Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Wordless Book Storytime

In 2014, my library system gave every branch the opportunity to do a wordless picture book storytime.   There are several wordless picture books that I love, so I jumped on the opportunity to do this right away.  My branch has a lot of patrons under the age of five, so I developed it with an audience of toddlers and preschoolers in mind, which is mostly what I got.

My set up for this stortyime was pretty standard. Perhaps the biggest difference was that I had a handout to give to parents explaining how they can share wordless books with their little ones.  I also made a point of talking about sharing wordless picture books at the beginning of storytime. In terms of songs, I simply picked out my favorite songs and rhymes, most of which you guys probably already know.  As you can see, this was a short storytime, but it was a lot of fun.  At the end, we finished up with a walrus puppet craft which you can find here.

Welcome to our Wordless Book Storytime! My name is Liz and I am the children’s librarian here.  Today we are going to read books that tell a story using only pictures and no words.  In order to become great readers, children need to learn how to talk first.  The great thing about wordless picture books is the conversations that we can have about them.  The important thing is not getting the story right but using the pictures to have discussions that introduce new words and ideas.  After our stories, you guys will have a chance to look at wordless picture books that you can read with your child at home.

Open Shut Them


Where’s Walrus by Stephen Savage

This is  probably my favorite Where's Walrus book, and the one the children were most receptive to.   They absolutely love finding the walrus in any given picture and guessing where he'll go on the next page.

Action Rhyme
Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes


Wave by Suzy Lee

This is a fun wordless picture book to share because there is so much emotion in it, and I focused my discussion with the children on the emotions.

The Finger Band
I learned this fingerplay from a colleague a while ago, and it's always a big hit. If you don't know it, this website has the words.

The More We Get Together

Of course, this program wouldn't have been complete without a display of books for parents to take and share with their little ones.  Here are a few of the ones I put out:
Flotsam by David Wiesner
A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka
Chalk by Bill Thomson
Journey by Aaron Becker
The Red Book by Barbara Lehman
Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle
Flashlight by Lizi Boyd
The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee

Have you done a wordlesss picture book storytime at your library? How did it go?

Friday, April 10, 2015

Middle Grade and Young Adult Booktalks

If you found us from our workshop session at the Fay B. Kaigler Book Festival, hello! Here is our slideshow presentation. Thanks for being there!

Monday, April 6, 2015

where we've been

It's been a little quiet around here. There's been a lot of transitions (Liz talked about hers here, and I'll talk about mine a bit later).

But before we launch back into a, well, let's be honest, it's still going to be a semi-regular posting schedule, we wanted to share with you the things we've been doing on the internet when we weren't here.

Liz, as y'all probably know, has her own amazing YA book blog. Also she recently started reviewing for School Library Journal!! Check out some of her awesome posts and reviews!


2014 End of Year Survey

2015 challenges

Blog Tour: The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkowski

Review: I Was Here by Gayle Forman

(Ally's note: This review that Liz write is brave and amazing. I'm so proud of her. Read it.)

* * *

Ally blogs for ALSC and YALSA monthly and is working on a Faith and Spirituality in Young Adult Literature project with Karen Jensen at Teen Librarian Toolbox.


Comics, Comics, Comics!

YMA Favorites

Wilderness Survival and Youth Group Culture: A Review of The Distance Between Lost and Found

Middle Grade and Young Adult: An Author(s) Interview (with Alison Cherry and Claire Legrand)

Hey, thanks for sticking with us. We love this community and we love being able to be a part of it all over the internet.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Baby Time At Your Library

One of my duties since starting at my new library has been taking over Baby Time.  I took over the program in June, two weeks after I'd started my job.  I’ve gotten some good experience since then, but of course I’m always eager to learn more.  I wanted to share with you guys how I do my program right now.

I’m in a large urban public library, so Baby Time is a big program for us.  It’s so big that we break it up into two sessions—one at 10:30, one at 11.  We hand out tickets for the 10:30 and cap the attendance at 70 people.  Of course, our 11 o'clock is open attendance, meaning you don't need a ticket to come.  I know, I know—70 sounds like a lot, but I think I usually manage it pretty well.  My manager and I discussed adding a third storytime or capping the attendance for the first one at a smaller number, but neither seemed like a great solution.   

I get a mix of babies and toddlers for this program.   Some children sit on laps while others stand and do everything by themselves.   Luckily, lots of bounce rhymes can be modified for a child who stand by his or her self, and I keep this in mind as I plan.

We hold this storytime in our largest meeting room.  I sit in a desk chair because it allows me to swivel easily so I can see my entire audience.  I set up a large circle of chairs so patrons understand that they should sit either in one of the chairs or on the floor inside the circle.  I put two tables behind me during storytime so that they make one long table.  I have the books displayed so everyone can see them and the boombox plugged in and ready to go.  The flannel board I use isn’t on a stand or an easel but just sits right on top of the table.  I stash puppets behind the flannel board—children are welcome to come and look at them afterwards, but having them come up and grab puppets during the middle of storytime would be distracting.

So this is what I’ll often do during storytime.   I’m annotating my plan with resources so that you know where you can do when you want to do your own baby storytime.

“Good morning!  How is everyone today? Welcome to Baby Time! Many of you know me but if you don’t my name is Liz and I am the Children’s Librarian here.  We’ll be doing lots of fun things today including sharing some books, songs, rhymes, and activities.  I’d like everybody, including parents and nannies, to do the songs and rhymes with me.  You are your child’s first and best teacher so they will often follow what you do.”

Song—“When Jack and Jill Get Up In the Morning”
I use puppets for this one and sing it to the tune of "When Pigs Get Up In the Morning.At the end of the song, I ask the children to say good morning to each puppet.  I bought these puppets in 2014 which is when the We Need Diverse Books campaign really took off.  Babies deserve to have diversity incorporated into their literature library services as well, and this was an easy to do it.

Song—“Jack and Jill Went Up the Hill”
I do this once with puppets and then have everybody do it with their hands. 

Rhyme—“Two Little Blackbirds”
Again, I do this once with two flannel blackbirds and once with my fingers.  Before I took over this storytime I observed the person who was doing it before me, I heard her sing a tune to this one.  I have no reference point for this tune, but if I could tell you what it was, I would.

Book—Barnyard Banter by Denise Fleming
Babies love babbling and making animal sounds, so this one is always a hit! I love the rhythm that this story has to it.

Early Literacy Tip
If you want great literacy tips to share with your storytime crowd, I would check here, here, and here.  Shout out to Lindsey who Tweeted all of these great links to me back in July.

Song—“Hands are Clapping
My patrons love this song—especially when they all get to play peek-a-boo!  Lots of babies are just learning to clap and this song helps with body awareness.

Nursery Ryme—“One, Two, Buckle My Shoe”
I do all of the actions as I go along and at the end, I pull out a chicken and make clucking sounds.  Everyone always does the rhyme, laughs, and wants to pet the chicken once storytime is over.

Song—“Bumping Up In Down In My Little Red Wagon”
Sung to the tune of the paw paw patch song.  In my version, we bump up and down, the wheels go round, we wave to our friends, and then we bump up and down one more time.  You can also print pictures of different color wagons (red, yellow, blue, green) and sing about each color.  Either one is bound to be a huge hit with babies.

Book—The Babies on the Bus by Karen Katz
This version of the wheels on the bus is full of fun actions you can do with your baby, like gently bouncing up and down.  I also love that so many of Katz’s books feature diverse babies.

Song—“When Pigs Get Up In the Morning”
I play a recording of this by Laura Johnson and found on the CD Circle Time Songs and Games.    I hold up a flannel for each animal in this song.  Everybody loves this song and it’s a great way to practice animal noises.

Action Rhyme—“Here is the Beehive”
Using a template I found on Sunflower Storytime, I made a puppet to wear while I do this one, complete with beehives and bees that come out.  All you need to make your own puppet is a plain glove and some Velcro dots.

Song—“Zoom, Zoom, Zoom
Remember how I said some songs worked great for babies but could be modified for toddlers?  This is one of them.

Book—Hush Little Baby by Brian Pinkney
Sometimes what I really need at this point in the program is a book that everyone knows and will help the children calm down a little bit.  Not only does this book accomplish that, it also wins points for diversity. I love it.  If you do a baby storytime and don’t use this book, you should fix that immediately.

Song—“Two Little Hands, Ten Little Fingers”
This is sung to the tune of “Ten Little Indians” and I sing it both in English and Spanish so that parents and caregivers who speak Spanish to their little ones have a Spanish song they can sing with them.

Song—“Mi Cuerpo”
Parents and children would probably mutiny if I ever tried to cut this song from my storytime and frankly, I don’t want to.  It teaches children body awareness.  Also? They love it.  I encourage caregivers to point to the body parts on the littlest babies as the song plays—and the babies do bounce up and down, grin, and love it.  Meanwhile, a lot of my older children get up, do it themselves, and have a blast.  I recently saw an older child singing it to a little baby who was sitting near them and pointing to the baby’s body parts throughout the song.  It melted my librarian heart.

Song—“The More We Get Together”
Songs about togetherness are a great way to end storytime—they teach children that they are part of a community, and that a love of books and songs is something that they can share.  Again, this is another one all of the caregivers know.

Please check out some books while you’re here today and remember to read, talk, and sing, every day with your little ones.  Thank you guys so much for coming to Baby Time today and I hope I see you at another program soon.  Yay!

And that’s how it goes!  I’ll often do the exact same songs and rhymes for about a month and switch some things out.  As a general rule, the first three songs and rhymes and that last three songs and rhymes tend to stay the same.  I’m open to changing them, but at this point I figure if they’re working, why change them?  At some point they may start to feel tired and if they do, I’ll reevaluate.

What do you do for your baby storytime?  Am I missing any great books, songs, or rhymes? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Two weeks ago, I canceled a program. I've never done that before. The guilt was unbelievable, but I was quite ill and there was no one else who could do it for me.

I've been cross-posting over at the ALSC and YALSA blogs lately (here, here, here), and this month, I missed my deadline. Not just missed it, I flat didn't write the post. I just totally forgot. I was horrified at myself because it's so unlike me.

Liz and I haven't been super regular posters like some of our other amazing librarian blogger friends, but I haven't had a post since June. JUNE. That's crazy, even for me.

Life at my library has been a little...difficult lately. I haven't had a branch manager (my immediate supervisor) since July. Both of the girls that work for me (a full-time position and a part-time position) unexpectedly left at the end of the summer. I spent the entire months of August and September doing three people's jobs, and y'all? I did not handle it well. In September, I did 21 programs BY MYSELF and then my body just shut down. I've taken more sick leave in the last two months than I did in the last year, which left NO ONE in my department (and then there was more guilt). Why did I try to do all of that? Because we have programming requirements and because I didn't want to disappoint the kids and because I didn't want to look bad and because there was no one else to do it and and and...the list goes on.

This post has been one of Library Lore's most successful. Read it and then come back and tell me how terrible I am at taking my own advice. I know.

Things are getting better. I have an excellent part-time assistant now and a full-time specialist starting in November. I'm telling myself over and over every day not to feel guilty for things I can't control.

I don't have much more to say other than this: We have to stop doing this to ourselves. I have to stop doing this to myself. If you're currently doing this to yourself, STOP. There has to be another way. Let us, as a community, help you find another way.

In FAR MORE FUN NEWS, Here's a list of some happenings in Ally's world:

  • Marge Loch-Wouters came to Mississippi! I met her! I had dinner with her! She's an excellent hugger! It was awesome! AHHHH!
  • My state library association conference is this week. I'm leaving today! It's one of my favorite things we can do. I recapped it last year, and I expect to have just as much fun this year.
  • I had my annual fall open house for high school students and I had 241 teens show up! WOO! My biggest program number EVER.
  • I've deciding that interviewing people is the actual worst thing ever. I hope I don't have to do it again for quite some time.

Hopefully we'll get back to a more regular posting schedule soon. Liz and I both love being part of this community. Thanks for being so supportive of us, especially on twitter. I wouldn't have survived the last few months without y'all.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Some Truths About Searching for a Library Job

As a lot of you guys know, I recently resigned from my job, moved halfway across the country, and started a job as a Children’s Librarian in a new system.  Things have been busy—I’m near more friends and family, so my persona life is busier and more fulfilling.  My job is also different, but we’ll get to that later.

Right now, I want to talk about the process of switching jobs.  Keep in mind that not every case will be like mine.  However, if you’re thinking of switching jobs, or know someone who is in the process of getting a new job, I thought I would share some truths and tips with you.

 1.)   Do what is right for you.  There are a lot of different reasons to want to leave a job—maybe you want to move from librarian to branch manager, maybe you want to relocate, maybe you think your skills would be better in a position where the daily work is different.  As you begin to look for something new, you’ll be thinking a lot about the ramifications this has on the job you may be leaving, and how patrons and colleagues are affected.  Although it’s important to be gracious and make sure you are still performing all of your duties as expected, make sure that you are making the decision that is best for yourself. It’s okay to look for something where you feel professional and personal satisfaction, because sometimes if you don’t, it can start to feel like certain areas of your life are lacking.  This last point should go without saying, but don’t spend your work time on your job searching process.  That needs to be on your personal time.

 2.)    Finding a job requires resources.  When I was looking at other jobs, I would spend my evenings filling out job applications.  It was pretty tiring—I would come home, make dinner, and sit down to write cover letters or work on applications.  Although ultimately rewarding, this isn’t a particularly relaxing way of spending the evening.  In addition to taking time, I also found that I needed cash so I could travel to and from job interviews.  If you’re putting a lot of pressure on yourself to get a new job, make sure you’re not straining your resources.  Be sure to leave some nights for relaxation, and try to plan your finances accordingly.  For those of you who are friends of job seekers, be a good ear if they complain about paying extra for gas and being tired. It’s not easy.

 3.)   Have a sounding board (shout out to Ally here).  Maybe you want to practice interview questions, or it could just be the case that you want to rant to someone about the adventures and misadventures you get into as you search for the perfect position.  You may be very private about your desire to find a new job—and that’s okay. Try to find someone with a good ear. It’ll make you feel less frustrated as you go about the process.

 4.)   Give it time.  You may not find the right position right away, and sometimes library systems have odd hiring timelines, meaning the may not hire you right away after your interview. It’s not fun, especially if you feel you need to relocate.  Follow your gut.  If a position doesn’t feel right to you, it may not be a good fit. If there’s something you really want, make an extra effort without being pushy.  It took me seven months to land the position that was right for me.

5.)   Give it patience. Step back when you need to.  I know some people who claim to have gotten every job they’ve interviewed for, and it’s okay if you’re not one of them.  It’s okay if you get frustrated.  This is where you’ll need your sounding board.

 6.)   Network.  Never underestimate the power of professional connections.  You never know when someone will send a posting your way, or introduce you to someone in a system you’d love to work for.   And keep it up when you get that new job.  You may still want those connections one day.

I can provide information about my process that’s more personal and gets more in detail, but I wanted to share something helpful.  Hopefully these reminders have helped those if you who are or know job seekers, and otherwise, I hope it’s given you something to chew over.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Recent Things Liz Has Been Enthusiastic About (3)

Despite how long it has been since I have written an enthusiasm post, let me assure that you I have been excited about a lot of things.  I know! I'll start with my new job.

In mid May, I moved to Washington D.C. where I started a position as a Children's Librarian at a public library.  I'm very excited to be working with a children's staff of three other people (and lots of other great folks) and be living in the vicinity of my brother and several of my friends.

One of the things I get to do at my new job is Baby Time, which is very intense.  I do two back to back sessions, one at 10:30 and one at 11:00.  We distribute tickets to the first 70 people who come, and they all attend the 10:30 session.  Everyone else joins us at 11:00.  I get to work with a lot of bilingual children and nannies, so I've been learning new things that I can use with them.  One of my new favorite songs is "Mi Cuerpo." Lots of toddlers love to get up and dance with me, and even the babies love to bounce up and down on their caregivers' laps when I put this one on.

My current system has kids keep track of how much they read, so my branch is having a "Can You Read More Than A Librarian?" contest.  I'm keeping track of how much I read, and any child who reads more than I do gets to throw water balloons at me during our end of summer reading party.

Finally, this wouldn't be an enthusiasm post without at least some mention of books.  Here are three that I've read and adored this year.  No one is surprised that all of these come highly recommended by Ally, and now by me.