Tuesday, September 20, 2016

New Program Season!- Be a Junior Firefighter/ Dance Party/Fall Favorites

Our new children's programming season is underway at my library!

I bought a house in May and then went directly into Summer Reading Program. So my blog posts have been nonexistent for the last little (okay long) while. Anyhoo. We started off the programming season two weeks ago with Be a Junior Firefighter.

I only had one story for that storytime. The majority of it was taken up by our local firefighters giving a talk on fire safety, and allowing the toddlers and preschoolers to interact with a real fire truck! We read Fire Truck is Flashing by Mandy Archer. It gives a great run down on what happens for the firefighters when they go out on a call. It also has a diagram of the parts of a firetruck in the back.

This is our yearly opener to our programming season, and I always explain to the kids that, if the firetruck is out on a call, they may be delayed. That actually happened this year. I had planned a few ukulele songs to stall for time, but after the first 15 minutes, it got bad. I felt like the act opening for The Who, if Roger Daltry was a no-show. 

Thankfully, the firetruck did show up. The firefighters were awesome. The Who rocked the arena.

Last week we had our first Dance Party of the season. I stuck to more smooth melodies and play songs. I've been getting over a convention bug, and high cardio was not on the menu. Here was the playlist I cooked up. It's more Jim Gill than we've had in a while, but he gave us a concert recently. So it was a good tie-in

This week was Fall Favorites. It's all about the changing of the seasons, which due to climate change, has not happened in our neck of the woods yet, mores the pity. Still, it's a good primer for when the leaves do begin to fall. We read an old favorite; There was an Old Lady who Swallowed some Leaves by Lucille Colandro.

If you have not read this series, I highly recommend it! You can sing or just recite the words, and there is one for pretty much every holiday, including the first day of school (There was an Old Lady who Swallowed some Books). Very cute!

My new book pick for the day was Hocus Pocus, It's Fall! by Anne Sibley O'Brian. It has fantastic artwork, and flippable pages spurned on by magic words. It's very dramatic.

We also revisited the feltboard story I made late year out of Marty Kelley's Fall Is Not Easy. It's about a tree trying on different "outfits" of leaves to get ready for fall. When the leaves turn into a cheeseburger, I literally have kids ROFL; knees to chest, legs kicking in the air, the whole bit!

It's hilarious for them and for me! :)

We finished with fall leaf crowns. Basically, it is a band of paper with dollar store silk maple leaves attached. Simple, but fun to decorate. All in all, a satisfactory start to the season!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Homeschool Adventures

Every year in my library system, we write proposals for programming. These proposals are based on a need we see in the community as well as the library's 5 year Strategic Plan. The patrons at my branch have been asking for school-age programming for a few years, but until recently there had not been a good way to fit it in.

Enter the Homeschoolers. 

Our branch has a very large homeschool population, both of secular and religious oriented families. When K and I asked around for more info on what the interest was for school age programming, 4 out of 5 inquiries were by parents who were homeschooling their children.

So, we wrote a proposal and started a pilot. Homeschool Adventures! (Say it like you have the Theme from Indiana Jones in the background. Go ahead. Try it. I'll wait.)

Originally, we had the kids broken down by age. K would take the 6-8s and I would take the 9-12s. After the first session, we threw that out the window. Because, wouldn't you know it, the families like to keep everybody together. The kids socialize remarkably well across ages and even with the parents of other families. It really is a community.

What makes it fun for us as librarians is that we get to essentially do teaching units based not only on our expertise, but also the interests of the kids and the curriculum needs of the parents.

To date we have done the following programs:

  • Constructables- The kids got to build whatever they wanted with marshmallows, gumdrops, straws and toothpicks.

  • Card Making- K is a master card maker. She led them through the finer points of stamping and decorating holiday cards

  • Snack Geography- We formed a voting game and map activity around snacks from different countries.
  • Library Scavenger Hunt- We gave a tour and had the kids hunt down a list of items in the stacks.

  • Storytelling- K demonstrated oral storytelling and then we did 2 Round Robin Stories. (with 20 kids)
  • Simple Snacks- We made Friendship Soup and salad with ingredients contributed by the group.
We organize the programs to be completely interactive. Often we take whatever the kids component is and describe it on the large white board in our program room. This is done both for evaluative purposes (I take pictures to display for the higher ups come service plan season) and to show the kids that these programs belong to them. These are not programs that the library just puts on for them. It is literally their program.

We are getting a growing number of families to these programs. Often we have over 20 kids ranging from age from 4-13. We gear the Homeschool Adventures for 6-12 but do not bar younger or older siblings, and this seems to be agreeable to all involved.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Book Pick~ On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

On Writing by Stephen King

I don't often post reviews for adult titles, but I love this book! 

I have been a fan of Stephen King's fiction for years. So, in high school my parents gave me On Writing as a Christmas gift. I didn't get it. "But, I’m not a writer!" I thought. Now I realize that they knew me better than I knew myself. Recently I drafted a novel, and reread this book again.

King starts out with what he calls his CV, an autobiography that provides a rich background into his character and upbringing. You can see his evolution, with the help of his single mom and older brother into a voracious reader and tentative writer. He describes the trials and tribulations of perfecting his craft while working odd jobs to support a growing family. And then he gets down to the nitty gritty, practical tips on writing. King is both self-deprecating in his suggestions and critical of others. He doesn’t pull punches for anyone.

On Writing is currently helping me get through the long slog of revisions and "What was I thinking?" moments. It is a must have for writers and King fans alike, reminding us of the commandment to be honest in our writing. 

For instance he suggests: If you curse in real life, then don't have your characters substitute curse words, unless it is for a good reason. If your character is the type to yell "Sugar!" when hitting her thumb with a hammer, that is characterization in and of itself. 

Tidbits like these are invaluable to aid a writer in ego and anxiety checks alike. I loved On Writing so much, I bought a hardback for my shelf and the mass market paperback to highlight and keep in my handbag.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Book Pick: The Diviners

The Diviners follows a ragtag group of latent psychics in 1920s Manhattan. A killer is on the loose, committing brutal ritualistic murders that have the police and press scratching their heads. Can Evie O’Neill and the other Diviners stop this madman before time runs out?

Libba Bray’s historical fiction is incredibly well researched, allowing for a lush narrative, peopled with vibrant characters. Her 20s flapper, Evie O’Neill truly is “the berries.” She’ll keep you on your toes through the sinister Big Apple of The Diviners.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Book Pick: Goldilocks and the Three Bears


Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Eric Braun, Illustrated by Alex Lopez

I saw this come through with our new books at my branch today, so I must squee. It must be done. So, fair warning, there is fangirling ahead.

The only way to do this book review is with numbers and bullet points. So here it goes,

  1. It is a Fractured Fairytale!
    • Y'all know how much I love me one of these. There may be a teensy bit of obsession involved. Not gonna lie.
    • It's modernized with smartphones and eco-activism and slightly HGTTG-esque scenes
  2. It is a Choose Your Own Adventure type series called "You Choose Books"!
    • These books were my childhood!
    • Plus, they are a bit like RPG video games in book format
    • Yes, that does make me a total nerd. Sorry, I'm not sorry.
  3. It has Graphic Novel Elements!
    1. Okay so, it isn't a full on graphic novel. I bet it would be really hard to get immersed in the Choose Your Own Story aspect if it was all panel style. So, I'm cool with it.
  4. As stated before, it is part of a series!
    1. Meaning there are others.
    2. Meaning they may do lots.
    3. So again with the squee!
I flipped through this book along with the Red Riding Hood book in the series. They are funny, well written and illustrated, and I kinda dig that the only color on the pages are the "If you...then turn to this page" instructions. It looks like a great way to introduce and promote fairy tales to intermediate age readers! Good on ya Mr. Braun!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Banned Books Week Y'all!

Hear yee! Hear ye! It is that special time of year where we celebrate our intellectual freedom (a.k.a the right to read what we darn well please)- that most special of bookworm holidays- Banned Books Week. (Yes, I realize that was a horrible run on sentence.)

The American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) releases a top ten list, each year, of the books that have been most challenged over the course of the year. A book challenge sadly differs from a reading challenge in that it is considerably less awesome, and also does essentially the opposite.

According to the ALA's Frequently Challenged Books website:

"Challenges are documented requests to remove materials from schools or libraries, thus restricting access to them by others. In some cases OIF may get numerous details about who challenged a book, why they are complaining about the book, what happened during the challenge, and the current status of the book. In other cases, few details are supplied beyond the fact of the challenge and the reasons for the challenge."

So without further ado, here is the ALA's--------

"The top ten most frequently challenged books of 2014 are: 

Summary:"Budding cartoonist Junior leaves his troubled school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white farm town school where the only other Indian is the school mascot." -From sherloc.imcpl.org
Reasons for challenge: anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence. Additional reasons: “depictions of bullying”

Summary:"An intelligent and outspoken only child, Satrapi--the daughter of radical Marxists and the great-granddaughter of Iran's last emperor--bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country." -From sherloc.imcpl.org

Reasons for challenge: gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint. Additional reasons: “politically, racially, and socially offensive,” “graphic depictions”

Summary:"At New York City's Central Park Zoo, two male penguins fall in love and start a family by taking turns sitting on an abandoned egg until it hatches." -From sherloc.imcpl.org
Reasons: Anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “promotes the homosexual agenda”

Summary: "Pecola Breedlove, a young eleven-year-old black girl, prays every day for beauty. Mocked by other children for the dark skin, curly hair, and brown eyes that set her apart, she yearns for the blond hair and blue eyes that she believes will allow her to finally fit in. Yet as her dreams grow more fervent, her life slowly starts to disintegrate in the face of adversity and strife. A powerful examination of our obsession with beauty and conformity.--from publisher's description."-From sherloc.imcpl.org
Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “contains controversial issues”

Summary:"Introduces human sexuality, describes the changes brought about by puberty, and discusses sexual abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS, and pregnancy."-From sherloc.imcpl.org
Reasons: Nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group. Additional reasons: “alleges it child pornography”

Summary:"When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe." -From Amazon.com

Reasons: Anti-Family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group. 

Summary: "Traces the unlikely friendship of a wealthy Afghan youth and a servant's son in a tale that spans the final days of Afghanistan's monarchy through the atrocities of the present day."-From sherloc.imcpl.org
Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence

Summary:"The critically acclaimed debut novel from Stephen Chbosky, Perks follows observant “wallflower” Charlie as he charts a course through the strange world between adolescence and adulthood. First dates, family drama, and new friends. Sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Devastating loss, young love, and life on the fringes. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it, Charlie must learn to navigate those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up." -From Amazon.com
Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “date rape and masturbation”

Summary: "The memoir of Jaycee Dugard who was kidnapped on June 10, 1991, when she was 11 years old, and was missing for over 18 years before her reappearance in 2009."-From sherloc.imcpl.org
Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group
Summary: "Callie rides an emotional roller coaster while serving on the stage crew for a middle school production of Moon over Mississippi as various relationships start and end, and others never quite get going." -From sherloc.imcpl.org
Reasons: sexually explicit

(Out of 311 challenges as recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom)"

Sadly, I have not read every book on this list. So I cannot attest to all of their pros-cons. And therefore, I will not bore you with reviews. 
Essentially that is the point of the list, to let you know that my opinion of a book and yours may differ. And that is totally cool. However, my opinion of a book (or the opinion of any other reader) should not keep you from having access to read it, if you want to.  And vice versa. That is not cool. 
That is what Intellectual Freedom is all about. It's the right of equal access to books for everyone.
So go on with your bookworm self, and read what you wanna. Because, the more you read, the more you know and "oh the places that you'll go"....Okay.... I'll stop now.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Presenting at Conference or................................. "I'm going on an Adventiaaaa!"

So I have been a bit of a zealot about promoting Preschool Dance Parties, as you all might have noticed. Last month I presented at my local youth services library conference. The theme of the conference was "Choose Your own Adventure." My particular talk was titled "To Dance will be a Great Adventure: Music and Motion in Preschool Programs."

I won't bore you guys again with the details of setting up a Dance Party program. You can read my previous Dance Party post if you like, or check out Angie Manfredi's excellent blog article. Also here is the link to my public Prezi for the breakout presentation.

Overall, the Prezi was the most involved portion of the process. It is a completely different way of looking at presentation software. If you haven't tried it, I highly recommend creating a free account and just playing around with it. I used Prezi instead of MS Powerpoint for the memorable transitions. I was lucky that a webinar on the software popped up in my library's training calendar. It gave me some great tips....and I had to start over twice!

But that is neither here nor there. When it came to the actual presentation day, I was highly stressed, but in that good way. I was able to justify wearing yoga pants professionally because we were dancing. So that helped. Yay slacking without slacking!

I gave the Prezi presentation for the first 20 minutes, and we had about 20 librarians scattered throughout the seats. It seemed to go over well. There was a smattering of questions and I didn't hear any snoring, so I'll chalk it up as a win.

When it came to do the actual dancing, I had the attendees help with stacking chairs and moving them to the side, while I moved the projector and set up the sound equipment. I use an external speaker and iPod dock in the branch Dance Parties and it worked perfectly for the room.

It was the last breakout session of the last day of the conference, and honestly I would have been happy to get 2 librarians dancing. But I had over 30 filter in plus some conference volunteers. We had a great time, and at the end, they gave me chocolate. So over all it was an excellent introduction to the world of presenting for me!

Thanks CYPD!