Come Write In: a Family Creative Writing Program

November is nearly upon us. That means fall leaves, wooly sweaters, gluttonous behavior on the fourth Thursday of the month, and, of course, National Novel Writing Month.

Inaugurated in 1999 by the intrepid Chris Baty and a group of friends, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) has become an international movement to inspire average joes like you and me to get off our duffs and write that novel we’ve always dreamed of penning. One month. One novel. It’s as simple as that.

According to NaNoWriMo, 310,000 adults participated in the writing frenzy in 2013, and 89,500 youth participated in NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program. Personally, I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo for the past two years, and the experience has been so deeply fulfilling I decided that I, as a children’s librarian, needed to get on this Young Writers thing.

What’s really grand about NaNoWriMo is that this non-profit organization provides you everything you need to make hosting a Young Writers program easy as pie. Just take a gander at these lesson plans and activities. If you’re a teacher, everything aligns to the Common Core. If you’re a public librarian, you can pick and choose a variety of activities to do with your young peeps.

I have some ridiculously talented people on board, too. I’m working with poet Hannah Jane Chambers, YA author Bethany Hagen, and YA writer Jennifer Mendez to make the magic happen.

At our library, Hannah Jane, Bethany, and I had an idea of creating a series of Come Write In events for the entire family which we hope we’ll be able to implement next year. Parents and kids could come to the library on Saturdays throughout the month of October to start planning their NaNoWriMo projects. On November 1, we could celebrate our hard work with a party / write-in where participants can get cracking on their novels. Jennifer Mendez will be hosting Intergenerational Come Write In events at her branch throughout the month of November replete with paper, pens, and plenty of outlets for the BYO-Laptop types.

What better way to get kids and teens engaged in literature than to have them write it themselves? And, hey, why not model that behavior? November is just a few days away. It’s not too late to sign up and write a novel of your very own.

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Our guest blogger today is Megan Bannen. Megan is an Assistant Branch Manager for Johnson County Library in Kansas (although the children’s librarian in her will never die).

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 Guest Blogger, Programming Ideas | Leave a comment

‘Tis the Season for New Holiday Books

The end of summer means the beginning of searching for new holiday books to add to our collection. I usually order new Halloween and Thanksgiving books in September, and new Christmas and Hanukkah books in October (unless Hanukkah is unusually early, as it was last year). Any new general winter-themed books that are not about winter holidays are usually ordered in November or early December.

twas-nochebuena

(image taken from Roseanne Greenfield Thong’s website)

We have such a strong collection of excellent holiday books that any new book that I add to the collection is either something by a very popular author (Jan Brett) or offers something unique to the collection…characters of color, such as ‘Twas Nochebuena by Roseanne Thong or Thanksgiving stories that go beyond describing a shared meal with family, such as The Great Thanksgiving Escape by Mark Fearing.

jeremy_dreidel

We have plenty of Hanukkah books that explain the various activities of that holiday in simple picture book format, so I am always keen to find Hanukkah books that go beyond “we light the candles and spin the dreidel” basics. One of my favorite Hanukkah related books remains Jeremy’s Dreidel by Ellie Gellman for its touching and positive portrayal of a young boy and his father, who is blind.  Books that focus upon the religious origins of Christmas and Hanukkah are also very popular in our community, so Lee Bennett Hopkins’s latest poetry collection, Manger, should enjoy lots of checkouts this season. National Geographic’s Celebrate Hanukkah (part of its Holidays Around the World) is a striking look at how the holiday is celebrated worldwide.

Do you have any new holiday favorites this year, or any titles that you are eagerly anticipating? What Halloween books have been popular with your patrons this year? Talk about it in the comments!

 

 

 

Posted in Blogger Jennifer Schultz, Children's Literature (all forms) | 1 Comment

Changing Table Poster Project

ALSC & Bridge the Word Gap

Stay tuned into ALSC for more information on the Changing Table Poster Project and Bridging the Word Gap (image provided by ALSC)

In the time after the Early Childhood Programs and Services Committee met during Midwinter in Philadelphia, I had a short conversation with then-ALSC President, Starr LaTronica. She mentioned she had an idea in the middle of the night to use the space above changing tables for early learning posters with early literacy tips and fingerplays. Posters such as these could help parents and caregivers stay engaged with their children during the diaper change, and could increase the amount of words children hear.

It was a great idea, and during a subsequent conversation, the committee agreed to put together some ideas that could be used for the project. We decided we’d like to use the Every Child Ready to Read practices of Talking, Singing, Reading, Writing, and Playing.

We continued working, coming up with some of our favorite fingerplays and creating the early literacy tips. Then, shortly before ALA’s Annual Conference began in Las Vegas, the White House released a video message from President Obama about an initiative to bridge the word gap—the 30-million-word disparity children from low-income families experience in vocabulary, which impacts learning and school readiness.

During the committee’s meeting at Annual, Joanna Ison, from the ALSC Office, mentioned that the ALSC Board would be looking at ways to commit to joining the President’s initiative to eliminate the 30 million word gap, and thought the changing table poster project could be a way to do that. We agreed.

We are currently putting our ideas together for the posters. We are working with the ALSC Office to find an illustrator. Eventually, we are hoping we will have a set of ten posters, two for each of the five practices, with perhaps more to come. The best part is that the ALSC Board has committed to make them freely available as a download.

Our hope is once the posters are available, libraries can put them wherever changing tables exist in their communities, not only in the library, but in restaurants, museums, and government buildings. We hope that, rather than purchasing posters, communities can put together a collaboration to have the posters printed and distributed, and get parents and caregivers talking with their young children to eliminate the word gap.

We welcome thoughts and ideas about this project, and have become aware that some libraries are doing this in their own buildings. If you have a sample, please share it in the comments below!

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Matt McLain is the 2014-2015 chair of the Early Childhood Programs and Services Committee. He is the Manager of the South Jordan Library, a branch of Salt Lake County Library Services. If you would like to contact him, email mmclain@slcolibrary.org.

Posted in Blogger - Early Childhood Programs and Services committee, Early Literacy | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

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!

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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