Blogger Suzi Wackerbarth

What Does Earth Day Have to do with Art?

A cookie tray with a piece of flat plastic covered with flowers; some bread ties, arranged; some rubber bands, arranged; a red ribbon; a row of coffee wrapper ties; a row of bread tie discs, arranged; a piece of plastic with the number 1912.

Art and Earth Day? I mean, they’re not even in the same Dewey Decimal Classification categories! One is in the 700s (art) and the other is generally in the 300s (Social Sciences, anyone?) But stay with me. I recently found a picture book called How to Spot an Artist. It is A-D-O-R-A-B-L-E, and yet philosophical and deep–adults and children will love this encouraging book that lets you know that art and artists exist any and everywhere. You never know, you might be an artist, dear library friend. I also found a book about collage and another book about making art from ocean plastic. Which made me wonder about a mash-up of art and Earth Day. I know, I’m a day late, Earth Day was yesterday. But there’s nothing wrong with celebrating the day late (it’s still April!) or focusing on environmental art as you think forward to craft programs for…

Blogger Early Childhood Programs and Services committee

Incarcerated Loved Ones: Picture Books 

We often think of divorce or military service as events that might contribute to families being apart, but family separation due to imprisonment is also a reality for some of the families we serve. According to recent data from the Prison Policy Initiative, almost half of the over 1 million individuals in our prisons are parents to minors and nearly 20% of those minors are under the age of 4. Although a higher proportion of parents in prison are fathers, the imprisonment of mothers has been steadily increasing. Vera, a prisoner advocacy organization, explains that (due to institutional racism and bias) the parents of children of color and children experiencing poverty are more likely to have their behavior criminalized, resulting in harsher charges, and longer sentences than their peers. We obviously don’t know our patron’s personal stories, but given these statistics we should assume that all of us at any…

Blogger Early Childhood Programs and Services committee

Misnamed and Mispronounced: Picture Books

Along with a change of seasons, September also brings many other changes: a new school or new school year, new routines, new teachers, and new classmates, just to name a few.  Although often exciting and enjoyable, for some children the new school year can also be stressful and anxiety provoking if their names are challenging for their teachers and classmates to pronounce. Some questions that children in these situations might be grappling with are: Will my new teacher be able to say and spell my name? Will the other kids be able to remember my name? Can or should I change my name to make it easier for everyone else?  An article in the following NEA Today Newsletter, Why Pronouncing Students’ Names Correctly is So Important, discusses the emotional toll experienced by children when year after year they must contend with teachers and classmates who repeatedly misname them. For further…

Blogger Early Childhood Programs and Services committee

Picturing Palestine

President Biden officially declared April National Arab American Heritage Month and in that spirit, this post will take the opportunity to highlight some picture books about Palestinian Arabs, a group that does not often make it onto our library shelves. For an excellent discussion about the absence and erasure of Palestinian stories from the publishing landscape please see this discussion from November 2022 between Betsy Bird and Nora Lester Murad in SLJ’s fuse 8 blog. The selected picture books listed below celebrate and highlight Palestinian culture, self-determination, and identity, while also acknowledging the loss and trauma faced by Palestinians due to their expulsion from their homeland and subsequent life spent under military occupation, in refugee camps, or in exile. For other related picture books about the refugee experience please see the ALSC blog post Exploring the refuge child experiences through picture books. For books for older readers about Palestinians and…

Blogger Amy Steinbauer

Practice Picture Books

Picture of a practice picture book with label instructions.

One of the reasons that I love my job is that I can connect my passions with serving my community. In particular, I’ve had this dream of practice picture books as an early literacy service since around 2017, but something always came up and I never got to it. When I became a manager, this dream got put on the back burner’s back-est of back burners. Until now. I often hear parents or caregivers say that they want their toddlers/preschoolers to move past board books and into picture books, but they are concerned that the books are too delicate for their child’s use. They know the toddler death grip is real or notorious destructive preschoolers may accidentally or not, tear or rip the pages of picture books. These fears may sound important to patrons who don’t want to destroy precious books or who may worry about a fine, but at…

Blogger Tess Prendergast

Exploring refugee child experiences through picture books

Mirrors and Windows You have likely come across the metaphor “mirrors and windows” as it relates to children’s books before. It is a metaphor coined by Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop when she discussed how books can mirror a child’s own experiences – thereby legitimizing them by showing that people similar to themselves are important enough to be in books.  Additionally, she said that books can also be windows through which children can see the lives and experiences of children who are different from themselves. (Bishop, 1990). I am going to apply this wonderful metaphor to some of my favorite picture books about refugee child experiences.  Come with me as I explore the ways in which these books can be mirrors (for children with refugee backgrounds to see reflections of their family’s lives) as well as windows (for other children to grow in their understanding of people who have refugee backgrounds)….

Blogger Early Childhood Programs and Services committee

Food, Love, and Grandparents

The month of December, when extended families often get together to celebrate their respective religious or cultural traditions, is a great time to also celebrate the multigenerational connections that many children have with their grandparents. The following selection of picture books celebrate the bonds between children and grandparents that are made stronger through cooking and sharing food. Whether it’s identifying which wild vegetables should be harvested and how they should be prepared, waiting for dough to rise, or navigating the multistep process of making tofu from scratch, the deliberate, thoughtful, and often lengthy process of meal preparation leads to deeper communication and understanding between the grandparents and grandchildren in these stories. See also the recent post Around the World With Foodie Picture Books which features several books about children connecting with a grandparent over food. What else is out there that is missing from this list? Please share your favorite…