Friday, February 15, 2019

Ready To Go Book Display: A Universe of Stories (Space Nonfiction)

Welcome to our series, "Ready to Go! Book Display." Once a month we'll highlight the latest or greatest for every age group that you can promote within your library or order for your collection. This month we are featuring new space nonfiction to tie into the CSLP 2019 theme: A Universe of Stories.

Recommendations for Teens and Adults:

Published to coincide with the mission's 50th anniversary, a meticulously researched account of the Apollo 11 program also examines its astronauts, flight controllers and engineers, as well as its role in shaping the Mercury and Gemini missions.

The NASA Archives: 60 Years in Space by Piers Bizony (Feb 2019)
Journey through the U.S. space program's fascinating pictorial history.

More than just a stargazer's guide, this book is a complete history of astronomy as told by Schilling through the lens of each constellation.

A heart-pumping exploration of the biggest explosions in history, from the Big Bang to mysterious activity on Earth and everything in between. Astronomy writer Bob Berman guides us through an epic, all-inclusive investigation into these instances of violence both mammoth and microscopic.

Recommendations for Children:

Just Right: Searching for the Goldilocks Planet by Curtis Manley and Jessica Lanan (Jan 2019)
Follow a young girl as she explores whether there may be life on another Goldilocks planet.

What Is NASA? by Sarah Fabiny (May 2019)
Author Sarah Fabiny describes the origins of NASA, the launching of the Apollo program that landed the first human on the moon, and the many missions and discoveries that have taken place since then.

Nerdy Babies: Space by Emmy Kastner (May 2019)
Follow infants as they check out the moon, sun, planets and more with simple text written in question and answer format.

The Moon Book (New & Updated Edition) by Gail Gibbons (May 2019)
Shining light on all kinds of fascinating facts about our moon, this updated simple, introductory book includes information on how the moon affects the oceans' tides, why the same side of the moon always faces earth, why we have eclipses, and more.

Bursting with fascinating facts and the latest breathtaking images, this space book for children brings the wonders of the Solar System to life.

Basher Basics: Space Exploration by Simon Basher (May 2019)
Uses cartoon-style characters to introduce readers to topics related to space exploration and the spacecraft that have been used for it.

Birthday on Mars! by Sara Schonfeld (Jun 2019)
Even robots have birthdays! Celebrate Curiosity and wish happy birthday to one of NASA's most famous Mars rovers.

Blast off on a journey through space exploration history, from the Apollo Moon landings to mind-boggling plans for living on Mars.

Luna: The Science and Stories of Our Moon by David Aguilar (Jun 2019)
Explore the moon from all angles, from its place in the night sky and our solar system to its role in shaping human history and culture.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Unique Volunteering Opportunities in the Library

Libraries love volunteers! Unfortunately, sometimes we are overrun by the offers of lovely people, and have to turn them away -- particularly teenagers who only need a few hours. Luckily, there are other things that volunteers can do in addition to shelving and shelf-reading. Like what? Well...

Domestic Duties

There are lots of smaller daily activities that need to be taken care of in a library setting. Volunteers can:
  • Dust the shelves
  • Clean and sanitize toys
  • Make sure games and puzzles have all the pieces
  • Organize toy bins and puzzles
  • Test markers and glue sticks to make sure they're still good, and get rid of the old
  • Clean and sanitize tables
  • Vacuum or sweep high-traffic areas, such as the toy section or craft room
  • Wipe down board books/picture books
They're not the most fun activities in the world, but they can be extremely useful!

Online Volunteering

Zooniverse is an the world's largest platform for "people-powered research." Volunteers don't need any special training or equipment to help out - they simply need a computer and Internet access. 

Volunteers can help in many projects! They could:
  • count the orangutans in their nests
  • enter data from old census reports
  • count stars and help discover a supernova
  • transcribe documents from the time of Shakespeare
  • and lots more!
What can the library do? Some locations have laptops dedicated to working on these projects, and volunteers can sign in to work on them for hour-long blocks. They're being helpful and fulfilling their volunteering requirements at the same time! This is particularly useful for teens who need only a few hours. 

Outreach Volunteering

My library currently has a monthly program for children called the Helping Hands Club. The club has a different project every month. At one meeting, they wrote thank you notes to local police officers and firefighters; at another, they made bookmarks to leave at the senior center. There are lots of things that kids can do!
  • Make catnip mice or dog toys for the local animal shelter
  • Participate in the Kindness Rocks program
  • Write letters to active service members
  • Assemble small bags for people at the homeless shelter (socks, handy wipes, granola bars, and a handwritten note telling the recipient that somebody cares)
  • Write get-well cards to patients in the hospital
  • Make "seed bombs" to help spread wildflowers
This idea could easily be adapted for other age groups, who could also do more advanced projects. 
  • Knitting or crocheting hats and scarves for a local homeless shelter or food bank
  • Crochet octopuses for premature babies, as seen on the Martha Stewart Website
  • Create no-sew blankets or pillows for animal shelters

What kinds of unique volunteering opportunities does your library offer? Tell us here in the comments, on Facebook, or on Twitter!

Friday, February 1, 2019

How Ask for Prize Donations

Summer Reading is approaching, and we are all hard at work planning programs and booking performers to come in. Now is also the perfect time to think about prizes - specifically, prize donations. Who do you ask? What do you even ask for? And how do you do it? For many of us, just the soliciting of donations can be awkward and stressful, and we may be tempted to skip it. But fear not, my friends! We are here to help.

Why Ask?

Budgets are tight everywhere. Even in the most well-off places, there's no good reason to spend money that doesn't need to be spent, and if you can stretch your budget and spend your programming money on other things, it's never a bad thing. In addition, reaching out to local businesses can provide valuable partnership opportunities in the future. Even if they are unable to donate prizes, you may be making contact with places that you can collaborate with later for programming. (Perhaps the local bakery doesn't want to give out free cupcake coupons, but may be interested in doing a cupcake decorating class in the future. You never know!)

Please note that this doesn't have to be just for the children's department, though it may be a good idea to have one point person for the library being the one to solicit, and prizes can be distributed to where they might be best used once they arrive.

Who to Ask?

Be creative! Local ice cream stands may give coupons for free cones; bowling alleys may give free games. A candy store once gave me a large supply of candy, which was given out to teens who won it on a scratch ticket. A local grocery store might donate bags of chips for a movie night. The possibilities are endless, and you never know what someone might have to offer until you speak with them. Savvy business owners will know that handing out a coupon for a free ice cream cone means that everyone else in the family will end up purchasing one.

While many chain stores may not be allowed by store policy to donate items, many also have donations written into their policies; I got a lovely assortment of food from Trader Joe's one year, because they had it in their rules that they could give it to us. (I believe the teens ate it at a movie night.) It never hurts to ask!

What to Do

I generally send a letter to each of the businesses I've selected, and include an addressed, stamped return envelope to make it easy for the businesses to reply. I also keep a spreadsheet of who I have asked and what their responses were, and what, if anything, they donated. In addition, I make sure to note in a press release and on promotional materials (if there's room) that "prizes have generously been donated by..." I have also printed out the logos of local businesses and hung them on a bulletin board in the children's room.

What to Say

Here's a sample letter that you can adapt to your needs.

[Business Name]
[City, State, ZIP]

Dear General Manager,

My name is Miss Kat and I am the Children's Librarian at the Everytown Public Library. I am reaching out to you about the library's annual Summer Reading Program. I was hoping you would be willing to donate a prize for program participants.

The Summer Reading Program has been an annual tradition since the 1890s, and promotes literacy and a love of lifelong learning in children and teens. More recently, there are adult Summer Reading programs as well, so everyone can join the fun! This year, our theme is "A Universe of Stories," and we will be holding [large number of] programs for town residents.

In addition to helping us reward our library patrons, a donation would help promote your business and help foster a sense of community in Everytown. We would be happy to thank you publicly for your generosity, and promote your business at the same time.

Thank you so much for your time!


Miss Kat
Everytown Public Library
[Contact Information]

⃞ Yes, I would love to donate a prize and I will contact you!
⃞ Yes, my prize is enclosed!
⃞ I would not like to or are unable to donate, but thank you for thinking of us!

Following Up

ALWAYS send a thank you note! Even if the answer is "no," it only costs you a stamp to be polite, and this can help foster goodwill future. A simple "thank you for your response!" can create a warm and fuzzy feeling that will last. I also stick a Summer Reading Program bookmark inside the note; some businesses hang up the card and the bookmark, and get brownie points from their customers for being so generous.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Storytime Basics

Whether you're working in the Children's Department, subbing in there for a vacation, or maybe just thinking about becoming a librarian someday, it's always a good idea to have some storytime basics in your pocket, just in case you need them.

Now, everyone does storytime differently, and your ideas may vary wildly from what I do -- and that's okay! These basics are here to give you a good jumping-off point, so you're not overwhelmed by the thought of having several small faces staring at you.

The Books

To theme, or not to theme? That is the question. The choice is yours; do you want all your books to be on the same topic, or just have a few books that you feel like reading that day? I've done it both ways, and it works both ways. Sometimes it's easier to pick out a book from the multitude of great options by deciding they all need to be about dinosaurs; sometimes you just really want to read some new ones you just learned about.

To read, or not to read? Some libraries have storytime that no longer has stories! Instead, it's songs, dancing, music, and maybe some storytelling via felt board. Do whatever works for you! Are children enjoying the library? Well, that's one of the main ideas.

When choosing books, I try to make sure they're not more than a sentence or two on a page for kids through preschool age. Many people use voices for different characters, but I am absolutely horrible at that, so I don't even try. I do, however, use facial expressions and emotions to react to what's going on in the story.

The Songs

Repeating the first and last songs of each storytime session helps children to recognize the patterns of the event. "Oh! We're singing 'If You're Happy and You Know It' so we must be getting started!" Interactive songs (with hand motions) are always a good way to get everyone involved in the program and ready to go. I usually start with "Mister Golden Sun," because it's just so cheerful.

I generally sing a song or two between each book. Some librarians have lyrics written out or printed on sheets; I used to do this, but now I generally sing one line of a song and have them repeat it back to me, and we go through the song that way, and then once all together.

You can add an extra element to your songs by introducing shaker eggs, scarves, or jingle bells. This is especially good if the kids are getting wiggly, as they encourage everyone to get up and dance!

If you don't feel comfortable singing, pull out a CD player or an iPod. There is no shame in getting help from the pros!

The Extras

In addition to books and songs, many storytimes also include some extra elements, such as finger-plays, puppets, and felt-board storytelling. Many also have a craft or coloring sheets at the end. At my current library, I inherited the Guess Box. It's a small box with a hole in the lid; I put something inside and the kids have to guess (without peeking or pulling it out) what is inside. They LOVE the Guess Box.

None of these are mandatory, and they're supposed to be fun, so if this just stresses you out, feel free to forego them.

The Basic format

Again, your mileage may vary, but I usually do:
- Opening song
- Book
- Next song
- Book
- Shaker egg song
- Extra (usually the Guess Box)
- Book
- Another song
- Closing song

Always read the longest book first and the shortest book (or the one with a gimmick - the pop-up or the one with sparkly pages) last, when their attention span is waning.

Different age groups

Any and all of these ideas can be adapted for different age groups. With younger children, you can use very short books or only songs and finger-plays, and include interactive bouncy rhythms. Older children can sing more complicated songs, understand longer books, and answer questions. (What color is this? Does he look happy?)

Pre-literacy skills

There are six basic pre-literacy skills that help the very young learn how to read. Some libraries and schools will talk to parents about them during storytime, or have them hanging in poster-form on the wall. Even if you're not doing this, or have never heard of them before, chances are that you're already encouraging them just by hosting a storytime. They are:

  1. Vocabulary - Just by reading to children, you increase their vocabulary and reinforce words they have already learned.
  2. Print motivation - Reading is fun! What better place to learn that than by enjoying a visit to the library?
  3. Print awareness - Look at the words on this page! We can tell a story by reading them!
  4. Narrative skills - Being able to tell things in sequence to tell a story. What happened first?
  5. Letter knowledge - What letter is this? What sound does it make?
  6. Phonological awareness - What sound does this letter make? What word rhymes with CAT? 

They're good to know! But if you don't want to start working them into your storytime, don't despair - you probably already do it.

Tips and Tricks

When dealing with a group where parents get very chatty, I usually start by saying, "Parents, please make sure your little ones are paying attention! Kids, please make sure your grown-ups have their listening ears on!" 

If the room gets wiggly and unruly, I usually use the Simon Says Trick:
Miss Kat Says put your hands on your belly!
Miss Kat Says put your hands on your nose!
Put your hands on your knees! Oooo - Miss Kat didn't say!
Miss Kat says put your fingers in front of your mouth and quietly blow - SHHHHHHH.
Great job! Let's keep going! 

Don't be afraid to just end the session early if you need to. Sometimes there's a day when nobody can sit still, nobody wants to pay attention, and it's just not working. If you've tried all your tricks and it's just A Day, feel free to say, "are we out of attention span for the day? Would we rather go play with the toys?" Remember - it's supposed to be FUN.

If you decide to ask questions about the story, make sure you keep them closed-ended ("what color is this?"), because some preschoolers will tell you a whole story if you let them. If nobody answers, just pretend they did ("that's right! It's BLUE!") and keep moving along.

Remember - if you mess up, nobody will care. Forget the words to a song? Laugh it off! Skip a page? Say, "whoops!" and keep going. Don't stress about it - this is supposed to be fun for you, too!

In Conclusion

We hope this helps any storytime newbies out there! We'd love to hear what works for you. Tell us here in the comments, on our Facebook page, or on Twitter.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Ready to Go Book Display: Coming Soon to a Theater Near You

Welcome to our series, "Ready to Go! Book Display." Once a month we'll highlight the latest or greatest for every age group that you can promote within your library or order for your collection. Encourage your patrons to get ready for a great year of movies. (Note that this is not an exhausted list of 2019 movie releases.)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part
February 8

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
February 22

World of Dragons by May Nakamura (Jan 2019)

Captain Marvel
March 8

Captain Marvel: What Makes a Hero by Pamela Bobowicz (Mar 2019)

Where'd You Go, Bernadette
March 22

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple (Apr 2013)

March 29

Dumbo Live Action Picture Book by Calliope Glass (Feb 2019)

Pet Sematary
April 5

Pet Sematary by Stephen King (Dec 2018)

Avengers: Endgame
April 26

Pokémon Detective Pikachu
May 10

The Rosie Project
May 10 (rumored)

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (Oct 2013)

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion (Dec 2014)

The Rosie Result by Graeme Simsion (May 2019)

May 24

Aladdin: Far from Agrabah by Aisha Saeed (Apr 2019)

A Whole New World: A Twisted Tale by Liz Braswell (Sep 2015)

The Secret Life of Pets 2
June 7

I Am Captain Snowball! by Dennis Shealy (Apr 2019)

Toy Story 4
June 21

Toy Story: Toyography by Sheri Tan (Apr 2019)

Spider-Man: Far From Home
July 5

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man Vol. 1 by Tom Taylor (July 2019)

The Lion King
July 19

Artemis Fowl
August 9

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer (May 2001)

Downton Abbey
September 20

The Addams Family
October 11

The Goldfinch
October 11

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (Oct 2013)

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
October 18

Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Mister Roger's Neighborhood (Sep 2019)

Mister Roger's Neighborhood: A Visual History by Melissa Wagner and at el (Sep 2019)

Frozen 2
November 27

Olaf and the Three Polar Bears by Calliope Glass (Oct 2018)