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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Blogger Angela Reynolds, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 32
1. Painting with Primaries

Our local school is building a Natural Playground, and they are holding several fundraisers. I was recently asked to be part of a Really Good Idea for a fundraiser, which I think would make a fun library program! The idea, which was hatched and hosted by the owner of our local craft shop, was this: local artists would each lead a classroom in painting a large 2-foot square painting which would then be auctioned off.
I was happy to find out that I was chosen to work with the Grade Primary class (here in Nova Scotia that translates to Kindergarten). I went with a big flower for them to paint. I had them in groups of 3 — the painting had seven areas to be painted, and I had each group work on a section. I might be biased, but I love our painting the most. I love the colours and the freedom of expression that 4 & 5 year olds are unafraid to exhibit. I really didn’t paint much at all— I gave them tips, and once had to quickly grab a paintbrush from an over-exuberant artist who was about to turn the whole thing into a big smear.

I started in the classroom with a stack of books and talked to them about art in picture books.  I read Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales to them and we talked about the art in that book. Their teacher had been part of some workshops I did earlier in the school year, and she had them looking closely at the art in picture books, so this group of 4-5 year olds were pretty savvy about examining the pictures. We had a lively discussion about the art and how everyone can do art. I was impressed that they were able to determine the medium, and talk a little about shape and colour.

I love to combine literacy with art lessons, and this project – and a Caldecott honour book – allowed me to do that. We also did a really great painting which will help raise money for a playground that will further their learning in the great outdoors. IMG_1401

So— to turn this into a library program, you could buy several large canvases (you can get them for a pretty decent price at dollar stores these days). Draw the outlines on the canvases, and have your program participants paint them in, using acrylic paint (again, a fairly inexpensive investment at dollar stores). These could hang in the children’s area, could be donated for charity fundraisers, or you could auction them as library fundraisers. Add a few books on art and a few art picture books, and you’ve got yourself a fairly simple, low-cost program that kids will remember each time they see those paintings. Host an art show in your library and you’ve got another program that will draw in the families of the kids who did the paintings. Art and literacy. They make good companions.

The post Painting with Primaries appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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2. Distinguished Service Award – Nominate!

Who inspires you? Have  you ever thought, “I want to be THAT librarian when I grow up”? Do you know an ALSC member who should be recognized for their work? If you can answer these questions, perhaps you should consider nominating someone for the ALSC Distinguished Service Award.

The nominee should be an individual who has made significant contributions to, and an impact on, library services to children and to the Association for Library Service to Children. They must be a personal member of ALSC.  The nominee may be a practicing or retired librarian in a public or school library, a library or information science educator, a member of the library press, or an editor or other employee of a publishing house. Nominations are open until December 1, 2016, so you have some time to think about this.

Who has won in the past? The award was established in 1991. Here is a list of the past winners, and the 2016 winner  is Pat Scales. Who will you nominate for the 2017 award? Our virtual committee awaits your suggestions.

Once you are ready to nominate, just fill in this form. The hard part will be choosing who to nominate. There’s someone you admire, someone you look up to, someone who has done amazing work for ALSC and has made an impact on library services to children. We count on you, ALSC members, to let us know who you think this person is.

The post Distinguished Service Award – Nominate! appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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3. Family Fort Nights FTW

IMG_0881Kids are ridiculously excited about books. Families cram into your library. The level excitement is high. You have everything ready to go, supplies gathered, and then you just sit back and orchestrate. Thanks to Jbrary, Amy, Laura, Marge, Jane, and Katie, the program is pre-planned. If you browse those links, you’ll find a list of supplies you need as well as exactly how to do this program. I’m talking about Family Fort Night folks, the best thing since lined paper.

I’ve been around libraries for a while. I’ve done a lot of programs. This had to have been the easiest, most rewarding program I’ve done in ages. I’m not going to rehash how to do it– follow the links above and you’ll find out all you need to know. What I want to crow about is how easy it was, and how much fun it is. Librarians love to share- and those links up there prove it (really, have you NOT read those posts yet?) When I heard about Family Fort Night, I got incredibly excited. Not only did it look like fun, it seemed a pretty simple idea. And it is. Links, people. Go. Now.

Ok, now that you are back — here’s the good stuff that happened. Moms askedIMG_0883 when we were going to do this again. I heard from one family that there were forts all over their house the next day. Kids were as excited to read in their forts as they were to build the forts. Turning out the lights to play flashlight hide & seek? Priceless. Dads and Grandfathers and Moms and neighbours and friends and siblings were all there. It was a community of fun. I could go on and on about the warm fuzzy feelings this program generates. But I will just end with this– put your pyjamas on and try it. Open your library after hours and build forts. Get some cheap flashlights and watch the magic happen. Go forth and fort, my friends.

The post Family Fort Nights FTW appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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4. 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?

The post Taking picture books to teachers appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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5. 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!

The post Silent books appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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6. Picture books, the greatest gift

photo by the author

photo by the author

Last year I read over 500 picture books. I don’t think I’ve read quite that many this year, but I have kept up a steady pace. I certainly have changed the way I look at picture books. Spending a year on the Caldecott committee does that – I will never look at a picture book the same way again, and this is a good thing. For one, it has made it easier for me to share how to look at the art in these books. I have been working with our local school board to help teachers look more closely at picture books. I spent a week in early December with the Grade 1 teachers. I showed them what I saw in the books, and they shared what they saw. I was amazed that I was able to find something new in The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend. I consider all the books our committee chose as friends. I carry them in my car. They are lifelong companions. They are gifts.

Speaking of book gifts. This makes me so proud to be Canadian that I am shouting it from my virtual rooftops. IBBY Canada, Groundwood Books , Sydney Smith, and JonArno Lawson have banded together to give a gift to the Syrian refugees that are coming to our country. Along with a copy of Sidewalk Flowers, each book will contain a card inviting them to take a trip to their local public library. It makes my librarian heart melt, this does.

So whatever you are doing this day, be it celebrating with family, eating cookies, working, lounging by the fire, or just relaxing, enjoy a gift. Find a favourite picture book and read it aloud.

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7. Trying something new

playing with sensory balls

Playing with sensory balls

A few months back I saw a photo from Hennepin County Library on Instagram. It showed how much fun they had at their Sensitive Family Time — a time for families living with autism to explore the library. As I was looking for a way to partner with our local Autism Centre, I jumped on this fantastic idea. After a few phone calls and emails, we had a date. We opened one of our branches for 2 hours on a Sunday afternoon, just for these families. The families had signed up in advance with the Autism Centre, so we knew who to expect. Staff from their centre attended, and welcomed the families. Our staff were on had to show them around the library, read some stories, and get them signed up for library cards.

We had some toys out (I had these already from storytime), and just let the kids roam around. They played, I read a few books, they enjoyed themselves. Many of the families had never taken their child to the library before– they feared disruptive behavior and did not want to cause a scene. The kids were great — once they found out that the library was a safe, welcoming place, they had a grand time. And so did I. I tried something outside my comfort zone, something I really knew nothing about other than I knew there were families that wanted to use the library but maybe felt uncomfortable doing so.

Program room is set up

Program room is set up

We’ve got another one in the works, and I look forward to it. It was such a simple idea, such an easy way to reach out. I have to thank Hennepin County Library for their great program, and for graciously allowing me to borrow their idea and run with it. Try something new. It just might be worth it.

The post Trying something new appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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8. Schoolwork

I recently had a meeting with the Elementary Literacy Consultant at our local school board. Our library region covers the same area as the school board, so that is convenient for us (unlike some large library systems that may have more than one school district). I requested a meeting for a couple of reasons– to listen, and to find out how we can get more teachers using our collections. School libraries have small budgets (and library staff in schools is slim). Students still need access to a wide variety of quality books, and we have them! So how do I get them into the classrooms?alsc sign

After my meeting, I had a few takeaways and some work to do. I am preparing an invitation to all teachers at all schools to get a library card. I am trying to make it easy– sending them a registration form and outlining the services we have. Our library offers an “institutional” card to teachers — they can check out as many items as they need for their classroom, and keep them for 6 weeks (our normal check-out period is 3 weeks) — and they do not pay overdue fines. It is a good deal – but only if they know about it!

I also plan to create more online booklists with teachers in mind. I asked for (and received!) a curriculum outline–a simple guide to the subjects that are being studied, for each grade. As new books come in, I can now target them for lists or for adding to my blog, which I started with our own library staff in mind. The new books cross my path before they hit the shelves, and as I am addicted to picture books, I can’t help taking piles of them home and making notes. Now I have new ways to look at these books, and I’ve added a section “Of Interest to Teachers” in upcoming blog posts.

With a new focus on teaching from children’s books rather than textbooks, I see this as a win-win opportunity. I’m always looking for ways to make our collection more accessible to our community, and now I have a few ideas for reaching out to teachers. What do you do? How do you partner with schools? How do you get the books into the hands of teachers and students? Let’s hear your ideas!

The post Schoolwork appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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9. Harry is alive

I’m on vacation as I write this. On September 1, students returned to Hogwarts, boarding that scarlet train from Platform 9 3/4.  They’d been to Diagon Alley for new robes, cauldrons, chocolate frogs, and spellbooks. The professors were probably already at the castle, getting ready for another school year.

The Harry Shelf (photo by A. Reynolds)

The Harry Shelf (photo by A. Reynolds)

Lest you think I’ve lost my mind, please note. I. Am. On. Vacation. And I am re-reading all the Harry Potter books, because that is my summer book tradition. They are like mashed potatoes or macaroni and cheese. Comfort food. Yes, I am a 50-something Potterhead. I am admitting it here in a public forum. But, look, folks, I am not the only one. I have at least one Twitter friend that is re-reading Harry Potter this summer, and she’s a responsible adult. I know of two Harry Potter parties that happened in the last few days. Several friends are now reading Harry aloud to their children (they’ve been waiting for their kids to get old enough for this). Harry Potter is alive and well in the hearts and minds of so many of us.

Sybill & Sirius (photo by A. Reynolds)

Sybill & Sirius (photo by A. Reynolds)

How many of you celebrated on July 31? Who watches the Harry Potter movies when you are feeling a little sad or have the flu? Do you have pets (or maybe even children) named for characters in the books? How many of you are planning to take extra vacation days before or after the ALA Conference next summer and make the pilgrimage? Raise your hand if you, too, relish days off, in the most comfy spot in your house, or at the beach, with a Harry Potter book tucked firmly in hand. And now, I need to return to Hogwarts. The Goblet of Fire is calling.

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10. Supporting the Arts in Libraries

Summer Reading Club is winding down and as I look at the list of programs our branch libraries have hosted, I am impressed with the fantastic array of choices. For a rural library system, we’ve got the arts covered! From Musical Zoo (two musicians take a big box of instruments and let kids go wild), to marionette shows to photography and crafts, the arts are alive and well in our little libraries.

Backstage at the puppet show - photo by Angela Reynolds

Backstage at the puppet show – photo by Angela Reynolds

This summer we hosted a touring marionette show. This stood out for a few reasons — one, this show was visiting from Quebec, and we’d never seen it in Nova Scotia. Two girls I spoke to at a show in our area had never been to a live puppet show before! I helped organize the tour, which went to pretty much every cove and cranny of our little province. The puppeteer stayed a couple of nights at our house, and we had some great conversations about the arts and public libraries. He told me how much he loved performing at libraries, and how much he appreciated the fact that libraries still believe in things like puppet shows and storytelling. He mentioned that there’s something special going on in libraries these days- libraries are a community place that people feel good about.

Now I know this sounds like something I talked him into saying. I wish I’d had a tape recorder because it would have made a great advertisement for what we do in our libraries. Not only do we provide great programming that allows kids to explore their artistic side, we also support the artists who create great programs for kids and families. We do workshops for librarians so they can expand their horizons in the arts. We host music concerts, art workshops, craft programs, theatre demonstrations, and so much more! What do YOU do in your libraries to support the arts — and the artists?

The post Supporting the Arts in Libraries appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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11. The party that was Caldecott

The place: San Francisco. The occasion: ALA Annual. The party: Caldecott. From January 2014 – January 2015, I studiously studied. I looked at over 500 picture books, and along with 14 other intrepid souls, decided which of those were the most distinguished. Our committee is incredibly proud of our list of books. And this year at ALA annual, we got to celebrate with the distinguished artists in the class of 2015.

At the banquet - photo by Angela Reynolds

At the banquet – photo by Angela Reynolds

Starting with a great street party for Melissa Sweet (which included yummy tacos & a baby shower), and then the next night a dinner with all 6 honor winners, followed the next evening by “Dinner with Dan”, and then Sunday  the Caldecott-Newbery-Wilder awards banquet, it was a wild and fun ride!

But it wasn’t just fine dining. At each of these events our committee got to have some quality time with the illustrators that we honored. And we felt honored to do that. Each one of them thanked us profusely. I can speak for myself only (though I have a feeling many of my co-committee members will be shaking their heads yes), but I felt like I should be thanking them for their work, for their contribution to children’s literature. In Dan Santat’s award acceptance speech, he said the Caldecott changed his life. I must say, it changed ours, as well, Mr. Santat. 15 people became fast friends, confidantes, cohorts, colleagues. We bonded over art, over time spent together, and yes, even tattoos. This great party we called San Francisco created memories to last a lifetime.

Beekle tattoo - photo by Angela Reynolds

Beekle tattoo – photo by Angela Reynolds

At the banquet, I was asked by Mac Barnett if serving on the Caldecott Committee was exciting as it sounds. I had to say a resounding yes to that. And you know what folks, only an ALSC member can do this. I’ve been a member for 21 years, and yes, I worked hard to get to a place where I could serve on this illustrious committee. But so can you. If it is your dream (as it was mine as a starry-eyed grad student), then work towards it. The rewards are immense, and they go far beyond a fancy cocktail dinner (though those are certainly nice, too). Thanks to all the publishers who wined and dined us, to all my committee members who opened my eyes to so many viewpoints, to the illustrators and authors who make amazing books, and to ALSC for being there to hold up children’s books as shining stars. Thank you all!

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12. Caldecott & Newbery & Wilder speeches

I know that lots of folks don’t have a ticket to the banquet tonight. Many times I’ve not gone to the banquet. But in case you didn’t know, you can go in later and listen to the award speeches. Around 8:30, you can come in and sit in the back and see the awards bestowed and hear the acceptance speeches. Details HERE!  Now, why on earth, you might ask, would I make my way over to a hotel, at 8;30 at night, and sit in the back of a big room to listen to a couple of folks talk? Here’s why: Last night I got to hang out with Dan Santat. Bring your tissues, folks. As a member of the 2015 Caldecott Committee, the heartfelt appreciation from Dan is so evident. I can’t wait to hear what he has to say tonight. And I really do expect that Kwame Alexander is going to wow us as well. And you’ll get to hear Donald Crews. How can you not go?

So if you love books, if you know in your heart that sharing books with children is the best thing we can do for our world, then come share in the love that will be swirling around in that room tonight.

See you there!

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13. Annual Anticipation

In just over 20 days, I will be heading to San Francisco. I will be joining thousands of librarians making their way to the annual conference. This year is perhaps the most special conference ever for me. As a member of the 2015 Caldecott committee, I get to see the medal bestowed upon Dan Santat at the Caldecott-Newbery Banquet on Sunday, June 28 (ok I KNOW it is actually called the Newbery-Caldecott banquet, but hey, I’m calling it my way this year). Pretty exciting stuff!

Angela's Caldecott memory book signed by fellow committee members

Angela’s Caldecott memory book signed by fellow committee members (photo by A. Reynolds)

There are plenty of things I am looking forward to. Conference sessions, Guerrilla Storytime, the exhibits, running into librarian pals, spending time with old friends. But honestly, I am really looking forward to seeing those 14 special people that I share secrets with (aka the 2015 Caldecott Committee). Since February, our committee has been chatting via email. We’ve sent links to one another, and proudly read interviews with “our” illustrators. We’ve shared joys and ideas. We’ve shared thoughts about what to wear to the banquet. We’ve booked tattoo appointments & planned outings in San Francisco (we even have an official social -butterfly coordinator). I think we are all looking forward to a reunion in San Francisco. I know we are looking forward to meeting the illustrators of the amazing books we chose. We are gleefully anticipating celebrations with creators and publishers. And we can’t wait to honor the books that we are so delighted by. More memories will be created, I am certain of that.

It is going to be whirlwind of a time. Living in the woods, far away from my ALA colleagues, I always look forward to this time to refresh, get inspired by Big Ideas, and rejuvenate. This conference is going to charge my brain’s batteries for good long while. Yes, I get sentimental about this whole librarianship thing this time of year. I’ve never once regretted that push from a grad-school professor who insisted I join ALA and ALSC. Yes, I have served on maybe the best committees ever. But ALSC has served me well, too. Thanks, ALSC, for being the way to stay in touch. See you in San Francisco!

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14. Disneyland for Librarians

There’s a new library in Nova Scotia. Central Library in Halifax opened mid-December with great fanfare. Thousands of people turned out for opening day. Thousands! Now, Halifax is about a 2-hour drive from our small, rural community, but it is still exciting to me that we have this library. It is simply amazing.

photo by A. Reynolds

photo by A. Reynolds

I get pretty excited about a new library anywhere. We have a couple in the works in our region, and we plan to take a page from the Central Library book and create spaces that draw people in. The thing that I love about the new library in Halifax is that though it is not near us, we are still benefiting from the buzz. Libraries are on people’s minds.

Photo by A. Reynolds

Photo by A. Reynolds

The building is just amazing. Honestly I feel like I am in Disneyland for Librarians when I go there. And I am not alone—I’ve had parents tell me that they’ve taken their kids to the city for a museum trip, and the kids kept asking “When are we going to the library?” It is that cool. With a giant Lite-Brite wall, a play area that is downright fabulous, a LEGO table, iPads galore, and a space that makes you feel right at home, why wouldn’t they want to go there? There’s even a gaming area and a lovely built-in puppet theatre.

The Teen area is a big WOW as well. There’s a recording studio, a craft/maker room, tons of great programs, another gaming area, really comfy seating, and staircases that remind me of Hogwarts (though these don’t actually move). And the colors! So bright and happy. Go there on a weekend and you won’t find a spot to sit. After school the place just buzzes.

Photo by A. Reynolds

Photo by A. Reynolds


Photo by A. Reynolds

Photo by A. Reynolds

Photo by A. Reynolds

Photo by A. Reynolds

So what can a rural library take from this? Central Library is a million miles away from anything we will ever have in our region as far as size goes. But we can listen to our patrons, and if they ask for something, we should try to do it. We can make our library comfortable, with ample plugs for devices and spaces where people can work on whatever they need to work on. We can allow covered drinks and food. We can make the space bright, modern, clean, and welcoming. We can add local art. We can make play spaces and quiet spaces.

I want our libraries to be the place that kids and teens choose to visit. I think we need to figure out how that happens, without building a 5-story gem. The building is part of it, but the feeling is the real draw. We can all learn from other libraries, and continually ask our communities how we can better serve them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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16. The Beekle Experience

beekleAs a member of the 2015 Caldecott committee, making “the call” to Dan Santat on the morning of February 2 was such a thrill. The good folks at ALA make it possible for you to experience it HERE. Once the announcements of the Caldecott awards were made public, the Internet buzzed. One of the first things I saw online after the announcements was this short video from Dan Santat. It melted my heart. I was running on adrenaline, very little sleep, and home-made ginger cookies at this point, and that little clip just really got me. Dan Santat’s first Tweet of that day was “I’m so bummed the Patriots won the #SuperBowl last night. My whole day is ruined.” I immediately thought, “The guy is funny!” You can follow him on Twitter @dsantat. When I got back to my hotel room, I saw this amazing craft from This Picture Book Life blog. It inspired me to create my own Snow Beekle once I got back home.

When I was home I really dug in to read the Caldecott news. There are several interviews that will give you more about Dan Santat, like this one from Publisher’s Weekly, this one from NPR, this one from Dan’s local station in Pasadena, and this one on the 7 Impossible Things blog. And there’s this fun podcast from Picturebooking.

So, there’s a lot of Beekle love out there, and it is well-deserved. This year’s Caldecott medal book is one that you can share at preschool storytime. There’s already a craft you can make (with preschoolers I’d use frosting scribblers instead of Sharpie marker to make the face because you know they are going to want to eat it). You can use The Adventures of Beekle, the Unimaginary Friend with older groups, too. It is a seemingly simple book, but so much is going on. Embedded in this story is the archetypal Hero’s Journey: Beekle leaves home on a quest, heeding his call to adventure. He leaves his normal world and ventures out into the unknown. He then experiences trials in that world: he is looking for something, and searches valiantly. Once Beekle finds what he is looking for, and has bonded with his new friend, he can return, and do the unimaginable. For more on the Hero’s Journey, and how Beekle relates, try this link.

Photo by Angela J. Reynolds

Photo by Angela J. Reynolds

Look closely at that art! Each section of the journey is denoted by color and slight style changes, and fits the pacing just right. Look for the color yellow to tell you that change or something significant has occurred. Look at the emotion on our hero’s face when he meets his friend. Explore those end pages. Take that dust jacket off and revel in the lovely board cover underneath. Find the joy in this book that so many young children do. And don’t forget to look for the Beekle Bum – that image gets noticed every time I share this book in storytime.
Have fun with this book, and if you have more ideas on how to use it in storytime or in the classroom, share in the comments!

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17. Post-Caldecott

The books! Photo by Angela J. Reynolds

The books! Photo by Angela J. Reynolds

Shovels in hand, 15 brave souls entered a room in a hotel in Chicago. We knew there was treasure to be found, we knew that we would have to dig deep into our year of looking at over 500 picture books in order to find the gems. We tried to find the right words (vocabulary, phrases, terms) to express how our favorite books met the criteria. We bravely donned our capes of red wool; we dreamed of art, and lost things, and finding friends. We picked up pebbles of wisdom, like stones at the beach that one summer. Our minds were filled with noisy colors. And together, we did the unimaginable.

It has been just two weeks since the 2015 Caldecott Awards were announced, and I still feel the warm glow of that experience. The seven books that our committee chose to receive those shiny stickers have me still reeling. I look at them and smile. Each one of them means something to me, and I have realized that our set of books is all about discovery. Just like Beekle on his heroic journey to friendship, our committee set out to find the most distinguished book published in 2014. There were many amazing books, and I know that each and every member of our committee has a few books that did not make our final list that they will always treasure. You just don’t spend that much time re-reading and looking closely without developing a relationship with the books. Together we found the books that we agreed met the criteria and rose to the top of the pile.

Caldesnacks! Photo by Angela J. Reynolds

Caldesnacks! Photo by Angela J. Reynolds

Being on the Caldecott Committee has been a longtime career goal. Now it is a career highlight, and I have found 14 new friends that shared an experience (and a lot of great snacks) that no-one can know about (actually, I can tell you all about the snacks if you want to know). The Adventures of Beekle, the Unimaginary Friend, by Dan Santat, was announced on Monday, February 2. Sitting in the convention center hall, my hands were shaking. Never had the announcement of the awards been so personal, so exciting, so nerve-wracking. I had to remind myself to breathe. Since we knew who the winner was on Saturday night, one of our committee members thought it would be fun for us to wear crowns like Beekle’s after the book was announced. She made them on Sunday and kept them secret until the book was named on Monday morning. Donning that yellow paper crown marked one of my happiest moments as a librarian. Our committee was so proud of those books.

The Caldecott Buzz was enormous. In years past, I have chatted with others about the awards. I engaged in the “why didn’t my favorite book win” banter with friends and colleagues. I read the blogs with fervor, and sometimes even joined in on the second-guessing that naturally goes on each year. “What were they thinking?” is often bandied about when the awards are announced, and I fully understand why. These book awards mean a lot to us. They recognize, very publicly, that children’s books matter. They celebrate art and literature and story and make us look closely at books, and at ourselves. This year the comments, both in person and online, were somehow louder. I love hearing people’s reactions, and I enjoy reading the critical analysis that has resulted. For those who are disgruntled, upset, or still wondering why our committee chose the books we chose, I say, read the Caldecott Manual, linked here. Read the criteria. And read them again. Read them a third time. Our committee heeded (observed, abided by, adhered to) that manual; we read it many times. My copy has margin notes, tabs, highlighter, tea stains. The manual was our guide, our touchstone, our handbook. And because the committee deliberations are confidential, you’ll never know exactly what happened in that room, other than the fact that we did what we were tasked to do, and we chose a winner and six honor books. Celebrate that with us. Find the joy in those books, like we did. Find the readers who will love those books, because they are out there. And like the Newbery committee’s t-shirts said, “Trust the Process”.

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18. Meeting with lions

Obi, the African Lion. Photo by Angela Reynolds

Obi, the African Lion. Photo by Angela Reynolds

I’m changing Summer Reading this year. When I was in Chicago for ALA last summer I saw their Summer of Learning and was duly impressed. I am going to try something similar this summer, using STREAM – Science, Technology, Reading, Experience, Arts, and Math. The Common Core is not a Thing here in Canada (yet) but I love the idea of experience-based Summer Reading Program. Yes, Reading is still a big part of it, the main focus even, but I wanted to offer some experiences rather than Pieces of Plastic as incentives. So I contacted the local zoo. Oaklawn Farm Zoo is small and owned by a couple that are known in our area as generous and kind folks. I had a meeting in their farm house to talk about offering 2 Library Days this summer– 18 and under get in free if they show their library card (and can earn a badge if we get that part figured out).  We sat at the table over tea, muffins, and homemade jam to discuss the details. They liked the idea as much as we did– we’ll be offering storytime and needle felting demos (using zoo-animal fur collected by the keepers). We’ll also take our portable StoryWalk and our Bookmobile for a total library/zoo day! Fun!

So, we have at least one great experience to offer for our Summer STREAM. And for me, the experience was even more amazing because when we first arrived, we heard ,”Oh, here comes the lion. Put your boots on top of the fridge.” Yes, that’s right. LION. For the winter, a lion cub lived in their house. Obi, the 6-month old African lion strolled in, rolled over on the floor, and allowed us to pet his belly. Library Days at the Zoo — YEAH! Plus, I got to pet a lion. I love my job.

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19. Storytime Lab

Because I keep seeing so many amazing storytime ideas from blogs I read, I am feeling the itch to do Storytime. My position as Head of Youth Services means that I do a lot coordinating, consulting, book ordering, book recommending, grant writing, program development, and training. Which means I am in an office based in a Headquarters location that is not a public library. Which means: I don’t have a regular storytime. For many storytime labyears, this has been ok with me. I was actually kind of tired of doing storytime, and was happy to compile booklists and make storykits and show staff, child care providers, and parents how to interact with kids around books. But how I can recommend all this new fun stuff if I don’t test-drive it first? Enter Storytime Lab. Once a month, I will be heading over to my local library to test out new songs, fingerplays, flannel stories, activities,  and books on the willing “Guinea Pigs” that come through the doors. Not only do I get to test out new ideas, but I have also invited our staff that do storytimes, plus local agencies that do storytime activities, to come and observe as a training session. They get to see a storytime modeled, and see how the kids react. The children and families that attend get to experience the newest books, songs, puppet stories, and flannelboards that I can find. Plus, it is only once a month. That fits in just right with my schedule. Now, I just need a lab coat….

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20. Over-reading?

This time of year, many of us hear cautions against over-eating. The cookies! The candies! The parties with melted cheese appetizers! But do we caution ourselves against over-reading? I have been on a reading binge this year. Next year my reading will be reserved for committee work, so this year, I have been a reading maniac. On Twitter, I have been part of a “50 Book Pledge”. It is a reading campaign put on by The Savvy Reader. Basically, you sign on to read at least 50 books in the year, and Tweet about your reading. For those of us who use picture books on a regular basis, 50 books is a breeze. But this year I’ve been wolfing down adult books, too! And my diet contains YA novels just for fun, in addition to all the picture books and middle-grade fiction. Just for fun! I am only 1 book away from my 200-Book goal – if you want to see my bookshelf, here it is.

Photo of book shelf by Angela Reynolds

Photo of book shelf by Angela Reynolds

How many books have you read this year? Do you keep track? If so, where and how do you keep track? I love having this online bookshelf, it is easy for me to go back and find a book that I read but can’t recall the title. I want to hear your over-reading stories – there’s lots of room in the comments…

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21. Too busy to breathe?

Have you ever felt yourself thinking you are too busy to even breathe? September, October, and November feel that way to me. I think it is because Summer Reading Club is finally over, and time to focus on the rest of the year. New projects are in the works, and here in Nova Scotia, we know bad weather is coming and so we try to pack all the programming in before the roads get nasty and folks stay inside.  Just a sample of what my schedule has crammed into it: present at the NSLA conference; teach storytelling at the community college; write reviews of audiobooks; launch tutor.com; create and present iPad literacy programs for grant; teach felt-board classes at the local family resource centre; help out with a Haunted House at a local museum; coordinate Teen Read Week activities and put together a newsletter for that; update social media and manage the blog; write a blog post for ALSC; order books; plan for high-school visits. Just writing that list left me a bit breathless. But I guess I wouldn’t have it any other way—who wants to be bored at work? Time to take a deep breath and plunge in. At least one thing on my list is ticked off now…..

What are your tactics for keeping your head above water? Tell us in the comments how you stay sane with a million projects on the go!

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22. Taking Caldecott to High School

 In preparation for my year on the Caldecott Committee, I am immersing myself in picture books.  One thing I really wanted to do this year was hold a Mock Caldecott with youth. I just needed a willing teacher and a classroom to play with.  I happen to know the English teacher at the local high school, and one of the curriculum outcomes is “able to respond with critical awareness to various forms of the arts and be able to express themselves through the arts.  Perfect fit.  All grade nines have English with this teacher, back-to-back classes, so I go over for a couple of hours. I’ll be going once a month through January, when we will do our Mock Caldecott before I head off to Philadelphia to see which book this year’s Caldecott Committee chooses.

  My first class was an introduction to the award, which some knew about, but most did pic books screennot. They had heard of Newbery, but not Caldecott. (Remember, I am in Canada. Not every teacher stresses the importance of these books.) So we talked about the award a bit, then I shared some information about style and media from my go-to website, Picturing Books. If you are not familiar with this website, block out some off-desk time and get yourself over there ASAP.  After we looked at the slides about media and style, I gave them a homework assignment. I left 33 books in the classroom, Caldecott winners and honors from a wide range of years. I created a chart for them to fill out for at least 5 of the books:  Is the medium appropriate? Is the style appropriate? Do the pictures enhance the story? Page turns- what do you notice? Overall design? Line: what do you notice?  Since I can’t make it to their class in October, they have over a month to delve into these books, and the teacher is allowing them to read these books during Silent Reading Time in class (that got some whoops from the boys in the class). They will even be graded on their picture book charts.

When I go back in November, I’ll do a Visual Literacy exercise with them—we’ll look closely at a painting or two, and really start discussing art (picked up a few tips in Chicago on how to do this!). I will also take a stack of 2014 Caldecott “possibles” and we will take some time to really look closely at them we will do the same in December, and then in January, we’ll hold a Mock Caldecott.

I’m pretty excited about this little experiment, and I think the class is, too. When I got back to my office, I had an email from the teacher saying they were digging in to the box of books I left there, and that some of them had already started filling in the charts. Most of these students are 13 and 14 years old, so they ARE still officially within the Caldecott age range. How fun that I get to hear what they think about and see in the books!

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23. Do YOU like green eggs and ham?

StoryMob in Wolfville: photo by Caleb Miles

StoryMob in Wolfville: photo by Caleb Miles

On Saturday, we held a StoryMob. What, you may ask, is a StoryMob? The creators of this fabulous idea say, “StoryMobs are where great kids’ books meet flash mobs with a dash of Mardi Gras thrown in.” I would add a touch of Halloween, a pinch of theatre, and a whole lot of fun to that description. We did the book Green Eggs and Ham, which was a great selection for so many reasons: lots of copies of the books around, generations of families know and love it, and there’s plenty of opportunity for interaction and expansion. And expand we did! Toronto-based StoryMobs provided us with the script, suggested actions, and prop ideas. You can find the script on this page, which I created to gather all the details on our StoryMob.

Ok—so how does it work? Basically, volunteers sign up to read a page. The exact time and location is kept secret until 24 hours before the event, though we did say which town and an approximate time. Everyone gathers before the StoryMob to practice, and then you go to your chosen location, and read the book. Like a flashmob, only with a book. And you put that book reading on steroids—add props, actions, and a whole crowd of people joining in on the chorus and you’ve got a StoryMob.

How much work was it to do this? Honestly, it was a lot of organizing. I don’t have an automated email list set-up, so I did all that manually (though I have since learned some tricks in Gmail that will help in the future).  Luckily, I partnered with ValleyFamilyFun, a website & email list run by the super-connected Laura Churchill Duke. She did all the promo and press releases, and got a lot of the readers on board, including local politicians, the mayor of the town, drama teachers, and the local children’s theatre. Partnerships are key – because if people don’t hear about it and show up, your mob is not going to work. The folks at StoryMobs did a bit of hand-holding with me, including a couple of phone calls to chat about how to get this thing going; their experience was invaluable. If you are thinking about trying this, you need to contact them (and get their permission to use their brand, etc.) I also contacted the local independent bookstore and they brought in extra copies of the book and promoted it in-store. Spread the word every way you can—but social media was the main venue for us. I actually heard about StoryMobs on Twitter, so it works! 

There are program extension possibilities – we held a prop-making craft day, which was lots of fun and resulted in some great extensions for the story. You could feature the book at storytime the week before, or perhaps do some class visits and read the story and get excitement built that way – I’m going to make a Green Eggs and Ham box for storytime and re-use the props.  

I could probably go on and on about this, but I won’t (since this is a blog post and not a book), but let me just say this: I have not had this much fun with a book in a long time. Green Eggs and Ham has a special place in my life (it was the first book I read by myself);  seeing over 150 people gathered to celebrate a book rates right up there with watching crowds of kids gather at midnight to buy the last Harry Potter book. Yes, it was worth every minute I spent on it. I would do it again, in a heartbeat. And I just might…

PS—If you want to see some photos from the event, click here, and a nice little video of it is here.

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24. Locking them in

Recently I held a Library Survivor Lock-in in partnership with the local RCMP detachment. The participants were aged 7-12, and we gave them several library, craft, and first-aid tasks for their teams. Building a newspaper survival hut was no problem, nor was creating a paper, tape, and pipe cleaner hat.

RCMP officer locks the doors

They passed a survival quiz, and quickly caught on to the method of splinting a broken wrist; one clever boy thought of rolling a magazine to make a splint. But when it came to looking up the author of Treasure Island or finding the call number for First Aid books (no, it is not 911), they were in deep waters without a life jacket. If their lives depended on knowing what “alphabetical order” meant, they’d be up a creek. This shocked and saddened me to no end. Why didn’t they know how to do this? 12-year olds had no clue how to even look on the library catalogue to find a book’s author or call number. They were using Google, even though every computer had the library catalogue up. They had to leave that page and go to a browser! Filled with dismay, I began to do some quick soul-searching. You may by now realize that I do not work every day with the public, or perhaps this would not have been such a shock to me. These kids educated me. No-one has bothered to teach them library skills. No-one has asked them to use the library catalogue to find a book. No-one has taught them how to find a book once they know the call number. No-one has taught them what a call number is. We will be teaching them library skills for the rest of the summer in computer camps, you can be sure. But what about those empty libraries at their schools? The lack of school librarians and their importance is certainly clear to me, more so right now than in a long time.

I am holding out some hope for these kids. I won’t even begin to lament their reading comprehension skills, or their ability to follow directions. But I sure am glad that they will survive the zombie apocalypse, armed with newspaper, iPods, and chocolate bars.

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25. Walking the StoryWalk ™

About 6 months ago, I heard about this cool thing from my friend Kirsten Cappy at Curious City called StoryWalk. For those of you who did not click on the links, here’s the lowdown: a picture book is put, page by page, onto signs and is installed along a walking path. You can do it the original way that they did it in Vermont, by purchasing 2 copies of a book and cutting the pages out and laminating them (which is a great, great idea!). Or you can do it the way Kirsten did it, which is the way we did it: we got publisher permission and replicated the book onto signs, and added some fun physical activities to each sign. Adding these movement activities made the project enticing to our local health boards, and an organization called Active Kids Healthy Kids, which is where we got the funding to do this project. The proposals for these funds came out about a week after I heard about StoryWalk, so I knew it was a sign from the literacy gods.

We used the book Juba This, Juba That by Helaine Becker, because we wanted to use something by a local author or illustrator, and we are lucky to have illustrator Ron Lightburn living right here in our own proverbial backyard. Ron liked the idea and so did the folks at Tundra, so we had a green light to move ahead. After much back and forth with the graphic designer and printer, we had our signs. We are installing them semi-permanently in two parks, and we have 2 sets of portable StoryWalks that schools and other community groups can borrow.

Our official launch was held today, a lovely, sunny day; watching the kids and adults crawling, hopping, tip-toeing, and running from sign to sign was almost as exciting (to a children’s librarian) as the midnight release of a new Harry Potter book. Ron Lightburn was able to join us and read the story to the kids before they did the walk. What a joyous day! So now that you know about StoryWalk, which book will you do in your community?

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