Thursday, March 28, 2013

Preschool Storytime: Spring

Last week, I had two Head Start classes visit the library for a storytime about spring! To be honest, it does not feel like spring here, but I'm hoping that the more we talk about it, the sooner spring will arrive. Here's what I did:

Opening Song: My Hands Say Hello. We practice saying "Hello" with different body parts. I suggest a few and then ask children for their suggestions.

Book: First the Egg by Laura Seeger. I have long loved this deceptively simple book about different growing things. With very brief text, Seeger is able to illustrate a complicated concept. When I shared this book, we talked about how things grow, like tadpoles grow into frogs, seeds grow into flowers, words grow into stories, etc. This lead nicely into talking about growing with our next book...

Book: The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Pop-Up Book) by Eric Carle. This book is a perennial favorite of children everywhere and many of the kids in this group were familiar with the story. When I share a familiar story, I always mention that it's one of my favorites and that's why I wanted to share it today. This encourages print motivation by demonstrating that I love this book enough to read it over and over again. We have the pop-up book in our programming collection and that adds a little something special because probably kids have not seen this version.

Song: Ten Little Flowers - via Storytime Katie who modified it from The Holiday Zone

(Tune: Ten Little Indians)
One little, two little, three little flowers
Four little, five little, six little flowers
Seven little, eight little, nine little flowers
Ten flowers in the spring.
Give them rain and lots of sunshine
Give them rain and lots of sunshine
Give them rain and lots of sunshine
So they’ll grow up tall. 

I had them stand up and we did actions to go along with the words. Fingerplays and action songs help develop fine and gross motor skills and they also help to get some of the "wiggles" out when kids have been sitting for awhile. 

Book: Cold Little Duck, Duck, Duck by Lisa Peters, illustrated by Sam Williams. This book perfectly describes what I'm feeling about spring this year. Little Duck is so ready for spring, but her pond is still iced over, so she dreams about spring until it arrives. Repeating words on each page give this book a nice rhythm and it uses lots of sound words, which encourage children to play with words and sounds (helping them learn that words are made up of smaller sounds). I think I read this one a little too slowly starting out and the kids started getting a little squirrelly. If I did it again, I'd read it a little faster, empahsizing the rhythm of the words. 

Song: Five Little Ducks with stick puppets. I like to do this song with duck stick puppets and leave one behind my back each time fewer ducks come swimming back. At the end, I ask the kids to help Mother Duck call for her babies and we QUACK QUACK QUACK QUACK louder and louder until I bring back all the duck puppets!

Five little ducks went out one day
Over the hills and far away
Mama duck said, "Quack, quack, quack, quack,"
but only four little ducks came waddling back...
(Repeat, counting down.)

Book: Duckie's Rainbow by Frances Barry. This simple story is great for practicing colors as Duckie makes her way home before a rainstorm. 

Song: If You're Wearing Red Today. I wanted one more action song and this went nicely with the color theme of our last book. I asked the kids to notice what colors they're wearing and then to be good listeners because this song was going to mention a color they might be wearing and ask them to do something. I switch up the color and the action (clap your hands, touch your nose, pat your knees, stick our your tongue, rub your tummy, etc.) each time. This song is great for encouraging listening skills. 

(Tune of "Mary Had a Little Lamb")
If you're wearing red today, red today, red today
If you're wearing red today, please stand up

Mystery Bag: We've incorporated the Mystery Bag in order to reinforce letter knowledge. Today's letter was "S" for spring! I asked the kids what sound it makes and if they could think of any words that started with "S" (sun, snake, their teacher Miss Starr). Then I brought out the objects from the bag and we talked briefly about each one. In my bag I had a stick (a rain stick!), a square shape, a seashell, and a scarf. 

Closing Song: Do You Know What Time It Is? Using opening and closing songs help signal to children when storytime is beginning (and they know it's time to listen) and when storytime is ending (and they know it's time to move on to something else).  

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Afterschool: March

I found some awesome books to share with the kids at my afterschool visits this month and we had a really fun craft, too. Here's what I shared with them and how it went: 

Z is for Moose by Kelly Bingham, illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky. Greenwillow Books, 2012. This one was one of my favorites and I wanted to try it as a readaloud. I think it works, but it's maybe a little better with a smaller group and make sure you practice it first. What worked for my groups was pointing out where Moose is hiding in the illustrations, but also reading straight when you get to "R is for Moose, S is for Moose", etc. 

How Big Is It? by Ben Hillman. Scholastic Reference, 2007. I have been having a little trouble finding books that engage my first group of the month, and this is a surefire hit. This book has photoshopped pictures that help explain just how BIG some big things are. I don't read all the text, but show the pictures and share a few facts about the animal or object in the photos. 

Little Pea by Amy Kraus Rosenthal, illustrated by Jen Corace. Chronicle Books, 2005. This book has a really fun story. Little Pea likes many things, but you know what he hates? Candy. But that's what little peas have to eat for dinner and if he doesn't eat his candy, he won't get dessert... a huge helping of spinach! The kids found the role-reversal really funny. 

Epossumondas by Coleen Salley, illustrated by Jan Stevens. Harcourt Children's Books, 2002. This is one of my very favorite books to read aloud. I read it with an exaggerated southern accent and the kids find it hilarious! Don't miss the Epossumondas books!

This month's craft was a fun one, too. We again got away from the scratch art (it'll be back next month...) with gameboard templates. Some of our neighboring librarians brought this template to our district meeting in January and I immediately wanted to try it with the afterschool kids. It's easy for us because we only have to run off the templates (the sites provide crayons). The kids can be creative in designing their gameboards however they like (one contrary guy wrote "go back" on every space!), but they can also just color it if they're not feeling creative. 

Please feel free to download and use the template. 

Next month will be our last visits for the school year. We wrap them up in April because we take time in May to visit each of the schools and promote the Summer Reading Club. School's out here on May 22 and our Summer Reading Club will be starting May 20! 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Hanging Up Our Earbuds

Kelly and I are hanging up our earbuds and retiring the monthly AudioSynced Roundup.

While we have LOVED hosting the roundup and seeing so many great audiobooks getting attention throughout the blogosphere, we're both in a position where we're unable to make audiobooks a big part of our lives like they have been in the past. It's time for us to move on to other projects.

If you're looking for great audiobook reviews (and I hope you are!), please remember that Audiobook Jukebox continues to collect audiobook reviews from around the internet. You should also definitely add Reading With My Ears to your blogroll, as Lee posts many fantastic reviews each month. And don't forget about the great audiobook lists on the American Library Association's website: Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults, Children's Notable Recordings, and the Odyssey Award. You may also want to check out other audiobook awards like the Audies or the Grammys.

And both Kelly and I are absolutely fine if anyone is inspired to pick up the torch and start hosting some kind of audiobook review roundup. Go for it!

It's been a pleasure listening with you these past few years. Would you please tell us your favorite audiobook(s) or audiobook blog in the comments?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Reading Wildly: Science Fiction

Earlier this week, our Reading Wildly staff genre reading program met to discuss science fiction titles. Again, it was a really great meeting and I was really pleased with the breadth of reading my staff are doing. They're encouraging each other and finding additional titles they're interested in at our meetings, too, which is awesome!

We started this meeting by talking a little bit about the readers' advisory training we had a couple weeks ago from Suzanne Walker at the Indiana State Library. We mentioned some of the things we learned at the training and discussed the appeal factors that Suzanne taught us about. Then we shared our booktalks and I asked staff to consider the appeal factors as we went. For our future meetings, I've revised the book review forms to include the four appeal factors (pacing, characterization, storyline, and setting).

Science fiction is another genre that we get asked about quite often. One of our middle schools has been doing Donalyn Miller's 40-book challenge with their students and requiring them to read from a variety of genres. Middle-grade science fiction is often one of the genres that kids have trouble with. Either they like it or they don't, and our quest is to find middle-grade books that will appeal to kids who are not really that interested in sci-fi.

Here are the books my staff read for our discussion this month:

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

The Doom Machine by Mark Teague

Eye of the Storm by Kate Messner

Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities by Mike Jung

Invasion (Animorphs #1) by K.A. Applegate

Lunch Walks Among Us (Franny K. Stein #1) by Jim Benton

The Missing series by Margaret Peterson Haddix

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

The People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau

The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke

Our teen librarian played along again this month and shared The Angel Experiment (Maximum Ride #1) by James Patterson and Eve and Adam by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate. We had a great discussion about being nonjudgmental in readers' advisory and about our honest opinions of some of the series that are very popular with kids and teens.

Next month, our genre is adventure and that's definitely one I'm looking forward to. What are your favorite adventure books for kids?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Oh hey, ALA Elections

Oh hey, it's ALA Election time again! Voting begins TODAY and continues through April 26, 2013.  You can find more info on ALA's website (and I believe that ballots will be emailed out).

I really, really, really, really, really, really encourage all ALA members to vote.

I know that the ballots are long and it can be a time-consuming process, but I truly believe it's an important process. Every vote counts and we need every voice. Please set aside the time and make your voice heard.

Also, ahem, you will find me on your ballot this year, running for the 2015 Newbery Commitee. I personally would appreciate your vote, but even if you don't want to vote for me (or if you are not an ALSC member), I still want you to VOTE!!!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Ready to Read, Read, Read!

This past Saturday was the spring meeting of the Young Hoosier Book Award Committee and we had such a great meeting that I'm all jazzed up to read, read, read this spring and summer!

I've posted about the basic mechanics of the YHBA committee before, but I think this year our middle grade group has gotten off to a particularly good start. We spent our Saturday meeting hashing out deadlines and expectations so that we can be sure to keep the lines of communication open and get all the necessary work done. In addition to reading and rating the nominated books (a list of 74 books this year), we're responsible for creating classroom resources for each title that makes it to our final list of nominees (20 books).

I'm sure I'm not the only one excited and part of that is because committee members had more ownership over the process this year. As a group, we decided what deadlines made sense and how we could realistically cut the workload while still making sure that everything gets done. This is also a banner year for nominations! Lots of nonfiction and newer titles have been nominated, many of which were already on my personal to-read list, so that makes tackling that list more fun. I'm also pleased to see a variety of nonfiction nominated since the Common Core standards emphasize literary nonfiction and a list with lots of nonfiction will doubtless be useful for many of our Indiana teachers.


I love having a notebook to dedicate to my YHBA notes and this year they gave us notebooks with the instructions for uploading work to our committee's Google Drive and it has covers of some of our nominated titles around the edges. I love it! 

So here's to another season of YHBA reading! Let's go!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Seeds, Bees, Butterflies, and More!

Seeds, Bees, Butterflies, and More!: Poems for Two Voices by Carole Gerber, illustrated by Eugene Yelchin. Grades 1-5. Henry Holt & Co, February 2013. Review copy provided by my local library.

As the days get longer, thoughts may turn to spring, making Seeds, Bees, Butterflies, and More! the perfect book to display on library shelves or use in classrooms. Poems in this book feature seeds of all kinds, the plant growing process, and various plants and insects, giving a wide range of spring-related content. The poems are written for two voices, clearly demarcated with indentation and font colors. What fun to have students read these poems together and then ask them to compose their own poems for two voices!

Each poem is paired with exuberant artwork by Eugene Yelchin (maybe you know him as the author of the 2012 Newbery Honor book Breaking Stalin's Nose?). The colors leap off the page -  bright pinks, yellows, and blues - and evoke spring with every brushstroke. They pair with the poems nicely to create an upbeat tone throughout the book.

Carole Gerber includes an author's note giving a little more information about seeds, plant parts, and pollination, but this is most definitely a poetry book. It will add much to science units, bridging the gap between science and language arts, but if you're looking for information you'll need to pair this fun poetry book with another text.

Consider pairing this one with Douglas Florian's UnBEElievables: Honeybee Poems and Paintings or Yucky Worms by Vivian French for more on the insects that help our gardens grow.

Seeds, Bees, Butterflies, and More! is on shelves now.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Listen Up! at the @alscblog

I'm over at the ALSC Blog today, talking about great family audiobooks for spring break road trips! Hop on over there and add your two cents in the comments!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Readers, We're Ready to Advise You

Readers' advisory training: another facet of our year (and beyond!) of Reading Wildly. Last week, we had the awesome Suzanne Walker from the Indiana State Library visit our library to give a training on readers' advisory for youth. Some of my staff have had readers' advisory training and some haven't, but I wanted us all to be on the same page this year as we're striving to improve our readers' advisory through reading many different genres.

I'm a firm believer in providing a lot of training for staff and putting that training to use. I scheduled us so that all my staff could attend the training (we're lucky to have other staff in the building that don't mind occasionally covering our desk). And I attended the training, too, even though I took a course on readers' advisory in grad school. A refresher is never a bad thing! And I wanted to know what had been presented to my staff so that we could all talk about it.

What we learned at the training:

Suzanne pointed out some notable differences between readers' advisory for youth and for adults. Among them: 

  • Children and teens might have more difficulty articulating what they are looking for. Of course, sometimes adults have difficulty, as well, but children have less of a frame of reference. They also are still figuring out what kind of books they like, whereas many adults have particular genres or subjects that they gravitate towards. 
  • When dealing with children and teens, we have to think about reading level as well as subject and appeal factor.
  • We not only have to answer readers' advisory questions from children, but from their parents, as well. Sometimes we have to perform readers' advisory without the child being present. Suzanne highly recommended (and I agree) giving parents a selection of books to take home for their child when they come in asking for suggestions. 
Suzanne talked about the readers' advisory conversation (which can happen anywhere - how many of you librarians have been asked for readers' advisory at the eye doctor's, at church, or in the grocery store?). It's important that librarians are approachable, that we solicit information on what the child/parent is looking for, and use sources to find materials that match their mood. 

With kids, it's important to ask if they're looking for a book for fun or if they're looking for a book for a school assignment. If it's for a school assignment, get any other relevant information: does it have to be a certain page length? A certain genre? etc. And then proceed with your readers' advisory conversation. Even if it's for an assignment, hopefully we can find something that the child's going to enjoy. 

A somewhat standard way to start your readers' advisory conversation is to ask the kid what kind of book they're looking for or what book(s) they've read recently and enjoyed. For some kids, this might be a hard question to answer. Sometimes kids don't know what they want, or they're not big readers. If a kid's not able to tell you any books she's liked, ask about her hobbies and interests or what movies she likes. That will give you an idea of where to start your conversation. 

Suzanne also talked about appeal factors, which is definitely something we'll incorporate into our monthly book discussions. She listed four main appeal factors to think about while you're reading. Reading books with appeal factors in mind (and noting them if that helps you remember!) will help when you get down to your readers' advisory. 

Four Appeal Factors:

  • Pacing - Is the book an action-packed page-turner or is it more descriptive and contemplative? Does it have short sentences/chapters and/or does the story take place in a short amount of time (indicating that the book has a quick pace)?
  • Characterization - Do characters develop over time or are they types we recognize immediately? Is the focus on a single character or multiple characters? Often, kids get engaged with a character or set of characters and love to see multiple books about the same characters. 
  • Story line - Does the story emphasize people or situations/events? Is it action-oriented? Psychological? Does it deal with exterior action or interior (character development, etc.)?
  • Frame - What kind of setting does the book have? This can be especially important in historical fiction where a particular setting/time period might be a big appeal factor. 
Readers' advisory is all about making connections. It's about finding out WHY a person likes a book and figuring out what other books might have similar appeal factors. Just because a teen likes The Hunger Games doesn't necessarily mean she's all about bloody dystopian fiction. Maybe she likes the strong female protagonist or the excellent world-building. 

Putting this training into action:

So, we had the training. Now, how are we going to put this into action? Of course, I'm hoping that my staff will put what we learned into practice right away with patrons, but I know that formal readers' advisory training is new to many of them. Incorporating these elements into our monthly Reading Wildly meetings will, I hope, allow staff to become more comfortable with readers' advisory in a relaxed environment. I plan to incorporate the appeal factors into our monthly book discussions right away. Taking the training together gives us the language to identify and discuss appeal factors and help us figure out which books we're reading might be similar. Even if my staff members don't know a particular title to list as a readalike, they can certainly say that they'd recommend Book X to kids who like fast-paced stories or to kids who like books with many characters and alternating viewpoints, etc. 

I also plan to practice our readers' advisory interviews. I think we'll start out by practicing on each other as we discuss and suggest books each month. We may eventually move into doing some role play and practicing readers' advisory conversations as they might actually happen with a kid. Although I know my staff are getting readers' advisory questions from actual patrons in their day-to-day jobs, role playing allows us to pause and offer strategies as we go along.

Now that we're all on the same page with terminology and readers' advisory basics, I'm really excited to see how that will translate in our monthly meetings!