Friday, November 28, 2008

Developmentally Appropriate Technology

An article written earlier this year in the New York Times by technology expert Warren Buckleitner, editor of the Children's Technology Review.

He uses the developmental stages of psychologist Jean Piaget to help make decisions about what technologies are appropriate for children at different ages.

Read it and let us know what you think. Does this match up with what you experienced as a child, or what your children experienced? Do you have different ideas? What about technologies that the author didn't discuss? Where would you place them developmentally? Does this have implications for children's collections and programming?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Jail Program

Hi all. Just an FYI... We're really happy to be sprinkling youth literacy information and books for kids through the jail library. Jennifer Miller and I plan to give away 1000 books for 1000 kids at a series of 14+ sessions for inmates between now and Dec. 18. We help them select age-appropriate children's books to send home with a personal note for each child. It is extremely rewarding! Also, Melissa is regularly providing awesome literacy workshops with great tips for all of the inmates.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Here's the list of giant balloons (and other attractions) that will be in this year's parade! Click on Parade Information, then Parade Line-Up to view--I can't get a direct link, sorry!

Horton the Elephant will be making an appearance this year. What other children's book characters would you love to see? I think Maisy would make an excellent balloon!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Places to Go, Things to Do

This time of year, families often start looking for special things to do with their kids, either to celebrate the holidays or to enjoy time together while school's out. In addition to pointing them to our online calendar and the Dewey, and reminding them that storytimes are on hiatus Thanksgiving week and at the end of December, here's a couple other resources we can use to help them find out what's going on.

Kids Pages has a nice list of holiday events. It says "for November" at the top, but many of the listings include December dates.

Colorado Parent has a December calendar, as well.

Families (and you, too) can also use to find out about local happenings. Go to, and select your state, community (Denver Metro), and Neighborhood (Aurora, Centennial, Littleton, Glendale, Sheridan, etc.); click "Go to Your Hub." From there, you can click on Events on the left menu.

You'll get a weekly calendar with all events, but you can limit in a number of ways, including by "Children." Also, once they get this far, families can sign up to get an RSS feed of local events.

What other resources do you use to help families find things to do?

Friday, November 21, 2008


It's here! Twilight, the movie, was released today.

For those of you who have been living on Mars this year, Stephanie Meyer's vampire series has been THE hot read. What are we going to recommend to tweens and teens who have A) read all the books and B) seen the movie 20 times already and C) want something just like it?

Leave us a comment with some movies or books that you are going to recommend!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

National Book Awards

The National Book Awards were announced yesterday!

The National Book Awards were first given in 1950, with a Children's Literature category added in 1969. In the 80s, the number of categories proliferated (Children's Fiction, Hardcover; Children's Non-Fiction; Children's Picture Books, Paperback; etc.) until 1983 when, in order to preserve the impact of the awards, the categories were reduced to only 3, with no category for youth literature.

In 1996, however, a Young People's Literature category was reinstated! This is cool because the NBAs are very highly regarded. It's great to have youth literature recognized at this level again. The NBA in this category is mostly, but not always, awarded to books for older readers...kind of in the upper-Newbery-to-Printz range. There's a fair amount of overlap between all three awards.

A short list is selected each year, from which the finalist is chosen. This year's short list was:

Laurie Halse Anderson, Chains
Kathi Appelt, The Underneath
Judy Blundell, What I Saw and How I Lied
E. Lockhart, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
Tim Tharp, The Spectacular Now

And the winner is...Judy Blundell for What I Saw and How I Lied!

The Young People’s Literature judges this year were:
Daniel Handler (Mr. Lemony Snicket to you),
Holly Black (1/2 of the Spiderwick team),
Angela Johnson (tons of awards),
Carolyn Mackler (of the esteemed The Earth, My Butt, and Other Round Things), and Cynthia Voigt (a Grand Dame of children's and YA literature).

Who's read any of these yet? Let us know what you think!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Matilda Needs Help

We have a cool opportunity!

donna geesaman has asked a few of the former Youth ASTs to help her gather resources for a few new Book Club Kits. I volunteered for Matilda, by Roald Dahl, and I would love for you to pitch in. Why?

Because I think this is a great chance for those of us who are unfamiliar with the kits (I'm one of them!) to...
  • learn what resources come with a kit when you order one

  • practice doing research to support a book club without having to prep an entire program yourself

  • have some fun brainstorming activities and crafts you might like to see in the book club kits
Resources to include in the kits should include, but are not limited to:
  • author information [Allison is working on this!]

  • reviews of the book

  • list of read-alike books [Jill Corrente is working on this!]

  • list of other books by the same author

  • discussion questions [Karen H is working on this!]

  • background information on the setting or characters

  • any historical information that will help the presenter place the book in time

  • activities (classroom, games, crafts, snacks) [Elisabeth and Lori Noreen are working on this--but several other people can, too!]
Please volunteer to research and provide one or more of these resources for the book Matilda, by Roald Dahl. Our deadline for sending the materials to donna is December 31.

I would also welcome discussion about book clubs in general, so if you have any questions or comments, please let us know!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Get Ready, Get Set...

Fresh from the CAL Conference, I have been thinking a lot about professional development. Here's a question for you!

What was the non-library experience that best prepared you for working in a library? It could be anything: growing up in a reading family, working for non-profits in college, or working retail at the mall. It might not be an obvious connection--that's ok! For instance, when I applied to work at the Tattered Cover (a million years ago), one question they asked was if you ever had experience in food service. They had found that folks who had been successful as waiters and waitresses knew a lot of the basics about customer service.

Tell us what your experience was and why it has been so helpful to you now.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

In One Ear

Working with kids means we need to be able to help them find more than just books. We need to be Media Advisors, too. To that end, I'd like to ask everyone to listen to one children's music CD this month. Stick it in your car's CD player for a few days, or listen to it while you do the dishes, but listen to the whole thing, then tell us about it. How does it compare to the music you loved when you were a kid, or to the music your kids listened to when they were small? How would you recommend it in one or two sentences to a child or their family?

Need some help choosing? Here's a few sites I gathered up. Where do you go for music recommendations?

Kids' Music That Rocks
NPR's "The Year In Music for Kids 2007"

Try a search in Tales' Treehouse for "Children's Music" and explore what's available, including this article.

Also, I ran across this cool Music Blog from the Kalamazoo Public Library. It includes reviews of children's music, and has links into their kids' music collection.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Saturday at CAL

I saw Shelley Walchak of CLIC speak on improving your presentation skills. I have lots to learn, but this is was a great step.

After lunch I went to hear Jessamyn West, one of the keynote speakers. I've followed her blog for a long time but was psyched to have her at CAL--this was the first chance I've had to hear her speak. She talks about the intersection of politics, libraries, and technology (today's talk was "Towards Open Libraries") and it's always interesting to take what she says and think about the implications for the kids that we serve, and their families.

She talked about how we need to make what we do as librarians more transparent to our patrons, so that they know more and have a better understanding of it, but also so they can be participants in what we do and we can better be a community together.

When we think about the Web 2.0 stuff, we're thinking about this in terms of online community. So how do we include children and their families in this process? Children don't necessarily have the technology or the access to be online participants themselves, because of their youth. For example, my kids play on the computer all the time, but they don't have email accounts; they don't have cell phones; they're not on Facebook. About the most they do so far is put books on hold from home or Skype with their grandparents.

My kids will do more in the future. They are growing up in a very digitally connected family with lots of access to technology. But there are another set of kids who not only aren't connected now, but neither are their parents. How do we include them in our growing online community? How can we make sure they grow up to be a part of our new libraries without walls?

So now it's time for ice cream and a session about “Books in the Park” which takes library programming to places in the community where you can connect with people who never come into the library building...a non-tech take on inclusion.

Friday, November 7, 2008

CAL Report!

I'm standing in the CyberCafe at CAL, trying to process all my sessions! Yesterday, Kris Chipps, Virginia Brace, Lori Romero, Pam Grover, donna geesaman, and I presented a full-day pre-conference workshop: "The Early Literacy Storytime: Putting It All Together." We took the backbone of the 4 Early Literacy Storytime classes we developed for ALD and turned them into a one-day show. It was very cool. We had a nice turnout with youth services staff from all over the state. Plus we stayed on schedule the whole day! (I was impressed--that never happens when I present solo...)

Today and tomorrow I'm more presenting, I just get to sit and listen to other sessions all day!

I heard Mary Dempsey's keynote this morning--she's the Commissioner of the Chicago Public Libraries, which is doing some amazing stuff in terms of revitalizing neighborhoods, investing in local communities, and extending opportunities to all kids. They are also VERY big on early literacy and working hard to get library cards to all families. Very inspiring! If they can do it in Chicago, surely we can do it in Denver and our much smaller towns and cities?

I also went to "How Extreme Is Too Extreme? Pushing the Limits of Young Adult Literature." We discussed the book Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (I will add the link later, I promise) and the place it and other "edgy" YA lit has in our collections as public and school libraries. Read the book and see what YOU think.

I heard a school librarian talk about "Family Nights: Bringing Community Together" and I am hopeful about starting to work with schools and preschools to partner with them to offer family activity nights (or afternoons...or breakfasts! Why not?) to families who might not be in the "library habit."

Paul Wember from Wember, Inc did a slide show that toured us through 10 Colorado/Wyoming libraries with new/newer building projects. (He showed Castlewood both before and after the remodel and it was all I could do not to raise my hand and go, "Hey! I do storytime in that room every week!" :) ) These are beautiful libraries with lots of intriguing ideas about display space, furniture, shelving design, all that. I really, really loved the mobile furniture: in some of the newer libraries, everything, tables, chairs, public computers, desks, study carrels, everything is on wheels and can be scooted to wherever the patrons need them.

I tucked into the last fifteen minutes of Carol Edward's talk on what it's like to be on the Newbery Committee--she served last year. It was overwhelming--they easily read, carefully and critically, between 200-450 books (or more) in the year they are on the committee. Makes my excuses about not keeping up with my reading seem kinda puny!

OK--that's it--that's what I did today. It was fun and I'd love to hear from you if you were here! What did you see? If you did NOT come to CAL, why not? Let us know that, too.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Hello from Alyson

I am Alyson Corcoran and I am one of the newest members of the Youth Services Interest Group. I have worked for the district for about 5 years – first as a Reference Sub, than as a Reference Librarian at Southglenn. In August 2006 I moved to Digital Services to "help" with the children's website for three months and have not left yet! When Jill returned from maternity leave, I started working on teen content for the website and on developing the new teen site. I have now moved back to Tales' Treehouse and am busy trying to catch up on children's services.
I look forward to working with all of you, and let me know how Tales' Treehouse can continue to support what you do!

Monday, November 3, 2008

December Trainings

The December Training Calendar is now posted on StaffNet, so don't forget to take a look. Some classes you might be interested in are Homework Databases, and Patron Interview. There's also a new class required for PSSs called Basic Reader's and Viewer's Advisory.

December Training Calendar

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Aesop Award

The Aesop Award is given out by the Children's Folklore Section of the American Folklore Society, to a book of folklore (go figure).

This year's winner is ....Ain’t Nothing But a Man: My Quest to Find the Real John Henry, by Scott Reynolds Nelson, with Marc Aronson.

What I think is so cool about the award is that it's not just for a well-told tale, but for excellence in documenting and annotating where the story is from. The winning title should "accurately reflect the culture and worldview of the people whose folklore is the focus of the book" and that "folklore sources must be fully acknowledged and annotations referenced within the bound contents of the publication."

For years, all that critical stuff was virtually ignored in books for kids. There are still books in our folktales section that we have no idea whether they are genuine folktales or just a story the author made up and set in another country. Or books where we have no clue whether or not the author has some familiarity and understanding of the story's culture.

So I like to keep this list in mind when I'm working with teachers who are looking for folktales for their classrooms, since I know I can trust that the stories on this list have been properly researched and cited.

Aesop Accolades (runners up)
Dance in a Buffalo Skull. Told by Zitkala-Ša.
The Adventures of Molly Whuppie and Other Appalachian Folktales. Anne Shelby.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

November: Print Awareness

Our early literacy skill for November is Print Awareness!

What is it?
  • Noticing print everywhere
  • How to handle a book
  • Knowing books have print
  • How to follow words on a page
Why is it important? Because you have to be aware of words before you can read them; you have to know how books work. When kids are comfortable with books, with how to open a book and where the story starts and what those black squiggles are, they can concentrate on starting the decoding process.

What does this look like in storytime?

  • For the babies: Have extra board books out for them to play with while they listen to you. Use big books as often as possible; they make it easier for babies to see the pages.
  • Hold the book upside down and pretend you don't notice. Start turning pages from the end instead of the beginning. If the kids are older, they will correct you! If they are younger, "correct" yourself: "I can't read the book yet! It's upside down!"
  • Point to the title as you read it.
  • Point to repeating words or phrases in the story & have the kids say them with you
  • Make books with 4-5s as a storytime craft. Talk to them about the parts of a book as they work
  • Use words with big type or word balloons like What Will Fat Cat Sit On? or Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!
  • Add words to your favorite flannelboards. When you put up a picture of a castle, also put up the word "castle" underneath.
What do you like to do to enhance Print Awareness in your storytimes? What Print Awareness tips do you give to the parents during storytime?