Guest Blogger

Art at the library: Watercolor Salt Painting

I have a confession to make: I’m not a crafty person. There, I admit it.  Whenever I even think about having to go to the local craft store I break out into a sweat. Pinterest overwhelms me. So when my coworker turned to me and said, “We should start a monthly art program,” I thought, of course! We always get a good turnout whenever we do any type of painting activity. Gravity painting? Check. Marble painting? Check. Magnetic painting, fingerpainting, painting little flower pots to look like leprechaun hats? Check, check, and check. So yes, I am super excited to announce we are starting a monthly art program at our library and we’re gleaning our ideas from the Lab for Kids books. Our first one is from Art Lab for Kids by Susan Schwake called Watercolor Salt Painting. This one seemed easy and fun, so we decided to give it…

ALA Midwinter 2018

Mile High Treasures We Found at Midwinter

What does a copy of Little Bear by Elsa Homelund Minarik (lovingly inserted in the belly of a large homemade stuffed bear), By Space Ship to the Moon by Jack Coggins and Fletcher Pratt (a book about space travel written in 1951), and a signed copy of The Gingerbread Boy by Eric A. Kimmel have in common? They all belong to Denver Public Library’s Children’s Historical Collection: Reference. The ALSC Special Collections & Bechtel Fellowship Committee saw these and many other intriguing items while touring the collection located at the Denver Public Library during Midwinter 2018.  Our tour guide, Children’s Librarian Rachel Hartman, curates the collection. The Children’s Historical Collection first began in 1935 as part of the Western History Collection, which was established by local head librarian Malcolm Glenn Wyer at the suggestion of his friend, author Willa Cather.  At some point in time, all materials for children were…

Guest Blogger

Author Q & A – The Writing Process

Authors are always asked about what inspired them to write their books.  The more that you learn about the inspiration of writers, the more apt you will be to free up your own thinking and find inspiration of your own.  Learning about inspirations gives us permission to delve into our own experience without feeling so self-conscious.  It is a way to delve beneath the surface of our everyday thoughts and feelings, and find a rich pool of creativity bubbling below. As a first-time children’s book author, it is exciting to reflect on the inspiration question. I actually was inspired by a feeling that I had for a long time, which was that I was losing sight of what I will call the good in me – my inner strengths – such as kindness and honesty – and the simple joys of life – walks in the park, strolling along the…

Diversity

Let’s Talk About Diversity… with Melissa Iwai

As pretty much anyone who knows me will tell you, I’m passionate about my job. I devour children’s books, love the creative process of putting together programs, and can’t get enough of school outreach. The thing I love most, though, is the opportunity I have to promote diverse books, to offer children mirrors as well as windows. There’s only one problem: As a white, cisgender, non-disabled individual, I’ve never personally dealt with a lack of representation in books. While I’m in no way saying librarians and teachers can’t recommend books featuring characters unlike themselves, I feel it’s important for the children and families in my library to hear about diverse books from people who have struggled – and in many ways still struggle – with a lack of representation. So, once a month I host a diverse booktalk where local authors and/or illustrators come to the library to share some…

Guest Blogger

African-American Read-In

Last month was chock full of holidays: Groundhog’s Day, Mardi Gras, Valentine’s Day, Chinese New Year, President’s Day and, of course, Black History Month.  Each year, I strive to create an impactful Black History Month event for the largely African-American community in which I work. To be honest, my results have been hit or miss.  I had a wonderfully successful program focusing on Jacqueline Woodson’s Show Way where we discussed the book and created our own family teens.  I then struck out with a similarly structured program focused on Ron’s Big Mission by Rose Blue. Then I was alerted to the African-American Read-In (AARI) that a neighboring library system held yearly.  The Read-In is a creation of the National Council of the Teachers of English (NCTE).  NCTE’s website claims that the AARI “is the nation’s first and oldest event dedicated to diversity in literature.”    It was founded in 1990 by…

Guest Blogger

An Old-School Spin on STEAM Programming

Children experience engineering

At the 53rd Street branch of the New York Public Library, STEAM programming is in high demand, especially with our youngest library users. So how do you keep kids engaged after months and months of weekly programs? Fellow children’s librarian Grace Zell and I found an exciting new approach to STEAM programming from an unlikely source: Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) novels. For those less familiar with the CYOA set up, these stories are written from a second-person perspective and allow readers to step into the role of the protagonist, choosing the actions they take along the way. While the original series ran from 1979-1998, a relaunch began in the early 2000s and new titles, in a variety of genres and reading levels, are still being published. Grace and I created three distinct program plans, each featuring a series of STEAM challenges. These included coding, architectural, engineering, and simple puzzle…