Step Into Storytime, September 24

Today we had a big crowd at storytime! It was a gray fall day, so maybe the weather urged people inside, or perhaps they’re just getting back into the rhythm of the season (storytimes are a little more sporadic in the summer because of all the other programs we do). There were at least 15 kids in the 2-3 age range, plus assorted siblings and several late arrivals. In the beginning, we had more than ten but I did the name song anyway – it’s a great way to learn names and start building individual connections.

Books face out on storytime chair
Tyrannosaurus Wrecks!, Oh No George!, Please Mr. Panda, Count the Monkeys, Five Little Monkeys, Chu’s Day, Still Stuck
  • “Hello Friends” song with ASL
  • Name song (“Hello ____, hello ___, hello ____, we’re glad you came today”)
  • Handed out shaker eggs for Tyrannosaurus Wrecks! by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, illustrated by Zachariah Ohora
  • Kept the shaker eggs for Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton. Collected shaker eggs after.
  • Song cube: ABC song
  • Please, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony
  • Song cube: “If You’re Happy and You Know It”
  • Five Little Monkeys Jumping On the Bed by Eileen Christelow (jumping encouraged!)
  • Count the Monkeys by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Kevin Cornell
  • Song cube: “I Had A Little Turtle”
  • Scarves (by audience request) for Still Stuck by Shinsuke Yoshitake. Collected scarves.
  • Goodbye song with ASL. Put away colored mats. Dance party with bubbles! (We have an old ipod loaded up with Raffi and Disney versions of classic kid music. And I brought my own bubbles from home because I am devoted to Pustefix bubbles.)

I skipped the flannel board and craft this week, but for next week I am thinking of a craft with paper dots and glue to go with Lots of Dots, and maybe The Very Hungry Caterpillar flannel board again…if I can make a butterfly before next Monday!

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Step Into Storytime, September 17

There was a smaller group at storytime today, but that allowed me to do the name song (“____ is here today, ____ is here today, let’s all clap our hands, ____ is here today”) after our usual “Hello friends” song. If the group is bigger than ten or so, I don’t do it, but because we only had seven or eight today, we did. I think it’s a good way to start because all the kids feel included, and it helps me learn the names, so I can address kids by name throughout the storytime.

When we use the song cube, or sing a new song, I make sure we do it twice, because young brains are hungry for patterns and repetition.

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Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow?, Flyaway Katie, Five Little Monkeys, My Heart Is Like A Zoo, Perfect Square, Make A Wish Bear, Where Bear?
  • Welcome: Glad you’re here, please keep the doors clear, take snacks outside, feel free to come and go as needed.
  • “Hello Friends” song with ASL
  • Name song
  • Book: Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow? by Susan Shea
  • Song cube: “I Had A Little Turtle”
  • Hand out scarves
  • Book: Flyaway Katie by Polly Dunbar
  • Book: Five Little Monkeys by Eileen Christelow
  • Collect scarves
  • Book: My Heart Is Like A Zoo by Michael Hall (with flannel, but not interactive)IMG_20180917_094132
  • Song and activity: “Shake Your Sillies Out” with shaker eggs
  • Song cube: “I’m A Little Teapot”
  • Book: Perfect Square by Michael Hall
  • Song cube: “Itsy-Bitsy Spider”
  • Book: Make A Wish Bear by Greg Foley
  • Song: “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”
  • Book: Where, Bear? by Sophy Henn
  • Goodbye song with ASL
  • Activity: coloring with crayons on a big piece of butcher paper (one bowl of crayons at each corner of the paper)

See last week’s Step Into Storytime here.

Step Into Storytime, September 10

Today kicks off our fall series of storytime programs, and mine is “Step Into Storytime” for two- and three-year olds (though siblings are allowed to join, and we’re pretty lenient about ages; the come-and-go-as-necessary philosophy enables kids and their grown-ups to leave if they’re having a tough time and come back in when they’re ready, or next time).

We started off, as usual, with an introduction and a few guidelines (keep doors clear, take snacks outside), then our welcome song: “Hello friends” with sign language. I sang it through once with the motions, then showed each sign (should have done that first!), then we sang it through again, and lots of the kids and adults participated. Next:

  • Song cube: “Zoom zoom zoom, we’re going to the moon” (standing, twice)
  • Book: Fall Is Not Easy by Marty Kelley
  • Activity: Adding leaves to the tree on the flannel board. I think every kid participated and we had 16 leaves!
  • Song cube: “I had a little turtle”
  • Book: Hooray for Hat by Brian Won (“Show me your grumpy faces!”)
  • Song cube: “ABCs”
  • Book: The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric CarleIMG_20180910_095130
  • Activity: Very Hungry Caterpillar flannel board. At the appropriate point in the story, a kid would come up and remove the fruit the caterpillar ate that day (apple, pears, plums, strawberries, oranges). One kid who wanted to participate didn’t get a chance to take fruit off the board so I let her take the caterpillar off. And note to self: I need to make a butterfly!
  • Song cube: “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider” (standing, twice)
  • Book: Chu’s Day by Neil Gaiman and Adam Rex (kids loved the big sneeze!)
  • Song/activity: I passed out shaker eggs and we stood to sing “Shake Your Sillies Out.” Kids brought the eggs back to the front and put them in the bag at the end of the song.
  • Book: The Duckling Gets A Cookie by Mo Willems (I put my flannel Pigeon and Duckling up on the flannel board but we didn’t do anything with them)
  • Song: “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” to calm a slightly squirrelly crowd. I meant to do the “Goodbye Friends” song with ASL like usual but I forgot!
  • Activity: Coloring with crayons. I traced one of the pages from Blue Chameleon and made copies for kids to color however they liked. We have a giant bin of crayons and they color right on the floor – next time I would scoop a few smaller bowls of crayons and spread them out around the room. People were great about putting the crayons back when they were finished!

Overall, this was a great storytime. Hooray for Hat seemed to be a favorite, several kids recognized The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and I think the Mo Willems book might have been more successful earlier in the lineup.

We have a whiteboard along one wall, and after “Welcome to Step Into Storytime!” I had written the five activities that support early learning: Talk, Sing, Read, Write, Play. Next time I want to incorporate more early literacy information into the storytime for caregivers, explaining in a sentence here and there why I’m doing what I’m doing (why sing songs twice, for example, and why do fingerplay or sign language) to support that early learning.

 

Summer Storytime II

My second all-ages summer storytime was this morning, and it was a full house! I didn’t get an exact headcount because people came and went, but the room was full, and I think I put out at least 30 mats, and all were in use. Like last time, I started with a welcome and a reminder to keep doorways clear so people could come and go. I also explained I would be placing the books I read during storytime to the side of my chair and anyone was welcome to check them out afterward.

  • Song: “Hello” song with American Sign Language (ASL) from Jbrary. Demonstrated the signs first and invited everyone to do the signs and/or sing along; sang it twice.
  • Book: There Might Be Lobsters by Carolyn Crimi, illustrated by Laurel Molk. This is one of my absolute favorites, and I brought along a stuffed lobster to show every time the line “…there might be lobsters” came up in the story. Some kids began shouting along, which was just what I’d hoped.
  • Song cube: I made a song cube with pictures on each of the six sides that correspond to a simple song; the first one was “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.” I tried to get a different song to come up each time…sometimes a little manipulation was required.
  • Book: Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton. Some of the older kids had good guesses about what George would do.
  • Song cube: “I Had A Little Turtle”
  • Prop/toy: Hand out colored scarves (the Golden Rule of Storytime: you get what you get and you don’t get upset!). I enlisted three of the older kids to help pass out scarves, which we keep stored in empty tissue boxes.
  • Song: “Shake Your Sillies Out” waving scarves around
  • Book: Huff & Puff by Claudia Rueda. We “huffed and puffed” or waved the scarves at the appropriate times during the story. All of the kids were super into it! Collected the scarves afterward, with helpers.
  • Book: Bark, George by Jules Feiffer – another book about a dog named George!
  • Song cube: “Itsy Bitsy Spider” (twice)
  • Book: They All Saw A Cat by Brendan Wenzel (only fair to read a cat book after two dog books)
  • Song cube: “I’m A Little Teapot” (twice)
  • Book: Still Stuck by Shinsuke Yoshitake. Most kids can relate to this one, and the grownups appreciated the humor too – I heard a few chuckles.
  • Song cube: “Zoom Zoom Zoom, We’re Going to the Moon”
  • Book: One Little Blueberry by Tammy Salzano, illustrated by Kat Whelan
  • Book: There’s A Bear on My Chair by Ross Collins
  • Song: “Goodbye” song with ASL from Jbrary. Same tune as the “Hello” song, taught the signs first, repeated it twice.
  • Thanks for coming, time to put mats away so we can…
  • Dance to music (“Banana Bread” by Caspar Babypants) and bubbles! Bubbles are always a hit.

Summer Storytime

 

Today was my very first official library storytime! It was an “all ages” summer storytime, so I brought more books than I was planning to read, so that I could be flexible depending on who showed up. There was a good mix, from infants to about four years old. I didn’t get an exact headcount, but I think there were at least 15-20 kids, with several trailing in throughout the storytime (it’s supposed to be a 45-minute program, though we ended about ten minutes early).

Here’s what we did, with a huge hat tip to my fellow (and far more experienced) children’s librarians, Lauren and Ms. B:

  • Welcome, thanks for coming, introduced self, mentioned a few ground rules (leave the doorways clear, take snacks outside)
  • Song: “Hello” song with American Sign Language (ASL) from Jbrary. Demonstrated the signs first and invited everyone to do the signs and/or sing along; sang it twice.
  • Book: Hello Hello by Brendan Wenzel
  • Song cube: I made a song cube with pictures on each of the six sides that correspond to a simple song; the first one was “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands”
  • Book: Roller Coaster by Marla Frazee (I like to rotate the book 360 on the “it goes all the way around” page)
  • Song cube: “I Had A Little Turtle”
  • Prop/toy: Hand out colored scarves (the Golden Rule of Storytime: you get what you get and you don’t get upset!). I enlisted two of the older kids to help pass out scarves, which we keep stored in empty tissue boxes.
  • Book: Huff & Puff by Claudia Rueda. We “huffed and puffed” or waved the scarves at the appropriate times during the story. All of the kids were super into it! Collected the scarves afterward.
  • Book: Tickle Monster by Edouard Manceau
  • Activity: My husband made flannel pieces for our own Tickle Monster; I set them up before storytime, and as I read each page and a piece of Tickle Monster disappeared, I took off the corresponding pieces. With a group of all older kids I would have let them come up and take the pieces off, but because we had a lot of littles and this was my first time, I did it myself.
  • Song cube: “I’m A Little Teapot”
  • Prop/toy: Hand out shaker eggs. Shake shake shake…stop!
  • Book: Tyrannosaurus Wrecks by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen. Kids shook their eggs every time Tyrannosaurus “WRECKS!” (And sometimes in between.)
  • Song: “Shake your sillies out” (with the eggs). Collected eggs.
  • Book: Please Mr. Panda by Steve Antony
  • Okay, we have time for one more song cube and one more book…
  • Song cube: “Zoom Zoom Zoom, We’re Going to the Moon”
  • Book: Some Bugs by Angela DiTerlizzi
  • Song: “Goodbye” song with ASL from Jbrary. Same tune as the “Hello” song, taught the signs first, repeated it twice.
  • Music and dance and bubbles! “You’re Welcome” from Moana, bubbles. The kids were pretty into it, especially the bubbles. Some trickled out right away, others stayed longer. I had put out all of the books I read during storytime and invited people to check them out – several were taken!
  • Another thank you for coming, and a reminder to check the schedule for our other summer programs.

I’m already looking forward to my next summer storytime in August! What are your favorite read-aloud books? Favorite tie-in activities to do with scarves, shaker eggs, puppets, etc.?

 

 

 

2018 Mid-Year Reading Wrap-Up

It’s almost time for the mid-year wrap-up of books I’ve read and liked best so far this year. There’s still plenty of June left, but I’m preparing for a book talk later this month, so it seemed like a good time to go over the past five months of reading in my LibraryThing catalog. This isn’t BuzzFeed so I won’t be doing a “Top [odd number] Books You MUST Read RIGHT THIS SECOND” style of list, but I have separated them by category. As always, these are books I’ve read in this time frame; some are recently published, but others are older.

There are a lot of picture books, because we read a lot of picture books (and, at about 32 pages each, you can read many more of those – even with repetition – in the same amount of time it takes to read an adult book). So we’ll start there, and if you have no interest in picture books, then skip ahead!

Cover image of A Different PondPicture Books
Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall
There Might Be Lobsters by Carolyn Crimi (illus. Laurel Molk)
The Way I Feel by Janan Cain
A Different Pond by Bao Phi (illus. Thi Bui)
Toys Meet Snow by Emily Jenkins (illus. Paul O. Zelinsky)
Henry & Leo by Pamela Zagarenski
Sleep Like A Tiger by Mary Logue (illus. Pamela Zagarenski)
Flyaway Katie by Polly Dunbar
Cover image of Henry & LeoThe Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah by Leslie Kimmelman
88 Instruments by Chris Barton
More More More Said the Baby by Vera B. Williams
Perfect Square by Michael Hall
Miss Brooks Loves Books (And I Don’t) by Barbara Bottner
Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle

Fiction
Interestingly, all of these fall under the umbrella of “speculative fiction.”
Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang
Cover of StarlingsAn Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon
Starlings by Jo Walton
Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories by Kelly Barnhill (esp. the novella “The Unlicensed Magician”).

Nonfiction
Daemon Voices: Essays on Storytelling by Philip Pullman
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
Cover of So You Want to Talk About RaceWhen They Call You A Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele

Cookbooks
Dinner by Melissa Clark: lots of good ideas to follow or riff on, all based on the idea of a single dish being a whole meal (though that single dish usually has many components)

Middle Grade & Young Adult
Stella by Starlight and Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
The Marvels by Brian Selznick
Cover image of The MarvelsThe Boy From Tomorrow by Camille P. DeAngelis
Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson & Emily Carroll (graphic novel)
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
And this batch of novels, each of which is satisfying if you’re looking for contemporary realistic fiction with some romance and diversity: I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman; The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler; When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon; Puddin‘ by Julie Murphy; You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins

Looking ahead to the second half of the year, I’m excited to read new novels by Kate Atkinson (Transcription), Rebecca Makkai (The Great Believers), Angie Thomas (On the Come Up), Hank Green (An Absolutely Remarkable Thing), and Therese Anne Fowler (A Well-Behaved Woman). Looking back at a to-read list from November 2017, there are still a few titles there I haven’t gotten to, and more coming out all the time….What books are you looking forward to reading?

PLA, day three: “The big ideas of the Internet were beautiful”

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Tim Wu at PLA

Tim Wu is a lawyer who clerked for a Supreme Court justice, worked at a Silicon Valley startup, then moved into academia; he’s now a professor at Columbia and a columnist for the New York Times. But if his name rings a bell for you, it’s probably because he coined the term “Net[work] Neutrality” in 2003.

The fundamental idea of Net Neutrality, said Wu, is that the user should decide what the internet is. The carrier (Internet Service Provider, or ISP) shouldn’t get in the way. ISPs should be “a medium in the true sense of the word medium, respecting the wishes of those on each side.” They should be “faithful agents” providing reliable service, not blocking, discriminating, or censoring.

The federal government adopted Net Neutrality as a rule under the Bush administration, but the Trump administration killed it (though it’s likely to return under the next administration). Why were they focused on that? “Free flows of information can be very threatening to those who wish to consolidate their power. The censorial instinct remains very strong.”

The next issue threatening our democracy, said Wu, is the “crisis of attention.” (His newest book is called The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads.) “Our attention has become our scarcest and most valuable resource…[and] when you have a purely attention-based business model, the competition runs to the bottom. It’s not who can be the most accurate, it’s who can capture attention.” 

As Cory Doctorow says, if you’re not paying for the product, you ARE the product. Wu put it differently, as he described an 1830s New York newspaper publisher’s idea to re-conceive the audience as a product to sell to advertisers. The advertising model, he said, is “the harvesting and resale of human attention.” And this is the “original sin” of nearly all of the Internet’s giants: they “embraced advertising as their only business model and tied themselves business to attention harvesting.” (Wikipedia, as a recent New York Magazine article pointed out, is an exception.) This, despite Google founders’ early recognition that “advertising-supported search engine will always be biased, always serving two masters (users and advertisers) and cannot be expected to produce reliable results.”

The dark consequences of this setup are clear, with new examples in the news every day (most recently, the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal). Sites and platforms based on an advertising model are driven to capture people’s time and attention, and to learn more about them in order to offer targeted ads – or to manipulate them.

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“We’re at a moment in our democracy…information flow has changed how this country is governed.” What can be done? What should be done? Wu asked. Whose responsibility is it, who are the trustees of our time? He argued, “The largest information intermediaries of our time…must start operating with a true sense of fiduciary public duty or face regulatory consequences….The goal of aiming for truth is something that the tech industry needs to learn right now. The time has come.”

For the final two programs of the day, I indulged my YA-loving side. First was “How to Adult: Teaching Life Skills to Teens” presented by Kayla Marie Figard of San Mateo County Libraries and Elizabeth “Biz” Tanner of the County of Los Angeles Public Library. Their “How to Adult” programs teach “life hacks,” i.e. necessary life skills like healthy cooking, public speaking, car maintenance, etiquette, time management, organization, stress management, mindfulness, finding a first apartment, money management, self-defense, first aid, laundry (and sewing and mending), and the list goes on!

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A slide from “How to Adult” shows a word cloud of some popular topics

The presenters provided many short activities (tongue twisters for public speaking; a “multitasking is a myth” task) and a very handy program planning worksheet (see below). Some of their workshops for teens were single events, while others were a series. Nearly all included food, a surefire way to boost attendance at any program. Librarians ran some workshops, while others were conducted by outside presenters. With some research, you can find willing partners, like county/city/town departments, credit unions,  and local businesses; some presenters may come for free, others may charge a fee.

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Program planning worksheet

To decide on the topic(s), ask teens what they want to know! Think about your own young adult life – what did you wish you had known, and what surprised you? Talk to teachers at local high schools – they will know what school does(n’t) offer and where students’ knowledge gaps are.

Along with planning and running the programs, the presenters discussed evaluation and measuring outcomes – required for grant-funded programs, but good for every program. They suggested: (1) determine anticipated outcomes, (2) ask: do the programs teach teens something? Do they feel better prepared for adulthood? (3) conduct pre- and post-program surveys to assess growth.

This was an excellent program: the presenters were good speakers, and came prepared not just with their slides, but with copies of their worksheets, planning documents, examples and activities from their workshops. A+!

For the very last PLA program, I went to the YA Crossover, or “AAP Crossover Appeal: Books that Work for Teens and Adults.” Despite the program’s title, it didn’t really focus on the “crossover” aspect so much as the teen aspect, except in the sense that some of the audience had read some of the authors’ books as young adults, and still loved them.

Luanne Toth of School Library Journal moderated the panel of four authors: Ally Carter, Carolyn Mackler, Gayle Forman, and Ashley Woodfolk. Woodfolk is a debut author (The Beauty That Remains), and the other three are further into their careers. Mackler’s most recent book, The Universe is Expanding and So Am I, is a sequel to The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things (a Printz honor book in 2004).

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Here are a few quotes and paraphrases from the panel:

  • “I write about young people but I don’t write young stories” -Gayle Forman
  • “Young people are given license to feel your feelings.” There’s this idea that as you age you don’t feel things as strongly/intensely. You do have to moderate your feelings but you do have them. Satisfying as a writer and a reader. -Gayle Forman
  • “A lot of what happens in high school shapes your adult life….And you don’t really get it until you get older.” YA writing is cathartic because it helps revisit and dissect what happened & what you felt. -Ashley Woodfolk
  • “The world would be a lot better if we all read more broadly and more representatively.” -Ally Carter
  • “Libraries are our outposts in every corner of the country” (some places don’t have bookstores or people can’t afford books) -Ally Carter
  • “Encourage people to read everything…a kid might want to read something you won’t expect they want to read. Find out what a kid wants/needs” – Ashley Woodfolk
  • “Every book is a mirror. No matter how different somebody is from you, there is still an emotional through-line.” -Gayle Forman

And that is a wrap! See all PLA 2018 posts here. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to go to this conference, and I think I made the most of it, attending a variety of sessions and programs. I do wish I had a Time-Turner and could have been to even more. If you were at PLA, or followed along via a great blog or Twitter thread, please share your favorite links!