Blogger Abby Johnson

Visit the Science Playground

Last month during our students’ Fall Break, I offered a STEM program that was easy to prep, easy to staff, and cost us nothing! We held a drop-in Science Playground where I put out all kinds of science materials and allowed families to explore at their own pace. ** This is the caveat where I tell you that the reason that this program was absolutely free to us is that we have been collecting science tools and kits for several years for our summer Science Explorer table. Worry not, I have some ideas in case you do NOT have science tools at the ready!** I scheduled the program for an afternoon during Fall Break. It was drop-in and open to all ages, although the materials we had were mostly geared towards the early elementary crowd (and that’s the audience we ended up attracting). I set up tables in our meeting…

Blogger Abby Johnson

Ruminating on Leaf Rubbing

If you live in a place where you have deciduous trees, you are probably experiencing (or starting to experience) that brilliant foliage color change that happens this time of year. Which means that it is a GREAT time for making leaf rubbings with your kids at the library. (Also: even if you do not live in a place where the leaves change in the fall, as long as you have leaves you can do leaf rubbings!) This may seem like a very basic and boring activity. I thought so, too. But our kids go crazy for it every year (even though we do it with our Afterschool outreach storytimes every single year). And it is extremely cheap and easy to do. Which makes it a perfect craft, in my opinion. Here’s what you do: Step 1: Gather leaves. I do not have deciduous trees in my yard, so I take…

Blogger Abby Johnson

Check Out our Felt Stories

When our library created its strategic plan, many of the goals concerning the Children’s Room fell under the category of “Create Young Readers”, so we’re always looking for ways to engage our youngest patrons and the adults who work with them. I’ve posted before about our School Collection program where we circulate boxes of books to teachers for classroom use. This year, we have debuted another facet of our School Collection program: circulating felt stories. We had gotten requests for circulating felt stories from teachers over the years, and this year we decided to go for it. I have a particularly crafty staff person and I made this one of her goals this year to create felt stories to add to this collection. Each felt story/rhyme is housed in a simple ziplock bag. A piece of cardboard in the bag helps give them shape. On one side of the cardboard…

Blogger Abby Johnson

On Debriefing the Summer Reading Club

Maybe you are lucky like me and your Summer Reading Club is finished or winding down, or maybe you still have some weeks to go. Either way, let’s talk about debriefing after the Summer Reading Club is over. I always dedicate our early August/late July department meeting to discussing the Summer Reading Club. We talk about what worked and what didn’t. We make notes for what we should change or keep for next year. We go ahead and pencil in┬ádates so that we’re all clear about our schedule. Here are some things we did this summer that we had discussed last summer: Our prize cart was decorated and we always pushed it out on one side of our desk (the side without shelving carts) because last year we had some confusion about which books were prize books. This worked really well for us this summer and having a special, decorated…

Blogger Abby Johnson

Summer Reading Club Check In

Here at my library, we are just about halfway through the summer (hooray!), so I thought it might be a good time to check in and see how Summer Reading is going for everyone. Our reading program is going like gangbusters with about 1500 kids (plus about 300 in the Daycare Summer Reading Club) registered and lots of finishers coming in (we typically end up with about 2000 kids signed up by the end of the summer). This year, we’re able to give out a FREE BOOK to every finisher, which feels awesome (we typically have about 1000 finishers). Another big hit has been the Fine Bucks we’re giving out to children and teens. Each SRC finisher gets 10 fine bucks, which can be used to pay fines on late or lost books on children’s or teen cards. I really love any way we can get kids’ cards clear and…

ALA Annual 2015

Winging My Way Back from #alaac15

I write this blog post as I’m sitting in the San Francisco Airport, waiting to depart for home. My shuttle got me here about 3 hours before my flight is scheduled to leave. Luckily, I have some great books to occupy my time while waiting and while on the plane. Here are a few of the great books I picked up at the Exhibit Hall and at publisher events during the conference. These are some of the books that I’m looking the most forward to and make sure to pack in my carry-on for airport/plane reading. Jump Back Paul: The Life and Times of Paul Laurence Dunbar by Sally Derby, illustrated by Sean Qualls One by Sarah Crossan Untwine by Edwidge Danticat The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin Fellow conference-goers, what books are making it into your carry-ons for the trip home?…

ALA Annual 2015

Managing Youth Services Innovators at #alaac15

We all want great staff at our libraries, yet many of us have found ourselves in frustrating situations with administration at our libraries. How do we, as managers, support youth services innovators, folks who embrace change and want to bring new, innovative programs and services to our libraries? How can innovators make their needs heard with their managers? I had the pleasure of speaking on a panel of amazing youth services librarians, addressing these very issues. Managing the Future: Supporting Your Youth Services Innovators took place on Saturday morning and we had a great discussion about how managers can support youth services staff and what youth services staff can do to make their needs know when they feel like they’re not being supported. You can follow the conversations we had at the Twitter hashtag #futureYS, and here are MY takeaways from the session (yes, I’m learning even from the session…

ALA Annual 2015

Listening in at Notable Recordings at #alaac15

This afternoon, I got the chance to do something I have long wanted to do at an ALA Conference: I sat in on the Children’s Notable Recordings Committee meeting. Anyone is welcome to sit in and listen to the meetings as this committee discuss the nominated children’s recordings. The entire list of titles that the Committee will be discussing during the Annual Conference can be found online. Like Notable Books, the Notable Recordings discussion follows the CCBC Discussion Guidelines by introducing the book first, sharking positive comments, and then sharing concerns and criticisms. As the introduction, a committee member had determined a clip from the recording to be played for the entire committee. This might be part of a track on a music CD or a portion of an audiobook. It seems like committee members tried to choose a portion that would reflect strengths of the book (i.e. a particular…