Celebrate Teen Literature Day


My husband is so awesome. He draws and writes his own comics and this week for National Library Week he has done a whole series on libraries and librarians! I thought this one on Celebrate Teen Literature Day was too good not to share! Visit his website to check out more of his stuff.

Originally posted on mini dove comics:

teen literature day 2014 327

Teen Literature is a lot of fun!  What are some of your favorite teen books?  Some of mine are Winger, The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin, and Will Grayson, Will Grayson.

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The Hub Reading Challenge

2014_hub_reading_challenge_logo_participantThis year I am participating in The Hub Reading Challenge. Now, I am not much of a reading challenge person. I’ve considered doing various challenges, like the Shelf Challenge or the 48 Hour Book Challenge. They always sound awesome and fun to start out with, but then I realize I just want to be able to read whatever I want and I don’t want to read books I’m not in the mood for!

But the Hub Reading Challenge is doable, I think. The challenge is to read 25 books between February 3 and June 22.  Not just any books, but books off a list of 2013 YALSA award winners and honors. There are something like 60 books to choose from, and a great variety of adult titles for teens, graphic novels, audiobooks, etc. So it comes down to a little more than one book a week, which I should theoretically be able to do and still read other books if I want do (and oh do I want to).

The hardest thing about this challenge is that I already read so many of the books on the list last year as they were coming out! For them to count towards the challenge, I would have to re-read them during the Feb-June period. And really, who has time to re-read books when there are always new books coming out every day? But that means most of the books left on the list are books I would not normally read on my own, so I do have to go out of my comfort zone and push myself to try reading new things. But hey, isn’t that the whole point of a reading challenge anyway?

The funny thing is that I consider myself a fast reader, but whenever I go to the weekly Hub Reading Challenge Check In I am SHOCKED, shocked I tell you, at how many books my fellow readers have read. Like some people have already read over 30 books, or more! It astounds me. As of today, I am at 12 books. But hey, I guess that means I’m halfway done! (Also, I tried this challenge last year and I only got to 10 books, so I’m already doing better than I did before!)

So now I’ll finally get to the good part and talk about a few of my favorite Hub Challenge books I’ve read this year.

13221769Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirsten Cronn-Mills

Gabe was born a girl and his name was Elizabeth. But he has always known he was boy. This story takes place as Gabe is transitioning and going public as identifying as male. But what makes this book so great is that it is so much more than a story about transgender issues. It is about music and friendship and identity and the courage to live and speak your truth.

Relish by Lucy Knisley15786110

I had heard a lot of good things about this foodie graphic novel memoir and they were all true. Lucy Knisley writes (and draws) about her life growing up surrounded by gourmet chefs, food critics, and all around good food. Each section tells a different story from her growing up years and of course ties it all to food and ends with a recipe. I expected the book to be a little snobby but found it to be just the opposite.  I loved the stories about relationships and growing up and found a lot to relate to even though my upbringing did not have nearly so many fancy cheeses!

16231347The Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks

I am a huge fan of Faith Erin Hicks. I even got to meet her at ALA last summer! I totally wish now I had bought a copy of The Adventures of Superhero Girl and had her sign it because I really loved this book! The comic was originally posted online as a webcomic and I am so glad it has been compiled and printed in paper to reach a wider audience. The story follows Superhero Girl, a girl with your average superpowers just trying to get by. It is very charming and very funny and a really great read.

Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn 16045088

There is no real way to talk about this book without giving too much away. The story alternates between the present and the past. Andrew Winston Winters used to go by Drew. Back then he was a nine-year-old tennis star with anger issues. Now he goes by Win, attends a New England boarding school, and tries to avoid other people. As the story progresses and more and more is revealed, this book will break your heart.

16151178The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Milljay

Apparently I’m really into books that pack an emotional punch right now, because this one is another hard-hitter. Nastya and Josh are two teens with tragic histories. Nastya has just started at a new school and is doing everything she can to keep people at a distance. She has taken a vow of silence and has not spoken in nearly two years. But she finds herself drawn to Josh, a young man in her woodworking class who also keeps people at a distance. Can their relationship save both of them?


Angry Birds

Angry Birds game

My Teen Tech Week turned out to be not very techie. Also, who’s crazy idea was it to plan PLA during Teen Tech Week anyway? But hey, Angry Birds is a tablet/smartphone game so there is some kind of technology connection, right?

Mostly I just thought a Life Size version of Angry Birds would be really, really fun! And I Ball and Balloonswas right! I spent all of $5.00 on this program for the two balls and some paper plates for the craft. All the other supplies we had on hand. It took a little prep work decorating the boxes and everything, but it was certainly doable.

I got most of my ideas from the awesome Teen Librarian’s Toolbox. I altered things a bit to make them easier. I painted several boxes to make them look like pieces of wood, then covered smaller boxes like shoe boxes or tissue boxes with grey or white construction paper to look like ice and stone. The green pigs were just balloons with Sharpie faces drawn on and the angry birds were blue and red playground balls I found at Walmart (and they were both the right size! Perfect!)

Teens (and a few younger kids who were too excited, I couldn’t bear to turn them away) took turns launching the birds with a towel held between two people. If you’ve ever played water volleyball, you know what I mean. It took a lot of coordination and teamwork to do it this way. The teams started out farther back and advanced closer to the set up to see if they could knock the pigs down. Popping one of the pig balloons got you extra points!

CraftThe craft was simple and easy but kept the kids engaged while they waited for their turns. We had some young engineers who got really into rebuilding the game in more and more challenging ways. I will definitely do this program again, in fact we’re already thinking about incorporating it into our Summer Reading kickoff, especially since the younger kids were even more into it than the teens!

Winter is OVER!

So far it looks like my spring is going to be filled more with administrative duties and committee work than fun programs with the babies and teens. Oh the joys of being in management! Just one more reason to be looking forward to Summer Reading time! I am on two committees this spring. Our director is retiring in the summer and I am on the hiring search committee for our new director. I’m also on the strategic planning committee, so lots of exciting changes are coming this year for my library! That rash of librarian retirements they promised us back when I was in library school is actually happening now (in my library anyway). We have had 4 positions retire in the past year, with probably about 4 more planned in the coming year. And yes, we are filling those open positions! So it has been fun to welcome great new people with new ideas and new energy.

In other news, I was able to attend PLA several weeks ago. I can’t believe I haven’t blogged about it yet. That week in Indianapolis was one of the most fun I’ve ever had! And I learned so much. My favorite sessions were Tinker With Technology and PlaySpaces in the Library. The Tinker Group is a group of librarians in the Chicago area who were all doing technology programs for kids and teens in their libraries and decided to have monthly meet-ups to share their ideas. Now they were taking their ideas to PLA to share with us all! I was so excited to leave the session with several ideas that I felt confident that I could implement, even with my limited money and skill!

The PlaySpaces session was equally inspiring. The Barrington Public Library staff shared pictures of their AMAZING new children’s room with us. It was really great and helped me think outside the box and dream big for my own children’s department. Then, thankfully, there were other presenters as well who talked about adding play to your library space on a smaller scale. I hope I have a chance to implement a lot of these ideas soon. But honestly, the best thing about PLA was the people.

Sherlock Holmes

I loved meeting and just being around so many public librarians from around the country, all of them as passionate about what they do as I am. It was such a great feeling! I am now dying to go to the next PLA in Denver in 2016! Here is a picture of me and my best library school friend hanging out with Sherlock at the Innovative Party Friday night. I also saw my boss dancing at that event – what moments to remember!


Favorite Books: Baby Storytime Edition

These are some books I’m loving right now for the under twos. I use them in my baby storytimes again and again.

Selecting books to read aloud for this age group is a challenge. A lot of our favorite toddler books are just a bit too long or too complex for infants and one-year-olds. I get a mix in my storytimes from the occasional newborns up to very active walkers, so I do target my books more towards the older babies to capture their attention.There are many board books that I also love, and while I use them occasionally and recommend my favorites to parents, I try to stick to the picture book format during storytime for easier viewing.

Plot is not the main thing when picking books for this group, in fact, with the possible exception of Baby Danced the Polka, none of these books have any plot at all. They are simple, repetitious books about every day events that babies can recognize from their lives.  Illustrations are simple and clean and in bright primary colors. I Like it When… is especially exemplary in this way.

Baby Danced the Polka by Karen Beaumont. A charming, romping, rhyming story of a little one who does not want to go to bed. I absolutely LOVE a book with a good rhythm, and this one is just begging to be read aloud.

The Baby Goes Beep by Rebecca O’Connell. A day in the life of a toddler, complete with fun sound effects on every page as the “baby goes yum, yum, yum” eating lunch or “the baby goes splash, splash, splash” while taking a bath. I love the level of interaction the sound effects bring and parents often join in.

Hello Day! by Anita Lobel. This one has the feel of a classic and is just perfect for an animal sound theme. I quite love the cheerful watercolor and marker illustrations. It is a quiet book compared to some I use, so it also adds balance that way.

I Like it When… by Mary Murphy. I like to read this one around Valentine’s Day because it is a very sweet tale of a little penguin and her parent and the things they like to do together. It’s sentimental but in a fresh and non-saccharine way. And I can’t say enough good about the illustrations

Toddlerobics by Zita Newcome. This one’s perfect for your very active one-year-olds. It is not a sit still and listen book, it is a get up and move book! The actions are lots of fun, and the pictures show a very cute group of toddlers having a blast moving around.

Please share your favorite books for baby storytime! I would love to hear what books you read to your under two lapsits.

February Lapsit

This month my storytime babies were on the older end. I had twos and almost twos, plus one big brother who I was happy to use as a helper! Looking back, I reused a lot of the same songs as my Teddy Bear lapsit in December, but they were all great songs so it never hurts to repeat!

Opening Song: “Hello Everybody” 

Hello everybody, and how are you?
How are you? How are you?
Hello everybody, and how are you?
How are you today? 

We repeat this song using each child’s name to welcome them to baby storytime. I love the way hearing their name grabs their attention and makes them feel welcome. It really helps me learn their names too!

Bubbles and Music: “Teddy Bear Hug” by Raffi 

I would like to get to where I don’t use recorded music at all, but I’m not there yet. For dancing and blowing bubbles, nothing is easier than popping in a tried and true CD.

Fingerplay: Open Them Shut Them

Read: Uh-Oh! by Rachel Isadora 

This book has lovely illustrations of an African American child making messes and trying to be independent throughout the day. I always thing this book is sweet and charming, but when I am reading it in front of parents, I start feeling a little awkward about the message it sends, especially for older toddlers. I can just imagine what is going through the parents’ minds – don’t give my child any ideas about making messes! But it so accurately depicts life with little ones at this age that I think I’ll keep using it.

Sing: Skinnamarink 

Sing (with ukulele!): Mary Had a Little Lamb

Okay, so this was my debut performance on the ukulele. I had been practicing for about 3 weeks, but a combination of many things meant I didn’t get as much practice time as I would have liked. Mary Had a Little Lamb went surprisingly well. I had the children hold up flannel board pieces of lambs I pulled together from various sets to get them involved in the song. They really enjoyed that.

Read: I Like it When… by Mary Murphy

This book is pitch perfect for its bold black, red, and primary color illustrations and depictions of daily interactions between a parent and child. It helps that they are penguins too. Kids love penguins!

Sing (with ukulele!): If You’re Happy and You Know It

This song was more of a fail. I couldn’t transition to the different chords quickly enough and it quickly fell apart. The parents kept singing along and I just laughed and said, “I think this one needs a little more practice!” And that was the moment I decided to take the ukulele home to get more practice time.

Dancing with Rainbows Ribbons

These toddlers sure loved dancing! And it sure helped that the parents got into it too! We danced to a couple songs and the kiddos still wanted more!

Goodbye Song

Clap, clap, clap your hands
Clap your hands together.
Clap, clap, clap your hands
Clap your hands together. 

La la la la la la la, la la la la la….

Wave, wave, wave goodbye.
Wave goodbye together.
Wave, wave, wave goodbye.
Wave goodbye together

La la la la la la la, la la la la la….

Day in the Life of a Youth Librarian

Thursday, February 30, 2014

8:30: Arrive at the library, open blinds, turn on computers, and feed the fish. Start pulling the holds list for the Children’s Room. It’s a long one today. Someone requested lots of fox books. They look like fun!

9:00: The library opens and I’m still pulling holds. I help some families get on the computers. There is a 2-hour school delay this morning so people are here to fill those extra morning hours. But after many days off school, kids are finally going back to school today. I love to see our AWE Early Literacy Station always in use.

9:30: Some parents come in looking for some Magic Tree House books for their son and all the titles they want are checked out so I help them put 5 or so of the books on hold. I start replying to an email reader’s advisory question for young adult books. I love reader’s advisory challenges like this one!

10:00: A co-worker who is on vacation comes in and we work on some scheduling issues. Our region’s Mock Caldecott was postponed due to the crazy winter weather so now we have to work out who can go and what programs we have that day, etc. We also chat about the Youth Media Award winners since we haven’t seen each other since the announcements.

10:40: I spend twenty minutes practicing the ukulele for my debut performance at baby storytime next week. I am learning “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and “If You’re Happy and You Know it” I am still building up calluses and strength in my wrist, so twenty minutes is still about all my poor hands can handle.

11:00: I work on approving and sending book orders while also answering several requests for popular titles like Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Llama Llama. It’s so much fun to select the new books for the collection and think about our patrons and want their wants and needs are.

12:00: It’s time for lunch.

1:00: I check in a couple bins from our deliveries from our branch locations. This and a request for a particular book about the states keeps me busy for most of the hour. The 50 states book proved to be a bit of a challenge to find because the patron did not remember the name and it turned out to be not in the 973′s with the other state books but in 917 with geography books. Oh, the imperfections of the Dewey Decimal system.

2:00: Time for a shift on the information desk! I get many, many tax questions and repeat myself several times. “Sorry, the forms we have out are what we have. We are still waiting on more from the state/IRS.” And, “No, I cannot give you tax advice, but we do have a great volunteer organization here Monday, Wednesday, and Saturdays to offer free tax aid!” All offered with a smile, of course. I’m so glad we are able to provide this important service for our community.

3:00: Back on the children’s desk. A young girl is participating in Read Away the Fines and is such a fast reader, I am up and down helping her find her next book to read. I am really impressed with her knowledge of picture books, as she asks me for specific titles and authors like Kevin Henkes, Extra Yarn, and Skippyjon Jones. She and her sisters end up reading for so long they each get almost $5.00 waived from their cards!

4:00: I check in with the Young Adult area and talk to some of my regular teens who are participating in the CSLP Teen Video Challenge. We need to discuss our next meeting time to start working on making and collecting props. It’s almost time to start filming. I’m getting pretty excited, and the best part is, I can tell our teens are too!

4:30: I answer a few emails about our first annual Battle of the Books competition, pull a couple book ideas for baby storytime, and before I know it it’s 5:30 and time to go home!