year, Rachel Wood from Arlington Public Library wrote an ALSC Blog post that stands as a primer for building an e-audio collection.  But it always feels like a topic needs to come around a few times before the greater profession and the greater public latches on.


Perhaps it is not always content that is the way to hook a reluctant reader but format too.  Dan Cohen from the DPLA wrote an article for The Atlantic talking about the powerful role that smartphones play in the lives of today’s teens and how this may be a way to bridge the digital divide.  One of my own young relatives revealed to me that because she has difficulty reading, she uses audiobooks to keep up with her English class assignments.  She finds and streams audiobook editions of assigned books on her smartphone.  Recognizing that most parents and caregivers have smartphones, many libraries, like Spokane County Library District, are emphasizing their media mentor skills to recommend downloadable and streaming audiobooks and related apps for them to use with their children.

In the past, a former children’s librarian could feel alone in the greater e-content world.  Too often children were not considered during e-content discussions.   (Besides my fellow children’s librarians, who else at a meeting would excitedly prattle on about an audiobook of Winnie the Pooh in which Judy Dench gives voice to Kanga.) Now, we live in a world of Bookflix, Tumblebooks, and Overdrive Read-alongs.  When children’s e-material did not circulate well during the early years of e-content platforms, I still believed it was worth building a collection.  I knew at some point, this part of the market would grow.  And, with the growth in downloadable audiobook circulation and sales, the time is upon us.

Let’s admit.  Unlike a book, a physical audiobook can be clumsy (yes I know, for some downloading from the library can be clumsy as well).  I tried the entire carry ten discs onto the subway thing when I had longer commutes, and yes, I did miss a few stops because of a wonderful narrator.  As well, technology has changed so rapidly as concerns personal electronics.  A few months ago, a member of an audiobook award committee told me she had a hard time finding a store near her that still sold Discmans (she wanted one so she could listen for her committee while she went on her walks).  In the age of tablets, smartphones, and smartwatches, I think more focus needs to be on downloadable and streaming e-content.

To paraphrase Ranganathan: every young listener, their downloadable audiobook, and every downloadable audiobook, its young listener.

Michael Santangelo is the Electronic Resources Coordinator for BookOps, the shared technical services department for the New York Public Library and the Brooklyn Public Library, and the current chair of ALSC’s Children and Technology Committee.


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29. Stuffed animals in the library

Stuffed Animals DSCN0033 Stuffed animals in the children’s area:  Love ’em  or hate ’em?

Most libraries have at least a few stuffed animals. Perhaps you use one as a “stand-in” during lapsit storytime.  Perhaps you have a “character” stuffed animal that makes an appearance at storytime.

But what about those other stuffed animals? You know, the ones that just “hang out” in the children’s area?  Are they beloved initiators of imaginative play or are they germ-carrying, dust-collectors sparking possessorship wars?

Share your opinion in our one question poll:  Love ’em or hate ’em?

 Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.

The poll will be up all month. I’ll share the results, your comments (leave them below), and my own opinion, in June.

Please share with your colleagues.  I’d like a big sampling.




Image credit: MorgueFile

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30. Program in a Post: Glow Stick Party!

Glow wheelsWith this post and $25 you can create an awesome glow-stick-party for kids and families at your library!


  • Glow bracelets (you can get 12 for $1 in the dollar bins) we used 18 containers for 90 people
  • A couple bags of large marshmallows
  • Music

Set glowstickracersup: Turn a few tables into ramps, put out some glow sticks and marshmallows, and make some sample wheels. Turn the lights (mostly) out and put on some groovy music.

For our glow stick party we had 90 kids and grown-ups dancing to the music, going crazy with glow sticks, and making wheels and sending them down the ramp. It was glow-tastic!

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31. School and Public Library Collaborations

photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

As I participated in Kindergarten Round Up at Sisters Elementary School last week and recognized 90 percent of the families in the audience, I was reminded of the amazing connection the public library and the school have. This made me smile. Last year, my Get Ready for Kindergarten story time at the library had the largest attendance in years!   This was only possible with the support, time and enthusiasm of Stephanie Jensen, Title I Teacher and Becky Stoughton, Principal at Sisters Elementary School.  They talked with new families at the school, sent out an email and a voice recording to all families with students attending kindergarten in the fall.  The voice recording was amazing!  But this connection didn’t happen overnight.

For the past six years, I’ve watched our relationship grow. What started out as a once or twice a year school visit or classroom(s) visit to the library has turned into a regular monthly connection.    I have an amazing connection with all of the teachers but I have to give a huge shout out to Stephanie, reading specialist and overall extraordinary woman.   Our weekly discussions at the public library when she was returning or checking out piles and piles of books turned into reading programs and the programs turned into parent meetings and the meetings turned into Book Bingo, family reading nights and more!  Together with the encouragement and wonderful communication from Principal Becky, we created a new atmosphere of collaborating ideas.   The connection grew and so did the events.  Sometime the ideas were extreme – creating a live version of The Dot by Peter Reynolds and sometimes quite simple-open house-setting up a table of library information, iPad sharing our website and free giveaways-stickers, book marks, etc.  Overall, each event connected families to books, education and fun!

Parent Information Night photo by Stephanie Jensen

Parent Information Night
photo by Stephanie Jensen

“The positive partnership established between Deschutes Public Library and the Sisters School District highlights the power of coming together to support students and families with local resources. Our schools, families and community benefit and thrive as a result of working together and connecting families with meaningful and engaging materials to support learning at home.” –Stephanie

By now you’re thinking, this is great! We do this every day too. But for me it’s been a goal to strengthen our relationships with our schools and community.   A goal to see our public library filled with families excited about information and books, making the library part of their weekly routine, making the library their space:  connecting families with new books and new resources.  After each event, school visit or family night, I recognize more and more families in the library.  Maybe it’s the following day and a young boy is getting a library card for the first time or maybe it’s a week later and a family attends a LEGO Block Party program.   All of the above make me smile.   I realize we still have a long way to go but I’m excited about the possibilities.  I feel extremely lucky and appreciate all of the Sisters Elementary School staff’s time, excitement and energy.  Parents too! – So many amazing parent/guardian volunteers.

“The Sisters Library provides added support and helps our kids engage in a different type of learning outside our school walls.” Principal Becky

Top 3 favorite connections and collaborations:

Book Bingo and Newsletter photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

Book Bingo and Newsletter photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

Book Bingo: A bingo card filled with library and school activities-weekly prizes and a free book after completing bingo.  Activities are completed at home, in the classroom and at the library.

Sisters Parent Teacher Community meetings:  A variety of morning or afternoon meetings to discuss reading nights, open houses, programming, special events, share new library books and library information. The meetings turn into task groups, special event planning and so many great discussions.

Family Reading Nights at Sisters Elementary School: A night filled with interactive stories, activities and information.  A different theme each month.

Book Bingo display photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

Book Bingo display photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

And more:
School Monthly Newsletters
Teacher Requests
Book Lists
Book Displays in the Library
Kindergarten Round Up
After School Programs
Interactive Story Activities
School Displays in the commons area
Poetry Palooza
Silly Stories
Classroom visits to the library
Summer Reading promotion
Common Core Reading Night
School Open House
Listen: Audio Books before the holidays
Art Gallery at the library and school

Please share your collaboration stories in the comments below.

Paige Bentley-Flannery is a Community Librarian at Deschutes Public Library. For over fifteen years–from Seattle Art Museum to the New York Public Library to the Deschutes Public Library-Paige’s passion and creative style for art, poetry and literature have been combined with instructing, planning, and providing information. Paige is currently serving on the ALSC Notable Children’s Book Committee, 2015 – 2017. She is a former Chair of the ALSC Digital Content Task Force and member of the ALSC Great Websites Committee.  


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32. Unplugged Movie Making

As part of our yearlong LSTA/IMLS grant funded Movie Maker project at the East Lyme Public Library, we recently hosted a flipbook workshop series for tweens. Why flipbooks? When we were planning the roster of programs for the year, I contacted local filmmakers for creative ideas. Multimedia artist Ian Applegate immediately suggested teaching the tweens how to make flipbooks. Since I had never heard of flipbooks, I asked Ian a few questions:

What is a flipbook?

A flipbook is any hand-drawn animation containing pages of drawings which are slightly different from one another which gives the effect of a motion picture. It’s one of the only ways to produce the illusion of moving objects without the use of electronic devices. 

What made you decide to make flipbooks?

I needed a way to take the computer animation program known as Adobe Flash and explain it to students without access to computers.

How do kids react to flipbooks? Are they excited to make their own?

Generally, kids and adults are immediately impressed by the smoothness of the animations which I highlight and feature to demonstrate the skills that I teach. Then they become overwhelmed and concerned by the process of developing the skills involved. My goal is to teach the acceptance that learning a skill is an investment of time. It’s just as important as the skill itself, because patience is transferrable to many other trades, even interpersonal skills, in life. 

How do flipbooks promote STEM and STEAM education?

Flipbooks are the “A” in “Steam,” but they’re also the science in that the way that I teach flipbooks alludes to computer science in terminology. As far as technology, it’s “retro” in that it’s a bygone application for something which most people would easily recommend an “app” to make, particularly animations, yet the flipbook itself is a physical object, made of paper, not a work of software or a saved file. Creating a flipbook from scratch means utilizing a process which would be considered engineering. Mathematically, you can “program” physics equations in terms of bouncing objects, spinning things, and many other visualizations of formulas by varying the distance between objects based on specific equations.

flipbookone flipbooktwo flilpbookthree

The flipbook workshops were a smash hit with the tweens. We had perfect attendance all three days. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the program involved more than just STEAM skills. It actually became what I like to call a STREAM (Science, Technology, READING, Engineering, Art, and Math) program. The workshops elicited more reading tie-ins than I had expected. For example, one of the tweens asked if I had any pictures of birds he could copy. I retrieved Sibley’s Book of Birds as well as a few other basic birding books. Soon there were books sprawled all over the table as the other kids requested illustrated books of frogs, insects, dogs, and horses.  After the program, many of the participants checked out field guides, graphic novels, books about cartooning, and more.

To see examples of flipbooks and to learn more about this art form, visit flipbookisland.com.

Multimedia artist, Ian Applegate lives and works in New Haven, Connecticut. As part of Yale University’s Splash program, he has taught animation at schools throughout New Haven. He can be reached at [email protected].

The East Lyme Public Library Movie Maker project is made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Connecticut State Library. Funds have also been provided by the East Lyme Public Library through its Annual Fund Drive.

(Photos courtesy guest blogger)


Our guest blogger is Rebecca Scotka. Rebecca is the Children’s and Young Adult Librarian at the East Lyme Public  Library in Connecticut. She can be reached at [email protected].

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 protected].

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33. The Cursed Child Conundrum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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34. How do you raise awareness of summer reading at schools?

Summer reading is just around the corner for most public libraries, which means it’s crunch time for youth services staff with a goal to engage as many young people in the community as possible with the biggest initiative of the year. If we’ve got a goal to help combat the summer slide–which it seems many, if not most, of us do, based on the plethora of conferences and programs on the topic–then high student enrollment and participation is a major objective.

So how do you raise awareness of summer reading at schools in order to get as many kids as possible reading over the summer?

Rallies at Schools – I’ve heard many a library talk about their summer reading rallies–those springtime visits to area schools to get kids pumped up about summer reading. Some involve skits, some are just a quick overview of the most important details and highlights. Many a librarian has shared details of their school summer reading rallies online; here’s how I did them when I worked in Missouri.

A Teacher Newsletter – I’m also really interested in the go-straight-to-the-teachers method adopted by the Phoenix Public Library. They’ve got a regular teacher enewsletter, and from the looks of it teachers who read it get notice of major events for their students in that knowledge sweet spot: not too early that it feels irrelevant and then goes forgotten, but not too late as to drown among all the end-of-school-year announcements. Their April blurb on summer reading is brief and includes the basics like program dates, incentives, and who to contact for more info. I hope teachers who get this newsletter realize how great it is!

Image from the Skokie Public Library Summer Reads website, courtesy of Amy Koester

Image from the Skokie Public Library Summer Reads website, courtesy of Amy Koester

Special Summer Reading Lists – One of the most successful reading initiatives we do at my library is our annual summer reading list. We’ve got two age-specific versions: Cool Summer Reads for grades 3-5, and Hot Summer Reads for grades 6-8. Committees of staff select 10-12 titles each year for these lists, then in the spring staff visit schools to promote the lists and the library summer reading program. Every student gets a promotional bookmark listing the books, and kids positively flock to the library as soon as the visits start to get these books. To keep the enthusiasm running strong over the duration of the summer, we encourage kids to vote and rank their favorites on our summer reads website. Then, sometime during the next school year, we bring one of the top authors to local schools for in-person visits. Cue the excitement.

Register Participants Where They Are: Community Events – I’m sure many library staff are already getting families in the library asking when summer reading will begin. That’s great! They’re excited! If they’re in the library asking about the program, though, chances are they’re regular participants–which means their kids are going to read and be part of the program no matter what. What about the kids whose families aren’t currently aware of summer reading, or who can’t easily get to the library? At my library, we’re trying two new strategies this year for engaging as many kids in summer reading as possible. First, we’re offering a special weekend of advance signup for the club. Those signups will happen at our village’s annual Festival of Cultures. The library has always had a booth at the festival, which is highly attended, but this year we’ll also be signing folks up for summer reading. People are already at the festival–now the summer reading registration desk at the library is one less stop on their to-do list for summer.

Register Participants Where They Are: School – The second thing we’re trying is the automatic enrollment of students with library cards at one of our school districts. We’ve been working with schools for years to help every public school student get a library card, and for the school record to include the child’s library card number. Based on the permissions caregivers gave when they signed the library card form, and with the school’s partnership, we’re able to automatically enroll every student with a library card in our program. A letter is going home to all the students to explain the program and that kids are already involved, and it includes the game board for the program. This strategy means families with limited transportation need to find their way to the library only once over the course of the summer, to turn in their stuff–if that. We’re also working with the school to bring some special bookmobile stops to the school community, too, hopefully making access even easier for many families.

These are a handful of ways to think about raising awareness of your library’s summer reading program among kids and students in your community. How do you go about letting them know about your program?

Amy Koester, Youth & Family Program Supervisor at Skokie (IL) Public Library, is writing this post for the Public Awareness Committee. She can be reached at [email protected]

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35. Apply to Host the 2017 Arbuthnot Lecture

Apply to Host the 2017 Arbuthnot Honor Lecture featuring Jacqueline Woodson

Apply to Host the 2017 Arbuthnot Honor Lecture featuring Jacqueline Woodson (image courtesy of Jacqueline Woodson)

Your library could host the 2017 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture featuring Jacquline Woodson!

The 2017 Arbuthnot Committee is looking for a host site for next year’s annual lecture. The site would host roughly 250-700 attendees, depending on the selected venue. Audiences typically include: librarians, publishers, literary critics, intrigued local patrons, and others interested in children’s literature.

The selected site will host Jacqueline Woodson, who is the 2014 National Book Award Winner for her New York Times bestselling memoir, Brown Girl Dreaming. The author of more than two dozen books for young readers, she is a four-time Newbery Honor winner, a recipient of the NAACP Image Award, the 2014 National Book Award winner for young people’s literature, a two-time Coretta Scott King Award winner and was recently named the Young People’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation.

Applications are due Friday, June 10, 2016. Information about host site responsibilities is included in the application materials.

Access the 2017 Arbuthnot Host Application!

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36. Sensory Storytime Progression

In early 2012 I decided I wanted to create a Sensory Storytime at my branch. After watching a few webinars, making contact with the Autism Society of Central Virginia, and talking with local teachers I began to design my program. I decided it would run in three week sessions on Saturdays and that I would offer it quarterly. It was designed for children on the spectrum ages of 3-6 years. I checked out our copy of The Out-Of-Sync Child Has Fun by Kranowitz and selected a variety of activities that I thought would work. Our Friends bought us awesome play items including no spill toddler bubbles.

Our first Sensory Storytime was in October 2012. I was blown away by the response! The most phenomenal part for me was watching parents talk with each other while their children played after storytime. They were all dealing with similar struggles and it was obviously a relief to talk with people who understood completely.

The October and February sessions were incredibly well attended. I followed up each session with a survey and got nothing but positive feedback from my families.  I ran this program for a full year and each session had fewer and fewer participants.  In October 2014 I could no longer justify the amount of time I dedicated to this program due to little to no attendance.

Soon after I made this hard decision I met Jessica who is a social worker for our county’s early intervention. She agreed to spend some time with me to revamp this program and evaluate why it had fizzled. We decided that the best idea would be to try to offer a weekly inclusive storytime with a sensory focus, open to any child between the ages of 1-5 years. Each program would have a presenter, an assistant and a representative of early intervention. We launched this program in January 2016.

This format has been very successful and feels more sustainable. Sensory Storytime’s goal is to be a welcoming, encouraging and supportive program that is smaller and more adaptive than other storytimes. Our group has been a mix of regulars, children who don’t thrive in other storytimes and children being served by early intervention. Having two other adults in the room to help parents and children navigate the program and troubleshoot issues has been immeasurably valuable.

Erin Lovelace works as a Children’s Librarian in Virginia and is a member of the Library Service to Special Population Children and their Caregivers committee.

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37. STEAM programming in Acton-Agua Dulce and Moose Jaw

Maker programming is a large trend in public libraries throughout North America. By researching kit options and planning for added costs, public libraries can develop successful steam programming.

Moose Jaw Public Library has invested in a number of Maker programming initiatives which have been well received, including MakeDo, Squishy Circuits, and Little Bits. Prior to purchasing we sought reviews from a number of sources, including communications with other librarians, makezine.com, and reviews at PLA and at other conferences. We funded our Maker programs through a grant and through donations from our local Friends of the Library.

MakeDo encourages children to explore basic engineering principles. Each kit comes with a plastic safe saw, and several pins and hinges. Each library supplies cardboard boxes and the paper supplies required by the kits. Children can build anything they wish, or follow the kit instructions. While they cannot take their creations home, they can display their works of art and turn your library into a gallery!

With electrical circuit kits, it is important to consider the actual ongoing cost of the maker kits, including replacement parts.  Squishy Circuits and Little Bits are very popular, however both kits have hidden costs. Squishy Circuits offers a fun, tactile way to experience electricity. However, librarians will need to factor in the cost of extra dough, replacement wires and time for cleaning equipment. Little Bits are fun! Kids love assembling these magnetic circuits. Buy the largest pack in your budget, as you will want multiples for a larger group. Additional budgeting is a must, as some pieces at the time of our kit’s purchase were only sold separately.

The Acton-Agua Dulce Public Library has also invested in various maker kits, with special emphasis on Snap Circuits Jr. kits. Each kit comes with an instructional booklet with projects that a child could do alone or in pairs. The baseline Jr. kit comes with 100 available projects that start from a basic closed circuit where a light illuminates or a fan spins to more complicated series and parallel circuits. I used this set for a S.T.E.A.M. centered program for ages 8-14 and it was very well received. Some kids already had lessons on circuitry and knew how they worked so I allowed them to have complete freedom with the kits and focused more on those who were just learning how the circuits worked.

The Snap Circuits kits turned out to be excellent for passive programming as well as more structured, lesson-based programming. We now have a couple different types of kits at the library as part of our Homework Center, and the afterschool kids love setting them up and seeing what they can create. And don’t worry if a piece gets lost or broken because you can easily buy replacement parts through their website. The only additional cost to the kits is the use of AA batteries, two needed per kit.

Three  questions you may want to ask before buying your maker kit: Will it be something that kids will ask for again, over and over? Can you do a whole program around the kit? How easy is it to get replacement parts? The biggest takeaway with buying maker kits is that you have to try them for yourself to see what will work for you and your community.


Courtesy photo from Tina Docetti

Courtesy photo from Tina Docetti

Our guest bloggers today are Amanda Cain and Tina Dolcetti.Tina currently works for the Moose Jaw Public Library as a Children’s Librarian. By night, Tina can be found in her community, mentoring an adult with a cognitive disability for the Saskatchewan Association for Community Living. Amanda is a Children’s Librarian who enjoys opening young minds with stories, rhymes and activities at the Acton-Agua Dulce Public Library.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do

Courtesy photo from Amanda Cain

Courtesy photo from Amanda Cain

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 protected].

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38. ALSC Award Confidentiality: Let us know what you think!

For decades many ALSC book and media award committees have observed time-honored confidentiality policies. The question has been brought to the ALSC Board: For research purposes, should there be a designated statute of limitations on these confidentiality policies?

That’s a big question to think about, and we want your input!  Please complete the following survey by Wednesday, May 18:


Let us know what you think!

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39. ALSC Member of the Month – Melissa Morwood

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

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

Courtesy photo from Melissa Morwood”

“Courtesy photo from Melissa Morwood”

I am a Senior Children’s Librarian for the Palo Alto City Library, and I have been here for 11 years. I present weekly storytimes for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, host class visits, plan and present school-age and family programming for our customers, and help folks on both the kids and adult reference desks.

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

I initially joined ALSC to feel a sense of community with other children’s librarians across the country, since for many years I was the only youth services staff person at my branch. I have gained so much through my membership- the ALSC blog posts are always fantastic, and they help me to grow as a librarian, and to provide better service to our customers.

3.  Are you ready for Summer Reading?

I’m in charge of our library’s Summer Reading Program for the third year in a row, so I’ve been thinking about Summer Reading since January! We’ll be doing early Summer Reading registrations as part of a kindergarten library card campaign this year, so it’s only a few more weeks until we have to be ready for the program to go live. And I always look forward to our Kick-Off party, which features music, ice cream, and lots of happy families.

4.   Are you starting to make plans for retirement?

Yes! I’ve still got 19 more years until I can retire, but my husband and I are already making plans to move to California’s north coast where we went to college at Humboldt State University. We love the smaller towns, the laid back atmosphere, and the combination of redwoods, farmland, and desolate beaches. It’s a gorgeous area with friendly people.

5.    What’s the last book you recommended to a friend?

Phoebe and Her Unicorn, by Dana Simpson. I just read it last week, quickly followed by the sequel Unicorn on Wheels. The books are humorous yet sweet, and it cracks me up how endearing Marigold is to the reader, despite being such an egomaniac. Some of my other favorite graphic novels include Roller Girl, Baba Yaga’s Assistant, and This One Summer.

6.    What’s your favorite piece of technology?

My iphone. When I’m not at work, I enjoy not being tied to a desktop computer if I need to send a quick email or get directions. I also love having my phone’s camera capabilities ready at all times for when my 11 month old twin niece and nephew inevitably do something super cute.

7.   Do you have any family traditions?

Every year on Christmas Eve my husband, dog, and I curl up in our pjs and watch Love Actually. It’s been our annual tradition for close to 10 years now, and I always look forward to it.

8.   What is the last song you sang?

The More We Get Together. It’s my closing song each week at Baby Storytime, and we do the sign language along with it. I do two Baby Storytime sessions every Tuesday morning, and I had over 140 attendees between the two programs this morning!

9.   If you could bring back any extinct animal, which would it be?

Definitely dinosaurs (preferably herbivorous dinosaurs…) Regardless of how badly all of the Jurassic Park movies end, I still always turn to my husband and say “I’d TOTALLY visit Jurassic Park!”

10.  How do you incorporate STEM/STEAM activities in your work with children? 

I’m actually doing my very first STEM-based program tomorrow afternoon! We’re having an Engineers at Work program, where kids in grades 2-5 will be challenged to create marble runs out of household materials, and then we’ll have races to see how well each run works. I was inspired to try STEAM programming after watching ALSC webinars presented by Amy Koester, who makes STEAM programming look so fun and easy.

11.  What’s your favorite thing to do when you are not working?

Hanging out with my husband and talking about children’s literature. He’s a kindergarten teacher, and it’s so much fun to recommend books for him to read to his class- they love the Mercy Watson and Princess in Black series. It’s great to be able to geek out regarding the ALSC Book & Media Awards, and have him not only listen but actively participate in the conversation. He’s super supportive of my dream to serve on an ALSC award committee someday.


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

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

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40. Dare to Dance: Introducing Dance Movements and Music into your Storytimes

Are you ready to energize your storytimes with dancing that goes beyond movement songs? Are you ready to dare to use your body to motivate caregivers while promoting children’s developmental needs for coordination, balance and gross motor skills?

Dancing Girls

Kids enjoy the Music in this Public Domain image from Cane River Creole National Historical Park

Our library expanded the role of our storytimes into a program that offers more than reading books, nursery rhymes and singing songs. We introduced Dance Time to teach children basic dance steps while listening to an age appropriate song.

There is so much librarians can do to enhance the library experience through dancing. Dancing provides opportunities for adults and children to learn to:

  • Follow the beats of the song with their feet and or hands
  • Balance their body parts
  • Coordinate their body movements

Additional benefits of dancing include:

  • Improve muscle tone
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Increase ability to feel comfortable about oneself

Although dancing is a natural channel of expression for many cultures, children from other cultures, including some that are predominant in the United Stated, are hardly exposed to it. In some cultures, babies are exposed to music and dancing from birth, with moms dancing around holding their babies in their arms regularly. Soon baby and mommy-and-baby dancing transforms into a semi dancing lesson with caregivers holding and moving their toddles’ hands and arms while following the beats of a song. As the child’s motor skills develop, the caregiver will now focus on simple steps using the child’s legs and feet. Dance will continue be part of the child’s life in elementary school where different dances are taught in music class.

Coming from a culture where this type of exposure to dance is widespread, in my work as a Youth Services Librarian, I noticed that lack of coordinated body movements following a rhythmic patterns in children attending our programs. Naturally, this observation changes depending on the cultural background of clients.

As a result of my observations, I supplemented our storytimes with a portion of the program called Dance Time. During Dance Time, children and caregivers are encouraged to dance to a tune following three basic dance steps that are reinforced at every storytime. When I introduced Dance Time for the first time, many children and parents were reluctant to follow me. However, after a couple months of Dance Time, these same clients appeared more relaxed and moved happily following the beat of the music.

Music is contagious and is an excellent tool to uplift spirits and transform a library program into a lifelong learning experience. Many librarians already use children’s songs during storytime. However, have you offered a “dance activity” or “movement song” to invigorate your programs? Let us know about it in the comments below.

If you feel ready to dare, try the following dance songs in your storytime:

  • Palo, palo Music Together. Palo, Palo. [Arranged and adapted by Gerry Dignan and K. Guilmartin]. Music Together: Bringing harmony Home [CD]. Princeton NJ: (2007)
  • El baile del perrito (Wilfrido Vargas)


Photo courtesy of guest blogger

Photo courtesy of guest blogger

Our guest blogger today is Kathia Ibacache. Kathia is a Youth Services Librarian at Simi Valley Public Library. She has worked as a music teacher and Early Music Performer and earned a MLIS from San José State University and a DMA from the University of Southern California. She loves to read realistic fiction and horror stories and has a special place in her heart for film music.

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 protected].

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41. Wilder Times Ahead!

WilderBeverly Cleary                                           Ashley Bryan

Katherine Paterson                                  E.B. White

Donald Crews                                            Virginia Hamilton

Virginia Hamilton                                     Jerry Pinkney

What do all these talented people have in common?

They are just a few recipients of the Laura Ingalls Wilder award, presented  to “an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.” First given in 1954 to Laura Ingalls Wilder, the award was originally presented every five years and has evolved; it is now given annually.

What author or illustrator do you think has made their mark on American children’s literature?  The 2017 Wilder Committee is seeking your suggestions of  authors and illustrators to be considered for next year’s award. Has your favorite author been recognized already? Check out the entire list of previous Wilder medal recipients. If not, let us know who you are thinking of and why!

So what exactly does “substantial and lasting contribution” mean? According to the criteria, these books “occupy an important place in literature for American children and that over the years children have read the books and that the books continue to be requested and read by children.”  If you are detail-oriented or historically minded, you might enjoy exploring the definitions and criteria behind the awards.  In reviewing these specifications, I can see the well-thought out process behind the awards, and it makes me appreciate the procedures that have been developed. Interestingly, the Wilder Award can be awarded posthumously, and regardless of a person’s place of residence.

Please submit your suggestions via the form at http://www.ala.org/alsc/wilder-medal-suggestion-form. Note: The page can only be accessed by ALSC members—so you must be logged into the ALA website to view the form.

Please share your ideas with us!

Happy reading,

Robin L.  Gibson, 2017 Wilder Award Committee member, Westerville Public Library, Westerville, Ohio

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42. An April-full of ALSC Adventures

“Spring is the time of plans and projects.”

― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Welcome! (Taken at Arapahoe Library District's Koelbel Library)

Welcome! (Taken at Arapahoe Library District’s Koelbel Library)

I kicked off last month at the Illinois Youth Services Institute, in Normal, presenting on Media Mentorship with one of the co-authors of our white paper on the topic and newly elected “New to ALSC” Board member, Amy Koester, encouraging everybody in the audience (and you, too!) to tweet “I am a #mediamentor”. Congratulations to my fellow Prairie state children’s librarians who imagined and delivered a wonderful inaugural event.

Then I headed up several thousand feet to Denver, for the Public Library Association conference, the theme of which was “Be Extraordinary.” The week was absolutely that, and more, and you can discover some of the experiences there by looking back at the live blogging that several ALSC members did, including pictures from the awesome ALSC Happy Hour and from my invigorating visit, along with our Executive Director, Aimee Strittmatter, to the beautiful Koelbel Library of the Arapahoe Library District, in Centennial, Colorado.


I had an especially transformative National Library Week this year by visiting 5 libraries in 5 states in 5 days! I began at the Kate Waller Barrett Branch Library in Alexandria, Virginia, built in 1937 and named after, as its website says, “a humanitarian, social crusader and political reformer.” Then on to a building built more than three-quarters of a century later, the beautifully modern Silver Spring Library, part of the Montgomery County Public Libraries in Maryland, followed by a visit to the Tippecanoe County Public Library’s Downtown Library in Lafayette, Indiana, where the “people chairs” make for very comfy reading. Next, a stop back home at Chicago Public Library’s Hall Branch, where Charlemae Hill Rollins served as children’s librarian many decades ago. Then it was westward to the Oxnard Public Library’s Main Library in California, where it was clear upon entering their “Area Para Los Niños” that the community was having a very happy week! All of these visits to ALSC members and our libraries, along with my many others this year (which you can discover on Twitter with #ALSCtour) have made me even more amazed at the work we do and the libraries in which, and from which, we do it. Not to mention even more excited about celebrating these spaces at my President’s Program at Annual (Monday, 6/27, 1:00, Convention Center #W110A), and you can check out a quick video about it, filmed in Ms. Rollins children’s room, here:

On the Friday of National Library Week, the singular Pat Mora presented a joyous Arbuthnot Lecture–¡Alegría en los libros!–at the gorgeous Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) and you can also enjoy it hereGracias to SBCC, the Santa Barbara Public Library System, and the University of California at Santa Barbara, which includes the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education and the Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies. BTW, applications are now being accepted to host next year’s Arbuthnot Lecture starring Jacqueline Woodson, so please consider applying by May 15 here.

In Santa Barbara's fantastic new Central Library Children's Room with '16 Arbuthnot Chair Julie Corsaro & Children's Librarian Gwen. (Photo by Aimee Strittmatter)

In Santa Barbara’s fantastic new Central Library Children’s Room with ’16 Arbuthnot Chair Julie Corsaro & Senior Youth Services Librarian Gwen Wagy. #BabiesNeedWordsEveryDay (Photo by Aimee Strittmatter)

Then I was delighted to be reunited with Pat again several days later, this time in Washington, D.C., to celebrate the 20th anniversary of El día de los niños/El día de los libros, the nationally recognized initiative founded by Pat that emphasizes the importance of literacy for all children from all backgrounds. With support from ALA’s Washington Office we had a joyful morning of books (and cake!) at the U.S. Captiol along with Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), Rep. Mark Takano (CA-41), Sen. Jack Reed (RI).

Congressman Mark Takano of California reads "Book Fiesta!" while Pat Mora, me, and kids from CentroNia and Payne Elementary celebrate. (Photo by Aimee Strittmatter)

Congressman Mark Takano of California reads “Book Fiesta!” while Pat Mora, me, and kids from CentroNia and Payne Elementary School celebrate. (Photo by Aimee Strittmatter)

Thanks, everybody, for a delightful Día and an awesome April! I’m looking forward to May’s flowers and want to congratulate all of those who stood for election on this year’s ALSC ballot–both those who won and those whose names will I hope appear again soon!

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43. Announcing the Blog’s #TopTenContest

ALSC Blog Top Ten Contest

ALSC members are invited to submit their entries in the Top Ten Contest. Winners receive their choice of two prize categories! (Image courtesy of ALSC)

ALSC members love lists! The ALSC Blog is holding a contest to find out which members have the best lists. And they don’t just have to be book lists. Keep in mind your audience: ALSC Blog readers are world travelers, children’s literature enthusiasts, pillars of knowledge, youth librarians, and community engagement specialists. Send us your top 10 and we’ll hold a vote for the top ten list of top ten lists!

Winners will be able to choose from two categories of prizes including individual 2016 Newbery-Caldecott-Wilder Banquet tickets. Participants must be personal members of ALSC. Lists must be submitted by Friday, May 13, 2016 at 5pm Eastern/4pm Central. Help us spread the contest by tweeting about is using the hashtag #toptencontest. For more information and rules, please see the Top Ten Contest tab.

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44. 2016 ALSC Election Results

Many thanks to all of the candidates who ran for division office this year. We appreciate their willingness to put their names forward for the division. Here are the results from the 2016 ALSC elections:

Vice President/President-Elect

Nina Lindsay, Oakland Public Library, Oakland, CA

Board of Directors

Karen MacPherson, Takoma Park Maryland Library, Takoma Park, MD

New to ALSC Board of Directors

Amy Koester, Skokie Public Library, Skokie, IL

Fiscal Officer

Paula Holmes, Upper St. Clair Library Board, Upper St Clair, PA

Newbery 2018 Committee

Angie Manfredi, Los Alamos County Library System, Los Alamos, NM
Sujei Lugo, Boston Public Library, Jamaica Plain, MA
Thaddeus Andracki, University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, Chicago, IL
Janice Del Negro, Dominican University GSLIS, River Forest, IL
Catharine Potter, Falmouth Elementary School, Falmouth, ME
Carol Goldman, Queens Library, Forest Hills, NY
Mara Alpert, Los Angeles Public Library, Los Angeles, CA
Susan Giffard, Ethical Culture School, New York, NY

Caldecott 2018 Committee

Sylvia Vardell, Texas Woman’s University, Denton, TX
Dean Schneider, Ensworth School, Nashville, TN
Katie Salo, Melrose Park, IL Jeanne McDermott, Amagansett Free Library, Amagansett, NY
Naphtali Faris, Mid-Continent Public Library, Independence, MO
Michelle Young, Lihue Public Library, Lihue, HI
Sarah Hinkle, West Linn Public Library, West Linn, OR
Heather McNeil, Deschutes Public Library, Bend, OR

Sibert 2018 Committee

Madeline Bryant, Los Angeles Public Library, Los Angeles, CA
Mary Michell, Skokie Public Library, Skokie, IL
Debra Marshall, Wilson Elementary School, Coppell, TX
Adrienne Gillespie, Stoller Middle School, Portland, OR
Danielle Forest, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS

Wilder 2018 Committee

Viki Ash, San Antonio Public Library, San Antonio, TX
Susan Faust, Katherine Burke School, San Francisco, CA
Merri Lindgren, Cooperative Children’s Book Center / Univ of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI

Visit the ALA 2016 Election page.

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45. Comics Update!

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

source: Goodreads

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

source: Goodreads

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

source: Goodreads

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

source: Goodreads

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


source: Goodreads

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

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

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

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46. Fresh Graphic Novel Picks

Image from Penguin Random House.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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47. Lessons Learned from Storytime

Storytime is a learning environment and we all have lessons learned — including librarians. While I am a better storytime librarian than when I started, I am still far from perfect. And I’ve learned a lot about what kinds of books and materials work best for me in storytime. But in order to do that, I had to make some mistakes.

Five Storytime Lessons Learned

Never Repeating Themes
At my first library, I never repeated storytime themes. I figured I had to get five years worth of themes since I was primarily doing an all-ages storytime and my youngest patrons would age out in five years. That led to some great creative themes, but it also meant shelving dinosaurs storytime for FIVE YEARS. And besides, repetition is great for kids.

Lack of Inclusive Books
Whoa, have I made this mistake more than once! I used to do holiday storytimes because that was what had always been done. And I stopped doing that in 2012 after realizing that I was excluding patrons from storytime. I used to love using Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox until I had a storytime friend who did not have ten fingers and ten toes. I didn’t double-check to make sure that I had non-traditional families represented until Mommy and Mama brought their child to storytime. Inclusive storytimes make everyone feel welcome.

No Recorded Music
I didn’t use recorded music in my storytimes until 2014. I have a decent singing voice and mostly sang a capella. I knew who Jim Gill was, but couldn’t sing any songs by him. Until a grandmother said to me that her grandchild really missed the music that Miss J used. Also: using recorded music frees me up to dance crazily with the kids and model that behavior for caregivers.

Using a Floor Easel in Toddler Storytime
At my current library, I used a floor easel flannelboard since that’s what I was familiar with. Big mistake. The toddlers wound up all around the board petting it and ignoring me. I switched to tabletop easel the next week to avoid the toddler swarm. Make adjustments week to week; don’t wait until the problem becomes familiar to patrons.

Not Knowing When to Stop
There are days when it’s better to just close the book. I knew that. I just couldn’t always come to terms with it. Now I am an absolute pro at saying, “Grown-ups, it seems like our little ones want to get up and move. We can do an activity now and we can read another time.” Having those speeches memorized is really helpful and makes storytime flow naturally.

I could go on (not laying down expectations, reading a book that I didn’t love, not knowing how to get caregivers involved, doing difficult product crafts, no early literacy tips, forgetting to double-check that my book is in good condition) but I feel like I’ve already laid out enough mistakes for one day.

I don’t beat myself up over any of these, by the way. It’s all part of learning. But I do constantly and continuously try to improve. Part of that is realizing that it might be time for a change for the betterment of storytime and a better user experience for my patrons.

How about you? Have you made any changes to storytime? Do you have lessons learned?

– Katie Salo
Early Literacy Librarian
Indian Prairie Public Library

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48. Celebrating Moms (and Grandmoms!)

There is no shortage of amazing picture books about mothers and grandmothers, but there is definitely always a need for more books that include mothers from different cultures and walks of life. If you’re planning a story time, display, or book list for Mother’s Day, include these books to reflect the diversity of your patron population:


(image taken from Donna Jo Napoli’s website)

With warmer days getting closer and closer, beach stories will soon be in high demand in no time. Hands and Hearts is not only a gorgeously illustrated story about a fun trip to the beach, but it also incorporates American Sign Language to tell this story of a mother and her young daughter  discussing their big outing.



Where do many families celebrate Mother’s Day? At grandmother’s house, of course! Full Full of Love  follows a large extended family as they enjoy a fabulous feast at grandmother’s house, which features lots of hugs and kisses in addition to the scrumptious dishes.

(image taken from Candlewick Press)


(image taken from HarperCollins Publishers)

Making cookies with mom is a treasured childhood memory for many, as is celebrated in Mama & Me.  Spanish words (the English equivalent is incorporated after the Spanish word is introduced)  are included in this warmly told and illustrated tale about a precious bond between a mother and her daughter.



(image taken from Scholastic)

A definite scarcity in picture book: mothers in wheelchairs or mothers that have physical disabilities. In Mama Zooms, we see a young boy who imagines that he has many adventures with his mother as they ride in her wheelchair.

What are your favorite picture books about mothers? Let us know in the comments!



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49. Transforming Ideas into Reality

As I attended the North Carolina Library Association’s (NCLA) Executive Board Meeting this past week in Black Mountain, NC at the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly, (https://www.blueridgeassembly.org/) I was struck by the passion of my colleagues from across the state who are committed to improving the lives of our library patrons and communities by brainstorming new ideas to encourage change. As Vice Chair/Chair Elect of the Youth Services Section of the NCLA, I’m excited to see how these ideas bring growth and new possibilities. It makes me consider how ideas are able to move beyond the planning stage to become fully fledged concepts, whether these ideas take root as a project within our individual libraries or grow to strengthen the existing work of our professional associations. Passion, people, and purposeful promotion are all necessary to take those valuable ideas beyond board room discussions and move them into practical implementation within our communities.

How do we get those lightbulb moments to turn into reality? (Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

How do we turn ideas into reality?
(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

The Power of Passion

As we all face more and more commitments, it is critical that our efforts are targeted to the services that truly matter. When we are passionate about an idea, we are more likely to stay connected to ensure its successful implementation. Self-motivation is key to develop our passion into a purpose. This passion is necessary to ensure new concepts move forward from an individual’s idea to an organization’s goal. Passion appears to be at the heart of our successful initiatives, such as evidenced by our LibrariCon attendance. LibrariCon is our Cumberland County Public Library & Information Center’s annual anime/graphic novel/sci-fi mini convention featuring anime viewing, panels and forums, Artist Alley, Chibi Corner, Manga Lounge, Cosplay Runway, and more. As we prepare for its 10 year anniversary celebration, this event has evolved into a destination experience for our customers due to the passion and dedicated commitment of library staff and volunteers.

The Need for People

Working with people help our ideas to soar (Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

Connections with people help our ideas to soar.
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No matter the passion, great ideas need a team of people to make them a reality. Whether it’s a committee coordinating a conference or introducing a new service to a pre-existing summer reading program, it is necessary to bring more staff on board to assist with the details of any project. Internally, our system’s recently formed Youth Services Advisory Council (YSAC) serves as a forum for members of Administration and Youth Services Managers to discuss current issues in our field and to form sub-committees on various projects to ensure ideas are reviewed. Through staffers’ commitment to move youth services forward, we have developed innovative ideas to enhance our children’s summer reading program, have planned early literacy centers at our branch locations, and have streamlined festival programming.

Purposeful Promotion   

All the ideas in the world won't be realized without purposeful promotion (Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

Promotion develops individual ideas.
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Promotion and purpose go hand in hand in ensuring the best ideas are strengthened and receive necessary support when evaluated. It’s necessary to examine our current projects to guarantee our library’s mission and vision are best supported by our current work. Sometimes the need to create new ideas helps to ensure our library’s goals remain relevant as our communities’ needs change. When we realized some of our families would appreciate a twist to the traditional story time routine, youth services staff developed a vibrant partnership with our local parks and recreation department to combine movement with stories and music. Advertised by word of mouth and through our system’s internal Community Relations Department, this vibrant series of story times has become a valuable addition to our busy programming schedule, successfully served by strong promotional efforts.

A passion, people, and promoting for a purpose are all necessary to make our best ideas bloom into reality. What ideas have you been excited about seeing develop into fruition? What tips have you learned to make your concepts connect? Please share in the comments below!

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50. ALSC Member of the Month – Chelsea Couillard-Smith

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

  1. What do you do, and how long have you been doing it?
Photo by Sara Pinnell, courtesy of Chelsea Couillard-Smith

Photo by Sara Pinnell, courtesy of Chelsea Couillard-Smith

My official title is Senior Librarian in Collection Management Services, but what I actually DO is select all children’s and teen print materials as well as audiobooks, e-books, and e-audiobooks. My library is a 41-branch city/county system that includes the city of Minneapolis, and in addition to materials selection, I get to work on lots of other collection-related projects, too. I’m so fortunate to have a job that allows me to focus on the collection, and I absolutely love my work! I’ve been with HCL since June 2015, and prior to that, I spent 4 years as the Youth Materials Selector for the Sacramento (CA) Public Library.

  1. Why did you join ALSC? Do you belong to any other ALA divisions or roundtables?

I joined ALSC right out of graduate school because I was just starting out as a youth services manager, and I knew I would need the support and resources that ALSC provides. What I didn’t expect was to find such a wonderful community of amazing peers and mentors who have really helped me find my place in ALA and in the library profession. I’m currently co-chairing the ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee, and I’ve previously served on the Public Awareness and Newbery Award committees (shout out to FLORA & ULYSSES). I’m also a member of YALSA and the Intellectual Freedom Round Table.

  1. If given the opportunity, would you prefer to be on American Ninja Warrior, Hell’s Kitchen, or The Amazing Race?

I’d love to be on The Amazing Race! I really enjoy traveling, and it would be fun to see all those amazing places in such a unique way. A college classmate (and rugby teammate) of mine actually won a couple of years ago, so I’ve been thinking lately that it might be time to put together a librarian team!

  1. What’s the last book you recommended to a friend?

For a co-worker’s baby shower, my Dad wanted to gift a book that the baby could grow into, so I suggested WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON by Grace Lin. It’s such a gorgeous book, so it makes a great gift. But I also like that it’s both a great read aloud (for a younger child) and a great independent read for a broad age range.

  1. What forms of social media do you use regularly?

I use Facebook mostly because it keeps me connected to my personal and professional worlds, but I dabble in Twitter, too, and I try to use Goodreads regularly. I can’t find the time to add anything else!

  1. What’s your favorite thing to do when you are not working?

I love the outdoors, so when I’m not working (or reading), I’m probably hiking, camping, or biking. And this will be my first summer with a garden, so I’m looking forward to that new challenge.

  1. What’s the scariest book you’ve ever read?

I have a very low tolerance for scary stuff. I’m still haunted by a particular GOOSEBUMPS title I picked up as a kid that involved murder by decapitation (using a guitar string), and a “children’s” adaptation of DRACULA affected my sleeping habits until about middle school. Don’t even get me started on SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK!

  1. What’s the best book you’ve read recently?

Kate DiCamillo’s RAYMIE NIGHTINGALE has really stayed with me. She manages to keep the story so firmly centered on the girls and their emotions in spite of the chaos in their families. The most fun I’ve had recently was reading the second volume in Varian Johnson’s heist series, TO CATCH A CHEAT. I love the humor and the intricate plotting.

  1. Do you normally celebrate holidays? What’s your favorite?

I am a Christmas FIEND. I usually start listening to Christmas music in November because we have a house rule that I can’t start before Halloween. I love all the traditions: baking, selecting and wrapping presents, decorating the house, spending time with family. There’s a peacefulness to the season, one that comes from the cold and the stillness of Midwestern winters, I think, that really appeals to me.

  1. Do you remember the first book you ever read?

When I was 5 years old, my family spent about a year living in Lesotho in southern Africa. My parents were planning to homeschool me, so they made some books to teach me to read. I’m told that I read through all the books they’d made and demanded more, so they decided to send me to “real” school instead. I’d love to read one of those homemade books again!


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

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

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