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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Childrens Literature (all forms), Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 333
1. Robot Reads

With the popularity of robotics programs in schools and community groups, interest in robots and robotics is high! If you’d like to add a technological flair to your displays or booklists, consider these fun titles with high appeal for a wide range of readers:

boy bot

(image taken from Penguin Random House)

Boy + Bot is a sweet and funny story that highlights friendship, kindness, and misunderstandings. When Bot’s power is accidentally switched off, he attempts to re-spark Bot with applesauce and books. When Boy falls asleep, Bot tries to rouse him with oil and by reading aloud from his instruction manual. Luckily, an inventor steps in to smooth things over.


(image taken from Penguin Random House)

Hilo Book 1: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth was one of my top favorite graphic novel reads in 2015; I am anxiously waiting for the sequel to arrive soon! Two friends befriend a friendly, entertaining, but somewhat odd boy who has literally crashed onto Earth. The characterizations of the three friends are realistic, charming, and heartwarming.



(image taken from Macmillan)

Little Robot is another fantastic robot-themed graphic novel from 2015; this nearly wordless story features an African-American girl (who lives in a trailer park) and her newly formed friendship with a robot that has crashed into her industrial town. The two pals explore and go on many adventures until the robot factory searches for its missing robot.  The little girl (who is not named) is strong, courageous, and inventive, adding much needed diversity and characterization in robot-themed books!



(image taken from National Geographic)

Finally, if you want a nonfiction read for young independent readers, Robots (National Geographic Kids) should definitely be in your collection. National Geographic Kids’s nonfiction readers are highly recommended (and highly popular) for their graphic design, clear writing, and high-appeal to both reluctant and ravenous readers alike.

Do you have any favorite robot-themed books? Discuss them in the comments!




The post Robot Reads appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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2. 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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3. Fresh Graphic Novel Picks

Image from Penguin Random House.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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4. 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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5. Reviews & Common Sense Media

Kids using the computerDuring late March and early April, the ALSC Discussion List was active with comments and concerns around Common Sense Media (CSM) and that organization’s reviews of children’s materials.  I followed this discussion with particular interest for two reasons. First, the organization is located in the city where I work.  Second, when they were just getting started, members of the organization came to our library to meet with us to discuss their values and seek our support.   We declined as we believed that their practice of labeling was in violation of the ALA Bill of Rights and the core values of library services for children.

I do not intend to rehash all of the comments and statements of the online discussion (sigh of relief on your part!).  Hopefully, most of you followed it and certainly many of you actively participated.  I found it to be a robust and lively exchange.  That being said, I believe that there are some points that bear repeating regarding CSM reviews:

  • The qualifications of the “expert” reviewers are not always clear with regard to their knowledge of children’s literature and their background in bringing children and books together.
  • Reviews contain a not-so-subtle bias that the values of CSM should be shared by everyone.
  • Ratings that focus on a checklist of incidents that CSM considers problematic (i.e. violence, sex, language, consumerism, drinking, drugs, smoking) cannot provide a balanced and truly insightful evaluation of a literary work.  There is no context.
  • The “Parents Need to Know” ratings are presented to the left of the reviews and are the most immediately visible component.  Even if the review itself does present some balance, a parent in a hurry will find it all too easy to simply look at the rating as a guide to deciding if the book is one they consider appropriate.

Nina Lindsay, Supervising Librarian for Children’s Services at Oakland Public Library, focused on this issue in a way that I found particularly insightful.  With her permission I am going to use her comments:

“…it is indeed the “What Parents Need to Know” section and ratings of CSM that I find inherently problematic, and totally different than, for instance, VOYA’s ratings on popularity and quality.  First of all…”Parents Need to Know”?  That very statement presupposes that what is about to follow is what every parent should value.  Try looking up some reviews of titles with complex stories in them, and picture yourself as a parent who is browsing this site to sanction or veto your child’s reading choices.  Does this section really tell you what you need to know about the book?  The point is it is different for every parent, every family.”

Thanks, Nina!

If you haven’t done so, I would like to encourage you to read a blog post from the Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF) and a Booklist editorial by Pat Scales.  On March 28th, 2016, Joyce Johnston posted a piece to the OIF blog titled Common Sense Media:  Promoting Family Values or Dictating Them?  The original editorial from Pat Scales, titled Three Bombs, Two Lips, and a Martini Glass was published in Booklist in August of 2010.  It has just been reprinted with updates as a result of the ALSC-L discussions.  Both pieces are succinct and on target.

Are two blog posts and an updated editorial on top of the previous discussion excessive on this issue?  I would answer no.  The discussion about labeling in order to limit what children read is a vital one to our profession.  It is one that we should weigh in on whenever possible.

Finally, I encourage you to think about volunteering to serve on the ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee.  Several of us currently serving are coming to the end of our appointments at the close of the Annual Conference.  This will provide openings for those who might be interested in participating in this critical committee, and working with great people who share your passion for intellectual freedom!

Toni Bernardi, San Francisco Public Library

Member, ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee

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6. Hamilton and the Children’s Library

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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7. April Fools’ Day at the Library

Are you planning April Fool’s hijinks at your library? Even if you don’t plan to announce to your Facebook followers that books will now be shelved according to color, you can celebrate with reading or displaying books that involve trickery or unexpected endings:


(image taken from Scholastic)

I’m leaving off several titles in the name of brevity, but I couldn’t forget Eric Kimmel’s retelling of Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock.  The clever spider (in some stories, he’s human) tricks the other animals in the forest with much glee and abandon, until he meets his match in shy little Bush Deer. When parents/community members ask for recommendations for a “guest reader” session in which they are participating, I inevitably recommend this title.



(image taken from Julia Sarcone-Roach’s website)

The Bear Ate Your Sandwich was one of my top favorite pictures books of 2015. I don’t want to give too much away, but if you ever needed to get the concept of “unreliable narrator” across, you should use this as a perfect example.



(image taken from Margaret Read MacDonald’s website)

Mabela the Clever is one of my favorite folktale adaptations by Margaret Read MacDonald. This folktale, adapted from the Limba culture in Sierra Leone, is a clever cautionary tale about the importance of keeping your wits about you and paying attention, as told through the perspective of a young mouse who must outsmart a cat soliciting members for its special and secret club.

snip snap

Snip! Snap! What’s That?

(image taken from Scholastic)

Would you be scared if an alligator broke into your house? YOU BET YOU WOULD! This tale of three children who get tired of being freaked out by the alligator has a delicious amount of suspense perfect for keeping toddlers on the edge of their story mats, but without causing them to run out the story time room.

What other books would you add to an April Fools’ display or story time (that isn’t specifically about the day)? Discuss in the comments!

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8. Picture Book Brackets at the Library

Courtesy of Allen Public Library

Picture courtesy of Allen Public Library

It’s the time of the year for brackets – and we are hosting our own tournament to determine which picture book series is the favorite in our community. Our informal competition was organized by Sarah Davis, one of the Youth Service Librarians here at the Allen Public Library.

We started with the top popular children’s picture books according to circulation stats and didn’t allow for multiple books from the same series. The 16 books that came to the top were: Barbie & the Secret Door, Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes, We are in a Book (Elephant and Piggie), Thomas the Tank Engine, Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food, Ella Bella Ballerina, If You Give a Cat a Cupcake, Everything Goes on Land, Hug Machine, Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog!, Dora Saves the Crystal Kingdom, Pinkalicious, A Sister More Like Me (Disney’s Frozen), and Happy to be Healthy (Doc McStuffins).

Picture courtesy of Allen Public Library

Picture courtesy of Allen Public Library

Sarah created a large bracket on the large bulletin board in our Children’s Library. Any library patrons can vote by picking up a slip and circling the book they prefer. See the cream colored envelopes on the bulletin board? The kids would pick up the slips of paper out of those envelopes, cast their votes, and then put them in a voting box.

At the end of the first week, 489 people had voted and eight titles were eliminated from the board. Goodbye, Thomas! Good effort, Hug Machine! After the second week, there were four titles remaining: Elephant and Piggie, Pinkalicious, Pete the Cat and the Pigeon.

It’s the final week of our competition and can you guess which books are pitted against each other? We predicted this would happen: it’s Mo vs. Mo, Elephant and Piggie vs. the Pigeon. Which book will win? We’ll find out on Monday, March 28!

Picture courtesy of  Allen Public Library

Picture courtesy of
Allen Public Library

Which Mo Willems book would you vote for in our final competition?

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9. Challenged Caldecotts & This One Summer

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) published an article in December 2015 summarizing their top ten graphic novels that they defended that year from potential challenges. The 2015 Caldecott Honor winner, This One Summer, was not only the first graphic novel to be honored by the Caldecott Committee, it was also one of the most frequently challenged graphic novels that the CBLDF found itself defending during 2015.  

Image courtesy of First Second Books

Image courtesy of First Second Books

After reading this article, I was curious. How long has it been since a Newbery or Caldecott Honoree has been challenged in connection with its status as an award winner? I wanted to know publication dates related to book challenges, rather than how often something was challenged.

Online searches resulted in popular titles like Maurice Sendak’s 1964 Caldecott Award Winner Where The Wild Things Are and his 1971 Caldecott Honor Winner, In the Night Kitchen.  But it was the Newbery titles that repeatedly filled my search results. Thanks to Books Under Fire: A Hit List of Banned and Challenged Children’s Books by Pat Scales (ALA Editions, 2015), I was able to find answers. The appendix contains lists of all Caldecott and Newbery titles that have been reported as being challenged. 

It’s been over twenty years since a Caldecott title has been the subject of so many challenges. The last notable Caldecott Honoree to be so scrutinized was A Smokey Night by Eve Bunting and illustrated by David Diaz, which won the 1995 Caldecott Medal. It has been challenged for containing “violence and horror.” Prior to that, Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold, which won a 1992 Caldecott Honor was challenged for “racial stereotype & [that] the adults drink beer.”   

These Caldecott titles are all picture books, and the CBLDF did some research and discovered that within the last ten years, “about 82% of the Caldecott winners have been aimed at audiences age 8 and younger.” Since a majority of Caldecott books are picture books, many people believe that all of these winners and honorees should be cataloged as picture books. However, the Caldecott Award is intended for ages 0-14, representing a wide range of book formats.

This One Summer has recently ended up housed in some elementary school libraries, while the publisher, First Second Books, clearly states that its intended audience is ages 12-18. One challenge stemmed from three Seminole County Elementary schools in Florida because a parent complained about profanity and sexual references in the bookThe book came under attack in the Seminole County High Schools as well. The CBLDF led the fight to preserve high school student access to the book, and just this week, we learned that the book will remain unrestricted in Seminole County High School libraries.

With all the challenges against this single title, I wondered how the publisher feels when their books become challenged or banned. So I emailed Mark Siegel, the publisher and editor of This One Summer to get his input on all these challenges and news headlines on the book.

Janet Weber: First of all, congratulations on First Second Books 10th Anniversary.  You’ve published a lot of amazing, high quality graphic novels during this time, with many winning high achievements and awards.  What was your reaction when you first learned that This One Summer faced its first challenge?

Mark Siegel: Thank you! My reaction to learning about This One Summer being challenged, as I recall, was NOT total surprise . . . we had a lot of discussions, when we were figuring out how to publish this book, about what the appropriate age level for it was. It definitely has challenging content for any age — following in the tradition of great kids’ books like Goodnight Mr. Tom, Nobody’s Family is Going to Change, and Forever.

But it’s always heartbreaking to hear that one of the books that we publish — a book we believe in and have championed and nurtured — has been challenged, because it means that someone out there thinks that the book has so many problems that no one should be allowed to read it. We know that our books are high quality — and that even if the person challenging the book isn’t the ideal audience, that there are readers in need of the book out there. That’s especially the case when books like This One Summer are challenged based on their content.

JW: How do you, as a publisher learn about titles that have been challenged? Especially of your own titles?

MS: It’s always a different process for each book. Sometimes, we hear from the authors, who tend to get contacted about challenges — sometimes, the school involved will contact us directly. And we’re very lucky to have the Comic Book Legal Defense at our backs in all of these situations. An industry organization that defends works in comics forms from challenges, the CBLDF is always on top of any potential censorship and on the phone with us and the parties involved within twenty-four hours. We really appreciate the work they do, and their support for our titles!

JW: Have any other First Second Books been challenged?

MS: Yes, several. The Korean Color of Earth trilogy, by Kim Dong Hwa, I remember very well. We half expected that, as it treads (however delicately and tastefully) on some sexual issues, in ways that don’t always sit comfortably with western moralities. In other instances, we were taken aback by reactions to very slight partial nudity in George O’Connor’s Journey to Mohawk Country and Sardine in Outer Space. The context and the treatment were so mild that I really didn’t think they could have been considered offensive. Apparently they could.

JW: As a publisher, do you see sales increase when a title has been challenged?

MS: In some instances, yes. I think in cases like This One Summer, there is a very legitimate counter-reaction from people who read and loved the book, and felt the challenge was unfair or misguided.

JW: Is there anything you can do as a publisher to fight for one of your challenged titles?

MS: Our catalog is our soapbox. We publish works by authors we believe in, and stand behind. And we will continue to do so.

We also work to give the teachers and librarians involved resources to fight the challenges themselves — lists of the book’s awards and praise, teacher’s guides, etc. Here we’re also very thankful for the CBLDF for their assistance. They’re a fantastic industry resource who have helped out in every challenge we’ve found our books embroiled in.

If anyone reading this is a teacher or a librarian (or anyone!) dealing with a challenge on one of our titles, we encourage you to get directly in touch with us so we can give you any help you need to keep great graphic novels in your libraries and schools. [email protected] is our e-mail address for this sort of thing.

JW: Is there any advice you can give as a publisher to fight for keeping challenged books in library collections?

MS: I think there are great advocates for good books—allies in all kinds of places. Many of them are librarians, who know and understand their communities, and have a direct line of communication with educators and parents, and patrons. And it’s not to say any challenge is a threat to freedom of speech—on the contrary. Some challenges provoke much needed conversations, and belong with a healthy social dialog. If books never provoked debate, we would really have to worry then!

JW: Thank you so much Mark for sharing your input! It is much appreciated!

Photo Courtesy of Janet Weber

Photo Courtesy of Janet Weber

Janet Weber is a member of the ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee and is a Youth Services Librarian at the Tigard Public Library in Oregon. She teaches the ALSC online continuing education course Children’s Graphic Novels 101.  She’s seen here (center) celebrating This One Summer with Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki at the American Library Association 2015 Annual Conference.  

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10. Ten Ways to Publicize Notable Children’s Books

In her 2002 Newbery Award acceptance speech, Linda Sue Park recalled how her father, a Korean immigrant, regularly took her and her siblings to the library and helped them find books. As an adult, she had once asked how he chose the books. As she relayed his explanation in her speech, it brought tears to the eyes of librarians in the audience: “He left the room for a few moments,” she said, “and came back with a battered accordion file and handed it to me. Inside were dozens of publications listing recommended children’s books–brochures, flyers, pamphlets–and most of them were issued by ALA.”

As this moving story shows, booklists can be enormously helpful to parents and teachers, and even the kind of young reader who likes lists. Instead of being overwhelmed by all those books on the shelves, the library user has a guide with ideas from experts.

I’m a great fan of the ALSC lists, and particularly Notable Children’s Books. Many years ago I served on the committee so I know how much work and care goes into creating it. Yet do these annual lists reach as many young readers as we’d like, either directly or through parents and teachers? I’m confident we can spread the word about these books even further. Here are some ways to share the list online or in print:

Ten Ways to Publicize Notable Children’s Books

1. Use the power of social media to connect to ALSC’s online version of the list. You’ll find “share the page” buttons for Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Stumbleupon, Reddit, Digg, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Addthis.

2. In the past, libraries could buy brochures of the list. Now you can print out the whole list or part of it at the ALSC website, and make it available as a good old-fashioned list on paper for library patrons. Or, if you want a list without annotations, I’ve created versions by age group that can be found here:

3. Create a bookmark with a link to the online list and an explanation of what it offers.

4. Make a book display of the Notables books or a bulletin board display. There’s a reason that publishers pay to have their books displayed at the front of bookstores: those are the books that catch people’s eye. Displays serve the same function in libraries. Have the lists or bookmarks there for patrons to take home.
Notable Seal

5. Put a Notables sticker on the books. ALA sells these along with other award stickers at the ALA Store. They can be used for the Notable books, recordings, videos, and software.

6. Talk about the Notables books! Booktalk the books formally in schools and informally to individual patrons. Share your enthusiasm. Remind parents about the lists at gift-giving times.

7. Make sure your local bookstore knows about the list. They might want to highlight recommendations from experts, too, with displays and lists.

8. Alert your local newspaper, freebie parenting magazine or local family radio program about the list and send them a copy or the link. To respect copyright, follow the simple directions at ALA’s Copyright Statement.

9. Create a Voki —- a free, talking avatar at voki.com —- to promote the booklist. You can view my Voki here.

10. Write a note or email to local teachers recommending 3-5 Notable titles that you think would be particularly enjoyed by their students. Handselling individual titles can go a long way.

More ideas means more sharing the message about Notables, so please add ideas of your own in the comments!

Kathleen Odean, a children’s librarian for 17 years, is the author of Great Books for Girls and Great Books for Babies and Toddlers, and chaired the 2002 Newbery Award Committee. She currently gives workshops for educators on new YA books. She is writing this post for the Public Awareness Committee. You can reach her at kathleen [at] kathleenodean [dot] com.

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11. Upcoming Adaptation(s): The Jungle Book

jb32016 will see the release of a book-to-film adaptation that’s been adapted before: Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. Interestingly, Hollywood often follows the same pattern as the publishing world, as similar films (think Ants and A Bug’s Life) are often in development at the same time and then released close to each other. In the next two years there are two competing live-action Jungle Books – the upcoming adaptation on April 15, and Jungle Book: Origins in 2017. Both adaptations are using motion-capture technology, with 2017’s film utilizing the talents of motion-capture genius Andy Serkis.

jungle bookFirst up is Disney’s live-action version of their own animated film. Featuring the vocal talents of Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley Luptia Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Christopher Walken, and Idris Elba, the film is directed by Disney/Marvel guy Jon Favreau. Disney seems to have dropped the racist caricatures in favor of drop-dead gorgeous, computer-generated imagery. In fact, the film is so beautiful that the director recently said he asked the visual effects team to tone down the images, saying, “So many of the notes I gave were like, “Make the sky less interesting,” or “Make that shot less beautiful.”

Next year we’ll see the second adaptation, about which less is currently known. This movie will feature voice-acting by luminaries such as Benedict Cumberbatch and Christian Bale.

The library world has been talking for some time about problematic texts. Do we keep them in our collections simply because they’re classics, even if they have racist elements? The Jungle Book, like Peter Pan, poses a deeper conundrum due to public attachment to the (completely racist) animated movies. I am interested to see if these movies will drive new interest in Kipling’s story, and what that means for our discussions about problematic classics.

You can watch the 2016 trailer here.

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12. Past the Cape: Quirky Graphic Novels

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

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

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

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

Image from http://lukepearson.com/Hilda

Image from http://lukepearson.com/HildStrange

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

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

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

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13. They Say It’s Your Birthday!

Are your thoughts turning to spring weather and activities? If you’re a youth services librarian, your brain is probably already churning ideas and plans for summer reading programs! We’re planning a “birthdays” program to include in our summer activities, so I’ve been searching high and low for great read aloud stories about birthdays. If you’re in need of stories for a birthday program (or a birthday party!), here are some great stories to share:


(image taken from Macmillan)

Anne Rockwell’s books are positive and bright looks at everyday activities in children’s lives; although the sizes of the books might be a bit small to share with large story time groups, most are ideal for medium-sized groups or one-on-one sharing.  At the Supermarket  follows a young boy and his mother as they gather groceries throughout the store for a very special occasion!


(image taken from Candlewick)

Shirley Parenteau’s bears have joined my top choices for bear story times (or for any other themes in which they fit!). Bears and a Birthday follow the pastel-colored bears as they prepare a birthday celebration for Big Brown Bear. Although the relationship to the bears is never specified, keep this in mind if you need matter-of-fact books about single fathers.



(image taken from Scholastic)

Eve Bunting’s Flower Garden is ideal for a Mother’s Day theme, a gardening theme, and a birthday theme (the girl and her father make a windowsill garden for her mother). This simple but vibrant story gives a much welcome diversity to a flower/garden theme; the family is African-American and live in a city (if you have plans for an urban gardening or small container gardening display, make sure you include this!).


(image taken from Caroline Uff)

Happy Birthday Lulu follows Lulu as she receives phone calls, presents, and many hugs on her big day. Striking illustrations and simple text makes this very appealing to the youngest listeners. Lulu is biracial (Caucasian mother, African-American father), which also adds much needed diversity to birthday stories.

What are your favorite stories about birthdays? Let us know in the comments!

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14. Taking picture books to teachers

Over the past few months, I’ve been part of a Professional Development day for teachers throughout our local school board. They spend the day working on using picture books for reading and writing lessons, and then I come in for an hour and show them how to look at picture books as art objects. My experience on the Caldecott committee really comes in useful here– I have been sharing the books from our 2015 list, because I know those so well. I’ve been able to find something new in the books, to find a different way of looking at the books.

Teachers examine "Nana in the City" - photo by A. Reynolds

Teachers examine “Nana in the City” – photo by A. Reynolds

That’s what surprises me most– to find a new way to look at picture books. I have spent so many years as a librarian looking at the art and storytime potential. Now I also look at the teaching potential.  For instance: I just learned about “thought tracking”. Basically, it is taking one character and teasing out that character’s thoughts. It is a way to get kids to think about the author’s intent, a way to get them to think about their own writing. In this case, we discover that the dog in Sam & Dave Dig a Hole is a perfect candidate — the dog is never mentioned, nor does it have any dialogue, and yet is is a major character. When I looked at the art, I realized this immediately. But I did not think of it as a writing exercise. So the teachers are teaching me while I am teaching them.

Sharing picture books with teachers has been, then, a learning experience for me. It is a win-win, because not only do I get to share new picture books and how to look closely at them, I get to share library resources. I have started to include a “for teachers” segment in my blog posts. My handouts incorporate all our library social media & website address. I give them library card applications. I remind them that the library is there for them with thousands of classroom materials. This has been the start of a great partnership, one that we both get something from. How do you share books with your local teachers?

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15. Discomforting Books

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

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

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

Colorful library of booksHere’s a short list:

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

Bannerman, Helen.  LITTLE BLACK SAMBO


Brink, Carol Ryrie.  CADDIE WOODLAWN

Clinton, Cathryn.  A STONE IN MY HAND

Harris, Joel Chandler.  TALES OF UNCLE REMUS



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

Some questions to consider:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s talk!

Submitted by Miriam Lang Budin, ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee Member

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16. Texas Bluebonnet and 2×2 Reading List Updates

Howdy from the Lone Star State!

The Children’s Round Table of the Texas Library Association had a strong start to the new year.

In January the Texas 2×2 Committee announced the 2016 Texas 2×2 reading list of 20 recommended books for children, age 2 through grade 2. The content, presentation and interest levels of the books vary broadly and generally range from board books to beginning chapter books. On its website the committee also provides a cute boot-shaped coloring page and recommended activities and discussion points. Even if you do not live in Texas, I recommend that you look at the great selection of books!

Courtesy of the Texas Bluebonnet Award committee

Another exciting recent development occurred in early February. The Texas Bluebonnet Award committee announced that When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop by author Laban Carrick Hill and illustrator Theodore Taylor III was 2016 Texas Bluebonnet Award Winner! You can watch the announcement video that went live on YouTube at 7 a.m. on February 12.

I explained the basics of the Texas Bluebonnet Award in a previous post, but to summarize: the Texas Bluebonnet Award Winner is selected by children (in Texas) in grades 3-6 who read at least five of the 20 books in the Bluebonnet nominee list. This year 152,369 students in 1,536 institutions cast their votes and let their opinions be known! WOW!

The winning author and illustrator will be the special guest speakers at this year’s Bluebonnet Luncheon during the Texas Library Association Annual Conference in Houston, TX in April.

Have any other state children’s book awards or lists been announced recently? Brag about your reading list in the comments below! What do you think of this year’s Bluebonnet Award Winner and the newest Texas 2×2 Reading List?

Note: I am not on either the 2×2 or the Bluebonnet selection committee – I am just an enthusiast!

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17. Diverse Collection Ideas

A mother recently visited my library to try and find some picture books showing kids with hearing aids for her young daughter. I spent time emailing librarians, tracking down book lists, and even visiting the audiologist for book ideas and donations. Despite my tenacity, I rarely locate good material containing children with any disabilities easily. With the recent #weneeddiversebooks movement, I would say that diversity is a watchword for kids’ books in 2016.

I have since discovered some excellent books and resources that I hope will be useful to your library!

One great website on disabilities in children’s literature is disabilityinkidlit.com. Here, all of the book reviewers have the same disability portrayed in the books they discuss, and their points are often relevant and insightful. Disability In Kidlit is also full of interesting articles, author interviews, and lists (not vetted) of disability-related titles on GoodReads.

face-value-comic-just-releasedI discovered Dave Kot and Face Value Comics (www.facevaluecomics.com) through an entry in the PreviewsWorld comic book ordering catalog. The steampunk illustrations and futuristic plot are addictive! This comic book series gives our world its very first autistic hero. I really like how this series is illustrated using the Facial Action Coding System, and gives child-friendly explanations of facial expressions. I also find it intriguing that there is a young villain with a disability, and can’t wait to learn how that aspect of the storyline is continued in the third issue.

metaphaseBy “liking” the Face Value Comics Facebook page, I came across Metaphase by Chip Reece about Ollie, a teen who has Down’s Syndrome. More importantly, he also has an overprotective superhero father who won’t let him develop his own superpowers. Ever resourceful, Ollie finds a genetics company that might either turn him into a hero or destroy his family. When I read this comic book, the father-son conversations that started the book seemed to echo conversations I hear in my life as a mentor for people with cognitive disabilities. Metaphase was a fast-paced read with many laughs along the way.

I couldn’t be happier that diversity is a focus in children’s literature, and am excited to see what the future of children’s publishing holds in this area!


(Photo courtesy of guest blogger)

(Photo courtesy of guest blogger)

Our guest blogger today is Tina Dolcetti. She 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.

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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18. Celebrate International Children’s Book Day

Every year at the beginning of April, we ceremoniously reflect on the joy of reading. There are many literary holidays this season, some spanning the entire month while others are observed for just a single day. April is both School Library Month and National Poetry Month, and has the following weeks or celebrations: National Library Week, Drop Everything and Read Day, National Bookmobile Day, and El día de los niños/El día de los libros.

And while the month is rich in options, we must do our due diligence to bring books to life for the particular audiences we serve. It is our professional responsibility and joy to kindle an interest in reading, and as Ranganathan summed up, “Every book its reader.”

And this is why April 2nd, International Children’s Book Day, must be one of my favorite literary holidays to observe. It is totally aligned with what we do in our professions. Widely celebrated in schools, public libraries, and literary centers around the world, it’s essentially a love letter to reading. It transcends beyond literary trends, publishing appetites, or cultural preferences because it embraces a global approach to literature. Books are mirrors and books are windows. We, as humans, love to read because of our innate desire to share stories and understand one another. Universal experiences distill into beloved fairy tales, and we see the patterns of archetypes emerge.

This year, Brazil is the National Section of International Board on Books for Young People, which determined both the theme, author, and illustrator for this celebration, which is respectively “Once Upon a Time”, by Luciana Sandroni and Ziraldo. You can promote this important work by sharing the materials and resources featured on the International Board on Books for Young Children website, who have hosted this event since 1967. For even more program ideas, articles, and resources that you can pin now and read later, visit the USBBY blog.

How do you like to celebrate April with your young readers?

Christine Dengel Baum is formerly a children’s librarian and a school and library liaison. She works in Atlanta as a content strategist but continues to volunteer in libraries. She wrote this post for the Public Awareness Committee. You can reach her at [email protected]

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19. Child Soldier and the Refugee Experience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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20. Silent books

Silent books exhibit, photo by A. R

Silent books exhibit, photo by A. R

Librarians usually call them “wordless books”;  recently I visited the Halifax Central Library to see the traveling IBBY exhibit of Silent Books. This is a collection of around 100 books, from all over the world, that anyone, no matter their native tongue, can read. In fact, that’s the whole idea of the exhibit—a collection of books accessible to newcomers – immigrants and refugees who arrive in a land where their native tongue is not the lingua franca. The collection was created, according to the IBBY website, in response to the waves of refugees from Africa and the Middle East arriving in the Italian island, Lampedusa. The collection created the first library on the island to be used by local and immigrant children.

Here in Nova Scotia, there are already Syrian refugee families arriving, even in our rural area, and we expect there to be more. What a wonderful idea that we can offer books for families to share, no matter their language. We all have wordless books in our collections, and I am working on creating a booklist so that it is easy to find them, both for the public and for our staff.

La caca magica" photo by A. Reynolds

“La caca magica” photo by A. Reynolds

Now on to the books in the exhibit. The complete catalogue of the books is available here. Take a look: the books truly are from all over the world. I saw books from Portugal, Spain, Russia, Thailand, France, Germany, Pakistan, and many other countries. And the thing is, I could read all of these books. I may not have understood the title, as it was in language I do not know, but I certainly understood the stories. That’s the beauty of a picture book – a short story that often makes one think about life. I read a book about an urban couple who went out to pick blackberries, only to find the neighbor’s dog peeing on the bushes. So they grew their own. I read a book about a Congolese deli with an International clientele. I read about three pigs who tricked a wolf and then made a nice rug for their home.

Some of these books made me sigh at the beauty and design, such as Loup Noir, from France. Illustrated in black and white, all angles and starkness, this story cleverly tricked the reader into thinking the wolf was bad, but in the end, the wolf saved the day. It reminds us that appearances are not what they seem, and our first impressions need deeper thought before we jump to conclusions. I laughed out loud at La Caca Magica from Spain. My inner five year old chortled at the graphic-novel style story of a bird who poops on a rabbit, but gets a big surprise in the end.

Loup Noir" cover, photo by A. Reynolds

“Loup Noir” cover, photo by A. Reynolds

These books were funny. They were endearing. They were absurd, beautiful works of art. I felt like I was on a world tour where I got a little insight into stories from other cultures, stories that felt very familiar. Look again at your wordless books. They are silent in one way, but then again, they speak volumes. And if you are lucky enough to be near this exhibit as it tours the world, go see it!

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21. Top Rainbow Reads for Kids

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

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

Picture Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Juvenile Fiction

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

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

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

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

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

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

Juvenile Nonfiction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I will always circulate!

I will always circulate!

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

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

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

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23. ALA Youth Media Awards 2016

#alaYMA @ #ALAmw16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award:

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

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

Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award:

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

Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award:

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

Coretta Scott King – Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Andrew Carnegie Medal for excellence in children’s video:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pura Belpré (Author) Award:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults

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

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

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24. Are you ready for the Youth Media Awards?

2016 ALA Youth Media AwardsIn less than 24 hours, the Youth Media Awards will be announced at #alamw16. Hundreds and hundreds of librarians will be at the press conference. They will be eagerly anticipating the announcement of the 2016 Newbery, Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, Printz, Pura Belpré, Sibert, Geisel, Schneider Family, and more.  The excitement is building in Boston as children’s librarians engage in animated discussions about titles they read and loved over the course of the year.

Are you excited? Will you be participating in the YMA Pajama Party from your home? Do you have a title you are hoping, hoping, hoping will take home a medal? Let us know in the comments below.

Meanwhile, check out some of the results of Mock Elections from around the country.

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25. ASHES by Laurie Halse Anderson

Coming in October is the next book in Anderson’s series that began with CHAINS and FORGE. She spoke at a luncheon today about the inspirations for the books.  (Paraphrasing here) ‘Children need to know history, warts and all, in order to make the future better.’

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