Tag Archives: library

Summer Reading Program Plans

Summer is usually the busiest season for the public library, a fact that surprises no Youth Services librarian. This is my sixth Summer Reading season at a public library, though only my second in charge of the programing for the entire branch. Programming and planning these events are one of my favorite parts of my job, though I will freely admit that the summer is draining, and short staffing makes it difficult to find any down time.

Since I work in a branch that is part of a county library system, the theme is decided centrally, both the overall program theme and the bi-weekly programs. They even schedule programmers and send lesson plans, like with storytime. Around this time of year, I pull up the plans and start working out how we’ll take the plans and bring them to life. It starts with deciding the focus and brainstorming.

The overall theme is One World, Many Stories, and here are the weekly themes they have selected for the Children’s SRP, and what I have so far as for execution of the theme. Any ideas would be enthusiastically welcomed. Of course I’ll post further details of each program when we actually carry them out.

  • Week One: The Stories we Tell: Featuring a storyteller arranged by the youth services department, and crafts that might include making flannel boards and pieces to tell stories at home.
  • Week Two: Away We Go: Featuring geography games, map crafts, and some suitcase relays.  This is a work in progress.
  • Week Three: How We Live: Featuring my mother, who has been to almost 100 countries talking about markets, market places, and how food is prepared around the world. With pictures of her travels to all 7 continents. I’m still thinking of a craft to go with this, something food related, and we’re going to have an assortment of dried fruit for snack.
  • Week Four: Global Citizens: The availability of fresh drinking water is of great importance to kids all over the world, we’ll read some folk tales about water, learn about how some kids spend all day walking to get water, and about the importance of conserving water and accessing it. We’ll have water relay games, where kids have the chance to find out how hard it is to carry water, and work to move water over distances. I’m not sure what kind of craft to do, or if we need to do one.
  • Final Party: Guest Performer/Activity: I’m not firm on this one, but I think for the final party I’m going to try and book a performer to do an African Drum circle outside on the lawn. We’ll also have some crafts, and the handing out of the final prize for the summer reading program.

Poetry Appreciation

Poetry is hard.

I love it, I really do, but it is not as easy as it seems
to write,
to read,
to understand.

Like my love of picture books, it comes with a greater appreciation for
the importance of each word,
the weight of whitespace,
the rhythm and the rhyme.

Whenever I think, oh I can do that, I’ll see
a book that doesn’t quite work,
a rhyme that falls on its face,
a type face ridiculously out of place.

So how, can I tell kids
poetry is for them,
there isn’t a wrong way,
ANYONE can do it,

if I’m not sure of my own skill?

Ok, so I was going to write a post about getting kids to write poetry, but then it sort of became a poem. I was feeling inspired by reading Sharon Creech’s Love that Dog last week. So here is my contribution. A poem on my frustration over poetry. Poetry Friday is hosted at Madigan Reads today, head on over to check out the other great poems!

Twisted Fairy Tales

After I did my historical fiction book talk in February, the teacher e-mailed me to invite me back to share books again. *happy dance* I was also invited to visit another fourth grade class in the school. I’m planning on sharing the same books in the two classes, as there shouldn’t be any overlap of students. My theme for this set of book talks is twisted fairy tales/old fashioned fairy tales, with the Adam Gidwitz’ A Tale Dark and Grimm as the inspiration. In my library system it is in the teen section, but I think it is suitable for the 4th grade audience. Most of the kids are good readers, reading Percy Jackson and the like.

A Tale Dark and Grimm After introducing myself and announcing upcoming programs, I’ll read the introduction to A Tale Dark and Grimm, which lays out the theme for the book talk: fairy tales, and how they once were awesome and still are pretty good adventures. It is a good introduction to the tone of the book, as it is the narrator talking. I’d describe this book as a cross between the Brother’s Grimm and Lemony Snickett.

Then I plan on reading an original Brother’s Grimm’s tale, one of the more grim tales. I’m thinking the “Seven Ravens.” Grimm’s Fairy Tales are available from Project Gutenburg for free. We just got a new copy at the library, and I’ll bring that to show them where they can find these stories. I also have another collection of Grimm’s fairy tales called Grimm’s Grimmest, which is a little scary for them. I do warn them that it is violent, but that just gets them excited. Grimm's Grimmest

The Frog Princess (Tales of the Frog Princess, #1) Next I share something lighter, The Frog Princess, which is not as girly as the cover suggests, though there may be too much kissing for much crossover appeal. Honestly, if they cut a few of the kissing scenes this could be a good boy book. There are good parts about eating bugs, and adventure scenes running away from snakes. I was surprised that none of the kids had read it in the first class I visited.

How to Save Your Tail*: *if you are a rat nabbed by cats who really like stories about magic spoons, wolves with snout-warts, big, hairy chimney trolls . . . and cookies, too. After that, I introduced them to a pretty easy read How to Save Your Tail*: *if you are a rat nabbed by cats who really like stories about magic spoons, wolves with snout-warts, big, hairy chimney trolls . . . and cookies, too. It is sort of a Geronimo Stilton meets the Brother’s Grimm, with a little Arabian Nights. It is fun and not too scary, but also an easier read for struggling readers.

The Ordinary Princess I wrap it up with a book I loved from my childhood: An Ordinary Princess, it is kind of a girly book, and like the last book, it is easier read. I introduce the basic premise, but there is no cliffhanger in this book. At the same time, I think it is a gentler read and a nice counterpoint to the scariness of the first books.

For the first group I also did a little blurb for the Sister’s Grimm, but I think I’ll cut it for this final talk.
This post is part of Book Talk Tuesday, at Lemme Library, check out the other great posts!

Teen Tech Week

This year’s Teen Tech Week theme is Mash-ups, which is what I did LAST year. I could save myself time and energy and just do the same program again, but it wasn’t terribly well attended. So instead of pulling out the old power point, and sitting in an empty room hoping for kids to show up, I decided to do something different.

Like many libraries around the country, my library system is investing time and money into our digital collections. Mostly the books we have for download are paid for by the state library, and shared among all state residents. But with this new emphasis, the library hopes to put money of our own into building a digital library for our patrons. As part of this, I thought it would be good to demonstrate how to use these developing collections. I figure even if the teens aren’t that interested, there may be some adults who would like to come!

So I borrowed some e-readers, and an iPod, and got the software installed on the branch laptop. We also got an inexpensive flash drive mp3 player to raffle off. In an effort to reach out to more teens, I sent e-mails to the local schools. Thus far I’ve only heard back from one teacher. A special needs teacher who thought that this would be a good way to bring the library to kids who struggle with getting into the building, and who would benefit from audio books. I’ll be going to her school at the end of the month to give this presentation again.

We have a lot of patrons ask about how Netlibrary and Overdrive work, so hopefully some of them will come to the presentation so I can explain it all at once!

Meya Monday

Last year for Teen Tech Week we played with on line photo mash up tools, this was an example I made. We mostly used pictures of my dogs, though I let the kids take some pictures and we played with them too.

Gardening and Growing Things–Spring is Nearly Here!

With spring on the way, I’m ready to start my garden and am thinking of all they yummy things I want to plant this year. Partially because seed packets are sprouting in stores, bulbs are beginning to emerge, and this week we had Planting Time as our Storytime Theme. Our themes are decided centrally and the kits are sent out with books and finger plays. I’m not always a fan of the book selection, but I dutifully stick to the theme and try to use some of the fingerplays.

Here are some great read alouds for Gardening and Growing Things Theme!

Potato Joe Potato Joe, illustrated by Keith Baker. This is only sort of planting, but after counting, shouting, and generally fooling around, the potatoes do find themselves in the ground growing. It is a lot of fun for toddlers or preschoolers.

Up, Down, and Around Up, Down, and Around, Katherine Ayers. This one is a fantastic book to get the wiggles out, everything in the garden goes up, down, or around and kids can follow along by pointing and twirling their hands. Seeds go down, dirt piles up, water goes around and around. Plus you get to act out picking all the foods. Simple enough for toddlers, though it might be a little long for them it would be easy enough to cut out a few vegetable groupings.

My Garden My Garden, by Kevin Henkes. I love this creative vision of a garden from a little girl’s imagination. The kids in storytime were not as excited about this one, but they can be very literal. I think it could be a lot of fun with the right group.

Growing Vegetable Soup Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert. This book is a classic for a reason, it is simple and traces all the steps needed to create a garden. I actually didn’t read this one, but I have read it before in a toddler storytime.

Fun action songs for this theme:

(to the tune of The Farmer in the Dell)

The farmer plants the seeds,
The farmer plants the seeds,
Hi, Ho the cheery-o
The farmer plants the seeds

Other verses:
The sun begins to shine…
The rain begins to fall…
The plants begin to grow…
The Flowers smile at us…

or Raffi also has a great gardening song ‘In My Garden,” which I didn’t use (I promise!) partially because we only use Music Together songs and I can’t carry a tune to save my life. But I have used it before on a CD, just acting it out.

My first group had almost 40 kids in it, so it was a little crazy, the second was half as big, and calmer (not always the case, sometimes small groups can be rowdy!)

And to Think that I Saw it on Mulberry Street

Last week was Dr. Seuss’ birthday, and I had the opportunity to share some stories and activities with students. Including a surprise visit on Dr. Seuss’ birthday to share a story with two grades of students. The school librarian called and invited me to come read to 4th and 5th grade classes to help celebrate Read Across America. I’d already planned a pre-school visit for 11 am, so I wanted to squeeze this visit in before. So I had to find something I could share with these kids that wouldn’t take more then 10 min. This was harder then it seemed, because most Dr. Seuss stories are long, and could take twice as much as that easy! So I decided to read And to Think that I Saw it on Mulberry Street which is both one of my favorites and much shorter. And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street

It was interesting to read the same book for each class because no two classes reacted the same. One fifth grade class had a girl who just kept saying “that would be crazy messed up!” While one of the fourth grade classes had a group of girls whose response to my question about what could be added to the story Marco invents was to say “you could turn the page, that would make the story better!” Some kids had the book and followed around, while in one class kids muttered that they hated that book. My favorite part was asking the kids what things they could add to the parade to make it more exciting. There were lots of creative suggestions, a potato, dragons, missiles, talking animals. I hope that the kids take the message of the book and look at the world to find all the exciting things there are to see!

Picture Books are my Crack

As a Youth Services Librarian, I’m expected to stay up to date on all kinds of books for kids and teens, from graphic novels, beginning readers, through the gamut to all kinds of chapter books and series. Of all the books published for kids, picture books are my favorite. I glom onto all of the shiny new picture books that come in, sniff out new titles that patrons reserve, and haunt book review journals to find out when a new book by a favorite author is coming out. (The Quiet Book has a sequel, squeee!) I love to recommend books to patrons, except that most of the time my favorites are checked out. In the almost two years I’ve been here, I have tried to add more popular picture book titles, but have found that the collection on a day to day basis remains much the same, since most of the new books I bought are checked out most of the time.

So with my shiny new blog I want to start sharing some favorite picture books.

Today’s picture books are all great animal read alouds, not new books, but classics I can pull out and read to a group of kids on a moment’s notice.

Bark, George First is Bark, George! by Jules Feiffer A staple of storytimes everywhere, this is a great tool for developing narrative skills and getting kids involved in a book. It works for kids who are quite young, so long as they have a good grasp of their animal sounds. I use it for preschool through grade 2 visits, but my assistant will read it to anyone. I gave a copy to my niece and my sister says that she is finally getting the humor in the book. This is also a good book to do creative dramatics with or use puppets. They do make a puppet that goes with the story that you can buy, but I’ve adapted the story to use what ever puppets are on hand.

Second, and staying with the dog theme, Move Over, Rover!, by Karen Beaumont, Which has a rollicking rhythm and rhyme that draws children in, and a rainy day and animal theme that make this a good book for a number of story times. This book is for a narrower age range, probably preschool through kindergarten, though younger kids on a one on one basis could enjoy it. Move Over, Rover!

What Will Fat Cat Sit On? Third is What Will Fat Cat Sit On?, by Jan Thomas, which does have a dog in it. I love this book for the expressions on the animal’s faces, and the way that the author tries to draw the audience in. Also, I have a fat cat. I think that this book, The Doghouse, and Cow’s Birthday are pure genius. I’m not as enamored of her other work, but I do continue to buy it for the branch.

The last is a book I use all the time, but usually I just tell the story. It is Dog’s Colorful Day, by Emma Dodd. It is a great counting and color story, that I can do on a white board and can adapt to a number of themes. We did Ghost’s Colorful Day, and you could do Cat’s Colorful Day, and so on. It is fun to tell this story because you can engage the audience in thinking of messy things the creature encounters, and children can practice their number, color, and narrative skills. This is a toddler to preschool book, though I suppose Kindergarteners could enjoy it as well. Dog's Colorful Day: A Messy Story About Colors and Counting (Picture Puffins)

Outreach Overload

This year my resolution was to contact local schools and find ways to get into the class room or at least have them promote my programs there. I work in a fairly well off suburb, with probably three elementary schools within walking distance. But for the first year and a half of my time here, I had only done maybe three school visits and had two classes visit here. Mostly we have boy scouts and preschools coming for tours.

So at the first of the year I boldly sent off e-mails to the teachers in the elementary schools in the area, any e-mail I could find. I told them about our programs, and inviting them to contact me if they wanted me to visit. When I’d done this before, at a previous job, I’d received one e-mail back. This time I got at least 20 e-mails, some with thanks, but many wanting a visit, and the calls and e-mails keep coming in.

Success has meant trying to schedule visits in the meager hours of time I can escape the branch (ironically the one day that I have mostly free is the district’s early release day), but it has also meant many new programs to come up with to share. Since I didn’t really expect much of a response, I didn’t have scheduling requirements in mind. Now I’ve got to find a way to keep teachers inviting me, without having to constantly squeeze time out of a schedule stretched tight.

Any suggestions for good ways to communicate scheduling issues, while still encouraging teachers to invite us into the classroom?


Chicken Preschool Storytime

My boss came to observe this storytime, and I was pretty nervous. I actually recorded myself doing the storytime in advance so I would have plenty of practice, and so I would make sure I was panning and pacing correctly. That was a really good experience, and periodically I will do this if I’m worried about a flannel or activity. Fortunately my boss had lots of good things to say, just suggesting I make sure the volume on the CD player was high enough to reach the back of the room.

Opening Song: Jump Up, Turn Around, Jim Gill

Intro: Chicken puppet and eggs! (the chicken puppet actually laid eggs, we talked about vocabulary, and we had an egg in a shell puppet to talk about how chicks hatch from eggs)

Book: Cock-a-Doodle Quack! Quack!, Ivor Baddiel Cock-A-Doodle Quack Quack

Song: Milkshake Song, Songs for Wiggleworms

Book/Flannel Little Red Hen Little Red Hen Big Book
(First we read the book, then the children helped me tell the story with the flannel, and I told the parents about the importance of ready to read narrative skills, and encouraged the children to tell the story at home.)

Song: If You’re Happy and You Know It!

Flannel Where’s the Chicken? (I omitted this, as we were running short on time)

Book: Hungry Hen, Richard Waring Hungry Hen

Craft: Chick in Shell (children cut out shapes that came together to make an egg shape, which were hooked together with a brad, so a baby chick popped out)

Overall, this storytime was a lot of fun, and the excitement was added to when the flannel board unexpectedly came crashing down when I went to start the “Little Red Hen” flannel. The entire room of 65 children (mostly preschool age, but some toddlers and infants) and parents went dead silent, and fortunately no one was hurt, not even the flannel board. Everyone recovered quickly–and since I had everyone’s attention, we were able to continue with the story!