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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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

New Year Resolution: Thinking Hard About Hard Things

Thanks to a nudge from the ALSC Blog, I found a fascinating discussion on the Storytime Underground site about libraries celebrating mainstream holidays, making libraries inclusive places for everyone, thinking about assumptions and privilege, and communication with all members of the community.  There are lots of important things to think about, expressed very eloquently and incisively by some smart colleagues around North America.  I highly encourage you to take a look, and be sure to read the comments!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

CLEL Bell Award Short-lists for Books that Support Early Literacy

The CLEL Bell Awards are a new national award designed to recognize picture books that provide excellent support of early literacy development in young children.
On the shortlists are 25 titles: five books in each of five categories representing an early literacy practice: Read, Write, Sing, Talk, and Play. Research has shown that engaging children in these practices builds language skills and prepares children to become successful readers.

Winning titles, one from each category, will be announced on February 5, 2015.

The shortlists are:


  • The Book with No Pictures, by B. J. Novak
  • Books Always Everwhere, by Jane Blatt, illustrated by Sarah Massini
  • Don’t Turn the Page! by Rachelle Burk, illustrated by Julie Downing Leo Loves Baby Time, by Anna McQuinn; illustrated by Ruth Hearson
  • Yoko Finds Her Way, by Rosemary Wells


  • Andrew Draws, by David McPhail
  • The Crayon: A Colorful Tale about Friendship, by Simon Rickerty
  • If I Wrote a Book About You, by Stephany Aulenback, illustrated by Denise Holmes
  • Lost for Words, by Natalie Russell;
  • TouchThinkLearn: Numbers, by Xavier Deneux


  • I Got the Rhythm, by Connie Schofield-Morrison, illustrated by Frank Morrison
  • I Love My Hat, by Douglas Florian, illustrated by Paige Keiser;
  • The Nuts: Bedtime at the Nut House, by Eric Litwin, illustrated by Scott Magoon;
  • Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, by Caroline Jayne Church;
  • The Wheels on the Bus, sung by the Amador family, illustrated by Melanie Williamson


  • Daddy's Zigzagging Bedtime Story, by Alan Lawrence Sitomer, illustrated by Abby Carter
  • Froodle, by Antoinette Portis
  • Go! Go! Go! Stop! by Charise Mericle Harper
  • Miss You Like Crazy, by Pamela Hall, illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell Who's In the Tree? And Other Lift-the-Flap Surprises, by Craig Shuttlewood


  • The Eyes Game, by Herve Tullet
  • Movi la mano / I Moved My Hand, by Jorje Lujan and Mandana Sadat
  • Tea with Grandpa, by Barney Saltzberg
  • Time Together: Me and Dad, by Maria Catherine, illustrated by Pascal Campion
  • Where's Lenny? by Ken Wilson-Max

To be eligible for the 2015 Bell Awards, a book must have been published for the first time in the United States between November 16, 2013 and November 15, 2014.

For more information, visit the CLEL Bell Awards webpages. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Fred Rogers Wisdom

As I've been delving into the early childhood world more and more in the past year, I have heard innumerable references to Fred Rogers.  I grew up in the early years of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, and have fond memories of watching his show as a preschooler (except the puppets, ugh, I hated that whiny cat) .  His calm demeanor and friendly nature made me feel like I had a real rapport with him.

The Fred Rogers Company has a Professional Development Newsletter that touches on some important things to remember about the needs of young children.  It includes quotes and video clips from Fred Rogers, along with astute observations and reminders by the newsletter creator, Hedda Sharapan.  You can sign up to have it delivered to your mailbox, or you can also search the archives by topic for subjects you are interested in.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Absentee Readers' Advisory in Fall Creek

Thanks to Jenna Gilles-Turner for the guest post!

Boys reading
I have been trying to help youth even when I am not in the library. I have come up with various ways to help kids find books on our shelves and with reader's advisory. I've come up with some "If You Liked XYZ, Now Try ABC" bookmarks - I have Judy Moody, Geronimo Stilton, Star Wars, and Magic Tree House because these are our most popular series. I stick one or two in the books on the shelves and also have them available on my desk.

I am also working on reader's advisory paint stick labels. They will be stuck near popular series and authors and include 3-6 other series or authors they might enjoy. Not all are found in our library so if somebody has not made use of the MORE catalog, they might be encouraged to do so. I also have bookmarks with adult and child-friendly reader's advisory websites that people can use when we are closed. They have been flying off our circulation desk. They are nothing fancy, but folks seem to appreciate them.  If you'd like to see them, you can contact me at jgilles @ fallcreekpubliclibrary.org.

Down the road, I will do something similar with the juvenile non-fiction section, too. Our everybody non-fiction and young adult non-fiction sections are too small for this.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Storytime Resources on IFLS Blog

Superhero storytime at LEPMPL
We've been doing some sprucing up of services to preschoolers in our system during the past year or so, and as part of that I have added some useful resources to the IFLS website about storytime.  Look there for suggestions of storytime templates, blogs, resources, kits to borrow, and more!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Make some maker supplies!

Thanks to Jill Patchin at the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library in Eau Claire for this information/blog post:
Strawbees in action (from Strawbee's kickstarter page)

We recently purchased a new die for our machine to make Strawbees, which will allow us to create the stuff in this video . As you can see, it is really cool and could be used with all ages including adults. We could host “maker” programs, or teachers or parents could collect their own plastic and straws, die cut them, and make their own stuff. This is the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) movement and so exciting!

The #2 and #4 lids seem to work the best so far. You can save up your lids before your next trip to Eau Claire!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Dinosaur Game

Dino Tongue by Joe Utsler, flickr, Creative Commons 
Who isn't interested in dinosaurs??

I came across this amazing live-action game designed FOR KIDS at a LIBRARY and it is way too cool not to share.  Scott Nicholson, a professor in the ISchool at the University of New York-Syracuse, designed it.  I found out about it when doing some research on meaningful gamification.  More on that topic next week!

This seems like a game that would fit really well into a program that is loosely based on super-heroes, since kids need to travel back in time to help a mother dinosaur in distress. Check it out!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Responsive Programming for Homeschoolers

Team-building with homeschoolers

Thanks to Kathy Larson from Bloomer for supplying this guest post:

Fall Creek and several other libraries in library land have been offering programs for Homeschool students and it inspired me to think about creating my own. In the spring of 2013, I approached one of Bloomer’s homeschooling moms about starting a program and asked her if she could talk to her co-op about what type of program would be beneficial to their kids and to think about what types of activities I could offer that would enhance their at home curricula. She came back to me several months later with a consensus that the parents wanted their children to have practice working in groups and also speaking to groups of people, both skills that they will need after school when they join the workforce.

It was with those two goals in mind that I started working on activities and programs that would enhance those two goals.  I researched teaching public speaking, and have had some experience with team building activities in some of the educational classes I have taken, and things have been going pretty well.
Readers' Theater

The 2013-2014 school year, was the first year that I ran the program. We met monthly from September through April. A lot of the moms chose to stay and “help” or supervise their children. We worked on presenting ideas to the group, working in teams, and playing a lot of energizers and teamwork games that can be found with an online search. The kids did a reader’s theater, and created their own book we displayed in the library. Kids gave All About Me presentations, book presentations, and a team Would You Rather project that was presented to the large group.
Team structure-building

I am offering this program for the second year and attendance is still in the 20’s each month. I continue to work on teambuilding and public speaking with the kids. I think part of what makes this program work is that I am constantly talking to the parents about what they feel their children need to get out of the program, and tailoring activities to a wide age range (5-11).  This year, the parents don’t come into the program room at all, they tend to gather and talk about parenting and schooling topics in the children’s area while younger siblings have the chance to interact with other kiddos. There is much to be said about building relationships with your patrons.

Talking and listening (and laughing)

Monday, December 8, 2014

Book Bunches in Ellsworth

Thanks to Julie Belz from Ellsworth for this guest post!

After reading about a library in Colby, Wisconsin creating book bunches on the Growing WI Readers blog, we decided that it would be worth a try here in Ellsworth.
Book bunches display

They are flying off the shelf!  We started with 8 bunches and now we have 25!  We have also made some for juvenile fiction and even a few for the adults.  We pick about 5 fiction and 1 or 2 non-fiction books for each bunch. For the juvenile and adult - there are 2 fiction and 1 or 2 non-fiction books per bunch. People like them a lot because they are themed and saves them time from having to search for books in their interest area.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Need To Decorate? Use Kid's Art! guest post

Thanks to Valerie Spooner from Ladysmith/Rusk County for this guest post:

I've been trying to keep a make and take activity available, but last month I added a craft activity that I kept as a bulletin board.  I had the bulletin board set up to look like an empty cave when I put the materials out, with one bear that I made in the cave to show the kids where theirs would go.

To make the bears they traced circle templates onto construction paper, cut them out, glued the ears on, and drew a face. Then they put the bear faces in the cave.

This bulletin board is outside my office door, under the window, so it is at child height. The kids love to come and point out their bear faces every time they come to the library. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Guest Book Review: Beautiful Darkness

Thanks to Emily Eckstrand-Brummer, currently of Stanley and soon-to-be from Hibbing, MN for this guest book review!

Beautiful Darkness cover

Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoët

I just HAD to share this awesome young adult graphic novel with my fellow librarians. Beautiful Darkness, originally published in French as Jolies Ténèbres, is a beautifully illustrated, creepy anti-fairy tale. I don't know about you, but I have a hard time judging what graphic novels will take off with young adults, and this one has been so popular with all of the teens, whether they are regular graphic novel readers or not. 

Beautiful Darkness begins when a young girl dies alone in the woods and all of the characters from the fairy tales and fantasies in her imagination are ejected out of her body and into the forest. As her body decomposes and the characters try to survive near her corpse in the woods, their true (and sometimes disturbing) personalities come out. NOT for the faint of heart!


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Facebook Engagement for the Win!

Thanks to Kim Hennings from New Richmond for sharing this Facebook engagement idea:

"I thought I would let you know about a promotion we ran yesterday for "cyber Monday" on our facebook page.  I saw the idea on Pinterest to wrap up 25 gifts and let your child unwrap one a day until Christmas, so we gathered up 25 kids books that were donations in great shape or freebies from publishers, etc and wrapped them individually.  I posted the giveaway on facebook and we got a HUGE response.  We had just over 600 total library page "likes" yesterday and now we are at almost 700!"

Some of the (MANY) comments on the page:

Encouraging early literacy... what a kind and caring thing to do, especially during the holiday season. Thank You!
A "read-to-me" bonanza, and I have the perfect little people in mind for it!
Awesome! Love our library!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Making Sense of Sensory Storytime

Children in Bloomer enjoy using many senses with parachute and cotton balls
There have been three recent blog posts on the ALSC blog that would be useful to anyone trying to make their storytimes more inclusive for kids with various sensory needs.

Renee Grassi wrote an insightful piece full of ideas for what to do when no one comes to your Sensory Storytime.  For those of you who participated in the LSTA grant about autism a few years ago, you have some experience with this!  She gives 4 excellent suggestions:  cultivate partnerships, focus on inclusion, rebrand with a different name, or try a different program to fill the needs of families affected by autism and other developmental disabilities.

Cool side-note:  Renee Grassi will be one of the featured speakers at this year's Wild Wisconsin Winter Web Conference!  Wednesday at 10:30, she'll be talking about Creating Welcoming and Accessible Libraries for Children with Special Needs.  You can register for the program here.
Ashley Waring, who has been providing a sensory storytime for three years now, shared some of the tips she has learned that have made her programs more successful in this blog post.

 Stephanie Prato had a post about music and movement storytimes, citing research for why these programs are important to the children's brain, physical and social/emotional development.  Music and movement can be a powerful tool for connecting with many different kinds of children, and these can be very inclusive programs.

Monday, November 24, 2014

ALSC Graphic Novel Reading Lists for K-8th Grade

From the Association for Library Service to Children:
Cover of Superhero Girl, one of the titles on the list

Three Graphic Novel Reading Lists are available for children in kindergarten to 2nd grade, 3rd to 5th grade and 6th to 8th grade. PDFs of the book lists are available online in full color and black and white and are free to download, copy and distribute. Reading lists are available online at: http://www.ala.org/alsc/graphicnovels2014
“ALSC’s three Graphic Novels Reading Lists are full of engaging titles that are sure to excite children,” said Ellen Riordan, ALSC president. “Librarians are encouraged to download copies of these lists and distribute them to families throughout their community.”
Graphic novels on this list are defined as a full-length story told in paneled, sequential, graphic format. The list does not include book-length collections of comic strips, wordless picture books or hybrid books that are a mixture of traditional text and comics/graphics. The list includes classics as well as new titles that have been widely recommended and well-reviewed, and books that have popular appeal as well as critical acclaim.

The titles were selected, compiled and annotated by members of the ALSC Quicklists Consulting Committee.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Super Heroes Being Super-Heroic

She-Ra, a real-life superhero
We had a terrific workshop this week, thinking hard about summer programs in the context of youth services programming all year long.  Fabulous keynote speakers Shawn Brommer (South Central Library System) and Sue Abrahamson talked us through some good approaches to thinking hard about the outcomes we desire for our summer programs and how to get there.  The afternoon was full of amazing break-out sessions with IFLS librarians, super-heroically talking about collaboration, outreach and promotion, stealth programming, using teen volunteers and more.  It was INSPIRING, I tell you, INSPIRING!   Check out the web page with links.

One of my favorite things that we did during the keynote was identify our own super power, write it on an index card, and attach it to ourselves.  There are some marvelous superpowers out there.  Here are a few I remember:

  • Children flock to me because I see them
  • I turn bad things into good things
  • I really listen to what kids have to say
  • Bridging
  • Enthusiasm
  • Listener
  • Creativity
  • Storyteller

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

10th Anniversary, Schneider Family Book Award

ALA's Schneider Family Book Award
Many of you already know that ALA's Schneider Family Book Award was conceived and is funded by the inimitable Dr. Katherine Schneider, who lives right here in the Chippewa Valley.  Kathie created the award, along with the folks at ALA, in order to highlight books for children and teens that artistically embody the disability experience.  Growing up as a blind kid, Kathie didn't find many books that did that, and as an adult, she decided to do something about it.

This year marks the 10 year anniversary of the award, and this year the UWEC McIntyre Library held a special event to commemorate the event.  One of the most amazing things at the celebration was a display of books with quotes from authors and illustrators about the effect the award had on them and on their career.  Here is one:

Winning the Schneider Family Book Award has truly been one of the biggest highlights of my career as a children's book author...The award has done so much to encourage both publishers and authors to tell the stories of people with disabilities, and also to lift up those books to a very high standard...I am so appreciative of all that Katherine Schneider has done to make this world a better, more understanding, and more inclusive place for all children"  Cynthia Lord, author of 2007's award-winning book, Rules.
It's pretty thrilling to have the person who is responsible for this right here in our midst, advocating for libraries and accessibility and animals.  Hooray for local super-heroes!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Early Literacy and Technology--Three Resources

Here are three things to help you feel informed about early literacy and technology:

1.  A FREE WEBINAR this week:  
Wednesday, November 19
11:00AM-12:00 PM (Pacific Time)

What's the best way to bring technology into a storytime? How do you evaluate apps for early literacy?    This free webinar will share best practices, resources, and ideas to help you easily and effectively bring technology to your library’s early literacy programming. We will hear from two guests with expertise in early literacy and childhood education.
  • Tanya Smith will share practical, research-based recommendations published by the Fred Rogers Center and the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
  • Lori Crocker (Douglas County Libraries, CO) will share practical examples of how to bring technology into library storytimes. 
  • Learn about free online resources like LittleeLit.com and Reading Eggs.
This webinar will be recorded and archived on the TechSoup for Libraries website. Please register to receive an email notification when the archive is available.

2.  ZERO TO THREE has developed Screen Sense:  Setting the Record Straight—Research-based Guidelines for Screen Use for Children Under 3 Years Old. This new free resource, written in partnership with leading researchers in the field of media and young children, is an authoritative review of what is known about the effect of screen media on young children’s learning and development.  It is designed to serve as a tool for guiding parents and professionals in making informed decisions about screen media use.

In addition to Screen Sense, there is a summary of the key findings, tips for how to use screen media with children under 3, and an infographic about 5 common misconceptions related to children and screen media. 
3.  Starting in 2015, look for a series of Tinker Times, chances to examine technology resources through the lens of various early literacy skills.  This program is a collaboration between IFLS and CESA 10, and will also be a great chance to get to know your colleagues from the early childhood world!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Teen Librarian Toolbox

I had heard about the Teen Librarian Toolbox blog/resource before, but hadn't really spent much time exploring it until I had the chance to see Karen Jensen at this year's Wisconsin Library Association YSS Luncheon.

If you haven't taken time to look, I highly encourage you to take a gander.  Here are some of the treasures:

  • Real-life issues like sexual violence and consent, and ideas about how to use literature to open up important discussions about these topics
  • Suggestions for working with middle-grade/tween audiences (3rd-7th graders)
  • Teen Services 101, with everything from suggestions for booktalking to creating teen service plans to a whole bunch of other relevant stuff
  • A plethora of teen programming ideas

And a whole bunch more.  Take a peek, you'll be astonished and pleased that there is such a fabulous resource out there FOR YOU!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Stealthy in More Ways than One!

Fun in the stacks with Riddle Me Readers Stealth Program
Thanks to Alisha Green from LEPMPL for this guest post, talking about the stealthy ways she and her colleagues are teaching kids to use the catalog!

I was first approached last year by our Friends coordinator who wanted to sponsor a program for kids during National Friends of Libraries Week that would encourage kids to use the computer catalog and get them into areas of the stacks that they may not normally visit (we offer more than just Pokémon and Disney princess books!).  We came up with the Riddle Me Readers program and have done it the last two years, both with great results. 

Offered each day of the week was a different riddle that led to a children's book.  We used riddles from the book Spotthe Plot: a riddle book of book riddles by Patrick Lewis.  If participants solved the riddle and located the item in the stacks they would find there an envelope with a prize drawing form.  Each finisher received either a piece of candy or a sticker and one winner was drawn each day to win an amazing prize (such as an art or science kit or a Razor scooter!) purchased by the Friends...though prizes obviously wouldn't be needed. 

It was a simple program that brought great opportunities to help kids learn how to use the catalog and locate materials in a fun way.  Parents loved it too!  It was good practice in catalog searching whether they knew the title but not the author or when they knew what the book was but they couldn’t remember the exact title.  It also gave staff several opportunities to walk kids through a catalog search and show them how to search for an item with only limited information about it, and we got that info by taking key words directly from the riddle.  Several of the titles were available as a book, audiobook and movie which meant they had to search (and learn about) more areas of the library until they found it…hehehe.    

It's even more fun to solve riddles with a friend!
Several families made it a point to come to the library several times that week just to solve the new riddle of the day.  There was one family for sure that visited the library every day that week for the new riddle.  The mom of this family wrote on our Facebook riddle post: “Our kids are having so much fun with these riddles!”  

I think some kids try to steer clear of having to use the catalog, but this was a great way to show them how to use it and what a great tool it can be. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Awesome SLP/Library Promotion Idea

I attended a Lead the Change pre-conference at this year's Wisconsin Library Association Conference, and was pleased to see a bunch of IFLS librarians there.  Yay, IFLS!

One of the great ideas that was shared at this workshop was related to Summer Library Programs.  Kids who register for the SLP in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana get a Library Champion yard sign.  Then parents are encouraged to send in a digital photo of their children for the library to post on their website and social media sites.  Not only is this a cool thing for kids, neighborhoods, and library visibility, it also draws lots of traffic to the website and social media sites, as proud parents and caregivers share links to the adorable photos of their children being champions.  Several other libraries across the country do this, too.

What a cool idea!  Are you going to try it?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Where to Find Performers Now?

The Wisconsin Children's Performer Directory that was maintained by the Division for Libraries and Technology is being discontinued as of this year.  If you hire performers, that might be a sad loss...Here are some other resources I found that might be useful to you as you look for help with presenters of programs:

Wisconsin Humanities Council has a Speakers Bureau  

Directory of MinnesotaArtists

MELSA (the metro area library system in Minnesota) has a  short list of performers 

SELCO (southeast MN) list of “vetted performers

The Minnesota History Center’s History Players 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Big Fun Play Date

Exploring the box-blocks
Back in September, Tiffany Meyer, then the director of the Dresser Public Library (now at Ellsworth) attended our LSTA-funded webinar by Rachel Payne about the Brooklyn Public Library's Read Play Grow program.
Amazing sensory input with bubble wrap and other textures taped to the floor

She was inspired to create something similar in Polk County.  She worked with library partners (Osceola and St. Croix Falls), her Friends group, a local family practice physician, early Headstart, the Northern Waters Literacy Council, and others to create a fabulous Big Fun Play Date.
Shredded paper was popular with a variety of ages

The emphasis at the playdate was encouraging young children and their caregivers to interact with each other and play with common household materials.  It was fun to see how kids of different ages interacted differently with the stations.
An older child building with board books

There were lots of great ideas for caregivers to try at home, and many folks talking about what they were going to do at home.  Families got a board book to take home, along with some other materials.  Roving experts talked some with parents about developmental things and, more often, modeled playful behavior.
Osceola Library Director Kelly McBride is a baby magnet--who knew??

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Early Literacy Posters

As part of a grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services, our super-star graphic design champion Kathy O'Leary created some gorgeous posters promoting 3 of the early literacy practices (talk, read, and play).  These posters are so beautiful, and are partially inspired by the Ridgedale/Hennepin County Library's Together project.  They look really nice in Pepin's children's section, and she's gotten some great comments already.

Don't you wish you had some?  Well, you are in luck!  The posters are available on our website to print yourself (be sure to download to your computer before printing).  If you are an IFLS librarian and you want copies of the 6 posters, please let me know and I will be glad to send you some!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Teens' Top Ten Announced! Plus National Book Awards Nominees

This baby holding a trophy isn't so sure about awards, but they can be exciting!
Thanks to my great colleague Pam Gardow for drawing my attention, which was distracted, to the Teens' Top Ten list (voted on by teens), which was announced this week!  Here's the list.  Do you have all the titles?  How are you promoting them?  Displays, booktalks, booklists? Check out the YALSA site for trailers for each title.

  1. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (Macmillan/St. Martin's Griffin)
  2. Splintered by A.G. Howard (ABRAMS/Amulet Books)
  3. The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson (Tor Teen)
  4. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (Penguin/Putnam Juvenile) 
  5. Monument 14: Sky on Fire by Emmy Laybourne (Macmillan/Feiwel & Friends)
  6. Earth Girl by Janet Edwards (Prometheus Books /Pyr)
  7. The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
  8. Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson (Random House/Delacorte Press)
  9. Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo (Macmillan/Henry Holt Books for Young Readers)
  10. The Eye of Minds by James Dashner (Random House/Delacorte Press)

And last week, they announced the National Book Award Finalists for Young People's Literature:

  • Eliot SchreferThreatened (Scholastic Press)
  • Steve SheinkinThe Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights
    (Roaring Brook Press/ Macmillan Publishers)
  • John Corey WhaleyNoggin (Atheneum Books for Young Readers/ Simon & Schuster)
  • Deborah WilesRevolution: The Sixties Trilogy, Book Two (Scholastic Press)
  • Jacqueline WoodsonBrown Girl Dreaming (Nancy Paulsen Books/ Penguin Group (USA))

Wow!  Books on this list will surely inspire fascinating discussions about Important Issues!  I am currently reading Revolution and it is an awe-inspiring mix of fiction and nonfiction.  The other titles have been on my to-read list for a while.  How about you?  Do you use these lists for promoting interest?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Draw-Bots in Prescott!

Draw-bot in action!
Thanks to Becky Arenivar for this post!

If I can help kids make robots, so can you!  Despite a total lack of mechanical aptitude or experience, Miss Becky hosted a second robot-making event on September 25 at the Prescott Public Library.  Our first event, during the Summer Library Program, was Brush Bots, made with a truly foolproof kit from Maker Shed.  I made a Brush Bot at WLA last year and felt comfortable using the kit and running this program.

The second time, I stepped well outside my comfort zone to find the instructions, assemble the supplies, make a prototype and conduct the program, and it paid off.  Our Draw Bots were awesome!  I can't wait to figure out what we'll do for our next maker program.

We set the age level of this event for 7-14 years old and encouraged (but did not require) parents to attend.  We had 9 kids and 5 parents attend.

We ordered motors, battery packs and batteries from Radio Shack. It was pricey ($120), but we got free delivery within 5 days. There are websites where these supplies are cheaper, but they charge a lot for quick delivery.  We bought the hex nuts and other supplies (cups, markers, electrical tape) from Walmart.

I made a prototype (with the help of someone more mechanically inclined than I, thank you dear hubby) to get the kinks out ahead of time. This also helped me figure out what STEM terms to talk about: kinetic energy, potential energy, completing the circuit, conservation of momentum, and eccentric weight.

For set-up, we covered tables with white paper and set up a separate table with all of the supplies.  Each attendee got a "shopping list," and a set of instructions, and I also wrote the instructions on huge pieces of paper and hung them on the wall in back of me.  I also taped a huge piece of white paper in the hallway, so the kids could really let their bots draw.

The motto of the day was "trial and error."  It took about 40 minutes to go through the assembly process, with some kids (and their very hands-on parents) getting done sooner.  We scheduled the event for an hour, but kids and parents were hanging around tweaking their bots and testing them for at least 30 minutes more.

Experimenting with flipping the bots

What about next time?  I'll get my shopping list done early, so I can take advantage of cheaper prices on-line.  I'll be less nervous about having it work perfectly.  When the eccentric weights fell off (actually, went flying off) the kids thought it was fun and got to work putting them back on.

If you're still nervous about doing a mechanical maker program by yourself, I'm sure there are people in your community who would love to help you.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Pop-Up Programs

pop-up card photo courtesy of extremecards.blogspot.com 
I know that some libraries in IFLS-land have done some great experimenting with pop-up programs, or programs that don't take a ton of preparation and can be available at any time, whenever there are kids in the library.  The ASLC Blog recently had a great line-up of suggestions from Amy Koester for STEAM pop-up programs.  These look fun!  And it seems like many of them could be adapted for a wide variety of ages, including teens.

If you are looking for more ideas of "stealth" programs that aren't tied to getting kids and teens to the library at a specific time, be sure to look for the breakout session (with Jenna Gilles-Turner and Jessi Peterson) at this year's Summer Library Program workshop!  Register here by November 10.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

School Library Journal Leadership Summit: Fire It UpFire

Fire Circus performing in Cameron

The School Library Journal Leadership Summit , Fire It Up:  Sparking Creativity and Motivating Students is "focused on those taking leadership in creating strong and effective school libraries, including but not necessarily limited to: school librarians and other K-12 educators, public librarians in close collaboration, technology leads, teachers, and administrators."  It looks like 2 full days of panels by school librarians and authors, and this year it is being held in St. Paul, Minnesota on October 25 and 26.  And all for the very reasonable price of FREE.  

I have another commitment that weekend, but I hope some of you go, or share the information with a school librarian you admire.  And if you go? Consider submitting a blog post about it!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Heartland Fall Forum

Patti (background) and her pals Annis and Pam (from Eau Claire Memorial High School) enjoy listening to Judith Viorst
Patti Blount from Durand has been attending the Heartland Fall Forum (used to be Upper Midwest Booksellers Association) for 15 years!  It must be good to get her back every year, and this is waht she says about it: 

Heartland Fall Forum , a regional trade show that supports independent booksellers, is worth attending for librarians!  It was held this year in Minneapolis at the Depot Center on September 30-October 2.  As a veteran to the show, I have seen the changes throughout the 15 years that I have attended, but it continues to be an excellent value for me to go.

This year was very interesting and informative.   Each year, I always learn a lot of great tips and information at each of the educational sessions.   Also, I meet a lot of great authors.  It’s a great event for any librarian to enjoy.  Many years ago, the Amery Public Library recommended I attend this conference, and now I’m recommending it.

Unfortunately since it shares the event with the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association, next year’s conference will be in the Chicago area.  It will be coming back to the Twin Cities every other year – so the next one will be: October 5-7, 2016 at the Depot in Minneapolis.

June Baker, also from Durand, attended for the first year this year, and here's what she had to say:

I was like a kid in a candy store! I met authors that I have read and met many that I will have to read through the adult buzz feed.  The Children's buzz feed showed me books that would be useful for storytimes.  The meals were wonderful and you never were hungry.  All in all it was very informative and entertaining.  Can't wait to go again.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Polk County Collaboration for the Win!

License-plate etching and awesome collaborative library outreach!
Thanks to Kelly McBride of Osceola for this blog post about some terrific collaborative efforts between the public libraries in Osceola, Dresser and St. Croix Falls.  Thanks to her library partners, Tiffany Meyer at Dresser and Cole Zrostlik at St. Croix Falls.  

Wheels& Wings: Osceola had an upwards of 12,000 people at the event this year. The director of the chamber asked the library to participate and come up with ideas for a Kid's Zone. I asked Cole and Tiff for help so we pooled our resources and came up with some fun ideas.  We had crafts- 1) planes made from clothes pins, 2) license plate etching, 3) Painting with cars. Kids dipped a car in paint and "drove" to the three libraries on a map Cole created. 
Giant Jenga!

We had games- giant Jenga and another where you flew airplanes through hoops. The Chamber donated hot wheels to give out for prizes.  We provided relaxation- perhaps most appreciated was a chill-out space we created for families to kick back on blankets with some books (car/plane related), play in a sensory box, or play at the train table. We received great feedback from parents who appreciated having a shady spot to get their kids out of the stroller and let them play.  

Taking a break at Wheels and Wings at the sensory box

Second Annual All Library Sports Night: We put on this collaborative party to celebrate the end of the summer reading program. This year we served hot dogs and accompaniments donated by Marketplace Foods and grilled by the Osceola Lion's Club. Soda was donated by Bernick's. We had a multiple things going on: lots of hula hooping, games,music and dancing, baseball instruction, and a visit from the Osceola pageant court.  The Dresser Town Hall is not only a great central location but also has volleyball nets, baseball courts, and a playground the kids get to use.  Makes for a great Sports Night! 

Coming up! The Big, Fun Playdate. We have one scheduled in October in Dresser, November in St. Croix Falls, and Jan. in Osceola.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Lessons from Gramma Alice

Gramma Alice (on the right) showing off her sense of playfulness
I was chatting with my daughter last night, for some reason we were talking about toenails (you know how it is).  She suddenly got that far-off look in her eyes, like you do when you are remembering some long-forgotten detail.  She told me she remembered one time when she was very little and we were visiting my parents.  She was playing an epic game of pretending (it was sort of where she lived in those days), and I apparently felt some peculiar urgency about cutting her toenails.  She was resistant because she wanted to continue to play the fantasy game, and I was probably having one of those less-than-brilliant mom moments when I was pretty sure disaster was just around the corner if we didn't get those toenails cut right away.

Luckily,  my wise and sly mother stepped in, and suggested to Alice (my daughter) that we needed the toenail clippings to make a potion to save the kingdom from drought.  Alice immediately went along with it, and we cut the toenails and put them in a little cup.  She was pretty sure the clippings needed to be sprinkled around the living room floor in order to effectively combat the drought, but again my crafty mother stepped in and convinced her that the magic would be stronger if they stayed in the cup.  This story reminds me of a line of poetry my dad wrote in an ode to my mother many years ago, "You slant the truth so children can walk up it."

I'm sure there are millions of times a day that all of us need to think creatively, on our feet, and when we are lucky we are able to come up with solutions as good as the one my mom did on that day.  I like the sense of playfulness, the respect she had for my daughter's priorities, her willingness to be a part of the play, and the understanding she had for my frantic mom energy.  I wish you all the best as you try to find that kind of balance in your interactions with families today.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Read Aloud 15 Minutes Campaign

A parent and child at Phillips' "Books Are Magic" Party
In 2012, Read Aloud began a decade-long campaign to make reading aloud for 15 minutes/day the new parenting standard--likening the campaign to those designed to make daily toothbrushing a part of the routine, and carseat and seatbelt use ubiquitous.

"Read aloud.  15 minutes.  Every Child.  Every Parent.  Every Day."

The campaign has some free downloadable posters and some great arguments for a nationwide effort in this direction.  Take a peek!


Friday, September 26, 2014

Early Childhood Classes in Ellsworth

Kids enjoy super hero storytime in Eau Claire
I just had a conversation with Julie from Ellsworth.  She was recovering from a particularly exciting and wild storytime.  Each fall, students taking an Early Childhood class at the high school come to her library to observe (and sometimes help with) storytime.  The teacher contacted her years ago to find out if students could come and observe--isn't that cool?  The teacher recognizes that her students have a lot to learn from a library program.

Do you have a class like this offered in your school?  It might be worth offering the students a chance to come and observe you, and if that isn't possible, I bet it would be worthwhile for you to offer to come over and do a little presentation about early literacy and libraries...

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

We Love Books Storytime

Many thanks to Valerie Spooner, the new youth services librarian at the Rusk County Community Library in Ladysmith.  Valerie comes to libraries from a rich early childhood background, and she took the time to send us a blog post about her first storytime!

Today was my first storytime so  I wanted to do something simple and easy. We talked about book care and created a poster to hang in the children's area of the library. Here's an outline of what I did with links :)
It seems like a lot, but it filled our 30 minutes perfectly.