Thursday, June 30, 2011

I know a Chicken...

I absolutely love Laurie Berkner's song "I Know a Chicken" but I haven't done a chicken storytime before so I usually just play it when I want to use egg shakers. I met Katie Davis in New Orleans and she was talking about her latest book, Little Chicken's Big Day, written and illustrated in collaboration with her husband Jerry Davis so I thought I would give the chicken theme a whirl. I absolutely LOVE Katie's book Who Hops? It is one of my favorites to use in storytime, so I after I fan-girled her for about 10 minutes she gave me some tips on how to read her newest work aloud.

Little Chicken is a bit sassy, so Katie recommended playing up the "I hear you..." line. She said her husband suggested having the kids call that one back to you as well. The book is great to use as an interactive story because the routines are familiar to the kids and there is also very little text. I asked my preschoolers if I could tell the author that we liked it, and they all screamed "YESS!!"

Other books I used:
Chicks and Salsa by Aaron Reynolds
The Most Wonderful Egg in the World by Helme Heine

Other good chicken books I pulled but didn't use:
Hungry Hen by Richard Waring
The Wolf's Chicken Stew by Keiko Kasza

I used the flannel story "Ten Fluffy Chickens" from Mel's Desk

Songs used:
"Shakin' Egg Blues" by Marylee
"I Know a Chicken" by Laurie Berkner
"Dance with Me" by Greg and Steve

Prop used:
egg shakers

I totally blanked on doing my alphabet song and adding any parent patter (early literacy tips), but  I will remember next time! For Little Chicken's Big Day skills that can be pointed out are phonological awareness (what do regular chicken's sound like?), narrative skills (what happened when the chicken looked at the butterfly?), and this is a great story to practice dialogic reading.
with Katie Davis
Chicken Little love

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ellen Hopkins

I am not one of those people that gets poetry; the abstract tends to fly over my head and I'm left wondering what it is I just read, and more importantly what it meant. Because of this, it is safe to say that in the past I avoided all novels in verse. Until I stumbled on my first novel by Ellen Hopkins. It was Identical and it stood out on my desk in the pile of new books that I needed to review and then shelve. Instead of shelving that one, I checked it out. While reading those 565 pages, I felt scared, sad, and hopeful. Above all else though, I knew that Hopkins' work needed to be put on display so that anyone who was experiencing trauma like Kaeleigh and Raeanne were going through would have some sort of comfort and voice. After returning Identical I systematically plowed my way through all of her YA books. 

I met Ellen Hopkins for the second time in New Orleans. Last year, at Annual in DC, I saw her walking through the conference center and literally SCREAMED her name. Then I ran over and made my friend Nick take a photo. I was breathless and so excited to meet her. This year I tried to tone it down a notch but as you can see I am still very excited:

And I'm not the only super fan:

Joanna got her favorite Ellen Hopkins book signed too
In addition to meeting Ellen again, I got copies of her latest books. I started Perfect while waiting for my plane and finished it when I got home, I just couldn't put it down. Perfect is about four teenagers battling inner demons and outside pressures as they try to be "perfect". And what is great about this book, is perfect looks different for each of them.

Cara's parents have set sky-high expectations for her and her twin brother Conner. Conner has been driven towards suicide (Impulse), but Cara tries to figure out if she can maintain this mold as a new and unexpected love enters her life. Kendra, Conner's ex, is a beauty pageant queen who is trying to win Miss Teen Nevada and a big-time modeling contract. Her distorted self image pushes her anorexia over the edge but she is blind to the damage. Cara's boyfriend Sean is desperate to become the next Mark McGwire, even taking the same steroid path McGwire did, in order to get to Stanford on a baseball scholarship. Andre's parents are the perfect black power couple, pushing their son to make money in order to be the success they are. But instead of wanting to carry on in their footsteps, he wants to dance. The book has no happy ending, which I think makes it that much more powerful. Readers can hope the characters will make this decision or that, but nothing is set. I think by leaving the ending open, Hopkins reinforces the idea that is central in so many of her only takes one or two decisions to totally disrupt a path. And those decisions can be good ones, or terrible ones made with the best intentions (Tricks).

Perfect is a book book I wish I would have have had as a sophomore in high school, struggling with ideas of failure/success and feelings of not being good enough. It is another must-read that I will be pushing, and I hope it gets on some required reading lists for high school freshman.

So about that...

Clearly the "blogging from the conference" did not work out so well. But, have no fear there will be tons of upcoming posts about who we met/what we did/where we ate/how excited and energized we are about our profession once again. Tonight I will be blogging about Ellen Hopkins' latest, Perfect, which I finished on my way home. AMAZING as usual. I also am going to throw in some shout outs for awesome authors that I met (pictures included).

Look for Joanna talking about surviving her first conference experience, Lalitha writing reviews and giving us the inside scoop on hob-nobbing with the publishers, and Ady providing more info about REFORMA and their upcoming adventures. My sister will also be featured as a guest blogger because she has tons to say about experiencing ALA as an outsider. Sorry for the delay, but the next few weeks are going to be chock full with good content


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Book Review Saturday

The Lying Game by Sara Shepard

I am happy to announce to all Pretty Little Liars Fans that Sara Shepard has a new series out! It has been out for a little while (December 7, 2010), but I read it this week after waiting patiently for my copy on a long hold list. I have to admit that I have been a fan of hers from way back when I got an ARC of the first Pretty Little Liars book.

The Lying Game
delivers the same intrigue and deceptive characters. Emma, a foster child, learns that she has a twin sister and immediately jumps a bus (without her foster mother knowing) to meet her sister. At the designated time and spot Emma waits for her sister, Sutton, but soon discovers that her sister has been murdered and she needs to pretend to be her or she too will be killed. An interesting twist is that Sutton follows Emma around in ghost form. No one can see or hear Sutton, not even Emma, but the reader gets to read her comments and she has amnesia of a sort, knowing nothing about her life or her death. The series will continue as Emma (and Sutton) try to find out who killed Sutton. Was it her best friends? Did it have to do with the Lying Game?

The second book of the series, Never Have I Ever, is due out August 2, 2011! However, if I am lucky Kirby or Joanna will find an ARC at ALA and bring it home to me. Sending them good vibes for that one!

Posted by Anna

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday @ ALA Annual 2011

I arrived last night and met up with my roomie, fellow blogger Joanna, and my sister. Yes, it is hot and muggy but WOW torrential down pour? Who knew. Ran into a few library pals at dinner, looks like we have taken over the city already.

Today proved much nicer weather wise, well at least so far no rain. The crew hit up the tourist hot spot Cafe du Monde for beignets

Jo headed off to the Movers & Shakers lunch, my sister and I wandered around the French Market--good times, I would say put this on your list to do if you're visiting. Tonight it's time to get into library mode with 3 publisher socials.

 Stay tuned!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sad Day for Escondido Residents

After a long, drawn-out political battle, Escondido City Council has voted to move forward with closing the East Valley Branch of the Escondido Public Library. This location, which has served patrons on the east side of Escondido for more than 15 years, will be sorely missed. This is the press release that was sent out:
East Valley Branch Library Closing June 16, 2011
On Wednesday, June 8th, the Escondido City Council passed a budget for Fiscal Year 2011-12 that discontinued funding the operation of the East Valley Branch Library, located at 2245 East Valley Parkway in the East Valley Community Center. The branch library will close effective Thursday, June 16 at 6:00 PM.
After June 16th, library patrons will pick up all reserved materials at the Main Library at 239 S. Kalmia St. As a convenience to the public, outside book return units at the East Valley Branch Library will remain open until mid-July. After that, all books and library materials must be returned to the Main Library.
The City Council has directed staff to explore options to maintain public access to branch library computers at the East Valley location; however, computer access will be unavailable until a new plan is developed and implemented.
The Main Library will continue to serve the community with computer access and to offer outstanding services and programs for children, teens, and adults. Summer Reading for childrfen and teens begins June 16th and runs through July 31st. For more information on these and other programs, visit the library's website at or call 760-839-4683.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Diary of a Summer Reading refugee

Summer Reading 2011 started today for my library system, and the moral of this post, if it is too long for you to read, is...Use EVERYTHING you have.

 My library system has been hit pretty hard for the last few years by budget issues. In my dept, where there was once a staff of 5 Librarians, 3 para-professionals, and 2 library clerks, there is now just me and 1 library clerk. We also do not have a Friends Group for the Youth Services Department (long story there) so we are unable to get fancy swag to help bolster SRP that some libraries are able to. Couple that with the completion last week of my super-awesome grant project and I will be honest and tell you I started really thinking about SRP last week. I am in no way a procrastinator, but my "baby" had my attention and there was no one else to pick up the slack. So with that in the open, I will also tell you that it is turning out ok because...

#1 The SRP manual is great: I created a wall display using an idea I got from the "Promoting" section. I still need a headliner, but here is a photo of the "Read Around the World" wall

#2 The SRP manual is great plus ALA is in two weeks: Since I can't afford to give kids prizes for reading more than the required amount (10 books) I am doing a number of other literacy based activities and using the free swag from ALA as prizes for my "Prize Box". I found the Incentive Game (p. 38 of the Manual) that kids can do on their own and when they complete eight of the activities they get to pick a prize. The Family Summer Reading Ride (p.36)  has activities for everyone to do together and after families complete eight activities they will be entered into a raffle for a four pack of IMAX tickets.

#3 Hoarders can be your friends: Apparently there have been a few hoarders who have worked in the dept. in the past so our shelves are overflowing with random nicknacks and craft stuff. I'm having a snack and craft every Wednesday and believe me, I will not be doing anything but scowering the shelves in order to prep for that one. Today I was wondering "how the heck can I make a foam spider craft fit into the theme" and I thought two things: 1. it doesn't matter & Oh yeah... 2. ANANSI!

#4 Don't forget the bay-bays. I've been baby crazy all year doing tons of research about early literacy for my grant so I didn't want to neglect my little darlings. I created the Pre-Readers Summer Reading Program that I am going to force all my teen parents to participant in. If you're interested I can send you a copy of my card, I know a few other blogs and sites have similar programs, including Abby the Librarian

And at the end of the day, even when your boss has lost her shoes, you have a grease stain down your shirt and a black and blue arm from lugging 350 SRP bags to offsite locations, your go-to partner has given you the "NO MORE" look at least twice in the last hour, and people are still calling about missing incentive items, remember it's ok! It's just Summer Reading :)

A side note:
I should mention that I have mixed feelings about SRP...ask resident blogger Dave if you want the uncensored version, he has heard my rant :). I grew up and participated in SRP at a beautiful little library that is HARD CORE. For every book we read we had to give a verbal book review/summary to the Librarian. She (I remember Ms. Carol the best) would give us a stamp or a sticker for the log and after 5 we got to go to Pizza Hut for a personal pan pizza. Aww... the good old days. But there was no faking it there, you really had to read if you wanted that pizza.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Teen Volunteers - How much is too much of a good thing?

Volunteers are wonderful and many of our libraries would struggle to operate without their committed service. Most of our volunteers throughout the year are senior citizens but come summer we get a huge influx of teen volunteers who sign up to help exclusively with our summer reading program. In the past, we've taken everyone who has applied and fit our criteria of being between the ages of 14-18, and our largest group topped out at 50. This year, we expect to register close to 2500 children and 500 teens and have taken on 70 volunteers. Unfortunately, I've turned away about 20 more. I attribute this increase to three factors:

  1. The economy is struggling and whereas before many of the older teens would've gotten part time jobs, now they are competing against (and losing out to) adults with work experience.

  2. The 2nd largest teen volunteer organization in Escondido, Education COMPACT, lost its funding and was forced to disband their summer volunteer groups.

  3. We throw a fabulous thank you party at the end of the summer complete with lush goody bags, delicious food, and letters of recommendation verifying their hours that they can use for scholarship applications and school requirements. :)

I want to provide as many teens as possible with volunteer opportunities, but at what point does the program become more work than it's worth? Recruiting, screening, training, scheduling, and evaluating volunteers is a huge task. On top of attending a training session, teens often need to be reminded of the basics over and over again before it truly sinks in, and it often feels like once they finally get it their parents take them away on vacation or their summer band camp begins and you never see them again. So here are my questions to you YA librarians out there:

  1. How do you screen your applicants to make sure they will be an asset, not a detriment, to your program?

  2. What is your scheduling procedure? Do you allow teens to choose their own shifts or do you work with their availability and then create a schedule for them? If you allow them to choose their own schedule, do they do it for the whole program at once or just a few weeks at a time?

  3. Do you guarantee them a minimum # of hours over the course of the summer?

  4. Do you require that they commit to working a minimum # of hours in order to participate?

I appreciate any comments or feedback on this as I'm always looking for ways to improve the program for next summer.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Secrets of Dripping Fang Series Review

This week, I’d like to review a series rather than just a single book. My oldest son is in 3rd grade and reading Beginning Chapter/3-4 Readers. While he is not exactly a reluctant reader, he really needs the right type of story to get him interested so I was excited when we discovered the series Secrets of Dripping Fang by Dan Greenburg. Greenburg is best known for his other Beginning Chapter paperbacks The Zack Files.

Dripping Fang centers around a set of twins named Wally and Cheyenne Shluffmuffin. They become orphans when their parents die in odd accidents (dad drowned in a Porta Potti) and they are forced to live at the Jolly Days Orphanage. The problem is that the twins will never get adopted because Wally’s feet stink even after a bath and Cheyenne is allergic to everything. When they are taken home by two little, old ladies called The Onts, they discover that their new parents are really two giant ants breeding larvae so they can take over the world and enslave the human race. Wally and Cheyenne must escape their new home and brave the wild Dripping Fang forest to tell someone about the Ont’s horrible plan. On the way they meet glowing slugs, talking wolves, a professor and his spider wife, and even have a run-in with their dad who was turned into a zombie and then a vampire. On top of it all, no one believes their story of giant ants and they keep getting sent back to the Onts as runaways.

This series is perfect for the kid who is unimpressed with the typical Magic Tree House and Hank the Cowdog books. It does require a certain degree of sophistication as the books are rife with sarcastic humor. The children at Jolly Days Orphanage are described as wretches and they are treated horribly by the owner, Hortense Jolly. Some readers might not be ready for the scary elements like zombies and spiders, but this series fills the niche of horror/humor for a young audience. It just might be the series that hooks the reader that turns down everything else because it looks “too boring.”

Thursday, June 9, 2011

"Why I Need My Library" Teen Video Contest Winners!

In keeping with the theme of switching the schedule of blog postings this week, and the fact that I got Tuesdays and Thursdays confused, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Logan Heights Library teens for winning a 3rd place prize in their age category in the ALA "Why I need my library" teen video contest.

This contest was sponsored by the American Library Association which put out a call for teens to advocate for their libraries by creating 1-3 minute videos about why they need their libraries. The contest took place from January to April 2011 and during this time 157 videos were submitted.

The Logan Heights Library teens worked on this video for a month. They wrote and played their own song. They filmed the video in 1 day with the library's Flip video camera. They created their storyboard, chose their wardrobe and drew the art work on the white board featured on this video as the background. Most of the time was spent editing by the teen videographer who came into the library twice per week to use the security guard's MacBook and use his software to edit and add images to the video. These teens are all 13 years old and members of both the Logan Heights Library teen council and the the library's teen music group. Staff and adults assisted teens with ideas and equipment but the entire process and production of the video is based on content from the teens.

I'm very proud of our teens and their efforts advocating for their library. In addition to this video, teens at the Logan Heights Library are constantly getting involved as volunteers, by participating in library activities and promoting library programs. Recently, one Logan Heights teen council member spoke in front of City Council to voice how much his library means to him and urge them to reduce budget cuts to libraries and keep libraries open for him and his friends.

The teens won $1000 for the their library and are hoping to use it for teen programs and towards purchasing some furniture for a teen space.

Check out their video!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

ALA Conference Video

I know the schedule says Mondays are for "professional activities," but this video is too great not to post. ALA's John Chrastka presents tips for how to make the most of your conference experience with a 1950s educational video twist. Three of our resident bloggers are headed to New Orleans for the Annual Conference (I will be posting daily) so be on the look out starting June 23rd. It might be pretty photo heavy since my sister the photographer is joining me on the trip, but get excited (I am)... It's CONFERENCE time!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Promotion + Schools = Summer Reading Success

It's the end of the school year and the fun is just getting started for us youth service librarians as the countdown to Summer Reading begins. However, there are a few things to do before school is out to ensure that you have high attendance at your programs and get kids reading over the summer. Here is a check list of ways to work with your school to promote the library and Summer Reading.

Open Houses
Open Houses start as early as February (I usually miss these because I am too late), but most are in May. This is a great time to contact your school and ask to set up a table to have library materials to hand out to parents. Also, don't forget the back to school Open Houses that are usually a few weeks after the start of school. Another good time to remind families about the library.

Class Visits/Assemblies
Ask to speak to individual classes or at assemblies where you can again promote the Summer Reading. Assemblies are nice because you can talk to large groups of kids at one time. If you can get into an award assembly that is even better because parents come and you get to talk directly to the person who will be bringing the child to the library. Some librarians get very creative putting on skits during these assemblies. Anything to get the kids to remember the library! You also want to get the teachers excited about your reading program because they will promote your programs.

Send home flyers to every school age kid in your service area. This is another way to get contact with the parents. Schools will ask you to have the flyers grouped by class size and counting out flyers is a perfect job for a high school volunteer. Schools often have a cut off for the last day they will accept flyers to be sent home, so be prepared early.

After School Programs
Find out if your school's after school program will be open during the summer. Find out how you can help them (and your statistics) make a great summer for the students. I provide books and reading incentives (provided centrally by my library system) to these school sites because they often can not get to the library. To make it easier on yourself contact the coordinator of the after school program. This person will help you coordinate the filling out of paperwork and help negotiate any problems that may arise. Plus it is nice to have an extra ally in the school district.

The hardest part of working with your school is getting into the school. If you can find a teacher, principal, or librarian who will work with you, you will be set. I was fortunate to make friends with the District Librarian and thus the library techs at the individual schools. This has made getting into the schools much easier and afforded me many other contacts within the school district. Of course there are many ways to gain contact with schools and I would love new ideas, so readers please share your experience working with schools.

Posted by Anna