ALA Annual Conference 2021

Poster Sessions for Children’s Services at #ALAAC21

I have always loved to take a little bit of time to peruse the poster sessions at in person ALA Annual Conferences. Most of the presenters are from the academic world and usually have nothing to do with my job as a children’s librarian in a public library. However, I still like talking to people who are passionate about their work. There is usually something I can learn and use in work as a public librarian. Once in a while the subject relates directly to serving children. So, I explored the virtual poster sessions this year. While I missed being able to ask questions, it was still fun to see how excited the presenters are about their work. Here are a few projects that can be useful to us working in children’s services.

“A Bibliography of Children’s Literature to Celebrate Multilingualism and Facilitate Translanguaging Pedagogies” by Grace Enriquez, Ed.D. and Meg Burns, Ph.D., both professors at Lesley University in Massachusetts.

Translanguaging is the process that multilingual speakers use to integrate the languages they speak and are learning to communicate. I found a blog post on Study.com that explains it much better. Enriquez and Burns are creating “a web-based, searchable bibliography of 50 children’s picture books and chapter books that promote multilingualism and translanguaging.” Books will include bilingual and interlingual books in a variety of languages, representing various ethnicities and countries. Each entry includes a summary, standards, teaching points, resources, and information about translanguaging. This will be a great resource for educators and librarians. I hope the creators will be able to continue to expand the bibliography. The website will launch in September, so keep your eyes and ears out for it.

“Diversity in Action Children’s Book Hop” by Andrea Jamison, Assistant Professor of School Librarianship, Illinois State University, Sadaf Siddique, Writer at Lantern Reads, and Heidi Rabinowitz, Library Director, Congregation B’nai Israel in Boca Raton.

ALA’s Ethnic & Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table (EMIERT) will be the home of another web-based source for book lists that feature books for children that “offer authentic and positive representation” of the myriad of diverse communities that we serve. I like that the creators want to “broadcast the message that representation is important all the time, not just during a heritage month or holiday.” This is something we all need to work on.

“Check Out the Chickens” by Kay Ellen Hones, Educator in San Francisco.

Many libraries have gardens for kids to experience where our food comes from. Some libraries have pets. Usually the library pet is small and can live fairly happily in a medium sized indoor cage or tank. Hones’ wanted to take students’ interest in healthy eating to another level, specifically egg sandwiches for breakfast. So, she wrote a grant and got $20,000 to raise chickens in the library garden! The students researched raising chickens, built the coop, and are responsible for taking care of the birds. The grant also included cooking equipment. I wonder if they’ve moved on to omelets? Kidding aside, this seems like a great project that helped Hones’ mostly at-risk students to learn responsibility, empathy for others, and other skills. So, are you ready to raise chickens at your library? Talk about interactive storytime! I found more info on Hones’ website.

“Library City Project: Response to Quarantine Children of Covid-19” by Merve Yavuzdemir, founder and manager of the Kütüp-Anne Platform, a web-based resource for libraries, children’s books, and promoting reading culture in Turkey. 

Library City was a project in Ankara, Turkey, in May and June of 2020, where 600 children ages 3-10 were sent books to their homes while in strict quarantine. Posters of the covers of the books were also sent. After the children read the book, they displayed the poster for that book in their window for all to see. The children’s homes became the “library”. The campaign also included activities and resources for families. Hopefully we will not experience anything like or on the scale of the COVID-19 pandemic again. But this is a great idea and I could see replicating this as part of a winter or summer reading program during pandemic as well as “normal” times.

“Virtual Reading to Dogs” by Teresa Matthews, Outreach Manager, and Emily Williams, Teen Services Manager, Metropolitan Library System, Oklahoma City.

Lots of libraries have been offering a “read to a dog” program for years now. Once libraries were ordered to close their doors last March, many found a way to duplicate the program virtually. Matthews and Williams outline how they implemented the program at their library. Kids needed the practice of reading out loud more than ever. And as Matthews and Williams point out in their poster, the dogs missed the children and would get excited when the cameras came out so they could hear the kids! (Everybody, together: Awwwww!) The program developed into a much-needed social gathering after the reading was over and included participants from several other states as well as from Germany. If you would like to learn more about how to take your “read to a dog” program virtual, take a look at the Managing Children’s Services Committee ALSC blog on the subject, “Taking Children Reading to Dogs Virtual” from last August.


Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

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