Skip to main content


Showing posts from January, 2013

2013 Reader's Advisory Challenge

Inspired by Abby, I've challenged myself to up my reader's advisory (RA) game this year. I have long wanted to improve my RA knowledge-base and I think this is a great way of doing so. My other full-time staff member is working on it as well, as is the adult services department (in a modified way).

I plan to update this (and only this) post with the titles I read each month, so I don't bombard you because I know no one really cares. I am just going to list titles and perhaps a few notes here. Longer reviews can be found on my GoodReads page. I'm looking for titles you think I should read, given that the intent is to find books I can recommend to the kids in my town. We are using these booklists but if you have any suggestions, please leave a comment!

2013 Reader's Advisory Challenge
January - Mystery
Belly Up by Stuart Gibbs Great read-alike for Hiassen fans. My only quibble is there are a few minor references to someone smelling like marijuana and a few minor curses.…

Dream Program: Live Stream the ALA Youth Media Awards

As you probably already know, yesterday the American Library Association announced the winners of the Youth Media Awards, a group that includes the prestigious Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz medals. Lots of us were tuned to the livestreaming free webcast of the awards announcements, whether we were at home  or at work.  I was at home and didn't tune into the webcast, but I was following the Twitter stream at #alayma closely.

A program I would love to do would be to implement a Mock Awards process and then live stream the Awards announcement for any patrons who wished to view them. I'm not guaranteeing huge numbers for this as the Awards are given out early on Monday morning while most of us are at work, but it wouldn't necessarily be that hard or expensive to put together. And what fun to celebrate them as they happen with people who participated in a Mock Caldecott or Newbery vote! You could also show the finished video of the awards after school or that evening to better…

Ethical Problems in Youth Librarianship Round 2 Results

I want to thank everyone who participated in both rounds of my ethical surveys. It has been really interesting to me to think through some of the issues around providing service to kids and teens. Once again, I'd like to encourage those of you who are managers or teach aspiring librarians to use some of this information in your trainings. It is also worth thinking about these issues as we examine our policies. Warning: Pie charts aplenty in this post!

Here are the results from last week's ethical problems survey (missing scenario #s had a text entry field/were not multiple choice, so you can view answers to those questions by clicking the full results link):

See all responses here. Round 1's results were published here.

"Going to the Circus" Cut and Tell Rhyme

I was inspired by (re)noticing Grandma's Magic Scissors in our collection to try and pair cuttings of some of the patterns in the book with some favorite fingerplays and rhymes. The first one I'm going to share with you is called "Going to the Circus" and I found it in Creative Resources for the Early Childhood Classroom (5th Edition).

Going to the Circus Start with a closed fist and raise one finger as in the rhyme.  Going to the circus to have a lot of fun.  The animals parading one by one.  Now they are walking 2 by 2, A great big lion and a caribou. Now they are walking 3 by 3,  The elephants and the chimpanzee.  Now they are walking 4 by 4, A striped tiger and a big old bear. Now they are walking 5 by 5, It makes us laugh when they arrive. 
I used the elephant pattern from page 55 in Grandma's Magic Scissors. There is also a seal one on page 78. This probably isn't a "true" cut and tell because the cutting doesn't necessarily correlate with …

More Ethical Scenarios for Youth Librarians

Last week, we talked about sticky situations youth librarians can find themselves in. If you'd like to read through all the responses, I've published it as a web page. I would have done a PDF, but there were 31 responses (thank you!) and it was an obscene amount of paper. I found it easier to read all the responses to the first question and then scroll back up to the top to read the second set of answers, and so on.

There were so many interesting dilemmas suggested, that I'm back with a much longer survey. I made some of the ones that seemed "yes/no" into multiple choice questions. You can elaborate in the comments, at the end, if you wish to explain an answer.

Take the follow-up survey here! As before, no identifying information is requested. Responses will be identified by a date/time stamp. None of the questions are "required." I will post the results in the same format as the previous version's. I will leave the survey open until at least Thursda…

Valentine's Day in the Library

I love a good holiday display! I'm the only youth librarian in my library system, so I get to do displays for everyone from babies to teens. A holiday display is an easy way to highlight a little something for everyone. Here's what I did for the readers of picture and teen books in the library. I had grand plans of doing something for the chapter book readers, but we really only have 2 spaces where it makes sense to put a display. I need to brainstorm a solution.

Picture books: 
I usually put picture books in our display case. Unfortunately this is the darkest area in my department. It is also very narrow here by the entrance, so it is impossible to get a good picture. But I tried!

I cut some hearts freehand out of cardstock. Once I put tacked them into the display case, I realized it would be fun to decorate them like those awful-tasting conversation hearts you find around Valentine's Day. I used a Sharpie and wrote things like:

Text Me2 SweetLuv YaRead MeCall Me MaybeHapp…

"A Soup Opera" by Jim Gill (with puppets)

If you have a group of children's librarians, and you ask them who their favorite musician for kids is... you're probably going to hear Jim Gill's name come up a lot. And for good reason! Jim's songs are interactive, which is the kids love and his voice is much more pleasant to adult ears than some other performers I won't name.

I've had the pleasure of seeing Jim perform live a few times in the Grand Rapids area and he always puts on a great show. One of the best parts is when performs his book A Soup Opera with puppets made from the illustrations in his book. I decided to make my own version using coloring pages I found on the Internet and paint stirrers.

The only tricky thing about this one is making sure the voices and puppets match gender-wise. I did drop The Mayor from my version because I don't think preschoolers really grasp the different between a mayor and the president and it also goes on a little long. This show is easy to put on by yourself. I…

The Gnome Game

One of the things I added to the summer reading program at my library when I started was a weekly contest. The past few years, it has been a simple trivia contest. We draw a couple winners each week and they get to pick a free book. This year, I wanted to try something a little different for at least one week. I decided to hide a gnome named David in the youth department and have kids try to find him. I used a pattern from the 2013 summer reading manual and traced it onto a milk filter.

My question for the readers: Where do you think I should hide him? We have a smaller youth department and I don't want it to be too hard for the little ones. I'm less worried about it being too easy.

Looking for more summer reading 2013 ideas? I'm keeping them all in one big Dig Into Reading post

On Target: Benchmarks for Success as a Librarian

Here's a topic I've been thinking a lot about lately: how do we gauge the success of our youth departments (and by extension, our own work)? We all know librarians love statistics. We track circulation (daily, monthly and yearly), program attendance (same), and patron visitors (same).

At my old library, branches were given specific targets to hit. I can't remember exactly what they were, but they were things like:
The number of children registered for summer reading should increase 3% over the previous yearCirculation of picture books should increase 5% over the previous yearRegistered library cards should increase 10% over the baseline year There were suggestions for how you could hit these targets:  School visitsDisplaysTalking to every single family checking out books about joining SRPEncouraging families to sign up for individual cards vs. everyone using mom's or dad's Obviously putting smiles on faces is a wonderful thing, but I think we have an apprehension in…

Indoor Blizzard

Do you know what you get when you combine a parachute and 3 bags of jumbo cotton balls? An indoor blizzard! I tried this for the first time at my storytime this week and it was so much fun. Whether your library is somewhere that gets snow or not, your kids will love this.

My top tip would be to try and pour the bags out in the middle of the parachute for maximum snowosity. After all the snowballs flew out of the parachute, I had the kids run and grab them so we could play again. The second time, we had a contest to see who could pick the most up and bring them to me.

Has anyone done this before? I don't think I saw this on a storytime blog, but maybe? If you posted it, let me know and I'll edit this. 

Ethics & Children's Librarianship

Many of the courses I took when I was working on my MLS covered ethics, but none of them were classes that dealt specifically with working with children. I think there are sticky situations that come up more often when kids are involved. I thought it would be interesting to pose a few to the readers and see how we think they should be resolved.

 I know some of the people who read this blog also teach library school or children's literature classes. I'd love if you posed these questions to your students and shared what they have to say.

Scenario #1: A parent brings a copy of The Hunger Games up to you and asks if you think it's appropriate for their 8-year old child. How do you proceed?

Scenario #2: A teen asks you for a copy of 50 Shades of Gray. Would you check it out to them (or put it on hold for them)? Would everyone at your library be willing to do so? Would you discuss the contents of the book with them, whether you've read it or not, I think we all have a prett…

Winter Themed Storytime

Red Sled by JudgeSnowballs by EhlertBrownie & Pearl See the Sights by RylantA Perfect Day by Berger Flannels & Storytelling Three Little Snowmen (borrowed from Lisa's) I changed it to 3 because we had so many other things I wanted to get through this weekSnowball, SnowballMy House Draw and Tell My Kitten's Mitten Movement Activities Make it snow by putting a few bags of cotton balls on the parachute and bouncing them in the air! Give each kid a pair of paper plates and let them "ice skate" on the carpet. Craft Make a Snowperson

"Shadow Wash" by Shel Silverstein

"Shadow Wash" by Shel Silverstein (Where The Sidewalk Ends, page 113) is the tragic tale of the narrator's attempt to wash her shadow and it (spoiler alert!) shrinks! I've been trying to incorporate more poetry into storytimes.

I saw this idea in Nancy Renfro's Storytelling with Puppets. Before you start the poem, talk to the kids about their shadows. Then ask them "Have you ever washed your shadow? No? Maybe it's time you did!" Then go right into the poem, which is best as a prop story.

To tell it, you'll need a large shadow and a smaller shadow (pattern I made, can be enlarged to whatever size is desired) cut out of felt. Hide the small shadow in a container (bucket, bowl, etc.). Show the large shadow as you tell the poem, and put it the container when indicated by the text. Pull the "shrunken" shadow out at the appropriate time. A small bottle of soap could complete the effect, but is not required.
Doing a shadow-themed storytime? …

2012's Most Wanted List

In 2011, I did a post of the most circulating books at my library. I thought it would be fun to do the same for 2012. The only difference is that the 2011 list was done following the school year calendar, and this one is calendar year.

Background: We are a public library in Michigan with about 25,000 people in and just outside of a small city. Books and audiobooks circulate for 3 weeks and can be renewed for the same amount of time if no one is on hold for them.

Board Books and Picture Books
All of these circulated 14 or more times in 2012. This category was dominated by Tedd Arnold (Fly Guy series) and Karen Katz's books. 

Nap Time for Kitty
High Fives with Julius and Friends
Twinkle Toes
Spring is Here
There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Fly Guy
Fly Guy Meets Fly Girl
Buzz Boy and Fly Guy
Trouble at the Krusty Krab
Castle Under Attack
Mission to the Arctic
All Aboard!
The Amazing Spongebobini
Disney's Storybook Collection

Interestingly, only the last two books are cataloging on our regula…

Don't You Forget About Me: Programming Ideas for 20- and 30-Somethings

One age-group libraries struggle to program for is 20- and 30-somethings. As a member of that age group, I thought I would share some ideas of dream programs that I would like to attend. Maybe some of your libraries can rock these out? Let's not exclude younger adults and forget about them until they're parents bringing kids to storytime (although I do have some ideas related to parenting).

The first is a Pinterest Party. I saw this idea on a blogger's instagram (PSST--follow me @sotomorrow). Her library invited people to come and do a show and tell of projects they had completed based on ideas from pins. You could also pick 3-5 quick, fun projects and set them up as stations, depending on how much room and time you have. If anyone reading this works at the Palo Alto Library (or another one that has done this), I'd love to hear how it went. A bunch of my regular patrons/moms are on Pinterest (and following me, so I am trying to behave, ha!) and it would be fun to get …

Wordplay Bulletin Board

My department has been long overdue for a new bulletin board. I took a few minutes this weekend to put together this easy "Scrabble"-style board. I used a free font called Scramble. I played with the font size until it was big enough to fit one tile on a page. These are font size of 450.

Put a (Series) Number on It!

A recent discussion on Twitter regarding the "new order" of the Chronicles of Narnia series prompted me to share how we handled this situation at my work. We actually put numbered stickers on all of the series books in the J and YA sections. This way I can put whatever order of numbers I want on C.S. Lewis's classic series.

I know it sounds like a lot of work to go back and do this retroactively, but it wasn't bad (says the staffer who didn't do it herself). When my assistant is processing new books, she looks up titles in the What's Next database maintained by Kent District Library (coincidentally, my previous employer). The numbered stickers were purchased from a vendor before I started working here, but most of them have been applied during my tenure. The trickiest books to do were all of the different Nancy Drews, because there are so. many. different. ones. The stickers go from 0-9, so she does have to trim some of them to fit if a book is in the double…

"Arthur's Nose" Shadow Puppets

You may remember that the show-stopper in our "set list" for shadow puppet show was Mother Mother I Feel Sick Send for the Doctor Quick Quick Quick, but the other full-length picture book we performed was Arthur's Nose by Marc Brown, the first book in the Arthur series. The plot centers on Arthur being embarrassed by his long aardvark nose so he decides to try on some other types of noses to see if any are a better fit. Eventually he decides he's happiest with his own nose. This whole story is made much funnier to me because Arthur's nose no longer bears any resemblance to the one in this book.

I thought it would be pretty confusing for the kids and parents if I used a puppet for the main character that looked anything like the aardvark Arthur, so I used the same image I manipulated to make the Nobody Likes Me felt board I posted previously.

Here's how I made this show (similar to the MMIFSSFTDQQQ process):

1. I drew all the noses I wanted in Paint. Some of …