Lots of Laughs: National Humor Month

We all know that April is National Poetry Month, so I’m sure many of us have special poetry displays, booklists, and programs. But did you know that April is also National Humor Month?

Books that tickle young readers’ and listeners’ funny bones are ideal for many reasons. Many parents (and fellow librarians) are often asked to be visiting readers at elementary schools.  When parents tell me that they are scheduled to read aloud at their children’s school, I usually recommend picture books that are surefire humor hits. Funny books are also fantastic for reluctant and/or readers who are new to chapter books. Everyone likes to laugh, even if they’re not so sure about reading.  If you tell a young reader that the book is hilarious, it’s a great hook to get him/her interested in the book.

Of course, humor is very subjective! What’s amusing to one person is deadly dull to another. With that in mind, here are some of my favorite funny picture books:


Chicks and Salsa

(image taken from Scholastic)

Wouldn’t you get tired of eating chicken feed day in and day out? The chickens at Nuthatcher Farm long for something with a kick and a crunch….like chips and salsa! Pretty soon, their taste for southwestern treats spreads to guacamole and nachos, until Mr. and Mrs. Nuthatcher get a little too interested in the spicy snacks. Lots of snarky humor and asides to get the attention of a wide range of ages. The “follow up”, Buffalo Wings, is just as hilarious. If you do football/Super Bowl programming, you need to include these books!



(image taken from Jan Thornhill’s website)

With its similarity to Chicken Little, this Indian folktale of animals frantically spreading the word that the world is breaking up is a funny and dramatic tale perfect for folktale comparisons and multicultural bibliographies. A hare is convinced that the world is about to end when he hears a startling crash; he manages to alarm the other hares, the deer, the boars, and the tigers, who join him in alerting the lion….who is not at all amused.



(image taken from Scholastic website)

Another fun and funny book to use for folktale comparisons is this takeoff on The Three Billy Goats Gruff. The three Grubb sisters are skipping across the bridge on their way to school; underneath the bridge lies Ugly-Boy Bobby. Ugly-Boy Bobby is placated by the promise of enormous quantities of doughnuts from the biggest Grubb sister…but her demand sends him running off to school to be a model students for all his days. This is one of my top favorite read alouds for elementary school; witty and a delight to share.



(image taken from Scholastic website)

Kate Lum’s tall tale of a rather peculiar (yet extremely resourceful) granny is a rollicking read aloud. Patrick and Granny are pumped for his first-ever sleepover at her house…until he realizes that he has no bed. Or pillow. Or even a teddy bear. Never mind–Granny sews and hammers everything into place. But there’s a consequence to all this frantic activity! (I won’t spoil the ending–it’s too great.)


I could go on and on (I didn’t even cover chapter books), but I want to know about your favorite funny stories for young readers. Picture books, easy readers, chapter books, joke books–let’s dish!



Posted in Blogger Jennifer Schultz, Children's Literature (all forms) | Leave a comment

ALSC Blog Photo Contest: Deadline Tomorrow!

ALSC Blog Photo Contest

Photos courtesy of ALSC

A reminder to ALSC members to submit their photos by tomorrow for the ALSC Blog Photo Contest. Give us your best photo of your library space, program, display, book, craft or something else that you think relates to children’s librarianship. May the best photo win!

Participants must be ALSC members to enter. Anyone, members and non-members, can vote in the final round. Be sure to visit the ALSC Blog to vote for your favorite library photo beginning April 25, 2014. Prizes include tickets to the Newbery-Caldecott Banquet and $50 gift certificates to Barnes & Noble. Entries must be submitted by 8 am Central Time, Wednesday, April 23, 2014. For rules and entry form, see the ALSC Blog Photo Contest site.

Posted in Blogger Dan Rude, Contests | Leave a comment

Tis the Season . . . For Spring Cleaning

Spring can mean many things to different people: warmer weather, flowers in bloom, and spring cleaning. While these first two thoughts are a reason for me to anticipate the end of winter, the thought of spring cleaning can fill me with dread. How can we maximize our space by minimizing the hassle?

Photo Courtesy of Thinkstock.com

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

At our community branch library, space is at a premium. We have to regularly sort and review whether we need items because we simply don’t have the space to keep it all. Is there a way we can minimize the huge burden of spring cleaning?  How do we ensure the materials we need stay at our libraries and the clutter stays out?

A Little Goes a Long Way

One tip I have tried is to spend just 15 minutes organizing during each work day. This has worked best for me as one of the last minute tasks I complete at the end of my shift. Of course, other situations could end up taking priority, and organizing may fall to the wayside.  However, when it’s feasible to incorporate a little organization into my daily time at work, it’s an opportunity to clean up these final projects and to focus on a plan for the tasks that need to be accomplished tomorrow. Trying to put this tip into practice can go a long way toward minimizing the overall clutter within the library.

Think Outside the Box

Sometimes storage space is simply what is needed most at our location. Whether it is finding room for craft supplies, programming books, or puppets, it may be that we have de-cluttered as much as we can and simply need to find a space at our work for housing the items we use most frequently. This may cause us to re-envision the function of the spaces we have within the library. At our community branch library, we had a significant need for storage, but our kitchenette was not frequently used. We changed our kitchenette into a staff closet and now use this space for holding programming materials.

Scheduling is Key

While each staff person ensures his or her desk space is organized, we also have staffers responsible for reviewing the storage needs for our shared office space. While this responsibility may alternate between team members, it helps that one employee is responsible for ensuring the staff closet remains organized and stocked with the items staffers need. When we maintain a schedule for organizing these shared spaces, we ensure that major spring cleaning projects are not as overwhelming as staffers work to keep these areas free from clutter on a frequent basis.

Photo Courtesy of Thinkstock.com

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

With a shared, and often small, working space, it’s a necessity that our libraries are as organized as possible.  By keeping up on de-cluttering throughout the year instead of just during this season of spring cleaning, we can take away some of the overwhelmed feeling often associated with these projects. We could all use help when considering how to best maximize the use of our work space. What tips and techniques have been effective for you and your co-workers as you work to organize your libraries? Please share your ideas in the comments below!


Posted in Blogger Meg Smith, Library Design and Accessibility | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Importance of Diversity in Library Programs and Material Collections for Children

Importance of Diversity

Download a copy of the new white paper today! (image courtesy of ALSC)

The Association for Library Service to Children is thrilled to release a new white paper titled, The Importance of Diversity in Library Programs and Material Collections for Children. This paper was written for ALSC by Jamie Campbell Naidoo, PhD, and adopted by the ALSC Board of Directors on April 5, 2014.

The white paper explores the critical role libraries play in helping children make cross-cultural connections and develop skills necessary to function in a culturally pluralistic society. It states:

By including diversity in its programs and collections, the library has the potential for helping children make cross-cultural connections and develop the skills necessary to function in a culturally pluralistic society.

As this paper calls for libraries to include diversity in programming and materials for children as an important piece in meeting the informational and recreational needs of their community, ALSC encourage you to take action in your own library and community. The paper is available online at: http://www.ala.org/alsc/importance-diversity. Hard copies can be requested by emailing Joanna Ison at jison@ala.org.

The Importance of Diversity in Library Programs and Material Collections for Children, and its message, has the endorsement of ALSC, the world’s largest organization dedicated to the support and enhancement of library service to children.

Posted in Blogger Dan Rude, Call to Action, Diversity, Research | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Free tickets to see Andrea Davis Pinkney!

2014 Arbuthnot Lecturer Andrea Davis Pinkney

Andrea Davis Pinkney (image courtesy of Scholastic)

ALSC and the University of Minnesota Libraries, Children’s Literature Research Collections (CLRC) would like to remind the public that tickets for the 2014 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture featuring Andrea Davis Pinkney are available.

The lecture, entitled “Rejoice the Legacy!,” will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 3, 2014 at Willey Hall on the campus of the University of Minnesota. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. A reception and signing will follow the event. Required tickets are free for the lecture and must be obtained through the University of Minnesota website. To learn more about acquiring tickets, please visit the 2014 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture website.

The May Hill Arbuthnot Lecture is sponsored by ALSC. The lecture title honors May Hill Arbuthnot, distinguished writer, editor and children’s literature scholar. Each year, an author, artist, critic, librarian, historian or teacher of children’s literature is selected to prepare a paper considered to be a significant contribution to the field of children’s literature.

* * *

2014 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture With Andrea Davis Pinkney
University of Minnesota Libraries, Children’s Literature Research Collections
Saturday, May 3, 2014 from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM (CDT)
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Posted in Author Spotlight, Blogger Dan Rude, Children's Literature (all forms), Publishing World | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Participate in the next ALSC Community Forum

ALSC Blogger Starr LaTronica

ALSC President Starr LaTronica will present the next ALSC Community Forum (photo courtesy Starr LaTronica)

The ALSC Board of Directors and ALSC President Starr LaTronica will be hosting two ALSC Community Forum live chats on the topic of the topic of adding STEAM to your Summer Reading Program.

The forum will include live audio from ALSC President Starr LaTronica followed by a discussion led by the School Age Programs and Services Committee. ALSC members are invited to attend to discuss these topics and what their libraries are doing to meet these needs.

Your two opportunities to join in the discussion are:

  • Monday, April 28 at 11 am EST
  • Wednesday, April 30 at 3 pm EST

ALSC Community Forums take place on Adobe Connect. Later this week, ALSC members will receive an email with a URL link to the forum.

Visit the ALSC website for more information about using Adobe Connect. There are also links to previous ALSC Community Forums chats. Questions? Contact Dan Bostrom or by phone, 800-545-2433 ext 2164.

Posted in Blogger Dan Rude, Community Forum, STEM/STEAM, Summer Reading | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Together We Can Make a Difference

Imagine the impact if all of us who care about children and libraries arrived together in Washington urging our legislators to support the crucial work we do! Can’t make it to Washington? Neither can I. But you and I and children’s librarians everywhere can participate in Virtual Library Legislative Day (VLLD). Every one of us can let our Senators and representatives in Congress know how important we are to our communities and to our nation’s literacy. VLLD this year is May 6. No time on May 6 to write a note? Any day from May 5-9 will do. But let’s do it together on these days so our voices will be heard.

The ALSC Advocacy and Legislation Committee and ALSC’s Everyday Advocacy web site are supporting our members so that we can all participate in VLLD 2014. Find contact information for your Senators and Representatives at http://www.contactingthecongress.org/. Then, think about the issues that are most important to you. In the coming days, the Advocacy and Legislation Committee will be providing you with talking points on such issues as Library funding through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS); libraries, early learning, and the Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) program; and support for school libraries in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Now, check our Everyday Advocacy VLLD page at http://www.ala.org/everyday-advocacy/take-action-vlld-14 for a growing wealth of resources.

Do your Senators and Representatives know that LSTA funds provide libraries with databases that are essential for students doing their homework and to citizens looking for help in writing resumes and finding jobs? Do they know that the IAL program is vital to students learning to function in the digital age? Will they support an ESEA bill that will maintain dedicated federal funding for school libraries and move us toward school libraries with state-certified school librarians in every public school? Do they know the work you are doing to prepare children for entering school and to foster literacy as they grow into lifelong learners?

Do your librarian colleagues know about VLLD? Perhaps not, but you can help spread the word to friends and fellow librarians. Through local listservs, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media, you can help us swell the call for library support. The goal is to contact legislators between May 5 and May 9.

As funding for libraries is threatened, who among us cannot find five or ten minutes to let legislators know that our work is crucial to our country’s future? Participate in VLLD 2014. You’ll feel good about your participation. Together we can make a difference.


Rita Auerbach, member of the ALSC Board and of the Coretta Scott King/Virginia Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award Committee, and the Co-Chair of the Pura Belpré 20th Anniversary Task Force, wrote this post on behalf of the ALSC Advocacy and Legislation Committee.


Posted in Blogger Advocacy and Legislation Committee | Leave a comment

Celebrate 404 Day!

On April 4, 2014, the Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) teamed up to celebrate 404 Day- the day that honors this little message that pops up when there’s an error and you can’t access a webpage. The OIF and EFF took this opportunity talk about the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA).

Enacted in 2000, CIPA was written to address concerns about the exposure of children to pornography and other explicit content, through the implementation of browser filters.  Additionally, public and school libraries that adhere to CIPA and apply to filters to at least the internet devices in their children’s department, are eligible for government funding.  More information on CIPA can be found at the FCC website and the OIF website as well.

Through a Google+ Hangout streamed on YouTube, Intellectual Freedom buffs Deborah Caldwell-Stone, Sarah Houghton, and Chris Petersen talked about what CIPA really means for libraries, how to cope with CIPA, and how to get your board to reconsider CIPA.

Since the Hangout is available for you to watch here, I won’t rehash the whole thing, but I will share some important points:

  • Many people think they understand CIPA fully, but they actually don’t.  If you don’t understand ask questions!
  • Filters are mainly English-centric.  If you have access to a translator page or spell some of the search terms wrong, you will most likely be able to bypass the filter.
  • Only lighter skin tones are recognized as skin tones.  Therefore, a filter might block any variation of this.
  • When asked the best way to start a library board to reconsider their filters and compliance with CIPA, Sarah recommended moving the conversation from a conversation about morality to a cost benefit analysis.  For example, how well are the filters doing their job?  Do things get blocked by the filter, that shouldn’t be? How much does it cost to have these filters in both time and money?

Also, Deborah shared that the OIF will be releasing a new white paper at the end of the month on the topic of CIPA and its role in your library.

Remember, the ALSC IF Committee is always here for you if you have questions about intellectual freedom issues or if you are facing a challenge (it doesn’t have to make the news!).  We’re here to help, so feel free to reach out via ALA Connect or email.

Posted in Blogger Intellectual Freedom Committee | Leave a comment