Have you ever noticed that we spend an inordinate amount of time preparing children for anticipated milestones? “What books do you have with siblings?” a very pregnant, harried-looking caregiver might ask. Another approaches the desk saying, “He refuses to even go near the potty. I just want him to know it’s not scary.” These are year-round events, ones we must always be ready to handle. But there’s one milestone in the lives of small children that’s quickly, predictably approaching: the first day of school. And while it’s important to provide the perfect picture books to help those concerned caregivers, if our work stops there, we’re missing a golden opportunity to prepare caregivers right alongside those first-time school attendees.
This Wednesday (June 19th) is International Box Day, when people all over the world will be celebrating the cardboard box! Okay, so maybe not. But boxes are truly a fantastic invention. First conceived in 1817, cardboard boxes have been making moving easier for over 200 years. But for librarians, boxes are more than just packaging; they’re an incredibly versatile craft material. So if you need some inspiration for celebrating International Box Day at your library this year, look no farther! I’ve compiled some of my favorite programming ideas for a range of ages as well as storytime selections below.
We often think of using social media as a means to share book recommendations and details about upcoming programs/events. These are such natural extensions of library services, so if your system is using social media (hopefully they are), you’re probably already generating this type of content. But what do you do when your feed starts to feel like the same-old posts on repeat? And what less conventional uses of these tools could your library possibly benefit from?
Nearly a year ago, I wrote about an after-hours family program I planned and implemented at my branch. While I would have liked to provide an update, detailing changes we’ve made and patron response, we were unfortunately forced to postpone these programs indefinitely. But NYPL is still offering incredible family programming across the system, and one of my favorites is a series at Chatham Square (in Chinatown). Friday Night Fun is a monthly event where children with disabilities and their families can come to socialize, play games, draw, and participate in storytime – all in a comfortable and welcoming setting. And while I’ve assisted with this series in the past, I’m a relative newcomer to Friday Night Fun. To get an idea of how this program came together, I sent some questions to the creator himself, Jeff Katz.
For those of you following my work (well, I can certainly dream I have devoted followers), you may recognize this technology-related post as a continuation of my STEAM on a Shoestring series, all about bringing new life to your old STEAM routine. If you haven’t read the previous two, you can find great Science and Engineering ideas from some of my personal library role models by following the links provided. If you have already read those previous posts, however, you might notice something a little different this time: While previous posts have highlighted the work of numerous library professionals, this one will include lots of ideas from one librarian. Alessandra Affinito is a Senior Children’s Librarian with New York Public Library, and when I think tech programming for kids, I think of her.
Did you know February 26th is National Tell a Fairy Tale Day? Don’t be embarrassed if you didn’t; fairy tales are my favorite, and even I wasn’t aware until very recently. In fact, my love of fairy tales dates back to long before I became a librarian. It turns out such love isn’t uncommon among children; a recent Brightly article includes quite a bit of anecdotal evidence attesting to children’s passion for magic, escapism, even the “twisted and bizarre,” while this ALSC post from 2015 highlights the universality of these stories.
Last month, I posted ideas for engineering programs on a budget. I hope you had a chance to try out the programs – please email me if you did! – and found a great new activity for your young patrons. I had so much fun putting together that post, I decided to turn it into a mini-series. So this month, I’ve asked librarian friends to share ideas for science programs they (and their patrons) love:
Looking for some ideas to inject a little life into your STEAM programming? Don’t have a lot of money to throw around? You may not know, but librarians are kind of a great resource for that. When I’m feeling run down and completely out of ideas, I like to check in with some of my favorite librarians – because chances are, at least one of them has an idea I’ve never used before, and probably never would have thought up without their input. So if you’re feeling a little lost, check out these engineering-focused suggestions from some of the greatest librarians I know: Kristin McWilliams, Youth Manager with Houston Public Library (TX) “In my After School Zone, we did a zip-line challenge the kids were really into. I told them they needed to make something that could hold plastic dinosaurs and attach to the line to carry them safely down….