Blogger Chelsey Roos

Inspiring Young Writers at the Library

I love to put on creative writing programs at the library. Kids are natural storytellers, but as they grow up and move through the school system, many of them come to believe that writing is all about having correct spelling and grammar. But a library program can focus on the fun side of writing, throw away the so-called “rules” of writing, and help young writers bring back their creative spark. Read on for three examples of creative writing games you can play at your library.

Blogger Chelsey Roos

Help Me, Judy Blume: In search of puberty stories for young readers

A girl of about eleven or twelve walked up to my desk and asked if I could recommend some books to her. “I really like Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret,” she said. “Great!” I said. “Do you want more books by Judy Blume, or just other books like that one?” “Other books like that one,” she confirmed. We started walking up and down the stacks. I pulled a book off the shelf with a Judy Blume vibe, gave her a brief description, and then watched her face as she tried to keep up a polite smile.

Blogger Chelsey Roos

Mental Health in our Patrons and our Colleagues

In honor of May as Mental Health Awareness Month, here are two stories about mental health in the library. Children Can Have Mental Health Needs A young patron of about eleven or twelve sidled up to me quietly at the children’s desk and asked me in a soft voice for books about, “um, you know…depression.” Immediately my mind went to worrying for this young person. I’ve had depression from a very young age – younger than the girl in front of me. My heart leapt in a kind of panic, a panic of wanting to rescue this young person from all the hardship I’ve experienced with my own depression.  I had to take a moment to make myself be calm. I started asking her normal reference interview questions. Did she want fact books or stories? Was there anything she had read recently that she’d liked? We went walking up and…

Blogger Chelsey Roos

On Building Reading Comprehension: Jerry Craft’s New Kid and Themes of Prejudice

Back when we could still host in-person programs, my book club for fourth to sixth graders met to discuss Jerry Craft’s New Kid. I was confident they were going to like it – it was about to win the Newbery (among other awards), and I had been on a hot streak of choosing books my book club adored (not to brag!). I opened our book club discussion the same way I always do: by asking who liked the book and who didn’t, and by reminding them that it’s okay not to enjoy a book we read – they won’t hurt my feelings by expressing their opinions. This opening question lets me discretely check on their reading comprehension without feeling too much like a quiz. I was surprised when almost all my kids said they didn’t like the book – but I was downright shocked when I asked them to talk…

Blogger Chelsey Roos

How Do You Choose Your Next Project?

How do you decide what programs and projects to bring to your library each year? For the last five years, I’ve had a lot of projects I’ve wanted to do “someday.” A tiny sampling from my giant list includes: A librarian get-together for all the area school library staff once a semester A toddler process art class Creative writing classes for elementary and middle schoolers A book club for our 1-3 graders A storytelling festival A monthly parenting seminar featuring local experts and resources A back-to-school night for area teachers to visit the library and pick up free books to build up their classroom libraries So, so much more Big Dreams, Little Programming Space All of these projects have remained dreams instead of realities, because no matter how hard I try, I can’t do everything (can you relate?). I work for a public, county library, at a busy branch where…

Blogger Chelsey Roos

How Do You Organize Your Reader’s Advisory Tools?

In the pre-COVID days, few things would make me more anxious than an unknown patron walking up to my desk and asking for reader’s advisory on a particular topic or genre. Despite the fact that I love children’s books of all kinds, read hundreds of books a year, and will talk your ear off about my favorite authors unprompted, the words “Can you recommend…?” make my brain shut down. I immediately forget every book I’ve ever read, liked, or even heard of. If children’s librarians can get reader’s advisory-related stage fright, then I’ve got it in spades. In the Before Times, my favorite method of reader’s advisory was to walk up and down the aisles with a patron, chatting with them about what books they like, and which ones they don’t, while I quickly scan the shelves for a title that will reboot my library brain.  Thanks to COVID, however,…

Blogger Chelsey Roos

Zoom Storytime Catastrophes and Other Online Disasters

An incomplete list of things that have gone wrong in my Zoom storytimes: My internet went out I played a song too loudly on the ukulele, which led to Zoom automatically turning down my volume, which led to no one being able to hear me when I began to read the next book I completely forgot the chords to a song I have known for at least five years (see also: things that have gone wrong in my in-person storytimes) A child burst into tears over being muted after interrupting too many times A child drew all over the screen share when annotations were accidentally turned on A caregiver accidentally took over the screen-share (luckily only displaying emails and spreadsheets), while I went into a panic over getting control back We belatedly discovered our new event registration software allowed patrons to register for Zoom events with only a phone number,…