Author Spotlight

34th Annual Virginia Hamilton Conference

Last week, I attended the 34th Annual Virginia Hamilton Conference at Kent State University, focusing on multicultural literature for children and young adults.  Living in Northeast Ohio, I have attended several times in the past; however, this year I am a newly minted member of the Conference’s Advisory Board and got to see a bit “behind the curtain” of the event as well. In addition, this year was unusual.  The typical April date was changed to October to be combined with a Literacy Conference Kent State was hosting this year, and that content was also included in breakdown sessions. The Conference began Thursday evening with dinner, the Arnold Adoff Poetry Awards, and one of the Conference’s three keynote speakers, poet Marilyn Nelson. Present to pick up their poetry awards, and to read excerpts from their work, were winner Nikki Grimes (One Last Word) and honor recipients Hope Anita Smith (My Daddy…

Children's Librarians are Experts

Children’s Librarians are Experts of Play

Carissa Christner is a Youth Services Librarian at Madison Public Library in Madison, Wisconsin. For the past three years, Carissa has championed play as an important part of early childhood. This past summer, I had the pleasure of working at her Wild Rumpus program which is the result of an ongoing partnership between Madison Public Library, Madison Parks Division, and Anji Play, an internationally-recognized approach to early learning. Three days a week a trailer full of blocks, ladders, climbing cubes, and other carefully selected open-ended play materials were unloaded at one of the three selected city parks and the Wild Rumpus would begin. With the help of other Library staff, graduate students and volunteers, Youth Services Librarians would spend three hours engaging with caregivers around the value of True Play. Caregivers were given opportunities to learn about giving their children room to explore and take risks, and how to talk together…

Blogger Elisabeth Gattullo Marrocolla

Book to Film: The House with a Clock in its Walls

Just in time for Halloween, a classic of the kidlit horror genre was adapted into a film. John Bellairs first published The House with a Clock in its Walls in 1973, a time of unrest and upheaval in the United States and around the world. It feels surprisingly fresh when read in 2018. 21st-Century readers will be forgiven for finding the opening chapter of The House with a Clock in its Walls a bit familiar. Recently orphaned, loner Lewis is on his way to live with an uncle he’s never met. And yet, what Lewis finds when he arrives at his Uncle’s wondrous and sinister home is the stuff of both dreams and terrible, terrible nightmares. Uncle Jonathan is a wizard, and somewhere in his house there is a clock placed by the malevolent former owners of the home. It’s ticking down towards something, but no one knows what. In…

Blogger Katie Salo

Egg Shakers in Storytime

A child is sitting on the grass, holding a blue bin. Inside the blue is a red egg shaker covered in paint, rolling around the sheet of paper at the bottom.

Today’s installment of storytime props are egg shakers in storytime. (Previous post: Scarves in Storytime.) Before we dive in, let’s cover some of the basics: How do you pass egg shakers out?: Um, as un-chaotically as I can. I have a basket at the front of the room and ask the children to come up and take an egg. It takes a bit of time to pass them out, but it works at my library. I’ve heard of librarian having caregivers take an egg as they come in and hide it until it’s egg shaker time. I’ve also heard of librarians who have prop baskets throughout the room.   How do you put egg shakers away, keep them clean, and store them?: I ask everyone to clean up together. Sometimes, I call out, “If you have a red shaker, come put it away” or “If you are two years old,…

Children & Technology

Children’s Librarians are Experts at Collaborating with Colleagues to Maximize Access to Technology

As a public librarian turned school librarian, I’ve always had a keen awareness of the importance of a strong public library/school library connection to increase the effectiveness of both for our school-aged patrons.  I’m very lucky to currently work in a school district that supports their school libraries and provides a wide range of database subscriptions, and access for our students to laptops, tablets, and other technology.  Even so, I find myself directing my students regularly to the resources available from our local public library; whether it be to utilize a digital subscription that we don’t carry at school, or urging them to visit the branch in person to take advantage of the technology, programming and expertise available there.  This partnership only increases in importance in areas where funding for schools and libraries is even leaner, and absolutely vital in those communities where school librarians are being cut altogether. With…

Competencies for Librarians Serving Children in Public Libraries

Toddler Exploration: Art!

When I used to work in a independent library in California, we had crafts or art projects after all our story times… since moving, I have learned that that is not the norm in big city systems! I suppose, I could do them after story time, but we are usually tight on staff and there is a need to cover the desk. It also always depends on how you get funds for art activities. We have a big order we place every fall, but can face delays and or we can only buy from a regimented list. So, I have typically saved crafts and art projects for pop up programs or some once a month family story times. But– I think it is such a miss for our community! Art is not always explored at home because it can make a MESS and then it may only be available as…