Saturday, September 23, 2017

Taking Off My Manager Pants

Hi. It's been a minute.

That's because there have been some changes going on!

Let me start at the beginning...

When I was in library school, one of the required courses was a management course. I thought this was ludicrous; I had no interest in getting into management. I took the course, but repeatedly said to everyone that I would never be a manager.

My first job out of grad school was up near Chicago. After a few years there, I started to look for something closer to my hometown and my family. The job that came up? A manager position. Library jobs around my hometown are scarce, particularly jobs that pay you enough to live as a single person. I didn't know if they would hire me; I didn't have any management experience.

But they did hire me. Suddenly I was in a manager position.

I know lots of you are in a similar boat. You're a great youth services librarian and the only place to move up in your organization is a management position. You feel like that's the next step, so let's do that. Does that mean you suddenly have a passion for managing people? For mentoring and coaching and all the things that come with a management job?

Maybe it does! That's awesome! But sometimes not. And for me, it did not. It took a long time for me to really realize that and longer still for me to come to terms with it and to be okay with it. It was fine for awhile, as I concentrated on building up our program schedule and making connections for outreach: manager work that needed to be done to get us up to speed, but that was still the librarian work that I loved. However, when a new director came in and started really working with the leadership team and providing training and workshops and development for us, I started to panic.

I felt like I had NO TIME to incorporate all the things that I was supposed to be doing as a manager, mentor, and coach. I felt like I would have to work 60-80 hour weeks to get all my manager tasks done in addition to all the other things I was responsible for. I realized that the reason that I had no time was because I was still also doing all the work of a front-line librarian and that the thought of giving up those tasks to do the true work of a manager broke my heart.

Honestly, it took breaking down at the Power Up: Youth Services Leadership Conference to really start to take a hard look at why I was so unhappy. Gretchen Caserotti asked me why I wouldn't consider seeking a director position and I told her "Because it would be all the parts of my job that I hate and none of the parts that I love." I burst into tears whenever someone asked me how I was doing. HELLO. I was in the wrong job.

So, I gathered up my courage and I went to my administration and I told them that I would love to stay with our library but that I wanted to step down from my management position. I wasn't sure how it would go. I wasn't sure if they had a role for me other than my current role. I cried the entire morning before I went in for my meeting with them, rehearsing what I was going to say. But I wanted to stay, so it was worth a shot.

I have an incredibly supportive and understanding administration team. They listened to what I had to say. They readily acknowledged that many people find themselves in management positions when they don't really want them. I felt like a fool for taking eight years to figure this out, but they applauded me for figuring it out at all. They told me that they would work with me, that it would take a little time to figure out what we could do, but that we could do something.

Just hearing that made me feel so much lighter. And now, our library is undergoing a major restructure (which was in the works before I approached them) and I'm stepping into a new role as the Collection Development Lead. Which is pretty much my dream job.

I am proud of the work that I did as the Children's Manager and then Youth Services Manager at my library. Together, my staff and I made great strides forward with our department. This new role doesn't change any of that. This change doesn't mean I love the people I work with any less. I am thrilled to continue to get to work with them in a different capacity and to see where they take our library's youth services next. I know it will be awesome.

Changes are coming as we transition to our new staffing structure. And I'll just be over here taking off my manager pants and putting on some new pants. I think they'll feel great.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

#24in48 Wrap Up

Well, the 24in48 Readathon has come to a close and I hit my goal of reading 20 hours this weekend! I also finished 5 books and most of an audiobook. It was another great weekend of reading and I am super glad that I'm taking most of tomorrow off so I can get some freelance work done.

11 hours 10 minutes + 8 hours 50 minutes = 20 hours!!

Here's what I read today: 

I finished up The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco, which was fine if a little derivative and slow in the middle. After a long fantasy novel, I needed something a little quicker, so I picked up...

...One Trick Pony by Nathan Hale. I knew nothing about this graphic novel when I brought it home except that I love Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales. This is a really satisfying science-fiction adventure story that is STANDALONE (I was so afraid it was going to end on a giant cliffhanger!). Would hand to fans of Scott Westerfeld and it keeps Hale's style with some humorous asides throughout. Loved it. 

Next up was Crossing Ebenezer Creek by Tonya Bolden, which was so great and also very bleak. It's based on true events and explores what happens to slaves freed by Sherman's army as they march with the Yankees. There is a lot of description of the horrors of slavery and this would be great for mature teens who are interested to know what slavery was truly like. 

After that, I needed something lighter, so I picked up The First Rule of Punk by Celia Perez, which I am really enjoying even though I haven't finished it. Once I hit the 20-hour mark it was time for dinner and then Game of Thrones, so I decided to call it quits for this Readathon. 

So, my total list of books read for this weekend's Readathon is: 

This Side of Home by Renee Watson (Bloomsbury, 2015). 
Patina (Track #2) by Jason Reynolds (Atheneum, August 2017). 
The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco (Sourcebooks, 2017). 
One Trick Pony by Nathan Hale (Amulet, 2017). 
Crossing Ebenezer Creek by Tonya Bolden (Bloomsbury, 2017). 
*More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera (Soho Teen, 2015) - audiobook still in progress. 
*The First Rule of Punk by Celia Perez (Viking, August 2017) - book still in progress. 

Total, I read 5 complete books (yay!) and part of 2 more.

Thanks so much to the team behind the 24 in 48 Readathon

I had a great time, as usual, and eagerly await the next one!

#24in48 Check-In

Good morning! I'm up and ready to start reading again for the second day of the 24 in 48 Readathon. I spent about 11 hours reading yesterday and I read some really great books. I'm hoping to do at least 9 hours today and maaaaybe 13 hours to make it to 24, but WE'LL SEE.

Here's what I read yesterday:

I read and LOVED Renee Watson's Piecing Me Together a couple of weeks ago, so I went back and picked up her YA debut, This Side of Home (2015), to read for the challenge. Friends, it is great. I have a new favorite YA author and you can be sure I will be reading anything else she writes. 

Last year I read and loved Jason Reynold's Ghost. When I was able to download an e-galley of the sequel Patina from Edelweiss, I did a happy dance and decided to save it for the Readathon. It is also great and I'm sure I will be revisiting it on audio when it comes out in August. 

After two contemporary novels (three, including my audiobook!), I needed to switch things up a bit, so I picked up some fantasy. I'm about halfway through The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco and really enjoying this one, as well. I have realized that I love fantasy about witches and magic, especially on the darker side of things, so this is pretty much right up my alley. 

And when my eyes need a break or I need to do some cooking or laundry, I've been putting on my audiobook, More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera, read by Ramon de Ocampo. Here's another case where I really enjoyed Silvera's more recent release and wanted to go back and read his debut. It's great, too. 

So, a great Readathon for me so far with a lot of diverse books that I'm really enjoying! It's thunderstorming outside this morning, so a perfect day to cozy up inside and read. Here's to more great books today! 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

#24in48 Starting Line

Yaaaay! It's here! The 24in48 Readathon! The goal this weekend is to read for 24 of the 48 hours between midnight Friday and midnight Sunday.

I'm not much of a night owl, so I've scheduled this post and will begin reading whenever I wake up Saturday. It's been a beast of a week, so hopefully I will actually sleep in a little bit. I'd like to read for at least 20 hours this weekend; 24 hours will be a stretch goal for me. :)

Here's my reading pile:

And I've got tons of galleys on my Kindle, too:

Plus, I keep forgetting and then remembering with delight that I have Patina on my Kindle, too. I've been saving it for this weekend, so that's one I'll tackle for sure! 

I will NOT be reading all of these. I love to have lots of choices for Readathons, so I surround myself with great books. If I finish five books this weekend, I will be thrilled! 

My husband C will be reading this weekend, too, although probably less diligently than I. He's got his stack ready to go. Lots of anthologies, which are great for finding new authors. He just finished a massive Stephen King reading project, so he's ready to discover some new fantasy and horror.

I'll post a couple of times throughout the weekend, but I'll probably make more frequent updates on Litsy and Instagram, so feel free to follow along! If you're doing the Readathon this weekend, let me know! I love the camaraderie of everyone reading together, even though we're not physically together!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

#24in48 is Coming!!

Friends, the next 24in48 Readathon is coming up THIS WEEKEND, Saturday, July 22 and Sunday, July 23. Will you join me?

The goal of the 24in48 is to read 24 of the 48 hours between 12am Saturday and 11:59pm Sunday. You don't have to read any certain number of book and you can set your schedule so that you can sleep and get other things done.

I have participated in the past 3 readathons and it's been a lot of fun. I'm going to spend some time before Saturday getting my reading piles all ready to go. And then you can catch me updating Litsy probably more frequently than I will update here (although I will try to update the blog at least a couple of times throughout the weekend).

Won't you join us??

Monday, July 17, 2017

Summer Reading: A Blast from the Past

I don't know where they came from. Someone must have cleaned out a cabinet somewhere. Suddenly, there appeared these boxes.

Boxes of stuff from past Summer Reading Clubs, dating back to the 1980s and 1970s. 

So, a couple of weeks ago on a quiet Friday morning, I delved into these boxes to take a look at our summer reading past before the boxes went to the Indiana Room for archiving in our library history files. 

Some of what I found is delightful, so I wanted to share with you today. :) 

Apparently our Summer Reading Club used to be a lot more collaborative with our neighboring libraries, including the Louisville Free Public Library across the river. Check out these mascots! And yes, our mascot for MANY years was a rat named Floyd the River Rat who was "a retired river boat captain". For MANY years. You will see him again. 

Do you remember the California Raisins? They did a Summer Reading campaign in 1989! Sometimes my library participated in national or statewide campaigns and sometimes we went our own way. 

I have no idea if this was a large scale campaign, but I find the image unfortunate. (What must parents have thought?! Or is it only me whose mind goes there?)

Of course there was a roller skating theme in the '80s! Lots of the coupon prize packs I found had tickets to local roller rinks (which are no longer in existence, sadly). 

As promised, here's Floyd the River Rat again in an Indy 500-themed club called the "Reading 500". As far as I can tell, 1982 was not any kind of special anniversary year for the Indianapolis 500, but I'm sure it was a popular theme nonetheless! 

This might be my favorite of the ones we had in our boxes: a 1978 play on the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind. 

And I have to give a special mention to this dinosaur-themed Summer Reading Club log, which was not ours (it was from the Louisville Library across the river), but I would participate in this club in a heartbeat. Hmm. It was 1987 when I would have been turning 5 years old, so it's possible I DID participate.... Look at those bones to write your books on! Yes, please. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Summer Check-In #3

This week we met our signup goal!!! My director challenged us to sign up 5% of our population, which almost doubled how many we had been typically signing up. I was Very Skeptical. But we did it! Early this week she told us that whenever we met our goal, we would get to wear jeans for the rest of the summer, so the faster we met it the more jeans days we would get. And we hit our goal on Wednesday!

Also this week, I hit my wall where I started really wishing for summer to be over. It's a fun time of year with tons of families visiting us, but it's also time to start thinking about planning fall programming and the projects we need to be working on. It's hard to get started on that (even mentally) when you're giving so much energy to the summertime crowd.

Luckily for us, our summers here are short now. School starts in less than 2 weeks and we put up our Back to School displays this week.

Things have been hopping, but they are starting to slow down as people go on vacations and start squeezing in the last things they want to do before school starts. We are starting to get lots and lots of SRC finishers coming in to collect prizes and we're having to refill our prize cart at least once a day. We've run out of our marshmallow building Science Activity Pack, so we took that off the menu. 

Our Summer Reading In Your Neighborhood sites have slowed down, too. After the schools' camps ended in June, we no longer had a captive audience and we moved some of our sites and we've had (comparatively) few visits. It's got me thinking and thinking about what we're going to do next year - there's a lot of potential to capitalize on daycares and summer camps and maybe make it more of a mobile service (a mini-bookmobile) with one or two stationary spots that are more central to where people ARE. I'm wondering what would happen if we set up at Walmart on Saturdays, for example. Or maybe we need to be at a playground near public housing in the evening. 

I will meet with our interns to debrief the #instaLibrary program next week and my staff and I will talk about it at our department meeting. I want to get everyone's ideas for what we should keep  the same and what we should change and how we can keep building on this service. 

This week on our Engineering Table, we built with cardboard boxes, which means that my office finally doesn't look like a trash heap. ;) Although this is a very simple and obviously a homemade activity, this is one that I wanted to make SURE to include because this is a cheap activity idea that any parent could do at home. I don't get to throw them away quite yet; we're still saving these boxes for next week's Build-a-Thon program, which is going to be our last big children's program of the summer. 

Ms. B has been working on the Build-a-Thon program, which will be a self-directed building program. She's got several stations planned where families can build with all kinds of different materials. We'll set up all the stations and leave them up for several hours. We can bring out all the Engineering Table stuff we've used throughout the summer, plus our Lego collection. She's printing out tangrams that the kids can cut out and try to make the tangram shapes. And I don't know what else! I am very excited to see and I hope we have a great turnout. 

Our "reading log" continues to grow and I've noticed lots of kids and parents still stopping to take a look. Next year I'd love to explore ideas on how to make it a little less raggedy-looking. Of course I can laminate, but I also want to make it easy for my staff to add to it and laminating adds another step. Any other ideas? 

If you're still in the middle of everything (or maybe towards the beginning of your summer), I wish you strength. If you're starting to see the light at the end of summer, I wish you strength.  How's your summer going?

Monday, July 10, 2017

All's Faire in Middle School

All's Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson. Grades 4-7. Dial Books for Young Readers, September 2017. Reviewed from ARC provided by publisher.


This fall, Imogene will be running from a dragon, forced to talk to crowds of strangers, and cleaning up horse poop. But even scarier? She'll be starting middle school.

Imogene has grown up in the Renaissance Faire, a magical place frozen in time where knights still joust, people feast on giant turkey legs, and the queen visits from time to time. She's finally old enough to join the cast as a squire, an apprentice actor, this season. And after years of homeschooling, she's decided to start attending the local public school.

This means the first time trying to find all her classes, figuring out who to sit with at lunch, dealing with mountains of homework, and trying to make friends with a bunch of strangers. And just when Imogene starts to think she's got everything figured out, everything goes horribly wrong.

My thoughts: 

Okay, I loved ROLLER GIRL, but this one is even better.

Victoria Jamieson presents a story about navigating middle school but with a twist. Imogene's grown up with her Renaissance Faire family. Every summer since she can remember, she's worked at her parents' shoppe and this year she's finally becoming an apprentice in the cast. She's also starting middle school (her choice) after years of being homeschooled. Middle school, it turns out, is trickier than Imogene had anticipated and she finds herself navigating a twisted maze of friendships, mean girls, strict teachers, and potential love interests. 

The Ren Faire theme is woven cleverly throughout the book - each chapter begins with an illuminated panel that harkens the reader back to books of the Renaissance time. Little details like Imogene's natural habit of thinking "Oh, fie!" when something goes amiss or her parents friends coming over for a roleplaying game really bring the Ren Faire culture to life. 

There are so many little recurring things that bring the entire novel together in a really nice way. There's the "scooch" to signify kids making room for friends. Imogene first experiences this with a wave of relief as one of the girls from her science class scooches over to make room for her at the cafeteria table. Later in the book, it comes back in, signifying that a rift is starting to mend. 

The narrative explores not only the complicated nature of middle school friendship, but it delves into class issues a little bit, too. Imogene never felt like she was lacking until she started comparing herself to the other kids at school, and in particular the queen bee of her group of friends. Suddenly she needs the right shoes, the right brand name jeans, etc. etc. Suddenly, her Ref Faire life doesn't feel like enough, when it always did before. 

I know there's a lot here that will be captured in a reread and this is the type of book that begs to be read again and again. 


This is a surefire hit for fans of Raina Telgemeier's Smile, Cece Bell's El Deafo, or Shannon Hale & LeUyen Pham's Real Friends. Hand it to them post haste, for it's sure to garner many admirers. Huzzah!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

#MGDebutBundle Giveaway!!

I love my favorite authors as much as the next gal, but there is something about checking out DEBUT authors that is extra special. You never know when you might discover a new favorite!

To help celebrate some 2017 middle grade debut authors, I'm hosting a giveaway of middle grade debut book swag!

To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter entry below! This giveaway is open to folks in the US and Canada.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

In this #MGDebutBundle, the winner will find a variety of bookmarks, pencils, stickers, and postcards for each of these fantastic debut novels:

IT’S A MYSTERY, PIG FACE by Wendy McLeod MacKnight
AHIMSA by Supriya Kelkar
THE VANDERBEEKERS OF 141st STREET by Karina Yan Glaser
ZINNIA AND THE BEES by Danielle Davis
FORGET ME NOT by Ellie Terry
UNDER LOCKER AND KEY by Allison K. Hymas

In addition to all this amazing loot, each swag bundle comes with one hardcover copy of a book in the QUARTZ CREEK RANCH series, by Kiersi Burkhart and Amber Keyser.

Check out the hashtag #MGDebutBundle on Instagram for more pics of this great loot!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Red, White, and Blue Storytime

I had a BLAST this morning with my Red, White, and Blue storytime! I wasn't sure if I would have many come - lots of families are on vacation and making this a long weekend - but we ended up with a great crowd and they were so into everything.

I wanted to do something a little related to Independence Day, but I don't like to do holiday storytimes, so I went with the theme of Red, White, and Blue. Not only does this tie into the holiday without being overtly holiday themed, but it gives a lot of flexibility in planning so you can choose your favorite stories, felts, and rhymes.

I wore a red and blue dress in honor of this storytime and realized that I was twinning our Spider Man mannequin.

Here's what I did: 

Opening Song: My Hands Say Hello

(Red) Book: The Little Mouse, the Red, Ripe Strawberry, and the Big, Hungry Bear by Audrey and Don Wood (Child's Play, 1984). 

I love this book because of the humor and because kids really have to take in the illustrations to get the humor in the story (and it's a large book with big pictures that is easy for a group to see). There's a lot that you can talk about with kids in this book. I especially like pointing out the mouse's facial expressions and asking how he's feeling. This is a great way to model for parents how books can help you have a conversation about emotions. 

One of my preschoolers pointed out at the end that we never saw the bear in the book, so we talked a little bit about how we heard about the bear and we were maybe a little afraid of the bear, but we never actually saw the bear.

Rhyme: Five Little Apples

I use a bear puppet with this rhyme and he "eats" the apples off the tree. Children can play along with me by using their five fingers as the five little apples. Hearing rhymes helps children hear that words are made up of smaller sounds. This rhyme also practices counting down. 

Five red apples, sweet to the core.
Bear came and ate one and then there were four.

Four red apples, sitting in a tree. 
Bear came and ate one and then there were three. 

Three red apples, one for you and you and you.
Bear came and ate one and then there were two. 

Two red apples, shining in the sun.
Bear came and ate one and then there was one. 

One red apple, left all alone. 
Bear came and ate one and then there was none.

(White) Book: It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G. Shaw (Harper & Row, 1947).

This classic picture book shows lots of different shapes - many different shapes a cloud could be. I found it fascinating that during my reading, lots of kids called out possibilities of what "it" was. Slime! Water! Play Dough! But no one guessed a cloud until the very end. 

Action Song: "Jump Up, Turn Around" by Jim Gill from his album "Moving Rhymes for Modern Times"

At this point, everyone was a little squirrelly, so we all stood up for an action song. I like to sing in storytime, but sometimes it's nice to use recorded music in order to expose families to new songs and artists. This song is not only fun and silly, but when dancing to it, children are practicing gross motor skills (jump up, turn around) and following directions (a school readiness skill).

Felt: Red, White, and Blue (Source: Mel's Desk!)

For this felt, you just place shapes on the board and say their color. "This heart is red. This fire engine is red. This apple is red." And THEN... "This snowflake is red..." The kids will immediately howl with laughter and correct you. Then you continue on the next line, and so forth. The very last piece will go with any line since it is red AND white AND blue!

Oh man, the kids LOVED this one. They laughed and laughed when I said the wrong color and they were happy to jump in and correct me. This is the perfect age (3-5 year olds) to do this felt with! It's fun, but it also helps them practice colors and it gives them a sense of empowerment when they know better than the librarian (hey, librarians don't know EVERYTHING). 

(Blue) Book: One Little Blueberry by Tammi Salzano (Tiger Tales, 2011).

The rhythmic, rhyming text of this picture book describes groups of bugs chasing one little blueberry as it rolls down a hill. It's a cute book to share in summer or spring when you're seeing a lot of bugs (and/or berries) around. Again, rhyming text is great for helping kids hear the smaller sounds in words. And this book counts up from one to ten as more and more bugs join the chase. A surprise ending lends a little whimsy to the tale. 

Scarf Activity: Fireworks!! Because I had planned a fireworks craft station for afterwards, I wanted to incorporate fireworks into the storytime somehow. Scarves were the perfect fit. I passed them around and we did our usual warm up activities (wave high, low, fast, slow) and we waved them in the shapes of lines and shapes (helping to practice or introduce this knowledge, which helps with letter recognition later on). Then I told them we were going to make our scarves into fireworks. 

I had them scrunch their scarves into little balls and then we tossed them up in the air and yelled "BOOM!" We did this several times and then I asked them to look and notice what color scarf they had (they will take a minute to shout out the color to you, just wait). And then I called for the fireworks one at a time by color. After that, we all did our fireworks together one last time for a grand finale!! And then I called them to bring me their scarves by the color so we could put them away.

This was a really simple, basic activity, but the kids had a lot of fun with it! We made a connection between our activity in storytime and an activity they may be doing with their family later tonight (watching fireworks). We also practiced gross motor movements, following directions, and identifying colors. 

Play Stations: 

  • Blocks (we always have this one available) 
  • Scarves (I dumped the scarves out onto  the floor so kids could interact with them)
  • Color sorting boxes
  • Firework craft!

I don't always do a craft, but when I can think of a simple, fun craft I like to offer it. I searched on Pinterest for non-messy firework crafts (no paint or glitter for me!) and found this easy craft that uses solid color cupcake liners to make fireworks. All the kids had to do was cut along the ridged part so it would spread into a firework shape and then glue onto black construction paper. Thanks, Pinterest!

This is a great craft for practicing scissor skills and I really encouraged the parents to try to let their little ones do the cutting. Here's another connection from storytime to watching fireworks with family (our town's firework show is tonight!).

And I put up a display of red, white, and blue books for checkout:

All in all, the kids had a fun time and I had a blast! If you don't like or don't have the books mentioned here, feel free to substitute books of your choice! 

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Summer Check-In #2

Woohoo! We've made it to the halfway point of our Summer Reading Club! Five weeks down, four weeks to go! (Yes, our students start back to school July 26 - we're on a balanced schedule!)

It's that time in the summer when many of our popular series are checked out and we're constantly making trips back and forth from the shelving carts. As soon as a Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Captain Underpants, or Elephant and Piggie book comes back in, someone wants to check it out again. (Which is awesome!!!)

We put up some VERY EASY displays during summer so that we can highlight books without having to spend a ton of staff time searching for thematic books. Under our large bulletin board, we keep a display of books that we grab from the recently returned carts at Circulation. 

Not only is this super easy for us to fill, but it's a popular display because lots of people want to read what others around them are reading. Often this display is filled with new and popular series.

The other easy display we do is our "Librarian Favorites" display. No involved searching necessary, just take a stroll through the stacks and pull out your favorites and put them out for everyone to see. We have a older child favorites display with chapter books, middle grade, and nonfiction, and we have a younger child favorites display with picture books and easy readers. It's fun for staff to get to highlight their personal favorites and it even helps us do a little self-directed reader's advisory when staff are busy helping lots of people.

Of course, we like to display the new stuff we're reading this summer, too. Our staff "reading log" is growing weekly and I've seen lots of kids and parents pausing to check it out and asking for the books shown.

Our Engineering Table continues to be a fun activity for the kids. This past week, we put out our letter builder set from Lakeshore Learning and kids had fun making letters and all kinds of different things with it.

Our entire library staff has been working very hard on getting people signed up for the Summer Reading Club and we're at about 90% of our sign-up goal! As we pass the halfway mark, a lot of people think maybe it's too late, maybe they missed their chance, and we're encouraging them to continue to sign up and participate. There's still plenty of time to read and earn prizes. It's more important than ever to ask every person if they've signed up for the SRC so we can nab that last 10% and meet our goal.

How's your Summer Reading Club going? Everyone holding up okay?

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Preschool Storytime: Construction

I did preschool storytime for a packed house earlier this week and it was a great crowd for Construction storytime! I had done a construction storytime theme previously, and there are so many great books to choose from that I chose all new ones. When I do storytimes in the summer, I make sure to mention that children of all age can do the Summer Reading Club and earn prizes. I also grab some of our paper reading logs and encourage families to take them. Ideally they will create their online account and sign up, but if it's easier for them to keep track on paper we can catch them when they come in to collect prizes and have them make their account.

So, storytime! Here's what I did:

Opening Song: My Hands Say Hello

Book: Tap, Tap, Bang, Bang by Emma Garcia (Boxer Books, 2010).

This book has such fun sounds and bright, colorful pictures. Garcia puts a sound effect with each tool and she includes basic tools like a hammer and a screwdriver and also some that kids may not be familiar with like a vise and a level. This is a great storytime choice for including vocabulary words and it has a great rhythm and word sounds to it, which help kids hear that words are made up of smaller sounds.

Rhyme/Fingerplay: Five Little Nails
Source: Mel's Desk

Five little nails, standing straight and steady.
Here I come, with my hammer ready...
Bam, bam, bam that nail goes down
Now there are just four nails to pound.

I used my prop and had the children hold up their fingers as their "five little nails" and use their fist as a hammer to gently hit the nails in. Some were able to join in on most of the rhyme as we kept repeating and everyone LOVED shouting out "Bam, bam, bam!" together. This rhyme helps children practice counting down and it exposes them to rhyming words, which help them hear that words are made up of smaller sounds.

Book: Billions of Bricks by Kurt Cyrus (Henry Holt, 2016).

As soon as I saw this book last year, I knew I wanted to use it for a program during our Build a Better World Summer Reading Club. It has a really great rhythm and rhyming words and uses a lot of great vocabulary words. Before I started reading it, we talked about the word "Billions" and whether it meant just a few things or a lot of things. The complete text was maybe a tiny bit long for my group and I would probably shorten it a few spreads if I did it again for this age group. I think this would also work well with school age kids, particularly in conjunction with any kind of building or engineering program.

Song: "Dump Truck" (to the tune of "Ten Little Indians")

Bumpity-bumpity goes the dump truck,
Bumpity-bumpity goes the dump truck,
Bumpity-bumpity goes the dump truck,
Duuuump out the load!

(Credit: Pre-K Fun via Storytime Katie)

Because I was doing this with a preschool audience and we definitely had some wiggles to get out, I had everyone stand and bounce or jump along. After we did this once, we did it again SLOW (like we were carrying a reeeeally heavy load!) and then FAST (like the dump truck was empty and we were whizzing down the street!). 

Book: Dreaming Up by Christy Hale (Lee & Low, 2012). 

So, I ended up skipping this one because I had a huge crowd and although I love this book I wasn't sure it would hold their attention for long enough. Featuring a diverse cast of kids, each spread shows children building or creating and then a photo of a real architectural structure in the same style. It has a lot of interesting illustrations that would be fun to talk to kids about. This is another one that I think would work with older kids, too. I just had too many squirrelly kids for two books at the end and I thought Rex would hold their attention better.  

Book: Rex Wrecks It by Ben Clanton (Candlewick, 2014). 

When his friends build creations, guess what Rex does? That's right - he WRECKS THEM. Until, that is, they all discover that they can have more fun working together. This is a fun story about something that's familiar to kids - it's fun to wreck the things you've built with blocks and it can be very tempting to knock over others' creations, too. We talked a bit about emotions with this book - how do Rex's friends feel when he wrecks their buildings? How does Rex feel when they build without him? Talking about and identifying emotions helps children start to learn how to regulate their own emotions. Pointing out these talking moments in storytime helps model for parents how they can use books to start these conversations. 

Closing Song: Do You Know What Time It Is? 

Play Stations:

We got out lots of building stations this week! I always get out our wooden blocks. Today I put out shapes on the felt board for kids to "build", Duplo Legos, and two of our previous Engineering Table activities (building with pool noodles and the Billy Goats Gruff set from Lakeshore Learning). 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Lego Challenge Nights

We started Lego Challenge Nights this summer as a way to add an evening program to our packed summer calendar. Since the program is relatively self-directed, it's a fairly easy program to offer and it doesn't require a huge amount of advance prep, set-up, or instruction.

It's been a kind of surprise hit this summer, attracting way more people than our Lego Club had attracted in previous years. I think part of that has to do with how we're marketing it ("Lego Challenge" sounds more mature and more interesting than "Lego Club") and part of it has to do with setting it up out in our department instead of in a meeting room (more visibility = more kids joining in).

I handed this one off to my staff to plan and they have really done a great job with it. Ms. A came up with the weekly Lego Challenge topics. Our first week, we challenged them to build a robot and our second week we challenged them to build dinosaurs. Ms. T is the one actually running the program and she does a great job of building suspense for the challenge so that it feels  more like an actual PROGRAM and less like a self-directed activity. As families came in and started asking about it, she would let them know that the program started at 6pm and the week's challenge would be announced at that time.

She put up tables in the department and put out our Lego collection. Once she announced the challenge, kids and families went to town, building their creations. As kids finished up, they brought their creations to the desk to tell her about them. She took photos of them and talked to the kids about what they had come up with.

We do not offer any prizes or judging of the creations. That's not what this activity is about. We asked kids to challenge themselves to come up with an original creation, either working by themselves or with friends and family.

After the program, Ms. T created a poster with the photos she took and posted it in our room so that everyone could see some of the creations the kids came up with. Hopefully this will spark some interest for future weeks!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Summer Check-In #1

We're two weeks in over here and holding up strong! These first two weeks of the summer were the most stressful of the summer for me personally, with launching and attending our first week of #instaLibrary outreach sites. Now that I've turned that over to my staff, I hope the rest of the summer will be relatively easy...!

Our director challenged us to sign up 5% of our service population for the Summer Reading Club (which almost doubled past signups) and we're getting closer to our goal each day. We still have about 1000 signups needed (children, teens, or adults) to reach our goal, but we can do it!

We've had lots and lots of kids coming in for their along-the-way prizes, which actually surprised me. I thought for sure most families would wait until the end and get everything at once, but it's been great to see everyone visiting the library multiple times to collect their prizes. We're using our Science Activity Packs for the along-the-way prizes and luckily have actually had a bunch of teen volunteers coming in this summer, so we have them work on whatever we're running shortest on.

The Engineering Table continues to be a lot of fun for everyone. This week I put out cut-up pool noodles (which were NOT EASY to cut up with scissors... if I was doing this over I would find something else to use!).

One kind of surprise hit has been our weekly Lego Challenge. Last Monday was our first one of the summer and we got WAY MORE attendance than we ever had with our weekly Lego Club. A couple key differences:

1. Marketing. Calling it a "Lego Challenge" instead of a "Lego Club" appeals more widely to our kids and families. Even though we're not really doing anything super different, kids love to be challenged and see what they can come up with.

2. We're setting it up out in the department instead of in one of our meeting rooms. This not only makes it hopefully a little easier to run (since the staff person on desk can supervise instead of having to schedule an additional staff person to run it), but it makes it way more visible. Families that just happen to be visiting the library are more apt to join in since it's very easy to see that something is going on.

I had added that program as an easy weekly evening program, just so we had SOMETHING to offer folks in the evening. But the first week was a hit, so I'm excited to see what the rest of the summer will bring. More on that program later. ;)

And of course we are reading, too, this summer! 

Has your Summer Reading Club started yet? How's it going??