Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I Spy More "I Spy" Books

Last week I had a patron and her son ask where the I Spy books were, so I showed them these books:

...which were the ones they were thinking of, so that's good. However, I also showed them a few other series they didn't know about, and they decided to take the new ones instead. So here's a quick list of some other search-and-find types of books in case your patrons need some fresh ideas, too.

Usborne "1001 Things to Spot" books
Shelved by author; a keyword search for "Usborne and spot" will find them all.
Each two-page spread has, around the perimeter, images of a number of particular things to look for, like "6 sharks" or "10 magic wands."

Spot 7
Under E Kidslabel.
In these books, you have to compare two pictures and spot 7 differences.

Under E Steiner.
The author uses everyday objects like paperclips, dollar bills, and crackers to create her pictures.

Where's Waldo?
Under E Handford.
The Grandaddy of Them All! Check your shelves; you may have gotten fresh copies in.

Can You See What I See?
Under E Wick.
An "I Spy" for the younger crowd.

Let's Find Pokemon!
Under E Aihara or E Pokemon; a title search for "Let's Find Pokemon" will get them all.

Walter Wick and Jean Marzollo have some I Spy books in the Easy Reader section, too. They are under ER Marzollo or ER Wick, a keyword search for "I spy and easy reader" will find them.

For younger kids who want to search, but find these other books a little hard, here are some titles that have worked out as I Spy books:

Faraway Farm, E Whybrow

Alphabet House, E Wallace

My Very First Word Book, E 428.1 WILKES

Last but not least, if you need to find this type of stuff, try a word/keyword search for "picture puzzles and juvenile."

More Reading Levels Help

We have several lists on Tales' Treehouse that may help:

Ready for Chapter Books
The lists here contain some of those "skinny books" that are in J but are just one step up from Magic Tree House or Cam Jansen. I checked several of them on the Scholastic Bookwizard, and they ranged from 3rd-4th grade reading level, with a 3rd-5th grade interest level.

Books by Grade Level
Check here for books for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders, plus more.

Read the Books
This database has a new interface, so check it out if you haven't played with it in awhile. Remember you can select books by grade level. Each book is tagged with a range of levels (one book may be tagged as 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade) so a search for a particular grade is more flexible and less restrictive that it seems.

Also, parents always want their kids to be "challenged" but it's good for kids to read a lot on several different levels. If parents are stressed out and not sure if a book is on a good level for their child, remind them that a variety of types and kinds and levels of books is a benefit. Books that are "easy" for children to read give them a chance to practice their fluency skills, build their confidence, and identify themselves as readers...all good things.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Reading Levels Rescue

Frequently a parent will approach us and say, "My son is reading at level C, where are the books for him?" Or it's, "Level 10" or "Lexile 400." How do we have any clue where to start?

The first thing is to know that there's no national standard for leveling books. Different publishers and different curricula use different assessment tools, so patrons will come in using a variety of different terms and codes, depending on their school situation. I did however, find this chart, which offers a comparison from system to system and may help you start to get your bearings.

The next thing to know is that we use a completely different kind of assessment on our Easy Readers to select whether they get a green, red, or yellow dot than publishers and educators use on their books and their students, so it's really pretty fruitless for us to try to graph Green, Red, and Yellow onto the chart I just gave you!

If anyone asks, though, you can say that the Easy Reader section as a whole ranges from material that's appropriate for preschoolers through 2nd or 3rd graders, and that the color dots offer a rough guide as to beginning, practicing, and more fluent readers. The Junior Fiction section overall ranges from books written at a 2nd grade reading level through about a 6th grade reading level. Often the most practical thing to do with a parent is to walk with them to the Easy Reader section and try to find together books that look similar to what the student is reading at school.

One site that may offer you some more help is the Scholastic Bookwizard. Lori Romero mentions it in her article, "Making Sense of Beginning Reading Lingo."

On the Bookwizard, you can search for books in a few different ways. A Quick Search lets you enter a title and find out a suggested reading level for it. The BookAlike Search asks you to enter a title, then choose whether you'd like more books like that book that are easier, harder, or just the same reading level.

Finally, the Leveled Search is a more advanced search that lets you put in separate information for reading level and interest level, as well as type of book, genre, or topic. So you can look for books for that 2nd grader reading at a 6th grade level by entering 6th grade for reading level and 2nd grade for interest level.

What is potentially very helpful for parents is that you can select one of four reading level systems to frame your search in: Grade Level Equivalent (a decimal such as 2.4 or 5.1--publishers sometimes give this as a reading level on the back covers of paperbacks--2.4 means 2nd grade, 4th month), Lexile (often given as a range of 3 digit numbers, like 400-500), DRA (even numbers 2-80), or Guided Reading (a letter of the alphabet).

Two other tools you might be able to use are:
Accelerated Reader BookFinder (AR uses both a reading level and an interest level)
The Lexile Framework Book Search

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Top Circulating Childrens Books

Allison Roberts has just finished up the lists of top circulation material last year (An endlessly tedious task - Thanks Allison!)
The top childrens items were:

Disney princess - Weinberg

Alphakids - emergent readers

Harry Potter and the deathly hallows.- Rowling

Knuffle Bunny too : a case of mistaken identity -Willems

The field guide - DiTerlizzi

Diary of a wimpy kid : Greg Heffley's journal - Kinney

Harry Potter and the half-blood prince - Rowling

Scarlett, the garnet fairy- Rainbow Magic

More 5-minute princess stories - Bergen

Lucy the Diamond Fairy - Rainbow Magic

Junie B., first grader : boo --and I mean it! - Park

Barbie as the island princess - alberto

High tide in Hawaii - Osborne

The seeing stone -DiTerlizzi

The invention of Hugo Cabret - Selznick

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Yes, Another Award!

This time it's the Sydney Taylor Award! This award is given by the Association of Jewish Librarians to outstanding books for children that authentically portray the Jewish experience. It's named after the author of The All-of-a-Kind Famiy books, which were pretty much the first mainstream children's fiction titles about a Jewish family.

This year's winner for Older Readers is Brooklyn Bridge, about a 14-year-old immigrant boy, in 1903 Brooklyn, whose life changes completely after his parents invent the teddy bear. (Based on a true story!)

Check out the full list here.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Basic Readers' Advisory Class

Speaking of Readers' Advisory, there's a basic class for PSSs being offered March 5, taught by Eileen.

It's a great way to brush up on tools and resources on our website and in the online catalog!

Check with your supervisor if you'd like to attend.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Good Reads on Good Reads

I'm passing along the recent invitation from the Web Team to participate on Good Reads, the online book-based social networking site. You can take part in a couple of ways!

You can create your own account, and start building your library with books you've read, are reading, and want to read. You can use tags to create "shelves" to sort out your books--by genre, by who recommended it to you, by whether or not you own it, any categories you want. You can add stars and reviews to the books in your collection. You can comment on your friends' updates and they can comment on yours!

Then you can choose to "friend" the ALD Good Reads account. When you do this, all of your updates about books you've added or reviewed are posted on the ALD Friend page. Anyone can click on the ALD Good Reads page and see your updates...ta dah...online readers' advisory!

The other way to participate is to log into the ALD Good Reads account directly. (Check StaffNet for the username and password, or email me.) You can add books you've read to the ALD shelves. Anyone who is a friend of ALD Good Reads will then get those books and reviews as updates on their own Good Reads pages!

Lastly, there's a challenge for you to accept! Broaden your reading by creating some "outside the box" categories for yourself for 2009. Here's my challenge as an example: I'm trying to read at least one new author in several different genres. Some of the genres will be easy, because I really enjoy them, like Romance, or Historical Fiction. Other genres will be harder for me because I don't prefer to read them, like Chick Lit or Thriller/Suspense. But that's the whole point of the challenge, to make sure I'm reading widely so I can do a good job on the RA desk.

What categories would help you broaden your children's literature reading?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentines Day!

Celebrate with an award winner: The Cybils were announced today!

"Cybils" is a loose acronym for "Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literature Awards." It was developed a few years ago to try to combine "kid appeal" AND literary quality in one award, so as you might expect, their finalists and winners don't always match those of awards like the Newbery, Printz, or National Book Awards. However, this year's Middle-Grade Fiction award goes to...The Graveyard Book!

I think it's a neat list to keep an eye on, in part because of all the categories: Easy Readers, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Fiction Picture Books, Graphic Novels, Middle Grade Fiction, Non-fiction Picture Books, Non-fiction: Middle Grade & Young Adult, Poetry, and Young Adult Fiction.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Bilingual Storytime Buzz

We've added more bilingual storytimes to our awesome storytime offerings this year. I know several of us have begun compliling resources and information about best practices for bilingual storytimes, and several people are implementing with success at ALD.

I'm hoping to start the conversation here as well. What are your burning questions, experiences and tips? Any good books and resources to share?

Many libraries across the country seem to customize their bilingual storytimes to meet the needs and goals of their audiences. In other words, there are lots of formats, usually with some common goals:
  • Help support success in school with proficiency in the English language
  • Honor the first language and culture of ESL families
  • Find ways to encourage engagement and participation
  • Foster literacy for the whole family
  • Provide motivation and fun

More to come, but I found a bib of bilingual Spanish books to share from:

Planning, Doing, & Sustaining a Successful Bilingual Storytime Program Fall 2007 - This material has been created by Ana-Elba Pavon for the Infopeople Project [infopeople.org], supported by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian. Any use of this material should credit the author and funding source.

Books in English Sprinkled with Some Spanish

Ada, Alma Flor. I Love Saturdays y domingos. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Reders, c2002.

Dorros, Arthur. Isla. New York: Dutton Children’s Books, 1995.

Emberley, Rebecca. Piñata. New York: Little, Brown, 2004.

Elya, Susan Middleton. Bebé Goes Shopping. Orlando: Harcourt, 2006.

Hopkins, Jackie. The Horned Toad Prince. Atlanta, Georgia: Peachtree, 2000.

Johnston, Tony. Day of the Dead. San Diego: Harcourt Brace, c1997.

Kroll, Virginia. Uno, Dos, Tres, Posada!: Let’s Celebrate Christmas. Illus. Loretta Lopez. New York: Viking A Division of Penguin Young Readers Group, 2006.

Montes, Marisa. Juan Bobo Goes to Work: A Puerto Rican Folktale. New York: Morrow Junior Books, 2000.

Montes, Marisa. Los Gatos Black on Halloween. Illus. Yuyi Morales. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2006.

Mora, Pat. The Rainbow Tulip. New York: Viking, 1999.

Mora, Pat. Tomás and the Library Lady. New York: Knopf distributed by Random House, c1997.

Mora, Pat. Uno, dos, tres = One, two, three. New York: Clarion Books, c1996.

Morales, Yuyi. Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book. San Francisco, Calif.: Chronicle Books, c2003.

Soto, Gary. Big Bushy Mustache. New York: Knopf, c1998.

Soto, Gary. Chato and the Party Animals. Illus. Susan Guevara. New York: Putnam, 2000.

Soto, Gary. Chato Goes Cruisin’. Illus. Susan Guevara. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2005.

Soto, Gary. Chato’s Kitchen. Illus. Susan Guevara. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, c1995.

Soto, Gary. My Little Car. Illus. Pam Paparone. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2006.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

How cool would this job be!!

Check out this video of committees calling the award winners right before the announcements of the awards at ALA midwinter.

Okay I guess they earned the fun part by participating in the agonizing part of choosing the winners.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Homegrown Program Deadline

Ready for summer? The deadline to get homegrown program forms in for our 2nd trimester to Cindy Mares is next Friday, the 20th.

Have an idea for a program? Check with the program contacts at your branch to make sure of room availability, then fill out the Program Suggestion form on StaffNet. You can find the form by clicking on "Forms" on the left hand menu, then looking under the "Popular Forms" list on the right.

Do you have a homegrown program planned that you're excited about? Let us know what it is!

How about one that you could use a little extra help with? Post your plans here and ask for input!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

New Books!

I worked at ALA Midwinter as a volunteer, so got to explore the exhibits for awhile after. I spent most of the time looking at new books. Here are some of my favorites (thanks to Betsy for ordering quickly):

Martha Doesn't Say Sorry by Samantha Berger

Little Oink by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Stella Unleashed by Linda Ashman (Colorado Author)

Also since Beth Krommes won the Caldecott, we have ordered more of her books. My favorite is Grandmother Winter.
You can always find more new books, dvds and cds for kids on Tales' Treehouse. I update it a couple of times a week.

Kidlitosphere Central

Here's a great resource to bookmark!

Introducing Kidlitosphere Central, one-stop shopping for more youth literature blogs than you ever knew existed.

Don't want to keep your own blogroll or reader? Check the Members page from time to time and pick a blog, read a few entries, and see what people are talking about.

Curious about what's happening in the virtual world of children's literature? Read about annual events, resources, and competitions on the Resources page.

Can't wait to hear which books win the Cybils Awards? There's a page for that, too.

And if you absolutely need another blog to read, Kidlitosphere Central has its own, for news and notes about the children's book world.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Colorado Blue Spruce YA Book Award

The Blue Spruce book award for 2009 was announced!

It's Eclipse, by Stephenie Meyer!

The Blue Spruce is special, because unlike many other state youth readers' choice awards, adults neither nominate titles, nor vote for the winners. The whole process is in the hands of the teens from start to finish.

Want to see what teens choose when they're voting for the best books? Look at the list of past winners, or the 2010 nominees. Any surprises?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Rainbow List

Right on the heels of the big ALA awards comes the announcement of the 2nd annual Rainbow List!

The Rainbow Project is a joint undertaking of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Round Table and the Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association. The annual Rainbow List presents current well-written and/or well-illustrated books, with significant and authentic GLBTQ content, which are recommended for people from birth through eighteen years of age.
Check out the titles on the 2009 list here.

Uncle Bobby's Wedding is included in the picture book section, as expected, but I am most intrigued by 10,000 Dresses...which is a picture book about a transgendered child!

Stories about transgender individuals are rare enough for teens (or even adults) so a picture book is a real step forward for inclusive literature. Boulder Public Library has a couple of copies in process right now, so as soon as I can I will order it & have a look.

Take a look at the list--you'll be ready when someone asks for help with this topic.

The Rainbow List joins The Lambda Literary Awards as a way to formally recognize & celebrate LGBTQ literature. The Lambda Awards will be announced in May, and include a Children's/Young Adult category: check here for winners in all categories for the last few years.

Do you know about the ALD Storytellers?

After 10 years of bringing nationally known storytellers to ALD in October and sponsoring the Storytelling Festival (which became Storytelling Extravaganza), ALD decided to try a different emphasis. A few of the staff members who had attended the workshops over the years asked if they could continue meeting quarterly so they could keep their storytelling skills fresh, learn new things by exchanging ideas with each other, and be available in case there were calls from people in the community who were looking for storytellers to come to their assisted living center, their school, or their community event.
Because storytelling is basic to building imagination, comprehension, vocabulary, and is recognized as an excellent way to pass on historical and scientific facts, it is a natural way to continue the district's efforts to advance literacy. It complements skills introduced in the district's Early Literacy Storytimes.
The difference between Storytime and Storytelling is not well understood by some people.
Storytelling predates written history and includes the use of drama to inspire imaginations as the teller shares a remembered story appropriate to that audience.
Storytime is a program in which a trained person reads books to children in order to introduce them to language and reading.
You can help keep Storytelling alive in our library district by joining the storytellers, or by merely remembering as you work with the public that there is an active group available to serve our patrons in this way.
Email Virginia Brace vbrace@ald.lib.co.us if you hear that someone is interested in having a Storyteller. One of our group would love to entertain!

Saturday, February 7, 2009


Neil Gaiman's movie Coraline was released yesterday! Coraline was also released as a graphic novel...anybody read both and want to comment?

As you know, Neil Gaiman just won the Newbery for his new title The Graveyard Book, so interest is probably going to be high for his stuff for awhile now.

His books have a creepy but literary vibe...what have you been recommending to kids and teens who want more? Did you know he even has a couple of picture books?

The director of the movie is the guy who did Nightmare Before Christmas. Would Corpse Bride work for the Coraline crowd, or not? Who's seen it?

Friday, February 6, 2009

February is Phonological Awareness Month!

For ALD, at least!

Phonological Awareness includes hearing and playing with the smaller sounds of words and recognizing that words are made up of a number of different sounds.

Why is it important?

Because kids who can hear how words come apart will be more successful at "sounding out" words when they start to read. All the skills are important, but researchers have found that if kids are struggling to learn to read, this is usually the piece they are missing.

Fortunately, this is one of the easiest skills to "work on" in storytime, because it's all about rhymes and sounds.

What Can You Do?

  • Sing, sing, sing! Or if you absolutely can't sing, chant, or play music CDs; most songs break words up into one syllable per note.

  • Recite nursery rhymes and other rhymes or poems; rhymes depend upon ending sounds.

  • Play with tongue twisters.

  • Pick a sound for the day, and notice it at the beginning of words and at the end of words.

  • Sing clapping songs (like B-I-N-G-0).

  • Introduce different sounds to make and hear, for example: farm animal sounds that are part of the story, so kids can identify the animal and become a part of 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, February 3, 2009

How Not to Be A Great Reader's Advisor

Check out this blog post by Carlie Webber at Librarilly Blonde.

She's talking specifically about email RA--like when people ask their colleagues on a listserv for help with finding books for a patron, or when we get requests via services such our email reference. But the post also serves as a quick reminder of the types of questions we should be asking our walk-in or phone-in patrons when they need recommendations.

What are your favorite "fishing" questions that you use to find out more about the patron, or the patron's children, to help zone in on the books they might like? What bugs you about reader's advisory? What do you love about it?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act

Have you been hearing about the proposed Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act? It is designed to provide higher protection levels to consumers from harmful products such as lead and phthalates. It would require all sorts of raw materials as well as finished products to be tested. As written, this included books. The ALA was one of the organizations lobbying to change or emend the act, since it would require every book in every library to be tested, and if the tested were not completed or the items to fail the test, it would require libraries to ban children 12 and under.

However, the School Library Journal reports that the law has been delayed a year. This is good news and gives everyone a breathing space to figure out just what should be included in this law and what the economic impact will be.

Read the SLJ article though to see what steps libraries are taking now with their teacher kits, summer reading prizes, and children's area toys! What steps, if any, do you think ALD should take?