Passive Picture Book Programs

As a first year librarian, I was constantly looking for new passive programming ideas.  We had a passive “mystery box” program, that the children could participate in once a week. I was getting burnt out on trying to find 5 new items every Monday to fill the box, and the kids were getting frustrated that they had to wait a week to play again.  At other libraries, the mystery box works well when most children come just once a week, but our children come to the library every day after school and in the summer.  I felt like this type of passive programming was not as enriching as it could be. Early this January, a new book came by my desk called, “28 Days: Moments in Black History that Changed the World” by Charles R. Smith.   I flipped through this and immediately wanted to turn this into a daily passive…

Passive DIY Programming for Tweens

I’m always on the lookout for hands-on passive programming that will keep my tween audience engaged during the summer. Simple paper crafts, scavenger hunts, and guessing jars are great for the younger folk, but this age group is savvier and has a penchant for a more “sophisticated” activities. To satisfy their need to design and create, our library has developed DIY projects that are low cost and easy to put together. Our program is set up to be self-serving, meaning we leave out the supplies and directions for the project and let the tweens help themselves. The supplies themselves are close to the staff desk, so if a tween does need a little help getting started, they can easily find someone to assist them. Each project is available for roughly a month and we try to stick to a budget of $50 for supplies. Here are two of my favorite DIY projects we are offering this summer:…

Children’s Librarians are Expert in Creating Timely Current Event Programs

This fall, voting discussions were happening spontaneously wherever adults gathered: the dinner table, the grocery line, the car radio and well beyond. Kids in our neighborhood heard snippets of local and national voting issues throughout their day.  Making sure to vote was often emphasized as a top priority. Just imagine the delight of children who walked into the Tecumseh Branch of the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana when they saw a large freezer box voting booth with a “Vote for Best Pet 2018” campaign in full swing!  The premise was explained on a bulletin board directly behind the booth itself. “Dog or cat?  Your vote decides!  Customers of any age may vote from now through Tuesday, November 6th.  One vote per customer, please.  The winner will be announced with a Dog or Cat Storytime, Parade, and Victory Celebration.”  Our sole service point included voter registration cards children…

#PLA2018 From Passive Participants to Engaged Experimenters

It’s not about the destination, it’s the journey. Inquiry-Based STEM Programming challenged us to embrace a learn-together model that puts students in the driver’s seat, empowering them to take ownership of their learning. We don’t need to be experts to impart critical thinking and problem solving skills, stimulate decision making and nurture curiosity, and ultimately create a cycle of continuous learning and trying new things. We can build off of school curriculum without being bound to it. It’s a great opportunity for kids to explore science, tech, engineering, and math in a relaxed environment without judgment or pressure. It’s more intuitive to absorb knowledge and concepts when it’s through personal, hands-on experience. Kids should be encouraged to dabble and see what happens! Inspire wonder. Relate science, technology, engineering, or math to real life, to something that will resonate with and excite kids. Pick a phenomenon and develop questions to drive…

An Old-School Spin on STEAM Programming

At the 53rd Street branch of the New York Public Library, STEAM programming is in high demand, especially with our youngest library users. So how do you keep kids engaged after months and months of weekly programs? Fellow children’s librarian Grace Zell and I found an exciting new approach to STEAM programming from an unlikely source: Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) novels. For those less familiar with the CYOA set up, these stories are written from a second-person perspective and allow readers to step into the role of the protagonist, choosing the actions they take along the way. While the original series ran from 1979-1998, a relaunch began in the early 2000s and new titles, in a variety of genres and reading levels, are still being published. Grace and I created three distinct program plans, each featuring a series of STEAM challenges. These included coding, architectural, engineering, and simple puzzle…

Winter Reading Programs : Game On at the Library!

Most public libraries, and many school libraries, conduct Summer Reading Programs. In fact, many of you (like me) have already begun planning your SRP. I’m curious to know how many other libraries out there hold Winter Reading Programs. And what your different programs entail. Please share your comparisons, ideas, and suggestions. I’d love to gather some innovative ideas. At the Algonquin Area Public Library District, we started our WRP years ago as a family reading program where the entire family would read and record their time together on one log as a group to earn a single prize such as a fleece blanket, or a sled. Each child also earned a paperback book of their choice upon completion of the family program. A few years ago we reformatted the program to more closely follow our SRP model. This included extending the length of the program, from 5 weeks to 2…

Creating Relevant Programs with Tween Interests

On Tuesdays, I get to spend time with my regular teens.  As I walked over to the teen department, I  stumbled into an interesting discussion. In the midst of homework and computer games, my teens discussed the library. One mentioned that she started to come to the library regularly when she was a tween. She appreciated that the library had a variety of materials for her to checkout.  Another teen talked about how awesome the programming was and how much she appreciated the staff.   One of our newest teens surprised me the most. She just moved to my library from out of state and shared her own experience. After she agreed with the previous comments, she shared that her previous library only offered duct tape crafts, book discussions, and anime nights for teens.  She felt like the programs were okay, but the library wasn’t in tune with her and peer’s needs….