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A Few Unique Ideas for Summer Reading Performers

In many places around our country, January equals cold temperatures, barren trees, and dark days (even as the sunlight slowly increases each day). The perfect time to discuss and start planning summer programming, am I right? In fact, I’m not the only one contemplating Summer, as Jonathan Dolce just posted a list of excellent resources on the collaborative summer library program theme in All Together Now 2023 SRP. In addition to program planning, many of us may find ourselves starting the elusive search for performers. We hope to find the right combination of popularity and budget to draw our communities into participating in our Summer Reading Programs. Hopefully most of us involved in this tedious research already have a master list of performers or participate in library Facebook groups like Programming Librarian Interest Group to solicit ideas. My goal is not to offer ideas for big names or trends, but to instead…

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Food, Love, and Grandparents

The month of December, when extended families often get together to celebrate their respective religious or cultural traditions, is a great time to also celebrate the multigenerational connections that many children have with their grandparents. The following selection of picture books celebrate the bonds between children and grandparents that are made stronger through cooking and sharing food. Whether it’s identifying which wild vegetables should be harvested and how they should be prepared, waiting for dough to rise, or navigating the multistep process of making tofu from scratch, the deliberate, thoughtful, and often lengthy process of meal preparation leads to deeper communication and understanding between the grandparents and grandchildren in these stories. See also the recent post Around the World With Foodie Picture Books which features several books about children connecting with a grandparent over food. What else is out there that is missing from this list? Please share your favorite…

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Room for another challenge? 1000 Hours Outside

Have you heard about the 1000 Hours Outside movement? It was created by Ginny Yurich to encourage people of all ages to spend time outside, embracing nature and setting aside screens. (For detailed information, visit the official site). This movement has also been a game-changer for developing programming and partnerships at my library ever since a coworker (Thanks, Connie!) discovered 1000 Hours in 2020. By the first summer of the pandemic, families everywhere seemed exhausted by screen-time. 1000 Hours Outside offers the perfect framework for engaging families of all ages and adding a twist to outdoor programming that we were already doing—and you probably are, too. From story time and story walks to tie dye parties and chalk the walk afternoons—during much of the pandemic, every in-person program we offered took place outdoors. Why not reinvigorate the classics with a challenge? Wait, another challenge? Between Summer Reading, Winter Reading, 1000…

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Early Literacy STEAM at the Library

This fall, our children’s services team brainstormed ways to extend family visits to the floor after storytimes and programs had ended. We noticed the floor would be packed for the 20 minutes before and after a program, but it cleared out quickly. We decided to use our passive STEAM stations, typically reserved for special programs or rainy days/school break boredom busters. Our pie-in-the-sky goal was to have families seeking the library as a place to be, even if there wasn’t a specific program or storytime happening. The more practical purpose was to have families stay engaged in the department past the event that brought them there.

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Pace Yourself!

Life for most of us is finally reopening after 2+ years of the pandemic. Children’s Librarians are ready to jump back into action but be aware there’s a “new normal” for us to return to. Programs may be in-person, on-line or a hybrid version. We have not only maintained our usual job assignments but some may have various versions of them. In addition, there are new ones we’ve taken over due to staff shortages or reassignments. We try to do them all to the best of our ability however, we should remember to pace ourselves.  Burnout can happen to anyone, especially those with good intentions. Here’s a few tips to keep in mind when your schedule fills up.  Keep it simple Use simple activities as mini-programs added onto a scheduled storytime in house, or offer as take-home activities a few times throughout your series. For example, have two glasses of…

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What’s on the Menu: Early Childhood Programs & Services at ALA Annual

Can you believe it’s finally happening? The ALA Annual Conference is back! Soon, thousands of people who work in and support libraries will gather in Washington, D.C. to learn, network, and celebrate what we do. There are so many topics and events to be excited about. For today’s post I’ll be sharing some of the wonderful programming in store for people who work to serve young children and their families in library spaces. If you are interested too, read on!

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Baby & Preschool Music Programs & You

With Summer just around the corner, I see solicitations for programming ideas and suggestions everywhere. Aleah Jurnecka, a colleague of mine at Kitsap Regional Library, has hit gold with two of her music programs aimed at babies and preschoolers. I wanted to share her success and best practices so you too can confidentially add a baby or preschool music program to your library offerings this summer. Inspiration Aleah first started her music programs when she worked as a librarian at Los Angeles County Public Library in southern California. She had a diverse audience at her storytimes and noticed that many caregivers didn’t truly participate along with their babies unless it involved music. She “saw the need to break down the language and cultural barriers inherent with baby storytime” she told me, and that music had a way to transcend these barriers in such a way where anyone could do it….

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Bringing back toys

During my 28-year career in public libraries, I have seen children’s spaces evolve from no toys whatsoever, to some puzzles and games, to a full array of materials that promote creative and interactive play. We all know that play is the work of childhood (thank you, Mr. Rogers!) and the numerous benefits of toy-based learning: cause and effect, problem solving, imagination, fine and gross motor skill development, and creativity. Vital social emotional skills – sharing, communication, compromising, and making new friends – are also cultivated. Just as story times and early literacy programming inspire a love of reading, toys inspire a love of learning. As our libraries gradually resume pre-pandemic services, it is a delight to see the return of toys in children’s spaces. Larger furnishings such as drawing/writing stations, kitchens, puppet theaters, dollhouses, train and LEGO tables are moving back in. Free play vehicles, blocks, multi-cultural dolls, and puzzles…