Monday, October 27, 2014

Preschool Lab: Bats

I don't know if you know this about me, but I love bats! I think they're awesome! And with Halloween coming up this week, what better time to explore bats in our Preschool Lab? Here's what we did.


Opening Song: My Hands Say Hello

Book: Bats in the Library by Brian Lies (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2008). I shortened this one a bit since I tend to have a young, wiggly crowd. We talked about bats being nocturnal and pointed out funny things the bats were doing in the pictures. The text is rhythmic and rhyming. Hearing rhyming words promotes phonological awareness, the ability to hear that words are made of smaller sounds. Even though this is definitely a made-up story, there are lots of fun details that present facts in the picture (like when the bats are looking at "fancy food guides", they're actually looking at insect books!).

Felt Activity: Color Bats. I had made this set for a nocturnal animals storytime some time ago. We again talked about bats being nocturnal. I passed out the bats and then read this rhyme to call kids up to put their bats on the board:

The sun is setting,
The moon's rising high.
Now all the red bats
Start to fly!

After all the bats had been placed on the felt board, I told them that a group of bats is called a colony and together we counted the number of bats in our colony.

If you want to continue the fun, talk about how bats sleep (hanging upside down) and you can turn your bats upside down as you say this rhyme:

The moon has gone,
The sky's getting light
And all the red bats
Say goodnight!

Not only does this activity reinforce the idea of bats being nocturnal (though the repeated rhyme), it helps kids practice colors and get more comfortable with approaching an adult who is not in their family (school readiness skills!).

Book: Zipping, Zapping, Zooming Bats by Anne Earl, illustrated by Henry Cole (HarperCollins, 1995). The full text of this book is too much for my littles, but I did use one spread that shows the bat's wing. We talked about how a bat's wing is different from a bird wing - no feathers and the bone structure is different. And we talked about how a bat's finger bones make up the structure for its wings, so a bat is able to make its wings bend in many different ways. And we demonstrated using our own fingers.

I think the concept would have hit home more if I had a bat model, even a stuffed or large plastic bat to really show them where the bones are. But some of the kids got it, I think!

Book:  Hello, Bumblebee Bat by Darrin Lunde, illustrated by Patricia Wynne (Charlesbridge, 2007). This simple nonfiction picture book is great for sharing with a young group. Simple text asks and answers many questions about the smallest of bats. It's quite easy to skip spreads if you need to shorten. And I had one little gentleman who somehow asked a bunch of questions out of curiosity just as we got to the spreads that answered those questions!

Closing Song: Do You Know What Time It Is?


Hear Like a Bat - This simple activity is designed for kids and caretakers to do together and it illustrates how bats "see" with sound (very simplified, of course). One person puts the blindfold on and the other person rattles a maraca. The blindfolded person points to where the sound is coming from. This activity was adapted from Child Care Lounge.

Measure a Bat - Did you know that there are over 1200 species of bats and they come in many different sizes? Miss T created these paper bats for me, illustrating the great size difference in different types of bats. Pictured here, you see the flying fox with a wingspan of 5 feet, the Indiana bat with a wingspan of 10 inches, and the bumblebee bat with a wingspan of 6 inches. I put out rulers and invited kids to measure the bats. 

Nocturnal Animal Puppets - The most fun station for everyone was our nocturnal animal puppets. I looked up a list of nocturnal animals online and found that we actually had quite a few nocturnal animals in our puppet collection! I put out a fox, deer, wolf, beaver, owl, cat, mouse, possum, and firefly for the kids to play with. 

All in all, the stations were not super popular this time around, but the storytime went over better than I thought it would. The kids were really interested in the books, asking great questions and sharing what they knew. We also learned some great vocabulary words like "nocturnal" and "echolocation". 

And, of course, I am happy to spread my love of bats to the next generation!

Monday, October 20, 2014

That is a GREAT Idea (Puppet Show in the Library)

Friends, I am mildly uncomfortable with puppets at best. Which is why I am so lucky to have staff members who put on an AWESOME puppet show over the kids' Fall Break last week!

I grabbed some video of the last story Mr. S and Ms. T did: a puppet adaptation of That Is Not a Good Idea by Mo Willems.

Before they told the story using the puppets, Mr. S read the book to the group so that they would know how the story goes and when to chime in with their chorus. The little things you can see the kids holding are chick stick puppets. I believe they blew up the chicks from the book and copied them on card stock, then glued them to craft sticks. Before they retold the story with puppets, Mr. S passed out a stick puppet to each child.

Obviously, you can see that they're having a ton of fun! And they're also learning, of course. Getting kids involved in retelling a story is a great way to build narrative skills, one of six early literacy skills that help children get ready to read. Providing the stick puppets encourages kids to talk (one of five practices that helps build early literacy skills), not only when they engage in helping tell the story, but I could hear them continuing to talk about the story as they filed out of the room after the show.

I hope you enjoy the show!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Read All the Things: What the Newbery Committee Does

Image by Stuart Miles, from
I have not been around on this blog much lately. And that is partly because work has been crazybusy with an exponential increase in our school-age outreach, but it's also because I am serving on the 2015 Newbery Committee and that, my friends, is a big commitment.

Now, if you are like me before I started my Newbery endeavor this year, you may have a vague idea of how the Newbery Medal is awarded, but you're not really sure of the specifics. (If you are like my boyfriend's father, you may even think that the Newbery Medal is awarded to the Committee member who reads the most books. This is not true. But it's awfully cute.)

I'm here to hopefully shed some light about how the Newbery Committee works.

The Newbery Committee consists of 15 members, including a chair. To serve on the Newbery Committee, one must be a member of ALSC. Half of the committee members are elected in the ALA annual elections; the other half of the committee members are appointed. SLJ had a great article about what to do if you're interested in serving on the Newbery or Caldecott Committee, so check that out if you're so inclined.

Much about my particular Newbery Committee's process is confidential. I can't post about the books I'm reading this year. I can't tell you how many books were suggested or nominated by our committee. I can't repeat anything that committee members say.

BUT the Newbery Committee manual is NOT confidential! Everything I'm posting about today can be found in that manual. (But c'mon, who is actually going to click through and read it?!)

Okay, first of all, there are specific criteria for the Newbery Medal.

And nowhere in the criteria does it say that the book must be known and beloved by children and teachers and librarians. The age range to be considered is from 0-14. Nowhere does it say that Newbery Medal-winning books must ALL be appropriate for fourth graders (no matter how much teachers want to assign kids to read a Newbery book!).

We are looking for the "most distinguished contribution to American literature for children".

There are 15 people on the committee. Have you ever tried to get 15 people to agree about something? Every committee member comes to this work with different experiences and different tastes and a different reading history. This is a GREAT thing. That is what makes this award mean something. It's not (necessarily!) Abby's Favorite Book of the Year. Nobody cares about that (except Abby). This will be the book that the entire committee decided was the most distinguished this year. And it's a lot of work. But it means something and that makes it worth it.

So, what has the Newbery Committee been doing all year? 

We have been reading everything we can get our hands on. Publishers have sent us books for consideration. We have also been frequent library patrons, checking out books that haven't been sent to us. We've been reading deeply, thinking critically about each title, taking copious notes.

And we have been suggesting titles. As you can (but probably won't) read in the John Newbery Award Committee Manual, the committee chair solicits suggestions from committee members on a regular basis (usually monthly). These suggestions are anonymous. We can suggest as many titles as we want or we can suggest no titles in a particular month. Committee members read all suggested titles. We can suggest something that someone has already suggested - this may help us gauge support for a particular title.

So, we read everything we can get our hands on and this includes books that have been suggested.

And then in October (that is now), committee members start nominating books. Nominated books are the books we will discuss at the Midwinter Meeting (along with any late-published suggestions). Each committee member nominates SEVEN BOOKS and we do it in three rounds - 3 nominations in October, 2 in November, and 2 in December. Seven books! That's it! From the myriad of books published (we read as many as we possibly can), we each get to nominate seven books.

More than one committee member can nominate the same book, but each committee member nominates seven distinct titles. So, ostensibly, we could have as many as 105 books (if every member nominated completely distinct titles, more with late-published suggestions!) or as few as 7 titles (if every member happened to nominate the exact same books).

And I can never be more specific because the number of nominated titles is confidential forever!!! 

And what will the Newbery Committee do at the Midwinter Meeting? 

The ALA Midwinter Meeting is usually held in mid- to late January.

We are scheduled to meet all day on Friday and Saturday (literally our meeting rooms are booked from 8am-10pm) and then Sunday morning. Will will discuss the books that have been nominated. As I learned at the 2014 Morris Seminar, committees often follow the Cooperative Children's Book Center's Discussion Guidelines, calling for positives about the book in question to be discussed first and then concerns.

After our discussion, we will take a vote. I'm gonna quote directly from the manual here about balloting:
  • Committee members list first, second, and third place votes for the award on a selection ballot.
  • In tabulating ballot results, the tellers assign four points to each first place vote, three points to each second place vote, and two points to each third place vote.
  • There is a formula to determine the winner. A book must receive at least 8 first choices at four points per vote for a total of at least 32 points, and it must have an 8 point lead over the book receiving the next highest number of points.
After the vote, we may have a winner or we may not. If not, we will re-ballot according to however our committee decides to.

I can never reveal any information about how the voting went, how many ballots were held, the points distribution. That is all strictly confidential.

But on the Monday of the ALA Midwinter Meeting (this year, it'll be Monday, February 2), the Newbery winner will be announced as part of the ALA Youth Media Awards announcements.

And that's what I've been up to all year and what I'll be up to until February.

Do you have questions about the Newbery Medal? Ask away and I'll try to answer! (Just don't ask me what I've been reading this year!)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

What to Read at Baby Storytime #6: Diverse Books

When I look for baby storytime books, I look for books that are fairly short (or can be pretty easily shortened), books that have some kind of interactive element (counting together, an action we can all do together, a refrain that everyone can repeat with me), and/or books that I can sing. One of my goals in baby storytime is to expose kids and parents to a range of different books and to model how to read to babies.

Finding books that fulfill these criteria can be hard enough, but looking for diverse titles (titles featuring people of color, titles set in other countries, titles written or illustrated by people of color) makes the task this much harder. So, without further ado, here are some of my favorite diverse titles to use in baby storytime!

Fiesta Babies by Carmen Tafolla, illustrated by Amy C√≥rdova (Tricycle Press, 2010). This bouncy readaloud features colorful illustrations of babies on parade and includes some Spanish words in the text.

Hush!: A Thai Lullaby by Minfing Ho, illustrated by Holly Meade (Scholastic, 1996). This sweet, quiet story has a nice rhythm to it as a mother tries to make things quiet for her little one to sleep. I don't read the whole thing, but a few of the animal spreads and then skip to the end. This is a fun one for making animal sounds, too.

Jazz Baby by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2007). The rhythm and sounds in this book are so fun! Get ready to scat and make sure you read this one through before you try it with a group. ;)

A Kiss Means I Love You by Katherine Madeline Allen, photographs by Eric Futran (Albert Whitman & Co, 2012). This book features large photographs of kids of all colors exploring common gestures and what they mean. A kiss, a wave, a frown... your families can do these gestures with you as you read, and most babies love to look at pictures of children.

Leo Loves Baby Time by Anna McQuin (Charlesbridge, 2014). Young children are often very interested in books that reflect what they do each day, which makes this book a great choice for baby storytime. As you read about Leo's storytime experience, talk about the activities that your baby storytimers are doing, too.

Look at the Baby by Kelly Johnson (Henry Holt, 2002). Here's another book featuring diverse baby faces, something my baby storytimers are always into!

Maria Had a Little Llama by Angela Dominguez (Henry Holt, 2013). Here you'll find the familiar song Mary Had a Little Lamb, set in Peru with a llama. Invite your storytime grown-ups to sing along.

Old Mikamba Had a Farm by Rachel Isadora (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2013). This Old MacDonald book is set in Africa and features African animals. This is a great book for singing, learning some new words, and practicing some different animal sounds.

Peekaboo Morning by Rachel Isadora (Putnam Juvenile, 2002). In this fun book, we do peekaboo on every page as we meet different members of the family. This is a great title for encouraging patron interaction - babies love to peekaboo.

Please, Baby, Please by Spike Lee & Tonya Lewis Lee, illustrated by Kadir Nelson (Simon & Schuster, 2006). I love the bouncing, rhythmic text of this book, which also features many things babies do every day. Parents always laugh along at the familiar behaviors they see illustrated in this book.

Round is a Tortilla: A Book of Shapes by Roseanne Thong, illustrated by John Parra (Chronicle Books, 2013). I definitely shorten the text of this book, reading about one or two shapes. Make this one interactive by handing out foam shapes or shape toys to your listeners so they can explore the shapes close-up while you read about them.

These are some of my favorite diverse titles for baby storytime. WHAT AM I MISSING?? Please add your favorites in the comments!

You also may be interested in the following previously posted lists of books I love for baby storytime (a few are repeated here!):

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Fall into a Good Storytime at the ALSC Blog

Friends, today I have some ideas and resources for fall-themed storytimes (since OMG it's already October how did that happen?????). Click on over to the ALSC Blog to check it out, and I'd love to hear your favorite fall books and activities for storytime!

Here's a little preview:

Everyone loves FALL IS NOT EASY!