Monday, May 30, 2011

Gettin' Ready for 48-Hour Book Challenge

Oh, I'm enjoying my Memorial Holiday weekend, for sure. But I'm also really looking forward to next weekend, which is like another holiday weekend at my house... It's the 48-Hour Book Challenge!

I'm saving some books I have really been looking forward to. I'm making a list of all the yummy snack foods I want to stock up on. I'm thinking about what my goal will be.

And most of all, I'm looking forward to dedicating an entire weekend to reading and to bonding with my blogging community. If that sounds like an awesome weekend to you, head on over to MotherReader and sign up for the challenge!

The more people who participate, the more fun it will be!

(Want to see what the challenge might be like? Check out my posts from previous 48HBCs!)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Summer Reading Club (Week 1)

Photo Credit: TheCreativePenn
Yes, Summer Reading Club has begun at my library. I'm aiming to write a post about it every week as we go through the summer and today I'd like to talk about sign-ups.

I already talked about our promotional visits to the schools. We finished up the last of our visits this week (hooray! No more early mornings!) and starting signing kids up on Monday. To sign up, kids or parents come in to the library and fill out our registration slip. We enter all the registrants into a computer database that our IT guy created, but we have paper slips so that we can keep track and so that when we have a line at the desk, more than one person can be filling them out at once.

For the first few weeks of summer, we have a special table set up at the entrance to our department. This table is staffed in the morning and afternoon and is only for SRC sign-ups. We have all the materials on a cart so that in the evenings when we have only one staff person, we can wheel it over to the reference desk. We'll take this table down once sign-ups start to slow down.

We allow parents to sign up their kids even if their kids are not present, but of course kids can sign themselves up, too. When people sign up for the Summer Reading Club, each child gets a sign-up packet and a plastic bag to hold their books this summer.

In the sign-up packet, we include: 

 1. A Reading Log. We ask kids to read either 20 books or 1000 pages to complete the Summer Reading Club. They can be any books they want, all we ask is that they're reading books at their reading level. If they want to keep reading after they get their prizes, they will get an additional chance for the grand prize drawings for every 20 books or 1000 pages they read.

2. An Instruction Sheet. We includes all the rules and information about the club (including ending date!) on an instruction sheet that every child will get. We have not done this previously and, while we're always happy to answer questions about the club, we're hoping that this will cut down on the number of people who forget what they're supposed to do or what the deadline for reading logs is.*

3. An entry form for the Dollars & Sense program. One of our local banks partnered with us to provide a financial literacy program for kids. If the kids read a book about money this summer, they can fill out the form and their name will go in a drawing for a $50 Savings Bond (donated by the bank). We create a display of money books that we keep up all summer long.

4. A book review form. If kids read a book set in another country, they can fill out a book review form that we'll put up on our Reading Around the World bulletin board. I wasn't sure kids were going to be interested, but we've already had several submit reviews! Watch the ALSC Blog for more info (and pictures) about this next week!

5. A slip for our adult Summer Reading Club. Our library started an adult Summer Reading Club several years ago and this year our department is really trying to help them promote. We've announced it at all the schools we've visited and we're including an entry slip with all our kids' packets. For the adults, they don't register them the way we register the kids. Each time an adult reads a book, they can fill out a short review slip and submit it for a prize drawing. I'm hoping this will really help boost their numbers. We also can sign up teens for the Teen Summer Reading Club. We hate to send anyone to a different desk to sign up, in the fear that they might not make it before walking out the door. A bird in the hand, and all that...

6. A bookmark. Kids are always needing bookmarks and we like to include a little something extra for them. In the past we've done stickers, door hangers, temporary tattoos, and other things. This year I decided to keep it simple and use that money on other things, so we're just doing a bookmark.

We also started a Pre-Readers Club this year in an effort to make the Summer Reading Club more beneficial to babies and toddlers. We've always allowed parents to sign up their very young children for the SRC and previously they just counted the books they read to them/with them. This year, we're offering the option of a pre-readers game board where parents can check off early literacy activities that they do with their children. I'm hoping this will help educate parents that many of the things they already do with their children help develop early literacy skills!

Here's our Pre-Reader gameboard. Please feel free to borrow, steal, edit, and use for your own purposes! We don't give our pre-readers the bookmarks, book review forms, or Dollars & Sense forms, although if anyone asks for them we're more than happy to give them out.

And we aim to be flexible with our Summer Reading Clubs. We give parents the option to do the new Pre-Readers Club or choose the reading log and write down the books they're reading together. Parents with older and younger kids might read to them all together, or maybe little brother wants to do everything that big brother is doing. Maybe a parent with a special needs seventh grader wants to sign up for the children's club. Maybe an advanced fifth grader wants to sign up for the teen club. I'm all about bending the "rules" to make patrons happy.

What do your kids get when they sign up?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Reminder: Audiosynced is coming up!

Remember, AudioSynced is coming up on June 1!

Did you review or post about audiobooks this month? Don't forget to drop me a link so I can include it on our June 1 AudioSynced Roundup! Leave a link in the comments here or shoot me an email at!
If you're taking a road trip for the Memorial Day holiday weekend, that's the perfect time to listen to some great audiobooks!!


Slob by Ellen Potter. Grades 4-7. Philomel, 2009. 199 pages. Review copy provided by publisher for Young Hoosier Book Award consideration. **This review reflects only my own opinion, not necessarily the opinion of the YHBA Committee!!**

It's not easy being the fat kid. Owen Birnbaum can tell you that. Gym class is the worst, between changing in the locker room and a gym teacher who seems out to get him. Every day Owen looks forward to lunch and the three Oreo cookies he's allowed to have (a concession from his diet that Owen insisted on). So when his Oreo cookies start disappearing from his lunch bag, Owen's got a problem. He's also got a suspect: Mason Ragg, the scary new kid with the scarred face and the switchblade in his sock (or so the rumors say...). Now, what's Owen going to do about it?

What I like best about this book is that almost nothing is as it appears. It's a slim book, but it's filled with little twists and turns, nudging the reader to keep going, to find out what it's all about. Ellen Potter keeps up the suspense at just the right pace, revealing little things about Owen's past that start to make more and more sense as the reader puts everything together. This is more than just a story about a fat kid. It's a story about seeing more than what's in front of you, about looking deeper to find out what really matters.

I immediately liked Owen as a protagonist. The book's told in the first person and Owen has a smart-but-self-deprecating persona that reminded me of Oliver Watson from I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil... except not annoying. Other characters in the book are similarly well-developed. Owen's little sister Jeremy (well, her given name is Caitlin, but since she's joined the Girls Who Are Boys club, she goes exclusively by Jeremy), Owen's neighbor and friend Nima, a Tibetan immigrant who runs a food cart and offers Owen Buddhist advice.

I'd hand this book to kids who are looking for school stories that delve into more serious subject matter, like Blubber by Judy Blume, Firegirl by Tony Abbott, or maybe Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary (the lunch theft particularly reminded me of this last one!).

Slob is on shelves now!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tweens Night @ the Library

Ah, the tweens.

Not really children anymore, but not quite teenagers... What do we do with the tweens?

Well, my library just hosted our first Tweens Night at the Library!

At my library, the Children's Room serves birth through roughly fifth grade and it's located downstairs. Books for 6th-12th grade are housed upstairs in the Teen Scene. Where it gets a little sticky is that transition period from the Children's Department to the Teen Scene. Middle grade readers may start venturing into the teen section on their own because they see a series they like is shelved there. Sometimes this makes mom and dad a little uncomfortable, thinking that their ten-year-old may be exposed to some subject matter he or she is not ready for. And sometimes the kids are reluctant to leave what they know and start looking in a new area.

To help ease the transition for both parents and kids, our teen librarian R and I hosted Tweens Night at the Library. Here's what we did:

First of all, we publicized at all the middle schools as we were doing our Summer Reading Club visits last week. We also sent out publicity through all of our normal channels. I definitely want to do more Tweens Nights, so I'm thinking we may create a list that parents can sign up to be notified when we'll be having our next one. We ended up having 13 tweens, along with their parents, which is a nice turnout for us.

We started up in the Teen Scene and R gave a tour of the area, pointing out the series, graphic novels, fiction, nonfiction, new books, and booklists that are there. Kids who have been using the Children's Room for so long that they know where all their favorite books are shelved now have a better understanding of how the Teen Scene is laid out.

R also talked about the Teen Scene Initiative (TSI), our teen advisory board. We emphasized that this is an easy and fun way for kids to earn service hours and to help us make the library a more awesome place for teens. And also, we always have food. Kids can join TSI starting in 6th grade, so we want to encourage them to get involved.

After the tour and the spiel about TSI, I talked a little bit about how to pick out good books in the teen section. I reminded everyone that we collect books for 6th-12th graders here, so not every book is going to be appropriate for every age. There is some edgier stuff in there, BUT there are also a lot of books that are just right for their age, too.

We shared with them my list of Great Tween Reads as a starting point to some of the great tween books available. I also mentioned the Young Hoosier Book Award nominees, which are different each year. We have some of those in the teen area and some of them in the children's room and they make great choices for kids in 5th-6th grade.

Of course, you practically have to pay me NOT to booktalk, so I shared brief booktalks of some of my favorite tween reads:

Heat by Mike Lupica
Gimme a Call by Sarah Mlynowski
Airborn by Kenneth Oppel
The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman
Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon & Dean Hale, illustrated by Nathan Hale
Chasing Lincoln's Killer by James L. Swanson
Written in Bone by Sally M. Walker
Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

All of them were snatched up after I finished, which is the best compliment a booktalking librarian can receive. I actually received a wonderful compliment from one of the moms, too. She said, "You picked out good books!" And when I told the parents that there's nothing wrong with adults reading teen books, this mom pointed out that reading the books your kids are reading might entice them to actually talk to you!

That is exactly what I wanted our parents to get out of this program - to be reassured that there were appropriate books for their kids in the teen section and that they should be involved in their kids' reading. Of course, throughout the evening, R and I both emphasized over and over that librarians are always here to help parents and kids pick out books that will be appropriate and enjoyable for them. I always tell them that if nobody asked us any questions, we'd be out of a job and that would be very sad for me, so please come ask me questions!

After the book talks, we led the kids downstairs to the Small Meeting Room where we had board games, a make-a-book craft, snacks, and our Wii set up. We let the kids chow down and go to town with the games and crafts. We also did sign-ups for the teen Summer Reading Club. The entire program took about 30-40 minutes and then we let the kids hang out for about 30 more minutes before closing down shop.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable evening with some great kids and parents. It was gratifying to me to see some of the kids I knew from the Children's Room being interested in "moving up" and I hope that everyone left with an idea of some good books to check out. I also hope they will all join TSI and come back for our programs this summer. ;)

Tweens Night is definitely something I'd like to repeat. I'm thinking I'd like to offer it two or three times a year, maybe just after school starts, during Winter Break, and right before school lets out for the summer. I think these are kind of "transition-y" times when kids might be looking for something to read. It was not a difficult program to put together and I think it really served its purpose.

What are you doing to serve tweens at your library?