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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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Friday, December 15, 2017

Circle of Security

blue and teal swirl--logo for Circle of Security
Circle of Security International Logo
I learned about Circle of Security as an approach to parenting and parent education the other day at a meeting, and I just had the chance to poke around and see what it is all about.  There are some great short animated videos.  Check them out!  Basic points include:

  • It is important to "be there" for children, no matter what emotion they are expressing--and to work against our own fears and insecurities and discomfort with their strong emotions to recognize that it is normal and healthy to have feelings like anger, fear, sadness, and exuberant happiness.
  • Providing kids with a "circle of support" allows them to explore, but also to come back for comfort, and to know that they will always have someone bigger, stronger, wiser, and kind helping them navigate and setting boundaries for them.  
  • Remembering there is no such thing as "perfect parenting" and that if we do well enough most of the time, it is enough!
  • Relationships and connections are where it is at!

I recommend checking this out as parents and grandparents, aunties and uncles, friends, and also as people who parents turn to when they are feeling overwhelmed by the ins and outs of parenting.


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Empowering Parents

A parent and child play together with a toy grocery store
A parent and child play together in Hawkins
Many of you have been trained in the Every Child Ready to Read curriculum, emphasizing helping parents and caregivers understand the importance of five early literacy practices (Playing, Talking, Singing, Reading, and Writing), and the simple things they can do to help their children's brain development.  If you aren't already familiar with this program, please let me know, I'd love to talk with you more about it!

Today at a meeting for a local group trying to get a Talking Is Teaching effort off the ground in Eau Claire and Chippewa counties, I learned about the Vroom App, which is designed to help parents/caregivers build brain-boosting conversations into every day activities (eating breakfast, getting dressed, and more).  There was a powerful SHORT video on the site (scroll to the bottom of the home page), emphasizing the importance of sharing with parents that they have the power and ability to make a difference in their children's brain development.  Check it out to get inspired.  And then let's talk about what you are doing to help parents and caregivers feel empowered to make a difference for their children.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Play Is the Way!

A toddler playing with blocks
A child playing in Bloomer
Every several months, I have a chance to get together with early childhood professionals from around western Wisconsin, and it is often some of the most fruitful time I spend.  Not because I get a lot of taks ticked off my list, but because I hear about what kinds of things others who work with young children are thinking about, what kinds of issues families in the region are facing, ideas about how to include kids who speak English as a second language or kids with disabilities, and opportunities to work together on projects.  I also tend to learn a lot, including about the absolutely critical nature of PLAY in child development.  For young children in particular, it is absolutely crucial for them to have time to play.  I know there is a role for libraries, here, and I have seen some incredible spaces and programs that encourage imaginative play in libraries in IFLS-land and beyond.

Play Is the Way is a new 3 minute video created by Sheila Briggs at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.  I highly recommend taking a peek.  And showing it to your stakeholders, especially if they aren't sure if you need the space and resources for play in your library, or if they question a change in the focus of your programming.  The video makes some really great points about skills kids are learning in play:

  • Focus and ability to shift attention
  • Figuring out power dynamics 
  • Communication and articulation
  • Creating, negotiating, and changing rules
All of these things activate the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is critical for developing executive functioning skills and leads to better self-regulation and academic success.  While playing, children can solve more complex problems and tend to speak in more grammatically complex ways than they would if engaging in a teacher-driven activity.  It takes intention and skill to set up these spaces in such a way that kids are able to explore and learn, and the payoff is definitely worth it!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Find Your Voice!


Prairie Dog with hat speaking into a microphone
Image from Pixabay

When you see the call to present at a state conference or an IFLS workshop, do you assume the people asking for presenters are talking to other people?  Believe it or not, those calls are meant for YOU!  There are lots of reasons to ignore this sort of invitation, and I can totally relate to many of them--feeling like you don't have much of great importance to share, feeling terrified at the thought of putting yourself out there and speaking in public, lack of time to prepare, not knowing the "rules" of the game.  These are all reasonable concerns, and I think some of them can be overcome with enough persistence and mentoring. 

Earlier this week, Marge Loch Wouters wrote a terrific post in the YSS Blog with lots of great tips for presenters.  And then I saw that David Lee King also wrote a blog post about overcoming fear of speaking and why it is worth the effort.

So, next time you see a call for presenting, either to your library peeps or to others in your community, maybe you should recognize it for what it is--an invitation to YOU!  And if you need some help navigating your preparation, let me know.  I'd be happy to provide whatever help I can.




Tuesday, December 5, 2017

FREE Webinar Series on Teen Services

bottom half of legs in torn jeans and tennis shoes
Image from Pixabay

The Young Adult Library Services Association is sponsoring a series of FREE webinars--you don't have to be a member to participate, and you don't have to pay.  This is pretty exciting!  The topics cover everything from teen development to cultural responsiveness to interacting with teens to continuous learning, and lots of other great topics.  The only catch--there is only room for 100 in each session, so if you are interested be sure to check it out soon and get yourself registered!

If you are too late to get in on this, sign up for the upcoming YSS Powerhouse Presents webinar (co-sponsored by the Wisconsin Library Association's Youth Services Section and IFLS) coming up February 23 from 1-2 pm:  Getting Out to Get Teens In with YSS Members Emily Sanders and Alicia Woodland.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Early Literacy Activity Calendars

wooden blocks with letters spelling out the word PLAY
Image from Pixabay
For several years, the Youth Services Section of the Wisconsin Library Association has created a lovely Early Literacy Calendar, designed by YSS members to encourage families and caregivers to engage with their children in a variety of playful activities to boost development.  Many of your creative and smart colleagues in IFLS-land have contributed to that calendar (thank you!).

Starting in 2018, YSS will not be creating this Early Literacy Calendar--in part because there is a really great alternative in the Reading Is Fundamental activity calendar--also available in Spanish!  Whether you used the YSS calendar or not, I recommend taking a look at this one--consider printing it out each, with a list of library programs or materials you want to highlight on the other side.  Bound to be a hit with families, preschool teachers, daycare providers, 4K and Kindergarten classes, and more.  They even have a calendar with activities suitable for older kids, ages 6 and up.  Check it out!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Coding Resource Is Super Cool!

If you haven't had a chance to peek at the new super awesome toolkit that is part of the Wisconsin Libraries Coding Initiative, I highly recommend taking some time to do that.  Created by our inimitable statewide youth services consultant Tessa Michaelson Schmidt, it is filled with amazing tips and resources, including, but not limited to:


  • Suggestions of coding activities, ranging from low-tech/low-cost to high-tech/high-cost, and everything in between
  • Ideas about how to connect with people to help you teach coding in your community
  • Ideas about equipment that could be useful, with something to match every budget
I cannot say enough how useful this resource is!  Do yourself a favor, whether you are coding curious or a coding enthusiast, or even coding terrified, you will find something here that will be easy to put to use.


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Inclusive Summer Library Programs follow-up

Libraries Are for Everyone sign with images of many different people
Image by Hafuboti
We had a workshop a couple of weeks ago (already?!) that included a presentation by Renee Grassi about making programs more inclusive, with a special nod to summer programs.  She was so inspired about it, she wrote a blog post about the benefits and barriers to including youth with disabilities in our summer library programs.  If you didn't have a chance to take a photo and you want to remember some of her ideas on this, check it out!

Renee's presentation slides and other resources she suggested are available on the IFLS website.  Whether you were able to attend the workshop or not, hopefully you will find these resources useful.


Monday, November 20, 2017

Default to Kindness

chalk drawing with the words Be Kind
I was talking with a youth services librarian I admire last week.  She said something that really struck me, and I asked her if I could share it in my blog.  She said yes, but demurred when I asked if I could give her credit, so you'll just have to let this tip be anonymous.

My friend was talking passionately about the people who use the library and the important role librarians play in the lives of many folks--including people who are desperately craving a human connection.  We don't know the whole story of what people are up against, and we don't always need to.  Sometimes they are challenging to serve for various reasons.  But she recommends that in applying our policies and providing service, if we start out by defaulting to kindness, that's a good place to start.

One of the many, many reasons I'm so honored and thankful to work with librarians.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Thanksgiving Books and More

With Thanksgiving coming up, it's a great time to think about our collections and programs and how they may (or may not!) portray inaccurate stereotypes of First Nation people, or appropriate cultural practices inappropriately (for lack of a better word). 

Sarah Cournoyer over at the YSS Blog recently posted some great resources for thinking about your library's Thanksgiving collections.  While you  may not choose to remove items from your collection, you will certainly want to think twice before giving certain items the prominence of a Thanksgiving display.

If you are looking for some great resources that are related to Wisconsin's First Nations, take a look at a resource newly created by DPI and other partners to help schools fulfill their mandate of teaching about the history, culture, and sovereignty of the state's American Indian Nations. This site will be helpful for informing ourselves and for sharing with students, homeschooling families, and teachers.



Wisconsin First Nations: American Indian Studies in Wisconsin



Monday, October 30, 2017

Reading Beyond: Book Lists for Advanced Readers

Reading Beyond Logo, with a hot air balloon and the words Reading Beyond
Here's a frequent question that librarians receive:  "What can I give my first grader to read if she is reading at a fourth grade level?"

Sometimes kids still enjoy books even if they can read well beyond them (Harry Potter and Mr. Putter and Tabby can live companionably on one child's reading pile, I know from experience).  Still, it is really great to be able to provide kids with a reading experience that is at their level, but not more than they are prepared to deal with in terms of their social/emotional development. 

Lucky for us, the American Library Association and the Children's Book Council teamed up to provide Reading Beyond booklists.  There are three lists, each with a mix of genres and diverse titles:  for kindergarten through first graders reading at a third-grade level; second and third graders reading at a fifth-grad level; and fourth and fifth graders reading at a seventh grade level.  Each list contains 25 titles, chosen from more than 600 submitted by publishers and librarians.

The lists are fully annotated, and an amazing tool for librarians, teachers, parents, and kids themselves!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Race for Results Shows Results that Are Not So Great

toddler peeking out from playground equipment
Well, data is in that shows Wisconsin is still not doing so great in terms of making sure the children in our state have a fair shake at life--particularly children who are not white.  The 2017 Race for Results report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation has some sobering information about how we are doing as a state.  They looked at several factors related to child welfare, and found that African American kids in Wisconsin do not fare very well.  Neither do Hmong and Latinx kids.  Or children of immigrants.
Wisconsin Public Radio did some analysis of the report, and here's what they found:
Here’s what we know about where Wisconsin’s kids stand when it comes to this kind of financial stability, according to the 2017 Race For Results Report: 
72 percent of white children in Wisconsin live in economically secure families.
24 percent of African-American children live in economically secure families.
30 percent of Latino children live in economically secure families.
31 percent of Hmong children live in economically secure families.
36 percent of American-Indian children live in economically secure families.
What can we do as libraries?  As humans?  The report has some meaningful suggestions--one that seems like a clear fit for libraries is advocating for, supporting, and providing high quality early childhood programs and better support for working parents.  Take a look at  Public Libraries:  a Vital Space for Family Engagement  by the Harvard Family Research Project for some ideas of ways libraries can help with these issues!  Another is educating ourselves and our communities about issues related to race. One place to start for an online resource designed to help educators do just that is Teaching Tolerance.  In addition, check out the We Too Sing America Race Talk Toolkit, created by author and activist Deepa Iyer.

This is a way bigger discussion than one blog post can cover, but it is also something that we need to discuss often and with intention.  I'd love to hear more about what you are thinking about this!


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Talking Is Teaching

child whispering in an older person's ear
There's a group of early childhood professionals (librarians, teachers, family literacy providers, childcare consultants, and more) in the Chippewa Valley working on an initiative to address the 30 million word gap identified by researchers Hart and Risely in 2003.  What's the 30 million word gap?  It is the difference in the number of words spoken to children, depending on their family/childcare situation, by the time they reach age three.  Some hear 30 million fewer words by age three than their counterparts.  The research suggests that kids from lower income families are more likely to hear fewer words.

Being talked with a lot makes a big difference in child development, brain development, language acquisition, social-emotional development.  So kids who are engaged in conversation more from the time of birth have a head start.  The cool thing is, when parents and primary caregivers understand the importance of talking with their kids, they realize the truth of the adage that they are their children's first and most important teachers. In order to make a big difference in their child's development, they don't have to be a fluent reader.  They don't have to speak English.  They have knowledge, language, traditions, ideas, and experiences to share and explore with their kids, and all of that helps their children develop.

Look for more updates about the group I'm working with here, but in the meantime, check out the resource that we are using to help us get started:  Talking Is Teaching.  It is free to sign up, and there is copyright-free clip art and flyers and other information to use.  It fits right into the Every Child Ready to Read information (except it leaves off explicitly mentioning PLAYING and WRITING), though many of the videos, etc. use talking while playing as an example of a way to talk.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Teens' Top Ten List Announced!


Many thanks to Eau Claire Memorial High School librarian Pam Gardow, who sent over the annotated list of this year's Teens' Top Ten list, courtesy of YALSA!  Annotations written by Teens' Top Ten Book Groups.

2017 Teens’ Top Ten

1. Dinan, Kurt. Don’t Get Caught. Sourcebooks Fire. 9781492630142.
Think of all the pranks you have ever wanted to pull. The pranks in this story will top your wildest dreams. Don't Get Caught is story of a competition between two teams of pranksters. The new kids on the block vs. the anonymous Chaos Club. In this war, cunningness and lots of luck will be the way to victory. Let the pranks begin!

2. Shusterman, Neal. Scythe. Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing. 9781442472426.
Humanity has overcome hunger, disease, war, and even death. Now only Scythes can take life. What will happen to Citra and Rowan when they are chosen to be Scythe apprentices? Follow them as they struggle with their task and morality.

3. Yoon, Nicola. The Sun is Also a Star. Delacorte Press. 9780553496680.
Natasha and Daniel are polar opposites - Tasha believes in reason, science, and things that can be proven. Daniel is a poet at heart and believes in Fate, the "meant to be," and true love. When circumstances beyond their control force them together, they have exactly one day - one day to stop Tasha's family from being deported, one day for Daniel to realize that doing what's expected of you doesn't mean you should do it. And above all else, one day to fall in love.

4. Clare, Cassandra. Lady Midnight. Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing. 9781442468351
It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman who just wants to prove that her parents weren't killed by Sebastian in the Dark War. Now she has the chance to do just that, and get Mark back from the wild hunt.

5. Nijkamp, Marieke. This is Where It Ends. Sourcebooks Fire. 9781492622468.
Four students, all connected in one way or another, speak from their perspective over a terrifying 54 minutes when, after a school-wide assembly, the auditorium doors won’t open and someone begins shooting.

6. Meyer, Marissa. Heartless. Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group. 9781250044655.
The infamous line "Off with his head!" made her a terror in Wonderland. But before that she was just a girl with a dream, who fell in love. In this curious prequel inspired by Lewis Carroll's famous Alice in Wonderland, Meyer’s tale of eccentricity, phenomenon, and, ultimately, ruination will keep you on the edge of your seat as you realize how Cath led her life to become the Queen of Hearts.

7. West, Kasie. P.S. I Like You. Scholastic. 9780545850971.
Music has the power to bring people together. When Lily writes a lyric of her favorite indie band on her desk, someone else responds. Lily and her mysterious friend seem to get closer and closer through their anonymous notes. What happens when she finds the true author of the notes?

8. Welch, Jenna Evans. Love & Gelato. Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing. 9781481432542.
After the death of her mother, Lina goes to visit Italy at her mother’s wish, as she’d lived in Italy for part of her life and loved it immensely. While in Italy, Lina discovers some well-kept secrets about her mother's life there and Lina's mysteriously absent father.

9. Gout, Leopoldo. Genius: The Game. Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group. 9781250115270.
Dive into a new type of teen-genius novel as Gout pulls you into a rollercoaster of a plot. Hilarious and smart, Cai, Tunde, and Rex show readers what the next generation of innovation looks like.

10. Russo, Meredith. If I Was Your Girl. Flatiron Books YA. 9781250078407.
When Amanda moves to Lambertville, Kentucky after a string of bullying incidents led her to attempt suicide all she wants is to lead a normal life, make friends, and generally be happy for once. All of this seems possible until she meets Grant, who causes her to let down the walls around her heart. But the problem is that Amanda's past is haunting her. And in her past, she wasn't Amanda, she was Andrew.

Monday, October 23, 2017

On Being Honored

Leah Langby at podium, gesturing
Photo credit:  Kris Adams Wendt (she says the magical hands were not intentional, but appropriate!)
Last week, I had the experience of a lifetime, as I was honored as the WLA/Demco Wisconsin Librarian of the Year.  The honor itself, plus the kind words of colleagues from around the state, are incredible and amazing.  And working with librarians in Wisconsin is a reward in itself. 

Here's the text of the speech I gave upon receiving it:

My superpower is noticing and appreciating people.  I can’t tell you how amazing it feels to be noticed and appreciated myself, especially on this grand scale!  Thank you so much to the committee who nominated me for this award—Tessa Michaelson Schmidt, Jessi Peterson, Jenna Gilles-Turner, and Shawn Brommer!  Thanks also to the award committee for this honor, and for all the behind-the scenes work you’ve done!

As long as I’m thanking people, I have a few more thanks to get off my chest, to some people who have supported my professional and personal development:

  • ·        To my lovely husband Dean, my closest confidante, calmer-downer-in-chief, and the person who is best at reminding me to be kind and gentle with myself.
  • ·        To my daughters, Alice and Olivia, who inspire me, cheer me on, and challenge me to think differently about things.
  • ·        To my co-workers at IFLS.  It’s a lot easier to do cool or difficult things when you have the tactical support of your colleagues.  And in particular I’d like to give a shout-out to John Thompson.  I recognize how lucky I am to be able to go to my boss with an idea and have him invariably be receptive, supportive, and willing to help me figure out how to make it happen.
  • ·        To the remarkable librarians I work with in IFLS-land.  These folks are often understaffed, usually undercompensated, serving the public with compassion and conviction, creating innovative and effective programs, services and partnerships, and are almost always willing to serve on a task force, present at a workshop, or mentor a new librarian.
  • ·        To my amazing counterparts at systems across the state, at DPI, my sister Youth Services Section board members, and all the other folks who have served on statewide committees with me.  You inspire me to work with intention, and you do so much to collaborate and improve support and service across the state.  I love learning from you and working with you.
  • ·        To my partners outside the library world, who help me to think about things with a different lens.
  • ·        And to everyone else who I know has helped me be who I am along the way, from the public and school librarians who served me as a kid, to my library school professors, to professors like Paul Wellstone who lit the fire of social justice in my belly, to all the colleagues and teachers who have helped me learn about libraries and life, to a family of origin that valued learning and humanity—we would be here all night if I tried to name everyone, or even every category of person, who has made a big difference in my professional development!

We are in a fraught and heartbreaking time right now.  Natural and human-made disasters abound, and it can be hard to maintain any sort of equilibrium.  People in our state, nation, and world are dealing with oppression, violence, and personal catastrophes of epic proportions.  I don’t say all of this to kill the buzz here, but rather because I want to point out that I wholeheartedly believe that there is terrific potential for libraries to make a difference.  Librarians all over the state and country are looking at our policies, our collections, our spaces, our workforce—and making them more inclusive, welcoming, and equitable.  We’re considering ways to help people make sense of the news, and discern what is fake news.  We are thinking about how best to support children and families.  We are innovating services for seniors and students, and everyone in between.  We are working with partners, and learning to take a step back and work with intention toward our mission, and toward the goals of our communities.  I am excited about the direction we are headed.


This award means so much to me because it comes from my colleagues—people I deeply admire and respect.  I am fully aware that just about everyone in this room deserves this kind of recognition—so many of you contribute so much to your own community and to the library community. And even though I’ve been having anxiety dreams about losing my knack for providing storytime, and thereby being undeserving of this award,  it’s thrilling to realize that, as Sally Fields said so eloquently, “I can’t deny you like me, right now, you like me!”  And guess what?  I like you!  I really, really like you!  And I am honored to work with such an amazing group of public servants.

Monday, October 16, 2017

STEM Inspiration Conference

image of dna
I love hearing from colleagues who have flown the coop, so to speak, and are working in libraries outside of our system.  First of all, I love to hear from them because I like them, and love to hear what they are up to and what they are thinking about.  Second, they often share cool tidbits with me that I can pass on to everyone else!

This past week I got an email from Ashley Bieber, who used to be the teen librarian in Eau Claire (also former Youth Services Section Chair).  She is now working for the Hennepin County Library, and told me about a STEM conference she is planning to attend at the end of November, sponsored by the University of Minnesota Extension called Capturing Imaginations:  Building Skills.  This looks like a pretty exciting conference, and a great way to perk up the Oncoming Winter Blues.  Look here for registration information.

Bonus:  if you go, you'll get to see Ashley!


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Making Justice in Madison

watercolor paint box with multiple colors
There are some public libraries that are doing great work with kids involved with the juvenile justice system.  At ALA last summer, I attended a program about a library that lines up volunteer bedtime readers and author visits at the local juvenile detention center.  And in our own state, there are libraries doing some great work with kids who are incarcerated or who are at risk of detention.  This morning, Wisconsin Public Radio highlighted a program run by the Madison Public Library's  Bubbler called Making Justice, that works with teens and volunteer artists to create art together.  I highly recommend taking a listen--it is great to hear about such an exciting program, and fun to hear libraries make the news for such a positive reason!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Collection Development Resource

cats and mice playing around stacks of books
The blog has been a victim of the triage that becomes necessary during especially busy times, which August, September, and October seem to be.  BUT.  I have it on my calendar to do a blog entry several times in the upcoming weeks, so look for more content.  And remember to send content my way if you have something to share!!

YESTERDAY, I went off to do new library director visits, and in the course of talking about our monthly Starred Reviews publication, I found out about another pretty remarkable resource from Debbie in Prescott, who has been using it for quite a while.  Jen J.'s Booksheets is a publication that tracks things like awards, and the number of starred reviews an item is getting.  It might be a useful resource for keeping track of items that are getting a LOT of buzz.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Readers Advisory Tips and Training from Novelist








Thanks to Maureen Welch for passing on these tips from the NoveList newsletter!  They are specific to helping kids and teens find books using NoveList. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.



Did you know?
Appeals terms describe the mood or feel of books (think: funny, sad, inspiring), and they are a great tool for talking about books. Kids instinctively understand the terms and they provide a common framework for talking about what each reader enjoys. Learn more about appeal.


5-minute learning activity
Help that teen who enjoyed the movie Wonder Woman find books with strong female characters. Type AP strong female characters into the NoveList search bar, then limit your results by audience to teens. This search strategy has step-by-step instructions for finding books in other ways, too.

Power play
Combine the search for AP strong female characters with Lexile levels and/or Accelerated Reader Interest Levels to get books at just the right reading level. In NoveList, this is possible by using the limiters found on the left side of the page. Watch this 2-minute tutorial on searching by reading levels.



 
If you have more time
Here's a fun activity to do with a group. First, hand out copies of The Secret Language of Books. Then, use the appeal mixer in NoveList to build a reading list for each of these fictional readers:
·         A third-grader who loves thrilling, true-life adventure stories
·         A teen who prefers stories a little on the snarky side
·         A listener who loves audiobooks with different voices and/or accents
·         A kid looking for books with characters from multiple racial and cultural backgrounds
Use this appeal scavenger hunt for more ideas.

Bonus
A special tip for those libraries that have NoveList Select in their catalog: As kids search in your library's catalog, show them how to click on the appeal term links they're interested in to find more books. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Writing Workshop for Kids in Eau Claire

colored pencils
As part of the Chippewa Valley Book Festival, local writers  will be holding  wonderful sounding workshops for young writers at the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library in Eau Claire.  Jessi Peterson is one of the presenters for the workshop for 3-5 graders.  Jessi is not only a poet of some renown (and she built her own cordwood house with a round hobbit door), she is also the Children's Librarian at the Chippewa Falls Public Library, so we know she knows how to work with kids!  She asked me to put this on the blog, since folks from quite a distance attended last year.

Here's the information to pass on to your young writers:

Let's Write!  Grades 3-5 10:30am-12pm . Chippewa Room
Join local writers Sara Bryan and Jessi Peterson for a morning of inventing, writing, and sharing. We’ll bring the paper, pencils, and a passel of tips, tricks, and treats! With Special Guest Appearance by The Cabinet of Curiosities, guaranteed to Ignite Your Imagination.  Attendees are encouraged to submit their work to the Young Writers Showcase.


Stories Save.  Grades 6-8 10:30 am- 12:00 pm, Eau Claire Room.
Join local writers Andrew Patrie and Derick Black for an exploration of how our experiences can be the most fertile soil for growing stories and relationships. Paper, pencils, and prompts will be provided to get you writing and sharing.

Register for either program online at ecpubliclibrary.info/kids or call 715-839-5007.

For more information about the presenters, check out the Chippewa Valley Book Festival site.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

WLA Conference Cool Stuff!

WLA logoSorry for the absence of blog posts, I've been out of the office more than in for the past few weeks, taking part in some terrific opportunities (the Youth Services Institute, Prepare Training to learn how to defuse challenging situations, and dropping my youngest kid off at college, to name a few).  Then, when I finally had a chance to write a post, I posted in the YSS Blog by accident (blushing, here).  If you haven't checked out the YSS Blog, I highly recommend this excellent, frequently-updated resource.

Now I'm back, and thinking about another chance to get away from the regular day-to-day work and explore some new things and hang around with some inspiring folks!  The Wisconsin Library Association Conference comes early this year (October 17-20), and there are several things I think you should know about this year's conference.  This is only a partial list of the things I am excited for at this conference:


  • Tuesday, October 17:  Pre-conference:  Representation, Authenticity, and Being Real:  Diversity in Youth Services with Anna Haase Krueger and Tami Lee will take a deep dive into collection development and library programming, with ideas and hands-on book examination.
  • Wednesday, October 18:  Andrea Davis Pinkney, author, publisher, and extraordinary speaker, will be the YSS Luncheon speaker.  Get ready to be inspired!
  • Thursday, October 19:  Linda Liukas will give the keynote address.  Linda is a programmer, storyteller, and illustrator from Helsinki, Finland.  Check out her TED talk!
  • Friday, October 20:  My very own cousin, Ehryn Barthelme, will be teaming up with a public librarian from Rochester, MN to discuss the reality of what teens and young adults are thinking about, dealing with and experiencing related to sexual health, sexuality, and gender expression.
  • Througout the conference, you will be able to see librarians from the IFLS region presenting, including Jerissa Koenig, Rebekah Palmer, Martha Kaempffer, Jennifer Cook, Susan DeBolt, Cole Zrostlik, Katherine Elchert, and yours truly, plus you'll have a chance to see John Thompson and other contributors to the PLSR process talk about the system re-design process. 
I hope you will consider joining us for an amazing time.  Please let me know if you need some help advocating for yourself for a chance to attend!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Early Childhood Development--Understanding Numbers

toddler holding up 3 fingers

Even though it is on a commercial site, this is a great explanation of the way kids learn to understand numbers (being able to count to 10 does not mean that children understand the concept behind the numbers).  It gives some simple suggestions of activities to do to help children develop the skills of understanding what numbers mean, and other concepts that make up the foundation of understanding mathematics.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Read On Wisconsin

The booklists and other resources have been released for 2017-2018 Read On Wisconsin books.  If you don't already know about it, Read On Wisconsin provides book discussion resources and carefully selected books for several age groups each month.  If you were considering promoting Gene Luen Yang's Reading Without Walls Challenge, these booklists might be a great starting place--a wonderful variety of books, formats, styles, and subjects!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

2017 Teens' Top Ten Voting Open!


Teens' Top Ten, sponsored by the Young Adult Library Services Association, allows teens from across the country to vote for their top three favorite recent books from a list created by other teens.  This is a great way to encourage teens in your area to make their opinions heard!  YALSA has created some great resources, and this is just in:


Voting for the 2017 Teens' Top Ten is now open! Check out and share the video announcing the nominees here and encourage teens to vote for their top three titles now through Oct. 14.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Resources for Talking about Charlottesville with Kids

We have to keep talking, providing resources, shining a light where it is needed, and helping kids, teens, and families cope with some of the tough things in our world.  The recent events in Charlottesville and the increasing rise of white supremacy and other hate groups is one.  There are some good resources, pulled together by Teen Librarian Toolbox.


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Barron's Rearrangement Pays Off!

If you get two creative people together who are interested in thinking outside the box about ways to meet community needs, you just never know where you'll end up.  Patti Becker and Sue Queiser at Barron have been looking at the way the community uses the space, programs, and collections of the children's area for the past few years.  Attendance at regular storytime programs was down, as was attendance at programs for the summer library program.  Throughout this time, Patti and Sue have been thinking about ways to accommodate the needs of the community better.

This included offering more passive programming (a new one each day the library was open during the summer of 2016!), one-on-one storytime, and more.  They noticed that kids and families really enjoyed hanging around together and working on projects.  As a result, they undertook a large transformation--weeding heavily, rearranging their collections, purchasing new furniture that encouraged lingering, and creating much more open space for creation and imagination.
kids do line art at a table
Line art at the table that fits nicely!


Last week, Patti sent me some photos, labeled, THIS IS WHY WE DID IT!  I thought you might like to see, too!
kids make things out of cardboard tubes
Kids make things out of cardboard tubes--look at all that floor space!



Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Easy Interactive Teen Displays in Menomonie

I heard from a reliable source (my own teen) that the interactive teen displays in Menomonie are the bomb.  Abby Seymour, the teen librarian, shared some of her recent displays:


display that says First Impressions Matter
The first display takes the intriguing first line of a YA book was on the front, with a tab to lift to see what the book it came from is.  I recognized some, and found the others absolutely tantalizing!

first lines of books display

The next display allows people to vote on whether the book or movie cover is better:

book and movie covers display, with voting options

Paired with a display of book jackets that will soon be movies, this made for a simple and fun display:

book jackets of books being made into movies, "Because Hollywood is running out of ideas."


Monday, July 31, 2017

Many thanks to Julia Reid of LEPMPL for this guest post!

Inspiration, it is said, can come from the unlikeliest places. For the YS staff at LE Phillips Memorial Public Library, inspiration this summer came from the toilet. According to Weird but True! Gross: 200 slimy, sticky, and smelly facts, “95 percent of people don’t wash their hands long enough to kill infectious germs after using the toilet—and 10 percent don’t wash their hands at all” (145). Who wouldn’t want to drum up some programming from a fact like that?

So this summer, stirred by the National Geographic World of Weird but True books, we transformed the Youth Services area into a STEAM fest, with eight activities, experiments, or craft projects, each paired with fun facts from the series. For example, the “Build a Bridge” station was motivated by these three facts:
  • It is said that Vikings collapsed a bridge in medieval London and inspired the song “London Bridge is Falling Down” (Weird but True! 300 Outrageous Facts from History, page 87).
  • A rooster was one of the very first car passengers to cross New York’s Brooklyn Bridge (Weird but True! 300 Outrageous Facts from History, page 128).
  • The London Bridge that kept falling down is now in Arizona, in the United States (Weird but True! 2: 300 Outrageous Facts, page 18).

Participants were challenged to create a bridge that could 1) span two tables spaced one foot apart and 2) hold the weight of books. Each participant was given 100 popsicle sticks, Elmer’s glue, and binder clips for clamps, and tested how many books their bridges could hold before breaking.

For stations like the bridge station, we prepped our (super, amazing) high school volunteer team with questions that they could ask participants to deepen the experiment:
a.        What shapes are you using? What other shapes can you try? What shapes do you see most often on bridges that you cross over?
b.      Where is your bridge the strongest? Where is your bridge the weakest? Can one part hold a greater load than the other? If so, why?
c.       Are you using patterns in your bridge? Are the sides symmetrical? Why or why not?
d.      Do you have left-over sticks? Where will they help the most?

After coming up with a few activities, we assessed whether we were satisfactorily reaching all age ranges, interests, and abilities.

Some activities were easy (and budget-friendly) to put together, like the measuring station, which tested whether there was truth behind the claim that “the length of your arms stretched out is about equal to your height” (2, p32). This station just called for butcher paper, tape measures and yardsticks, and pencils.


Others were more complicated, like the germ station, where young scientists tested how many drops of plain and soapy water a penny could hold to learn about surface tension and the benefit of adding soap to wash away germs.



One of my favorite was inspired by chameleon and camouflage facts. Crafty participants chose a habit background and a white die-cut chameleon. Using markers, participants colored the chameleons so they blended into the scene.  Younger participants could instead learn about the benefits of camouflage with our bean table game. We filled a bean table with brown pinto beans and plastic toy animals; participants were challenged to see whether it was easier to find a camouflaged (brown) animal or non-camouflaged (colorful) animal. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

Downloadable Posters and More from 15 Minutes a Day




Read Aloud banner and logo

Read Aloud 15 Minutes is devoted to encouraging parents and caregivers to read at least 15 minutes a day with children.  They have some fun infographics, posters, and other resources that are free to download, and in addition, they are sponsoring a challenge in October--encouraging people to read aloud for 15 minutes each day for 21 days in a row, making it part of the daily routine.

Thanks to Jenna from Chippewa Falls for passing this on to me!


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Does Coding Seem Like the Scary Monster Under Your Bed?

monster illustration


Many thanks to Kathy Larson from Bloomer for this terrific guest post!

I’ve gone to many workshops over the past few years where I’ve heard librarians say, “Setting up a coding club is so easy” but they can’t really explain how they started it. I thought there was some trick to it, or some deep knowledge I was missing that would make me look like a complete idiot in front of the kids and their parents. I just wanted someone to tell me how to do it.

Now that I have a coding club at our library, I finally understand why it is so hard to explain. It’s so simple! Lucky for me there is an AMAZING resource for coding club! I have no idea where I heard about this website, but Prenda will walk you through all the steps. All you have to do is get some computers and some kids and promote your program. It is really that easy. Okay, there is a bit more, but not a whole lot.

Through their website, I was furnished with a packet that is essentially the curriculum for running your coding club. It outlines what to do week by week with websites and challenges for kids to complete. The first week we watched a video recommended by Prenda on some of the perks of being able to code. Then we went to code.org and had them play around on Hour of Code. The next week you set up coding accounts on code.org and have them pick a track for their coding adventure and they are off. That is it.

Even when they need help, you can guide them with questions so they can come up with the answers themselves, so you really don’t need to have any prior coding skills.
In hindsight, I would have set up accounts for the kids before they started because it tracks all of their progress and it has been amazing watching the speed at which some of these kids catch on. In five weeks the kids at our program, ranging from 6-11 years old, have written more than 2,000 lines of code! How do you do that? Prior to the first session, visit Code.org and set up a teacher account so that you can add students as they walk through the door. You definitely do not have to have ANY knowledge about coding, you just have to be able to log onto a computer, access websites and create some accounts.


So that monster that is coding is really just a simple teddy bear.
teddy bear

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Strong Girls School at ALA

group of girls facing away from the camera, holding hands and jumping
One of the programs I attended at ALA this year was called Strong Girls School.  Nancy Evans, from the public library in Levittown, New York discussed a program that she developed after teen girls in a library writing group clamored for it.  As a writing sample for the kids, she brought in a blog post by Maureen Johnson about photo-shopping.  Turns out the girls were more interested in talking about the content of the blog post than in the writing style.  Turns out the girls had a LOT to talk about related to body image, gender expectations, sexism, rape culture, and more.

Combining this interest and desire for information and conversation about important topics with sobering statistics about gender inequality, prevalence of sexual assault, and other depressing topics, Nancy decided that there was a need for a program.  She describes it, and some of the resources, in this Programming Librarian blog post.  She talked, both in the program and in the blog post, about her nervousness about having a gender-specific program, but also discussed her reasons for finding it to be worthwhile, despite being exclusive.  It would be ideal, she agreed, to also have a series of sessions about what it is like to grow up male, with all the challenges and societal expectations that this includes.

The girls who attend the 6-8 week sessions are very engaged and want to continue the series as a discussion group indefinitely.  She offers it once a year, but has enough interest that she could run it more often.  Wonderful collaborations for additional free programming have grown from this program.  Hmmm...it seems pretty interesting--I'm wondering if anyone around here is interested in doing it.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Reading without Walls Challenge

I know I have posted about National Ambassador for Young People's Literature Gene Luen Yang's Reading Without Walls Challenge before.  But I just heard Gene Yang at ALA, and he inspired me to remind you.  He told a great story about his next book, which is about basketball, even though until fairly recently he was not even remotely interested in basketball (partly due to their tendency to hit him in the head).  He discussed how reading a book outside his walls led to breaking down all sorts of other walls for him, and it was thrilling to hear about the challenge put to work.

In fact, I'm thinking of putting together a challenge for librarians to do this fall--wouldn't that be fun?  Folks could commit to reading a book outside their regular comfort zone and then share a review or a conversation about it...Still thinking about the details, here, so if you have any ideas of how you'd like this to play out, let me know.

In the meantime, as you select your books to help you relax and unwind from a frenetic-paced summer, consider the challenge, and choose one book that fits these criteria:

1. Read a book about a character who doesn’t look like you or live like you.
2. Read a book about a topic you don’t know much about.
3. Read a book in a format that you don’t normally read for fun. This might be a chapter book, a graphic novel, a book in verse, a picture book, or a hybrid book.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Art's Power

hands in the dirt CD coverThe Lines we Cross book cover
A couple weekends ago, I discovered a new favorite band (The Resonant Rogues--check them out!).  As I sat in the concert, I was missing a beloved, departed family member and wishing I could share the music with her, so I wasn't surprised to spring a leak when I heard the song Can't Come In.  But in the past week and a half, I have listened to the CD approximately 10 times, like you do.  And almost every time, I tear up when I hear the song.  Aside from the very real possibility that there is such a thing as tear duct muscle memory, I think that the song, which is a plea to be humane and welcoming to refugees, is just plain moving.

At the same time I've been listening to the Resonant Rogues, I have also been reading The Lines We Cross by Randa Abdel-Fattah.  The book, set in Australia but completely relevant for the U.S.,  is told from two perspectives.  Michael is a teen who has a close and loving family, attends private school, and is trying to figure out how to tell his parents he doesn't want to follow his father's footsteps and become and architect.  His parents are the founders of an anti-immigrant political party called Aussie Values.  He has grown up not questioning their beliefs.  Mina is a new scholarship student whose family has moved across Sydney so she can attend a posh private school.  She's a refugee from Afghanistan, where she and her mother lost her father and uncle to the Taliban, and her little brother to hunger and sickness.  Her stepfather is opening a new Afghani restaurant in their new neighborhood, and they are all working to make the adjustment.  When Mina and Michael meet, Michael is challenged to begin looking at his assumptions and beliefs, and is in the uncomfortable position of questioning everything he has grown up thinking he understood.  The alternating perspectives--a tactic that I sometimes feel is overused in teen lit--work brilliantly here.  I love the mixture of a light touch with serious subjects that Abdel-Fattah manages.  This is an important book, and fun to read.  Both Michael and Mina have believable growth, and secondary characters are interesting and well-rounded--even the jerk bully has some redeeming qualities.

The juxtaposition of the book, the song, and the regular news reports I've been hearing about the plight of refugees stuck in camps in Greece and people trapped in war-torn areas--it's been a powerful combination.  I recommend taking a listen and a look!