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Get Ready for Summer!

It’s that magical time of year. Flowers are blooming, the sun is shining, and Summer Reading planning is in full swing! This is the time of year when I get to work most closely with my school librarian colleagues. I am a Family Services librarian in a suburban public library. I’m lucky to be in a town that really loves its libraries, both public and school. We get to see kids after school all year, and we hear a lot about the fabulous author visits and book recs that their school librarians bring to them. We plan programs and recommend reading to build on the learning that happens at school, and the school librarians likewise guide students to further develop learning they’ve started in public library programs. Summer, of course, is different. That daily exchange of learning changes shape, as school days transform into summer camp days and engagement in…

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Celebrating Our Differences

We are all different, and that’s okay.  I say this statement out loud at minimum once a month, usually when confronted with the unsavory news about banned and challenged books, book burnings, etc.; activities that are, at best, seriously misguided attempts to protect young minds from being exposed to topics deemed to be above their maturity level. The empath in me is always seeking to fully understand and walk in the proverbial shoes of someone else. However, the more I peruse the list of challenged titles, the more confused I become. Our country is a gumbo of cultures enhanced by the lived experiences and traditions of diverse people whose uniqueness adds flavor to our Americanness.  Just as there is no such thing as a one ingredient recipe, neither should there be the promotion and elevation of one singular story. To say that there is not room for more than one…

Blogger AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee

Hats

Hats. I wear many of them. Literal hats of winter because in New York it gets cold. But other hats too. Teen librarian, school librarian, media literacy skills teacher, colleague, friend, relative, potential problem predictor, in-house worrier, tech-trouble-shooter, mask/face covering supplier, hand sanitizer distributor, and so many more hats. 

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A Booklist for NAHM (and Beyond)

You may be aware that November is Native American Heritage Month in the U.S. Often we see beautiful displays of books by and about Native/Indigenous people in our schools and libraries in November, but these are titles that should be highlighted and utilized all year. This is especially true because Native/Indigenous authors and illustrators have been criminally underrepresented in books for children over the years, therefor making it all the more critical for library workers and educators to spread the word and get these books into the hands of young readers.

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#DisabilityPrideMonth

CW: Ann Magill, designer of the Disability Pride flag, recently wrote, “It has recently come to my attention that, even with desaturated colors, this flag design can, when viewed online (especially while scrolling), create a strobe effect, and pose a risk for people with epilepsy, and migraine sufferers. I (and others) are currently working on a safe alternative.” A visual of the Disability Pride flag is included in this post. Did you know that July is National Disability Pride Month? Thursday marks the 31-year anniversary of the signing into law of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination against disabled people and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as non-disabled people. But how accessible are our classrooms and school libraries? Are we keeping disabled patrons in mind as we plan public library programs, both in-person and virtual? Last summer, ALSC released a Virtual Storytime Services…

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BREATHE

It’s been a long, long week/month/year/decade, and May is stressful for all; public library staff are gearing up for Summer Reading (a wild time to work in a public library environment), while school staff are just trying to make it to the end of the school year (a wild time to work in a school environment). And of course, we’re still living in a pandemic; things are scary and uncertain in so many ways. With all this happening, it is no surprise that I often have to remind myself to breathe. How often do you actually pay attention to your breathing? The persistently ragged, near-panicky gasping that has become my pandemic breathing style doesn’t exactly lead to inner peace. To really help yourself achieve some level of calm, one needs to be mindful of their breathing, and so, in that spirit, here are some links I hope you find helpful…

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All Students Are Welcome: Culturally Responsive Libraries

In August 2019, the Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) system in Albuquerque, New Mexico gave every K-8 classroom a collection of culturally responsive books for their classroom libraries. These books reflected the interests and the diversity of students and represented diverse authors and points of view. The underlying goal was to encourage the APS student population to feel seen, valued, and welcomed in schools, and to help students value the races and cultures of others. This was no small feat since the process involved tons of books—literally. APS is located in the largest city in New Mexico with a population of 560,000, spread across 1,200 square miles, including 144 schools with approximately 80,000 students. This makes APS amongst the fifty largest school districts in the United States. The two APS employees behind this massive undertaking were Rachel Altobelli (Director of Library Services and Instructional Materials) and Jessica Villalobos (Senior Director of…

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Getting it Right: the Importance of Names

In their recent book Your Name is a Song, author Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow and illustrator Luis Uribe tell the story of a young girl who is saddened by her teacher’s (and classmates’) inability to pronounce her name correctly. Eventually, the girl’s mother helps her to see the musicality in her and others’ names, empowering the girl to speak up and stand up for the beauty of her own name, but one does hope the teacher in the book will do things differently going forward to create a more inclusive classroom community. As adults working with children, we should not put the young people we work with in such uncomfortable situations. As a whole, the librarian and teacher professions are overwhelmingly white. And while we all agree that the children in our classrooms and programs deserve to be seen, heard and respected, we may spend more time worrying about curriculum, or finger…