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….
Some of my best childhood memories revolve around my Grandma Juanita’s stories of her childhood. From tales of picking cotton – a story that taught me grown-ups always know when you’re lying – to a yarn about being chased by a bull, Grandma Juanita told the best stories. She also instilled in me a deep and lasting love of oral storytelling. It wasn’t until attaining my MLS that I’d come to realize the literacy benefits of such storytelling. While little formal research has been done into the effect of oral storytelling on early literacy acquisition, anecdotal evidence supports the theory that storytelling (as distinguished from story reading): teaches social and emotional skills; builds vocabulary; helps children become better listeners and readers; reinforces the importance of imagination and creativity; and promotes cultural awareness and expression, among other things.
I don’t know about you all, but I often struggle with the question of how to provide engaging, educational, original programming to the kids at my library. After all, most of our popular programs (whether STEAM or storytime) happen at least once a week for an entire year. While I’ve tackled this topic in previous posts, the issue of innovation becomes an especially universal problem when handling Summer Reading: How do you keep things fresh for the regulars you get year after year, while still providing quality programs and services everyone can enjoy?
Some experts believe New York City is home to as many as 800 languages, making it the most linguistically diverse city in the world. But whether you work at a small rural library or in the middle of a bustling city like New York, at least some of your patrons speak another language – maybe even exclusively.