Thursday, September 18, 2014

On the Power of the Reread

Photo by Indi
I used to be someone who eschewed the reread. I don't have time to reread when there are more great books being published than I can ever get to already! I would protest.

Which is kind of weird since I was a huge rereader as a child. I read the books on my bookshelf over and over again. I loved to visit my literary friends: Sally J. Freedman, Jerusha Abbott, Anastasia Krupnik, Johnny Tremain, Ramona Quimby, and the rest. But somewhere along the line - probably in college when I started keeping track of what books I was reading - I gave up rereading.

I had no idea what I was really missing.

This year, through my work on the Newbery Committee, I have discovered the power of the reread. I have discovered how the reread allows you to pick up on the many layers of a story, to notice details you may have missed the first time around, to solidify your opinion (positive or negative) about a book and pick up details to support that opinion.

So, I hereby give you permission to reread.

Of course, you don't need my permission for that. But just in case you, too, were stuck in the mindset that there are too many great books to read to "waste time" rereading something you've already read... I give you permission to change your mind.

Reread books you love. Reread books that you didn't like but everyone else seems to love (take a little break first; read some other books in between). Listen to audiobooks of books you've enjoyed.

And then go talk to a friend or colleague who's also read those books because conversations about books are also amazing.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Reading Wildly: Animal Fantasy


This month, for Reading Wildly we've changed things up a little bit. Our genre this month was Animal Fantasy (i.e. books where animals are the characters, animals talk, etc.). But we've had SO MANY booktalking programs scheduled that I know people may be reading all they can just to keep up with their assigned programs. So we read Animal Fantasy OR I asked each staff member to share a booktalk that they had done for a group or that they were planning on doing for a group. 

Yes, we want to be reading widely in a variety of genres to keep our reader's advisory skills sharp, but sharing booktalks with each other also helps everyone on my staff stay abreast of books they may want to take for booktalks. When I put the question of keeping our scheduled genres or lifting genre requirements to my staff, I did have some that liked the genre requirements. They push us all out of our comfort zone now and then. But I didn't want to overwhelm everyone with additional out-of-work reading when I know they're working hard to prep for programs. We made the genre requirement optional and I'll probably keep it optional at least through the end of 2014.

So, what did we read this month? 

Animal Fantasy:

Other Genres:


As you can see, some of the books my staff shared this month were easy readers and picture books. Normally, I ask that the books shared be chapter books, graphic novels, or nonfiction, but we have been doing some booktalks for 1st and 2nd grade classrooms. As our programming continues to expand, we'll keep our readers' advisory training flexible to make it as relevant and useful as possible! 

Next month, our genre is general fantasy, including high fantasy, supernatural, etc. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Reading Wildly: Graphic Novels

I am super delayed in posting this, but we have been super busy with a billion new booktalking outreach programs! Last month, my staff met to discuss graphic novels. Although graphic novels are always an option for everyone to read for our Reading Wildly meetings, my staff members seldom self-select them, so they chose to have graphic novels as one of our genres this year.

We started by discussing the article Using Graphic Novels with Children & Teens from Scholastic's website. This article suggests some great graphic novels, so it gave everyone a place to start if they weren't as familiar with this genre. It also gives examples of how teachers have used graphic novels in curriculum with success. Lots of kids love graphic novels and they're an easy sell in booktalking programs. Bringing a graphic novel along on booktalks helps to balance what you're bringing and it validates for kids and teachers that we do consider this "real reading"!


And here's what we read: 

As you can see, we read graphic novels from many different genres - realistic fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, science fiction...! 

For our next Reading Wildly meeting (which has already happened... I'm so behind!), we're reading Animal Fantasy. However, since we have all been working really hard on prepping for our booktalking programs, I've made the genre requirement optional. More on that next month! 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Storytime: All About Me

Last week, a preschool class came to the library for an All About Me storytime. All About Me is one of those themes that can be hard to pinpoint because it can include a LOT of things. When I'm planning an All About Me storytime, I tend to include a book along the lines of I-can-do-it or I-like-myself, a book about body parts, and a book about family. Then I add related stretchers as I can. You might also think about different homes, likes/dislikes, pets, favorites (favorite color, etc.), and anything else that kids might share with a new friend or a new teacher.

Here's what I did:


Opening Song: My Hands Say Hello - This is our standard opener and signals to the kids that it's time to start storytime. In this song, they practice saying hello to their new friend (me!). It also gives them a chance to move their hands, feet, and other body parts to get out some wiggles so they're ready to sit and listen. 

Mail: I love to start an All About Me storytime with some mail to the kids. I reused a manilla envelope and printed a simple letter to the kids welcoming them to the library and explaining that we were going to share stories and songs all about me. Before I got the letter out, I went through each line of the address with them. This reinforces the concept that print is used in lots of different ways. And we talked about the name of our street, the name of our town, and the name of our state. I got this idea from Storytime Katie, who saw it in a post from Amanda Struckmeyer on Wisconsin's Youth Services Shout-Out collaborative blog). 



Felt Story: Mr. Pine's Purple House by Leonard Kessler. This story of a man who tries to make his house distinctive from his neighbors is a great introduction to talking about our own houses. It's also a great story for emphasizing the concepts of same and different. After Mr. Pine makes a change to his house, I ask the kids if his house is the same or different. I ask again after all the neighbors have followed suit and the houses look alike again. 

Book: I Can Do It, Too! by Karen Baicker, illustrated by Ken Wilson-Max. This book uses simple, rhyming text to introduce many things that young children can do - get dressed, help bake a cake, read books with their grandparents, etc. As I read this book, I asked the kids if they did some of the things in this book, too. 

Song: Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes. The kids were pretty squirrelly at this point, so we needed to get up and move a little bit. This is a familiar song and the kids were proud that they knew it and they could do the motions along with me. It also helped introduce body parts, which tied into our next story. 

Book: We've All Got Belly Buttons by David Martin, illustrated by Randy Cecil. This brightly illustrated book shows different animal body parts (ears, neck, hands, etc.) and encourages children to move along as you read it. The interaction helps keep the kids' attention and the text reinforces the vocabulary for different body parts. 

Book: The Family Book by Todd Parr. Learning about each other's families is definitely something you do when you meet new friends. I love Todd Parr's book for this because it has silly, colorful illustrations and it's very inclusive. Without making a huge deal, the book lets kids know that some families are the same color and some families are different colors, some families have two moms or two dads and some families have just one parent. The text always comes back to something all families have in common, for instance all families help each other be strong. 



Felt Activity: Color Library Cards. Since it's National Library Card Sign-Up Month and since this was a group coming into the library, I brought out these felt library cards for a fun ending activity. I passed out the pieces and as I called each color, children came and put their card up on the board. This activity not only reinforces color concepts, it helps kids practice following directions and interacting with an adult who is not in their family (or their teacher, in this case). 

Closing Song: Do You Know What Time It Is? - This is our standard closing song and a signal to the kids that storytime is over and it's time for them to pay attention to teacher and find out what to do next. 

Alternate Ideas: If you don't like or don't have any of the books I used, here are some sources for more ideas: 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Preschool Lab: Shapes

This was our first week back for Preschool Explorers and I started us off with a really easy and fun theme: shapes! Shapes probably doesn't necessarily fit within science themes, BUT it definitely fits into math (the M in STEM!), and learning shapes is great for letter recognition later. Also, I got a great set of foam shapes and I wanted to put them to use!


Storytime:

Opening Song: My Hands Say Hello - This is our standard opener; it signals to the kids that we're ready to start storytime.

Book: Round is a Mooncake by Roseanne Thong. This picture book examines three different shapes: circle, square, and rectangle. In each spread, rhyming text talks about where we might find these shapes in the world around us. The illustrations feature a Chinese girl and her family and friends, so we see many Chinese items in the illustrations. Circles are found in mooncakes and lanterns, squares are found in a name chop (name stamp) and tofu cakes, etc. 

Felt: Shape name cards. We have a set with the names of shapes ("circle", "diamond", "oval", etc.), felt shapes, and then objects of different shapes. I put all the words up on the board and then as I brought each felt shape out, asked the children to name the shape and then put it with the appropriate word. This activity helps reinforce shape vocabulary (and possibly introduce new vocabulary like "oval") and it shows children that printed words have meaning. 

Song: The Shape Shake by CJ (you can find it on his album "Move It!") I was introduced to this song by one of my staff members who used to be a Kindergarten teacher. We do lots of shaking and then use our hands to draw shapes in the air. It's a great movement song and it introduces kids to concepts like "horizontal line" and "vertical line", as well as practicing shapes. 

Book: Lots of Dots by Craig Frazier. Simple, rhyming text points out circles ("dots") that are everywhere we look! I chose this book because it tied in nicely with our shape hunt station (more info below!). 

Book: Color Zoo by Lois Ehlert. This book introduces kids to many different shapes! Cutaway illustrations reveal different animals made up of shapes. Text simply labels each animal and as I turned the pages, I asked the kids what shapes they saw. This book also introduces octagon (8 sides) and hexagon (6 sides), and when we got to those shapes I counted the sides with the kids. Great new vocabulary!

Felt: Color shapes. We have a set of different objects in different shapes (i.e. a circle clock, a rectangle door, and oval Easter egg) and I passed out a shape to each kid and then sang a little song and had the kids bring up their shape when it was called. This is a great activity for reinforcing the vocabulary we've learned and for practicing following instructions and listening carefully. 

Closing Song: Do You Know What Time It Is? - Our standard closing song tells kids that the storytime portion of our program is over. Time to explore stations!

Stations:

I got some GREAT station ideas from this article in Teaching Young Children: Discovering Shapes and Space in Preschool.


Foam Shapes. I received this set of foam shapes and used them as a station. Kids could build pictures with our foam shapes. They might be similar to some of the pictures in the book Color Zoo or they might be different. We had a lot of fun abstract pictures. Handling the shapes and talking about what shapes we has was a great activity for reinforcing the vocabulary we had learned. 


Pipe Cleaner Shapes. At this station, children were encouraged to make different shapes with the pipe cleaners. Constructing shapes helps children learn what makes a different shape. For example, a triangle has three sides, a square has four sides that are all the same length. Kids made many different geometric shapes and even some letter and number shapes!


Shape Hunt. I made this simple shape hunt for kids and parents to do together. Here's a copy of it; I just made it in MS Word with the shape drawing tool. Kids LOVED this station. I think having the clipboards made it seem very official. I left space on there for some writing, but most of the kids simply checked off each shape as they found it. 

Shape Toys & Felt Board: We had purchased a shape sorting set from Lakeshore Learning and I put that out. I also put out our felt shape pieces on the board for kids to play with. 

This was a fun theme and pretty easy to put together. There are LOTS of shape books, so if you don't like or don't have any of the ones I mentioned here, there are plenty you can substitute. The shapes that kids had the most trouble with at our session were rectangles (they kept calling them "squares") and ovals (they kept calling them "circles"), so I was glad I had included those shapes! 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Flannel Friday: Library Card Sign Up Month


Here's a really simple and fun idea to use during September for Library Card Sign Up Month: color library cards!

Miss T made these felt library cards by making color copies of our library card on cardstock. Then she laminated them, cut them out and glued them to different colors of felt. She added a little velcro on the back to help them stick since the cardstock makes them a little heavier than the typical felt. If you have library cards to spare, you could also just glue your library card onto colored felt, especially if you're not making a set of 30. ;) 

We use a lot of these color sets by passing them out to children (we typically have less than 30 children in each storytime) and then having them bring them up to the felt board when we call their color. This not only reinforces color concepts, but it helps kids practice following instructions and it helps them get used to interacting with an adult who is not in their family. 

If you have a larger group, you could certainly use these cards in different ways. Maybe a five little... rhyme, maybe placing each card by a word label for each color. 

These are especially great for outreach storytimes because it allows us to end by letting the kids know that they can get a free library card, too! And, of course, they're great to use during Library Card Sign Up Month. Do your patrons know that children can get library cards, too?

Bridget at What is Bridget Reading? has the Flannel Friday roundup this week, so click on through to see what other flannels everyone's using!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Why We Do Storytime

Today, I'm at the ALSC Blog getting all riled up about why we do storytimes. I recently saw someone say that they do storytimes for entertainment and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. We are professionals. We need to be able to explain to everyone who asks that storytime teaches essential school readiness skills. And yes, it is also entertaining! But our programs are so much more than entertainment.

ANYhoo. Click on through to read the full post and get riled up with me!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Tune In Tuesday: Asheba's Monkeys

For the inaugural Tune In Tuesday, hosted by Sarah Bean Thompson at GreenBean TeenQueen, I want to share one of my favorite recorded songs to use in storytime.

I do baby storytime weekly at my library and I most frequently use recorded music for everyone to ring bells to. I look for songs with a strong beat and we ring our bells on the beat. "Research... suggests that math and music are related in the brain from very early in life" and rhythm activities are related to math principles such as spatial properties, sequencing, and patterning (click through for more from NAEYC.org!). 

This is one of my favorite songs to use with bells and it's usually stuck in my head all day afterwards. I have had parents ask for it after hearing it in storytime, too! This would be a fun song to use with older preschoolers as an action song (SO MUCH JUMPING!) or even with a felt five monkeys or monkey puppets.




The song is "No More Monkeys" by Asheba and you can find it on the Putomayo Kids album Animal Playground or on Asheba's album No More Monkeys.

Head on over to GreenBean TeenQueen today for this month's Tune In Tuesday, featuring posts about music in library programs!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Magic Words: Getting Into the Schools for Booktalks

Image Credit: cleverclaire1983
I've been trying to get into our local schools for booktalking since I started my job five years ago.

And this year, I've hit upon the magic words to make it happen.

I LOVE booktalking. It was something I got to do on a regular basis at my previous library in Illinois; we had several regular programs set up with some of the schools up there. When I moved to my current library, I was eager to set up booktalking programs, but the marketing I was trying just didn't seem to work. No one seemed to be interested. What was up with that?!

Two things I learned helped us get started:

1. Teachers are super busy. My State Library Youth Services Coordinator, the awesome Suzanne Walker, suggested advertising "booktalking in as little as 15 minutes". That's what helped us get into the first school. One fourth grade teacher said, "I can spare 15 minutes of my language arts time for booktalks."

2. The word "booktalk" is jargon. Not everyone knows what it means. I kept shouting at everybody about doing booktalks, and it turns out they had no idea what I was talking about. Once I started adding a brief explanation (booktalks are brief previews of books, like movie theater trailers, designed to get kids interested and excited to pick up the books), interest shot WAY UP.

Knowing these things helped me get us into our first school. Last year, we visited the fourth grade classes at one of our local schools once a month. We spent 15 minutes in each classroom and found that we could comfortably booktalk 5 books in that amount of time.

It turns out that getting into one school and figuring out the nuts and bolts of how this type of program could work was the best thing to do.

This year, I approached principals about talking at a faculty meeting to tell teachers about the services we offer for teachers. I was able to give them some concrete examples of how booktalking programs can work. I made sure to take down email addresses of anyone interested in having us set up booktalks. I know teachers have a ton of things on their plate, so I took responsibility for getting the ball rolling.

And things snowballed from there!

Last year, we saw one grade at one school each month. This year, I have fifteen grades at six different schools on our schedule (so far!).

Guess what? Teachers talk! If you bring them something they like, they will tell other teachers! Some of these new groups are folks I have approached at faculty meetings, but we had several who came to us because they had heard about what we were doing.

And we're ready to handle them. I've been laying the groundwork for this by establishing our Reading Wildly staff readers' advisory program. Each month, my staff members have been sharing booktalks with each other, so they already have an arsenal to choose from. To start with, I'm scheduling booktalks in pairs. As everyone gets more booktalking experience, we may be able to break up the teams and schedule individuals instead of pairs.

(Although... being able to send staff in pairs is really nice. Not only does it cut down on the amount of prep each person has to do, it gives kids and teachers two different styles of booktalkers. It's also easier to get a balance of different types of books when two people who potentially gravitate towards different genres present together.)

I also shared with my staff some booktalking best practices. Read the book you're going to booktalk. The best booktalks are books you truly enjoy and are excited to share with kids. Even if a book's not your personal favorite, if you can get excited thinking about the kind of kid who would like this book, it's a good choice. And bringing balanced selections - including nonfiction, graphic novels, and diverse titles - is a must. We're seeing so many different kids and we want to make sure that every kid is seeing something they like at some point.

I encourage my staff to leave a minute or two at the end of their visit to get feedback from the kids and find out what books THEY recommend so we can get an idea of their tastes and better tailor our booktalks.

As I'm scheduling groups, I'm trying to say YES as much as possible. It's most important to me to start fostering a better relationship with our schools and teachers. We'll figure out details as we go along. I recommend booktalks for grades 2 and up, but if teachers of younger grades want us to come and do something, we'll brainstorm some program ideas. It sounded overwhelming to booktalk to the entire 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grades at one middle school, but we're making it work.

And what I've found is that as we divide up groups between staff members and as we all start planning, things are coming together. So far, scheduling has been the hardest part (and that's maybe because we just switched to a new software and I'm terrified something's going to fall through the cracks).

And thus begins our journey into the schools. May it be long and positive for all parties!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

August Projects

To our patrons, it might appear that we take the month of August "off" since we take a break from programming in August. While it's true that most of my staff is taking some vacation time in August since we're too busy during June & July to take vacation, we have also been super busy this month!

Here are a few of the things on my "August Project" list that I've been working on:


  • Attending faculty meetings at local schools and preschools to sign teachers up for School Collection cards and promote programs we can bring into the classroom
  • Contacting teachers and organizations to schedule booktalking and readaloud programs for the school year
  • Learning and implementing a new scheduling software
  • Cleaning out our programming room, reorganizing, surplussing damaged and worn furniture, and generally sprucing things up 
  • Figuring out how to catalog and circulate our new circulating flannel stories collection that we'll be promoting to teachers this fall
  • Planning baby storytimes for September through December
  • Planning monthly Preschool Lab programs
  • Ordering and finding places for new toys that we'll be using during the playtime that we're adding to our Preschool Explorers programs
  • Going through the catalog to assess lost books and order replacements where we can
Whew... 

I always feel like my time to complete projects will completely dry up in September when programs start, but that's not really the case. I just like getting as many major projects done as I can before we're back in the swing of things!

(And HEY, at least we're not transitioning to a new ILS this August!)

What's on your "August Project" (or September Project or general project) list?