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

Thinking about STEAM as Pop-Up Programs

One of my goals for programming at my new library is to increase the frequency of pop-up programs in the youth area. We offer a great range of formal, specific-place/specific-time programs every quarter, but I’ve been thinking about whom these types of programs engage. I’m still learning the demographics of youth and families at my new job, but I do have the feeling that the Venn diagram circles of kids who come to the library and kids who come to programs are not wholly overlapping. Why not provide pop-up programs, then, that can take place in the open, without registration restrictions or time requirements, on days and at times when lots of kids are in the space? And why not structure these pop-ups around STEAM activities, which kids are hugely enjoying?

Here are five potential pop-up programs, one for each STEAM content area. These pop-ups would be facilitated and supervised by a staff member.

Science – Candy Chromatography, à la Steve Spangler

Stock up at post-holiday candy sales, grab some coffee filters and a cup of water, and you’re ready to see the true colors of kids’ favorite candies. Dunk a candy–preferably something that obviously has dye, like jelly beans, Skittles, and really dark candies–in the water for a few seconds, then set it on the coffee filter. Over the course of the next ten minutes, the dyes from the candy will separate and create something like colorful tree rings on the filter. Note: you can also do this with different types of ink pens to see the colors that actually make up black and blue ink.

Technology – MaKey MaKey!

Break out a fully-charged laptop and a MaKey MaKey kit so that kids can figure out how it works. Let them work collaboratively to figure out how to hook everything up (with plenty of options for conductive materials, like paper clips, dough, and even bananas), then play a game or two from the MaKey MaKey website with their homemade controller before letting another kid have a chance.

Engineering – The Perfect Paper Airplane

Offer all the supplies to make a wide range of paper airplanes: paper in different weights, paper clips, straws, tape, scissors, etc. Don’t forget to include books and/or print-out instructions for paper airplane designs to give kids a starting-off point. Mark out a flying course on the floor/ground (masking tape if inside, chalk if outside) so you can see how far planes fly. Encourage kids to modify their designs to produce longer flight distances.

Art – Friendship Bracelets

Set out different colors of embroidery floss, some masking tape and scissors, and a few books on bracelet designs and let kids spend some time making the designs of their choosing. This may seem like a pretty standard craft, not necessarily a STEAM arts activity; but in actuality, there’s a ton of math involved in figuring out how to weave and create patterns. Bonus of this activity: once kids have the basics of their design, they can socialize as they work, potentially building a camaraderie between kids who tend to be at the library at the same times but never really interact.

Math – Tangrams

Allow kids to engage in some visual problem-solving by setting out tangrams and designs for them to replicate using the shape pieces. You can offer plastic tangram pieces, or print out a tangram template so that kids can cut out and keep their pieces. For kids who get really into solving these puzzles, you can even have speed races to see how quickly kids can figure out different designs.

One of the great things about these types of pop-up programs is that they can translate to lots of different settings. Since they involve limited designated space and few materials, these activities can be “packed up,” so to speak, to accompany a library staffer on outreach, or to bookmobile stops frequented by families with children. When it comes down to it, STEAM pop-ups allow us to provide access to engaging activities and interesting ideas in a context that may be much more viable for many of the families who use our libraries, but never step through the program room door.

Do you offer pop-up programming at your library?

Posted in Blogger Amy Koester, Programming Ideas, STEM/STEAM | Tagged | Leave a comment

Multiculturalism & Diversity: What is the Difference, and Why it’s Important

I’m going to be completely honest with you, I have written- and rewritten- this blog post about 10 times. It’s not because I don’t know what to say, it’s because I have too much to say. When you spend as much time, energy and passion on Multicultural Children’s Literature as I have, it sometimes becomes hard to step back and see the forest- not just the trees.

When this happens, I literally play entire conversations out in my head, just so I can streamline my thoughts. This is the conversation going on in my head right now:

My Brain (MB): Okay Alyson, here’s your chance to explain to all these people the one thing you’re so passionate about. Try not to make it so wordy (too late), and think, if there was one sentence that you could use to sum up multicultural literature, what would it be?

Me: I guess, well who I am I kidding, I know that that one sentence would be: “It’s all about authenticity.”

MB: See, that wasn’t so hard, was it?

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Multicultural literature can be a mirror, a window, and a sliding glass door 1: it can be a reflection of the reader, it can show them another world, and it can empower them to take action. It is written from an authentic perspective by a member of the subject’s culture or someone who has been privy to those experiences 2, and is respectful and free of stereotypical depictions both in words and images.

Multicultural literature is important, because all too often it allows us to hear the voices of those who have been silenced and whose stories have not been told.

Multicultural Children’s Literature is about more than just the Pura Belpré medal, and the Coretta Scott King award. It’s about making these stories, experiences, and lives- especially those that aren’t represented by awards- heard all the time.   Multiculturalism is about more than just race and creed. It’s gender, sexuality, religion- it’s identity; and it’s about insuring they are shared in an authentic way.

Right now, there is a groundswell of support for diversity in the book world. I urge you to take that one step further, and push for multiculturalism. I’m not asking you to write a letter to a publisher or even use a hash tag- not everyone is comfortable with that. I’m asking that you start looking through your collections to make sure that you have books that reflect the author’s unique and authentic perspective. That the works be free of stereotypes and that they make you feel as though you are looking at yourself while learning about someone else.

Recommended Reading:

Campbell, Shelley. “Windows and Mirrors: A Case for More Multicultural Children’s Books Illinois Children’s Choice Award Lists.” Illinois Reading Council Journal 38.  (2010): 33. Web.

Johnson Higgins, Jennifer. “Multicultural Children’s Literature: Creating and Applying an Evaluation Tool in Response to the Needs of Urban

Educators.” New Horizons for Learning (2000): n. pag. Http://education.jhu.edu/PD/newhorizons/strategies/topics/multicultural-education/multicultural-childrens-literature/. Johns Hopkins University. Web.

Landt, Susan M. “Children’s Literature with Diverse Perspectives: Reflecting All Students.” The Dragon Lode 32.1 (2013): 21-31. Print.

Norton, Donna E. Multicultural Children’s Literature: Through the Eyes of Many Children. 4th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Merrill Prentice Hall, 2013. Print.

Rochman, Hazel. Against Borders: Promoting Books for a Multicultural World. Chicago: American Library Association, 1993. Print.

Sims Bishop, Rudine. Perspectives: Choosing and Using Books for the Classroom. 3rd ed. Vol. 6. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 1990.

Woodson, Jacqueline. “Who Can Tell My Story.” The Horn Book Magazine 74.Jan/Feb  (1998): 34-38.

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Footnotes:

1  Sims Bishop, Rudine. Perspectives: Choosing and Using Books for the Classroom. 3rd ed. Vol. 6. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 1990.

2   Woodson, Jacqueline. “Who Can Tell My Story.” The Horn Book Magazine 74.Jan/Feb (1998): 34-38.

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Our guest blogger today is Alyson Feldman-Piltch. Alyson lives in Brookline, MA. She is almost done with her MLS/MIS program and will graduate from Indiana University at Bloomington in May 2015. She is the Chair for the Task Force for Establishing Guidelines for Selecting Multicultural Materials through EMIERT-ALA, as well as a member of the ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee and the 2015 Stonewall Book Award Committee.

When she isn’t reading, doing homework, blogging, or sleeping, Alyson can usually be found at Fenway Park or a midnight movie showing at the Coolidge Corner Theatre. She can be reached at alyson.fp@gmail.com and can be found on Twitter by following @aly_fp.

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 Diversity, Evaluation of Media, Guest Blogger | Tagged | 2 Comments

Mind Your Manners: Teaching Life Skills in the Library

A few weeks ago, a special education teacher approached our Youth Department, asking if a librarian might be able to plan a visit for her life skills class of high school students. Her class made regular visits to our library once a month to read and check out books. They were already comfortable visiting the Youth Department, since the materials that they were most interested in were housed in our part of the library. As much as she and her class enjoyed these visits, she wanted to explore the possibility of making the visit richer with learning and interaction, involving a librarian to lead 30 minutes of stories activities. Her goals for the visit were relatively simple: read books which demonstrate using manners in social situations, incorporate sensory and movement activities into the visit, and provide opportunities for her students to practice using manners in real life situations. Her students had been practicing using their manners in the classroom, in the lunchroom, and had plans to make a few field trips outside the school to extend the learning. We, of course, just had to say yes!

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51mudiN6ZZL.jpgA great tip for collaborating on a school visit is to ask questions and plan ahead. Ask if there is a particular reading level that works best for readalouds. As the teacher and I discussed the visit, I learned that picture books and easy non-fiction materials would work best for her class as readalouds. So, I selected several books to read—both fiction and non-fiction—that would be both informative and entertaining for the audience.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-bY_zPzSWXIo/TiN3vAyilHI/AAAAAAAAAYA/nUK76JhyEAo/s1600/symbol4.jpgAnother helpful tip is to ask what type of accommodations would work best for her students. For example, would creating a visual schedule of the visit’s activities help alleviate anxiety for her students? I also learned that her students would benefit greatly from the use of visual supports, as a way for them to see what was coming next. So, I put together a large group schedule, using Boardmaker images to coincide with the various activities. Each 8 1/2″  x 11” piece of paper included a large graphic as well as simple, easy to decode text. For example, I put together one sign that included the text “Play a Game” and displayed an image of a large, multicolored parachute.

You may also want to ask the teacher if her students have any specific triggers that might be helpful for you to know about in advance. For example, does music cause discomfort or distress in some of her students? If so, you may want to reconsider using a music CD and decide just to sign a song aloud using your own voice. The teacher did happen to mention that one of her students has the tendency to run when that student gets frustrated or upset. This was useful information for me to know, as I wouldn’t be caught off-guard in case this happened during the visit.

Here is an outline of the program that we implemented with her students:

  • Review Visual Schedule: As a way to let the students know what we would be doing, I reviewed the visual schedule by going over each activity individually using clear and specific “First… Then…” language.
  • Hello Activity: I began the storytime by introducing myself as “Miss Renee.” I then invited each students and teachers to introduce themselves to the classroom by saying “Hi, my name is…” Then, the group replied “Hello, [student’s name]” as a way to practice good manners by greeting others.
  • Read a Book: How do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food by Jane Yolen
  • Read a Book: Suppose You Meet a Dinosaur: A First Book of Manners by Judy Sierra
  • Play a Game with a Ball: I pulled out four different sized sensory balls and invited the group to move into a circle. The object of this activity was to have each student to ask another student or teacher if they could pass them the ball using their most polite manners. For example, “Daniel, would you please roll me that purple, spiky ball?” We passed, rolled, bounced, and threw the balls twice around the circle, allowing each student the chance to participate a few times.
  • Read a Book: Manners in the Lunch Room (Way to Be: Manners! Series) by Amanda Tourville
  • Play a Game with a Parachute: I brought out the parachute, and asked if everyone would stand up. This time, we went around the circle and each student was encouraged to dictate to the group (using their manners) what they wanted to do with the parachute. For instance, Jean would say “Could we please wave the wave the parachute up and down really fast?” Each student was allowed a chance to have the group play with the parachute in their own way.
  • Read a Book: Manners in the Library (Way to Be: Manners! Series) by Carrie Finn
  • Sing a Song “If You’re Happy and You Know It” (with ASL): We sung the first verse of this traditional song, but then incorporated ASL signs that aligned with our theme in the additional verses. For example “If you’re polite and you know it, just say “please.” (ASL sign for please) and “If you’re grateful and you know it, just say “thank you.” (ASL sign for thank you). Check out Jbrary’s great post about Using American Sign Language in Storytime for more ideas about how to utilize ASL in programs.
  • Library Activity: The teacher instructed the students to write note cards in advance with questions they wanted to ask librarians. The students took turns going to the desk and asking their questions, and the librarians took them to the shelves to help them find books that they liked based on their interests. After they practiced asking their questions and using their manners, librarians gave each student a small incentive (a sticker) for visiting to the library.

Overall, it was a fantastic success–so much so that the teacher asked if we could make this a regular part of their monthly visits.  And again, how could we say no?

Partnering with your local special education district is a great way to provide students with disabilities opportunities for learning outside the classroom. By giving students the chance to practice life skills in a library environment, librarians can help prepare them to be successful in their daily lives. It’s important that all library staff at all levels are aware and prepared to provide excellent, inclusive library service. Children’s, Tween, and Teen Librarians can work together to lead this type of programming. So, the next time that you are approached by a local special education teacher, think about getting your tween or teen librarians on board, too.

For more great ideas about lesson planning for tweens and young adults with special needs, check out this fantastic post written by Sarah Okner from the Vernon Area Public Library about her experience Visiting High School Special Education Classrooms.

Posted in Blogger Renee Grassi, Diversity, Library Design and Accessibility, Outreach, Programming Ideas, Special Needs Awareness, Storytime, Students, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

You Are Not Alone: My Experience at the 2014 ALSC Intitute

I returned from Oakland almost a month ago now, but I’m still processing much of what I experienced at the ALSC Institute and still pondering how to implement what I’ve learned in my own work.  As I look back at the conference as a whole, what comes into focus for me are particular moments when I saw the work we do in a new light.  We’re all so busy at our jobs that it can be hard to take a step back to think about the impact our work has and to be intentional about how we want to support our communities.  When I look at the Live Blogging coverage of the institute it seems like a lot of sessions have already been well-covered, so what I want to share with you are little moments that were meaningful for me.

 We’re all having breakfast and listening to incredible authors speak about their work and their experiences as young people.  I’m laughing at Gene Luen Yang’s story about hiding comic books in big library books, cheering when Tim Federle talks about how to kids diverse books are just books and scooting to the edge of my seat as Rita Williams-Garcia pulls out her actual teenage diary.  Then Pam Muñoz Ryan starts to talk about how she wasn’t much of a reader until 5th grade, when she switched schools and she needed books to keep her company.  Suddenly, I remember 4th grade when I became a reader.  I’d always loved stories, but reading was such a laborious process that I didn’t enjoy it.  Then it all came together and I took-off.  With all this focus on 3rd grade reading scores, it’s easy to get caught up in the stress of what level kids are “supposed” to be reading at.  But every reader is different and kids become readers at different times for different reasons.  If you know a struggling reader (or the parent of one), you can tell them that Pam Muñoz Ryan didn’t become a “good” reader until 5th grade and things turned out pretty well for her!  We should be looking for chances to help kids take-off as readers, not adding to the pressure for them to achieve.

 Later that day, I’m listening to a fabulous presentation about Oakland Public Library’s program to train volunteers to do weekly storytimes at Head Start programs.  It’s great for the kids and it’s great for the volunteers!  I’m busily thinking about how this could work at my library.  Didn’t we used to have a program like that?  Whatever happened with it?  Who would train the volunteers?  Then Gay Ducey says something that pulls me right back into the moment.  I’m going to have to paraphrase because I didn’t manage to write down her exact words, but it was something like: “Storytime is a break from the rest of a child’s day.  We are giving them a safe space to enjoy books and reading.  We are saying ‘You don’t have to do anything but listen right now.  Just be here and enjoy this moment.’”   When you left your extension activity at outreach, when your flannel board skills weren’t up to the task: all you really need is yourself and a book.  It doesn’t need to be flashy; we’re simply making a space for children to interact with books in positive ways.

 Flash forward to Fairyland a day later.  I’m warm, I’m sitting very close to people I’ve never met, but I don’t mind at all because I’m totally entranced by the conversation happening between Nina Lindsay, Mac Barnett, Jennifer Holm and Daniel Handler.  Suddenly Daniel Handler says something a little…risque.  (This should surprise no one.)  I worry for a moment and then I hear loud laughter from all directions.  I get to remember that although we work with children, we’re adults.  We can love children’s books and be devoted to helping kids and families, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be irreverent now and again.  In fact, having a sense of humor can often be our saving grace.

 There were plenty more notable moments, but I’ll leave you with these three.  All of them led me to my main take away from the institute: I am not alone.  When I’m strategizing how to balance my time, how to approach my manager with a new idea or how to entice that very active toddler to participate in storytime—someone else is dealing with these same problems.  As children’s librarians, I truly believe that we are each other’s best resource.  Having the opportunity to attend a whole conference with our colleagues has left me feeling connected, supported and heard like never before.


Hope to see you in Charlotte in 2016!

Posted in Guest Blogger, Institute 2014 | Leave a comment

ALSC Webinar: ECRR @ your library® Toolkit w/ Spanish-Speaking Communities

Every Child Ready to Read® @ your Library® Toolkit for Spanish-Speaking Communities is now available from the ALA Store (image courtesy of ALA)

Every Child Ready to Read® @ your Library® Toolkit for Spanish-Speaking Communities is now available from the ALA Store (image courtesy of ALA)

Join ALSC and PLA for an introduction to the 2nd edition of the Every Child Ready to Read @ your library Toolkit for Spanish-speaking Communities. This one-hour webinar is designed for librarians and library staff who are interested in reaching Spanish-speaking families with early literacy information.

This same webinar will be held two different times:

  • 11am Central/12pm Eastern, Wed., November 5
  • 3pm Central/4pm Eastern, Wed., November 5

The Every Child Ready to Read @ your library Toolkit for Spanish-Speaking Communities is available from the ALA Store. Information on webinar registration is available from the ALSC Online Learning site.

Posted in Blogger Dan Rude, Diversity, Early Literacy, Storytime, Uncategorized, Webinars | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Día Planning Starts Now!

The National Program Registry opens for Día on November 1st, so make sure to mark your calendars! The registry serves two purposes. First, your library will be recognized as participating in the El día de los niños/El día de los libros events on April 30, 2015. Additionally, by joining the registry, your library’s program will be part of a national searchable database in which other librarians can peruse your program ideas, get inspired, and hopefully design their own programs around diversity in literature. As a bonus, the registry also increases your library’s publicity and gives you some bragging rights.

I regularly check ALA’s Día website for program ideas, book lists, book club kit ideas, and free downloads. It’s where you can register your 2015 program and become part of the growing Día community. The Día booklist this year will have a STEAM focus, providing enticing possibilities of integrating STEAM content into your programs, displays, or book clubs. The booklist will be out in December, and I’m already anticipating it. I have in mind several STEAM-related programs or displays, including a scientist display honoring minorities in the field; a program on using technology to discover your own unique background and heritage (genealogy); and a program using blown-up prints of various engineering feats for children to guess which counties or persons designed them. The possibilities are endless!

Build STEAM with Día Mini-Grants

Build STEAM with Día Mini-Grants (image courtesy ALSC)

Don’t forget that there are mini-grants available this year. You can check out more information on how to apply for one, and the approaching deadline, via the Día website or the Día Facebook Page. In previous years, libraries across the country have hosted everything from poetry readings, border dances, festivals and food tastings as Día events. We can’t wait to see what you all come up with for 2015! Start thinking about Día now. Remember to put your program in the database so we can all be amazed at what you’re doing for your diverse and dynamic communities!

Reminder! ALSC is now accepting mini-grant applications for libraries through the Día initiative. Mini-grants will be used to initiate a Building STEAM with Día program in libraries. Up to 20 mini-grants will be awarded at $1,500 each. Applications are due Friday, October 17 at 5pm Central.

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Emily Scherrer is the Library Administrator for Sierra Vista Public Library, Arizona and is writing this post for the Public Awareness Committee. As a librarian living and working in a “border town,” she is a big advocate for diverse programming and collections.  You can contact her at mlescherrer@gmail.com

Posted in Blogger Public Awareness Committee, Committees, Dia, Displays, Diversity, Programming Ideas, STEM/STEAM | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Visiting Maker Faire Atlanta

This weekend I went to Maker Faire Atlanta. Maker spaces have been on my mind for the last year. I have looked into 3-D printers, laser cutters, Arduinos, sewing machines, jewelry making, stop-motion videos – the list goes on. There is so much to offer, but where to start. No one wants to purchase expensive equipment that will sit untouched. I want to know what will attract people and keep them engaged with the library and each other. So far I have decided on a mobile maker space, but what to add. A grant opportunity is looming so now is the time to strike. I took to the streets to observe what the people wanted.

The first exhibit drew my attention. It was surrounded by a dozen little boys and I soon discovered why. Two homeschool parents and their children had a table full of “Weapons of Miniature Destruction.” Now, I do not condone weapons, but those kids were having a lot of fun with the crossbows, catapults and other “implements of mayhem” made from clothespins, rubber bands and Popsicle sticks. The kids wore safety goggles and aimed beans at a cardboard castle. As I picked up the catapult, I could not help but admire the engineering and the spirit of sharing that led this group to share their talents with other makers. I quickly moved on before I was blinded by a bean.

Next, I saw a librarian helping children sew LED lights into fabric squares. The children and librarian had so much patience. I didn’t even know that kids knew how to sew these days. There were flying machines, screen painting, and a kite making table. A mobile maker space truck soon caught my eye. In front of the truck, were mini-maker trunks set on a table. Taped to each trunk was a maker challenge. Inside the boxes, there were everyday materials such as fabric, paper cups, pipe cleaners and tape. The table was so crowded I had to wait in line to peek over the kids’ shoulders. Moving on, I saw people making Morse code bracelets and trying a Morse code machine, using various keys to find the right lock, terrariums, more LED light stations, and of course lots of 3-D printers. Unfortunately, the only people demonstrating squishy circuits did not show up. I guess I have to make my own.

I was surprised at how popular the no-tech and low-tech stations were with the kids. So what is my take away? I should listen to the many people who have urged hesitant folks like me not to become intimidated or stymied by the big flashy items. Those kids really enjoyed those Popsicle catapults and so did I.

Swalena Griffin is the Branch Manager at the East Roswell Library in Georgia, and a member of ALSC’s Children & Technology Committee.

Posted in Blogger Children and Technology Committee, Children & Technology, Technology | Leave a comment