Parachute ideas for all kinds of programs!

Stumped for ideas for using the parachute at storytime?

Think outside the picture books stacks!

Here are some great ideas for incorporating material from other areas of your collection.

Want to make your own clip art?

Here are a few tips and tricks to get you started!

Some easy ways to spice up your site!

Be sure to suggest your favorites in the comments!

Ideas for incorporating factual materials into storytime

There is lots of great nonfiction for kids out there. If I missed your favorite, leave a comment!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Show Me The Awesome: Finding My Voice

For Show Me The Awesome, I wanted to write about one of the things I do really well: preschool visits. I have to say that I absolutely love this age group and find their enthusiasm infectious.I can remember being so nervous to do any kind of visits when I first started out. The fear of a group of strangers was terrifying to me (even if those strangers only came up to my knees).

 It took a while before I realized that the trick to a successful group visit was to share my absolute favorite material, and nothing less and then my natural enthusiasm for those stories would shine through. Realizing that was my "lightbulb moment" and I have looked forward to having preK classes come in to my library ever since.

Being a great youth services librarian means finding your own voice. It means I'm constantly discovering books that fit with my personal voice and style. What are your favorites? Please share them in the comments. Here are mine:

Silly Sally by Audrey Wood
Red Sled by Lita Judge
Can You Make a Scary Face? by Jan Thomas
Monkey and Me by Emily Gravett
BINGO draw and tell story by Dr. Jean
Little Mouse, Little Mouse felt board story (traditional) 

Tween Book Club: Unsinkable by Gordon Korman

May's selection for the tween book club was Gordon Korman's Unsinkable. I've been a fan of Korman since I was a teenager myself and I knew the kids would love to read the first book in his Titanic series. They even noticed right away that the three cover photographs together show a complete image of the Titanic!

As far as what we did, we talked about some general book discussion questions. I followed Abby the Librarian's suggestion to use the book 882 1/2 Amazing Answers About the Titanic to share some trivia. We also did a Titanic crossword puzzle I found. I pulled a lot of our Titanic books and let the attendees go through them and share anything they found interesting.

Unfortunately this program was held during that big storm on Monday evening, so we had a small turnout and most of the girls who came were not able to finish the book. But we spent a lot of time just talking and I think it was still a fun time for them. I am really enjoying getting to know these young ladies! This was our last meeting until September, but luckily they will all be joining me again in the fall. If you have any ideas for a book that would be fun for us to read in the next school year, please suggest it in the comments! We usually read paperbacks and the program is open to kids in grades 4-6. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

There's a First Time for Everything: Booktalking

I have been in youth services for more than 6 years in public libraries and this is the first year I've ever been asked to go to schools and booktalk! I will admit to completely panicking at first, but then-- like any good librarian would-- I started doing some research. Now I am sharing some of the resources I discovered along the way.

A search in my library's catalog for "booktalk" turned up an awesome book from 2003: The Booktalker's Bible: How to Talk About the Books You Love to Any Audience by Chapple Langemack. I found Chapple to be very reassuring to me even while most of the recommended titles given as sample booktalks are actually adult books. The advice is solid no matter your audience.

I also found Silly Books to Read Aloud by Rob Reid to be a great source of short book talks. I will be the first person to admit that my personal reading tastes tend towards the macabre so I thought this was a great way of balancing the mood and throwing some funny titles in the mix as well.

Before I started writing my talks, I found it really helpful to listen to some of the audio ones that Multnomah County Library has on their podcast for Kids and Teen Booktalks. It gave me a sense of what to include since I hadn't done any booktalking as a professional but did write some in my YA literature class in library school. I also looked at some book reviews aimed at a tween/teenage (not professional librarian) audience to see how the books' plots and appeal were being described.

Book Speed Dating Rating Card
Here are the titles I booktalked* to the 5th graders: 
Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater
The Twits by Roald Dahl
Belly Up by Stuart Gibbs
A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
Middle School is Worse Than Meatloaf by Jennifer Holm
The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen
Smile by Raina Telgemeier
Weird But True! 2: 300 Outrageous Facts by National Geographic
BOMB: The Race to Build--And Steal--The World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin

I also did a "book speed dating" part of the program where I pulled some of the titles that we have used as book discussion group books at my library in the past (and thus had lots of copies). The kids had a few minutes to "sample" the book by reading the blurb and possibly a few pages and then I gave them a sheet to mark done whether they wanted to read it or not and included a space for them to jot notes down. I saw this idea on a blog months ago--can't remember which, so sorry!--and loved it. My fellow Michigander and someday-best-friend-but-doesn't-know-it-Colby Sharp just posted about how he does book speed dating in his classroom. I like that it gives kids permission to say "NO, THAT BOOK IS NOT FOR ME." Summer reading is all about choice, right?

The books the kids got a chance to "date"** were: 
The Lightening Thief by Rick Riordan
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

If anyone has any advice for fun ways to spice up booktalking, or any advice at all, I'd love if you'd leave a comment below. Or recommend your favorite books to do at this type of occasion!


*Yes, I read all of these before booktalking them. I tried to come up with books for varying reading, interest, and maturity levels because the kids vary so widely at this age.
**These too

Monday, May 13, 2013

Tween Book Club: WONDER by R.J. Palacio

At my new job, one of the programs I'm doing is a book club for tweens grades 4-6. April was my first time leading it and the book selection* was Wonder by R.J. Palacio. The kids seemed to like it well enough but no one raved about it.

Here's a little background on how the book club works. We meet once a month, during the school year only, on a Monday evening at 6. The library provides dinner (pizza) and a drink (Capri Sun or pop--NOT SODA). The books (usually paperbacks, but not with Wonder since it was only available in hardcover) are purchased out of the library's programming budget and are only used for book clubs system-wide (often, summer reading prize books are added into this collection). The kids register and there's usually around 5 kids, which is a small program for us but easily managed.

For Wonder, I printed off the book discussion group questions from the author's site. I also made a playlist for the book's trailer and some of the songs quoted in the book on YouTube as I didn't think the kids would be too familiar with some of the lesser known songs. The kids spent most of the time working on the word search I made made  using names from the characters and concepts from the book (like precepts) and getting to know each other. We also talked about the precepts and what ours would be.

*Both April and May (Unsinkable by Gordon Korman) book club selections were made by my predecessor before I came on board. Luckily for me, I'd already read and liked them both before I started but re-read to freshen my memory. I'm a huge Gordon Korman nut (and have been since high school when I read Don't Care High!) so I am looking forward to the end of the month when we talk about that book. I really enjoyed our first book club meeting!