ALSC Institute Reflections

Last month I was lucky enough to attend the 2014 ALSC National Institute in Oakland, California thanks to a generous scholarship awarded to me by the Friends of ALSC. I am so grateful for the time spent at the Institute last month and would like to thank the Friends for enabling me to participate in such a stellar weekend of learning and fun. And a huge thanks to everyone at ALSC who worked hard to put together the Institute!

Fairyland Reception (Photo by Nicole Martin)

Fairyland Reception (Photo by Nicole Martin)

Some of my favorite moments from the Institute have to be the wonderful author presentations and panels, especially the hilarious author panel that took place at Children’s Fairyland with Jennifer Holmes, Daniel Handler and Mac Barnett. The crowd was filled with giggling librarians and even a few fairy wings! After our breakout sessions at the park, a reception awaited us in the Emerald City. There was even a yellow brick road! I excitedly stood in a lengthy line so Barnett and Handler could sign some favorite books for me. It was well worth the wait (and the cost to ship my book haul back to Ohio!). I also loved the Closing General Session, during which Andrea Davis Pinkney presented on her work and even sang a bit. She was so energetic and inspiring, truly closing the 2014 Institute with a high note.

Closing Keynote Speaker (Photo by Nicole Martin)

Closing Keynote Speaker (Photo by Nicole Martin)

I was pleasantly surprised at the ease of which I found myself navigating the conference center. I have attended two ALA Annual Conferences and I have yet to not find myself, at least once, mildly lost in a massive conference center trying to find a workshop. It was so great to be able to attend a workshop, drop off handouts in my hotel room and then make it back for another workshop session without getting lost or feeling rushed. This might seem trivial, but it made an impression for me!

I was especially impressed with the wealth of relevant workshop topics available throughout the Institute. Some of my favorite workshops were “Be a Winner! Inspired Youth Grant Writing”, “Tech Access on a Budget” and “Summer Lunch at the Library”. Each of these workshops offered me incredibly practical information and insight that I brought back to my library to share with administration and fellow librarians. I feel confident that our 2015 summer lunch program will be more successful than last year’s because of what I learned at the ALSC Institute. I returned to Ohio knowing that other librarians struggle with shoestring technology budgets and there are various routes to find grant funding.

Oakland farmer's market (Photo by Nicole Martin)

Oakland farmer’s market (Photo by Nicole Martin)

In addition to the great learning and networking opportunities at the Institute, I was happy to spend some time exploring the neighborhood and even managed to squeeze in time for sleep (a sometimes difficult endeavor!).  A wonderful farmer’s market was happening in the neighborhood adjacent to the conference center and I spent my lunch hour meandering the stalls and munching on delicious shrimp tacos.

I would highly recommend any librarians with an interest in serving youth to attend the next ALSC Institute. You won’t regret it! I would also encourage anyone who might be deterred by travel costs and registration fees to apply for the Friends of ALSC Scholarship. I applied rather humbly not expecting to win, and here I am writing my very own recap as a scholarship winner. The next recipient could be you!

_________________________________________________________

Nicole Lee Martin is a librarian at the Grafton-Midview Public Library and a 2014 Friends of ALSC Scholarship recipient.  You can contact her at nicolemartin@oplin.org .

Posted in Awards & Scholarships, Conferences/Meetings/Institutes, Friends of ALSC, Guest Blogger, Institute 2014, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Parent-Child Home Program: A Partner for Reaching Underserved Populations

The economic divide in America is a growing concern to librarians, especially as we have learned time and again that children who come from households in the lower socio-economic brackets often enter Kindergarten less prepared than their more affluent peers. I don’t need to use this space to reiterate all of the research that shows how language-rich environments help children, and how libraries can help caregivers and children. I know that children’s librarians from across the country are already thinking creatively about how to best reach underserved populations with engaging outreach and programming. But did you know that there is a well established national nonprofit that already has connections with some of the hardest to reach families in your community? This nonprofit is eager to work with libraries because their mission very clearly overlaps with ours.

pchp logoThe Parent-Child Home Program (PCHP), an evidence-based early literacy, parenting, and school readiness model, is committed to closing the achievement gap by providing low-income families the skills and materials they need to prepare their children for school and life success.www.parent-child.org

PCHP was founded in 1965, and has years of data showing how their model helps children succeed. Community-based early literacy specialists, the PCHP home visitors, are hired and trained locally, and work with families in their homes, building trusting relationships over time. In the home, the home visitors model reading, conversation, and play activities for caregivers.

I spoke with Sarah Walzer, CEO of PCHP, and we agreed that public libraries and PCHP make perfect partners. Already, PCHP works with libraries around the country in various ways. 2 PCHP sites on Long Island, NY are actually housed in libraries (most are housed in school districts or through social services or other community-based organizations). All PCHP site coordinators and home visitors are encouraged to set up visits to local libraries, taking families to the library to get cards, book advice, and begin to feel comfortable and welcome there. PCHP staff sometimes reach out to local libraries to ask for specific programs, like bilingual storytimes or a special storytime for PCHP families.

Ms. Walzer emphasized that PCHP staff are experts in connecting with the families we want to reach: non-native English speakers, new immigrants, and those living at the bottom of the economic ladder. We should be using these experts to help us reach families and learn more about how to best serve them.

I encourage you to use the PCHP website to find if there is a site located near you. If there is, pick up the phone and reach out to them! We can work together to help children have success in school and life. Do you already work with a local PCHP site or have ideas of how to partner with them? Please share in the comments.

Ashley Waring is a Children’s Librarian at the Reading Public Library in Reading, MA. She is a member of the ALSC Liaison with National Organizations Committee.

Posted in Call to Action, Committees, Early Literacy, Guest Blogger, Partnerships | Leave a comment

Reminder! Nov. 1 ALSC Professional Awards Due Dates

This your two-week reminder! Next Friday, November 1 is the due date for three very exciting professional awards. Below is list of ALSC professional awards which are available for submission or nomination. Please consider applying or nominating a colleague:

Louise Seaman Bechtel Fellowship
Deadline: Extended to Saturday, November 1, 2014

This fellowship provides a $4,000 stipend to allow a qualified children’s librarian to spend a month or more reading at the University of Florida’s Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature.

Maureen Hayes Author/Illustrator Award
Deadline: Saturday, November 1, 2014

This $4,000 award was established with funding from Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, in honor of Maureen Hayes, to bring together children and nationally recognized authors/illustrators.

ALSC/Baker & Taylor Summer Reading Grant
Deadline: Saturday, November 1, 2014

This $3,000 grant provides financial assistance to a public library for developing an outstanding summer reading program for children.

Posted in Awards & Scholarships, Blogger Dan Rude, Professional Development | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

We’ve Suffered Enough!

By Feťour via Wikimedia Commons

By Feťour via Wikimedia Commons

“It is of the opinion of Lemony Snicket, author, reader, and alleged malcontent, that librarians have suffered enough.”

This is how the opening of the description of the Lemony Snicket Award begins. Created by Daniel Handler (Snicket’s grownup name), the annual prize honors a librarian who has maintained their dignity and integrity while facing some sort of unfortunate events.

Adversity can come in many forms. For some, it may be budget cuts. For others, challenges to the collection and filtering mandates are everyday trials and tribulations. Last year’s award winner, Laurence Copel, opened a small library in her home (and created a bike bookmobile!!) through self funding and donations in order to provide the residents- especially the children- of the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans books.

Each year, Snicket provides the winning librarian with a $3,000 prize, as well as $1,000 to cover the cost of travel to and from Annual. Winners also receive a certificate and a symbolic object. Last year, Copel won a platter decorated by Mo Willems that depicted her riding her bike bookmobile.

The deadline for this year’s nominations is December 1st encouraged to nominate themselves and applications can be filled out online. Completed applications must have a description of the event, contact information for the nominee, and contact information for the nominator (if applicable). For more information on the award, visit the ALA website.

Alyson Feldman-Piltch, ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee

Posted in Awards & Scholarships, Blogger Intellectual Freedom Committee | Leave a comment

You know you’re an (old) children’s librarian when …

You know you’re an old  experienced children’s librarian when …

… you make public school outreach visits and you can recognize some of the kids from baby story time!

I spotted one child I remember from when I visited with his preschool class years ago. He was always the one with yogurt and Cheerios ® smashed on his head! :)

 Child-Messy-8207

Photo: By Loadmaster (David R. Tribble) This image was made by Loadmaster (David R. Tribble) Email the author: David R. Tribble Also see my personal gallery at Google Picasa (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Have a great weekend, all, and remember – today’s babies are tomorrow’s library patrons.

Posted in Blogger Lisa Taylor, Bloggers, Outreach, Slice of Life | 2 Comments

Thinking about STEAM as Pop-Up Programs

One of my goals for programming at my new library is to increase the frequency of pop-up programs in the youth area. We offer a great range of formal, specific-place/specific-time programs every quarter, but I’ve been thinking about whom these types of programs engage. I’m still learning the demographics of youth and families at my new job, but I do have the feeling that the Venn diagram circles of kids who come to the library and kids who come to programs are not wholly overlapping. Why not provide pop-up programs, then, that can take place in the open, without registration restrictions or time requirements, on days and at times when lots of kids are in the space? And why not structure these pop-ups around STEAM activities, which kids are hugely enjoying?

Here are five potential pop-up programs, one for each STEAM content area. These pop-ups would be facilitated and supervised by a staff member.

Science – Candy Chromatography, à la Steve Spangler

Stock up at post-holiday candy sales, grab some coffee filters and a cup of water, and you’re ready to see the true colors of kids’ favorite candies. Dunk a candy–preferably something that obviously has dye, like jelly beans, Skittles, and really dark candies–in the water for a few seconds, then set it on the coffee filter. Over the course of the next ten minutes, the dyes from the candy will separate and create something like colorful tree rings on the filter. Note: you can also do this with different types of ink pens to see the colors that actually make up black and blue ink.

Technology – MaKey MaKey!

Break out a fully-charged laptop and a MaKey MaKey kit so that kids can figure out how it works. Let them work collaboratively to figure out how to hook everything up (with plenty of options for conductive materials, like paper clips, dough, and even bananas), then play a game or two from the MaKey MaKey website with their homemade controller before letting another kid have a chance.

Engineering – The Perfect Paper Airplane

Offer all the supplies to make a wide range of paper airplanes: paper in different weights, paper clips, straws, tape, scissors, etc. Don’t forget to include books and/or print-out instructions for paper airplane designs to give kids a starting-off point. Mark out a flying course on the floor/ground (masking tape if inside, chalk if outside) so you can see how far planes fly. Encourage kids to modify their designs to produce longer flight distances.

Art – Friendship Bracelets

Set out different colors of embroidery floss, some masking tape and scissors, and a few books on bracelet designs and let kids spend some time making the designs of their choosing. This may seem like a pretty standard craft, not necessarily a STEAM arts activity; but in actuality, there’s a ton of math involved in figuring out how to weave and create patterns. Bonus of this activity: once kids have the basics of their design, they can socialize as they work, potentially building a camaraderie between kids who tend to be at the library at the same times but never really interact.

Math – Tangrams

Allow kids to engage in some visual problem-solving by setting out tangrams and designs for them to replicate using the shape pieces. You can offer plastic tangram pieces, or print out a tangram template so that kids can cut out and keep their pieces. For kids who get really into solving these puzzles, you can even have speed races to see how quickly kids can figure out different designs.

One of the great things about these types of pop-up programs is that they can translate to lots of different settings. Since they involve limited designated space and few materials, these activities can be “packed up,” so to speak, to accompany a library staffer on outreach, or to bookmobile stops frequented by families with children. When it comes down to it, STEAM pop-ups allow us to provide access to engaging activities and interesting ideas in a context that may be much more viable for many of the families who use our libraries, but never step through the program room door.

Do you offer pop-up programming at your library?

Posted in Blogger Amy Koester, Programming Ideas, STEM/STEAM | Tagged | Leave a comment

Multiculturalism & Diversity: What is the Difference, and Why it’s Important

I’m going to be completely honest with you, I have written- and rewritten- this blog post about 10 times. It’s not because I don’t know what to say, it’s because I have too much to say. When you spend as much time, energy and passion on Multicultural Children’s Literature as I have, it sometimes becomes hard to step back and see the forest- not just the trees.

When this happens, I literally play entire conversations out in my head, just so I can streamline my thoughts. This is the conversation going on in my head right now:

My Brain (MB): Okay Alyson, here’s your chance to explain to all these people the one thing you’re so passionate about. Try not to make it so wordy (too late), and think, if there was one sentence that you could use to sum up multicultural literature, what would it be?

Me: I guess, well who I am I kidding, I know that that one sentence would be: “It’s all about authenticity.”

MB: See, that wasn’t so hard, was it?

___________________________________________

Multicultural literature can be a mirror, a window, and a sliding glass door 1: it can be a reflection of the reader, it can show them another world, and it can empower them to take action. It is written from an authentic perspective by a member of the subject’s culture or someone who has been privy to those experiences 2, and is respectful and free of stereotypical depictions both in words and images.

Multicultural literature is important, because all too often it allows us to hear the voices of those who have been silenced and whose stories have not been told.

Multicultural Children’s Literature is about more than just the Pura Belpré medal, and the Coretta Scott King award. It’s about making these stories, experiences, and lives- especially those that aren’t represented by awards- heard all the time.   Multiculturalism is about more than just race and creed. It’s gender, sexuality, religion- it’s identity; and it’s about insuring they are shared in an authentic way.

Right now, there is a groundswell of support for diversity in the book world. I urge you to take that one step further, and push for multiculturalism. I’m not asking you to write a letter to a publisher or even use a hash tag- not everyone is comfortable with that. I’m asking that you start looking through your collections to make sure that you have books that reflect the author’s unique and authentic perspective. That the works be free of stereotypes and that they make you feel as though you are looking at yourself while learning about someone else.

Recommended Reading:

Campbell, Shelley. “Windows and Mirrors: A Case for More Multicultural Children’s Books Illinois Children’s Choice Award Lists.” Illinois Reading Council Journal 38.  (2010): 33. Web.

Johnson Higgins, Jennifer. “Multicultural Children’s Literature: Creating and Applying an Evaluation Tool in Response to the Needs of Urban

Educators.” New Horizons for Learning (2000): n. pag. Http://education.jhu.edu/PD/newhorizons/strategies/topics/multicultural-education/multicultural-childrens-literature/. Johns Hopkins University. Web.

Landt, Susan M. “Children’s Literature with Diverse Perspectives: Reflecting All Students.” The Dragon Lode 32.1 (2013): 21-31. Print.

Norton, Donna E. Multicultural Children’s Literature: Through the Eyes of Many Children. 4th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Merrill Prentice Hall, 2013. Print.

Rochman, Hazel. Against Borders: Promoting Books for a Multicultural World. Chicago: American Library Association, 1993. Print.

Sims Bishop, Rudine. Perspectives: Choosing and Using Books for the Classroom. 3rd ed. Vol. 6. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 1990.

Woodson, Jacqueline. “Who Can Tell My Story.” The Horn Book Magazine 74.Jan/Feb  (1998): 34-38.

********************************************************

Footnotes:

1  Sims Bishop, Rudine. Perspectives: Choosing and Using Books for the Classroom. 3rd ed. Vol. 6. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 1990.

2   Woodson, Jacqueline. “Who Can Tell My Story.” The Horn Book Magazine 74.Jan/Feb (1998): 34-38.

********************************************************

Our guest blogger today is Alyson Feldman-Piltch. Alyson lives in Brookline, MA. She is almost done with her MLS/MIS program and will graduate from Indiana University at Bloomington in May 2015. She is the Chair for the Task Force for Establishing Guidelines for Selecting Multicultural Materials through EMIERT-ALA, as well as a member of the ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee and the 2015 Stonewall Book Award Committee.

When she isn’t reading, doing homework, blogging, or sleeping, Alyson can usually be found at Fenway Park or a midnight movie showing at the Coolidge Corner Theatre. She can be reached at alyson.fp@gmail.com and can be found on Twitter by following @aly_fp.

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 alscblog@gmail.com.

Posted in Diversity, Evaluation of Media, Guest Blogger | Tagged | 2 Comments

Mind Your Manners: Teaching Life Skills in the Library

A few weeks ago, a special education teacher approached our Youth Department, asking if a librarian might be able to plan a visit for her life skills class of high school students. Her class made regular visits to our library once a month to read and check out books. They were already comfortable visiting the Youth Department, since the materials that they were most interested in were housed in our part of the library. As much as she and her class enjoyed these visits, she wanted to explore the possibility of making the visit richer with learning and interaction, involving a librarian to lead 30 minutes of stories activities. Her goals for the visit were relatively simple: read books which demonstrate using manners in social situations, incorporate sensory and movement activities into the visit, and provide opportunities for her students to practice using manners in real life situations. Her students had been practicing using their manners in the classroom, in the lunchroom, and had plans to make a few field trips outside the school to extend the learning. We, of course, just had to say yes!

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51mudiN6ZZL.jpgA great tip for collaborating on a school visit is to ask questions and plan ahead. Ask if there is a particular reading level that works best for readalouds. As the teacher and I discussed the visit, I learned that picture books and easy non-fiction materials would work best for her class as readalouds. So, I selected several books to read—both fiction and non-fiction—that would be both informative and entertaining for the audience.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-bY_zPzSWXIo/TiN3vAyilHI/AAAAAAAAAYA/nUK76JhyEAo/s1600/symbol4.jpgAnother helpful tip is to ask what type of accommodations would work best for her students. For example, would creating a visual schedule of the visit’s activities help alleviate anxiety for her students? I also learned that her students would benefit greatly from the use of visual supports, as a way for them to see what was coming next. So, I put together a large group schedule, using Boardmaker images to coincide with the various activities. Each 8 1/2″  x 11” piece of paper included a large graphic as well as simple, easy to decode text. For example, I put together one sign that included the text “Play a Game” and displayed an image of a large, multicolored parachute.

You may also want to ask the teacher if her students have any specific triggers that might be helpful for you to know about in advance. For example, does music cause discomfort or distress in some of her students? If so, you may want to reconsider using a music CD and decide just to sign a song aloud using your own voice. The teacher did happen to mention that one of her students has the tendency to run when that student gets frustrated or upset. This was useful information for me to know, as I wouldn’t be caught off-guard in case this happened during the visit.

Here is an outline of the program that we implemented with her students:

  • Review Visual Schedule: As a way to let the students know what we would be doing, I reviewed the visual schedule by going over each activity individually using clear and specific “First… Then…” language.
  • Hello Activity: I began the storytime by introducing myself as “Miss Renee.” I then invited each students and teachers to introduce themselves to the classroom by saying “Hi, my name is…” Then, the group replied “Hello, [student’s name]” as a way to practice good manners by greeting others.
  • Read a Book: How do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food by Jane Yolen
  • Read a Book: Suppose You Meet a Dinosaur: A First Book of Manners by Judy Sierra
  • Play a Game with a Ball: I pulled out four different sized sensory balls and invited the group to move into a circle. The object of this activity was to have each student to ask another student or teacher if they could pass them the ball using their most polite manners. For example, “Daniel, would you please roll me that purple, spiky ball?” We passed, rolled, bounced, and threw the balls twice around the circle, allowing each student the chance to participate a few times.
  • Read a Book: Manners in the Lunch Room (Way to Be: Manners! Series) by Amanda Tourville
  • Play a Game with a Parachute: I brought out the parachute, and asked if everyone would stand up. This time, we went around the circle and each student was encouraged to dictate to the group (using their manners) what they wanted to do with the parachute. For instance, Jean would say “Could we please wave the wave the parachute up and down really fast?” Each student was allowed a chance to have the group play with the parachute in their own way.
  • Read a Book: Manners in the Library (Way to Be: Manners! Series) by Carrie Finn
  • Sing a Song “If You’re Happy and You Know It” (with ASL): We sung the first verse of this traditional song, but then incorporated ASL signs that aligned with our theme in the additional verses. For example “If you’re polite and you know it, just say “please.” (ASL sign for please) and “If you’re grateful and you know it, just say “thank you.” (ASL sign for thank you). Check out Jbrary’s great post about Using American Sign Language in Storytime for more ideas about how to utilize ASL in programs.
  • Library Activity: The teacher instructed the students to write note cards in advance with questions they wanted to ask librarians. The students took turns going to the desk and asking their questions, and the librarians took them to the shelves to help them find books that they liked based on their interests. After they practiced asking their questions and using their manners, librarians gave each student a small incentive (a sticker) for visiting to the library.

Overall, it was a fantastic success–so much so that the teacher asked if we could make this a regular part of their monthly visits.  And again, how could we say no?

Partnering with your local special education district is a great way to provide students with disabilities opportunities for learning outside the classroom. By giving students the chance to practice life skills in a library environment, librarians can help prepare them to be successful in their daily lives. It’s important that all library staff at all levels are aware and prepared to provide excellent, inclusive library service. Children’s, Tween, and Teen Librarians can work together to lead this type of programming. So, the next time that you are approached by a local special education teacher, think about getting your tween or teen librarians on board, too.

For more great ideas about lesson planning for tweens and young adults with special needs, check out this fantastic post written by Sarah Okner from the Vernon Area Public Library about her experience Visiting High School Special Education Classrooms.

Posted in Blogger Renee Grassi, Diversity, Library Design and Accessibility, Outreach, Programming Ideas, Special Needs Awareness, Storytime, Students, Uncategorized | Leave a comment