Resources for Youth Services

Summer Reading is over! Many schools have already cranked up, and more will be getting going in the next couple of weeks. Fall, to me, means planning. I love doing long-term planning and reading materials that inspire me.  I’ve compiled a list here of a few more non-traditional resources that we could all benefit from. I hope one or all of these sparks your creative ideas for the fall!

Think Outside the Stacks – This is a TinyLetter newsletter written by Beth Saxon, also known as BethReads. Beth uses this newsletter to compile information that is relevant is YS librarians from outside the usual library sources–family blogs, news sources, museums, craft sites, educators. The title is apt. We have a lot to learn from people who aren’t librarians that also have interest in serving children and family, and Beth beautifully curates current, pertinent information.

Fairy Dust Teaching Blog – Fairy Dust Teaching is a resource site for teachers that actually offers online courses. But the blog is free to browse and is chock-full of classroom fun that can easily be adapted to library programming. She also highlights what educators all over the country are doing.

Planet Esmé – You might know Esmé Raji Codell from her book, Educating Esme, and her site is a wonderful resource for books, teaching, and other fun. You could get lost in those archives.

Podcasts are having their moment in the sun and I, for one, love them! Here are some great resources for podcasts that can help you be a better librarian:

Podcasts to Help Build Your Teen Collection: a post by Anna Dalin over at the Hub about great podcasts for collection development!

Secret Stacks – a podcast about comics in libraries by Kristin Lalonde and Thomas Maluck.

I hope this gets you started. Happy planning!


Our guest blogger from YALSA today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a Library Consultant at the Mississippi Library Commission.

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School Poems

Goodbye Summer Reading!  Hello School Time!
My cape is tucked away and our library super hero readers are almost off to school!

Laura Purdie Salas’s poem captures the summer reading theme of “Every Hero Has a Story” with imagination and books just as our super readers return to class.

Her cape is sewn from favorite pages
He battles bullies, beasts, and crooks
Their weapon is another world–
the world they choose–
inside of books

Laura Purdie Salas, all rights reserved

I picture students just like Salas’s poem with flying capes made out of book pages, backpacks filled with school supplies and lunches ready to eat.

School supplies ready! photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

School supplies ready! photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

Let’s start off the school year with some poetry noise. From Messing Around on the Monkey Bars: and Other School Poems for Two Voices by Betsty Franco to Shout!: Little Poems that Roar by Brod Bagert.  Sharing school poems is the perfect way to start the school year out.

Favorite school poetry books created on Riffle.

School Poetry Activities:

  • Listen to Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s poem, “New School New Year.”  After record your own.  Start out with the same word, “School.” Have everyone say it together, “SCHOOL!” Then go around the classroom and have the whole classroom share one word.  Maybe it’s their favorite subject in school, maybe it’s what school smells like or maybe it’s a favorite time like recess.  Go around the classroom having each student share one word then again faster and louder.  End the poem with everyone saying the word “school” together.
  • Create a School Poetry Display with your favorite school poems and school supplies. (If you have a school poetry display already created please share in the comments below.)
  • Attach a long piece of butcher paper in the shape of pencil on the back of a classroom or library door.  Invite students throughout the day to write what the pencil might say if it could talk.  Then read the poem, “Things To Do If You are a Pencil” by Elaine Magilano.
  • Write a school bus concrete poem or shape poem-Draw a HUGE school bus, add school bus noises and things students might say on the way to school.
  • Write a separate poem on “How are you getting to school?” Read “The Very First Day of School” by Deborah Ruddell.  Have the students use their imagination and create their own vehicle or way to get to school.  Examples: Flying chair, jumping shoes, rainbow wings…
  • Find an unusual object in the classroom and write a concrete poem.  Stuffed hedgehog, cuckoo clock on the wall, pink velvet chair—what unusual object do you see in the classroom? Describe it! Use butcher paper, crayons, pencils, markers and make it BIG or use colorful sticky notes and make a tiny concrete poem.  Display them around the room.
  • Write a list poem about what the desk, chair or chalk board (smart board) are saying when children are in the room.  One word after the other-Ouch! Thud!  Write another poem about the same object but when the classroom is empty. What do they when everyone has gone home?
  • Read “On Menu for School Today” by Rebecca Kai Doltish then write a quiet and LOUD poem about a pencil sharper and create new sounds! Thud! Clank!  The first word is in lower case and is quiet and then the second word is in all caps and is LOUD. Continue with one quiet word and then one loud word.
  • Act out “Kids Rule” by Brod Bagert.  Everyone up!  Tell everyone, we are going to do three things (hold up three fingers) and we are going to do those three things three times.  The three things are Run, Chew and Read! (act out)  Practice the three things. Run three times while saying run, run, run.  Pretend to eat your lunch while saying chew, chew, chew.  Hold up your hands like a book and read, read, read. At the end of the poem, have everyone shout out together, “Kids Learn!” “Kids Rule!”  Ready?

Explore more school poems and poetry ideas with Laura Purdie Salas, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater and Betsy Franco.

Enjoy and share “The Very First Day of School” by Deborah Ruddell from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations. Check out her new book, The Popcorn Astronauts. 

The Very First Day of School
by Deborah Ruddell

Today is the day . . . a really big day . . .
The very first day of school!
A Get-Yourself-Dressed Day
A Looking-Your-Best Day
The very first day of school!

Today is the day . . . a really big day . . .
The very first day of school!
A Brush-Your-Teeth-Quick Day
A Camera-Click Day
The very first day of school!
© 2015 Deborah Ruddell
from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations
by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong

El primer día de escuela
basado en “The Very First Day of School”
por Deborah Ruddell

Hoy es el día, el gran día . . .
¡el primer día de escuela!
El día de vestirse solo
El día de verse espectacular
¡El primer día de escuela!

Hoy es el día, el gran día . . .
¡El primer día de escuela!
El día de cepillarse rápido los dientes
El día de sacarse fotos sonrientes
¡El primer día de escuela!

from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations
by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong
© 2015 Pomelo Books

Paige Bentley-Flannery is a Community Librarian at Deschutes Public Library. For over fifteen years–from Seattle Art Museum to the New York Public Library to the Deschutes Public Library-Paige’s passion and creative style for art, poetry and literature have been combined with instructing, planning, and providing information. Paige is currently serving on the ALSC Notable Children’s Book Committee, 2015 – 2017. She is a former Chair of the ALSC Digital Content Task Force and member of the ALSC Great Websites Committee.




Posted in Blogger Paige Bentley-Flannery, Children's Literature (all forms), Programming Ideas | Tagged | 1 Comment

Outreach to Students with Disabilities in Mainstream Classrooms

People with disabilities can celebrate two legislative landmarks this year. The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) celebrated its 25th anniversary on July 26. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), signed into law in 1975, is now 40 years old.

IDEA, which guaranteed children with disabilities the right to be educated in the “least restrictive environment”, has been especially important for students in K – 12 schools. However, in many cases it seems that successful implementation of these laws is still in its infancy. One method of providing the “free appropriate public education” mandated by IDEA has been inclusion of students with disabilities in mainstream or general education classrooms. Educational support is provided by an aide in the classroom or scheduled visits to a resource room.

Several recent children’s books describe the experiences of fictional young people with disabilities in inclusive classrooms.

  • El Deafo by Cece Bell is the story of a girl with a hearing impairment who uses an FM amplification system in the classroom.
  • Image2

    Books with students in mainstream classrooms (Photo by Kate Todd)

    Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt describes how Ally, who has undiagnosed dyslexia, learns of her disability and develops strategies for reading successfully.

  • Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper is the story of Melodie, a girl with cerebral palsy who is supported by computerized text-to-speech equipment and a student teacher.
  • Rain Reign by Ann Martin is a narrative about Rose, diagnosed with autism, who has an aide working with her at school.
  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio tells the story of Augie, who has mandibulofacial dysostosis and begins attending middle school after years of home schooling.

Research has provided insights into the attitudes of adults and students toward inclusive classrooms. Although educational experts (faculty, consultants and doctoral students who published articles about inclusion) believe “inclusion students should be placed in general education settings surrounded by general education students of approximately the same age,” teachers and parents expressed reservations about practical implications such as behavioral disruptions or lack of time for collaboration. (Kimbrough, R., & Mellen, K. (2012). Perceptions of inclusion of students with disabilities in the middle school. )

On the other hand, studies using middle school students, both with and without disabilities, found “Young people today consider it right and natural for students with learning and behavioral difficulties to be in their classes.” (Miller, M. (2008). What do students think about inclusion? Phi Delta Kappan, 89, 391.) It is interesting that the interviewers doing this research were often surprised when some students indicated that they, themselves, received special education support.   This demonstrates that students with disabilities may not always be obvious to the casual observer.


Inclusion class at the library (Creative Commons license, adapted by Kate Todd, from

Outreach to students with disabilities in inclusive classrooms is important for librarians. It is the first step to making sure that all students have a positive library experience. If inclusion is working effectively, it may be impossible to know which students have special needs. However, preparing simple accommodations or setting up assistive technology can make library visits more successful. Alerting library staff to situations that may be distressing—such as visual or communication anomalies—will avoid embarrassing responses.

Here are some suggestions for working with schools that can help assure that students with disabilities in inclusive classes feel welcome in the library:

  1. When collecting information for class visits, ask a question such as, “Are there special needs students in your class?” or “Are there any students that need accommodations when visiting the library?”
  2. Since students, both with or without disabilities, are easily embarrassed when singled out from their peers, remind staff to treat all students equally in the library.
  3. Do book talks of titles that contain characters with disabilities, such as Out of My Mind, Wonder or Rain Reign. Incorporating these books into presentations sends a signal to students, parents and teachers that inclusive classrooms are typical and children with disabilities are welcome at the library.
  4. There are a variety of organizations that serve people with disabilities. Some focus on specific diagnoses while others are more general. Identify these organizations in your community and provide a link to their resources on the library web page.
  5. Tweet about workshops or programs that are sponsored by the organizations in your community. This not only spreads the word about important events, but lets the organizations know you consider their work important.
  6. When possible, attend some of these events yourself so you can begin building personal relationships with others in your community that are also interested in services to people with disabilities.
  7. Design workshops for teachers and parents that highlight advantages of library use for children with disabilities. A good topic outline can be found in the parent blog by Karen Wang, “10 Ways Your Child With Special Needs Can Benefit From a Trip To The Library” ( ).

Inclusive classes may mean that children with disabilities are hidden in plain sight. It might require additional inquiries and awareness to identify these children and make sure their needs are met when they visit the library.


Photo courtesy guest blogger

Photo by Kate Todd

Our guest blogger is Kate Todd, a retired librarian who worked at The New York Public Library and Manhattanville College. She especially wants to thank Jordan Boaz, who taught the RUSA online course, “Reaching every patron: Creating and presenting inclusive outreach to patrons of all abilities.” This blog began an assignment for her course.

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

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Turning Your Library into a Haunted House

For the last few weeks, the crickets in Philadelphia have begun playing at night. This is the signal for the end of Summer Reading, the time to begin planning back-to-school visits, and the time to start planning a haunted house.

Haunted houses can be easily created, relatively inexpensive, and a fantastic draw that remind community members that the library is vibrant and exciting. They can also be nightmares for staff and patrons if they’re not planned and executed properly. A “well-planned” haunted house does not have to be an “expensive” haunted house.

Floorplans are your friends

The first time I created a haunted house for my branch, I was at a location that had a very large meeting room. This was a blessing and a curse because we had room to do things… and we also had room to fill. Because the neighborhood was excited for the event, I had to plan it out properly. Thankfully, I had a fantastic security guard, Dan Ross, who loved the idea as much as I did.

Dan and I created a simple floor plan of our meeting room space to guide us while we brainstormed. The floorplan gave us a bird’s eye view of the room, which allowed us to see where volunteers would be located, how evenly the scares were spaced apart and where problematic areas might exist. Because we knew that the room would be dark, we needed to eliminate as many “blind spots” as possible. Here is the floor plan from our second year:
Haunted House BlueprintSitting down for 30 minutes and planning saved countless hours of moving and adjusting plans. It also allowed us to know how many volunteers and staff members we would need to operate the gags and keep an eye on the tweens and teens entering the haunted house.

Don’t reinvent the jack-o-lantern

As Dan and I planned, we knew we needed outside advice. Thankfully, Philadelphia has a very active and highly dedicated staff of Children’s Librarians who are always willing to offer advice and support. Librarians who had been running haunted houses for years offered advice. We reduced the group size patrons in the haunted house from five to three. We also had staff members guide the groups. Usually the after school leader or I would walk with the groups to create a “safe” person if things became too scary.

We also went online to various websites to ask advice from professionals and amateurs who ran their own haunted houses. Here are a few places I visited and sought advice:

Haunted World Fright Forum

Haunt Forum

Halloween Forum

In later years, I also started following Halloween-enthusiasts on Pinterest. This was also a great resource for easy DIY projects.
DSCN0758An early suggestion from a haunted house forum became one of our favorite scares. A ghoul on a broom handle “flew out” from behind a fake wall, while the volunteer lowering her screamed. We named the ghoul Cindy, and she’s been in every haunted house since.

Choose your volunteers wisely.

I began canvasing for volunteers at the beginning of the school year and insisted on speaking with parents or guardians before event set-up began. Because the holiday is not celebrated by everyone, I wanted to ensure that parents knew exactly what the eager teens were volunteering to do.

All volunteers were told that secrecy was paramount to the success of the haunted house. They could tell as many lies about what was going to happen as they liked, but they couldn’t reveal any of the actual scares.

Scares require all six senses

Sure, there are only five senses normally – Aliki’s My Five Senses didn’t lie to you. But when it comes to haunted houses, there are really six. The thing that separates an okay haunted house from an excellent haunted house is the sense of anticipation. The feeling of “something is about to happen” needs to always be present to make your haunted house memorable. No matter what your budget, this can be obtained. A dark room and a few strobe lights will do it.

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An effective scare can be created with dollar store bats spray-painted with neon colors and hung near a black light. We “upped” the scare value in later years by hiding volunteers behind fake walls. Each volunteer had a can of condensed air that they would use to move the bats. As people walk past, the back of their head would also be sprayed with air. One bat attached to a black pole provided additional movement.
IMG_2838Another easy scare involved dollar store water guns. Volunteers dressed in all black hid behind a table full of rubber snakes. As groups of patrons walked through with a guide, they were told that they snakes did not bite, but they occasionally spit. This phrase was the cue for the volunteers to squirt patrons in the face with water.

Speed is the key to success

The first year we ran our haunted house, over 300 people from our neighborhood came. We allotted an hour and a half for the program, but thankfully volunteers stayed until everyone was able to go through once. We quickly realized that future haunted houses would require speedy walk-throughs. Some of our great scares like the Witch’s Sarcophagus had to be dropped because they took too long.


The Witch’s Sarcophagus was a staff favorite and we were sorry to see it go. Starting on the right, patrons reached inside each opening of the sarcophagus. Her hair was oily angel hair pasta, the eyes were peeled grapes, and the brains were gelatin and cottage cheese. A volunteer hid inside and grabbed patrons when they reached into the “Hands.” As sorry as we were to see this go, we knew this was better themed for a program and not a haunted house.

Our goal was to get a person through the haunted house in less than 3 minutes. We also limited the number of times a person could enter the haunted house. By a third trip, many ‘tweens knew where the scares were coming from – and tried to scare the volunteers back. Obviously, this is problematic, so everyone could enter two times only. After the first visit, everyone’s right hand was stamped. After the second visit, the left hand was stamped. Once someone had two stamps, they knew they could not enter the house again.

Inexpensive is not the same as cheap

When Dan and I first started the haunted house program, we had a budget of $100 from our friends group. Because the budget was small, we had to improvise. We created fake walls by hanging black garbage bags connected with shipping tape from the ceiling. We’ve used the wall design every year since. They are easily assembled by volunteers, can be reused, and they ripple slightly when people walked. They created the perfect ambiance for the house.
2013-10-31 10.30.01The room looked chaotic during set-up, but there was a system in place. Our other big purchases the first year were strobe lights and a scary music soundtrack. If you use strobe lights or fog machines, always advertise it on all fliers and announcements so people with health concerns are aware of the effects.

2013-10-29 18.21.19Items from around the branch were frequently repurposed for the haunted house. A desk fan hidden behind a tombstone powered Tiffani, our graveyard ghost. She was made from PVC tubing, garbage bags, plastic wrap and green plastic table cloths. A neighborhood wig shop donated the Styrofoam head, and a patron donated the wig (from an old Halloween costume.)

Advertising is your friend

Fliers advertising the Haunted House were distributed to the local schools in early October. Local businesses in our neighborhood were also asked to display fliers in their windows. When Dan and I began, we had an age limit. We dropped it in later years because many parents wanted to bring younger children through the haunted house.
Haunted House FlierWe also used our Facebook page to advertise the ghouls moving into the library. Absurd pictures advertised the ghouls slowly moving into the library in the weeks before the haunted house was set up. Each picture featured the caption “There’s something for everyone at the Library.”
Cindy 1As wonderful as our advertisements are, a tween with a big mouth is worth 1,000 fliers. Let your ‘tweens know that you’re planning to scare the pants off of them, and they’ll let the entire neighborhood know.

Never stop planning.

Over the years, we collected items for the haunted house. After a roof leak, roofers left a large roll of clear plastic at our branch. We used it to create a corridor of shredded hanging sheets for people to walk through inside the haunted house.

Items from dollar stores, yard sales, and staff members’ house cleanings were used to enhance the atmosphere of the Haunted House.

IMG_2836Taking a vacation day on November 1st and hitting local stores is a great way to find discounted Halloween Supplies.

I hope this inspires you to plan your own Haunted House. It takes some planning to run smoothly, but it was always my favorite program throughout the year.

(All photos courtesy of Guest Blogger)


ChristopherChristopher Brown is a the Curator of the Children’s Literature Research Collection at the Free Library of Philadelphia.  Chris is a  former Children’s Librarian, who served many communities in Philadelphia.  He received his MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh in 2005 and his MA from Memorial University of Newfoundland in 2013.  For more information about the Children’s Literature Research Collection, please visit us at

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

Posted in Guest Blogger, Programming Ideas | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Tips when Changing Jobs (in the Library Profession and Beyond)

Creator: Live Life Happy, © 2013, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0

Creator: Live Life Happy, © 2013, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0

I’ve recently changed jobs, moving from one public library to another 25 miles east. The new-to-me position is in a different city, with different coworkers, different policies and procedures, and a different organizational culture. It’s the same kind of job that I did previously, but in a different setting.

Changing jobs is frequently included in the lists of most stressful life changes. This most recent move has me thinking about compiling a list of tips for myself and others who may change positions, either within their current organization, or shifting to a role at a different institution. I’ll start with several that are somewhat specific to Youth Services, and we’ll see what you think too in the comments.

My list of things to consider for Youth Services Librarians (ok, and others) when changing jobs:

  1. Compile favorite program ideas (e.g. story time themes and extenders, past successful elementary and family events, and teen programming ideas that you don’t want to forget). Also while working on the programming idea list, save bookmarks of favorite places to visit online when creating new programs, so they available and ready when needed.
  2. Save work-related contacts to be imported into the new e-mail system – especially the local performer and vendor contact information if you’re not moving far. Also get the personal contact information for your colleagues if you want to keep in touch. (I forgot to do that last bit when I changed jobs most recently.)
  3. Purge the documents and files that you’ve been saving – you know which ones I’m talking about. Changing jobs is a good time to declutter.
  4. Put things in writing for the person who will be taking on your responsibilities – best practices, your planning notes, even a To-Do list. (I’ve written about this before.) Make the task delegation easy for your supervisor by creating a list of your current responsibilities.
  5. Be ready, willing and open to see new ways of conducting library services. You have your way of doing things (and you might think it’s the best way), but it’s not the only way to be successful.
  6. Remember that there will be things left undone at the previous job – that’s just how it goes.

Have you changed jobs recently? What are other things to consider? This could also be addressed from the perspective of a team that is taking on a new member. What are good tips to help new coworkers feel welcome?


Claudia Wayland is the Youth Services Manager at the Allen Public Library in Allen, TX and Adjunct Professor at the University of North Texas College of Information. She was a participant in this year’s TLA TALL Texans Leadership Institute, and is a member of the ALSC Managing Children’s Services Committee.

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

Posted in Guest Blogger, Professional Development, Slice of Life | 1 Comment

ALSC Member of the Month – Tracy Geiser

Each month, an ALSC member is profiled and we learn a little about their professional life and a bit about their not-so-serious side. Using just a few questions, we try to keep the profiles fun while highlighting the variety of members in our organization. So, without further ado, welcome to our ALSC profile, ten questions with ALSC member, Tracy Geiser.

Courtesy photo from Tracy Geiser

Courtesy photo from Tracy Geiser

1.  What do you do, and how long have you been doing it?

I am currently the fulltime Head of Children’s Services at the Half Hollow Hills Community Library in Dix Hills, NY as well as being a parttime Youth and Family Services Librarian for the Hauppauge Public Library in Hauppauge, NY. This October will be 3 years at Half Hollow so I’m still relatively new there but I’ve been at Hauppauge for about 13 years now.

2.  Why did you join ALSC? Do you belong to any other ALA divisions or roundtables?

I joined ALSC back when I first started library school because it was a place where I could go for answers and ideas. It was a HUGE help back then and still is! I also belong to YALSA (I actually used to be a Teen Services Department Head) and PLA.

3.  What do you think children’s librarians will be doing ten years from now?

With so much of our programming turning towards STEAM workshops or being based on Common Core, I definitely see us in more of a teaching role.

4.  E-books or Print?

Print! I do have a tablet that I use BUT I only started reading e-books because all of my books wouldn’t fit in my suitcase when I went away.

5.  Do you have any tattoos or piercings?

I currently have 3 tattoos but have 2 more in the works…one being a gorgeous book themed one that I can’t wait to get!

6.  Who is your favorite book character?

Jo from Little Women is still to this day my favorite book character. She was such a tomboy and that’s how I grew up. It was easier to relate to her and with her being a bookworm.

7.  Favorite part of being a Children’s Librarian?

It’s bittersweet but I love meeting children when they’re very little and watching them grow up in to teens and then seeing where they head to in the future.

8.  Who is the last person you said thank you to?

More like people – my staff at Half Hollow. The summer is always crazy for every library and everyone is short staffed nowadays. They are just amazing to work with and always pull through. I can’t begin to even thank them enough!

9.  When you were a kid, did you excitedly look forward to the first day of school? Or did you dread the thought of the end of summer?

I was the school geek – I LOVED the first day of school! I would wait impatiently for the name of my teacher to come in the mail and I couldn’t wait to go school supply shopping. I still love to shop for office supplies. I’m very picky about my pens.

10.  What volunteer or altruistic activities are you involved with?

I have done the AVON Breast Cancer Walk and would love to do it again but that’s something that you need to have a team as support. It’s emotionally draining as well as physically. It’s absolutely amazing and I would highly recommend doing it at least once. I also walk in honor of my Dad for Heart Association Walks.


Thanks, Tracy! What a fun continuation to our monthly profile feature!

Do you know someone who would be a good candidate for our ALSC Monthly Profile? Are YOU brave enough to answer our ten questions? Send your name and email address to; we’ll see what we can do.

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Girl Power! Graphic Novel Favorites

I have been absolutely devouring graphic novels this summer. Everything from epic adult space sagas, to tales of imaginary unicorns (who occasionally rock leg warmers), and everything in-between has graced my desk this summer. I was very happy to read some stand-out graphic novels for youth that depicted positive female role models, heroines and generally solid lady-centric narratives. Below are a few of my new favorites!

Cleopatra in Space: Book Two- The Thief and the Sword by Mike Maihack; Graphix. 2015. This fun book would be a great choice for the 3rd -6th grade crowd hungry for some sci-fi adventures with a brave heroine. I particularly enjoy the futuristic Egyptian setting. If you have readers who are loved Zita the Spacegirl and are looking for similar graphic novels, be sure to name drop Cleopatra.

Unicorn on a Roll: Another Phoebe and Her Unicorn Adventure by Dana Simpson; Andrews McMeel Publishing. 2015. Phoebe’s best friend is a unicorn named Marigold Heavenly Nostrils. If that isn’t enough to make you want to immediately pick this book up and read it, there is an incident referred to as “Boogergate” in this book. Older grade-schoolers will giggle at this gem.

The Baby-Sitters Club: The Truth About Stacey by Raina Telgemeier; Based on the novel by Ann M. Martin; Graphix. 2015. I grew up reading the original Baby-Sitter’s Club stories by Martin and am so excited that one of my favorite youth comic stars, Raina Telgemeier, is adapting those classics for a new generation to enjoy. This second book in the series contains vibrant art, an accessible story and Telgemeier already has a devoted following after her prior hits Drama and Smile. A perfect pick for older school-age and tween readers.

Ms. Marvel: Vol. 3- Crushed  by G. Willow Wilson; Marvel. 2015. Kamala is back for Volume 3 of the new Ms. Marvel and I really can’t say enough good things about this series. I know, I know, you are tired of hearing about how awesome these books are…but seriously read this right away. I’m sure it will become a go-to recommendation for your teen patrons. It’s full of personality, great artwork, a diverse cast and relatable young adult issues amidst the superhero stuff.

I’m a little late to the party on this title, but I recently picked up Lumberjanes: Vol. 1-Beware the Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevenson and it has made me laugh out loud multiple times already and I’m not even to the halfway point! Exclamations like, “What the Joan Jett?” will appeal to young adults (and librarians such as myself) as will the Lumberjanes sarcasm and rad fashion sense.

If you are new to the world of comic books and graphic novels for youth, I urge you to check out the stellar graphic novel booklists ALSC has put together for readers of all ages. They provide great starting points for newbies and can be a nice place to refer to if you aren’t sure what to recommend to interested patrons.

You can find more great resources, like discussion guides, educational information, and booklists from and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.  Extra bonus, if you end up loving Ms. Marvel as much as I do, the CBLDF put together an awesome page for using Ms. Marvel for education that you can access here! Happy reading!


Nicole Lee Martin is a Children’s Librarian at the Rocky River Public Library in Rocky River, OH. You can reach her at

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

Posted in Books, Children's Literature (all forms), Guest Blogger | Tagged | Leave a comment

Setting the Stage with Tech

The Summer Reading program this season has had a special place in the children’s department’s heart as we unanimously chose to go with a Lights! Camera! Action theme. We are a group of cineastes and Broadway enthusiasts, and were hoping to share our love of the big screen and stage to inspire some upcoming filmmakers, set designers, and makeup artists.

Looking back on our programming this summer, technology had a huge presence in providing kids with an opportunity to explore various ways of storytelling and performance. Perhaps you can also add to your programming repertoire!


Mini-movie Makers program during Summer Reading.

Using the TableTop Moviemaking set, mini-movie makers built their own set to develop a scene or entire film depending on the length of the class. The studio is easy to assemble and we asked each group to develop their own scenes with the included characters and props. LED lights can also be used to adjust lighting for mood and effect. Once everyone was ready to film we took iPads and book easels to set the stage for filming. Book easels are always a thrifty way to encourage a steady camera. The kit comes with iPad and iPhone holders depending on the desired device.

For filming one can use either the iMovie app, or the Camera app on the iPad for quick recording and easy editing. There’s also the option to make a stop-motion project, which would call for using the  iMotion app, most favored among our librarians. This class was part of Tween Make Week which is a collaboration with the teen librarian and the participants ranged in age from 10 to 14.

Young animators can learn the basics of the art form through the Easy Studio app. This app is a versatile tool which can be used as an intro to animation, and I have seen both early elementary students and tweens engaged in using Easy Studio. Using basic shapes and colors, there are several exercises that kids can complete for them to learn how to animate using the shapes provided. This app can also be used as a precursor to any stop-motion activity because it has the creators capturing each object movement and ultimately pulling them together for the final animation.

Another clever animation app, ABCya! Animate, can also be used for a wide audience in the library. A simple taste of animation, users are able to add their illustrations frame by frame and adjust their projects with editing tools. They will also learn new vocabulary such as design to scale, foreground, and background.


Stage Makeup 101

There are several movie makeup camps and classes for stage F/X, but who ever thought all the tutorials you need could be found online. One of our librarians, Krishna Grady, has always wanted to teach a stage makeup class in the library. Using her theatre background and love for tech, Krishna grabbed some foundation, brushes, and the iPads to give kids their own personal makeup studios. Using a Mirror app, and pulling up some YouTube application videos, the kids were able to transform themselves into senior citizens and loved every minute of it! End scene.

Any new tech programming that you wish to share from Summer Reading?

Claire Moore is a member of the Digital Content Task Force. She is also Head of Children and Teen Services at Darien Library in Connecticut. You can reach Claire at

Visit the Digital Media Resources page to find out more about navigating your way through the evolving digital landscape.

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