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.
Have you been considering offering sensory storytimes at your library or doing outreach to a school serving children with developmental delays? Maybe the reason you’ve hesitated is because you feel unprepared. I get it: Sensory storytime can seem intimidating, with its own particular structure and style. But this is an incredibly important area of service for any library to undertake, reaching children who often otherwise feel unwelcome in a storytime space.
Some of you may remember my first post for ALSC, published just a few months ago, entitled An Old-School Spin on STEAM Programming. It’s focus was an at-that-time recent program a colleague and I had run at 53rd Street, where school-age children were presented with a series of Choose Your Own Adventure-style challenges. Each week followed a different theme (pirates, space, etc.), and participants were asked to complete a series of STEAM projects, from pattern matching to coding, to aid them in their quests. A dear friend of mine (who is one of the best librarians I know) took this concept to the next level by creating a Super Mario-themed adventure that far surpassed the original programming. (No, I’m not putting myself down. Her programming is just so beyond what I could have created, it’s unbelievable.) To get an idea of how this program came together, I sent some interview…