Monday, December 21, 2009

Our Caldecott Short List!

Thanks to all the staff who voted off our "long list," we have our final dozen Caldecott Hopefuls. (We were shooting for a list of 10 books, but we just couldn't bear to make that many cuts!)

This will be the list for our online poll, which goes live on December 26 on Tales' Treehouse. Voting will continue through January 17. On Monday, January 18, ALA will announce their media awards and we will annouce our winner too!

Remember, the Caldecott Committee does not announce a short list. We have no idea which books they are seriously considering these last 6 weeks before making their decision!

Last year, there was only one book that received a Medal or Honor sticker that we did NOT have on our online poll: River of Words, by Jen Bryant. How will we do this year?

The Lion and the Mouse
The Curious Garden
Red Sings from Treetops
Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11
Mermaid Queen
All the World
Higher! Higher!
14 Cows for America
Eleanor, Quiet No More: The Life of Eleanor Roosevelt
Jeremy Draws a Monster

Friday, December 18, 2009

Holiday Beats

Check out this round up of children's holiday music from Zooglobble!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Finding Blog Reviews

When you're looking for commentary or reviews on a particular title, remember you can check our Syndetics information in the webpac to find some reviews published in professional journals, like School Library Journal or Booklist. To find this info, just click on the image of the book cover in the webpac.

If you need or want to read further, a quick trick is to Google the title of the book in quotes, followed by the phrase: blog review.

I tried that with Red Sings from Treetops like this:

"Red Sings from Treetops" blog review

Out of the first 10 hits, 7 were reviews from mostly major kidlit blogs; 1 was a round-up article from the New York Times that included this book, and the remaining 2 hits were from GoodReads and LibraryThing. Pretty good results! And since bloggers often have more time and space for reviews, they can be longer.

This trick works best with recent titles. I tried it with Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and got more random results, including merchandising links. A 2009 title without the current buzz of Red Sings from Treetops, City I Love, brought pretty good results as well. They improved when I tried "City I Love" hopkins blog review--adding in the author's name to the Google search.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Best of the Best for 2009

Don't miss this round up from Alyson in Tales' Treehouse, with links to some of the year-end best-of-the-best lists for children's literature.

If you're desperate for even more, the Chicken Spaghetti blog has an extensive list, too.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Aesop Prize

Every year the Children's Folklore Section of the American Folklore Society selects books for their Aesop Prize. This award looks for great folk stories that are respectful of the culture of the people who tell the story as well as being well documented for sources and annotations.

In other words, this is a great list to share with teachers who are looking for materials to use in their classrooms with various units of study, since you know the stories on this list will be authentic, respectful, and well documented.

There are three winners this year!

Dance, Nana, Dance (Baila, Nana, Baila). By Joe Hayes, Illustrated by Mauricio Trenard Sayago. Cinco Puntos Press, 2008.

This colorful bilingual anthology of thirteen Cuban folktales has sabor, the flavor of the Caribbean, bringing the rich mixture of Spanish, African, and American influences to his readers. Cuban folkloric wisdom and wit fill these pages. There is a rhythmic quality to the linguistic expression in both the English and Spanish narratives, reminiscent of the importance of rhythm in the Cuban way of life.

The Kalevala: Tales of Magic and Adventure. Adapted by Kirsti M�kinen. Illustrated by Pirkko-Liisa Surojegin. Translated by Kaarina Brooks. Simply Read Books, 2009.

The Kalevala, the national epic poem of Finland, is presented in a hefty, lavishly illustrated prose narrative of twenty chapters, interspersed with poetic sidebars providing a more literal sense of the poetic form of the original. The narrative structure closely follows the fifty cantos, or runes, of Elias Lönnrot’s 1849 edition, which he pieced together from thousands of variant folk poems into a single epic format. This new prose edition, translated from the Finnish, makes the classic work available to a new generation of English-speaking older children and young adults, recommended for ages 10 and up. The richly detailed illustrations draw heavily on authentic artifacts of traditional Finnish material culture to give visual clarity to unfamiliar details of the tale.

Naupaka. By Nona Beamer. Illustrated by Caren Ke’ala Loebel-Fried. Translation from the Hawai’ian by Kaliko Beamer-Trapp. Music by Keola Beamer. Bishop Museum Press, 2008. (Includes audio CD).

Nona Beamer, an iconic figure of the Hawaiian cultural renaissance, skillfully retells the locally well-known legend of Naupaka, artfully enhanced by Caren Loebel-Fried’s stunning block print illustrations. The picture book, presented bilingually with parallel English and Hawaiian texts on the same page, tells of two lovers kept apart by the rigid strictures of traditional pre-contact Hawaiian social structure. Naupaka, a princess or member of the ruling ali’i class, falls in love with a commoner, Kau’i. Her parents tell her to consult the kúpuna, the village elders, to determine the lovers’ fate. They refer the decision to a distant kahuna, a religious leader, who defers to the judgment of the gods. When a lightning bolt signals that the lovers must be parted, they sorrowfully concur, with Naupaka remaining in the mountains and Kau’i returning to the seashore. The tale is told to explain the origin of two varieties of scaveola, a flowering plant known in Hawai’i as naupaka. An indigenous variety grows on the coast, in Hawai’i and elsewhere, while the mountainous variety is endemic, found only in Hawai’i. Each bears a white half-blossom, signifying the parting of the lovers.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

National Book Award Winners

The National Book Award Winners were announced this month! They have a Young People's Literature category--it usually skews very YA, and this year is no exception.

Phillip Hoose, Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice

Deborah Heiligman, Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith
David Small, Stitches
Laini Taylor, Lips Touch: Three Times
Rita Williams-Garcia, Jumped

All the books look like excellent choices for older teens. Claudette Colvin tells the story of the black teenager who was arrested for not giving up her seat to a white person--months BEFORE Rosa Parks did the same thing.

Charles and Emma looks at Charles Darwin's process of writing The Origin of Species from a new angle: how his beloved wife's Emma's Christian faith affected how he wrote about his ideas.

Stitches is a little controversial on this list because it was released as an adult title, not a YA; some people felt it was promoted as a YA book to the NBA committees because as a graphic novel, it had a better chance of winning in the Young People's category. The fact remains that it is a hard-hitting account of children's illustrator David Small's difficult childhood and emancipation as a young teen.

Lips Touch is not yet in Prospector, but you can get it at Douglas County. 3 novellas, linked by their fantasy genre and their shared kissing motif. I stayed up way too late reading them.

Jumped is a story about teen girl violence and the decisions that go into standing up--or not--to a bully. One girl decides to beat up another after school, and a third overhears. Should she warn the second girl? Should she get involved?

Monday, November 30, 2009

CAL Session November 20

I attended a CAL session called:
School Liaisons - Building A Partnership Between A Public Library and A School District
Presenter: Priscilla Queen, Douglas County Libraries
This was a very good boost for me as ALD has been trying to build relationships with schools for many years.
November 2008 the bond issues on the ballot for the Douglas County Schools and for the Douglas County Libraries failed. That crisis sent the schools and the public libraries looking for ways to make the most of the money each had. Priscilla Queen the Literacy Specialist at DCPL and Patrick, a technical services person with the Douglas County schools began meeting to find out how a partnership would be beneficial for each of their institutions.
After getting input by teachers and school personnel, they worked together to identify the most needed databases. At first the vendors insisted that the schools and the public library should each have their own licenses. But when Priscilla and Patrick explained close cooperation between the school and the library was essential, most companies were happy to have them as a single customer.
The school district was eventually able to connect directly to the IP addresses of all the library public computers . When the kids were working at school, they did not even need to use their library card barcodes to access the public library databases.
Priscilla assigned a librarian or paraprofessional at each branch to be the Library Liaison to each school in the Douglas County system. They received training and suggestions as to ways to contact people in their schools, and what they should bring to the attention of the school personnel. A monthly contact with the school through phone or email was the starting point. This was an excellent opportunity to remind students and teachers of the Homework Help connections available to students through the library website.
She also saw this as a great opportunity to refresh the call for Assignment Alerts from teachers so libraries could learn of assignments before the kids did and better serve the students. A direct email connection between the school and the Library Liaison made this easier for the teachers.
Priscilla already had a volunteer group she was working with called Spellbinders who told stories to groups at the libraries and schools. Now their visits can be set up through the Library Liaisons in each branch.
Many more advantages were realized by both the schools and the libraries once an individual from each institution was cooperating to mutual advantage. They see no end to the benefits that will be forthcoming.I sat next to a friend who is the Librarian at Lois Lenski Elementary School in the Littleton Public Schools. She has been working with librarians at Koelbel Library for many years. She got quite excited about the progress reported by Patrick and Priscilla and said she is now in a position to facilitate a better partnership with the Arapahoe Library District for LPS.
She asked who she should contact in the Arapahoe Library District to see how to strengthen and formalize the school outreach relationship. I told her that I would get back to her with the name of a person she can contact in ALD. I still am not sure exactly who that will be.
Virginia Brace, Youth Services Librarian

Beyond the Newbery

FYI, I'm teaching a class next week about children's and young adult literature awards. It's held on Wednesday, December 9 at Support Services. It's a fun class, and if you can't squeeze into this month's session, it is offered again on February 17, 2010.

Award lists are great readers' advisory tools. Here's the course objectives:

By the end of the training the learner will:
1. Be familiar with awards for fiction, picture books, non-fiction, poetry, and media
2. Be able to use award lists for professional development, collection development, reader’s advisory, and promotion
3. Be able to deal with issues regarding purpose, authority, inclusion, eligibility, quality, and availability
4. Be knowledgeable of booktalks of recent award winners
5. Be able to demonstrate how s/he can utilize useful resources

Friday, November 27, 2009

Them's Fightin' Words

Any Twilight lovers willing to take this on?

All the flaws of Stephenie Meyer’s novel — the redefinition of conflict as prolonged miscommunication, the romanticization of obsession over affection, the passing off of incident as plot — are laid bare in this self-indulgent cinematic adaptation.

Claire E. Gross is associate editor of the Horn Book Magazine. This quote is from her review of New Moon, which you can read here..

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Evaluating Folk Tales

The School of Education at The University of Arizona has a cool blog called Worlds of Words: Currents, with very thoughtful posts on children's and teen literature. In September they did a super series about evaluating fairy tales for cultural accuracy.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Heavy Medal

Well, it's November, and for some of us that means serious Oscar season, but for me, it means it's time to get in gear and read a bunch of Newbery contenders!

I try to keep on top of the Heavy Medal blog over at School Library Journal. Two bloggers, Jonathan Hunt and Nina Lindsay, sound off on what they're reading, what should win, what the Newbery rules are, all sorts of things. Jonathan is particularly opinionated which makes for pretty lively discussions in the comments.

The Allen County Public Library has a vibrant Mock Awards program. Their reading lists are a great place to start if you're curious about what's getting that awards buzz so far.

There's talk it's a really strong year for nonfiction with titles like Claudette Colvin: Twice Towards Justice, Moonshot, Almost Astronauts, and Charles and Emma rising to the top.

What did you love this year?

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

A children's literature costume round up in honor of the holiday:

From Scholastic: Captain Underpants, Angelina Ballerina, Thing 1 and Thing 2, Very Hungry Caterpillar, Little Miss Spider, and a Wild Thing.

The Pigeon goes trick-or-treating!

Wild Thing! (Actually, Max.)

Thomas and friends rolling along.

Man in the Yellow Hat, dude.

Chicka Chicka...Boom Boom!

Fancy Nancies!

Complete with mice?

Plus a helpful article about building your own storybook costume.

But my absolute fave isn't from a book, but from a videogame. Yup, it's a knitted baby Link outfit.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Memory Box for Storytime

We're almost done with our Narrative Skills month, but I wanted to tell you about a great idea I came across--maybe you can use it the next time we do Narrative Skills in storytime!

Abby Librarian is a 20-something children's librarian who keeps a great blog. Recently she posted about how she uses a Memory Box in storytime.
Each week we find a small object that appears somewhere in one of our storytime books. At the beginning of the storytime we ask kids to guess what's in the box and give them hints until someone guesses it. We ask them to be good listeners and good watchers and let us know when they see the object in one of our stories.

Here are a few examples of Memory Box items we've used:

A small plastic pig to go with the book Bark, George!
An envelope to go with I Am Invited to a Party!
A pie (made out of felt) to go with All for Pie, Pie for All
A kite to go with AlphaOops!: The Day Z Went First

What a neat idea!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Narrative Skills

We still have a week left in October, and our skill of the month is Narrative Skills!

Narrative Skills include describing things and events, telling stories, knowing the order of events (sequencing), and making predictions (what might happen next).

Here are some ideas for promoting this skill in your storytimes:

  • Talk with the children before and after storytime.

  • Talk with the children about your theme for the day: What do you need for a birthday party? What would you take on a picnic? What would you wear if it were a cold, snowy day?

  • Read a story and follow it with a puppet show (simply, so the children can retell the story at home with their stuffed animals).

  • Share stories with a sequence.

  • Invite the children and parents to repeat repetitive phrases.

  • Have children help act out a story or nursery rhyme: Little Miss Muffet, Caps for Sale, etc.

  • Share familiar fairy tales: Three Pigs, Three Billy Goats Gruff, The Little Red Hen, The Three Bears, etc.

  • Share Mother Goose rhymes, story poems, fingerplays, and action rhymes.

  • Some illustrations lend themselves to a dialogue with the children: What the Sea Saw by Stephanie St. Pierre is a joyous celebration of the sea and the shore with realistic, large pictures that make it perfect for sharing.

Friday, October 23, 2009

More Fall Movies

Where the Wild Things Are isn't the only movie based on a book to come out this fall! Cirque du Freak is out today!

Here are a few more movies of interest to children and teens:

October 23: Cirque du Freak. Who's read this? I keep meaning to but have never gotten to it yet. The whole series is pretty much checked out, but I don't know if that's because of the movie, or if it's been popular all along. (The first book came out in 2001.) We also have the first volume redone as manga, in our YA Graphic Novel Collection!

November 6: Disney's A Christmas Carol. This story is all over the place in our collection, and Barbie and Sesame Street and the Flintstones and who knows who else all have their take! Many copies are in J, but if you're out and someone needs it, there are some books in adult fiction, too.

November 6: Precious is based on the novel Push, by Sapphire, which is in our adult fiction collection, but since it's about a teenage girl, there is crossover appeal to YAs.

November 13: Fantastic Mr. Fox I haven't read the book! I don't know the gossip about the movie! Anyone want to jump in here and save me? All I have is this LA Times article. It's stop-motion, not 3D, and has tons of big voice names. Are you going to see it?

November 20: Ah, yes. A little picture based on a small book: New Moon. Fanboys and girls, it's time to speak up, because at this rate, I am never going to read the books or see the movies! Who's seen them? Who's going to this one?

November 25: Disney's Princess and the Frog. Okay, there's a lot of these stories out there--the search "(prince or princess) and juvenile and frog" brings back 45 items in J FIC, folktales, and picture books. This movie is noteworthy because it is a traditional 2D animation from Disney, and because it is the studio's first black princess. There is much discussion going on! Here's an article from the NY Times, from May, and one from Moviefone, in September, for a quick overview of what people are saying. (My favorite comment, from the NYT: "We finally get a black princess and she spends the majority of her time on screen as a frog?")

December 11: The Lovely Bones. Again, not a YA title, but one lots of high school girls have read. I think I'm one of the fourteen people who have not yet read this. But it's directed by Peter Jackson, so there is tons of buzz and Oscar speculation already, even though it's not out for another 2 months!

December 25: Holmes. People are going to say Guy Ritchie is playing pretty fast and loose with the Holmes character, although 1) Ritchie has said, "There's quite a lot of intense action sequences in the stories, [and] sometimes that hasn't been reflected in the movies," and 2) people have been playing pretty fast and loose with Holmes since he was first written. Books are all over our collection ("Sherlock Holmes" as a keyword = 208 items), though what's in J is usually adaptations.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Last week at Staff Day I had a chance to introduce a few staff to Storybird, but I love it so much I wanted everyone to know about it!

Storybird is a storytelling Web 2.0 experience accessible to the youngest kids. On Storybird, you can create your own stories using tons of great pictures from amazing artists. You just click and drag images onto your storyboard, and type in your text. You can make them as long or as short as you like, and if you want, you can post them to the site for everyone to see. You can read other people's Storybirds too!

You can make a story without logging in, but if you create an account you can do the coolest thing: send an email invitation to someone else you know, who can then add their own parts to your story! The Storybirds are saved online at the site.

I created a story with my 5 year old nephew in Chicago. I started a story, then emailed the invite to my sister. She got it opened up, showed my nephew how to click and drag and start a new page, and typed in what he dictated. They did a few pages--he did all the clicking and adding--and sent it back to me! We each took a few turns and had a great time.

I think it's an awesome experience, totally age-appropriate to older preschoolers and up. It's very fun, satisfying, and builds language skills like crazy!

It will always be free to make and save a Storybird, but premium, paid features are on the way, including printing your completed stories.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Tomas Rivera Award

I am so late to the party, since Hispanic American Heritage Month ended on Thursday, but here's the winners of this year's Tomas Rivera Award. This award is specifically for authors and illustrators who write about and show the Mexican-American experience in their works.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Amie's Storytime Links!

Amie Richter shared the following links at the last Storytime Practicum, and agreed to let me post them here so everyone has access! Thanks Amie for gathering these resources and sharing them with us.

Storytime Theme Ideas

Perry Public Library Storytime Themes
The Association of Children's Librarians of Northern California Storytime Ideas
Pre-K Fun
Susan M. Dailey's Favorite Sites
Wilma Flanagan's It's Storytime
StoryPlace Pre-school Library

Printables and Activities

Making Learning Fun
Harper Collins Children's I Can Read
VRAC Coloriages (character coloring pages)
DLTK's Crafts for Kids Coloring Pages
Kiwi Magazine KiwiKids

Holidays, Songs, Book Sites

Holiday Insights Holidays
Kididdles Songs
Guys Read Good boy books
AR Bookfinder Accelerated Reader List

Friday, October 16, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

So are you going to the movie, or keeping your book experience unsullied by film?

Alyson gave us her take back in June, when we also posted some links to interviews and blogs, including Terrible Yellow Eyes, with awesome Wild Thing tribute art!

And here's a blog that has gathered some cute Wild Things craft/art ideas.

Here's a fresh interview from Newsweek last week with both Jonze and Sendak.

One snippet from it to get you started!
What do you say to parents who think the Wild Things film may be too scary?
Sendak: I would tell them to go to hell. That's a question I will not tolerate.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A New Storytime Song

Hee hee.

Thanks to Bridget, who sent me the link to Jim Dale's Cellphone Song.

Monday, October 5, 2009

New Pooh

Are you cheering or jeering over the new Winnie the Pooh adventure? Return to the Hundred Acre Wood, the first authorized sequel to the original Milne books, is being released today!

The author is David Benedictus, who made 2 adaptations of the original books for audio. They are illustrated by Mark Burgess, a children's book illustrator, working in what looks very much like the Shepard style.

"The first Pooh book in 80 years?" you say. "What was all the Disney stuff, chopped liver?" Disney bought the television, film, and merchandising rights in 1961, but the Milne estate retained the rights to sequels. I'm not really clear myself on the difference, but my guess is that all those Disney books are considered "merchandising" of the various film and TV characters.

And speaking of characters, the new book will introduce a new friend to the Wood: Lottie the Otter. Are we ready for this? :)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Banned Books Week

Did you have a good Banned Books Week?

Did you get a chance to see Ellen Hopkins' Manifesto poster? It's very moving, especially if you consider her struggles with challenges to her own books which deal explicitly with tough issues. (see: Crank, Glass, Tricks, eg)

However, Joe posted a great link over on the Professional Development blog that I'm stealing for here! The Wall Street Journal writes, Finding Censorship Where There is None, and asks, "Why do parents' public petitions constitute censorship, while librarians' hidden verdicts do not?"

Are you ready? Here's a response to the WSJ article, from the blog Creative Anomalies. They tackle why the parents' petitions to remove books are considered censorship: "Parents may determine what their own children read, but they do not now and never have had the ability to make the choice for any other parent."

But the CA post doesn't address that "hidden verdict" issue. The truth is that some librarians, being human beings and all, do have biases and sometimes do use selection policies consciously or unconsciously to keep certain books out of their collections. And yes, WSJ, when that happens, they are censors too. But the truth is also that many librarians are actively working to put all kinds of books ONTO their shelves, while working within constraints of budget and space and also respond to their specific community's needs.

If you've never read the classic "Not Censorship but Selection" by Lester Asheim, or if (like me) you haven't read it for years, it's worth the time. He says,
The aim of the selector is to promote reading, not to inhibit it; to multiply the points of view which will find expression, not limit them; to be a channel for communication, not a bar against it. In a sense, perhaps, it could be said that the librarian is interfering with the freedom to read whenever he fails to make some book available. But viewed realistically, the librarian is promoting the freedom to read by making as accessible as possible as many things as he can, and his selection is more likely to be in the direction of stimulating controversy and introducing innovation than in suppressing the new and perpetuating the stereotype.

Happy Banned Books Week!

Monday, September 28, 2009


I apologize for having a slow month for YSIG posts! I have been very busy with projects for Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy, but will get back up to speed in a few days.

Some of those projects:

CLEL has a fresh look for our website! We are trying to gather as many resources for early literacy programs and services as we can. Please visit & tell me what is missing, so we can add what you need!

We've also added a blog. I know, I know: another blog. We're hoping to point towards national early literacy news and reports along with spotlighting early literacy programs and services in Colorado libraries. As we get going there will also be best practices and tips, book reviews, and other bits and pieces.

We've created a Facebook page and started Twittering.

Hope to see you around! :)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Exquisite Corpse Begins!

Here's an announcement!

"The US National Ambassador for Young People's Literature and author Jon Scieszka (The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tale, Time Warp Trio, among others), is the first of what will be a number of noted authors to write a serial adventure story for publication by the Library of Congress ' new website.

Co-sponsored by the Library's Center for the Book and the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance, The Exquisite Corpse Adventure is a free online serial targeted to kids and families.

The initial installment will launch at the Library of Congress' National Book Festival , on Saturday, September 26, 2009.

Other authors and illustrators that will contribute to The Exquisite Corpse Adventure include M.T. Anderson, Natalie Babbitt, Calef Brown, Susan Cooper, Kate Di Camillo, Nikki Grimes, Shannon Hale, Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket), Steven Kellogg, Gregory Maguire, Megan McDonald, Patricia and Fredrick McKissack, Linda Sue Park, Katherine Paterson, James Ransome and Chris Van Dusen."

Monday, September 21, 2009

New Songs for Storytime!

My friend and colleague on Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy, Mary Kuehner, tipped me off to a Seattle-area musician, Nancy Stewart. Nancy specializes in music for children and posts a free song on her website every month! There are some seriously cute songs (Dinosaurs in Cars, anyone?) as well as some ASL & Spanish songs , movement and games songs...check out all the songs by category! She even has a category she calls "Read N Sing" songs, designed to build early literacy by using printed sheets along with the singing. You can listen to each song online, burn the Free Songs of the Month onto a CD for storytime, get great ideas for new flannels to go with, and lots more.

PS. You should also go check out Mary's fun storytime blog, where she reviews picture books, talks about her storytime techniques, and usually has a great story about something one of her kids has said in storytime. She's an outreach librarian for Jefferson County PL, and probably does more storytimes in a month than I do all year! Well, it seems that way, anyway!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tomie Tribute

Tomie dePaola turned 75! Check out this great blog, a tribute from other children's illustrators: Three Kisses for Tomie. It will make your day!

Friday, September 11, 2009

New Literacy Based Storytime Books!

Former ALD employee Kathy Totten has a new book out from Neal-Schuman, Family Literacy Storytimes. Kathy says the book is organized by theme, and she includes ways to use each book listed with 2 or 3 different literacy skills. She also has sample plans for each theme, focusing on just one literacy skill.

If you do a family storytime, especially a bilingual storytime, this book may be very useful to you.

Also, Saroj Ghoting, who wrote the "blue book" Early Literacy Storytimes @ your library, has another book out just this month: The Early Literacy Kit: A Handbook and Tip Cards. This sounds very cool and I can't wait to see the tip cards.

I've requested LMS purchase both titles for the branch professional collections, so keep your eyes out for them!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Read Kiddo Read

You may have heard of Jon Scieszka's initiative Guys Read (if not go to the site and see how he is trying to help motivate boys to read and provide book ideas and role models to guys of all ages) but did you know James Patterson has a reading website too?

It's called Read Kiddo Read ("dedicated to making kids readers for life")and he's got interviews, forums, a blog, and lists, lists, lists. Including a "trasitional readers" list for those in-between readers 6 & up!

I found out about this from a full-page ad in Entertainment Weekly with the banner headline, "OMG! My son is reading!"

Friday, September 4, 2009

Non-Summer Reading Programs

My mom likes to send me articles about kids' books and libraries...the following quote is from a newspaper story called "Helping a child choose good books" in the Knoxville News Sentinel this July.

Librarians will often try to make [looking for book suggestions] into a game, and it's one that parents can play as well. For example, you might ask your children to pick a children's book--any book--from a top shelf of the library....Another possibility: have your child head to a library bookshelf, close his eyes, choose three books at random from that shelf and then choose one to read.

These two examples come from my library's summer reading program....We also have bookmarks with various reading choices [listed on them]. Some examples: "read a book with a red cover," "read a book int eh 800-899 section of the library" and "read a book that shows you how to make or do something and then make or do it." Kids roll a pair of dice and choose a book that corresponds to the same number on the bookmark.

We do occasionally get questions from parents during the year if we have a reading program for the fall, or the spring. (Douglas County Libraries run a program every season in part because of the high number of year-round schools in their area.) I think it would be fun to think of developing a couple of different, easy to implement "programs" for our fall and spring "semesters." Maybe we could print up a Genre Bingo Card for the fall and a bookmark with crazy choices for the spring ("read a book with an author whose last name starts with Z").

Maybe we could move Summer Showdown to another season and adapt it? What did you guys think of Summer Showdown? Any comments or ideas?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Do you know what Bella Swan's favorite book is?

Because it's getting a new cover. Yes, Wuthering Heights has been repackaged for those teens who really want to read their favorite character's favorite book. There's a lot of chatter online about the new cover, some positive and some not so (see the comments to this post for a lovely example of the two sides to the debate). What do you think about this re-branding? Is such a blatant association with Twilight a smart promotion or a cultural dumbing down? And while you're pondering, check out this slide show of past Wuthering Heights covers.

Finally, I couldn't post about this without mentioning Bella's Bookshelf, a blog "dedicated to discussing the classic literature Bella Swan Cullen mentions through the course of the Twilight saga." Check out their discussions of Wuthering Heights and Eclipse.

Monday, August 31, 2009

100 Great Picture Books

Looking for some terrific picture books to recommend, use at storytime, or enjoy yourself? Check out this list prepared by Melissa Depper, Virginia Brace and Lori Romero. 100 Great Picture Books features "Fresh, fun books just right for sharing with children ages birth to 5 years!"

Use the search box on Tales' Treehouse to find "great picture books" or find the list on the Great Books page. Remember you can use the print icon on the top right corner to produce a printable list. (Print example)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Looking at Picture Books

The remarkable Karla Kuskin, poet, author, and illustrator, recently passed away. Roger Sutton remembers a piece she wrote for the Horn Book about reviewing picture books. I just looked at it and am printing it out to read more slowly. Even if you never review picture books yourself, I strongly encourage you to read this article. It will help clarify your thinking about evaluating the picture books you come across, whether that's on the new book shelf or for storytimes or for displays or whatever.

Karla says, "A PICTURE BOOK IS A COMPLICATED FORM OF COLLABORATIVE ART. When it is very well done, it is an artistic achievement worthy of respectful examination and honor. Even failures, and especially near misses, deserve the kind of attention and understanding given to serious creative endeavors."

Monday, August 24, 2009

Seventh Early Literacy Skill?

There's an article in SLJ/Aug. by Ann Crewdson in which she makes the case for identifying and supporting a seventh, technology-based, early literacy skill. She provides a nice description of several gaming systems and CD-Roms that support the six early literacy skills. I'm not sure that the mere use of technology to support literacy needs to be elevated to the status of "literacy skill" and Crewdson admits that the 7th early literacy variable "remains elusive". She says it is out there, though, and evolving and she further urges librarians to help parents locate early literacy software. Do you think that video games for the 2-5 year old crowd (even with a literacy component) can really promote literacy or will they compete with books for a child's attention? I'm particularly thinking about recent studies that have shown Baby Einstein videos and the like to be detrimental to a child's early literacy development...

More books on ACPL Mock Caldecott

The Allen County Public Library released their next "short list" of Caldecott hopefuls. Remember we are adding books to the Caldecott Hopefuls shelf on our ALD Goodreads account. You can also vote on the 2010 Caldecott Hopefuls listopia we started.

My personal favorite, One Beetle Too Many by Kathryn Lasky because I wanted to take off to wild places to explore nature (which was definitly the book's influence not my usual hobby). Moving up the Listopia list is Lion and the Mouse, which is not even published yet!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Database of Award Winning Children's Literature

I just taught my new-and-improved version of Beyond the Newbery, which is a class for staff on all the children's and teen youth literature awards. Next one is in December! Anyway, I was reminded (after the class, of course) about the great online resource The Database of Award Winning Children's Books and thought I'd remind you guys as well.

This site has a searchable database of over 70 award lists. You can look for award winners by setting, historical period, suggested age of the reader, race/ethnicity, all sorts of things. When you get a teacher who wants to read a good book to their class, you can point them here and see what comes up.

Monday, August 17, 2009

YOUMedia of the Chicago Public Library

YOUMedia is a revolutionary space at the Harold Washington Library in Chicago.

"According to CPL, its goal is to 'support youth to participate with digital media across all three of these practices [hanging out with friends in online spaces, playing with digital media, and "geeking out" in online groups that deal with their core interests]. The goal, in time, is to increase, substantially, the number of youth in Chicago who use online resources and new media as tools to engage in inquiry about their neighborhoods, the city, and the world. The design of the YOUmedia learning space will encourage individual and collaborative work and also be a safe and open space where teens can come just to hang-out.' "

Here are some pictures from Flickr.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Fresh Storytime Ideas

Hi folks! We are halfway through August which means many of us are starting to think about storytimes again. This summer on PUBYAC someone asked for Unusual Storytime Topics--they were getting a little bored with their regular ideas and wanted to get some fresh ideas. The list everyone came up with was really fun. I'm adding the list to this post, but if you'd like to see the full compilation with more commentary, let me know and I will send it to you via email.

Don't forget Lori Romero and I are offering another Storytime Practicum share session. We will be talking about Dialogic Reading--how to ask those open-ended questions that are so powerful for kids developing their language skills. As always, there will be time to share something from your storytime kit with everyone else--a new book you love, a flannel you've made, a song you are having a great time singing. Check with your supervisor and sign up on ALD-U. The class is called Literacy Based Storytime (Practicum) and it is on August 27, Thursday, at the May library. Hope to see you there!

Here's the list of storytime topics:

List of Unusual Storytime Themes

__________ Appreciation Day
(use Chase’s Calender of Events / Internet sites)
5 Senses
All About Me
Amazing Adventures
Amusement Park
Animal Crackers
Animals Nobody Loves
Author Appreciation
Backwards Stories
Bad Days
Bags & Backpacks
Be Creative
Best Friends
Birthday Parties
Black & White
Bravery Stories
Can’t Sit Still
Chain Reactions
Circular Stories
Cleaning Up
Cumulative Stories
Dancing Shoes
Dirty Jobs
Election Day
Fast & Slow
Finding Your Place
Fire Prevention
Five Senses
Five (of something)
Fractured Fairy Tales
Getting Out of Interesting Situations
Glitter Time
Going Hunting (bear hunt, a-hunting)
Grandparents Day
Guessing Games
Happy Unbirthday
Home of My Own
Hide & Seek
Hugs & Kisses
Ice Cream
I’m Big
In My Pocket
Interesting Animals
Let’s Learn About __________
Let’s Play Pretend
Lost & Found
Make Believe
Me & My Dad
Me & My Mom
Miss / Mrs. / Mr. __________’s Favorites
Mistaken Identity
Napping and Waking Up
New Books!
Night Happenings
Now I’m Big!
Oh No! I’m Scared!
Old Ladies (I Know an Old Lady Who…)
Outer Space
Places to go in the Summer
Polka Dots
Position Words
Post Office
Rescued Animals
Ridiculous Stories
Same But Different
Scientific Principles
Shoo Fly Shoo
Show & Tell
Sign Language
Solving a Problem
Song Stories
Spatter Paint
Spooky stories
Stinky Things
Story villains
Things on Your Head
This & That
Three of Something
Time Travel
To the Rescue
Under the Weather
Unusual Animals
Unusual Appetites
Unusual Pets
Unusual Rescues
Vocabulary Building
Wacky Farm
Where is?
What’s Black and White and Red All Over?
What’s on Your Head?
What’s That Sound?
Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad ________?
Wild & Wacky
X-Rays & Skeletons

Monday, August 10, 2009

Ultimate YA Bookshelf

If you're on Facebook, you've probably seen one of those memes about how many classic books you've read or great movies you've watched. How will you do with these Ultimate YA titles?

I've read 21...which means I have lots to put on my to-be-read shelf!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Quick Cover Update

The book jacket for Justine Larbalestier's Liar is going to change. The author updated her blog today (and even has a post with a picture of the new cover!)and Publisher's Weekly posted this piece about the change. It seems that Bloomsbury listened to public opinion about the cover photo and decided to alter it in time for the book's release in October. Be sure to check the comments on Larbalestier's post for input from other YA authors!

Monday, August 3, 2009

And the next Ambassador?

Roger Sutton from the Horn Book is on the committee to select the next National Ambassador of Young People's Literature (you know, the job Jon Scieska's had). He's asking for ideas. Who do you think could speak well and promote children and reading? Check out the comments to see who his readers are rooting for!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

"It Was a Dark and Stormy Night..."

Check out this list of great first lines for YA books!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Read for Change

Hey Storytime givers, parents, volunteers... - log your hours as part of Read for Change, sponsored by Reading is Fundamental and part of Obama's United We Serve program.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Inside Look at the Newbery Process

I just discovered (via a post from SLJ on Twitter) a blog from the University of Arizona, Worlds of Words: Currents. It is "a blog dedicated to current events, research, and issues pertaining to the use, publication, and reviews of children's and adolescent literature."

They recently had a 4 part interview with Nick Glass of, about his experiences on last year's Newbery Committee.

Part 1: What's it like serving on the Newbery Committee? What is the process?
Part 2: About The Graveyard Book and the "popular v. distinguished" Newbery discussion.
Part 3: At this year's Awards Banquet, and thoughts on Neil Gaiman's acceptance speech.
Part 4: Is there a "Newbery" type of book?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Day in the Life

Are you interested in what a day in the life of a library worker looks like outside ALD? Check out this wiki with links to almost 100 different posts.

Bobbi Newman started this idea last year with a post on her blog about her weekly routine. This year staff from all over the country recorded what they did on Monday, July 27.

What do you think? Any surprises?

Lighter Side of YA covers

Bridget has brought us the serious side of cover selection issues. Now check out 100 Scopenotes for a fun automatic YA book cover maker. My effort is pictured.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Of books and teens and covers

I follow a lot of YA authors' blogs, but Justine Larbalestier's is one of my favorites because of the way she picks at politics and digs at social issues and is generally charming and witty all the while. She has a new book coming out in September called Liar, and there's been some discussion on her blog lately about the US cover image. In Larbalestier’s words, “Liar is a book about a compulsive (possibly pathological) liar who is determined to stop lying but finds it much harder than she supposed.” And Micah, the lying narrator, “is black with nappy hair which she wears natural and short.”

The controversy that’s sprung up lately centers on the picture of a white girl with long hair pulled about her face that Bloomsbury chose to use as the book’s cover art here in the US. Larbalestier’s blog post addressing the controversy offers a wealth of links to other discussions of race and YA lit and visual representations of non-white characters, and it's worth the time it will take you to explore them. Shortly after her post went live, Publisher's Weekly also posted a short piece about the debate.

And in a related vein, I was chatting with a friend of mine who works in publishing (this was before the current debate made it onto my radar) about Suzanne Collins' YA book The Hunger Games, and part of that conversation stuck with me. My friend mentioned that she'd heard through Scholastic's grapevine that Collins works hard to create characters that are defined by who they are rather than what they look like, and she prefers her covers to leave visual representations of the characters to readers' imaginations. Certainly, The Hunger Games and Catching Fire are indicative of that desire, but like Larbalestier explained, authors don’t usually have any say in their books’ covers and some of the The Underland Chronicles books do have kids on their covers.

So what's your take on all this? Are Larbalestier's arguments about the way teens will perceive Micah after viewing the cover valid? And would it be worth starting this conversation with teens in our libraries about book covers and white washing in the publishing world?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Here's a super site if you are working with Hispanic/Latino kids or Spanish books: Children & Libraries en Espanol! CHILES!

If you are a children's librarian looking for help in better serving your Spanish-speaking patrons, but you don't speak Spanish yourself, have no fear! This site will provide resources to help you communicate, learn more about latino and hispanic cultures, find great children's books in Spanish, and network with other librarians who serve Spanish-speaking children, so that we can all benefit from each other's great ideas!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

The movie opens September 18th. This adds to the questions about Where the Wild Things Are that Melissa asked in her post:
"How do you adapt a quintessential work from its original media to another? Just how problematic is it to try to stretch a picture book into a full-length feature?"

Check out the trailer.
It will be interesting to see how this goes over.

Friday, July 17, 2009

First ACPL Mock Newbery List!

Allen County has published their first Mock Newbery list!

ACPL Mock Newbery List # 1:

Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin
All the Broken Pieces by Ann E. Burg
Wild Things by Clay Carmichael
Happenstance Found by P.W. Catanese
Girl Who Threw Butterflies by Mick Cochrane
The Problem with the Puddles by Kate Feiffer
The Year the Swallows Came Early by Kathryn Fitzmaurice
Emmaline and the Bunny by Katherine Hannigan
Scat by Carl Hiaasen
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
Traveling the Freedom Road by Linda Barrett Osborne
Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
Peace, Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson

I've only read one book on this list! It's time to get cracking. What are the strongest titles you've read this year?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

New Award?

The folks over at readertotz would love to see an award created for the best board book for babies! Read a little more about why and vote for what it should be called...

Do you think there are too many awards? How do having awards fit in with the reality of publishing today? Do you like awards?

I have a "Beyond the Newbery" class scheduled for August 19--if you'd like to learn more about youth literature awards and see some recent winners, ask your supervisor for time to attend!

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Wall Street Journal has a short article recommending YA historical fiction to older readers who don't want to get bogged down!

Getting Boys to Read

From American Libraries direct: Holly Jennings writes: “Getting Boys to Read is a website dedicated to supporting parents, teachers, and librarians who want to help boys learn to love reading. The site was founded by Mike McQueen, a teacher-librarian at McLain Community High School in Lakewood, Colorado. The site provides informative articles, interviews, and a forum for discussion about all topics related to boys, reading, writing, and other literacy-related topics. It tackles national issues, like the serious literacy gap between boys and girls in the United States, strategies to help get boys reading, information about Jon Scieszka’s Guys Read Group, and informative book reviews."...Rochester (N.Y.) Examiner, June 21

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Older, Wiser, Sadder?

Here's a heads-up to Anne of Green Gables fans! LM Montgomery's final book in the Anne series will be published for the first time in its entirety this fall. The book is set before and after the first world war, and uses short stories, poetry, and dialogue.

The book looks set to reveal a darker side to the author, with its publisher promising themes of "adultery, illegitimacy, misogyny, revenge, murder, despair, bitterness, hatred, and death – usually not the first terms associated with LM Montgomery". [from the Guardian story]

An abbreviated version was published in 1974.

I only read the first Anne and the Emily of New Moon trilogy, and didn't see any of the TV or film versions, so I'm not a die-hard fan. What do you guys think of this? If you are fans, will you read this?

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Breaking news! Apparently YALSA is going to consider whether to stop publishing the Best Books For Young Adults annual list, in favor of a more reader's-choicy type of award or list.

This is so alarming! There is no other list, in ALA or elsewhere, that seeks to publish such a robust collection of the best and the brightest from the wide spectrum of what is published for teens. (The Printz and Horn Book only highlight a few books, Quick Picks is concerned only with reluctant readers, etc; BBYA general cites up to 100 great books of all genres for all readers.) It is an incredibly valuable tool for librarians and teens alike!

Read this great defense of BBYA from YA author Alix Flinn, as well as commentary from Booklist. And if you feel really strongly, you can add comments for the committee to consider here.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Wish List for Publishers

Diantha McBride wrote a great little "open letter" to children's book publishers in SLJ this month, full of 10 things she'd love to see publishers do with or add to their books.

The list includes such items as "Thanks, But No Tanks" (no more WWII books, please, what about ALL THE OTHER HISTORICAL TIME PERIODS?) and "Out of Order" (PLEASE put series number information on the spine!).

What do YOU wish publishers would do or stop doing? What would help you help kids?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Fourth!

Hope everyone has a super weekend!

I'm passing on a tweet from The Tattered Cover: "Celebrate by exercising your right to read freely."

(find them at

PS: My new favorite float ever:

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Family Fun

Disney puts out a magazine called FamilyFun that's full of neat ideas for parents, but I use it all the time to plan programs here at the library, and have used their printables for crafts or storytime components.

Here's an example of the type of stuff they pull together: check out their Fourth of July activities!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Check it Out!

LIBNET had a fun thread recently that is recapped here on the Colorado Libraries blog: Unique Check Outs. Libraries check out more than books and media! The list ranges from bones (for nurses to study) to puzzles to bikes to electronic devices.

What would you love to be able to check out to the families who use your branch? What resources could the library invest in and share the wealth to our patrons?

Monday, June 29, 2009


If you ever have a patron come in and say, "You know, I want one of those books where they have pictures instead of words?"

They have a word for that! They are called Rebuses and that's exactly how you can search for them in the catalog: a word or keyword search for Rebuses and Juvenile. Using picture clues to help decipher meaning is a legitimate step on the road to reading, so don't let anyone tell you these books are "cheating."

They are in a couple of places:

The Ready-to-Read series has several TV tie in books in the Easy Reader section.

Shirley Neitzel has a little niche on the Easy Picture shelves with her books. They aren't a series with a continuing character, but each has the same cumulative-tale rebus format.

There are one or two others (Smoky has another ER series) but this should get you started! Here's a list from Allen County that may help you scrape a few more titles together. If you know of any other searches or titles that will help with this question, please chime in!

Friday, June 26, 2009


Here's a nice article from the LA Times connecting the Pixar movie Up with children's literature.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

RPLD Summer Reading

I love my hometown library. They are small, just one location in a medium-sized Chicago suburb, but every time I get a newsletter it seems they are trying something new and cool.

For instance, their Teen Summer Reading program uses a ticket system to promote programs and services in addition to reading!

Teens who read for at least an hour every week earn a small prize and a ticket in a weekly drawing. But there are grand prizes at the end of the summer, too, and the more tickets you have in the pot, the better your chances of winning a prize!

Here's the other ways teens can earn tickets:

1 hour reading books, graphic novels, & magazines = 1 ticket
1 hour listening to audiobooks & playaways = 1 ticket
Teen program = 1 ticket
Write a book, movie, or game review = 1 ticket
Read-2-Gether VolunTEEN = 2 tickets
VolunTEEN (every 4 hrs) = 2 tickets

I love this system! What do you think? What other activities could be worth a ticket?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

More About the Wild Things

Spike Jonze, the director of the new Wild Things movie that Alyson posted about yesterday, along with others on the movie team, have a blog going, We Love You So, as kind of a bulletin board where they tack up a bunch of items of interest: "This place has been established to help shed some light on many of the small influences that have converged to make this massive project a reality."

There's a lot of pretty random stuff, but also great pieces like Mr Rogers defending PBS funding in the midst of the Vietman War, artwork depicting children with imaginary friends, and quotes, interviews, and video clips of Maurice Sendak.

Another very cool WTWTA-related blog: Terrible Yellow Eyes, which showcases WTWTA-inspired artwork.

A fan site with lots of links to interviews and articles is Where the Wild Things Are.

There's also a 6-months-old Rolling Stone interview with Spike Jonze in which he touches on some of the adaptations he made, and states that Maurice Sendak likes the movie.

I can't wait until the discussion about the movie starts in earnest: how do you adapt a quintessential work from its original media to another? Just how problematic is it to try to stretch a picture book into a full-length feature? (Horton Hears a Who, Cat in the Hat, Jumanji...) What are people going to think about Dave Eggers' novelization/tie-in/inspired-by-the-movie novel, The Wild Things?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

Are you looking forward to the movie (out Oct 16th)? Or do you think it is a travesty to attempt such a thing? Check out the website to view the trailer, posters and images.

My first thought - the mood doesn't seem right. In the book Max is mad, terrified, smug, domineering and WILD; but never soulful and sad looking like the movie images. Colorado Ballet's photo matches the book more.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Where You Headed?

Have you seen the PSAs for the Library of Congress' Lifelong Literacy campaign?

If not, take a minute and go to Oz.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Audiophiles, Meet Audiofile

Summer means lots of road trips and often we get more questions at the desk about recommendations for audiobooks that everyone can listen to. It's a great idea to have a couple of titles you can mention off the top of your head.

Audiofile, the audiobook magazine, has a website you can use as a resource. Their Family Listening page has author interviews, featured narrators, and 3 recommended lists: for young adults, for 8-12 year olds, and for 4-8 year olds.

There's also a link on that page to their Audiobooks on the Go Summer Listening for Kids & Families 2009 list. It's separated into four sections (Other Times & Places, Classics, Fantasy Worlds, and Family & Community) and has recommended listening levels for each book. Most of the titles are for grades 4 and up, but there are some in each category for K-3.

Don't forget about Tales' Treehouse! To search for audiobooks, type in "Listen to This" in Mr. Crow's search box. Many books listed in the Treehouse have "get the CD" links, but the audiobooks that are specifically recommended are tagged "Listen to This."

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Trickle Down Readonomics?

As I brace myself to finally read Twilight, here's a great blog post from Carlie Webber at Librarilly Blonde that takes on one of my concerns: What happens when a teen book becomes so popular that younger and younger girls (and boys) want to read it? Just because something grows more popular doesn't mean it grows more appropriate.

Carlie's responding to another blog post, What to Do, What to Do? over at Publishers Weekly. There's tons of great comments there, many from a bookseller point of view. How are things different for us in a library?

What do you do when the 8 and 9 and 10 year old girls ask you for Twilight? If they just want to be on the vampire or supernatural bandwagon, what could we possibly give them instead?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

June is Vocabulary Month!

ALD's early literacy skill of the month is Vocabulary!

Vocabulary is simply knowing the names of things...lots of things, objects, feelings, and ideas.

Why is it important?

It's much easier to decode a word on the page when it's a word you already know. So kids with bigger vocabularies have an easier time when they start to read, since it's much easier for them to make sense of what they're sounding out.

What Can You Do?

  • Talk with the children before and after storytime.

  • After a story, go back to a page with an unfamiliar word or phrase (example: In One Monday Morning by Uri Schulevitz, you might go back to the jester and royal barber and ask, “Does anyone know what a jester is? How about a barber? Look, he has a pair of scissors in his hand…").

  • Choose books with rich language.

  • Never substitute words...use a synonym to explain the word (sometimes prior to the reading and at other times as you come to the word in the story).

  • Read non-fiction as well as fiction.

  • Present puppet shows and activities that present concepts: over, under, up, down, beside, around, near, far, tall, short, fast, slow, large, small, left, right, etc.

  • Share activities about opposites.

  • Talk about the emotions of the characters in the story.

What do you like to do to include this skill in storytime? What tips do you like to give to the grownups?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How Oliver Olson Changed... mind about skinny chapter books.

I've been a little frustrated as I've read recent easy beginning readers, such as Mighty Monty, Uh-Oh Cleo, and Alvin Ho.

Many easy beginning readers follow a certain path: there's a young person who takes center stage, and each chapter shows us a different "chapter" of their life. So we see the karate lesson, the birthday party, the trip to the ER, and so forth.

I was starting feel like the characters were flat, the stories episodic, and the themes a little rote. I was worried that I was reading them with too much of a grown-up brain, and couldn't evaluate them fairly for 6-8 year old readers. After all, how much character, plot, and thematic development can you squeeze into a skinny book for a less than fluent reader? And what evaluative criteria should we use on such slender stories as a result?

Then I read How Oliver Olson Changed the World, from Colorado's own Claudia Mills.

Claudia Mills reminded me that thematic coherence, believable voices, generous humor, authentic character development, and real-life issues are all possible, even at 100 pages, tops. No, really! Read it and find out.

(Fuse liked it, too.)

Want to see her do all this in a picture book, too? Find Ziggy's Blue Ribbon Day.

Other great easy chapter books from Claudia Mills are 7 x 9 = Trouble and Being Teddy Roosevelt.

Monday, June 15, 2009

It's Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!

Allen County Public Library just posted their first Mock Caldecott list of the year!

Evansville has their first quarter list up as well.

What have they missed so far? Go to our GoodReads Caldecott Hopeful shelf and add your favorites.

Fuse has her own "halfway there" predictions, too.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Blogroll Update

I've been making friends with my Google Reader again after 3 months of being too busy with the After School program at May to read much of anything!

I've added a few blogs to the YSIG blogroll:

ALSC Blog--from the ALA's Association of Library Services to Children

The mission of the ALSC Blog is to provide a venue for coverage of time sensitive news in children’s librarianship, current issues in the field, and programs, conferences, initiatives, resources, and activities of interest to ALSC members and those interested in children’s librarianship.


This is the blog of author Cynthia Leitich Smith. She is insanely well informed and her blog is very active with lots of great information:

A source for interviews, reading recommendations, publishing information, literacy advocacy, writer resources, news in children's and teen literature.

Kidlitosphere News

I've mentioned the Kidlitosphere website before--this is their news roundup.

This page features news in the area of children's literature, events from around the blogging community, and announcements about KidLitosphere happenings. Primarily focused on literary news, special events, useful articles, and interesting posts from other blogs, it does not include reviews, interviews, or opinions.

I also put a link to the Summer Showdown blog under ALD. Find out what our shortlists are for the summer!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Catching Up with the Fuse 100

Sorry, I never got back to you with more links to the Top 100 Picture Books list over at Fuse #8.

Here is her final list, Top 100 Picture Books Poll Results #1-101 I'm still working slowly through all the posts, reading her comments.

This is a great list. Of course it's not definitive (what is?) but it's an interesting window into what books are valued by people active in the children's literature world.

Is there anything you would have put on this list that didn't make it?

Take a look at this follow-up list of ALL the titles that got nominated, whether they were on the final 100 list or not.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Summer Showdown!

We are trying something new this summer! We have 5 lists of 8 books, one for picture books, junior fiction, YA fiction, adult fiction, and adult non-fiction. We've started a new blog called Summer Showdown.

Every weekday is devoted to a different list: Mondays to picture books, Tuesdays to J fiction, etc.

Please promote this online activity to your patrons! It will be highlighted on the websites, too.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Worst Review Ever

Here's a fun, brand-new blog that looks like it's going to be a great discussion starter! Alexa Young, YA author of Frenemies and Faketastic, is asking around for authors to respond to their lousy reviews...starting with her own!

I've read just a couple of the interviews so far, but it is making me think a little more deeply about the review process, which is cool.

The most recent post is about a review for Gentlemen, by Michael Northrop. Read through the comments till you get to LizB (who is very cool in her own right). She raises a really good point about what's the difference between a review and a recommendation:

People have been asking me the difference between reviews and recommendations/discussions. I think this illustrates it; this was a personal response, so falls into recommendation. By not looking beyond that (do "I" like it versus "does the book, as written, do what it intends to do"), it is not a "review." Do "I" relate to characters? Response. Are the characters realistic? Review -- because a character can be realistic, yet I don't relate to them/ like them.

Monday, June 8, 2009

In Between Books?

When you're in between books this summer, you can put your hair in a bun, slide on your work glasses, and stitch one of these designs on your old jeans jacket.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Guys Read Display

As we gear up for summer reading, here's a cool display idea from the Downers Grove Public Library in the Chicago suburbs.

They are using stickers downloaded from, Jon Scieszka's initiative to help keep boys motivated to read. If you haven't been by, check out the site--it has lots of great book recommendations for boys.

I know ALD has been standardizing the use of permanent spine stickers and cutting down on the usage of special collections, but wouldn't it be cool to do something like this temporarily?

At Koelbel there is a special display for Adult Summer Reading, on our New Fiction shelves. It's kind of like a staff picks, in that the books aren't necessarily new, just good reads. But instead of having a Staff Picks bookmark in them or sticky note on their covers, they all have a special sticker on their spines to keep them together, just for the summer.

I'd love to declare a "Guys Read" month at ALD...we could have Father and Son book programs, choose male authors for our regular book clubs, have male writers come and talk, and have special temporary sections in every branch full of books with the Guys Read stickers on their spines.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards

The 2009 winners were announced Tuesday for the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award! These award looks at books published from June 2008 to May 2009, which puts it on a slightly different schedule than many other awards.

It's a fairly prestigious award, and always interesting to see how it differs from the ALA winners.

Winner of Fiction and Poetry is Nation, by Terry Pratchett
Winner of Nonfiction is The Lincolns: A Scrapbook Look at Abraham and Mary, by Candace Fleming
Winner of Picture Books is Bubble Trouble, by Margaret Mahy

Read more and see the honor books here.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Kelly Herold, of Big A little a and other projects (including being a college professor), has started a new blog called Crossover. In it she will discuss and review books that have "crossover" appeal--books for teens that adults like, books for adults that teens like.

She's starting off with Twilight (I am still so reluctant to read this one, but know I really should!) and mentions the recent Guardian award long list as a list full of books with crossover potential.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Book Clubs

Pam Grover and I just did the book club "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" The kit was very helpful. I went to the web-site and found out that they are casting for the movie "Diary of a Wimpy Kid." They are looking for a boy between the ages of 10-13. If you know anyone that is not cute but unique let them know. The web site is

Friday, April 24, 2009

Colorado Children's Book Award

The winners of the 2009 Colorado Children's Book Award were announced. The 2009 winners are Bad Dog Marley and Diary of a Wimpy Kid, with runners-up The Perfect Nest and The Sea of Monsters.
Kids nominate and vote on this award each year. The 2010 nominees were also announced. I will feature them all on Tales Treehouse when a couple more are on order.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Always Worth Talking About

There was a great article by author Mitali Perkins posted by SLJ at the beginning of the month, called Straight Talk on Race: Challenging the Stereotypes in Children's Books.

She offers,

Here are five questions that’ll help you and your students discern messages about race in stories. Try these in the classroom, and my guess is that you may end up engaging teens who had seemed reluctant to share their literary opinions.

One caveat: it was hard to cite books written by fellow authors as examples, especially those titles that are written beautifully and are popular with young readers. But my hope is to spur the children’s book community to be more thoughtful and proactive about how and why we write, read, and talk about race. So here goes.

Her questions:

1. Are the nonwhite characters too good to be true?
2. How and why does the author define race?
3. Is the cover art true to the story?
4. Who are the change agents?
5. How is beauty defined?

None of these questions are really new--this discussion has been ongoing within the children's book world for decades--but it is always worthwhile to consider them again, perhaps with the couple of books you've read most recently in mind.

Monday, April 20, 2009


For those of you factoid junkies, writers (aspiring and otherwise), and teachers (past or present), here's a blog you might want to keep an eye on. It's called I.N.K. which stands for Interesting Non-Fiction for Kids!

Over 20 writers are contributing authors to the blog (including Boulder's own Steve Jenkins), and they write about non-fiction from many, many points of view.

Here's a recent post I particularly liked: Coming Soon to a Theater Near You! In it, Rosalyn Schanzer compares all the roles she fills as a writer and illustrator to those needed to put together a big-budget Hollywood film.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Childhood Books

This is random, but I know some of you will feel the same way.
Over Easter I was back in SD visiting my family. I have a 7 month old niece, and I thought we'd read a story together. I went upstairs to the cupboard where all our childhood books are, and sat there going through all of them. It was so great to see them again, and remember which ones i loved and which ones I didnt. I was going through lots of them, forgetting my job at hand, when my sister came to see what the hold up was! She reported to everyone that I had to read all of them before picking one out. Which was partly true. It was so fun to see all those old books and stories again! Most of which I've only seen in my parents book case, and nowhere else!

More Fuse #8 Top 100

Here's the next set of links for Fuse #8's Top 100 Picture Book poll. Any surprises? I'm really enjoying reading her commentaries.

Top 100 Picture Books #65-61
Top 100 Picture Books #60-56
Top 100 Picture books #55-51
Top 100 Picture Books #50-46
Top 100 Picture Books #45-41
Top 100 Picture Books #40-36

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Summer Showdown

The ALD websites will be featuring a "Summer Showdown" competition this summer where books will go head to head to determine the best book. Check out School Library Journal's Battle of the(Kids) Books for a general idea. The main difference - our judges will be people voting in polls on the websites.

Books will compete in 4 categories - Easy, Junior, YA and Adult. We need books nominated in those four categories. All staff are invited to nominate one or more books and write a brief justification of why the book deserves to compete. Your nominations will count as May Staff Picks. The only criteria is that the book must be owned by ALD. Email your questions and nominees to Nominations are due by May 15th.

The eight competitors in each category will be chosen based on balance among nominees, multiple nominations, and popularity.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Favorite Villain

Who is the best (or worst - depending on how you want to look at it) villain in children's books. Vote in the poll on Tales Treehouse.

Friday, April 10, 2009

So Librarians Don't Read?

Over at Read Roger, there was a short conversation about his post She Has A Really Good Point and the School Library Journal Battle of the Books. I'm going to come back to the Battle of the Books idea soon, because we have plans to do a similar online promotion ourselves this summer, but for right now I wanted to quote an anonymous comment:

I also agree with Wolfson that there is something not-right in the world of kids' books. I wish there were a one-stop shop on the web for finding out about a wider range of books. I am speaking as a writer, but also as a reader and as the parent of readers. I find most of the librarians I know to be well-meaning, but useless. They only know about the very most highlighted books of the recent day. They seem tremendously burdened by other aspects of their jobs and they never seem to have read anything.

What do you think? Do you find most of the library staff you know to be useless at reader's advisory? There's no doubt we all can sometimes feel "burdened" by our many job duties. Do you feel that YOU are a pretty well-read library staff member? Can you lead patrons to more than the "most highlighted books of the recent day"?

How do you do this? Do you read books? Do you read reviews? Do you read Scoop's page on Tales' Treehouse?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

SLJ Battle of the Books

Check out School Library Journal's Battle of the (Kids') Books. The blog is up now, but the contest starts April 13th. The winners will be picked by children's authors, but there is also a poll if you want to have your say.

Think this sounds like fun? This summer the ALD websites will be hosting "Summer Showdown." Exciting details coming soon!

Is the Great Craft Idea Well Running Dry?

Then check out No Time For Flash Cards! This blog is written by a veteran preschool educator who is currently at home with her 2 year old son. She's got lots of crafts, mostly for preschoolers, but also what she calls Naptime Creations, which are crafts for older kids. There are Alphabet Activities, vodcasts of her singing songs (plus posts with the words), book reviews, AND she often links her crafts to books. And a parent corner.

Honestly, guys, don't miss this one!

Many thanks for the link to Readermaid, who posted about the site on Twitter!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Fuse #8 Top 100 Picture Book Poll

Welcome to April! I'm a little surprised to be here, myself, since I apparently missed March completely. Many, many thanks to Alyson who posted throughout the month while I was consumed with helping get the After School @ your library program up and running at the May branch.

Now that we (kind of) know what we're doing over at May, I will be able to start posting again. The first thing I want to let you know about is the picture book poll that Betsy Bird has been taking for a month or two over at Fuse #8:

As many of you know I conducted a picture book poll. I asked my readers to send me their Top 10 Picture Books of All Time, to be rated and combined. Participants rated their preferences from 1 to 10, with their first choice getting 10 points, their second 9 points, etc. Then, throughout the month of March as the submissions rolled in, I calculated the results. I took into account where people ranked their favorites, what they wrote about them, etc. And at long last, we had our Top 100.

Betsy will be releasing the titles over the next few weeks, not just listing the titles, but talking about the books, citing reviews, quoting poll participants, and so forth. I think this series of posts will be an excellent way to round out our readers' advisory knowledge of these particular picture books & I encourage you all to check them out! I've listed the first few posts here, and will continue to link to them as they go up on her site.

Have fun! Post us with YOUR top ten!

Top 100 Picture Books, #100-91
Top 100 Picture Books, #90-86
Top 100 Picture Books, #85-81
Top 100 Picture Books, #80-76
Top 100 Picture Books, #75-71
Top 100 Picture Books, #70-66