"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales." Albert Einstein

14 February 2017

Storytime: All about Love

It's that time of year again, and again, instead of focusing on Valentine's Day, my story time theme this week was love. My commitment to being a #StorytimeJusticeWarrior this year means that whenever possible I am including diverse titles or books with nonwhite characters. With some themes this is more difficult than others, but it was easy to do this week.

Opening Rhyme: Open Them, Shut Them

Rhyme: 2 Little Blackbirds

Book: My Heart Fills with Happiness - The characters in this book are First Nations, and the simple words and colorful illustrations make it perfect for my young storytime audience.

Song: "If You're Happy and You Know It"

Book: Hands Say Love - The main characters in this book are all Caucasian, but I like how this book ties in with learning to say "I love you" in sign language.

Sign Language: Learn the sign for "I love you"

Rhyme: Little Mouse

Song: "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes"

Book: Love Always Everywhere - This is another book with simple text that features a diverse cast of young children.

Closing Rhyme

Craft: We made heart-shaped suncatchers with contact paper and tissue paper squares. This simple craft is a good one that allows children to practice small motor control as they pick up and stick the squares of tissue, but doesn't involve glue or lots of cutting.

Next week's theme is monsters, and doesn't lend itself as easily to including diverse characters, but the week after that is family, and again I have an opportunity to promote kindness and acceptance with my young patrons.

07 February 2017

Pokemon Readers' Advisory

I run a Pokemon Club at my library as part of a regular series of after school programs. The kids who come to my club are always very excited to be here, and they often stop by and talk about Pokemon or ask me when we'll meet again, even if Pokemon Club is weeks away. I am glad to have such a large group of kids who come to the library on a regular basis, but I wanted to find a way to keep them engaged with the library between meetings. I know these kids love their Pokemon and they love talking about them, too. So I wondered, would it be possible to do readers' advisory for a particular Pokemon?

I created bookmarks with a Pokemon on one side and a list of 3-4 books I think that Pokemon would like to read. I did this based on my (admittedly limited) knowledge of the different characters and their personalities. I made sure all the books I listed were part of my library's collection, and I added the call numbers after each one in case a child would want to find them on the shelf.

For the back side of the bookmark, I used a picture of that Pokemon's evolution and left a blank area for the patron to suggest books for that Pokemon to read. I set out one set of these bookmarks (ten copies of the exact same one, so that one child didn't stop by and try to "collect 'em all" by grabbing the set), along with a sign explaining what to do. Children were free to pick up a bookmark, choose books for that Pokemon to read, and write down the titles on the bookmark. Once completed, they brought it to me and received free Pokemon cards.

Our library has amassed a large collection of slightly random, mostly common Pokemon cards. I will admit that more than a few of these were from my own collection, as I thought it important to learn how to play the card game before we started our Pokemon club. I want the library to have a small collection of cards that I or a volunteer can use during club meetings so that kids who are intimidated by trading with other kids, but who still want to trade, can do so with me. However, in an average batch of Pokemon cards, there will be several duplicates. I compiled all the duplicates into several stacks by type and dealt them into piles so that each stack contained, for example, two fire Pokemon, two water Pokemon, etc. Then I put each stack in an envelope. Kids who finish the Pokemon bookmark receive one envelope of cards, which gives them an incentive to participate and also rids the library of all of its extra cards. None of the kids are receiving super-valuable cards, but the cards are still good for trading or playing the game.

I haven't even announced this passive program to my Pokemon club kids yet as we haven't had a meeting since I made the bookmarks, but in just the first 24 hours of the bookmarks being out, I already had six kids stop by my office to receive their cards. They informed me that it was easy to look up books on the computer and add them to their list of suggestions; I'm glad that they have a skill - looking in the library's catalog to find a book - that many of my patrons lack.

I was hesitant at first to try this program, as it seemed a bit labor-intensive, but it took less than ten minutes to create the envelopes of cards, and the bookmarks took less than an hour to create and not very much time to print, either. I only have eight different bookmarks made so far; if this program is as successful as I hope it will be, I will add more later on. If it fizzles out and is no longer interesting, then I won't bother creating more bookmarks.

You can access the bookmarks here. Enjoy!

02 February 2017

Felt Boards: Not Just for Littles

I have recently acquired a tabletop felt board for use in my children's department. The opposite side is a white board / magnet board and holds a collection of alphabet letters that kids and caregivers can play with. At first, I only put familiar stories on our felt board using premade sets, things like Goldilocks and the Three Bears or The Gingerbread Man. However, we get a fairly large crowd of school-age kids in my library afterschool, and although they will happily play with these familiar stories, there are other things they like more. Thus my Pokemon felties were born.

Koffing, Oddish, Psyduck, Gastly
Squirtle, Eevee, Polywag, Pikachu
Slowpoke, Jigglypuff, Togepi
Eggxecute, Charmander, Bulbasaur

I printed out pictures from the internet and traced them on the felt to create each character. Some characters received extra felt layers depending on their coloring. I used puff paint for the outlines and for some of the details.

Already I have noticed more school aged kids gathering around the felt board and discussing Pokemon. I will likely switch this board out for something more small-kid-friendly later on, but it's fun to have something for the bigger kids once in a while.

31 January 2017

Storytime: Robots

I haven't been posting my storytime lineups because I have been reusing themes I already did at my previous job, many of which I already posted on this blog. However, today was a brand-new theme for me: robots.

Opening Rhyme: Open Them, Shut Them

Fingerplay: Two Little Blackbirds

Book: Big Bot, Small Bot by Marc Rosenthal

Book/Song: If You're a Robot and You Know It by Musical Robot (We sang the song and I made the pop-up pieces in the book move as the kids did the actions.)

Book: Boy + Bot by Amy Dyckman

Rhyme: Little Mouse, Little Mouse

Song: "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes"

Book: Beep, Beep, Go to Sleep by Todd Tarpley

Craft: We made robot vests using paper grocery bags. Our local grocery store donated the bags, I had a volunteer cut out the head and arm holes, and the kids went to town decorating them.

You may have noticed that my lineup style has changed quite a bit from when I was at my previous library. This is because my patron base is quite different. In my last library, storytime was attended by mostly K-2nd graders with some younger siblings. Here, storytime happens during the school day, so usually the oldest children are 4 and many are 2 or 3. I've reduced my books from five to three and added in more action rhymes and songs, because these things hold the kids' attention the best. We also repeat the rhymes and songs each week, so they don't always (or usually) match the theme. This consistency helps my young patrons to become used to the routine and learn the songs and rhymes so they can participate more fully in storytime. 

26 January 2017

Passive Programs for Teens: Book in a Jar

It's been fairly simple for me to create passive programs for the children at my library. Scavenger hunts, coloring pages, animals to observe - these are all things children would enjoy doing at the library. It's a bit harder to figure out what can be done for teens, but I finally stumbled upon an activity that works for my teens (and any adults who might stumble upon it as well): book in a jar.

The concept is simple: find a weeded book (or purchase a Dover thrift edition if you'd prefer), shred the pages, stick them in a jar, and let the teens guess what book it is.

When I shredded my book, I made sure to leave out any parts of pages that had the title listed on it - one of the books I chose had the title at the top of each page. I also tried to use mostly pages that were completely covered in text. Blank strips do not help at all for guessing!

I tried using the office shredder to make my strips, but it turned the pages into mush, far too unreadable. Instead, I used our paper cutter and cut all the strips that way. I could cut 3-4 pages at a time, and this way I knew the strips actually had readable words on them.

For books, I obviously can use books we weed due to condition, but I also try to choose fairly well-known or popular titles. For December, I used Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. For this month I have chosen Through the Looking Glass, which is also the book the teens are reading for their book club.

I made sure to inform the desk staff of the answer, and I have left Hershey's kisses as a prize for those who guess correctly, but many will be intrigued by the mystery simply for the sake of guessing and may not care about any kind of prize. And even though I have not yet observed anyone actually using the book in a jar, I have been told that our patrons have been guessing and enjoying it, which was the whole point.

What kinds of passive activities do you set out for teens?