Monday, February 29, 2016

#YesWeCrab Wrap-Up

Whew! It's been a whirlwind of a month, but our February motivational challenge has come to a close. I have to send a HUGE shout out to my ILOA friends and everyone else who participated or followed along with #YesWeCrab because I really did get a ton done this month!

I had two goals this month:

  • read 20 books 
  • and write up the four storytimes that I did this past fall and never had a chance to blog about
The four storytimes are written up and scheduled to post over the next several weeks. You can look for storytimes about fall, monsters, paint, and clothes coming up!

As for my reading, I read 23 books this month (mostly because I got an assignment to read and write up chapter books!). You can see the first half of my reading month here on my Yes We Crab check-in. The other books I read this month (excluding the 13 chapter books, which I'll be writing up for School Library Journal next month) were:

Growing Up Muslim: Understanding the Beliefs and Practices of Islam by Sumbul Ali-Karamali (Delacorte, 2012). 

I picked this one up because I was looking for a religion book for the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge and this one also fits my goal to read more teen books this year. I think this is a great book for kids wanting to know more about Islam, particularly those who may be more familiar with other Western religions like Christianity or Judaism. I definitely learned some things, too, so not just for kids, although it's definitely written with a teen's sensibilities and experiences in mind. 

In the Country: Stories by Mia Alvar (Knopf, 2015). 

This was another book for the Read Harder Challenge, a book by an author from Southeast Asia (The Philippines). This book started out strong for me, with stories that reminded me of one of my favorite story collections, Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri, but reflecting Filipino experiences. Ultimately, I didn't enjoy the stories with historical settings as much, although I did still learn a lot. 

Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan (Scholastic, April 2016). 

I LOVED this book and devoured it in one sitting (which does not happen very often with me). This contemporary story is told by two authors from two points of view: Ravi (rah-VEE, not RAH-vee) is a new immigrant to America from India and he's starting the fifth grade in his new school. Joe is a kid in Ravi's class who gets bullied because he has learning differences that the other kids can't be bothered to understand. Through a week in their class, Ravi and Joe just might discover that they can be friends even though they are very different. Short chapters and the alternating point of view keep the pages turning. This one is definitely getting added to the booktalking roster for all those kids who love Wonder. 

The Thickety: Well of Witches by J.A. White (Katherine Tegan Books, February 2016). This one is also awesome!!! I am not a big series reader - I usually read the first book and then figure I am familiar enough with it for general work knowledge - so the fact that I have stuck with this series tells you how much I am loving it! This is a fantasy adventure series rich with dark atmosphere, magic, and moral dilemmas. Even though the books are quite long, the small trim size makes the pages go quickly and it's one of those series where I just have to find out what happens next! I have been booktalking the first book in this series to 5th and 6th graders this month, which got me really excited to start this latest installment. 

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson (Random House, 2010). I did not finish this one yet, so it's not counting in my book total, but I've read about half of it, which was another unofficial goal I had for this month. We're reading this one for my Family Book Club in March and it's a long one (but SO GOOD!), so I wanted to make sure to start it with plenty of time!

All in all, it has been a GREAT month for reading!! Read more books! Yes we crab!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Librarian Stress Dreams: 'Tis the Season

If you sometimes have stress dreams about your job, know that you are not alone! This season, when we're planning for but not yet in the middle of Summer Reading Club, is the absolutely worst for me in terms of stress. There are so many moving parts to keep track of: a summer schedule of programs to put together, plan, and purchase supplies for; prizes to order; an online tracker to set up; school visits to schedule; shirts and supplies to order; partners to connect with; performers to book... Adding to my stress this year is that I'm going to be gone for 2 weeks in April for my wedding and honeymoon, so I'm really trying to get as much taken care of before I leave as possible!

I always keep telling myself that it's not as big a deal as I am making it out to be. What will happen if our t-shirts don't come in on time? Or the online registration isn't ready the exact day we want it?  Those would be inconvenient, of course, but no one will be harmed! We'll fix it and move on! Or we don't visit every single school? Or we only do 9 summer programs instead of 10 (or whatever)? Actually, probably no one will care. It'll be fine.

But, still, the stress shows up in my dreams. Here are the stress dreams I have had this week (that I can remember; I feel like I have had one every night this week).

The Reference Desk is So Busy It's Crazy

I dreamed that I was working the Children's reference desk with one of my other librarians and it was so busy that we were answering questions nonstop. So busy that when I reached for our notebook to record the questions we were asked*, I couldn't even find the book because it was buried under a whole bunch of other materials.

* We keep a statistics notebook and write down just briefly what topics or titles we're asked about. It's helpful to compile end of the year stats that we report to the state and also to keep track of topics or titles we're getting asked about that we don't have. The old notebooks also make good training tools when we have new staff, for them to practice searching for and finding things that patrons are likely to ask about. We do NOT write down personal or private information. 

Getting Yelled at by a Patron

Long story, but I dreamed I was getting yelled at by a patron who was unhappy about a project I had been working on for him.

Toddler Time in Chaos

I dreamed I was covering our Toddler Time program and there were about 100 kids in our little program room. I knew there was a song I was supposed to sing to open the program and I had the words but I couldn't remember the tune. Once I did remember, there seemed to be infinity verses and we kept singing and singing until all the kids had lost interest and were devolving into chaos. At this point, a little girl in the back of the room fell and hurt herself and was bleeding, but there were too many people in the room for me to get to her, so I just kept on trying to do the storytime even though she was screaming and I was trying to be heard over her.

No Photographer at my Wedding

I dreamed that I was at my wedding, getting ready to walk down the aisle when we suddenly realized that the photographer had not shown up and we hadn't seen her all day. I was scrambling around trying to get people to take pictures with their phones.

Hah, yes, with my wedding coming up in about 6 weeks, I got a wedding stress dream thrown in there for good measure! Hey, it was kind of a nice change of pace.

Anyone else having stress dreams this time of year?

PS: This happens to me every year and I wrote about it on the ALSC Blog in 2012. So, seriously, if you are stressed, you are not alone!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Yes We Crab update!

At the beginning of the month, I posted about the super chill reading challenge that I'm participating in this month where you set your own reading goal and then tweet about it. So, we're halfway through the month and I figured that it was time for an update!

I am not really on track, but I'm not going to worry about it too much. :) 

My goal was to read 20 books in February and blog about last month's storytimes. Well, the blogging has not happened (yet?), but here's what I have read so far: 

The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly (Greenwillow Books, March 2016). Here is a book that broke my heart. It's a modern day fairy tale about two Filipina sisters who live in Louisiana with their cruel step-mother. To help her little sister cope with their step-mother's aggressions, Sol invents the Land of Forgotten Girls where girls like them (forgotten by anyone who cared about them) go to be taken care of by a gentle woman named Mother Hush. Take the sisterly bits from Rita Williams-Garcia's One Crazy Summer (and sequels) and give it the brooding tone of Anne Ursu's Breadcrumbs and set it down in sweltering urban Louisiana and you have this book. 

Weekends with Max and his Dad by Linda Urban (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, April 2016). This is an early chapter book MUST READ. I am so, so impressed by this book. Third-grader Max spends weekends with his dad. Although it's not once explicitly stated, Max's parents have gotten a divorce and this book shows Max's reality after that happens. It's evident how much Max's dad cares about him, even if he doesn't always get everything exactly right. This is a story with authentic emotions that will really resonate with kids who are experiencing divorce, even though the story is not at all focused on The Divorce. 

Ask Me How I Got Here by Christine Heppermann (Greenwillow Books, May 2016). In beautiful and relateable prose poems, Christine Heppermann presents the story of Addie, a girl attending Catholic high school, running track, getting a new boyfriend... getting pregnant, getting an abortion, and dealing with her feelings about it. Addie is thoughtful and she thinks about her abortion in the context of her religion, realizing that issues like abortion are not one-size-fits-all. I would hand it to mature teens who like contemporary, realistic fiction, particularly those teens who are apt to hold philosophical discussions or debates.

Breakthrough!: How Three People Saved "Blue Babies" and Changed Medicine Forever by Jim Murphy (Clarion Books, December 2015). I am a big medical history buff and this book about an African American man and a woman, along with a white man, who pioneered pediatric cardiac surgery is right up my alley. I liked that the book showed the hard work and failures that went into the process of figuring out this tricky surgery and I think this is a book that young scientists and future physicians will enjoy. 

Negroland: A Memoir by Margo Jefferson (Pantheon, September 2015). Yes, an adult book made it onto my pile! Several folks at Book Riot my go-to for recommendations of adult books) had been talking about this one, so I wanted to pick it up. More a memoir of an entire social class than a personal memoir, this book talks about the history and issues faced by the black upper class. I saw the world through a different lens while listening to this audiobook, which is valuable even though I was expecting more of a personal story, so this book wasn't exactly what I was expecting. 

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh (G.P. Putnam's Sons, May 2015). This lush, romantic retelling of the Scheherazade story has been on my to-be-read shelf for far too long, so I decided to pick it up. It is a gorgeous story with a rich setting and a strong love story. It is maybe a little too long and flowery for my personal taste, but teens who like fantasy romance stories will eat this one up. 

The Bitter Side of Sweet by Tara Sullivan (G.P. Putnam's Sons, February 2016). Oh, man. This is an intense action and survival story about Malian brothers enslaved on a cocoa farm in the Ivory Coast. Amadou will do anything to protect his 8-year-old brother who has ended up enslaved alongside him, but when a girl shows up on the farm, their fates become entwined. This story is ripped from the headlines and the plot has twists and turns that keep the pages turning. I would definitely hand this to teens looking for a riveting adventure story, particularly politically-minded teens who may not be aware of the issues with the chocolate trade presented in this book. 

Waylon! One Awesome Thing by Sara Pennypacker (Disney-Hyperion, April 2016). This spin-off from the Clementine books features Waylon, a science-minded dreamer determined to change the world. When the most popular kid in Waylon's class begins to divide the class into two teams, Waylon finds himself on the outside and starts to wonder what he can do to bring his classmates back together. This story is the perfect blend of Waylon dealing with what is happening in his class and with his friends and science details and a scheme to get things back on the right track. I will definitely be looking forward to more from Waylon!

That's where I am for the month so far! I've been pleased that I've read some teen books already this month, which fits one of my reading resolutions for this year. I've read 8 books out of my pledged 20 (!! Can I make it?! Yes we crab!) and started the gigantic book my Family Book Club is reading for next month (The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson, which is awesome so far) and also another adult book: In the Country: Stories by Mia Alvar, which I am also really digging. 

How has your reading month been going??

Thursday, February 11, 2016

A Day in the Life of a Youth Services Librarian

A Day in the Life of a Youth Services Librarian

8:40am – Arrive at work, put stuff away, greet colleagues. 

8:50am – Get program room set up for this morning’s Preschool Storytime. Get tables and chairs set up, put out display books, collect felts & scarves, set up activity tables. 

9:20am – Quickly read through storytime books and make sure I know how all the felt stories and rhymes go. 

9:30am – Put this week’s desk shifts and other tasks in my bullet journal, check email. 

10:00 – 11:00am – Preschool Explorers. Theme: Bath time! Check out my Bath Time Storytime here. 

11:00am – Clean up program room, record statistics, put books and supplies away. Type up words and source for Five Elephants in the Bathtub rhyme to add to our flannel collection. Help get room ready for a class of fourth graders coming in for a field trip. 

11:45am – Check in on the class discussion for the online class I’m taking. 

12pm-1:00pm – Lunch time! 

1:00 – 2:00pm – On the Teen Desk. Since the kids are in school, it’s very quiet in the Teen Scene and I work on approving my staff’s timesheets, sending out reminder emails for booktalks, and typing up blog posts. 

2:00pm – Off desk, I take some photos for blog posts and work on my ALSC Blog post: Using Scarves in Storytime

2:45pm – One of our library assistants is back from vacation, so I take a few minutes to get him caught up on what’s been going on. 

3:00pm – Work on finalizing my monthly report to send to my new director and read through the last of my staff’s monthly reports, which they’re submitting to me. 

4:00pm – Run a report to get a list of potential weeding candidates because we’ll have some volunteers coming in who can start pulling them. Weeding has gotten exponentially easier for me since I started having teen volunteers pull carts of books for me to evaluate. I still love to spend some time in the stacks weeding, but utilizing volunteers helps me meet my weeding goals each year. 

4:15pm – I change over our catalog list to feature titles for African American History Month. 

4:30pm – Make coupon call for Summer Reading donations. This year I delegated this task because I hate it so much, but my teen librarian and I are tag-teaming it because sometimes these folks are just really hard to get ahold of! 

4:40pm – Pull books for next week’s booktalks. I check them all out on our department library card and arrange them in my office by when I’ll need them. 

5:20pm – Time to go home!

One thing I love about youth librarianship is that every day is different! Check out more day in the life posts here!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Preschool Storytime: Bath Time!

I was dismal about posting my storytimes last fall, but now we have a new part-time staff person and it's making a noticeable difference in everyone's stress levels. So I'm here with my first preschool storytime of our spring session: bathtime! Here's what I did:

Opening Song: My Hands Say Hello (our standard)

Book: Bears in the Bath by Shirley Parenteau, illustrated by David Walker (Candlewick Press, 2014). Not only is this book super cute, but the rhyming words help kids hear that words are made up of smaller sounds. The book also uses some great vocabulary like "grimy" and "sleek". Plus, it's a situation that kids can relate to - getting dirty and taking a bath - which captures the interest of our youngest readers.

Felt Rhyme: Five Elephants in the Bathtub (source: Jbrary). This is a silly rhyme, which I love, and it incorporates actions that are great for practicing motor control. We also practice counting with rhyme.

Book: Get Out of My Bath! by Britta Teckentrup (Noisy Crow, 2015). This is a book that incorporates a lot of action and contains a lot of silly surprises, which is always fun to read.

Scarves: Whenever we do a song with scarves, I like to warm everyone up with a few little activities first. I pass out the scarves and let everyone choose which color they want. Then we wave them high and low, we wave them fast and slow, and we throw them into the air on the count of three. These activities are not only fun, but kids are practicing listening and following directions as well as motor skills.

Song with Scarves: This is the Way We Wash Our Head. With this song, we're practicing vocabulary by identifying different parts of our bodies. With preschoolers I like to use some that most kids know (head, shoulders, feet) and also some words that they might not know like "chin" and "thighs". Other body parts to practice: elbows, wrists, hips, calves, ankles.

Scarves: With preschoolers, when we put our scarves away I ask them to bring their scarves up to me when I call their color. We're practicing color knowledge, following directions, and approaching an adult who is not a family member (all school readiness skills!).

Book: Does an Elephant Take a Bath? by Fred Ehrlich (Blue Apple Books, 2005). This is an easy nonfiction book that talks about how different animals keep themselves clean. Including this book gets a little science knowledge in there (plus, kids loved animals!), as well as the vocabulary of the different animal names.

Felt Story: Dog’s Colorful Day (adapted from the book by Emma Dodd, Dutton Juvenile, 2001). This is a fun felt story that's great for talking about different colors and for practicing counting Dog's spots. If I have a small group, I'll pass out the spots and have kids bring them up and put them on the felt board. Today, I had a fairly large and excited crowd, so I just put them on myself.

Closing Song: Do You Know What Time It Is?

Play Stations:
  • Blocks - we almost always have these available for play time. 
  • Felt Board - I put Dog's Colorful Day out with all the spots for the kids to play with. Some kids spent literally 20 minutes putting all the felt spots on and taking them off again. 
  • Water tubs!
My tubs did have water in them during storytime!

I was a little nervous to do water play, but it actually went very smoothly. I spread out towels on the tables, which caught any spills outside the tub. The kids had a blast playing with the various items I brought in from my kitchen and playing with the water animal toys from our Toddler Time collection. Since I had several towels at the ready, cleanup was fine, too. I did not fill up the bins very high with water - I had maybe and inch and a half of water in each tub. 

Altogether, it was a really fun storytime! What are your bathtime storytime favorites?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Using Scarves in Storytime at the @ALSCBlog

Today I'm over at the ALSC Blog posting about how & why I use scarves in storytime! Please click through and add your own favorite scarf activities in the comments!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Yes We Crab

Feeling like you're in a slump? Want to up your reading this month? Join us for a month-long reading challenge: YES WE CRAB*.

If you follow me on Twitter, you have probably heard me talk about ILOA. ILOA (International Library Of Awesome) is my very best librarian support group. These ladies are the bomb (and I wouldn't have met them except that we all belong to ALA, which is exactly why I renew my rather expensive membership every year). And we got to talking about our reading this year and we're feeling like we need to crank it up a notch.

Set your own goal! Grab this adorable graphic! Tweet with the hashtag #yeswecrab!

I'm aiming to read 20 books this month and write up posts for my fall storytimes. Can we do it?! Yes we crab!

* Why "Yes We Crab"? Because it's adorable and it's February so we're a little punchy, okay?