Little Reminders Everywhere: You don’t need to finish every book, you know.

This is April’s early literacy tip and I’m finally blogging about it in early May. I stink.

So, I’ve been making a sign that we keep behind the reference desk that features a new early literacy tip every month.  The response has been great so far. It gives something for people to read while they’re waiting on line at the information desk. I notice people taking pictures of the sign, or slowing down to take a better look at it. We get lots of compliments.

Here’s April’s tip. It has glitter:

As usual, it’s inspired by things that I witnessed as a nanny and interactions I see every day at the library. I often see a nanny or parent insisting that a child read an entire book, even though the child is becoming upset/fussy/frustrated. At a very young age, there’s no reason to make a child sit perfectly still or finish every single book. Reading shouldn’t be a forced activity. You want your child to associate reading with fun and happiness, not with stress.

We all have our own rhythm to the way we read and experience books. Toddlers and Pre-K kids are no different. Some like to fly through books at top speed. Others take an awfully long time, paying close attention to illustrations and specific details. Some kids want to hear the book (or just one page!) over and over again. It’s not unusual for a child to dislike a certain page and want to skip it.

If a young child dislikes a book, it’s no big deal. Move onto something you’ll both like better. Or maybe just stop altogether and pick up at a later time. Reading should be fun, not a chore.

I always look for a second opinion when writing my early literacy tips, just so y’all know I’m not making stuff up. The folks over at Northwestern State University Child and Family Network have my back on this one. They have tons of tips on reading to infants and toddlers:

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Until next time, kids.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

#WeNeedDiverseBooks. We always did and we always will.

alice

When I was a just a tiny little kiddo, either my mom or my grandmother introduced me to Alice for the Very Young, which is sort of a Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland with training wheels. Just one look at the cover and I was hooked for life. Alice was young and pale and blonde, just like me. I wanted to be just like her and, in some ways, I already felt like I was her. Alice remains my literary buddy to this day. In tough times, she is my rock and my safe space. I go to her when I am not OK. Decades after picking this book up for the first time, she’s still there when I feel lost or out-of-place or just plain sad.

This is my somewhat convoluted way of saying that it didn’t take much to get me hooked on reading. All I needed was a drawing of a girl that shared a couple of similar features with me, and I was in it for life. Not only did Alice help me gravitate towards “big kid” books (in droves!), but she showed me that little girls like me could be smart and brave and clever. If Alice could persevere in complicated situations, then so could I.

If you see it, you can be it. If you can’t see it…

Do you see what I’m saying here? It is *so* powerful to read a book and look at a character and say, “That could be me. I could do that.”

This is why I am delighted by the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, which you can read all about here. As a white child with blonde hair, the truth is, I could see myself represented in a multitude of books and TV shows and movies and magazines. Popular culture has always included people like me (though, now that I’m plus-sized, I’m a little harder to find, but that’s a whole other deal). I’ve never really had to worry about whether or not I belong. It’s always sort of been implied.

However, when a parent at the library tells me that their multi-ethnic daughter is feeling bad about the way she looks, I find myself having to scrounge around in the stacks to find a picture book featuring a bi-racial child. Yes, these books exist, but not in large numbers.

When I’m searching for a middle-grade book with a black protagonist, the options shouldn’t be only historical fiction titles concerning slavery or civil rights. How about a modern day boy in a realistic setting? Or a fantasy book? Or sci-fi? How about some choices?

How come Park from Eleanor and Park is one of the few Asian protagonists in popular young adult literature? (Not to mention that his Eleanor is one of the very few fat girl-protagonists YA lit has to offer).

When I review books for the Rainbow List, why am I not totally inundated with titles? Why isn’t my mailbox completely overflowing with novels and picture books and comics and non-fiction? Why am I not faced with an insurmountable mountain of eligible books? Where are the queer protagonists for teens and, especially, children? And out of these Rainbow List titles, why is the T in LGBTQ hardly ever represented? Why am I meant to believe that Queer POC don’t exist? And why do most covers feature a white, middle- to upper-middle class cis-boy? Where are the female and female-identified characters?

Why does popular, mainstream culture want me to believe that the default human being is a white, straight, cis-gendered man that the rest of us are just supposed to magically identify with?

I encourage you to head on over to We Need Diverse Books‘s Tumblr, as well as the #weneeddiversebooks hashtag on Twitter. Partcipate, retweet, reblog. Let’s keep this stuff trending!

Before I go, I want to leave you with some of the fantastic pictures from the incredible people at Oakland Library (I’ve always considered them to be Brooklyn’s sister city, is that OK?). This isn’t a contest to see who can take the best pictures, but I have to say that Oakland is winning in the best way possible:

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Check out their Twitter feed right now, because it’s rad.

What would a world with more diverse books mean to you or the patrons and young people you serve?

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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Why will *you* be in ALA Vegas?

Remember those great Slate photos Kyle Cassidy took of all your favorite librarians? Well, Kyle was kind enough to let the ALA use them so that we could all talk about why we can’t wait for the upcoming conference in Vegas (or why we wish we could attend). Take a look! You’ll also get to see some pictures that didn’t end up in Slate, but are still pretty awesome.

Here’s me talking about the GLBT Round Table:

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Mel Gooch is one of my favorite people. She once worked in Brooklyn but then left me and broke my heart forever.

This is Trevor talking about the GameRT:

Lalitha is radiant! I think she’s so great. She’s particularly psyched about an upcoming YALSA program:

Here’s Sarah:

And the fantastic Miss Leigh (who we will miss at Annual):

Erin is that tattooed librarian your parents warned you about and an Emerging Leader to boot!

This is our fearless leader Courtney! I was particularly fond of this picture and was surprised Slate didn’t use it:

So, what are you looking forward to at ALA Annual in Vegas? If you’re #alaleftbehind, what will you miss the most?

Oh, and instead of engaging in more “Hey, that librarian in that picture doesn’t look like me/reflect librarianship“-outrage, you could come get your picture taken by Kyle in Vegas! That’s right! Kyle will be there to capture the charm of even more librarians! All are welcome, I promise. Details to come, gorgeous.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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Reading to Your Bunny for 20 Minutes a Day: In this case, the bunny is your child.

Do you ever rearrange your library collection because you realize that the books/materials in a certain area are getting trashed by the kids? Or because you can’t navigate around the stroller obstacle course that inevitably erects itself every day? Well, my boss ladies made a decision based on these instances. We completely shifted over the entire Easy Readers section so that the books didn’t end up mashed and bent-up all over the floor and so that we wouldn’t have to jump over 15 Bugaboo prams to access the books. Once the Easy Readers were housed in a new section, we were left with several empty, and somewhat unattractive, shelves. Of course, I’ve been trying to gussy them up, because that’s what I do. Like most sensible children’s librarians who aren’t stone-cold dead inside, I get all goosebumpy every time I read Rosemary Well‘s Read to Your Bunny. Dude. I don’t have kids and I don’t even want kids, but every time I use this book in storytime, I get all verklempt. It’s just so touching and sweet! I decided to make some decorations and literacy tips based on this book and the premise that you should read to your child for at least 20 minutes a day. Ms. Well’s site has some great resources and images for parents and educators to use (some of which I stole/acquired for this very display), but I should mention that her site is also full of dead links. Click at your own risk! First, I made some bunnies. Giant purple bunny heads, naturally. 2 After I climbed up onto these shelves, I realized that these bunnies should have had a sort of brightly-colored backdrop. The wall looks a little dingy. Now I know for next time. Of course, I had to include some lines from the book (a coworker helped me with the lettering on this. Lettering makes me nervous): It’s like a rule that all my lettering is crooked and ends up veering to one side. I also made up some laminated pieces that sit inside the empty bookshelves:  

To go up with the whole shebang, I created a double-sided handout explaining why  reading at least 20 minutes a day is important and how you can schedule those 20 minutes into your hectic day. I keep a stack of these tip-sheets at the reference desk and they seem to go pretty fast:
If you want the Word documents for these, hit me up at magpielibrarian at gmail.com. That way, you can correct my clearly questionable font choices or switch up whatever you’d like. Clearly, my mention of subways makes this handout extra Brooklyn-centric.
~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

Where does it go?: An interactive, transportation-themed flannel board

I am constantly trolling storytime blogs and Pinterest pages looking for unsuspecting librarians and teachers whose ideas I can steal. I’m a really devious person, everyone. I stole the idea for a flannel board transportation quiz from here. Then I changed it and threw glitter on it.

I will be using this flannel board with my Toddler Time class, as well as with any pre-school class visits I have. I want it to create a little dialogue with the kids and get them thinking about how different objects and ideas go together.

First, I’ll just post four settings on the flannel board: some clouds and a rainbow representing the sky, a street, some train tracks, and the ocean. Then, I will present each mode of transportation and ask the kids, “Where does it go?” Does the plane go in the sky, the street, the train tracks, or the water? Hopefully, together we will figure out that the plane goes in the sky, the car on the street, the train on the train tracks, and the boat on the water.

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I got most of my clip art from Sweet Clip Art and My Cute Graphics.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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Four Cats in the Truck: A flannel board for all of us

We’ve had a bit of a break in programming where we’ve been lucky enough to have paid outside storytime performers instead of librarian-run classes. I enjoyed a little rest, but now it’s time to get pumped about upcoming toddler and baby classes. I’ve made some new flannel boards to dazzle the masses.

This one has elements everyone can get into: Trucks, ice cream, cats, and heart-shaped sequins. What more could we want? I made up a little song to the tune of “Ten in the Bed“:

There were four cats in the truck

and the pink one said,

“Move over, move over!”

So they all moved over and one fell out!

There were three cats in the truck…

There were two cats in the truck…

There was one cat in the truck and she sang,

“I have the whole truck to myself!

I have the whole truck to myself!

I have the whole truck to myself!”

I snagged the ice cream truck from here and the cats from My Cute Graphics. I glued some sequins on some of the cats’ noses because that’s how I roll. I fed the images through our laminator to make them more sturdy and stuck some velcro on the back. Here’s how it came out:

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~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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Check out my interview in the GLBT News!

The glorious and radiant Tess Goldwasser interviewed me for the GLBT News, the news outlet for the GLBT Round Table. Click here to hear me talk about tiny deer, bathtub reading, and possibly fictional cats! While you’re there, subscribe to GLBT News (you can see the subscribe box on the right side of the page).

Check you later, party people.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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Racism is a giant, nebulous issue that I have no business talking about, but here’s a display

Hopefully, once my system hires some new Youth Services librarians, we’ll be able to staff the YA/teen reference desk more often. Until then, the YA section is at part of our library that’s not getting as much as love as it should (not that we’re not trying! We are. We accomplish great things all the time, we could just use the help of another librarian or two). In the place of a librarian, I like to leave little conversation-starters around, like my mini-personless booktalk or all my hot-topic displays.

I decided my next display would be about racism, ethnic/racial stereotypes, and cultural appropriation. As a 30-something white lady working in a library where my teens are mostly People of Color, I don’t know if I’m the best person to be starting this conversation. I also believe that this is a huge, unwieldy topic that’s hard to boil down to a bunch of Tumbr and Pinterest images.

But here it is.

It’s always good to start with Janelle Monae:

This image is from her Q.U.E.E.N. video.

Some commentary on people who claim to be "color-blind"

Some commentary on people who claim to be “color-blind”

From the #notyourasiansidekick hashtag on Twitter:

I used a couple of images from Kiyun Kim’s Racial Microagressions series: 

“You don’t act like a normal black person, ya know?”

And also the solid “racist butt” comic.

Here’s a great quote from Mindy Kaling:

Great quote from Mindy Kaling.

A little something about racist Halloween costumes and respecting personal space:

On making assumptions about people’s ethnicities:

Continue reading

I AM READING THIS SO HARD RIGHT NOW: Dead City by James Ponti

Welcome to I AM READING THIS SO HARD RIGHT NOW, where I refuse to recap books for you because I’m pretending I’m busy doing other really important things (I’m probz just playing QuizUp on my phone, though). Recently, I’ve been catching up on books that I didn’t get to read during my last go-round on the Rainbow List. This means a mess of picture books, middle grade fiction, and non-LGBTQ YA fiction. I know I am very late to the game on this one, but I wanted to talk briefly about why I love Dead City by James Ponti:

  • Three, count ‘em, three kinds of zombies! I like a little variety when it comes to reanimated corpses. Some of Ponti’s zombies are brain-dead and kinda rotty-like while others are kinda like us. If you find yourself a bit bored with the slow, lolling brain-eaters, you’re in luck as far as Dead City is concerned. Some of these zombies are fast movers and super strong to boot.
  • Strong, smart female character alert! Molly, our heroine, and Natalie, her fellow zombie-expert, are tough and brilliant, like a little bit of Buffy and a little bit of Willow thrown into each character (if I make a BtVS reference, you know I’m pleased). They kick zombie ass, but are just as skilled in cracking codes and finding clues. At the same time, they’re not overly perfect, which is the kind of female protagonist that really grates on my nerves. Molly is brave, sure, but she has some real fears and weaknesses, and sometimes she screws up big time. Oh, and there’s one more female zombie hunter in the mix, but I don’t want to spoil who she is. But trust me, she’s amazing. If you insist on some male characters, have no fear. Ponti’s got your back with Grayson and Alex.
  • Molly, Natalie, Grayson, and Alex are total nerds, but they’re not nerds played for laughs, which is trend that’s really bothered me lately (Ahem, Big Bang Theory). I’m so tired of every smart kid/nerd being intensely unpopular, lonely, clutzy, or socially awkward. Nerds can have friends! Nerds can be comfortable in public settings! Nerds can rip the arms right off a zombie! It’s OK to be a smart kid!
  • It takes place in NYC, which I like, because I haven’t been to many other places. Dead City-verse zombies can’t really travel to the outer-boroughs because of their dependence on Manhattan schist. I really know nothing about Manhattan in general (I’ve always lived in Queens and Brooklyn), but apparently the island is built upon Manhattan Schist, Inwood Marble, and Fordham Gneiss. Holy crap, I accidentally learned something! 

This book has been out since 2012, so, look, I know I’m way behind here. But if you skipped this title for whatever reason, give it a look-see. It’s fast-moving and fun without being vapid or insubstantial. The second book in the series, Blue Moon, is already out.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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A job grows in Brooklyn and it could be yours!

I’ve been complaining for a LONG time (almost five years!) about being one of my system’s very last-hired librarians. We had some budget issues here in NYC and a hiring freeze was in full effect.  I sometimes referred to myself, perhaps over-dramatically, as the only living librarian in New York.

Things are looking up, though, buttercups, as my system is finally hiring some librarians! Seven librarians! SEVEN!

I KNOW, RIGHT

I’m excited for me, because I HAVE BEEN SO VERY LONELY. I’m also super pumped for you, because I love working in this city and I think you will too. If you want to work where you’re really needed by your community and you want to throw down and create rad programs for your patrons, this is the place for you.

Specifically, five children’s librarians and two young adult librarians will be hired. Word on the street is that one of each will end up at Central, where I work and desperately need some librarians who love being librarians to come put an end to our understaffing.

To be clear, I am not doing any of the hiring as I am on the very very bottom of the totem poll, but I will say that, as someone who works with kids and teens:

  • I do a mess of programming. Standard stuff like Toddler Time and Babies and Books, to more elaborate stuff like Toddler Prom, the Agatha program, and fancy book-related parties.
  • We have a Maker Space. Say Maker Space three times into a mirror and a MaKey MaKey appears.
  • Know your databases.
  • I do so much Readers Advisory and I love it.
  • There are class visits here. Nearly every day. Kids of every age. Are you ready?
  • Summer Reading at Central is NO JOKE. No sleep ’til Brooklyn. Or in Brooklyn.

So, are you that librarian? Are you that librarian we’ve been waiting for? COME ON, ALREADY!

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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