Welcome to this latest attempt to connect librarians from west-central Wisconsin with each other! Please send in content (booklists, ideas, photos, etc.), and comment on posts so we can help each other. If you were using feedmyinbox to get new posts sent to you before, you'll need to switch to another service (blogtrottr works like feedmyinbox, googlereader is a good blog-reader to try).

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Gene Luen Yang

cave window
I'm a big fan of our current National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, Gene Luen Yang.  I like his work, I like his speaking style (I got to hear him once when he was in Eau Claire), and I love his platform.  The Reading Without Walls Challenge encourages people to read books about a book or character that doesn't look or live like you; a book about something you don't know a lot about; and/or a book in a format you don't usually read in.

He recently published a short comic in the New York Times Book Review about his own childhood, and wondering what would have happened if he and his classmate had had more access to books that provided a window into other people's experiences.  In it, he refers to the classic essay by Rudine Simms Bishop called Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors.  For a quick and lovely introduction to the issue, or a nice reminder or tool for showing other people what you are talking about, take a look at this comic!

Friday, August 19, 2016

PLA and Harvard Family Research Center Team Up to Promote Family Engagement

The Public Library Association has teamed up with the Harvard Family Research Project to provide libraries with resources and tools to help improve family engagement in library programs.  The Harvard Family Research Project has a lot of terrific resources for people looking for information on brain and child development, and it is really great that they are working with libraries!

The report is available here.  It has lots of great information and ideas, including 5 succinct ways for libraries to improve the involvement of families in their children's learning, with examples from the field.  I have included the 5 Rs below, but look to the report for more information and inspiration!

  • Reach Out: Libraries reach out to families to promote the programs, collections, and services that are vital in a knowledge economy. 
  • Raise Up: Libraries elevate family views and voices in how library programs and services are developed and carried out. 
  • Reinforce: Libraries provide guidance on and modeling of the specific actions that family members can take to support learning, reaffirming families’ important roles and strengthening feelings of efficacy. 
  • Relate: Libraries offer opportunities for families to build peer-to-peer relationships, social networks, and parent-child relationships. 
  • Reimagine: Libraries are expanding their community partnerships; combining resources and extending their range; improving children and families’ well-being; and linking new learning opportunities.
I know many of you are doing a lot of great work in this area--send in your stories and we'll celebrate them on the blog!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

2016 Teens' Top Ten Voting Now Open

Every year, the Young Adult Library Services Association creates a list, with the help of teen readers across the country, of nominees for the Teens' Top Ten.  Then from August 15 through October 15, teens can vote for their top ten.  The winners are announced during Teen Read Week.

Voting is now open for teens!  What an easy program to promote!  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Take a look at and promote the Rate a Read site, a list of all the books with a forum for commenting and rating them created by IFLS and IFLS libraries.  Bonus:  this year, there is a prize for one lucky participant!
  • Make a book display of all the nominated books.
  • If you already have a book discussion group, include one or more of these books, or ask kids to read one of them and them come together to swap notes on their favorites.
  • Promote voting (and Rate a Read) on your website and social media!

These are books that were chosen by teen groups from around the United States.  They should have some great teen appeal!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Squeaky Shoes

Last month, there was a discussion on an ALSC listserv I follow about a preschooler who comes into the library wearing squeaky shoes--there are apparently shoes that are squeaky on purpose, they squeak with each step.  A youth services librarian was looking for support, since she was getting some pressure to ask the parent to stop letting the kid wear squeaky shoes to the library.

One person felt that only people who are expressly trying to annoy others would ever dress their child in shoes like this.  It was really great to read everyone else's responses.  Some laughed at the very thought of a library being quiet enough that squeaky shoes would be bothersome.  But my favorites were the ones that really asked us to think with empathy.  Many had experience with their own children to relate, or friends.  Others agreed that they hated the sound of the shoes, but would never dream of taking a caregiver to task over something like this.

The reasons?  Well, maybe the child only has one pair of shoes.  Maybe the child is wearing the shoes on the advice of a physical therapist or pediatrician, to encourage heel-to-toe walking.  Maybe the child fights getting dressed and into shoes every day (I know kids who HATE the way shoes feel on their feet, even if they fit), and this makes that daily battle easier.  Maybe the child is quick at disappearing, and the parent uses the shoes to keep track of where they are.

It was lovely to hear people, either from their own experience, or from their imaginations, trying to think of this situation with empathy.  It is a good exercise--to really think about what might be making people behave the way they are behaving, even if it seems inexplicable at first glance.  And good to practice with something as low-stakes as squeaky shoes!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Two webinars about diversity and literature

laptop computer
Image from Pixabay
There has been a lot of discussion on listservs and blogs lately about evaluating books with diversity in mind (most especially Lane Smith's recent book There Is a Tribe of Kids--below is a round-up of recent blog posts and discussions).  I found the following two webinars helpful in thinking about reviewing and examining books, so even though I know it is SUMMER and you all hardly even have time to go to the bathroom, I'm sharing them.

One is a free webinar from ALSC, presented by Debbie Reese, a children's literature researcher and blogger from American Indians in Children's Literature called Collection Development: Children's and Young AdultBooks about Native Americans.

The other is a recording of a webinar from School Library Journal's Diversity Course, the final keynote presentation by Wisconsin's own KT Horning (from the CCBC).  The recording is available here.

*Debbie Reese compiled this list of blog posts (with accompanying comments) about There Is a Tribe of Kids for American Indians in Children's Literature:

Sam Bloom's Reviewing While White: There Is a Tribe of Kids posted on July 8, 2016 (added to this list on July 21, 2016).

Debbie Reese's Reading While White reviews Lane Smith's THERE IS A TRIBE OF KIDS posted on July 9, 2016 (added to this list on July 21, 2016).

Debbie Reese's Lane Smith's new picture book: THERE IS A TRIBE OF KIDS (plus a response to Rosanne Parry) posted on July 14, 2016 (added to this list on July 21, 2016).

Roxanne Feldman's A Tribe of Kindred Souls: A Closer Look at a Double Spread in Lane Smith's THERE IS A TRIBE OF KIDS posted on July 17, 2016 (added to this list on July 21, 2016).

Roger Sutton's Tribal Trials posted on July 18, 2016 (added to this list on July 21, 2016).

Elizabeth Bird's There Is a Tribe of Kids: The Current Debate posted on July 19, 2016 (added to this list on July 21, 2016).

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Talking About Hard Things

Image from Pixabay
I am sure I don't have to enumerate all the the difficult things going on in our country right now, and no matter where you fall on the political spectrum, there are plenty of things that can make your stomach hurt.  I think it is safe to say that all of us are passionately wishing for a more peaceful, prosperous and healthy world for our kids and our communities, though we may disagree about how to get there.

I found a couple of helpful blog posts by Rich Harwood, the founder of the Harwood Institute (which has done work on community engagement with libraries with the Libraries Transforming Communities project).  In the first one, he encourages truly listening, trying hard to understand other perspectives, and reflect the realities of others in our common discourse.  In the second, he recommends starting with paying attention to what our common aspirations for our communities are, allowing room for different issues to rise up (rather than setting out the parameters ahead of time), and doing some concrete things to address them--even if they are small.

I hope we can all keep talking.  And more importantly, listening and caring and doing our best to understand where each other is coming from and opening ourselves to finding common aspirations.  Librarians are a natural place to model civil and caring discourse for kids, teens, and adults!

ALSO:  If you are looking for some techniques for managing challenging conversations, check out the upcoming workshop, scheduled for September 9 in Bloomer!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Sesame Street Resource for Veterans and Families

cookie monster greets fans
Image from Pixabay

Sesame Street has developed free resources for veteran families with young kids (ages 2-5 years old), who have recently transitioned out of the military. When a parent transitions out of the military, the whole family transitions. These resources were created to help families navigate changes during this next chapter. There are also free print copies of the My Story, My Big Adventure activity book, which Sesame Street can ship these to you by the box (75 books/box) if you are interested.  Please email veterans@sesame.org to order books, specifying how many boxes you would like.