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1. ALSC Awards Overseas: A View from the Bologna Children’s Book Fair

This spring I had the opportunity to attend the Bologna Children’s Book Fair along with 12 graduate students and their instructor, ALSC Past President and former Butler Children’s Literature Center Curator Thom Barthelmess. As the current Curator, I was eager to not only travel with such fun, smart, and like-minded colleagues, but to learn what children’s literature looks like around the world, and how the world sees us these days. The upshot? They like our books. Our politics, not so much.

Welcome to the Bologna Children's Book Fair!

Welcome to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair!

While I was traveling on Dominican’s dime with support from the Butler Family Foundation, this trip also posed an opportunity for me, as ALSC Fiscal Officer, to learn firsthand about the impact, if any, of ALSC’s book and media awards internationally.

Buying and selling rights to publish children's books in other countries and other languages is the primary business of the Fair.

Buying and selling rights to publish children’s books in other countries and other languages is the primary business of the Fair.

The first thing I learned should have been obvious: In addition to the vast market at Bologna for buying and selling rights to translate books to and from various languages and to publish them in other countries, there is a vibrant market and interest in original illustration. I saw three exhibits: the annual juried Bologna Illustrators Exhibition (featuring only one American illustrator this time, YooHee Joon); “Artists and Masterpieces of Illustration: 50 Illustrators Exhibit 1967-2016,” a special exhibit commemorating the 50th anniversary of the annual one; and one featuring art from wordless picture books (the accepted term overseas is “silent books”). Beyond these exhibits, illustrators also promote their work directly to publishers here: the market for text is a translation one, so it’s not a place for authors to pitch manuscripts, it’s a more open opportunity for art.

High energy in the international bookstore booth itself

High energy in the international bookstore booth itself

A fascinating debate broke out on a panel discussion about the 50th anniversary exhibit. Panelist Leonard Marcus noted the positive development of an “international visual vocabulary” that has made it increasingly difficult to pigeonhole a book’s country of origin; Etienne Delessert countered that it’s still quite easy to identify an American picture book, at least (not necessarily a compliment). This reminded me of the ALSC Board’s decision a few years ago to maintain ALSC award eligibility for books originally published in the United States and by a U.S. citizen or resident, that “reaffirmed the importance of identifying and rewarding authentic and unique American children’s literature, in keeping with award founder Frederic Melcher’s original intent for these awards.” (Foote, The Newbery and Caldecott Awards: A Guide to the Medal and Honor Books, 2010 edition).

Leonard Marcus speaking on a panel discussion about the "50 Illustrators Exhibit 1967-2016

Leonard Marcus speaking on a panel discussion about the “50 Illustrators Exhibit 1967-2016”

Note the array of awards listed on the sign outside the international bookstore booth: Only one ALA/ALSC award seems to have any play here.

Note the array of awards listed on the sign outside the international bookstore booth: Only one ALA/ALSC award seems to have any play here.

These storied ALSC awards that have been around for decades are sacred in our association and well-known in the United States, but what do people overseas know, or think, about them?

While our awards don’t have nearly the impact on the business of publishing outside the United States as they do stateside, high international interest in illustration seems paralleled by interest in the Caldecott Medal, if not the others. This observation is supported by the ALSC office, which reports infrequent queries about seal use from international publishers, almost all about the Caldecott. U.S. publishers with whom I spoke indicated they’re never asked about awards or seals. However, I noticed many books that were published in other countries and languages were in fact ALSC award winners, even though they did not bear the award seal. This could mean overseas publishers recognize our awards as arbiters of quality and are therefore more likely to buy books that win, seal or no seal; or that they might want seals for book promotion purposes but don’t know how to procure them.

Click to view slideshow.

There is certainly an upside to promoting seal use internationally to raise the international profile of ALA, ALSC, and our media awards. Challenges include the need for publishers in other countries to respect U.S. trademark law (our seal images are ALA’s intellectual property); the need for an acknowledgement printed on the book that the non-U.S. edition is not the exact one evaluated by the committee; and the desire of some overseas publishers to work wording in their own language into the seal image itself. ALSC works hard to protect the integrity and reputation of these awards that have stood us in such good stead over the past 80 or so years, so we’ll continue to carefully shepherd appropriate seal use while encouraging its worldwide adoption to the extent we can.

(All pictures courtesy of Guest Blogger)


Our guest blogger is Diane Foote. Diane is assistant dean and curator of the Butler Children’s Literature Center at Dominican University GSLIS in River Forest, Illinois, and the ALSC Fiscal Officer. 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 ALSC Awards Overseas: A View from the Bologna Children’s Book Fair appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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2. Searching for Community

Preparing for my first ALSC guest blog post, I entered the search term “community” on the main page of the ALSC blog.  I wanted to make sure that I was not bringing up something already that had already been discussed.  As librarians, we pride ourselves on our detailed, often photographic memories, and enjoy setting the record straight. It’s in our DNA.

I searched for the word community because after 21 years as a children’s librarian, everything has boiled down to community for me.   I remember some great story times, fun summer reading programs, the excitement of Harry Potter, and selecting materials for a new library branch that was being built. I’ve worked with and for some innovative librarians and in some beautiful buildings.

I’ve decided that community matters the most to me.  The changes in publishing have been quite interesting. Technology and its accompanying acronyms have been overwhelming, but still exhilarating.

The daily interactions with my community-with the children, the parents and other customers I are what make this profession so important to me. Here’s why:  Many librarians are introverts.  Often, we go to library school because we love information, books and systems, and we may just love them more than people.

I spent perhaps the first 15 years of being a children’s librarian figuring out what it meant to be a librarian in my community.  I knew that I liked working with children. And then it hit me:  I realized that my presence in the community meant children and parents would see someone different than themselves, and that others would see someone that did resemble themselves.  In both cases I began to see that library programs, and more specifically story time, brought together people that might not ordinarily spend time with each other outside of the library.

I’m African American, and although I think of myself first as a person, I’m aware that my customers might see me first as a person of color. In fact, for the small children that I see weekly, I might be one of the first persons of color that they see regularly.

Yes, it is extremely important that children see themselves in books. I am thrilled that the topic of diversity in books is being widely discussed and that there is an increase in the number of titles that show what the true makeup of our communities is.

I’d like to add to the discussion by saying this:  When you step into a place and see someone that looks like you, it normalizes your experience. Our world is no longer monochromatic, and the places where we gather information or gather with others must not be either. It is good to remember the power of the relationships in our communities and the power of the desire that parents have to do good things for their kids.

Libraries have always been good at creating programs to bring our communities in. After all, story time is a program. What I believe is that a program is just the icing on the cake. The cake is the foundation of what we, the librarians create by welcoming our customers, all of our customers. We welcome our customers by becoming a part of the fabric of our communities and making our presence known, and our presence must be that which represents the world we live in.


Photo courtesy of guest blogger

Photo courtesy of guest blogger

Our guest blogger is Ericka Chilcoat. Ericka is a Librarian at the Merced County Library and gets her best ideas about Children’s Services when she is eating Thai food.

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 Searching for Community appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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3. Thoughts from a Library School Student

This week marks the end of my first semester of graduate school; the end felt unreal until I received my grades today. They’re my roller-coaster-photo-finish proof the last five blurry months actually happened, complete with wild hair and shocked expression. If you’re just starting this adventure, fasten your seatbelt and prepare yourself for a wild ride with a few suggestions from a recent first-timer in mind.


Most students I’ve met are also juggling several roles, and online programs allow flexibility for those with a lot of things up in the air. However, the ability to attend class in pajamas can lend a false sense of security; it’s easy to lose track of deadlines and projects when classwork is squeezed in whenever you find a spare moment. I carved out mornings for classwork, and after the kids came home from school, we did homework together. During my lunch breaks at work, homework; after I came home from work, homework. Basically, the semester was homework with real life “squeezed in whenever”. But those hours I’d specifically carved out for school work were sacrosanct (in theory – I’m a parent). Which brings me to my next point…


When I had pneumonia shortly before the semester began, I asked my doctor how long it would take to recover. She replied it would be a few weeks and joked, “Why, do you have a marathon planned?” I explained I’d soon have a full load in graduate school, plus my part-time job and three kids, so yes, I had a marathon planned. She advised me, as she survived medical school and residency with kids, to make time for exercise. When I asked hopefully if “exercise” included the movement of Dr Pepper or chocolate in hand to mouth, she laughed and said it could at times, but actual exercise would keep me sane. It didn’t matter what I did, as long as I got up and moved for at least 30 minutes a day. Remember the wise words of Elle Woods? “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.”


It’s a safe bet if you’re in graduate school for library science, you want to be there. If you’re exploring the ALSC site and found this post, you’re probably interested in library services for children. Nevertheless, at one time or another during library school, you’ll find yourself wondering why you traded Netflix binges after work for writing research papers until dawn. But then you’ll find that one class or idea that sets your world aflame with possibilities and everything’s touched by the burning to know more. That’s the hope, at least. If your studies haven’t uncovered something yet, then recall what inspired you to be a librarian. Was it a librarian who touched your life? Quirky picture books? Your love of cardigans, cats, or library-cake memes? Suggested pick-me-ups: Neil Gaiman’s “libraries are the future” lecture or Library Journal’s inspiration board on Pinterest.

One last tip:

There might be a learning curve on your ride, but don’t worry. Just lean into it. Embrace the opportunity to grow and stretch your skills, maybe even throw your hands up in the air and scream. It will eventually come to an end and you’ll roll to a stop, amazed you’ve come so far despite how quickly it went.


Today’s Guest Blogger is Stephanie Milberger. Stephanie is a youth librarianship student in the College of Information at the University of North Texas and children’s assistant at the Highland Park Library in Dallas. You can contact her online at Twitter (@milbergers) or email [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 Thoughts from a Library School Student appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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4. Preparing for the 2016 ALSC President’s Program

Environments are imbued with ideals and beliefs about the core values of their institutions.  As public libraries move to a more patron-centered approach, library settings become less formal and more available for collaborative and creative practices.  This year, ALSC President Andrew Medlar will share his vision for active and child-centered learning spaces throughout American Libraries at his Charlemae Rollins President’s Program:  Libraries: The Space to Be. 

Chicago Public Library is the home of Charlemae Rollins, and here at CPL, we see it as our role to enliven the spaces in our children’s rooms in order to encourage and promote what Fred Rogers called “the work of childhood” play-based learning. By creating meaningful and child-friendly spaces, we serve children and their families more deeply.  It is our goal to create active learning spaces that are a meaningful educator for our children and our communities.  Our libraries are considered pioneers in incorporating STEAM opportunities for child and parent engagement, and we are designing space across our system to meet the needs of 21st Century children and families.  This means age designated ‘neighborhoods’ areas for creativity, collaboration and lots of ways to encourage moments of sharing.  We believe sharing is learning and we want to encourage that in both formal and informal settings.  As our new flagship main children’s library opens later this year, we will roll out even more ways upon which STEAM, early learning and school-aged families can read, discover and create.

In San Francisco, our libraries are family destinations for discovery and community engagement. As part of the library’s early literacy initiative, we partner with the Burgeon Group to design and embed Play to Learn areas in each location.  These site-specific transformations are beacons of play incorporating colorful interactive panels, multilingual features, developmentally appropriate experiences, fine gross activities, texture and tracing elements all to spark spontaneous conversations and build key literacy skills.  (Stoltz, Conner, & Bradbury, 2014) From nook to cubes and the flagship installation at the Main Library, parents, caregivers and most importantly children know play is welcome at the library.

Successful play spaces are those that engage children’s interest; inspire creativity; allow physical movement; and encourage interaction with both materials in the space and with other children.  Many early childhood spaces are modeled on the Reggio Emilia approach, starting with a welcoming space that is arranged to provide opportunities for children to make choices and discover on their own.  Once children have explored, adults facilitate play around subjects or objects in which the child shows interest. This child-driven model is a natural fit for an active learning setting in a library, where children have free access to a variety of resources from books to toys to art materials.  Research shows that having quality books placed at children’s eye level supports literacy-related activities like those that occur when children play in library spaces. (Neuman, 1999)

The Reggio Emilia approach has also been shown to be equally effective for young children who do not speak English, a situation common in Chicago and San Francisco (Zhang, Fallon & Kim, 2009).  Leslie William and Yvonne DeGaetano note the importance of creating culturally relevant spaces based on children’s own communities in Alerta:  A MultiCultural, Bilingual Approach to Teaching Young Children.

Play is a necessary building block for children’s brain development, along with culture and the creative mindset. (Gauntlett & Thomsen, 2013) It is so essential for life that the United Nations recognizes play as a human right for every child.  Play allows children to explore and experiment with their environments, building synaptic connections in the brain and helping children establish problem solving skills as early as 6 months of age.  The American Library Association-Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) recommends that play be incorporated into library programming, recognizing the direct correlation between play and early literacy.

There are five general types of play that children engage in.  These can all be supported in our libraries, and each type of play supports both children’s general development and literacy in a variety of ways.  These include:

  • sensory play
  • constructive play with objects
  •  symbolic play
  • pretend play
  • rule-based play such as games.

Some of the elements that are shared by both Chicago Public Library and San Francisco Public Library include:

  • Creation of connections and sense of belonging
  • Flexible and open-ended materials
  • Materials that support the ECRR2 practices ( TALK, SING, READ, WRITE, PLAY)
  • Stimulation of wonder, curiosity and intellectual engagement for children and their caregivers
  • Symbolic representations, literacy and visual arts
  • Flexible furniture and arrangements
  • Different levels and heights of displays or tools
  • Nooks to read and/or work
  • Open-ended activities and tools that can be transformed by the child’s interest
  • Places for individuals as well as groups
  • Creation Station and maker areas for encouraging design, exploration and creation
  • Parent and caregiver incubator space
  • Areas and resources for constructive, dramatic and creative play
  • Appealing signage and parent tips to support family learning

As co-chairs, we are eager to have you join us at President Medlar’s Charlemae Rollins President’s Program to learn more about successful elements of library design for 21st Century Kids and hope to see you there!

— Liz McChesney, Director of Children’s Services, Chicago Public Library
— Christy Estrovitz, Manager of Youth Services, San Francisco Public Library


  • Stoltz, Dorthy, Marisa Conner, James Bradbury. (2014). The Power of Play: Designing Early Learning Spaces. ALA Editions.
  • Gauntlett, David & Thomsen, Bo Stjerne. (2013). Cultures of Creativity: Nurturing Creative Minds Across Cultures. The LEGO Foundation.
  • Nespeca, Sue McCleaf. (2012) The Importance of Play, Particularly Constructive Play, in Public Library Programming.
  • Zhang, Jie, Fallon, Moira & Kim, Eun-Joo. The Reggio Emilia Curricular Approach for Enhancing Play Development of Young Children.

The post Preparing for the 2016 ALSC President’s Program 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. STEAM programming in Acton-Agua Dulce and Moose Jaw

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Courtesy photo from Tina Docetti

Courtesy photo from Tina Docetti

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

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

Courtesy photo from Amanda Cain

Courtesy photo from Amanda Cain

not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

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

The post STEAM programming in Acton-Agua Dulce and Moose Jaw appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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7. 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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8. Creating Spaces that Celebrate Every Child Ready to Read 2

How we serve the youngest of children and their families is, of course, a major priority for children’s librarians.  Besides our services, our spaces can also accommodate each of the major practices of Every Child Ready to Read 2 for our smallest of learners and their grownups.  At this year’s ALSC Charlemae Rollins President’s Program:  Libraries: the Space to Be, we will be discussing President Medlar’s vision of how to bring both big and small ways into our libraries  to enliven spaces to maximize learning outcomes.

Whether you have a grant for space redesign or are just adding a little nook space, there are practical and easy ways to plan for, and then create space for the five practices. In Orlando, we can see and learn from best practices across the nation so that we all can find ways to activate your space for talk, sing, read, write and play practices:  all so essential to young children and their grownups.

First, creating a play space in your library allows for a new type of learning in our spaces:  active, engaged learning that allows children to problem solve and take on the role of learning by doing and being the ‘expert’ in any situation.  Play spaces help families learn together and celebrate their successes as important roles in children’s learning.  It has been documented at the Chicago Public Library that where we have put in play spaces we see families staying up to 40% longer, returning more often, attending more programs and coming together across communities to learn together as families and build friendships.  These all benefit 21st Century’s library goals, and are important for us as we promote our services to stakeholders.

The benefits of play are numerous and the LEGO Foundation spells them out in their Power of Play white paper which cites play as critical to the ‘balanced development of children’.  Play allows children to use their imagination and creativity, and is, at base, a form of communication.  It has been called essential to human development, and the UN calls it a fundamental right of children.  And libraries are proudly joining in as places for play as we embrace learning in its many environments.  Of the five types of play:  Physical Play, Play with Objects, Symbolic Play, Pretend and Socio-Emotional play and Games with Rules,   can you find some easy ways to incorporate play into your spaces and programming?

And what about the other four skills?  Think about ways you can encourage talking in your library.  A library pet goldfish in a bowl with a simple question or prompt about the fish each week, a comparison chart of your height to various animals, bean sprouts growing in baggies on the windows or a whisper tube such as the one Amanda Roberson at Hartford County Public Library, St. Mary’s County Library has installed are all inexpensive, fun and whimsical ways to encourage families to talk with one another.  Close your own eyes and visualize the moment a whispered “I love you” between a parent and child travels all along the talk tube and into the ear, the brain and the heart of the receiving child.  Or consider the thrill families will have upon finding and discovering their bean sprouts have grown since their last visit to you.

Singing happens in story hours all the time: we sing songs, action rhymes, play music and dance, but why leave it for just program time?  What if you had a nursery rhyme or children’s song station and a small, play microphone?  Encourage children and their adults to take turns singing the song of the week.  What a goofy and fun station that can encourage breaking language down into its basic parts.

Reading we know has its foundations in various aspects of ECCR2 such as letter recognition and print awareness.  Add letter toys such as Lakeshore Learning’s Alphabet Apples or their Magnetic alphabet maze into your play areas to help encourage letter recognition.  These toys encourage play with letters and phonemic awareness.  Integrate such toys into your books for a fun, literacy play experience.

Writing:  Dr. Nell Duke talks about the significance of writing in early literacy development, but how can we add this into a physical space?  Think about an easel white board that can be put in your space with accessible markers,  write and wipe lapboards for writing letters in story hours, or a letter writing or post box station.  Sentence start strips are also great ways for children and families to feel ownership in the library and can be an easy way to decorate:  Start a bulletin board with the letters “On my way to the library, I saw….” And then leave sentence strips out for families to complete.  Young children can dictate their sentence or story which can lead to a great bonding experience and fun narrative skills.  Then, add these to your board as a fun and easy way to create a fresh display that is child centered.

Please join President Andrew Medlar at this year’s ALSC Charlemae Rollins President’s Program: Libraries: The Space to Be to learn more from the experts around the country:  folks like you!  National experts in space design and children’s creativity will be side by side for a fascinating panel discussion on creative children’s space.  Best practices for small, medium and large libraries will be showcased in this important look into how space and our programs in libraries transform.

We hope you can join us!

Liz McChesney, Chicago Public Library
Co-chair Charlemae Rollins President Program 2016

Christy Estrovitz, San Francisco Public Library
Co-chair Charlemae Rollins President Program 2016

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9. Exploring Self Collaboration — via MU

In my thirst for all things related to libraries—books, information, technology, trends—and how librarians—in the U.S. and abroad—view their work, I started to think about all of our different perspectives and what this means short and long term for librarians, libraries, and most importantly, our patrons. I understand the focus is different in schools and public libraries, yet the skills we learn are transferable, and many of us employ outreach and collaborate between schools and public libraries. Through modeling collaboration, we create a network of professional librarians who master and implement 21st century life-long learning skills, sharing those same collaborative and transferable skills with our patrons. We manage this process quickly, effectively and differently. Different, is key—just look at MU.

Within Monster University’s website, I came across some very interesting reading to help focus my thoughts. In the article, Are Two Heads Better Than One? the author states, “…self-collaboration leads to better results in a shorter amount of time than solo brainstorming” (Stillwater). This is a new twist I had not thought of, and I wanted to learn more about MU. Their webpage, About: MU at a Glance, indicates the university, “opened [in] 1313”, and is still going strong, housing “16 computer labs”, with a library that holds, “89,000 books…” (2016). Based on the information on MU, now I know, we are not alone. Libraries–their image, impact and social role, will be around, in very different forms, for a very long time. I have also found that author Stillwater’s “solo brainstorming” offers some really fascinating ideas to think about.

For now, while I do engage in a monstrous (sorry, couldn’t help it) amount of self-reflection and research to improve my performance, I still find that multiple (separate) heads are better than one. With mindful leadership and collaboration on professional best practice, and its implications for patrons, we define the professional role of all librarians and libraries. I think MU President Victoria Gross indicates our role very clearly, in her Welcome.

If you would like to observe Monsters University’s library resources, activities and the impact their librarian has in supporting student collaboration, click here.

“Monsters University.” Disney. Web. 09 Apr. 2016.


Courtesy photo from Guest Blogger

Courtesy photo from Guest Blogger

Our guest blogger today is Brenda Hahn. Brenda’s permanent home is in Florida, where she and her family live. As a Teacher/Librarian, her experiences include, U.S. public schools, public libraries and several IB schools. Brenda’s vivid imagination keeps her library full of fun and applicable 21st Century life-long learning skills. She can be reached at [email protected].

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

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

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10. 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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11. What Kinds of Programs do ALSC Members Want at ALA Annual 2017?

Are you interested in developing a program for ALA Annual 2017, and wondering what topics are in demand from ALSC members? In January, the Program Coordinating Committee put out a call for ideas and asked for your feedback. We offered thirteen topic areas and asked members to rank their favorites.

Here are all thirteen topic areas we suggested ranked in order of ALSC members’ choices:

1. Diversity in children’s lit
2. Partnerships and outreach
3. Age specific programming
5. Summer learning
6. Difficult conversations
7. Media mentorship
8. Recent immigrant communities
9. Collection development
10. Diversity in the profession
11. Advocacy
12. Gender diversity
13. Networking

Need more inspiration? Below you’ll find additional ideas suggested by ALSC members in response to the survey. These are not ranked and appear in the order in which they were received.

Additional Program Ideas:

• Continuing Education after the MLIS
• Working with difficult coworkers/directors/city agencies– best practices, stress relief, etc
• Programming for Children with Special Needs
• Localized networking- how to bring back info from ALA, etc, and share with people who can’t afford time/money for conference
• Poetry, poetry programs, apps, National Poetry Month
• Social services: ie. Food programs at the library to serve hungry families, homelessness, libraries as a safe environment etc
• Child development and how it relates to library services, the mechanics of reading ( to help with readers advisory for emerging readers)
• The impact on tech on families
• Recent youth space upgrades/renovations. Slide shows etc
• Early Literacy/Babies Need Words
• Preschool Programming outside of storytime
• Becoming a youth services manager
• Statistics, budgeting
• I would love to see a diversity track that covers diversity in the profession, networking with others that are from a more diverse culture, diversity in children’s lit, gender diversity, also how to encourage diversity in publishing and other areas related to libraries.
• Creating a culture of reading in our community
• Time/workload management; librarian lifehacks
• Leadership and management chops
• Homeschooling
• Serving low-income kids and families
• Parent involvement
• Advancing early literacy best practices based on research- screens and reality

The call for proposals for ALA Annual 2017 in Chicago will go out in late March/early April. We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

-The ALSC Program Coordinating Committee

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12. 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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13. Storytime at the Library

Photo courtesy of guest blogger

Wanda Wyont shares stories with kids. (Photo courtesy of guest blogger)


Their eyes were bright and twinkling. Their faces were tilted up from their place on the carpeted floor! All fifteen of the four-year-old children sat transfixed in their places and thoroughly enthralled with the speaker as she shared the poem, The Three Little Kittens! It was her expressions and the nuances of her voice that captured their full attention. As I watched the children’s faces, I mentally made a note to plan some follow-up activities. At that moment, I discovered the love of storytelling and the magic of holding children’s interest. I heard Ms. Carol Reinhardt, the librarian; introduce the book, The Snowy Day. As I look back, I realize that those memories were over twenty years ago when I owned a preschool center. Yet, it seems like yesterday as I reflect on the importance of storytime.

As part of the weekly curriculum, the children’s teacher and I took them to the local library for storytime. The parents provided a library card that I kept in my office. Each Tuesday, we headed to the library in the center’s van. The children learned the routine quickly. First, they experienced stories and activities and then they selected books to check out.

The library had a designated room for storytime. It was attractive and equipped with easels, puppets, sentence strips, flannel board, etc. Upon entering this special room, the children found a space on the floor and quietly sat with their legs crossed anticipating the arrival of Ms. Reinhardt. Usually, she planned a theme-based assembly. During one of the weeks in February, she selected snow as her topic. On this particular day, she entered the room in a toboggan, scarf, and mittens. The children were mesmerized by her appearance! Once she began reading, her intonation and excitement kept the children fixed on the pages of her book. At the end of the first story, Ms. Reinhardt involved the children in a song, a movement activity, and a finger play. I’m sure that she kept this pace to keep even the most hyper-active child from becoming restless. I can almost hear her reading, “crunch, crunch, crunch, his feet sank in the snow.”

After storytime ended each week, the children went into the larger area where the books are stored. With fifteen four-year-old children, it did not take long for us to decide that we could not turn them loose in an organized library. Ms. Reinhardt’s solution was to gather around fifty books to display on several tables. The hands-on approach worked. I wish you could have seen the children turning pages and studying the illustrations. However, some children became more discriminatory about their needs. “I want a dinosaur book,” Carson indicated. We made every effort to accommodate. The children walked out of the library each Tuesday with their books in hand and a satisfactory smile on their faces.

The library visits were much more than a great activity each week. It provided ongoing benefits that rippled through the entire center and beyond. The rewards were immeasurable! The children began displaying many school readiness skills such as improving their vocabulary, pointing out words and letters, developing fine and large motor skills, decision making, following directions, taking care of borrowed property, and many more. Through their experiences, they became more consciousness of print. They began pointing out new words that they recognized each week. And more importantly, they developed a love for books.

With the library’s influence, the children’s interest in books catapulted the teachers, and family members to ramp-up their literacy practices. The preschool center became saturated with literacy experiences. The teachers began discussing authors, illustrators, genres, and ways to better share books. Their deliveries were more animated with modulated voices. I could clearly see the influence that Ms. Reinhardt’s storytime was making on the teachers.

With two new books going home each week, parents, grandparents, and guardians were reading books over and over. “How many times am I going to have to read Owl Moon,” one parent asked, jokingly?

It’s been years since that special time working directly with young children. The majority of my career was spent teaching early childhood education at the college level. While I can cite theories on literacy, I know first-hand that librarians, teachers, and parents that read books aloud to young children are encouraging them to get hooked on the enjoyment of reading. Book exposure enables young children to develop a love of books. Therefore, these children become good readers which are one of the keys to a successful student. Beyond that, loving books and reading are the attributes of life-long learning.


Photo courtesy of guest blogger

Photo courtesy of guest blogger

Our guest blogger today is Wanda Wyont. Wanda has worked in the field of education over twenty five years in many diverse backgrounds. Her teaching experiences range from preschool to college age. She has written and published numerous articles and papers on children’s issues. As an experienced storyteller, Wanda encourages children to become good readers and writers. Wanda Wyont is the author of the recently published book, Barkley’s Great Escape

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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14. National Library Legislative Day Matters!

National Library Legislative Day, a two-day advocacy event championing libraries and library legislation in Washington, D.C., is taking place from May 2-3 this year. The need to let our elected representatives know how imperative is it to have quality services for young children as well as decent pay for those of us who work with young children, has only grown within the past year.

Two weeks ago, I watched a newly released video series called “The Raising of America.”  It presented updated facts and research regarding the importance of the earliest years in children’s lives as well as historical information regarding childcare in the US.

I was surprised to learn that in 1970, Senator Walter Mondale introduced a bill called the Comprehensive Child Development Act (CCDA) that aimed to make the US government responsible for providing “high-quality childcare and early education, home visiting and other services to each and every family that wanted it.” Calling for free, universal childcare in the US, the CCDA sought to promote both social equality and national prosperity. It was passed in Congress with bi-partisan support from both Democrats and Republicans.

In order for it to become law, however, it needed to be signed by President Nixon. Pressure was put on him by groups claiming that universal childcare in the US would undercut “personal responsibility” and erode “family values.” Ignoring the fact that a large number of women could only support their families by working, that parents with children would need childcare in order to work outside of the home, and high-quality childcare could be too costly for some families, this government program that could have helped poor and working families was vetoed.

The CCDA bill was re-introduced twice in Congress following the 1971 veto. Although millions of people could have benefitted from it, vocal opponents claimed that the CCDA would “relieve parents of their responsibility for child rearing” rather than strengthening the family. Because of politics, the bill was squelched.

Lower and middle class working mothers in the US today struggle to find high-quality, affordable childcare. Some families pay more for childcare than they do for rent! The earliest years are the ones that form the social, emotional, and cognitive framework for children; not having adequate childcare can severely limit possibilities for development of important skills and experiences. It is not unusual in public libraries to see young struggling mothers visiting with their children. They seem tired, impatient, and beaten down. Because they cannot afford childcare, they are unwillingly “stuck” with the children, and unable to get a job that will help pay their bills while also building their self-esteem.

Although we provide a haven for these families, offer literacy programs, share information, and provide resources, it would be great if we could do more. Perhaps we can help by participating in National Library Legislative Day and telling our elected officials about the importance of free public services to families with children. I wonder if legislators realize the full impact of their actions on early childhood education. To whom do they talk to learn about the implications of policy?

Today’s guest blogger is Betsy Diamant-Cohen, posting on behalf of the ALSC Early Childhood Programs and Services Committee, of which she is a member. Betsy developed the Mother Goose on the Loose early literacy program; she enjoys consulting and presenting training workshops to fellow librarians.

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15. The Importance of Outreach for Libraries

At the Fayetteville Free Library (FFL) we push beyond our library’s walls to reach our community through outreach. Outreach is simply defined as “the extending of services or assistance beyond current or usual limits,” and can take all different forms (Merriam Webster). From visits to senior living communities to staffing a library booth at local events, we try hard to be visible and active in our community, meeting people where they are. In fact, many of these activities are regularly scheduled on an annual calendar. One particularly strong example is the relationship we have developed with area preschools.

A few years ago our community underwent a dramatic change as our library’s school district shifted from half-day to full day kindergarten. This had wide and far reaching consequences for our early literacy program. Suddenly, our preschool storytimes were empty; programs that used to draw crowds of preschoolers were suddenly down to just a few attendees. We realized that the school district’s shift had propelled more parents to enroll their 4 and 5 year olds in half day preschools, in order to prepare them for the full days of kindergarten ahead. As a result, many of our patrons were no longer available to attend morning storytime programs.

When things change, you have to re-assess what you are doing and adapt. We tried a number of options including rebranding and promoting the programs, changing the times to afternoon, and offering them on weekends. Some of these options worked well and others just didn’t pan out. Our plain old preschool storytime, for example, never recovered. So we stopped doing it. That’s right, we no longer offer a traditional preschool storytime program, because people stopped coming to it. This was a difficult decision to make, as I felt that preschool storytime was an essential service, but continuous assessment of the program demonstrated that it was no longer meeting a community need. Instead we got creative, offering unique twists on traditional storytimes like offer signing storytime and yoga storytime for preschoolers, both of which draw crowds.

We also decided to dedicate a good chunk of our time to going out and meeting the rest of the preschoolers were they are: in school. Every other month I visit approximately 9 preschools and read to over 300 children. You may be thinking “wow, that’s a lot of time outside the library”, and it is, but our efforts are worth it. In every outreach visit I am building a stronger relationship with the children, the teachers, and administrators. These bi-monthly outreach visits also afford us the opportunity to send letters and flyers home to families, reaching audience who might not be utilizing the library and reminding them of what we have to offer. One day, I was sitting at my desk and a woman approached me asking, “Are you Miss Stephanie?” When I confirmed, she told me that her daughter had come home from preschool, talking all about my visit and how she wanted to come to the Fayetteville Free Library (FFL) to see the books and toys and spaced I had described. I have seen them in the library almost every week since then. This is just one example, of how powerful these visits can be.

I wanted to share the outreach we do at our library, because we feel it is an integral part of the programs and services we provide to families, regardless of the fact that it takes place outside the library’s walls. Are you doing outreach to the community? I’d love to hear your success stories in the comments.


Photo courtesy of guest blogger

Photo courtesy of guest blogger

Our guest blogger today is Stephanie C. Prato. Stephanie is the Director of Play to Learn Services at the Fayetteville Free Library (FFL), NY. With experience in youth services, community outreach, leadership, instruction, and technology, she has developed innovative programs for babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and school-aged children. She is an active member of the American Library Association and serves as a member of the Early Childhood Programs and Services Committee of ALSC. If you have any questions, email her [email protected].

Please note 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 The Importance of Outreach for Libraries appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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16. Diverse Collection Ideas

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

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

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

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

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

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


(Photo courtesy of guest blogger)

(Photo courtesy of guest blogger)

Our guest blogger today is Tina Dolcetti. She currently works for the Moose Jaw Public Library as a Children’s Librarian. By night, Tina can be found in her community, mentoring an adult with a cognitive disability for the Saskatchewan Association for Community Living.

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

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

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17. 90 Picture Books for 90 Years of Black History Celebration

In 1926, ninety years ago, the group now known as The Association for the Study of African American Life and History sponsored a week in February to promote achievements of peoples with African ancestry.  February, being the birth month of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, seemed the ideal choice. After ninety years, we still celebrate in February, except no longer just a week, but now for the entire month.

The best way to celebrate Black History Month with your children is to read to them!

There are many informational books about Civil Rights, slavery, and African Americans’ great accomplishments. Black History Month can be celebrated by remembering those who have contributed to our past or by inspiring those who will create future history. I have prepared a book list, 90 Picture Books for 90 Years of Black History Celebration, which focuses on the past and also features African American children as main characters in everyday situations.

The initial motivation for this list began when assisting Toledo Public Schools with the Real Men READ-y program. This program pairs African American males with students to develop an interest in reading. Program administrators requested books that would interest their students with a focus on establishing pride in African American heritage. According to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, over 3,500 picture books were reviewed in 2014 and only 5% featured African American characters.  As a result of this, a child’s self-esteem could be affected in a negative way. To counteract this, we need to lift up our children with encouraging books that help African American children build confidence, pride, and self-acceptance, exactly what this book list sets out to accomplish.

All children, no matter what race, should read a variety of books that have characters that look, act, and believe differently, so we all can appreciate the diversity around us!

Here is a sampling of books from the booklist:90 Books for BHM-page-001Click HERE to get the printable, complete version of 90 Picture Books for 90 Years of Black History Celebration


Courtesy photo of guest blogger

Courtesy photo of guest blogger

Our guest blogger today is Angela Bronson. She currently works for the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library as a Children’s Librarian at the Kent Branch and is pursuing her MLIS at Wayne State University.

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

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

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18. Toddler Participation

The best part of my week is Toddlin’ Tales, when I have a room full (usually 50 plus) of excited, active, curious toddlers and their parent, nanny, or grandparent. As you well know, their enthusiasm is delightful, their antics hilarious, and their adoration of the reader endearing. You also know that the child’s attention can flit from their plastic container of Cheerios to Daddy’s belt buckle in a nano second. A brief moment later she wants to demonstrate how well she can twirl, then tumble to a fall, followed by checking out her neighbor’s supply of bunny crackers. And then back to Daddy, for a reassuring hug and a glance at the librarian to see if anything interesting is going on at the front of the room.

“Look! There’s a puppet dog! He’s silly! He wants me to clap my hands and sing. Oh, I like that song. I can sing, too. “Storytime is here. Give a great big cheer. Yeah!” That’s my favorite part because I get to throw my hands up in the air and yell really loud. “Now quietly. Listen and see.” I like that part, too, when I put my hands by my ears and then around my eyes. “Storytime is here.” Now what is she going to do?”

Keeping a wiggle of toddlers (you know, like a business of ferrets) focused on storytime can be a challenge, but it is easily remedied with one word—participation. Find every opportunity to actively involve their bodies and voices and most will happily jump, roar, shake, hiss, tiptoe, blow a kiss, and whatever else you invite them to do. Here are four tips on participation opportunities that have been successful for me:

  • Tickle MonsterBe silly! For a recent program on monsters I knew I had to choose carefully so as not to cause undue stress and fear. We began with “Going on a Monster Hunt,” which I do as a call and answer, so they were involved with the repeating chant, as well as the actions. When we found the monster in the cave, he was fuzzy, had 3 googly eyes and made a silly sound that made them giggle before we ran back home and repeated all the actions at high speed. Then I read Tickle Monster by Edouard Manceau. Whenever the tickling occurred we wiggled our fingers at the illustration and flapped our tongue between our lips, making that sound one makes that I can’t possibly figure out how to spell but sounds something like the noise Jerry the mouse would have made, with his thumb in his ears and his fingers wiggling, to harass Tom the cat. The result—total participation, no fear, and several wanting to check out the book after storytime.
  • Read! Any time a book has a repeating phrase I invite them to “read” it with me while I point out the words. For instance, “I can’t sleep here,” in The Very Lazy Ladybug by Isobel Finn, and “Puff, puff, toot, toot, thrump, thrump, peep, peep, grump, grump, mew, mew, flip flop, bump, bump, off we go,” along with actions, in Down By the Station by Will Hillenbrand. Sometimes it requires moving a few words around so that the same pattern is used, and they get the cue they need to join in. When the story is finished we clap and I congratulate them on “reading” with me, so they get the connection between the words I pointed to and the words we spoke.
  • I got the rhythmAction! If you find yourself interpreting the words with a wiggle or a stomp, then include the children. Some stories are obvious, such as Down By the Cool of the Pool by Tony Mitton or I Got the Rhythm by Connie Schofield-Morrison. Others require ingenuity, such as having them walk along with Grumpy Bird in Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard, or looking right and left, hand horizontal above the eyes, to find a moose in Looking for a Moose by Phyllis Root. One of my favorites is Funny Face by Nicola Smee, and watching the expressions on their faces for the different feelings. Anger is hi-larious!
  • In-betweens. After every story, get the children up and moving to a rhyme or song. Not just a finger rhyme, but an actual stand-up-and-move-your-body action. After. Every. Story.

When a child is vocally or physically involved with the stories, songs and rhymes at storytime he’ll be more likely to remember and repeat the story (vocabulary and narrative skills), ask for the book to check out (print motivation), begin to comprehend how print works (print awareness), and retain whatever other early literacy skill you were slyly presenting, such as letter or rhyming knowledge. Plus he’s following directions and learning to wait, both of which are important social skills for kindergarten readiness. And you’re role modeling for caregivers ways they can have fun with books at home.

“What’s she doing now? Oh, I love that book! We get to dance when she reads that book, and I am very good at dancing. I liked singing with Pete the Cat in the other book, too. I want to take him home so Daddy can read it to me tonight. And tomorrow. And every day, every day, every day. Yeah, Pete!”

What are your favorite books for participation?


HeatherMonkey2Heather is a Public Services Manager for Deschutes Public Library in Bend, OR, where she supervises Youth, School, Latino and Impact Services.  She has been presenting storytimes for over 35 years and they remain the best part of each week.  She is also a professional storyteller, and the author of Read, Rhyme and Romp: Early Literacy Skills and Activities for Librarians, Teachers and Parents.  You can reach her at [email protected].

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

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

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19. Call for Program Ideas – 2017 Annual Conference

What programs would you love to see sponsored by ALSC at the 2017 ALA Annual Conference? The call for proposals will be released in early April 2016, and for the first time ever, you can help your colleagues develop proposals on topics that are most of interest to ALSC members.

Complete this survey by February 29, 2016. In March, the ALSC blog will publish a “wish list” of the most requested–and most fascinating–program topics. Potential presenters, you’ll take it from there; peruse the list, get inspired, and develop proposals you know your colleagues will love!

We can’t promise every topic on the wish list will end up as an ALSC-sponsored program, and no proposal is guaranteed acceptance. Final decisions on program acceptance will be made by the Program Coordinating Committee. We’re eager to collect member feedback and ideas in a broader way than ever before. Feel free to contact PCC Chair Amy Martin ([email protected]) with questions.

— ALA Annual 2017 Program Coordinating Committee

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20. The Competencies Awaken

Now that you’ve seen the new ALSC Competencies, do you need a refresh?

1. Commitment to Client Group. Because everyone deserves excellent library services.

1. Commitment to Client Group.

2. Reference and User Services. Considering context and format of delivery, along with the information itself.

2. Reference and User Services.

3. Programming Skills. Sometimes you need backup to keep it fresh.

3. Programming Skills.

4. Knowledge, Curation, and Management of Materials. When’s the last time you really looked at your collection?

4. Knowledge, Curation, and Management of Materials.

5. Outreach and Advocacy. Saying it in a way they will hear it.

5. Outreach and Advocacy.

6. Administrative and Management Skills. (It can take a while to refine the art.)

6. Administrative and Management Skills.

7. Professionalism and Professional Development. This is just the beginning. Even when it seems like the middle.

7. Professionalism and Professional Development.

Just remember, let the Competencies guide you. Because the library:

ALSC Core Competencies

This post comes from the ALSC Education Committee. Images are not the property of ALSC; shared as commentary under fair use guidelines.

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21. My Odyssey Journey

I was just invited to be part of the 2017 Odyssey Award Committee (happy dance!) Do ya’ll know this award? It gets the tiniest bit trumped by the big hitters, Newbery and Caldecott, but as an adult who loves to be on the receiving end of a story, I’m pretty thrilled to be part of this committee that chooses the best audiobook produced for kids or teens each year. I once wrote a kind-of fan letter to an actor (Eric Singer) who narrated one of my favorite books (it’s an adult title: The Dogs of Babel) and he actually responded! So yah, I get the fangirl element of audiobooks.

Since this will be my first award-committee-experience, I’m excited for sure but I’m also a bit nervous.

Here’s the stuff I’m thrilled about:

  • Exposure to titles I might otherwise miss. It’s hard to catch a glimpse of all the youth titles each year so this will be a great way to expand my radar.
  • Ability to call ‘listening to stories’ official work. We all read on our own time for our work, but this feels official-er and there’s a real honor attached to it!
  • First time at both an ALA mid-winter and an ALA annual. I’ve had a few close calls in the past (one year I was supposed to do a presentation with the famous David Lee King but there was a hiccup and it never happened) but have never gone to ALA in my 11+ years as a librarian. For shame! So it’s finally happening and I can’t wait to be totally enraptured!
  • I am a poet and really feel like poetry is meant to be read aloud. So the whole oral tradition part of this work really taps into some of my other passions. I remember years ago, seeing Ira Glass from This American Life live and his whole talk centered around the power of stories and he used the classic One Thousand and One Arabian Nights to illustrate that stories can truly save lives. So YES to telling stories!
  • I get to meet and work with librarians from around the country! It’s always great to meet and chat with other librarians, hear other opinions and articulate my own thoughts and reactions.
  • Florida and Georgia! Wahoo for the south! I’m sorta north up in Pittsburgh so headin’ down south will be delightful!

And here’s the stuff I’m nervous about:

  • First time at both an ALA mid-winter and an ALA annual. I’ve read a ton of How-To-Attend-ALA articles and blog posts and I think they’ve gotten in my head! I’m prepared to be completely overwhelmed during the day and holed up in my room breathing in lavender with a hot compress over my eyes each night.
  • I’m not worthy! I’m not worthy! I’m sure many of you understand this one. I usually kindly listen to that voice for a few minutes and then send it on its way. But it’s definitely around. In looking at past winners (it’s only been around since 2008) there were a number of titles that (blush) I didn’t even realize had audio versions (gasp!) So I’ll certainly be playing catch-up and will make sure to listen to as many past winners as I can.
  • How will I know what’s good? I’m sure this at least crosses the minds of many committee members. But evaluating literature is serious business. You don’t want to underthink it. You don’t want to overthink it. There’s some gut involved. Some critical eye. A nice cocktail of hearty thinking and feeling. Is there a support group for ALA committee members?

So, onward! I won’t make any puns or jokes relating to Homer’s Odyssey and my own journey to and through this experience. Or will I….


Our guest blogger today is Kelley Beeson. Kelley is the Youth Services Department Head at the Western Allegheny Community Library. She’s been working in libraries since high school and her favorite book is Marcus Zusak’s The Book Thief.

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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22. Kitty Café

Youth service librarians live and breathe the ALA marketing campaign of Libraries Transform. Childhood is the most epically transformative time for human beings. However, none of these thoughts were in my mind when the Nebraska Humane Society agreed to be part of a Cat Café event at our library. Instead, I was focused on how incredibly fun this community partnership would be.

It wasn’t until during the event, when I went into the room to get some video footage, that I fully comprehended that lives were going to change that day. This realization was triggered by seeing a woman sitting on the floor playing with one of the kittens while inquiring about the adoption process. I became emotional because families were going to be created or enlarged at this event.

Later, while looking through social media I came across an update to the Nebraska Humane Society’s Facebook post about the program. Christina Kadlec, the woman whom I had observed earlier, shared that she had adopted two of the kittens from that morning’s Kitty Café event; what she wrote had me in tears. I reached out to Christina and asked her to more fully tell her story, and she graciously agreed.

Over the past two years I lost both of my best friends: Bearcat who was with me for 17 years, and then 18 year-old Marbles. To say I was heartbroken would be a gross understatement. My cats had been comforting me through almost all of life’s challenges. Coming home to an empty apartment was a very hollow feeling.

The morning of the Kitty Café, I had been battling with myself as to whether or not I would visit the Humane Society that day. I saw the post for the event on Facebook and I was captivated by the fuzzy dilute tortie in the pictures. I decided I would head out to Gretna, if for no other reason, to play with the kittens and enjoy their antics.

Upon arriving at the Kitty Café, I hung back and let the kids enjoy the kittens for the most part. However, it so happened that the fuzzy gray tortie and I ended up playing together quite a bit. Her sister, a gray tabby, also made me smile with her outgoing, fearless sense of adventure. I talked to NHS staff at the event about adoptions and arranged to come see “the girls” after the event.

Needless to say, when I visited them later that day, it was love. We completed the adoption process late that afternoon.

I’m so happy to come home to my playful, lively kittens! They cannot replace my previous cat friends, but they provide a needed salve for the cracks of my broken heart. Every day we learn a little more about each other and everyday they become more a part of my home. I am so grateful to Nebraska Humane Society & Gretna Public Library for giving me the opportunity to find my girls, Abigail & Zoe.

Click to view slideshow.

Photos courtesy of Christina Kadlec

After reading about the impact that this event has had on the lives of one woman and two kittens, please seriously consider creating your own Cat Café at your library. It’s a magical event that can transform the lives of both people and animals in your community.


Photo credit: Jennifer Lockwood

Photo credit: Jennifer Lockwood

Today’s guest blogger is Rebecca McCorkindale. Rebecca is Gretna Public Library’s Assistant Director/Creative Director, oversees the daily operations of the Children’s Library, and serves as the 2016 Chair of the School, Children’s, and Young People’s section of the Nebraska Library Association. For more information about Rebecca and her work, visit her blog hafuboti.com or email her at [email protected].

Please note 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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23. An A-Maze-ing Library Experience

Sometimes you get a big idea. And sometimes you get to make that idea a reality. This year my department was given funds to create big family programming, and I got the chance to build my idea: a giant cardboard maze that would encourage caregiver-child interaction and create a memorable library experience for customers of all ages.

Photo credit: Kahla Gubanich

Photo credit: Kahla Gubanich

The Event

Photo credit: Amy Seto Forrester

Photo credit: Amy Seto Forrester

A families-only Harry Potter-themed after-hours party kicked off the maze, which measured 75’ long, 15’ wide, and 6’ tall, and sat smack-dab in the middle of the main hall of Denver Public Library’s Central Library. Customers lined up out the door to wait for their turn to explore the maze. A staff member at the maze entrance spaced out families in two minute intervals to avoid traffic jams. We also hid the four Hogwarts house crests inside the maze. Kids were given maze passports, and when they found a crest there was a staff member dressed as a Harry Potter character waiting to stamp their passport. This allowed us to have staff in the maze in case of emergency.

Other party activities included pin the sock on Dobby, magic wand decorating, and, of course, tasty themed snacks. Having a theme for the maze wasn’t necessary, but it did make the event easier to promote. Plus, it meant lots of kids came dressed as their favorite Harry Potter character.

After the party we left the maze up in our main hall for a week so customers of all ages could explore the maze. In addition to walking through the maze, customers could look down from the 2nd and 3rd floors to plan their route or watch others go through the maze.

DPL staff putting the maze together. Photo credit: Kahla Gubanich

DPL staff putting the maze together. Photo credit: Kahla Gubanich



Children’s librarian, Warren Shanks, showing off a stack of newly purchased cardboard. Photo credit: Amy Seto Forrester

Children’s librarian, Warren Shanks, showing off a stack of newly purchased cardboard. Photo credit: Amy Seto Forrester

I’d seen pictures of cardboard mazes online (thanks, Pinterest!), but I couldn’t find anything tall enough for adults. My goal was to create something that children and their caregivers could explore together. I wasn’t able to find any instructions online, so I decided to figure it out on my own. This process included lots of brainstorming and several mini-maze mock-ups. Here’s a list of things to consider, based on my experience.

  • Safety and Space. Measure your space and learn about your library’s safety rules and regulations. I met with the security, custodial, and facilities departments to get their input. From this meeting it was decided that we would have a minimum of 5’ of space on all sides of the maze. We also decided to include a third side entrance/exit to the maze in case of emergency.
  • Design the Maze. I had never designed a maze before so I was grateful to find some wonderful online resources. Jo Edkins has great info about maze layout and design and the tips on avoiding bottlenecks on Amazeing Art were useful. I found it helpful to first determine the entrances/exits and then divide the space into three “mini mazes.”
  • Shelvers Sarah Cosoer and Sallie King take a break from cardboard prep. Photo credit: Amy Seto Forrester

    Shelvers Sarah Cosoer and Sallie King take a break from cardboard prep. Photo credit: Amy Seto Forrester

    Planning and Paperwork. Make sure your plans are written down so others can understand them. This is the kind of project that requires teamwork and delegation, so it’s important that your paperwork is detailed and clear. Here’s a copy of the maze layout.

  • Purchase Materials. I purchased my materials from the following companies:
  • Purchasing Considerations.
    • Some companies require a minimum number of a particular item per order.
    • Freight shipping can add a significant amount to the cost of materials.
    • Height of your loading dock. Ours is very low, so this impacted delivery.
    • Talk to a representative. I was able to get more accurate quotes and ultimately a
      Warren uses a template to measure and cut a cardboard sheet. Photo credit: Amy Seto Forrester

      Warren uses a template to measure and cut a cardboard sheet. Photo credit: Amy Seto Forrester

      lower price by emailing and talking on the phone with a representative.

  • Prep as much of your maze ahead of time as possible. Call in your volunteers, friends, and family! Cutting and labeling our boxes required approximately 20 hours of prep time.
  • Putting It Together. It took us approximately 10 hours with 5 people working steadily to put the maze together with the prepped materials. This includes the 5 hours we used to construct 45 maze units the day before the event and stored them in our storytime room. The day of the event we had another 5 hours to assemble the other units and zip-tie them all together. Check out the step-by-step Maze Construction Instructions.
Templates used for cardboard prep. Photo credit: Amy Seto Forrester

Templates used for cardboard prep. Photo credit: Amy Seto Forrester


Yes, this maze took a ton of planning and staff labor, but it was worth it. From a numbers point of view, it was gratifying to have 300+ people come to the after-hours party. But it was even more satisfying to see the smiles, hear the laughter, and watch our customers find joy in exploring the maze. The maze was also an entry point for staff-customer interaction and encouraged customers to visit our 2nd and 3rd floors to look down on the maze. In short, it was an unforgettable library experience!

Photo credit: Will Forrester

Photo credit: Will Forrester


Amy Uke

Photo Credit: Sherry Spitsnagle, Denver Public Library

Our guest blogger today is Amy Seto Forrester. Amy  is a children’s librarian at the Denver Public Library and has her MLS from Texas Woman’s University. She is always on the look out for creative ways to incorporate the arts into children’s services and programming to extend books beyond the page. Check out Amy’s blogs: http://picturebookaday.blogspot.com/http://chapterbookexplorer.blogspot.com/

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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24. Feature National Diabetes Month at your Library

 Mary Abel and 4-year-old, grandson, Robby enjoying a snack after story time

Mary Abel and 4-year-old grandson, Robby, enjoying a snack after story time (Photo courtesy of guest blogger)

There are perils to being a children’s librarian. This never occurred to me until I took grandson Robby to story time. At one session, the head came off of the turkey puppet that was helping to illustrate a story and song about Thanksgiving. While the librarian was trying to stick the head back on the turkey and sing simultaneously, the felt board fell over. The 3-and 4-year-olds seated in a circle erupted in laughter. The librarian was quick on his feet and rescued this “turkey” by playing his guitar and singing I’m a Little Turkey to the tune of I’m a Little Teapot as they all strutted around like Thanksgiving gobblers. My grandson thought it was the best thing ever.

This November when children’s librarians are strutting their stuff by cutting Thanksgiving turkeys out of construction paper, singing songs and playing with puppets, there is another important observance to headline: It’s National Diabetes Awareness Month.

Years ago, Type 1 diabetes was rare in children and Type 2 did not exist. A nationally representative study[i] now has confirmed that from 2001 to 2009 the incidence of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes drastically increased among children and adolescents across racial groups in this country. The study found that the prevalence of Type 1 diabetes increased 21 percent among children up to age 19. The prevalence of Type 2 diabetes among ages 10 to 19 rose 30 percent during the same period . Nearly 30 million children and adults in the United States have this disease.

Tear sheet from Maddy Patti and the Great Curiosity showing a main character, Gideon, astride his horse, Stony the Pony, saving Pickles from drowning.

Tear sheet from Maddy Patti and the Great Curiosity showing a main character, Gideon, astride his horse, Stony the Pony, saving Pickles from drowning.

As an author and journalist with a background in health care communications, I am passionate about writing books that empower and help children deal with medical conditions. The most recent effort is a self-help book for children with diabetes, Maddy Patti and the Great Curiosity. Dr. Stan Borg, a family physician, and I collaborated to write this story across the miles—354.8 to be exact—to help youngsters understand and manage their diabetes.

A special section in the book is for teachers and parents. Teachers especially may benefit from this information because it helps them understand why, for example, a child with diabetes may need more bathroom breaks because of high blood sugar levels, or they may need to eat periodically throughout the day.

Informational links for librarians:


Discussion Questions:

Q. What special tools will help illustrate and promote National Diabetes Month for youngsters at our libraries?
Q. How can librarians find help and support for children and parents who are dealing with a diabetes diagnosis in our community?
Q. How can we use National Diabetes Awareness Month to garner publicity for our library?

Despite the occasional perils of falling felt boards and headless puppets, I believe that children’s librarians are important and necessary advocates for youngsters not only with diabetes but all children because you are fluent at knowing and interpreting their needs to teachers, parents and the community. So amid the sing-a-longs about gobblers and the Thanksgiving tales this November, National Diabetes Awareness Month might be a good topic to feature at your library, too.

[1] ] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health , Search for Diabetes in Youth, 2008-2009, multicenter, continuing  study to examine diabetes (type I and type 2) among children and adolescents in the United States from 2000 to 2015.


IMG_1530Mary Abel has been a professional writer for more than 40 years and is the recipient of multiple writing awards, including the Sigma Delta Chi Mark of Excellence Award in journalism. She holds a BA in journalism from The Ohio State University. Contact her at: [email protected]

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

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


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25. ALSC Endowments

Last year, the ALSC’s 11 endowments disbursed more than $51,971 to award and support authors, librarians, and library programs across the country dedicated to children’s services. The first ALSC endowment fund to be established was the Melcher Scholarship, announced in 1955, while the newest is the Carole D. Fiore ALSC Leadership Fund, established in 2009. The ALSC endowments all together have increased in value from $1,687,372 in 2005 to $2,684,430 in 2015. These endowments often bear names that are familiar to ALSC members: Arbuthnot, Belpré, and Wilder. However, several of these funds were started by names that are not so familiar. For example, in 1986 the Antonio Mayorgas Estate gave ALSC an unrestricted gift, which was used to establish the ALSC Distinguished Service Award. The amount that ALSC is able to spend each year is based on a formula used by ALA. It is a percentage of the quarterly balances over five years. In fact, that is precisely what distinguishes endowments from other types of funds: They are intended to preserve the long-term viability of the initiatives they support and are not intended to be spent down to zero. How long have these endowments been in place? Who started them? And who exactly do they target? Here’s a closer look:

ALSC Distinguished Service Award Fund

Photo of Kathleen T. Horning, 2015 winner of the Distinguished Service Award.

Kathleen T. Horning, director of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is recipient of the 2015 ALSC Distinguished Service Award. Photo credit: J. Matzner.

Founded: 1986
Benefactor: Unrestricted gift by the Antonio Mayorgas Estate
Purpose: In 1991, the Board established the DSA to honor an individual member of the ALSC who has made significant contributions to, and had an impact on, library services to children and ALSC.
Award: $2,000 and an engraved pin.
Past recipients: The first winner was William C. Morris and the most recent was Kathleen T. Horning.
Website: http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/profawards/distinguishedservice

Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Fund

May Hill Arbuthnot

May Hill Arbuthnot (1884-1969), along with educator William Scott Gray, wrote the “Dick and Jane” series published by Scott, Foresman and Company. Her greatest contribution to children’s literature was her book “Children and Books,” first published in 1947. Photo credit: ALSC.

Founded: 2002
Benefactor: The ALSC Board, via an approved net asset balance transfer from the operating budget. The lecture series was originally funded through the sponsorship of the Scott, Foresman Company starting in 1970 through the late 1990’s.
Purpose: For the presentation of a paper considered to a significant contribution to the field of children’s literature by an author, critic, librarian, and/or historian at the Arbuthnot Lecture series.
Award: $2,000 honorarium and travel expenses for lecturer; $2,000 support to the lecture host site. ALSC board has plans to build the endowment to support a $5,000 honorarium within the next five years.
Past recipients: In 2015, Brian Selznick presented “Love Is a Dangerous Angel: Thoughts on Queerness and Family in Children’s Books.”
Website: http://www.ala.org/alsc/arbuthnot

Belpré Award Fund

Duncan Tonatiuh accepts a 2015 Belpré honor plaque for Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family's Fight for Desegregation with (l to r) Silvia Cisneros, 2014-15 REFORMA president, Sylvia Mendez, subject of the Honor Book, and Ellen Riordan, 2014-15 ALSC president. (Photo courtesy of ALSC)

Duncan Tonatiuh accepts a 2015 Belpré honor plaque for Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation with (l to r) Silvia Cisneros, 2014-15 REFORMA president, Sylvia Mendez, subject of the Honor Book, and Ellen Riordan, 2014-15 ALSC president. (Photo courtesy of ALSC)

Founded: 1996
Benefactor: The ALSC Board authorized transfers from the operating budget’s net asset balance, ALSC and REFORMA members, and other individual and corporate donors.
Purpose: Support the expenses related to administering the Pura Belpré Awards. The awards honor Latino/Latina writers and illustrators whose work best celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of children’s or youth literature. This award is co-sponsored by ALSC and the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking (REFORMA), an ALA affiliate.
Award: A medal for the winners; award plaques for Honor Book authors and illustrators.
Past recipients: Author Meg Medina for Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass in 2014 and illustrator Raul Colón for, Doña Flor: A Tall Tale About a Giant Woman with a Great Big Heart in 2006.
Website: http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/belpremedal

Children’s Library Services Endowment

early-elem-readsFounded: 1982
Benefactor: Helen L. Knight
Purpose: To support long and short term projects and programs of the ALSC
Award: Funding up to $1,500 in a given year to a specific ALSC committee; Board authorized expenditures to support programmatic activity.
Past recipients: School-Age Programs and Services Committee designed and produced the brochure “Great Early Elementary Reads;” funded attendance for an Advocacy and Legislation Committee member during the 2015 National Library Legislation Day in Washington, D.C.; and funded the design and printing of a toolkit created by the Library Service to Special Population Children and Their Caregivers Committee.
Website: http://www.ala.org/alsc/alsc-childrens-library-services-fund

Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Fund

Photo of 2015 Geisel winners and committee chair

2015 Geisel Award winners, Anna Kang (l) and Christopher Weyant (r), with Geisel Committee Chair Kevin Delecki (c). Photo credit: ALSC.

Founded: 2005
Benefactor: San Diego Foundation’s Dr. Seuss Fund; Random House
Purpose: The Geisel Award is given annually to the authors and illustrators of the most distinguished American book for beginning readers published in English in the United States during the preceding year.
Award: A medal for the winners; certificates for Honor Book authors and illustrators.
Past recipients: Mo Willems has won the award twice (2008, 2010) and honored five times (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015).
Website: http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/geiselaward

Frederic G. Melcher Scholarship Fund

Frederic G. Melcher

Frederic G. Melcher. Photo credit: ALA.

Founded: 1955
Benefactor: various members, including the publishers of each year’s Newbery and Caldecott awards.
Purpose: To fund scholarships for two graduate students pursuing an MLS degree with a focus on children’s librarianship.
Award: two $7,500 scholarships; increased from $6,000 in 2015.
Past recipients: 2015 recipients: Elizabeth Pearce and Melody Tsz-Way Leung
Website: http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/scholarships

William C. Morris Endowment Fund


Morris Endowment Fund logo, designed by William Joyce for ALSC. ©ALA/ALSC.

Founded: 2000
Benefactor: Bequest of William C. Morris with principal of $400,000.
Purpose: To fund programs, publications, events, or awards in promotion of children’s literature. The Bill Morris Book and Media Evaluation Seminar, held at the ALA Midwinter Meeting, and Breakfast with Bill, held at the ALSC Institute in alternating years, are supported by this endowment.
Award: In addition to supporting the events noted above, the Fund provides a $200 stipend for selected attendees to defray hotel and other expenses for the Bill Morris Seminar.
Website: http://www.ala.org/alsc/william-c-morris-endowment-activities

The Charlemae Rollins Fund

Charlemae Rollins (photo courtesy of ALSC)

Charlemae Rollins (photo courtesy of ALSC)

Founded: 1982
Benefactor: The ALSC Board and various members.
Purpose: Enhancement of the quality of the ALSC President’s Program.
Past events: ALSC President Ellen Riordan’s 2015 President’s Program brought Melissa Sweet and Judy Cheatham to speak about, “More to the Core: From the Craft of Nonfiction to the Expertise in the Stacks.”
Website: http://www.ala.org/alsc/aboutalsc/coms/pg4orgsupport/als-charoll

Wilder Award Fund

Karen Nelson Hoyle, chair of the 2015 Wilder Award Committee, and Donald Crews, winner of the 2015 Wilder Award. (Photo courtesy of ALSC)

Karen Nelson Hoyle, chair of the 2015 Wilder Award Committee, and Donald Crews, winner of the 2015 Wilder Award. (Photo courtesy of ALSC)

Founded: 2000
Benefactor: The ALSC Board.
Purpose: To support the administration of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award.
Award: A bronze medal, honors an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children. The award is given annually.
Past recipients: The first Wilder Award was presented to Wilder herself in 1954; Donald Crews received the Award in 2015.
Website: http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/wildermedal

Carnegie Fund

2015 Carnegie Medal Winners

2015 Carnegie Medal winners, Paul Gagne (l) and Melissa Reilly Ellard (r), of Weston Woods, with Carnegie Committee Chair, Caitlin Dixon Jacobson (c). Photo credit: ALSC.

Founded: 1989
Benefactor: The Carnegie Corporation of New York as part of the Carnegie Video for Youth grant.
Purpose: To establish and endow the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Children’s Video.
Award: The Carnegie Medal is presented annually to an American producer for the outstanding video production for children released in the United States in the previous calendar year.
Past recipients: Weston Woods (most recently 2015), Katja Torneman (2013), Aviator Films/Hyperion Studio (2002), What a Gal Productions (1997)
Website: http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/carnegiemedal

Carole D. Fiore ALSC Leadership Fund


Photo courtesy of Carole Fiore

Founded: 2009
Benefactor: Carole D. and Stan Fiore
Purpose: To enhance leadership development with ALSC by offering activities to develop members who have an interest in and commitment to the American Library Association and ALSC as future leaders.
Award: None to date, while the principal builds. We expect to award the first leadership activity to take place in 2016.


Our post today was written by the ALSC Budget Committee. 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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