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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Programming Ideas, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 293
1. A Special Needs Summer?

Families that include those with special needs can sometimes struggle with finding inclusive programming. Librarians often feel pressure to provide programming exclusively for special populations. But that’s not necessarily the case. Just having an open and welcoming atmosphere can be all that it takes to make your current programs accessible for everyone.  Are you doing what you can to offer programs for all children? Don’t know where to start?

As a programmer, ask yourself the following questions:

The location of the program-

Are the rooms bright and cheerful without being overwhelming with too many sights and sounds? A calm environment is important for children with sensory issues.

Is light distributed evenly? This is important for children with low vision.

Is the room accessible and clutter free, with clear pathways? Most mobility equipment requires a four to five foot turning radius.

Are there a variety of seating options? Large bolsters and pillows may be arranged to give children more stability and motor control and to ensure their comfort and security.

Staff to participant ratio-

Are all children receiving individual attention? Speaking with children at eye level is an important engagement tool.

Do adults call children by name? Identifying each child makes for a more inclusive environment. You can praise positive behavior when you can call each child by name.

Are there sufficient personnel to respond in the event of emergencies? Having another staff person in the room can help mitigate any immediate problem with minimal disruption to the program.

Are you using parents as partners? Parents can be your best tool! They know their children best. And after all, they are here to make positive memories as a family. Allow them to be a part of your program.

The program activities-

Do you have a variety of developmental activities taking place? Every child works and participates at a different pace. Make sure there are tools and activities for different ages and developmental abilities. This can be as simple as crayons of various sizes, precut craft items, and larger pieces of paper.

Is the information presented in multiple formats? Pictures can provide context about the program and its goals. A soft bell can be an audio clue that something is about to happen in your program.

Just being mindful of the needs of your families can start the conversation about inclusion. Don’t be overwhelmed by the idea of “special needs programming” these small steps will get you on the road to providing a welcoming atmosphere for all your families.

For more tips check out these resources:



Lesley Mason is the Youth Services Manager at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, the DC Public Library’s central branch. She is currently the chair of the ALCS’s Library Service to Special Population Children and Their Caregivers Committee. She earned her Master’s Degree in Library Science from Clarion University. She specializes in Early Literacy and can be reached at [email protected]

The post A Special Needs Summer? appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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2. Knitting Club for Tweens – a step-by-step how-to guide

Hand knitting has been around for arguably thousands of years, though in modern times its popularity has waxed and waned.  Waldorf schools around the world have long recognized that teaching young children handicrafts helps develop their fine motor and analytical skills. The great thing is, libraries can promote knitting, too! Currently, knitting is very popular and many libraries have started their own knitting circles. Here are several reasons to start a knitting circle for tweens at your library and a step-by-step list on how to get started:

Step 1

Start a knitting club for adults. My adult knitting group meets in the evenings right near the children’s area, so we’ve garnered a lot of interest from the kids by simply existing. They want to know all about knitting, how we started, what clothes we’ve made, etc. Most kids ultimately ask if I can teach them how to knit. We have a diverse group of men and women in our adult group, and in turn I’ve had both boys and girls show interest in learning. Having a multifaceted group is a great way to highlight that knitting is not just for women.

Step 2

Find someone who wants to teach kids how to knit. If you are a knitter, it could be you. If not, contact your local knitting guild or meet up group to see if one of their members has an interest in teaching kids how to knit.

Step 3

Gather your materials! You’ll need yarn, needles, scissors, tapestry needles, and knitting books from your collection to get the kids started once they’ve masted the basics of knit and purl. Ask your adult patrons if they can donate materials or reach out to your library friends group for the funds needed to purchase some knitting paraphernalia.

Step 4

Pick a date. I find that knitting clubs for adults tend to be the most successful if they occur at the same time and place weekly, so pick a date and time when your tweens will usually be able to attend. We have our summer knitting club on craft day, the same time every week!

Step 5

Publicize! Spread the word about your knitting club at school visits and outreach, and on library social media and websites. It also helps to reach out to your local knitting guild so they can publicize for you!

Kate Eckert is an artist, knitter, and mother of one. She is also a member of the School Age Programs & Services Committee and is a Children’s Librarian at the Free Library of Philadelphia. She tweets @8bitstate and may also be contacted at eckertk AT freelibrary.org.

The post Knitting Club for Tweens – a step-by-step how-to guide appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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3. 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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4. Guessing Games

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

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

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

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

The post Guessing Games appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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5. Unplugged Movie Making

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

What is a flipbook?

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

What made you decide to make flipbooks?

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

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

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

How do flipbooks promote STEM and STEAM education?

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

flipbookone flipbooktwo flilpbookthree

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

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

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

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

(Photos courtesy guest blogger)


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

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at [email protected].

The post Unplugged Movie Making appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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

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

Dancing Girls

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

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

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

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

Additional benefits of dancing include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Photo courtesy of guest blogger

Photo courtesy of guest blogger

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

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at [email protected].

The post Dare to Dance: Introducing Dance Movements and Music into your Storytimes appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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7. Passive Programs for School Age Kids

Passive programs are a great way to engage kids, whether they’re hanging out after school, coming in on a school-free day, or are just looking for something to do! They often require minimal effort to prepare and get off the ground, but are then good for hours of fun and engagement. If you’re looking to add school age passive programs to your library’s offerings, want to freshen things up, or just try something new, take a look at some of these great options!

Book cover puzzle

Book cover puzzle

Make copies of a book cover, laminate, cut into puzzle pieces, and set them out (above)!

Put “postcards” out on a table and encourage kids to write a postcard to their favorite author or book character, like in The Show Me Librarian’s blog post. Bonus fun if you can find a place to display them in the library!

Take a look at this collection of passive program ideas from Jbrary.

We all know Pinterest is a great resource for ideas. There are lots of passive programming boards out there, so find your favorites or start with this one from Central Mississippi Regional Library System.

See what you can do with cardboard squares and plastic cups over at Library Learners.

Magnetic poetry wall

Magnetic poetry at La Crosse Public Library

Have some fun with magnetic poetry (left)! If you have a magnet wall like the one pictured here it’s extra easy, but you don’t need something as elaborate as this! Try painting some cardboard with magnetic paint and lean it against a wall or set it on a table, and you’re good to go.




If you have a magnetic surface, there are lots of cool options to consider. Those book puzzle pieces pictured above? There’s magnetic tape on the back of each piece, so they double as magnet puzzles (below).

Book cover puzzles on a magnetic wall board

Magnetic book puzzles at La Crosse Public Library

Mad Libs provides some fun, free downloads, and you can find lots of other Mad Libs-style downloadables elsewhere online. Print them out, set them on a table with pencils or pens, and let kids get extra silly! Or, find a paper Mad Libs booklet and set that out instead!

Build your own Tinker Toys and let kids create like at Never Shushed.

When it comes to passive programming, this is just the tip of the iceberg. What awesome passive programs are you doing with your school age kids?


Kelsey Johnson-Kaiser is a youth services librarian at the La Crosse Public Library in La Crosse, WI and a member of the ALSC School-Age Programs and Services Committee. 

The post Passive Programs for School Age Kids appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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8. Create New Community Partnerships With A Volunteer Fair

Later this spring our library will be hosting its first ever Volunteer Fair.  We are so excited for this event as it brings value to the community and lays the foundation for new partnerships with many local organizations.

volunteerWe considered a volunteer fair for our community for several reasons.  First, our library is fortunate to be located in a village that is dedicated to civic service and philanthropy.  This event is also a great way for us to target and engage two elusive age groups for us– tweens and teens.  Finally, a volunteer fair supports one of our library’s missions: “to act as a responsive resource for lifelong learning.”  We hope a successful fair will further strengthen the library’s position as a vital center of the community and create lasting partnerships with local organizations.

Finding and securing participants in the fair has been a great education in the breadth of service opportunities available.  If you’re interested in holding a Volunteer Fair, here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Begin with existing partnerships.  Does the library partner with any other local organizations for programming or outreach efforts?  Does your Friends group use volunteers?  Does your library display flyers or brochures from organizations that could use volunteers?
  • Collaborate with colleagues.  Are any coworkers actively volunteering?  Or do they have a connection to an organization in need?
  • Look at which other organizations are present at community events. Farmer’s Markets and festivals are a great way to make contact and learn about other local organizations.
  • Research national organizations that may have a local chapter nearby in need of volunteers.  These can include: American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, American Red Cross, Alzheimer’s Foundation, National Multiple Sclerosis Society and many others.
  • Perform an online search to see what opportunities are available in your area and contact those organizations directly about your event.  Websites like volunteermatch.org and createthegood.org are a good place to start.  Also your community’s website may list opportunities.

Enlisting participants may seem like a daunting task, but the mutual benefits of a volunteer fair encourage involvement and support.  The organization is able to recruit volunteers and increase public awareness of their mission while the library is able to connect its patrons with meaningful service opportunities.


Today’s post was written by Sophie Kenney. Sophie is a Children’s Librarian at the Glencoe Public Library and is currently serving on the ALSC Liaison to National Organizations committee.

The post Create New Community Partnerships With A Volunteer Fair appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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9. Program in a Post: Costume Characters!!

Elephant & Piggie Celebrate #bookfacefriday

Elephant & Piggie Celebrate #bookfacefriday

With this post and $140 to $280, you can bring in huge crowds for costume character extravaganzas! Simply rent a costume character, put on a storytime, and smile for the camera!


  • Costume character rental
    • $140 for one character, such as Pete the Cat, Maisy, Clifford or $280 for a pair, such as Elephant & Piggie or Frog & Toad
  • Books for storytime
  • Music & rhymes for storytime
  • Minimum four staff people/volunteers
  • Printouts of activities from the character’s website for craft tables (optional)

Program set up: You will need at least four people working your event, one to present storytime, one to BE the character, one to be the character’s handler, and one to control the crowd. More staff is always better because you can expect a BIG crowd.

Pete the Cat relaxes in the Bookmobile

Pete the Cat relaxes in the Bookmobile

We set up the auditorium with a line (usually made of masking tape) across the front of the room so that the storyteller and costume character(s) have plenty of room to move. Families sit mostly on the floor behind this line, with a few chairs set up along the edges of the room for those who don’t want to get down on the floor.

For the storytime, we like to read books about the character or on topics that the character would enjoy. After each book (about three total), we stand up for a rhyme, song, or dance. For the very last dance/song/activity, the character will make an appearance. The character will be “on stage” for five to ten minutes to dance along with the crowd, wave, be silly, etc. and then will retreat from the room. At this time the crowd is invited out to the children’s department to line up for a photo opportunity/personal visit with the character.

Lilly reads And Tango Makes Three

Lilly reads And Tango Makes Three

We prepare the photo area ahead of time with a backdrop, stanchions, and another masking tape line so that the crowd assembles in a nice, orderly line. While the crowd is leaving the auditorium to line up, the character is in the back room, taking a break to catch their breath and take a drink of water.

Elephant & Piggie hand out high-fives at the Meet and Greet

Elephant & Piggie hand out high-fives at the Meet and Greet

Once everyone is lined up, the character and handler can make their way to the photo area. At this time the storyteller and crowd control person from storytime will help families take photos and ensure that the line moves along relatively quickly. You can expect this part of the program to take 30-45 minutes and I promise you, the person in that character suit is VERY hot and, while having fun, is looking forward to the end of the line. It is a good idea to work out a signal between the character/handler before the event so that the character can indicate if they need to take a five minute break in the middle of the line. Since visibility from inside a large costume character is limited, it is also the handler’s job to let the character know where children are and what they want “little one needs a hug”, “high five on your left”, etc. It is also nice for the handler to give periodic check-ins of how long the line is “just about 10 families left”, etc.

Bad Kitty sliding down the banister

Bad Kitty sliding down the banister

Besides the need to plan ahead to rent a character (I’m terrible at planning ahead) and trying to schedule several staff people to be in the same place at the same time, costume character events are super-duper-easy to put together and a whole lot of fun.



The post Program in a Post: Costume Characters!! appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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10. Upcoming Día Celebrations

El Día de los Niños/El Día de los Libros is a celebration of children and reading across all language and cultures. While it is intended to be celebrated all year long, the culminating event is held annually on April 30. This year is the 20th anniversary of promoting literacy for all children from all backgrounds through Día. Check the Día website to discover a wealth of information, including the history of the celebration and how it came to mean what it does; booklists; and tons of suggested activities. Support materials include downloadable publicity, coloring sheets, bookmarks, and activity sheets. Take a look!

The 20th Anniversary of Día!

You’re invited to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Día! (image courtesy of ALSC)

Many different programs fit under the vast umbrella of Día celebrations at libraries across the country. The program registry on the above webpage allows you to publicize your own programs, as well as to look at what others are offering. Location, time, and descriptive information are provided. Registrations so far include libraries from Louisiana to Michigan and California to Massachusetts!

Here’s a sample of some different programming approaches:

King County Library System, outside of Seattle WA, will host programs during the week of 4/23-4/30 that include a Steel Drum Party, South Indian Classical Dance Performance, and Story Telling through the Harmony of Koto. Story times will be held in 11 different languages across the county. And that’s in addition to multicultural-themed story times in English. For more information, look at www.kcls.org/dia.

Seattle Public Library will host two separate events on 4/30 called Celebrate Día! One features an Open Mic for participant-sharing, and both will have stories. See more on these programs and others at SPL at http://www.spl.org/audiences/children/chi-calendar-of-events.

Denver Public Library will host a celebration on Sunday 4/24 that reflects a partnership with local museums. Activities are planned for children and adults, including dance, storytelling, and artmaking. More details can be found at https://www.denverlibrary.org/event/kids/celebrate-d%C3%ADa-del-ni%C3%B1o.

These examples are just a smattering of the programs that will be taking place in libraries this month to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Día. Share your plans in the comments!

Jennifer Duffy works at the King County (WA) Library System. She is writing this post for the Public Awareness Committee.

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11. Fingerprints and Forensics with First-graders

Did you know with a few simple, inexpensive materials and some creativity you can create your own forensics lab for early elementary kiddos? You can! I lead a STEAM focused program at my library for first, second and third graders entitled Imagination Lab. The idea is that for four weeks in the fall, and again in the winter, we meet up after school to explore a variety of concepts that fit under the broad umbrella of STEAM. We experiment, sometimes I demonstrate, and we always create something to take home. In the past few weeks we have explored the science behind sound, polymers, and color, but my favorite topic may just have been forensics!

Inspired by the awesome Mad Scientists Club CSI program, I crafted my own 45-minute program for first through third grade patrons. I think this is a great program that can be easily modified for older children and held without breaking the budget purchasing special science equipment. The most fancy items you’ll need are magnifying glasses.

First, start off discussing what the word “forensics” means and what sorts of evidence might be helpful at a crime scene. Since my program was for early elementary school students, and I mostly have first graders in my group, we kept our discussion of crime scenes to stolen cookies, missing stuffed animals and library robberies.

Once you think everyone has a good basic understanding of the topic, you’ll want to get into the really fun part which is hands-on experimenting! Be sure to share some cool facts about fingerprints and using fingerprints to solve crimes before you start. You can find more neat facts in the great book Crazy for Science with Carmelo the Science Fellow by Carmelo Piazza . I have used this title for many program ideas, including our fingerprinting experiments. Check it out if you have it in your collection! Each chapter introduces a different branch of science and all the experiments are linked to science curriculum requirements for grades K through 3.

Below you can see some of the details from the program so you can easily replicate this at your library!

Fingerprinting Detective Supplies. image from Nicole Martin.

Fingerprinting detective supplies. Image from author.

Examine Your Fingerprints


  • Pencils
  • Clear tape ( I used book tape)
  • White paper (copier paper works fine)
  • Fingerprint pattern cards (You can find many images of typical fingerprint patterns online. I printed out the images on cardstock and distributed a card to each child.)
  • Mini-magnifying glasses
  1. Color a small square (about 4 inches) onto the white paper with a pencil.
  2. Press the top part of your index finger onto the pencil square, rolling it back and forth several times. You should have a very dirty finger!
  3. Press the clear tape firmly onto the dirty finger.
  4. Slowly pull the tape off the index finger and press it onto a clean sheet of white paper. The fingerprint should now be visible on the paper!
  5. Look at the details of the fingerprint with a magnifying glass. Try to identify what pattern each individual fingerprint is using the fingerprint pattern cards.
  6. Try this process with other fingers and compare patterns with your index finger as well as neighbor’s fingerprints.

Lifting Fingerprints 

Fingerpritns! Image by Nicole Martin.

Fingerprints! Image from author.


  • Small paintbrush
  • Corn starch (I measured a couple tablespoons into small plastic cups for each table to share.)
  • Clear tape ( I used book tape)
  • Dark black paper (construction paper or cardstock)
  • Paper plate (ideally coated paper plates, not just the regular white kind) 
  1. Rub the fingerprint part of your index finger down the side of your nose or in your hair/ scalp to get your finger dirty. (Gross, I know. But it works.)
  2. Press your oily finger against the center of the plate.
  3. Dip the paintbrush into the corn starch. You don’t need a lot! So be sure to shake off the extra powder before removing from the cornstarch.
  4. Use the brush to lightly “paint” the powder over the center of the plate where the fingerprint should be. The powder should stick to the oily fingerprint. Be sure to not press too hard or you will smear the fingerprint! This might take a couple tries to get right.
  5. “Lift” the fingerprint from the plate by placing a piece of tape firmly against the fingerprint. Then slowly and carefully peel the tape up.
  6. Place the sticky side down on the black paper.
  7. You should see the fingerprint on the paper!
  8. Take it farther and see if you can lift fingerprints off of nearby counter tops or door handles!
Mystery powder identification. Photo from Nicole Martin.

Mystery powder identification. Photo from author.

After our fingerprinting, we identified a “mystery powder” (aka powdered sugar) by observing chemical reactions. The kids loved it! I used instructions from Quirkles.com that you can find and follow yourself here. If you have time you can also create some fingerprint artwork using washable ink pads and markers, but my little detectives had so much fun we ran out of time! The kids were so excited to be able to take their fingerprints and fingerprint pattern cards home to share what they learned.

There are so many more fun ideas for forensic experiments and extension activities out there- this is just the tip of the iceberg. I’d like to do this program again but set up a mock crime scene involving a stuffed pigeon, caution tape, and stolen cookies. Happy investigating fellow librarians!

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12. An Invisible Minority: Serving LGBTQIA Kids and Families

Rochester (MN) Public Library’s core values focus on being a welcoming and inclusive environment. A few years ago we started to hear from adults and teens in the community that there were not a lot of safe spaces for LGBTQIA teens to hang out, so in our 2015 Action Plans we included “Develop programming to specifically meet the needs of Rainbow Families and LGBTQIA teens” and got started.

Training posterBefore we share our ideas for serving LGBTQIA kids and families, let’s talk about “LGBTQIA”. LGBTQIA stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual or Ally. Without including the word “queer”, this alphabet soup is not inclusive of the entire spectrum of sexual and gender identities out there. But as you can imagine, when we use the word queer in our program descriptions or trainings, people have a lot of questions.

Queer is a word with a terrible history, a confusing present, and a bright future. It was used negatively for many years, but over the last 30 years or so has had a comeback as a word that is embraced by many people as an identity, and is used regularly as a positive umbrella term for the LGBTQIA community (think: “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”).

Like any word, it can still be used negatively. It is all in how it is used and delivered. We would not label someone as queer who had not self-identified, nor would we refer to someone as “a queer” – those would be negative and inappropriate uses of the word. Our use is to be inclusive of the many teens and grown-ups in our community who self-identify as queer or under the queer umbrella. Embracing their choice of word further proves our commitment to creating a safe space for them. If you would like to read more try this website, this article, or this.

Why are we focusing on serving LGBTQIA kids & families?

Rainbow Families booklistYouth Services at RPL started undergoing changes in 2011 that included things as small as purchasing and displaying more books with LGBTQIA content. Once these books were on display and available in the library catalog, we started to hear from customers who appreciated having access to them. We also started regularly printing and keeping on display a Booklist for Rainbow Families which received a lot of positive attention. The conversations that we had around the books and booklists brought to light a need in the community: LGBTQIA kids and families needed safe spaces, they needed to see themselves represented in the library collection, and they needed to feel welcomed!New non-fic display

We also have bigger reasons for wanting to provide a safe space for LGBTQIA youth and families.  The Human Rights Campaign study “Growing up LGBT in America”  reports that 4 in 10 LGBTQIA youth say the community in which they live is not accepting of LGBT people, and and only 21% say there is a place where LGBTQIA youth can go in their community and get help or be accepted.  LGBTQIA youth face higher rates of bullying, homelessness, substance abuse and suicide, but teens who have supportive families and friends or safe spaces in their community are better equipped to deal with these additional challenges.

So what can libraries do to serve LGBTQIA kids & families?

Create a Safe Space

The most important step a library can take to create a safe space for LGBTQIA patrons is to train staff to be LGBTQIA allies and hold staff accountable. It is important that you have buy-in from the library administration, and that the people at the top understand why safe spaces are important, but it isn’t necessary to start there. Start with yourself and the staff Promaround you, sometimes change has to trickle upwards. If you don’t have resources in your community such as an LGBTQ Community Center or a local college Gay/Straight Alliance which can provide you with training, there are plenty of options online to get started:

There are easy things you or your staff can start today to be good allies.  Being inclusive with your language doesn’t hurt anything, and can go a long way to making everyone feel more comfortable.  For example, when talking to kids about their parents, use “grown-ups” or “adults” or another neutral term that feels natural to you. Not every kid has a “mom” and/or a “dad”.  You can also choose to use gender neutral terms to refer to individual kids or groups of kids. Use “people” or “friend(s)” instead of “guys” or “ladies”.

Pronoun name badgeAnother easy change is to wear a pronoun name badge. Even if you have never been mis-gendered, wearing a name badge with your pronouns on it sends a message to everyone who sees you that you accepting and welcome conversations about pronouns. It also opens up opportunities to talk about how and why your library is a safe space or the LGBTQIA programs you offer.

Once your staff is better equipped to be allies, you’ll need to make sure you have policies in place to protect your LGBTQIA kids and families, and train staff on how to handle issues that may arise.  For example, does your written code of conduct include a statement about harassment? Are staff ready to step in with words connecting back to your code of conduct if they overhear teens saying, “That’s so gay!” or “No homo.”? For example: “The library doesn’t allow abusive language and your words are not inclusive or nice.”

All staff should pay attention to what is happening in your space (bullying). Some bullying can be subtle; watch the way teens are interacting in your teen space. When a certain group arrives, does another group always leave? Talk to your teens and make sure you know what is going on. Some bullying that starts at school may continue at the library after school.

Your library may also have business practices and procedures that need to be updated in Pride Cakeorder to be inclusive to your LGBTQIA community.  Does your library card application ask for a person’s gender?  Does it need to? Do you allow a patron to use a preferred name on their library card in addition to or instead of their legal name?  What about your bathrooms – do you have single stall restrooms that you could convert to gender neutral spaces?

The next step is to start the safe space conversation with the rest of the community. Meet with other youth workers in your community to talk about LGBTQIA services and creating safe spaces. The library can be a great neutral ground for offering training that is open to community youth workers.

Create LGBTQIA Inclusive Collections & Displays

ZinesIt’s important for LGBTQIA youth to see themselves reflected in the books they read.  According to GLSEN’s 2013 National School Climate Survey, only 19% of LGBTQIA students report that positive representations of LGBTQIA people are included in their school curriculum.

There are a lot of really great books (fiction and nonfiction) available with LGBTQIA content, with more and more books coming out (get it?) every year.  Not all of them are published by big houses, and not all get picked up for reviews, but it’s worth the time to seek out the titles to make sure your collection is representative of the full 5th grade booklistspectrum of gender/sexual identities.  To get started, check out the ALA GLBT Round Table’s Rainbow Booklist.  The Rainbow Booklist Committee reads hundreds of books with LGBTQIA content and publishes its best-of list for kids and teens annually.  In addition, ALA’s Stonewall Award and the LAMBDA Literary Awards  both have categories honoring Children’s anYA displayd Young Adult Literature.

Once you’ve got the books in your collection, you want your patrons to know they are there!   While special displays highlighting LGBTQIA materials are great, it’s important to include LGBTQIA materials in all of your displays and booklists.

Offer LGBTQIA Programs

Once you have created a safe space and opened dialogues with LGBTQIA customers and community members, you will start to hear about programs and resources that people would like to see in your community.

Our first program focusing on LGBTQIA teens was q club. q club began in September 2014 with just one teen; it now boasts regular attendance of over twenty at each meeting, and is hands down our highest attended teen program. Like all of our teen programs, we let the teens decide what activities we plan and what topics we discuss.  Last summer, in partnership with Gay/Lesbian Community Services of Pride Prom themeSoutheast Minnesota (http://www.glcsmn.org/), we hosted the first ever Pride Prom “Smells Like Pride Spirit” in Rochester. Forty-four teens attended and afterwards some called it the best night of their lives! We are currently in the early planning stages of our 2nd Annual Pride Prom.

q club teens are interested having the chance to just hang out and be themselves, and they are also embrace opportunities to have their voices heard in the larger community.  They have created zines to celebrate Pride, National Coming Out Day, and Transgender Day of Remembrance which they distributed at the library and at local businesses.  q club teens were a large voice in our October National Coming Out Day celebration, and will soon be participating in a community health needs assessment.

In addition to q club and in response to community requests we currently offer:

  • Parents Empower Pride: a meet up for parents of LGBTQIA kids to talk about how to PEP postersupport their kids on their journey.
  • Pride Prom: An annual a safe & welcoming after-hours party for LGBTQIA teens and allies in grades 7-12 held during Rochester’s Pride Fest.
  • Rainbow Family Storytime: During Rochester Pride we offer Rainbow Family Storytimes for preschool children and families.

Just in the last month we have received two more requests: one to offer a q club for tweens and the other to offer a meet-up group for kids of LGBTQIA parents. As staffing and space allows, we will make these programs happen. Even without special programming just for LGBTQIA youth, you can ge started by integrating inclusive LGBTQIA materials into your regular programs, such as storytime or book clubs. The possibilities for inclusion are endless. We would love to hear what you are doing to serve LGBTQIA kids and families at your library!

Heather Acerro is Head of Youth Services at Rochester (MN) Public Library.

Sarah Joynt is Teen Librarian at Rochester (MN) Public Library.

Heather and Sarah use the pronouns she/her/hers, but they are okay with they/them too, even when you are just talking about one of them.

**YALSA just released research on Teens, Libraries, and LGBT issues.**

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13. 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.

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14. Library Town

I knew my library was going to be very busy over Spring Break so I wanted to create a passive program to engage our patrons but that wouldn’t require a lot of staff time. We have our early literacy centers, but those are geared more towards toddlers and preschoolers and I knew we’d get a larger amount of school age kids in during break. When I thought about how much the kids love imaginative play in storytime, the idea for Library Town was born.

Credit Sarah Bean Thompson

Credit Sarah Bean Thompson

Spreading out throughout our story hour room, Library Town included a restaurant, grocery store, doctor’s office, train, telephone booth, and of course a library. We also re-used some of our homemade building blocks that we created for the summer reading program to look like buildings for kids to create their own mini town and added our community helper dolls to the mix.

Community helpers standing guard.  Credit Sarah Bean Thompson

Community helpers standing guard.
Credit Sarah Bean Thompson

The set up was fairly easy. We collected lots of boxes in the months leading up to Library Town. Then to set up the event, we arranged small spaces for each location and add paper, crayons, and other supplies the kids might want to use.  We made menus for the kids to fill out for the restaurant, had paper and stamps for them to make and decorate their own library card and used withdrawn books so they could shelve and check out books, and we had prescription pads printed off so kids could write out a prescription at the doctor’s office and take notes.


At the doctor’s office Credit Sarah Bean Thompson


Checking up on stuffed animal patients. Credit Sarah Bean Thompson

We set up Library Town on a Monday morning after storytime and left it up until Thursday at 5. Throughout the week we had kids going in and out of the room playing and having a blast. We had promoted the program in our program calendar, but we advertised with a big sign in front of the room saying that Library Town was open and we made sure to announce it patrons when we noticed a large crowd and also let families know when we talked to them.


Shopping at the grocery store. Credit Sarah Bean Thompson

We had storytime during the week, but instead of hosting it the story hour room as we usually do, we held it in the middle of the children’s department and read books about around the neighborhood and community helpers and sang The Wheels on the Bus before we let kids into Library Town to play.

The entire program went wonderfully and kids and parents loved it. It was a great passive program and it was a wonderful way to highlight a lot of our community helper books-we were refreshing the book display in the room on a regular basis! I also loved this program because it worked for a wide range of ages and it was perfect for families. I’m eager to open up our Library Town again!


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15. 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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16. Partnering Through StoryWalks®

Looking for a project to generate new partnerships? How about a StoryWalk®? These deconstructed picture books, assembled page by page, onto signs along walking paths are ideal outreach activities. StoryWalk®, first developed by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, Vermont, promote literacy, a healthy lifestyle and so much more. Signage provides space for partner recognition on each page, too.

For a permanent StoryWalk® installation, partnering with local government and parks and recreation departments are a good starting point. Prepare to speak about your project at a council meeting to gain support and funding. If the installation will be at a local park, the parks and recreation office will be key in maintenance of the project. These departments may have a website to help promote the project as well.

StoryWalk® is flexible and mobile, too. Stakes or yard signs can be used to create temporary installations of a StoryWalk® project, suitable for festivals, farmer’s markets and other family events. Harford County Public Library held a StoryWalk® to celebrate a local preschool’s success in reaching their reading challenge. They paraded in storybook costumes from the library to the local park and then enjoyed the StoryWalk® of Old Black Fly by Jim Aylesworth and a picnic lunch. Another of their StoryWalk® projects was held in conjunction with a one-day festival and the local Boy Scouts Pack performed repairs on the stakes, installed the signs along the park greenspace and directed families to the activity.

Additionals partnership opportunities may result by using picture book selection to draw awareness to an organizations’ mission. Celebrate Día this April by installing a StoryWalk® featuring a diverse title from their Building STEAM with Día booklists. Think about the displays your library makes and if a StoryWalk® would add to the collaborative efforts the library has with that organization or cause.

Harford County Public Library is also working with some local museums to plan temporary StoryWalk® projects for the upcoming year. The Susquehanna Museum at the Lock House has an annual Pirate Festival in July and the Havre de Grace Maritime Museum has a beautiful walking path along their wetland area. Both museums offer great spaces for StoryWalks® that support their mission as well as that of the library. Another example comes from West Virginia. The Potomac Valley Audubon Society, which manages three nature preserves, was granted funding to create numerous StoryWalks®. They allow organizations to borrow these StoryWalks® and direct visitors to the public libraries in the area for more information about the featured titles. For a list of their titles visit their website, http://potomacstorywalk.weebly.com/.

StoryWalks® showcase books featuring an irresistible combination of engaging stories, colorful illustrations, and physical activities to promote reading to children. Harford County Public Library follows the example of many other libraries and includes literacy tips for families, focusing on the five practices of singing, talking, reading, writing, and playing every day from Every Child Ready to Read. For more information on The StoryWalk® Project, read Take a Hike! Building Literacy Skills Through StoryWalk® from Boston Public Library, along with information from Lets Go!

Jackie Cassidy is the Havre de Grace Branch children’s librarian for Harford County Public Library, Maryland and is serving on the Liaison to National Organizations Committee for ALSC. Follow the progress of the new Havre de Grace Branch Library Building to be opening this Spring 2016 at www.facebook.com/HdGLibrary.


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17. The 20th Anniversary of Día!

The 20th Anniversary of Día!

You’re invited to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Día! (image courtesy of ALSC)

Celebrate children, diversity, books and community! El día de los niños/El día de los libros, Día, is celebrating it’s 20th year and you’re invited to the celebration.

Día is a nationally recognized initiative that emphasizes the importance of literacy for all children from all backgrounds. It is a daily commitment to linking children and their families to diverse books, languages and cultures.

You can register and promote your Día program, whether it is hosted at the library or a partner organization.  Now is the time! Current resources include:

  • Book lists
  • Planning tools
  • Coloring sheets
  • Activity sheets
  • Publicity tools

Share your successes using the hashtag #diaturns20 and check out the Día site.

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18. Star Wars Reads Day: A Creative Exploration

We transformed our library into an interactive intergalactic playground for 6 hours, and it was an epic display as to how the library is not just about books, but about the community which we serve.

Click to view slideshow.

Star Wars Reads Day is the love child of Web Librarian, Merry Mao. She has been running an annual Star Wars event for four years, with each year better than the last. With the ALSC Curiosity Creates Grant, Star Wars Day transcended from awesome into epic. This year 95% of staff dressed in some type of costume or Star Wars gear and the enthusiasm was electric.

As many of you already know, Star Wars Reads Day is a nation-wide celebration of reading that is sanctioned by Lucas Films. Traditionally held in October, we at Fairfield Public Library decided to push the date for our celebration to December 12th in order to capture the excitement surrounding the release of The Force Awakens on December 18, 2015. (This also gave us more time to prepare!)

We approached the Curiosity Creates grant and the Star Wars Reads Day event with a “we’re all in approach”—as in, incorporating all seven critical components of creativity as discussed in The Center for Childhood Creativity white paper, “Inspiring a Generation to Create: Critical Components of Creativity in Children.” This “all in” also meant that the entire Library staff needed to be “all in” for both preparation and participation. Some of the activities were preparation heavy—especially crafts for the preschoolers, while others required virtually no prep work at all, like the Wookiee Sound Alike Contest.

We had 25 events listed in our brochure that taxed library staff and participants’ creativity (…and some that didn’t); however, here are the patron and staff favorites:

  • Skywalker Short Story Contest (Communication & Self-Expression): Students in grades 1-12 were invited to enter a short story in either written or video format. They were judged by staff on their creativity and other elements and honored at our Royal Awards Ceremony.
  • BB-8 Droid Maze (Decision-Making): We created a 13’x13’ cardboard maze for the patrons to navigate with Sphero BB-8 Droids.
  • LEGO Ewok Village (Collaboration): We provided two complete sets of the LEGO Ewok Village sets and let the patrons work together to play and create a village.
  • Jedi Lightsaber Training (Action & Movement): We partnered with the Fairfield Kempo Academy of Martial Arts to offer patrons “lightsaber training” sessions.
  • Pod-Racing (Decision-Making): Patrons used a pre-set selection of materials to build a pod-racer that they then raced down ramps.
  • Terrestrial Terrariums (Imagination & Originality): Partnering with a local florist, we provided materials for patrons to create terrariums based on Star Wars locations.
  • Make Your Own Lightsaber: We provide the cardboard tubes and colored paper, and patrons provide the interpretation.

We had over 1,200 participants at our Star Wars Reads Day in December. It was by far the most successful event our library has hosted in terms of involvement from the community and the library staff. The enthusiasm of those on the Curiosity Create Committee and the staff, the attention to detail by Librarian Mao, the willingness to cut thousands of foam pieces and a myriad of other menial, but necessary tasks are the elements that made this day a resounding success.

(All pictures courtesy guest blogger)


KristinaKristina Lareau is a Children’s Librarian at the Fairfield (CT) Public Library. She earned an MS in Library Science and an MA in Children’s Literature from Simmons College in Boston. She loves Harry Potter, picturebooks, making large elaborate book displays and read over 350 books on last year. She has two well-trained cats, a dog and a husband.

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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19. Caldecott Library Programs with Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick, illustrated by Sophie Blackall

photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

Did you offer a Caldecott art program at your library?  As soon as the winner was announced, I started thinking about outreach art programs.  Yellow paper! Bears!  Zoo maps! Diamond shapes! So many possibilities.

Whether you have five minutes or 45 minutes, below are a few ideas and resources to get you started.

A pop-up school outreach Caldecott program with Finding Winnie. Place the book on display, create a huge bear picture on yellow poster paper or keep the yellow paper blank and have each child draw their own bear.  If you have 15-20 minutes, read Finding Winnie by Sophie Blackall and ask questions about the drawings.  For example: What kinds of materials did Sophie Blackall use in her illustrations?

Imagination time!  What if you had a pet bear?  What would you name your bear?  Favorite food? What would you teach your bear?  Favorite game to play with your bear?  Draw out each answer on yellow poster paper for display.  For a longer visit, 30-45 minutes, use the resources below to add history, black and white photographs, science, art and more!

photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

Supplies: photographs of bears, yellow, white and black paper, pencils, black markers, crayons (watercolor paints if available), bear puppet, tablet to share youtube and audio, one big piece of yellow poster paper.


  • Lindsay Mattick
    “Learn more about Lindsay’s new book, Finding Winnie, and view images of Harry & Winnie from the Colebourn family archive.” Remember the real Winnie through photos, videos, and exhibits.
  • Sophie Blackall
    Discover the research Blackall did and how she made the illustrations for Finding Winnie from her blog “The Making of Finding Winnie-Part 1-4.”

“Some of the best stories are true stories.” Lindsay Mattick.

photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

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20. 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten Update

In last month’s post I shared my library’s experiences during the planning phases of our 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten reading initiative for preschoolers. This month we launched the program, and I have some updates to share with you.

Our 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program launched the day we started our first 2016   session. Since last Monday we have been registering children in person and on our website. If caregivers sign up online, we e-mail them the reading log for the first 100 books. To receive prizes and subsequent logs, they must visit the library in person.

Photo courtesy of the author.

Photo courtesy of the author. Bulletin board created by Melody Perez.  Yes, the leaves on the tree are books!

We publicized the start of our new program in several ways:  we inserted a PowerPoint slide at the beginning of every story time presentation, our bulletin board artist, created a colorful display showing a tree with books for leaves, and we included a blurb about it in our January youth events flyer.

In the past nine days, 141 children have registered for 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten and one child already even returned the first reading log and has moved on to their next 100 books!

We are still preparing the prize pack that we will distribute for children who reach the half-way point (500 books) and complete the program. Allison Chao, the Youth Services Librarian who has been overseeing this project, has been creating the Apples and Ants booklets (originally created by Nancy Stewart) and the felt-piece sets. We’ve found that children might be half-way done sooner than we anticipated!

I will keep you updated on when our first young patron reaches 500 and 1,000 books. So far thing are going very well!

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21. Get ready to celebrate wonderful women

photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

Do you know which president got the ball rolling for National Women’s History Month? It was Jimmy Carter who did (although it started as only one week) by saying that while both men and women worked together to build America, “Too often the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed.”  President Carter called on “libraries, schools and community organizations” to focus their observances on leaders who struggled for equality.

So in that spirit, I’m sharing several interesting resources to find material for your activities in March.

Amelia Bloomer resources: 
When I start planning programs and book talks for Women’s History Month, the first thing I think about is The Amelia Bloomer Project.  Born in 1818, she was a women’s rights advocate, a writer and she even invented “bloomers” or loose pants that were controversial in their day.  A project of the ALA’s Feminist Task Force of the Social Responsibilities Round Table, this group creates an annual booklist of the best feminist books for young readers, ages birth through 18.

This website if filled with information for celebrating women, creating amazing book lists and sharing educational ideas. I review their suggested criteria and questions with the books I’m planning on using for book talks and programs.   For example, when considering a book for their list they ask, “Do females blaze new trails for themselves and those who follow them?”

Lists from 2002-2016 are available online. They are organized from Early Readers-Fiction, Early Readers Non-Fiction, Middle Grade-Fiction, Middle Grade-Non-Fiction, Young Adult-Fiction to Young Adult-Non-Fiction.

More Amelia Bloomer resources:

Have you been to the Girl Museum online? 
“Girl Museum is the first and only museum in the world dedicated to celebrating girls and girlhood. Established in March 2009, we believe girls are the key to a brighter, better future and that girls deserve to have a museum of their own.”

Explore past blog posts, book lists, and resources which include “How to Handle Bullying” and ”empower girls” organizations. My favorite section is under “Learn” where the reader can join a girl’s book club, take a girl quiz and use amazing educational resources.

photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

ALSC Notable Children’s Books:  The 2016 ALSC Notable Children’s Books Committee discussed over 200 books at ALA Midwinter in Boston and ALA Annual in San Francisco. The nominee list included many women in history children’s books:
Queen of the Diamond: The Lizzie Murphy Story by Emily Arnold McCully
One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and The Recycling Women of the Gambia by Miranda Paul
Swing Sisters: The Story of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm by Karen Deans
The House That Jane Built: A Story About Jane Addams by Tanya Lee Stone
My Name is Truth: The Life of Sojourner Truth by Ann Turner
Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries who Shaped Our History…and Our Future! by Kate Schatz

The ALSC Notable Children’s Books complete list.

More Women’s History Month Links:

My favorite non-fiction books before 2015: 
• Amelia and Eleanor Go For a Ride by Pam Munoz Ryan
• My Name is Georgia: A Portrait by Jeanette Winter
• Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales
• Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World by Sy Montgomery
• When Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson by Pam Munoz Rya

Amazing Women in History riffle book list.

What are your favorite books to talk about during Women’s History Month?  Please share in the comments below.

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

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22. Professional Resources for Learning About Inclusive Play

So much learning happens through play. Play can help children practice language, motor skills, problem-solving skills and social skills. Many of our libraries may already include free play as part of our storytime programs for young children to support this growth. We may not realize it, though, but there are many barriers to play that exist for children with special needs.  Some of the kids in our communities may not be equipped with the skills to play without accommodations or support. So it’s important that we develop strategies to be inclusive and enable access to play for all.

Coming up with accessible and inclusive play-based activities and games for storytime programs can be a challenge if you do not have a background in occupational therapy or special education. Thankfully, there are a variety of up to date and valuable resources at our disposal to help us learn about inclusive play-based programs.  Check out this professional literature–or interlibrary loan it from your nearest library–to learn more!

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/514xCQvodNL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgEarly Intervention Games: Fun, Joyful Ways to Develop Social and Motor Skills in Children with Autism Spectrum or Sensory Processing Disorders by Barbara Sher




Including Families of Children with Special Needs by Carrie Banks




http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51osu68LY4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgSocial Skills Activities for Special Children by Darlene Mannix




http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51Y6UmRVPTL._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgThe Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun, Revised Edition: Activities for Kids with Sensory Processing Disorder by Carol Kranowitz




http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41vNc1frGYL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgPlaying, Laughing, and Learning with Children on the Autism Spectrum: A Practical Resource of Play Ideas for Parents and Carers by Julia Moor





Inclusive Play: Practical Strategies for Children from Birth to Eight by Theresa Casey



http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51oqchZwxnL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg101 Games and Activities for Children with Autism, Asperger’s and Sensory Processing Disorders by Tara Delaney




Renee Grassi, LSSPCC Committee Member

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23. Keeping it simple

Sometimes it can be simple! I already did a comic this month, so here’s a recent easy project I created in our library: The Darien Alphabet!

For a while now, I’ve been wanting to do a project that brings together early literacy, open-ended art activities, community-building, and library created book-making. I had a million complicated ideas and then one simple one. And simple ideas can work too!

I put out an accordion folder with an alphabet on it, sheets of paper that said “A is for…” etc that had blank spaces on them for drawing, a map of the town, colored pencils, directions, and pictures from around town. We left the table up in the corner of the Children’s Library for a couple months, and then I scanned in the responses we got back and created Photoshop mosaics of the work.

L-library_paige copysm

An example of a filled out sheet

I got some great responses (and some really funny ones – R is for Rat?)! See below. And now, we’re printing up a book (photo books from Staples or Shutterfly are around $30) for the collection, helping foster the idea that kids can be authors too!

Y is for YMCA pool-sm I is for interstate 95-sm L is for Library-sm

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24. Tricycle Music Fest at the San Mateo County Library and the San Francisco Public Library

The San Francisco Public Libraries and the San Mateo County Libraries held the seventh annual Tricycle Music Fest in October! Frances England, Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band, The Not-It’s!, and Aaron Nigel Smith played sixteen concerts at libraries and parks throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

I had the opportunity to coordinate all of the concerts at the San Mateo County Libraries this year. Kahla Gubanich already wrote a wonderful blog post about planning a children’s concert at the library, which includes all of the most important details about putting together a large scale concert program. However, I wanted to share the work our amazing Youth Services staff did at our recent concerts. 

Each location put together Family Engagement activities for patrons to participate in before, during or after the concerts.  Check out some of the exciting activities our staff facilitated:

  • Play
    • Blocks
    • Waterbeads
    • Bubbles
    • Imagination Playground
    • Legos & Megablox
    • Playdough
    • Water Tables
  • Arts and Crafts
    • Chalk Masterpieces
    • Animal Crafts, followed by a Pet Adoption Fair

If you’re planning to host a family concert at your library, consider adding on one of the above activities for even more fun!


Stephanie Saba is the Senior Librarian at the Brisbane Library in California and is writing this post for the Early Childhood Programs and Services Committee.

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25. 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten


mom reads 1” by popofatticus is licensed under CC by 2.0

I am happy to announce that my public library will be rolling out our 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program in January 2016! Allison, one of our Youth Services Librarians, has been hard at work this fall planning the details and creating print pieces for our upcoming soft launch.

Have you heard of the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program? It’s a program in which preschool children (with their caregivers) register either in a library or online to attempt to read at least 1,000 books before the child enters Kindergarten. The caregivers keep track of the books they read with the child, and at certain milestones the child earns prizes. Once the child has read 1,000 books, they’ve completed the program and receive great accolades, in addition to all the benefits of being exposed to a variety of children’s literature. Of course it doesn’t necessarily have to be 1,000 different books; we all know that children enjoy reading the same books over and over.

This program goes hand-in-hand with reading aloud 15 minutes per day and supports both Every Child Ready to Read and Babies Need Words Every Day. There’s no best or correct way to implement the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program; it can be customized to fit any budget, for unlimited number of participants, and can go on indefinitely.

Upon first hearing about the program, the number 1,000 may seem quite large. How can children possibly read 1,000 books before Kindergarten? It’s actually quite simple. If a child reads 1 book each day, the 1,000-book goal can be met in less than three years. Increasing the reading to three books per day would mean that the child completes the 1,000 books in less than a year. While it seems daunting, the goal is attainable. Any reading counts, including books shared in story times.

Ready to learn more about this program? Here are some resources that you might find useful in deciding whether or not this is a good fit for your library and your community.

What do you think about this kind of program? Have you tried it at your library? Are there any last minute tips you want to share before we launch our program next month?

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