Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Help Me Help You: Summer Reading Edition

CC: KOMUnews
Awhile back, I did a series of posts called Help Me Help You: What Librarians Want Patrons to Know About the Library. Since we've all got Summer Reading Club on the brain, I thought this was an awesome time to add a SRC post. So, here's what I want non-librarians to know about the Summer Reading Club:

**Note: each library's Summer Reading Club is going to be different: different goals, different prizes, etc. This is just kind of a general, universal guide...**

The goal should NOT be to collect trinkets or coupons. The real prize of the Summer Reading Club is the fun of reading awesome books for free all summer long!

Okay, we have prizes to motivate kids to read. And we expect that many of the kids may be more excited about getting a free ice cream or a toy than about reading. But parents, we need you to concentrate on the actual goal of the Summer Reading Club and gently steer your kids in that direction. And the actual goal is NOT to collect a thousand cheap plastic toys or stuff the grand prize entry box with entry slips. The actual goal for your child is to keep up his or her reading skills during the summer break from school.

The Summer Reading Club is one of those things where you get out of it as much as you put into it, and kids are going to follow your lead. If you emphasize the importance of tangible prizes above all else, that's what they're going to come to value. Alternatively, if you emphasize the intrinsic value of reading, learning, and practicing skills, that's what they'll value.

Joining the Summer Reading Club does NOT mean you have to come to the library every day.

Summer Reading Clubs differ from place to place, but typically libraries reward kids for reading (anywhere - home, on vacation... anywhere!). Some libraries do have programs in place that reward kids for visiting the library on a regular basis.

Hey, if the Summer Reading Club requires your kids to read a certain number of pages or books, count 'em up before you bring your log in.

Not only does that make it quicker and easier for you to get your prizes, but it lets your child practice their counting or addition!

If the reading log asks for a list of book titles, let the kids write titles in their logs if at all possible.

Literacy is reading AND writing. Letting your kids fill in their own reading logs helps them practice their writing skills over the summer, too. Bonus! If your kid's reluctant to do that, offer to switch off with them and ask them to write every other title.

Please be patient as we check out (and check in) your books!

Hundreds of families are checking out books every day and mistakes may happen! If you think you returned something but it's still checked out on your account, let us know asap and we'll look for it!

We also appreciate your patience with, well, all librarians during the summer

We want to help you, we do. But sometimes we have five programs in one day and hundreds of kids coming in to sign up and/or check in for the Summer Reading Club. We might have to help some other people first. Please, please be patient with the librarians during the summer. 

We love for you to come to our programs! Program attendance may be limited due to space, supply, or performer restraints. Check to see if you need to pre-register for a program and call to reserve your space as soon as possible

If you find you're not able to attend, please call and let us know. We can give your space to someone else who wants to attend the program. I promise librarians understand that things come up, especially when dealing with kids. We won't be mad if you call to cancel! We might get frustrated if you don't show up and we had turned someone away because the registration was full. 

Assigned summer reading from the school is different from the public library's Summer Reading Club. 

But since I know many schools across the country require some kind of reading assignment over the summer, here are some things I want you to know about summer reading assignments...

If you wait until 2 weeks before school starts to tackle your summer reading assignment, you might not be able to get the book(s) from the library

Even if just one teacher assigns a certain book as summer reading, that could be as many as 20-30 kids trying to get it from the library. And the chances that we'll have 20-30 copies of the same book? VERY slim. We really do try to have those books on the shelves, but we don't always know about school assignments until people start coming in and asking for the books. And we're not always able to buy lots of copies of the same book. Getting the reading done early will ensure that your child has access to the book(s) he or she needs. And if you wait until the last minute, it's amazing how a librarian's sympathy for your plight can dry up. 

If you do wait until the last minute for your assigned summer reading, consider alternate sources for the book

Can your child borrow it from a friend? Can you buy it from a bookstore? Does your teacher or school have copies they can lend out? If your library has reciprocal borrowing, can you get the book from a neighboring library system? Might it be available online through Google Books or an online database to which your library subscribes?

If you do get the summer reading assignment done early, please return the book ASAP

Others are waiting for it. :)

So, librarians, what else do we want patrons to know about the Summer Reading Club? 

My Summer Reading Club update: 

I've been at ALA most of this week, but I'm happy report that we're 6 weeks down and only 4 weeks to go! My library's got just over 1900 kids and just over 400 teens signed up for Summer Reading. These are numbers that make me happy! This week we had the zoo come and started our teen Anime Club. 

Summer Reading Club post roundup!!

Anyone else post an update on your Summer Reading Club this week or last week? Leave me a link in comments and I'll post 'em here.

Field Acquisitions
Lit Chat For Kids
rovingfiddlehead kidlit
What Happens in Storytime - Week 2 and Week 3

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The good times, they rolled

I'm sitting here in the NOLA airport, ridiculously early for my flight because I'm always worrying that the shuttle will be late or the lines will be long. And since I have some time to sit and think, I thought I'd jot down some thoughts about #ALA11. Annnnd I warn you that I got about 3.5 hours of sleep last night, so it's possible this may not be completely coherent. ;)

This was my first American Library Association Annual Annual Conference and, to be honest, I was a little bit completely overwhelmed. I will write a couple of posts about specific, very awesome things that happened at #ALA11 (BFYA teen session, Odyssey Award Reception, and some fabulous publisher events...). But right now, I want to give myself (and you, maybe) some advice for my (your) next ALA Annual Conference.

Make a freaking plan.

I was glad I had a couple of specific events that I wanted to make SURE I did, but I wish I had had more of a plan overall. My plan to hang out with my librarian buddies and tag along to whatever sessions they went to didn't pan out so well when it turned out that we mostly had publisher events on our agendas. On Sunday, I finally got my act together and wrote out a schedule for myself and it made me feel much better. I wish I had done more planning before I left.

Make two freaking plans.

This didn't happen to me, but I heard from other attendees that some of the sessions they had planned on attending were canceled or moved to other locations or full. In some cases, they couldn't find the rooms. (The Convention Center is HUGE.) So, have a back-up plan just in case your schedule doesn't go as planned.

Throw your plan out the window.

Sometimes you need a break. Conference is intense. Long days on your feet, late nights and early mornings. And remember that even though you're in New Orleans (or Anaheim or Chicago) and it might sometimes feel like you're on vacation (what with the airplanes and using a travel toothbrush and all), you're working. Don't be afraid to skip a session if you seriously need a nap or if you're burnt out and want to get some beignets. (OMG the beignets!!!) For most sessions, you can probably get notes and slides online. If you miss something, even something you really wanted to get to, it'll be okay.

Track down the authors you love and make sure you talk to them

I had the good fortune to run into my buddy Antony John, dance to 80s music with Laini Taylor, hear Daniel Handler play the accordion, and meet one of my audiobook idols Katherine Kellgren. These were definitely highlights of my conference. If someone you love is signing or speaking, make time to see them! Also know that if authors are signing finished copies, they will run you $5-20. (For most books, paperbacks were $5 and hardcovers were $10, though Rick Riordan's were $20.)

Know your galley limits.

If you like to troll the exhibit hall like I do, you'll have to set limits on the number of galleys you're picking up. Instead of turning into a whirling dervish-style Tasmanian book devil, take time to talk to publicists, ask about in-house favorites or particular genres your kids or patrons like. Don't get me wrong, I love to scoop up free books for my teens (and myself, ahem), but there's only so many books you can actually READ before the next conference. And remember to consider shipping/transportation costs! 

Ship books early and often.

Don't miss out on conference stuff because you're standing in line to ship stuff home! Scope out your FedEx or UPS or post office (whichever you prefer) and make a plan for shipping galleys or other swag home.

Check a bag and make it weigh exactly 50 pounds.

I won't stop bragging about this for a long time: my checked bag on the way home was exactly 50 pounds (that's the limit). It may be impossible to repeat this feat, but it may make sense to check a bag in order to get some of your galleys home. (However, it cost me $50 in checked bag fees to transport the books in my bag & carry-on, which was probably 40-50 pounds of books total. It cost me about $30 to ship 36 pounds of books FedEx. So weigh the convenience for yourself.)

Be sure to check out non-conference hotels

Yes, you can reserve a hotel room through ALA, and this might be your cheapest option and it might be the most convenient... but it might not. The hotel I stayed in was not a conference hotel, but it was directly across from the convention center, had free internet, and the cost was comparable to what some of the ALA hotels were charging. At Midwinter, a friend booked her hotel through Priceline for a much cheaper cost than my ALA hotel. 

Talk to people on the shuttles, in line, in the elevator...

Librarians are Everywhere at conference and for the most part they are friendly, awesome people. They might be in a completely different field than you are, and that's great! You just never know who you might meet and where those casual connections might lead. 

Have business cards and hand them out!

EVEN LIBRARY STUDENTS and RECENT GRADS! You can find companies online that will print business cards on the cheap. Places like Staples or Kinkos also print business cards. Put your contact information, including email, Twitter, and any other online presence you have. Don't be afraid to offer your card or ask for someone's card if they're someone you think you might want to get in touch with. You don't have to be pushy about it or even network aggressively if that's not your thing. Just make sure you give people a way to remember you and contact you if, say, they know of a job opening in your area. 

Some of these tidbits are things I happened to do right this time around, some of them are things I did wrong and will fix next time around.

So, what about you? If you went to ALA11 or have been to Conference before, what do you wish someone had told you before you went? 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Summer Reading Club (Week 5)

I'm currently in New Orleans attending the ALA Annual Conference, but I wanted to make sure I had a Summer Reading Club post for this week. Today I want to talk about a few of the things that we do to make our Summer Reading Club easier (and I also want to know what you do at your library to make your program run smoothly, so be sure to contribute in the comments!).

Summer is a stressful time for public librarians. Summer Reading Club, summer programs, and kids' vacation from school all combine to greatly increase the traffic in the library. And the other work doesn't stop just because I have 100 people in my department asking questions. I still have to put in book orders, sign time sheets, put in purchase orders so our performers can be paid, and attend meetings.

So here are a few things that we've done at my library to make the Summer Reading Club go a little more smoothly:

Make sure all staff members are informed about the SRC and summer programs.

Before SRC starts, I put together a Summer Reading Club FAQ that details everything I can think of about our summer reading club. From who may participate to the process for sign-up to what prizes are available. This is quite a long document! I make SURE all staff in my department are familiar with it and ask if they have any other questions before I print out a copy for my desk. This is helpful for part-time staff members, especially at the beginning of the summer. Then I email it to every person at our library. I can't sit down and force them to read it, but it's there for them to reference if patrons have questions and it helps the staff feel like they know what's going on.

Another children's librarian I know hosts a staff breakfast/meeting where she presents all the information about the Summer Reading Club so that everyone can be informed. I love this idea, but for my library it's pretty difficult to get everyone together at one meeting, which is why I use email.

I have also been sending out a library-wide email every week listing all the programs for the week and brief details such as target ages and whether they require registration. At the very least, this informs other staff (including our director) about how MUCH we're doing! And it's possible that it helps staff in other departments feel more empowered because they know what's going on and can answer patron questions.

Distribute SRC registration forms to all public service desks.

I don't expect our Circulation staff to sign up families, give the spiel, or hand out Summer Reading packets, but I do like to have some of our registration forms at every desk. I do encourage Circ staff to mention the Summer Reading Club, especially to patrons checking out kids' books. If a patron doesn't want to come all the way back to the Children's Desk, Circ staff can still hand them a registration slip and tell them to turn it in the next time they visit the library.

Find out what's stressing out the Circulation staff and do everything possible to fix it.

The youth librarians are not the only ones whose workloads greatly increase in the summer. Suddenly all our shelves are bare and guess who has to deal with all those books going out and coming back in? The Circulation Department. You want more library staff to buy in to the importance of Summer Reading and help you promote? Make it as easy as you can for them!

I found out through a break room conversation that one thing that stressed our Circ staff out about summer was the fact that patrons would check out the maximum number of books (50 per card) at one time. Then when they brought those books back, they'd want to check out another 50 books. Circ staff would have to stand there and check in the first batch before they could check out the next batch because of the limits placed on accounts. So I spoke to our managers about it and we decided to increase the cards' limits on the back end. Patrons are still limited to checking out 50 items, but we've increased the number in the computer system to 100 items so that Circ staff can go ahead and check out the next 50 items to the patron and then check in the returned books when they have a chance.

Also, when we had a cart of books from our department that needed to be reshelved, we used to wheel it over to Circ for them to place on the big carts that the pages reshelved. It resulted in too many carts cluttering up the Circ area and stressing out the staff. So now we keep the reshelving carts at our desk and the pages come and work on them after they finish shelving the other carts. It doesn't really affect us and it makes things easier for the Circulation staff.

Sometimes very small changes can go a long way towards making the summer easier!

Allow casual dress (or some other perk) during the summer.

This might not work at every library, but I proposed that our Circulation and Children's staff be allowed to wear jeans & sneakers while the Summer Reading Club is going on. Again, this is a small thing, but I think it really goes a long way towards improving staff morale. If administration isn't crazy about casual dress all the time, perhaps they'd allow staff to wear jeans & sneakers if they wear them with a Summer Reading Club shirt during the summer. If that's not an option (or you already allow casual dress), maybe there's some other perk you could offer just during the summer months that would have employees look forward to summer. Maybe you could have a radio playing in some areas, allow snacks at the desk, host a weekly pitch-in (um, that's a potluck in case you're not from Southern Indiana...), have games or movies in the staff lounge, or something else! If you're not sure what that would be, ask your staff what would motivate them!

Figure out something that volunteers can do to make your life easier and not harder.

Oh, volunteers. Figuring out work for them to do that doesn't create more work for you to do can be tricky. And it can be tough to discern kids who actually want to volunteer from kids whose parents are looking for free babysitters. Honestly, I am open to tips about using volunteers because I know my library has lots of room for improvement in this area.

When kids approach us about volunteering in the library, we give them a list of the programs that we have scheduled and ask them to sign up to volunteer at programs. For most programs when we have volunteers we use them to pass out or refill snacks and supplies and to clean up. Young volunteers are also great help for decorating rooms, setting up tables and chairs, and taking down tables and chairs after the program is finished.

This year, we've had a lot of parents wanting to sign up their kids to volunteer weekly at certain times. Generally, we tell them that we don't always have tasks for volunteers to do every week, but we can always use help straightening up the shelves. We have volunteers take a cart around and pick up books that are stacked on tables and the ends of shelves. After that, we ask them to straighten up shelves so that the books are standing upright or go through our paperback spinners and put books in the appropriate slots. Some volunteers can be trusted to shelf-read, but our library has been such a mess this summer that it's all we can do to stay on top of the straightening.

If you want to use volunteers for shelf-reading or shelving, check out this online program for shelving/shelf-reading training put together by the University of Texas Library: Order in the Library. (Thanks to Kate for that link!)

So, librarians, what tips can you share on stuff that makes your Summer Reading Club go more smoothly? Anyone have great ideas for working with volunteers?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

And I'm Off!

And I'm off to New Orleans for the 2011 American Library Association Annual Conference!

Although I have my beautiful plaid netbook this year, I can't promise there will be a lot of blogging here during the conference. I CAN promise that there will be TONS of tweeting, so follow abbylibrarian on Twitter (and follow hashtag #ala11 in general). 

I will also be posting short posts at the ALSC Blog, so make sure you're checking that out. :)

To all attending Conference, travel safe and COME SEE MY POSTER SESSION
To all living vicariously, I will try my best to take lots and lots of pictures. 

Laissez les bon temps roulez!!

SYNC starts today!

The first free downloadable audiobooks are up today at SYNC! Head on over there and download Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater or Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare (um... or both!). Start your audiobook habit today!

Monday, June 20, 2011

ALA: Here's Where I'll Be!

I can't tell you how excited I am to party hard learn and grow with my fellow librarians this weekend at the ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans!

Will you be at ALA? I would love to get together!

Although my schedule's a little fluid, here are some events/sessions I am going to make sure to attend:

Friday, June 24 from 3:00pm-4:00pm in Convention Center Room 271-273 - The Emerging Leaders Poster Session! Come see my group's presentation and learn all about how you can make your videogame collection the best it can be!

Friday, June 24/Saturday, June 25 during the wee hours at OZ New Orleans (800 Bourbon Street) - ALA Dance Party!!!

Saturday, June 25 from 8:00-11:00pm at Tommy's Wine Bar (746 Tchoupitoulas Street) - The Great YA Blogger Meetup!

Sunday, June 26 from 1:30pm-3:30pm in Convention Center Room 255-257 - Best Fiction for Young Adults Teen Feedback Session. (It will always be BBYA to me...) This was one of my favorite things at the Midwinter Conference. These teens speak so eloquently about the books they love (and hate!).

Sunday, June 26 from 4:00pm-5:30pm at Marriott at the Convention Center - Teen Services Mashup. Our own Kelly of Stacked and Sarah of YA Librarian Tales are presenting during this table talk session!

Sunday, June 26 from 6:00pm-10:00pm at the Marriott New Orleans - Newbery/Cadecott/Wilder Banquet. I did not splurge for a banquet ticket, but I might try to grab a seat in the back to hear the speeches.

Monday, June 27 from 4:00pm-5:30pm at the Convention Center Room 356-357 - Odyssey Award Presentation and Reception. I am going to get all !fangirl on Katherine Kellgren and Nick Podehl!!! :D

Monday, June 27 from 8:00pm-10:00pm at the Hilton Riverside - Printz Reception. I did splurge for a ticket to this one.

So, if you're going to ALA, look for me in those places. I will be tweeting the conference (follow abbylibrarian) while I'm there! If you want to meet up, tweet me or shoot me an email at I tried and failed to meet up with some awesome people at Midwinter, so I know how busy and overwhelming it can be, but I promise I'm going to try to do better this time!

And HEY, I'll also be blogging the conference along with a cracker jack team of bloggers over at the ALSC Blog. Please, please comment on that post (or this one) and let me know what YOU would like to hear about (and see pictures of!). I'll try my best to cover it. :)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Around the Interwebs

The blog's gonna be relatively quiet next week whilst I prepare for and attend the ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans (are you going? Make sure you stop by the Emerging Leaders Poster Session to check out some seriously awesome projects, including mine!). So here's some reading material for ya...

Check out the first roundup of the Light and Round Project! This is a seriously awesome list of YA books that the opposite of dark and edgy (light and round, get it?). This project was created in response to that terrible WSJ article (you know the one I'm talkin' 'bout). Check it out and help spread the word!

Fourth of July's coming up... what to do for storytime? That is a TOUGH one, but Mel's got some great Fourth of July storytime ideas!

Over at Not Just Cute, Amanda shares some ideas for expanding some of her kids' favorite books. She shares some great ideas for parents reading aloud with kids and possibly for libraries, too/

Jen Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page has a post up at PBS Parents with tips on encouraging your kids to read over the summer. I love to see this since I'm all about encouraging kids to read in the summer.

Don't forget that SYNC starts Thursday, June 23 with their first audiobook giveaways! Download one for your summer road trip or use this as an excuse to finally give audiobooks a try!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Summer Reading Club (Week 4)

Whew. Another week of programs, another week down!

This week, our sign-ups have finally started to slow down (for the past three weeks I think we've been averaging about 100 sign-ups a day with some days spiking to nearly 200). We've also had lots of kids finishing and collecting their prizes. I love talking to the kids about the books that they really enjoyed and recommending other books for them to try!

Last year, one of our librarians put together book lists of recommended reads for each grade and these are especially helpful in the summer when we have a lot going on. I can hand a 3rd grade book list to a parent and get them started looking through it and then check back on them when the line at the reference desk goes down. I make sure to let the parents know that every child's reading level is going to be different, so what we call the "third grade book list" might be appropriate for their 1st or 2nd grader or even their 4th or 5th grader.

This summer, I really wanted to have drop-in programs every week for all ages so that every week there would be something a family could come to, even if they didn't register in advance. Our registered programs almost always fill up early and have waiting lists in the summer and while we do our very best to make sure we don't turn people away, sometimes we have to.

At our library, I can generally count on about a third of registered kids to not show up, even after making reminder calls and getting confirmations. We almost always have a few extra spaces and can accommodate kids who show up but hadn't signed up or kids on the waitlist. However, I always tell the parents of waitlisted kids that they know their kids the best and if their child is going to be crushed if they come and we don't have room for them, they probably shouldn't risk it.

In addition to our drop-in programs (movie Monday, storytimes, and Open Art Studio), we hosted a Fruishi program about Japan (making fruit sushi), a book discussion on Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins, and tomorrow we're having an African Drumming workshop put on by a local professor/musician. Not all of our programs this summer are centered around the One World, Many Stories theme, but this week happens to be a heavily international programming week!

It's been a good, busy week, and we're almost halfway through Summer Reading Club. :)

Let's check in with some other Summer Reading programs around the blogosphere: visit Allison at Reading Everywhere, Jennifer at Jean Little Library, Rita at Screwy Decimal, Marge at Tiny Tips for Library Fun, Lisa at Under the Covers, Kelly at Field Acquisitions, Rachée at Lansdowne Public Library, and Mollie at Miss Mollie's Storytime Fun. Anyone else have a post about Summer Reading Club this week? Leave a link in comments and I'll add it!

 Also check out posts from...
Anne at So Tomorrow
Jessica at Musings + Teen Librarian 
Katie at Read What You Know

Annnnnd here's my reading log progress:

How's your summer going?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Audiobook Review: Virals

Virals by Kathy Reichs, read by Cristin Milioti. Grades 7-10. Penguin Audiobooks, 2010. 9 hours, 43 minutes. Reviewed from purchased audiobook.

Publisher summary*:

Tory Brennan, niece of acclaimed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan (of the Bones novels and hit TV show), is the leader of a ragtag band of teenage "sci-philes" who live on a secluded island off the coast of South Carolina. When the group rescues a dog caged for medical testing on a nearby island, they are exposed to an experimental strain of canine parvovirus that changes their lives forever.

As the friends discover their heightened senses and animal-quick reflexes, they must combine their scientific curiosity with their newfound physical gifts to solve a cold-case murder that has suddenly become very hot if they can stay alive long enough to catch the killer's scent.
Fortunately, they are now more than friends they're a pack. They are Virals.

Y'all, this one had me on the edge of my seat. Seriously. I listen to audiobooks in two main ways - my car on my commute to and from work and on my iPod as I'm waiting to fall asleep.** Well, SOMETIMES I can fall asleep listening to an audiobook. But for Virals, that was just not going to happen. 

I have never read any of Kathy Reichs's other books and I have never really watched Bone (I think I have seen maybe one or two episodes), but this story was a wild, fun ride and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I love that Virals stars a kick-butt heroine who's running with the boys instead of sitting at home planning her cotillion dress. Now, yeah, this isn't great literature, but I enjoyed it so much that I didn't mind suspending my disbelief pretty far. I can't wait to booktalk it to my teens because I think they are really going to dig it, too. 

I think the book worked well in an audiobook format. I appreciated Cristin Milioti's somewhat husky voice that's different from the typical teen girl voice that a lot of narrators use in YA audiobooks. She does a nice job of keeping characters separate, although she does make some odd choices as far as accents. Some characters have a deep Southern drawl, while others speak Standard American English with seemingly no rhyme or reason to it. The audio effects are nicely done (and poor use of effect really grates on my nerves). Music swells to a fever pitch as Tory and her friends discover a human body buried on one of the islands and a metallic sound precedes each of the Virals' flashes as their animal super-senses switch on. 

I'd hand this to teen science fiction fans, particularly fans of Margaret Peterson Haddix's Found series or kids who liked the Animorphs series in elementary school. 

Check out more reviews at Reading with my Ears (audiobook review) and Forever Young Adult

Virals is on shelves now!

*I know, I know, I'm sorry. I almost always write my own summary, but it's Summer Reading Club and the publisher just said it way better than I ever could. Sorry. 
**I am a TERRIBLE sleeper. Having something to distract me from my stupid brain really helps. I <3 the Audible app and its sleep timer.

Hey, I'm an Audible affiliate, so if you purchase items after clicking on the links here, I may get a small commission.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

What I Do at Baby Storytime

CC: Cesar Rincon
Although I've occasionally posted lists of books that I use in my Mother Goose on the Loose baby storytimes, today I'm going to post about the program itself. Before I do, I want to urge you to attend a Mother Goose on the Loose training with Dr. Betsy Diamant-Cohen because it is FABULOUS. My staff and I attended a one-day workshop where we got hands-on training and we came away excited about the program and confident that we could offer it ourselves. Our patrons love the program *and* it's easy to offer every week because a lot of it is repeated from week to week.

We hold Mother Goose on the Loose for 0-23-month-olds on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10:00am. It's drop-in and we generally have between 5-10 babies at each session (siblings are always welcome). Last summer we only offered one session and it was getting really crowded with between 15-20 babies at each session, so we expanded our offerings. The attendance has gone down towards the end of our spring series, but I'm hopeful that it will pick up again in the summer. As the babies age out, they "graduate" to Toddler Time.

We started offering this program in January 2010, after my staff and I attended the aforementioned Mother Goose on the Loose training (seriously, do it - you won't regret it!). After doing the program straight from the planning pages of the book for awhile, I've come to customize my plans for it so that I'm doing what works for me and what my patrons seem to like.

So, here's my basic program outline:

Greet Parents/Spiel: I make sure to tell them that it's okay if their little one is walking around or making noise. That's what babies do! It's more important to me that this be a positive experience for all the kids than for it to be "orderly". I also make any announcements that I have.

Opening Rhyme (said every week):
Old Mother Goose, when she wanted to wander
Would FLY through the air on her very fine gander!

I repeat this rhyme and let them know that they can lift their child or their arms up on the word "fly" if they want to.

Opening Rhyme (said every week):
Goosey, goosey gander 
Where do you wander?
UPstairs and DOWNstairs
And in my lady's chamber!

Again, we say it twice and I let them know that they can lift their child or their arms on UP if they want to.

Book: I choose a different book each week and I try to choose something that encourages the parents and kids to interact in some way. I like books that I can sing, books with a repeated refrain (especially if I can pair a motion with it), or books where we can count together. If a book is long, I shorten it! I have compiled a few lists of the books I have successfully used: What to Read at Baby Storytime #1, WTRABS#2, WTRABS#3.

Rhyme (repeated every week):

I totally stole this from Mel's Desk!

[suit actions to words]
This is big, big, big
And this is small, small, small
This is short, short, short
And this is tall, tall, tall

This is fast, fast, fast
And this is slow, slow, slow
This is yes, yes, yes
And this is no, no, no

Rhyme with Puppet: I do a nursery rhyme with an animal puppet. When I first started doing this, I was choosing a different rhyme for every time and having a hard time coming up with enough animal rhymes for which we had puppets (we have a very weird puppet collection). Now, I pick three or four rhymes for the 8-14-week series and I'll repeat each rhyme for several weeks. For instance, I'll do "The Bear Went Over the Mountain" for four weeks in a row and then switch to "Hey Diddle Diddle" for four weeks, etc.

I always say the rhyme twice and ask parents to join me if they know it. For some of our attendees, English is not their first language, so I never assume that everyone's going to know a rhyme. After we say the rhyme, I take my puppet around the circle and say hello to each child. This helps them get to know me and feel more comfortable with me.

Song (repeated every time):
[To the tune of "The Farmer in the Dell"]
We hit the floor together,
We hit the floor together,
We hit the floor together, 

Because it's fun to do!

I repeat with different actions: clap our hands, nod our heads, we sway from side to side, we all say hello!

Flannel Board Rhyme: I choose a different rhyme or song here each week and usually only use one basic flannel piece for it.

Body Rhyme (repeated every time):

I have used different ones, but right now it's

Where, oh where, are baby's fingers?
Where, oh where, are baby's toes?
Where's the baby's bellybutton?
Round and round it goes!

Where, oh where, are baby's ears? 
Where, oh where, is baby's nose?
Where's the baby's bellybutton?
Round and round it goes!

I ask parents to touch each body part on themselves or on their child to help them build that vocabulary.

Fingerplay or Other Body Rhyme: I choose a different rhyme each week here.

Knee-Bouncing Rhyme: We usually do:

Mother and Father and Uncle John
Went to town, one by one!
Mother fell off! [lean over to one side]
And Father fell off! [lean over to the other side]
But Uncle John went on and on and on and on!

I repeat it and sometimes I'll do another knee-bouncing rhyme because we all love them so much!

Animal Sounds: I do a song that features animal sounds. Although I have been known to do "Old MacDonald", I generally do this one:

I went to visit the farm one day
Saw a cow along the way
And what do you think the cow did say?

[repeat with different animals]
As we're saying this rhyme, I use a farm animal book to show pictures of different farm animals. My favorites are The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle and On the Farm by David Elliott. This was a tip from Betsy Diamant-Cohen - using books in this way for a song shows parents that they don't always have to read every word on the page in order to learn from and have fun with books! Choose a book with large, clear pictures of the animals.

Drum Time! (repeated every week) Now it's time to get out my drum. I get out my little tambourine drum that I have and we say this rhyme:

Rum pum pum!
This is my drum!
Rum pum pum!
This is my drum!

Then I go around the circle and give each child a chance to hit out the syllables in their name. If kids are too little to do it, parents can take their hand and help them. And we do one beat for each syllable. I demonstrate with a couple of names, either of my staff or of some of the kids in the room. This is a GREAT activity for phonemic awareness and would be great to do with older children, too. By the time my babies get ready to graduate, some of them are doing this on their own. This is also a great activity for me so I can learn all their names.

Marching: Since I have my drum out, we do a little marching around the room. We always play a stop-and-go game and sometimes I will sing a song like "The Ants Go Marching" or "Down by the Station". I always end with:

Handy Spandy (repeated every week):

Handy spandy, sugar and candy
We all jump IN!
Handy spandy, sugar and candy
We all jump OUT!
Handy spandy, sugar and candy
We all jump UP!
Handy spandy, sugar and candy
We all SIT DOWN. 

Bells: Next, I hand out the bells and we shake them to a song. Then I put on a little music that has a strong beat and we shake them to the beat. Most of the kids probably are not actually shaking to the beat, but it's great for them to hear music and I try to incorporate many different kinds of music from all over the world. I choose CDs we have in our collection and I rip each song onto one CD that I can use for the whole series. (So, for Week 1 I use Track 1, for Week 2 I use Track 2, and so on. That makes it so easy to pull up the music!)

Humpty Dumpty (repeated every week): After we put the bells away, it's time for Humpty Dumpty! We all say the rhyme together and then I put my felt Humpty Dumpty up on the felt board and invite each child to come up to the board and pull Humpty off. After each child has his or her turn, we give him or her a great big round of applause. It is amazing how fast the kids learn how to do this. I remember the very first week of offering Mother Goose, the kids all just stared at me. Now they know as soon as we say the rhyme and they get so excited about it!

Goodbye Song (repeated every week): "Do You Know What Time It Is?"

After we sing our goodbye song, I bring out some toys, put on some music, and we have about 10-15 minutes of play time. I always pull a little display of books and encourage parents to check them out. If I'm on top of things, I grab some music CDs and baby sign language DVDs to add to the display.

Somewhere in the program, I throw in at least one developmental tip. I write them on small post-it notes and on my planning sheet I indicate where I want to interject it. This can be as simple as explaining why it's good for little brains that we practice animal noises.

As you can see, a LOT of the program is repeated from week to week. I always change up the book, a few of the rhymes and fingerplays, and the music we use with the bells. I'll also usually change up the marching activities. And whenever I get bored, I'll switch up one of the repeated rhymes for the series.

We also use several of these rhymes and activities with our Toddler Time program for 2's and 3's. I like that this provides a nice continuity for the kids who are "graduating". And one of the nice things about a baby program is that the kids "age out" fairly quickly, so you can repeat your favorite books and rhymes over and over again. Of course, one of the terrible things about a baby program is that the kids "age out" fairly quickly and then you miss them! But my babies always come back to say hello. :)

If you do baby programming, make sure that you're checking out Jennie's Library Noise blog where she blogs about her baby storytimes and Mel's posts about her baby storytime over at Mel's Desk.

Do you do baby storytime at your library? What are some of your favorite books, rhymes, or songs to use?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Got a Videogame Collection?

Now, y'all know that I have been working on this project for the ALA Emerging Leaders. Of course, I promised you updates as I went along and instead I have been, y'know, working. And it's just about time for us to present that work to everybody at the ALA Annual Conference!

Are you thinking about starting a videogame collection for your library? Are you wondering how to take your videogame collection to the next level? Join the 2011 ALA Emerging Leaders Team G for a poster presentation on videogame collection development at the ALA Annual Conference on Friday, June 24, 2011 from 3:00pm – 4:00pm in Conference Center Room 271-273.

Team G, comprised of Erik Bobilin, Abby Johnson [that's me!], Kate Kosturski, Jonathan Lu, and Nicole Pagowsky, will present information on issues and best practices when developing a video game collection, including Circulation & Access, Selection & Purchasing, Weeding, and an ideal MARC record. The team surveyed public, academic, and school libraries across the United States and Canada and spoke with experts in the field to find out what innovative ideas might change what we know about videogame collections in libraries.
ALA’s Emerging Leaders program allows new professionals to gain experience and create personal networks within the American Library Association by working with a group on an assigned project.

For more information, check out the team's website:

If you're going to be at Annual and if you're free Friday afternoon, please come by! I would love to see you and, if I say so myself, we've got an awesome presentation for you. If you're collecting videogames or thinking about starting a videogame collection, this is the place to be!

If you're not attending the conference or if you've got pre-cons or something else more important than me going on Friday afternoon, worry not! All our information will be posted online and I'll be sure to shove that down your throats share the links when it's all up and ready.

PS: Who else is excited about NOLA?!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Summer Reading Club (Week 3)

View of our prize boxes
Heh. You may have noticed that this blog has been relatively quiet this week. Can you guess that our summer programs started this week? Starting this week, we've got programs nearly every day (often multiple programs on the same day) until the end of July. And with one person on vacation this week... we were a little busy, which means I was a little exhausted when I got home each night.

Still, everything went smoothly and we've had lots of people coming in for programs, so that is always great. I started Mother Goose on the Loose up again, which is awesome because I missed my babies. I also held the first meeting for our Teen Literary Magazine and it was even more awesome than I thought it was going to be. (Post on that coming up later...)

Here's our complete list of programs for the week:

Monday - Monday matinee movie. We have a movie license and we encourage patrons to bring their own snacks.
Tuesday - Mother Goose on the Loose and Toddler Time in the morning, the wonderful Cynthia Changaris, storyteller, in the afternoon.
Wednesday - Mother Goose on the Loose and Toddler Time in the morning, Teen Literary Magazine in the afternoon
Thursday - Family Storytime in the morning, Teen Gaming in the afternoon
Friday - Open Art Studio
Saturday - Bi-lingual Spanish/English storytime

And of course, we're still signing kids up for the Summer Reading Club and checking them in as they complete their reading logs. Our bulletin board is going like gangbusters with reviews of some of the books we've recommended and some that kids have found on their own (super!).

I have noticed a bunch of posts about Summer Reading Clubs popping up, which I think is awesome! I love seeing what other libraries are doing and it's so interesting to see how libraries come up with different ideas using the same themes!

Check out: Katie's post at Read What You Know, Jessica's post at Musings + Teen Librarian, Jen's post at NerdGirl Blogging, and Mollie's post at Miss Mollie's Storytime Fun. Don't miss Miss Julie's frank post about why she hates Summer Reading.

Has anyone else posted about your Summer Reading Club? I'd love to collect the links and check out your Summer Reading Club is run. Drop me a link in the comments so I can do a roundup!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Light and Round

CC: Alibri
In response to this weekend's Wall Street Journal Fail, blogger Jennifer Bertman has created the Light and Round Project. The basic idea is that she will host a weekly roundup of reviews of YA books that are the opposite of "dark and edgy" (light and round, get it?) in order to showcase the wide variety of YA titles available.

In Jenn's own words:

To give up on contemporary YA altogether would be missing out on the rich variety of writing that is out there. The perception that there's no variety in YA isn't true. Dark and edgy may be popular, and it absolutely deserves its spot on the shelf, but there are plenty of options and variety for people who are seeking something different.
But the problem is, how to find it? You can be looking in a crowded cupboard for salt, and someone can tell you the salt is there, but if you can't see the salt yourself you won't be able to pull it off the shelf.

So I propose something I'm calling. . .


Of course we know that sometimes teens want or need books that are "dark and edgy". But it's true that sometimes teens want something else. The purpose of this project is not to put down books that deal with heavy issues, but to give more exposure to titles that are a little lighter. Let's come together to create a weekly book list that shows the incredible titles teens have to choose from when they don't want something dark.

Jenn's going to host a weekly roundup on Wednesdays (and older reviews are fair game), so make sure you head on over there to submit your link(s).

Sunday, June 5, 2011

#48HBC Finish Line!!

Awoohoo, I've just crossed the finish line for the Sixth Annual 48-Hour Book Challenge!!

Here are my official totals for this year's challenge:

Time spent reading: 24 hours
Time spent blogging: 4 hours
Time spent social networking: 3 hours

Total challenge hours completed: 31 hours

Number of books read: 7.5
Number of pages read: 2179

I finished  the following books for the challenge:

Divergent by Veronica Roth
The Elephant Scientist by Caitlin O'Connell & Donna M. Jackson
Glass Houses by Rachel Caine
Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers (audiobook)
Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez
Science Fair Season by Judy Dutton
Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

And about half of The Lost Crown by Sarah Miller.

I chose longer books this year and I think I chose very well because I really enjoyed each of the books I completed for the challenge this year. My favorite was Science Fair Season, but Wonderstruck was a close second.

I made my goal of reading for 24 hours and completing 30 challenge hours, but it was definitely a challenge to make that goal! Being able to listen to an audiobook really helped make use of little snippets of time and break up the eye-reading. I made an effort to Tweet and comment on people's blogs, and the social networking aspect of the challenge also helped to break up the reading, although it seemed to me like people were doing less of that in general this year and less blogging during the challenge, too. I didn't choose as many shorter nonfiction titles as I had on hand last year and almost all the books I read were YA or adult, so my book count was lower than it's been before.

Thank you, THANK YOU to Pam of MotherReader for a lovely challenge weekend. She puts a LOT of work into organizing this challenge and I look forward to participating in it every year!!

And now if you'll excuse me, apparently I've got to read an article in Wall Street Journal that everyone's all upset about.

If you're still logging hours, keep up the great work!!!! If you've crossed your finish line, congratulations!

#48HBC: Lockdown

Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers, read by J.D. Jackson. Grades 8+ Recorded Books, HarperCollins, 2010. 5 hours, 3 minutes (256 pages). Reviewed from purchased audiobook.

When Reese stole the prescription pad from the doctor's office and sold it so that he'd have money for food, he knew it was wrong but he didn't see any other way of surviving. With his mom getting high and a younger sister to support, Reese needed the money. But now Reese is in a juvenile detention center called Progress, trying to serve his time without getting into more trouble. All he can think about is freedom... but will he be ready to make the right choices once he gets outside?

Lockdown gives teens a look inside the juvenile justice system and this book is sure to garner many fans, as Walter Dean Myers's other books have done. Reese is a likeable character. Sure, he made a mistake, a bad decision, but he cares about his family and he's determined to clean up his act. Being good isn't all that easy, though, especially in a place like Progress where gangs offer protection... for a price. Reese isn't in a gang, so sometimes he needs to use his fists to defend himself and his friends, but then he ends up in solitary - a place where days last for months.

One joy of the book was Reese's younger sister Icy, an exuberant little girl with big dreams. Reese's love for his sister and his belief in her is one thing that helps him try to stay on the right path. 

Walter Dean Myers does a nice job of presenting details of prison life that realistically show what it's like. I enjoyed the audiorecording as well. JD Jackson reads with a clear voice, although it occasionally feels a little stilted for a 14-year-old boy. One of the characters, a man in a nursing home where Reese goes to work, is a Dutch man from Fiji and I didn't care for the accent Jackson chose, BUT I don't have enough knowledge to know whether it was an accurate accent or not. Overall, the recording was fine, but nothing I'd write home about.

Lockdown is on shelves now.

48-Hour Book Challenge Update:
Time spent reading: 22 hours
Time spent blogging/social networking: 6.5 hours
Books completed: 7 (yay!)
Pages read: 2002

I have 3.5 hours to go until I cross my finish line at 7pm and I'm delving into Sarah Miller's The Lost Crown. I probably won't finish it today, but I'm hoping to get at least halfway through! See you at the finish line!

Hey, I'm an Audible affiliate, so if you purchase stuff after clicking on the links here, I may get a commission.

#48HBC: The Elephant Scientist

The Elephant Scientist by Caitlin O'Connell & Donna M. Jackson, photography by Caitlin O'Connell & Timothy Rodwell. Grades 4-7. Houghton Mifflin, July 2011. 70 pages. Review copy provided by publisher.

With a book in the Scientists in the Field series, you know what you're getting: a well-researched, nicely laid out book about a scientist and the work that he or she is doing. That said, not all SITF books are created equal and this is one of the better ones.

Caitlin O'Connell has been fascinated by animals from an early age. After studying insects in Hawaii, her research took her to Africa where she studies elephants. In particular, she studies how elephants communicate, and she's found that elephants are able to sense minute vibrations in the ground through their feet. Could this allow Caitlin to develop a harmless way to shoo elephants from farmers' fields or entice them back to their home areas in wildlife refuges?

A huge strength of this book is the stunning, clear photography of elephants in the wild. From aerial photography to close-ups, from seasoned matriarchs to "teeny" babies, these photos will captivate kids. Elephants are already a popular topic and this book explains some of the current research going on with elephants.

Although Caitlin studies elephants in the wild, she's also studied elephants in captivity, including one elephant who was taught to respond to vibrations in the ground in order to test her range. There is much to study about these majestic creatures, especially as humans encroach on their territory. If we're going to save elephants (Asian elephants are currently endangered and African elephants are vulnerable), we have to learn how to get along with them.

Of course, since this is a Scientists in the Field book, you can trust that it includes a nice array of back matter, including an index, glossary, bibliography, and further resources. This series will inspire young minds and The Elephant Scientist is a worthy addition to the ranks (and your shelves).

Quick 48-Hour Book Challenge Update:

Time spent reading: 20.5 hours
Time spent blogging: 3.25 hours
Books completed: 6 (yay!)
Pages read: 1749

Back to reading!

#48HBC: Rainbow Boys

Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez. Grades 9+ Simon & Schuster, 2001. 233 pages. Reviewed from purchased copy.

Kyle's always known he was gay, but he's not out yet, terrified about what his parents will think and what he'll have to face at school. Better to hide behind his best friend Nelson and dream about the sports star Jason from afar...

Nelson is out and proud and doesn't care what anyone thinks. Except he really cares what Kyle thinks because Nelson just might be in love with him...

Jason knows he's not gay because he has a girlfriend and they have sex. But then why does he think about guys sometimes? And how would he deal if anyone ever found out?

Told in alternating perspectives, Rainbow Boys is the story of three very different guys coming to terms with their sexuality.

What I love about this story is that we have three guys with very different situations trying to figure out their feelings and how to fit in at the same school. Nelson's mom is extremely supportive, vice-president of the local PFLAG chapter. Jason's dad is an alcoholic who flies into a rage at the very thought of anyone gay coming into his house.

And besides being a story about coming out and dealing with homosexuality, this is a story about a love triangle. It's a story about first times, crushes, and new love. The way Kyle feels about Jason - hyperaware of where he is at all times, tongue-tied whenever they get a chance to talk - is something that a lot of teens (gay or straight) can identify with. Likewise, Nelson's growing feelings for his best friend with strike a chord with many readers. So, yeah, this is a story about gay boys, but readers will find that they're going through a lot of the same things as straight kids.

I'm glad I finally picked up this book and I'm really excited to meet Alex Sanchez in a couple of months and hear what he has to say!

Update on the 48-Hour Book Challenge

I'm starting to close in on my time with just about 6.5 hours to go until my deadline.

Time spent reading: 19.75 hours
Time spent blogging: 3 hours
Time spent social networking: 2.75 hours
Total challenge hours logged: 25.5 hours

Books completed: 5
Pages read: 1679

If you've crossed your finish line, congratulations! If you're still going, keep up the good work!!

#48HBC: Science Fair Season

Science Fair Season: Twelve Kids, A Robot Named Scorch... and What it Takes to Win by Judy Dutton. Grades 7+ [adult, with high crossover appeal]. Hyperion, April 2011. 271 pages. Review copy provided by my local library.

The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair is serious business. This science fair for high schoolers yields huge cash prizes and scholarships to the top young scientists from all over the world. But what does it take to win?

Judy Dutton interviews eleven competitors with projects ranging from nuclear reactors to equine therapy programs to solar-powered heaters constructed from old car radiators and soda cans. Their stories will move and impress you - these are teens who are changing the face of science as we know it!

I was very impressed with this book and I'm really hoping to see it on the Alex list this year. I think Judy Dutton gets the blend of personal information and scientific information exactly right. This will appeal to both teens and adults who have particular interest in science and teens/adults who love character-driven books. As I was reading, I felt like I knew each of these kids and I was rooting for them. The stories Ms. Dutton has chosen represent students from many different cultures and circumstances. For a lot of these kids, science fairs have given them the chance to turn their lives around.

I'd highly recommend this title to anyone connected with science fairs and to teens and adults who have enjoyed books like The Freedom Writers Diary by Erin Gruwell or movies like Spellbound. Or to anyone who just wants to get inspired by the incredible work that teenagers around the world are doing!

Want an example? Here's one of the students featured:

And now for the 48-Hour Book Challenge Update....

Time spent reading: 17.25 hours (2 hours have been audiobook listening)
Time spent blogging: 2.5 hours
Time spent social networking: 2.25 hours
Books completed: 4
Pages read: 1446

Total time spent on the challenge thus far: 22 hours

I have just about 18 hours until my 7pm Sunday deadline and to meet my goals, I'll need to read for 6.75 hours and dedicate a total of 8 more hours to the challenge. I am pretty sure I can do that! But for now, I am off to bed because my brain is FRIED. (And I apologize if this review makes no sense... I'll fix it after the challenge is over!)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

#48HBC: The 24-Hour Mark

Well, I just passed the halfway point of the 48-Hour Book Challenge and things are going well. So far, I have finished 3 books and started a fourth, and I've spent 12.5 hours reading, which puts me a little farther than halfway towards my goal of 24 hours reading this weekend. So, I'm feeling good about being able to meet my goal by this time tomorrow!

Listening to an audiobook has REALLY helped. Since I've got Audible on my iPhone (so high-tech), I can switch on my audiobook any time I take a little break to, say, fix lunch or unload the dishwasher. Not only do those little increments add up in my time count (I believe I've listened to 1.5 hours so far in the challenge), but it provides a nice rest for my eyes and a little change of pace. Of course, it helps that I love audiobooks anyway and I am enjoying my chosen title (Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers).

I've really enjoyed Tweeting with everyone and checking people's blogs for updates, too! That provides a nice change of pace, as well, and it's so great to get (and leave!) encouraging comments!

I'm glad I didn't set a goal for number of books this year because I've been reading some longer novels and more YA and adult than in years past, so the reading is going slower.

Currently reading: Science Fair Season: Twelve Kids, A Robot Named Scorch... And What it Takes to Win by Judy Dutton. I'm really enjoying it and a little nonfiction is a nice change from novels!

How's the challenge going for you? If you're not participating in the challenge this weekend, are you reading anything anyway?

#48HBC: Glass Houses

Glass Houses (Morganville Vampires #1) by Rachel Caine. Grades 8+ Signet (Penguin), 2006. 239 pages. Reviewed from library copy.

Genius sixteen-year-old Claire Danvers was excited to start college and dreamed of attending an ivy league university... but instead her parents insisted on sending her to Texas Prairie University (also known as TPEwwww) since it's located in Morganville, TX, just a few hours from home. College is not all it's cracked up to be. Since insulting one of the queen bees on campus, Claire's become the target of dangerous hazing in the dorms. Since quitting school and slinking back home is not in her vocabulary, Claire looks for an off-campus solution and finds herself the newest resident of Glass House, sharing digs with three older kids. But something is not right in Morganville and all too soon Claire's caught up in the violence and power struggles that permeate the town.

If you're looking for sparkly vampires, move along. In Morganville, the vamps are not messing around.

I picked this one up on Katie's recommendation and I'm so glad I did! I absolutely can't wait to booktalk this series to my teens (um, after I replace the copies that have been stolen, that is...).

The writing is witty and the dialog is SPOT ON. I can seriously buy all the banter coming from teenagers. It's not peppered with slang that's going to date the series quickly. And I love all the characters. Claire is scrappy and tenacious. Seriously, she's like a non-annoying Scrappy Doo. She might be little, but there is no stopping her from doing something she's determined to do. Like attend calculus, even though there are vamps and militant mean girls hunting for her. And she's super protective of her friends, even though they're all older and wiser than she is. And also, I love how she lied about knowing how to make tacos. HA!

I also love the other kids living in Glass House, especially Shane who is funny and a hottie, even if he doesn't have a job. (Seriously, how fun must it be to live in Glass House with three friends your age and not have a job or classes to worry about? I mean, if you didn't have to fend off blood-sucking fiends at every turn.)

There's a lot of action, big bad vampires (there are NOT Twilight vampires!), and a dose of steamy romance towards the end. And also, the first book ends on a big ol' cliffhanger!!! So make sure you replace all the stolen copies at your library so your teens can find out what happens next.

Glass Houses probably most reminded me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer since it features teenage kids pretty much on their own against the Big Bad (not to mention the witty dialog). I'd also try it on fans of Vampire Diaries, Meg Cabot's Mediator series, and Scott Westerfeld's Midnighters series (which is, in my opinion, a grossly overlooked awesome supernatural series).

48-Hour Book Challenge Update!

Time spent reading: 10 hours
Time spent blogging: 1.5 hours
Time spent social networking: 1.25 hours
Books completed: 3
Pages read: 1175

I took a nap at 2:30, so I think I am energized for this evening... And I think I'm going to pick up a short nonfiction book next... Hmm....

#48HBC: Divergent

Divergent by Veronica Roth. Grades 7+ Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins), May 2011. 299 pages. Reviewed from purchased copy.

In a future Chicago, the population has been divided up into factions. In an attempt to eradicate war, each faction holds certain beliefs and occupies certain duties in society. At 16, kids take the aptitude test and choose whether to stay in their birth faction or transfer to another. This is a huge decision, but for Beatrice, it's harder than most. Beatrice's test was inconclusive. She is a Divergent. And she has to hide that fact from everyone, even her own family. Because society doesn't like people who don't fit neatly into boxes. Those people might destroy everything...

I don't know if that description really does the book justice, but I hope that it intrigues you enough to pick up this tightly woven, action-packed dystopian novel. I have been hearing some great things about Divergent from good friends, so I bought it as a reward for meeting my YHBA goal last month. And boy howdy, am I glad I did!

Tris (as she comes to be known after she chooses her faction) is the kind of character you can't help but root for. She's strong and capable, she's kind but not perfect (and she knows she's not perfect). And, as a Divergent, she's outside the box, not sure where she fits in. And who hasn't felt like that at some point?

Besides the nicely constructed dystopian world and the bonus of a Chicago setting (since I used to live up there, I had a good time picking out all the landmarks as they were described!), this is just a great teen novel. It's about figuring out who you are, starting to make choices for yourself. It's about Tris's struggle to balance where she came from and how she was raised with the choices she's making in her faction and the person she wants to become. And it's about finding the joy that comes from trying something new, taking a risk, and finding that you love what you're doing.

Oh, and of course there's also a dreamy romance thrown in there. To me, Veronica Roth includes the perfect amount of romance. It's slowly built up (not one of those books where their eyes meet and instantly they're inexplicably drawn together) and felt realistic. And it helps that I mentally cast Sean Maher as the leading man:

I know he's too old, but still!
Divergent is an extremely impressive debut novel and I'd hand this to your Hunger Games fans and, oh, anyone who's jumped on the dystopian bandwagon (fans of Matched, etc.).

My 48-Hour-Book Challenge Update:

Time spent reading: 7.25 hours (of this, 45 minutes has been audiobook listening!)
Time spent blogging: 1 hour
Time spent social networking: .75
Books completed: 2
Pages read: (Where's my calculator?!) 936

I woke up a little earlier than I would have liked this morning, but that's okay. I'm feeling pretty good and I might take a nap later. :)