My Letter B Storytime: ‘Cause baby there’s no better, baby there’s no better letter

This may sound bananas to all you seasoned children’s librarians, but I haven’t been doing themed storytimes for toddlers. I know! It’s crazy. My flawed reasoning has been that we have a revolving team of children’s librarians here, so I only get to do Toddler Time once a month or so. I was afraid that doing a theme was only for librarians with a consistent storytime schedule and a regular group of program participants. My typical tactic was just to bring my best, A-game material to storytime without a specific theme in mind.

I know. That sounds nonsensical.

I’ve seen the light now, and have started banging out themed storytimes.

I thought I’d share my Letter B storytime, which was highly successful. I haven’t gotten so many compliments from caregivers in ages. One participant, a self-admitted seasoned storytime goer, said that this was the best storytime they had been to in a long time and that they felt that the topic I covered would actually stick with their child.

I set the theme by sticking this up to the wall and adding it to my handouts:

b

I am going to make a glittery frame for future storytime signs like this, but this time I just taped it up as is.

I started with my typical storytime starters: A hello song (I like this one), our ABCs (I used the ABC Stop Song, too, which I talk about here), and This is Big, Big, Big (which, by coincidence, is a song that has the letter B in it!).

I then launched into Bread and Butter, which is really sung best by those rad Jbrary ladies.

I mentioned that bread and butter are words that begin with B, and that now we were going to read a book about blueberries, which also begins with B. We read One Little Blueberry by Tammi Salzano, which is a solid counting book.

I reiterated that the word “blueberries” begins with the letter B and that’s the letter we were going to talk about today. I pulled out a big, laminated letter B, which I affixed to this box, which has velcro tabs on it so that I can switch out the letter for every new storytime:

I know it looks crooked, but that’s just my awful photography skills.

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Cover Your Library in Glitter and Lights: An Interview with Rachel Moani

One of my most lurked on librarian blogs was run by the very talented Rachel Moani, a Youth Services Associate in Washington state. She posted the most beautiful and breathtaking library displays I had ever seen. Rachel’s library was populated by dinosaurs, massive flying dragons, candy-colored castles big enough to hide in, glittery lightning storms, and twinkling lights. I was totally enamored by the library atmosphere she created and could only imagine how captivated her child and teen patrons must be.

One day, that website disappeared, and I spent a while searching for where her work was now displayed. I found a Pinterest page, thankfully, but I set to work trying to actually find and contact Rachel. Through the magic of social media, I tracked her down for an interview. I want all of you to become super Rachel-fan-girls, just like me.

I hope you find Rachel’s work as exciting and important as I do.


Ingrid Abrams:  Which came first, the art or the librarianship? How did you come to combine them?

Rachel Moani: Art came first, though during the past five years in libraries I’ve attacked projects and learned skills I never would have thought to acquire if I wasn’t putting up a seasonal book display. I’ve been having a wild and enthusiastic love affair with cardboard thanks to libraries.  Before, I’d always been more of a doodler/painter. Working in a children’s section of a library with very neutral décor, adding color and vibrancy where I could made sense to me.

IA: What was the most complicated display you ever pulled off?

RM: I like a challenge, so most of them push my limits in some way, but if I had to choose I’d say my stegosaurus, I think. It’s in six parts, all together she’s 35 feet long and 15 feet high. Hanging each piece individually while making it look like it’s hung as one piece was a challenge. I looked up a picture of a little balsa wood stegosaurus toy model and blew it up x1bazillion. Mathematical. Though the thing that cracks me up is: I spent all summer perfecting the dinosaur skeleton (for the “Dig into Reading!” theme) and then Banned Books week totally surprised me. So I whipped up a little banned books display in a few rushed, distracted hours – and that was the one that hit it big. Practically no one noticed the dino- Lolz!

Dinosaur Construction (Rachel Moani)Banned Books Display At the Lacey Library

IA: How in the WORLD did you get that dragon to hang from the ceiling?

RM: I’m pretty lucky to have a really supportive Lacey City staff, they put in a set of pulleys for me, so I can lift my crafts into our vaulted library ceiling.  Figuring out dimensions/weight/material quantity is a fun way to brush up on all that high school math I never thought I’d use.The Dragon

IA: What kinds of reactions do staff and patrons have to your displays?

RM: My castle right now is really fun, because kids can tug and touch and pull on it. I’m surprised by how long it’s lasted, and that it seems to be dying so gracefully. I thought it would go in a blaze of ripped up glory after a month or two, but it’s been up almost a year! I am obsessed with Yayoi Kusama, the greatest polka dot artist of our time, and I wanted to make something inspired by her installations. So every time kids come to the library, they put one sticker on the castle. My regular patrons, even the babies, now automatically come to the desk to choose their sticker. Which means I get a patron interaction with every visit, even with the ones who have always been too shy to talk with me. Just look at some of the adorable things they write on them!

Put a sticker on the Castle!)

stickers castle

stickers castle 2

IA: Tell me about your favorite display.

RM: Oh, I loved my ‘Dream Big’ chapter book display. But it was all glitter, twinkle lights, and fairy tales, so no surprise there.

DreamBig3

IA: What advice do you have for non-artsy, non-craftily talented librarians who strive create stunning displays like yours?

RM: I get so many great ideas from other creative people out there, and I love helping a fellow book displayer out! I know Pinterest isn’t an ideal place to comment and get responses, but I do try to always  respond if someone has a specific craft question. Craft! Have Fun! Take suggestions from the children at your library! Be bold!


There are so many librarians I admire and aspire to be like, and Rachel is definitely one of them. It was such an honor to get to talk to her. If there’s a library in heaven, it looks like this. Click here to check out her gorgeous Pinterest page.

 ~Love and Libraries, Ingrid
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PS: Rachel keeps a visual diary, and she was kind enough to share this with me:
magpie

Guest Post: Scott Bonner of Ferguson Library

You may remember that I had interviewed Scott, our beloved Ferguson librarian, previously here on The Magpie Librarian, and this was all way before his Movers and Shakers and Lemony Snicket awards (I knew him when!). Recently, I witnessed some thoughts Scott was working out on Twitter, and thought that I’d give him a platform here on my blog.

Scott notes that he knows that “this is so “Librarianship 101″, but I’ve been obsessing, and needed to write it out.”

And now, his guest post:

Scott Bonner

 ~Love and Libraries, Ingrid
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Birds of Paradise OR Hey, I’m in a book!

Several years ago, I was heading onto the G train, going home from work at my old library in Northern Brooklyn. Suddenly, a woman approached me:

Her: Can I photograph you for a project I’m working on?

Me: …

Her: It’s paid!

Me: OK!

I showed up in her apartment about a week later, wearing the same old outfit she spotted me in, which included a pink and red faux fur jacket and my Delta Burke necklace.

Recently, the photographer, Lee O’Connor, contacted me to let me know that her project had turned into a book: Birds of ParadiseI barely recognize myself in that somewhat old portrait, but it was so cool to see my picture up in a gallery alongside many other similarly dressed women.

me and me

I’ve never been in a book before! Birds of Paradise is a beautiful, candy-colored collection of portraits of fashionable NYC women that Lee photographed between 2009-2014. It’s such an honor to be included.

To see the other photographs, click here!

To learn more about the book, click here!

I’M IN A BOOK! It’s a librarian’s dream come true!

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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I Have too Much Crap to Carry: Behold, my new storytime box! (Inspired by Shania Twain)

My storytimes require a lot of…stuff, as I’m sure yours do as well. There’s a flannel board, one or two sets of pieces to go with it, maybe a puppet, at least three books, a stamp and ink-pad, handouts, signage, some sort of prop like scarves or shakers, and sometimes a boombox and/or MP3 player. I load my arms up with all that nonsense, then trek to the other side of the Youth Wing, and often up a flight of stairs, where I try to wrestle with the lock on the program-room door. It typically takes two trips and it usually ends up with me dropping everything on the floor while some super-hip Brooklyn dad says, “Do you need help?” and I’m like, “No, no, I’m cool. I’m TOTALLY fine!”

This is an actual GIF of me trying to look cool and casual.

I made a couple of make-shift storytime boxes out of cardboard with shiny paper stapled on, but they weren’t very sturdy and/or cute. I was simply trading an arm full of crap for a box full of crap!

A solid attempt, but these temporary boxes always fell apart!

A solid attempt, but these temporary boxes always fell apart!

I still didn’t have my hands free to open doors and wave to babies, and objects were still feeling pretty precarious. Sure, I could throw all the storytime supplies on a cart, but that didn’t sound very fancy, and how was I going to lug said cart up the stairs? #childrenslibrarianproblems

One night, my partner/euphemism and I were at a show his friend’s band was playing in, and I saw a dude carrying a bass drum/floor tom case. It looked perfect! It was sort of circular, sturdy-looking, and it had a handle. A HANDLE! I could throw all my crap in it AND still have one hand free. It reminded me of the hat-box in that Shania Twain “That Don’t Impress Me Much” video. Yes! That video! I’m old! Whatever!

See! Her hand is free! Doesn’t that look so much better than a stupid cardboard box? Plus it matches her leopard print snuggie!

It’s sturdy enough for you to stand your leg up on it so you can properly survey your haters!

Tim, being the good boyfriend/euphemism he is, got me a drum case for Hanukkah:

I, of course, hauled over to the craft store to pick up some stuff to gussy up my new storytime box. I came back with plastic dinosaurs, keychains, eye screws (screw eyes? These things.), gold spray paint, two kinds of glitter spray paint (in “Posh Pink” and “Sparkling Waters”), glitter letter stickers (are we sensing a pattern here?), and sealant.

First, I sprayed down all the dinosaurs with gold spray paint and laid them out to dry. Once they were unsticky, I screwed the eye screws into their little dinosaur bodies. I attached the dinosaurs to the keychains and they now hang from the handles.

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My second year on the Rainbow List is finished and I have some thoughts

Sometimes we fight over what titles will end up on the list, but all-in-all, it's a great team of people.  Not pictured, our chair Naomi Gonzales, one of my very favorite people.

Sometimes we fight over what titles will end up on the list, but all-in-all, it’s a great team.
Not pictured, our chair Naomi Gonzales, one of my very favorite people.

When I first heard about the Rainbow List, I was so excited to see that there was a project that seemed perfectly suited for my particular interests. At the time, there was nothing else in ALA I had any interest of joiningThe whole concept of the committee sounded fun, useful, and an important resource for readers and librarians. Before I even joined the list, I used it as a collection development tool to make sure my library’s selection was well-rounded and inclusive.

My time on the Rainbow List has imparted me with a very solid understanding of LBGTQ kids’ and teen lit, to the point that I have been asked to do paid speaking engagements on the topic. Two years on the Rainbow List forces you to concentrate on a specific segment of youth literature and, by the time your term is over, you’re a bit of an expert. My experience on the list has been rewarding and personally special to me. This year, when we finally decided on our Top Ten titles, I got a little choked up. All I could think of was, “We made this. We did this!”

highly recommend considering a term on the Rainbow List. You need to be a GLBTRT member, which, at fifteen dollars a year, is one of the best deals in ALA. Click here for the volunteer form. Be sure to join the RT before you fill out the form.

ETA: I want to be extra clear: The 2015 Rainbow List committee has already been appointed. So, plan ahead if you want to be a 2016 participant.

Click here for this year’s list. I am particularly excited about our selections this year. Compared to last year’s list, we have a larger selection of picture books and titles that speak to the trans* experience. I expect that next year, the list will see even more. You know what would be cool, too? More middle grade LBGTQ fiction. Tim Federle might want to take a year off. We need more voices!

I thought that, here, I’d take the time to list our Rainbow List selections that include diverse characters. The Rainbow List is diverse in nature, in that all of the titles have LBGTQ characters. However, here are some titles that go even further. I think it’s important to note this, especially for collection development and readers advisory purposes. #weneeddiversebooks! Now! Forever!

I know that some of the ethnicities listed below aren’t considered to be POC, but I felt the need to include them. I hope you find it useful.

  • One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva centers around an Armenian-American family.
  • Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel, one of my personal favorites, has a Persian-American protagonist. Sara Farizan does it again!
  • Screaming Divas by Suzanne Kamata is so much fun. The plot revolves around four girls, including Harumi, who is of Japanese descent. Harumi is not the queer character, it should be noted.
  • Austin’s Polish heritage plays a big part in Andrew Smith’s Grasshopper Jungle. I would also like to note that the Rainbow List receives very few positive portrayals of bisexual characters. It was refreshing to see a protagonist as well thought-out as Austin. #donteatthecorn
  • Sophie, in Tess Sharpe’s Far From You, lives with a disability brought about by chronic pain. In addition, she is a recovering drug addict.
  • One of the books that I simply could not put down was Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld. Darcy Patel, one of the two main characters, is of Indian descent.
  • Though the teen featured on the cover of Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin is white, the teens included in the title are very diverse. Same goes for the teens found in We Are the Youth: Sharing the Stories of LGBT Youth in the United States. I highly recommend purchasing both of these non-fiction titles. They are informative and beautiful to look at.
  • Previously, I have gushed about both Not Every Princess and This Day in June. If your picture book collection does not include these two titles, it is incomplete. If the diverse children and families in these two books don’t melt your cold, cold little heart, I just don’t understand you.

If you are considering being on the Rainbow List and you have some questions that I haven’t answered in this post or here or here, you know where to find me. I am happy to answer any questions you might have. I really believe in the work of the Rainbow List and will continue to follow its lists even though I am no longer on the committee.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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Little Reminders Everywhere: Sing to your child, even if you’re literally the worst singer

Looks like it’s time for yet another Literacy Tip of the Month!

Here’s what I whipped up this time:

This literacy tip was inspired by all the grown-ups in our Babies and Books and Toddler Time programs, who, when asked to sing along proclaim, “I can’t sing!”

Can you imagine a toddler calling out her parent for crappy singing? It doesn’t happen (even with our sassy Brooklyn toddlers). Toddlers and babies don’t care if you’re a good singer or not. If you want your kid to sing, you need to show them that it’s fun to do. They’re modeling your behavior.

I always back up my literacy tips with information from the experts, and in this case, I hit up Saroj Ghoting’s Early Childhood literacy site, specifically, the cards she made for the Library of Virginia:

Capture

 

As always, our literacy tip sits behind the reference desk so that parents and caregivers can read it while they are waiting on line. This one was particularly popular, with many adults asking to snap a picture of it.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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Introducing No-Name, the New Storytime Puppet!

I first saw this beautiful and breathtaking puppet on Ms. Anna’s blog, Future Librarian Superhero, and I knew I had to have him. Her. Zir. I haven’t properly considered this puppet’s preferred pronouns.  In any case, No-Name the Puppet came in our last materials order, and I’m in love. I can’t wait to use No-Name to introduce the Letter of the Day in storytime!

I am maybe a little too into No-Name

I am maybe a little too into No-Name

Ms. Anna named her puppet Fergus, and Folkmanis, the company that sells the puppet, named it Blueper. I’ve decided to eschew this puppet-naming pressure altogether and, instead, hold a contest to let our library kids name the puppet.

Here’s the sign letting everyone know about the contest:

I crossed out the word "fortune" by hand because I just don't have that kind of money, honestly.

I crossed out the word “fortune” by hand because I just don’t have that kind of money, honestly.

The form includes the following fields:

Your name:

Your age:

What should we name the puppet?:

Email/Phone number (we need to contact you if you win):

Do you like peanut butter?

Why do you like the library?

I’m going to go chill with No-Name, and I’ll get back to you when we’ve picked a name!

I'm like cat here, a no-name slob. We belong to nobody, and nobody belongs to us. We don't even belong to each other.

I’m like cat here, a no-name slob. We belong to nobody, and nobody belongs to us. We don’t even belong to each other.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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ETA: No-Name is named! The winning name was Pogo and she’s a storytime success. Look for her in upcoming posts.

That interview with JP Porcaro, ALA Presidential Candidate, I promised you

Ages ago, I asked you to send me questions that I could ask JP Porcaro, candidate for ALA President. Once I gathered them, JP trekked out to my sadly unhip end of Brooklyn and we taped these segments just for you. If you’re voting in the upcoming ALA election, or even if you’re not sure you want to vote, please take the time to watch these short clips. They’re uncensored and un-bullshitty and decidedly more real-talk-y than half the things I’ve heard from past candidates.

(I’m going to be straight up and say that being taped and having these videos up is a major nightmare for my insecure self. I’ve watched these once, and not very closely.)

A short introduction:

Let’s talk a little bit about #partyhard and your image:

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Our Toddler Winter Dance is over: Here’s our playlist

I’ve thrown a couple of toddler dances in the past year, and, I have to say, I purposefully put less effort into this one. The Valentine’s Day dance took over a month’s work, what with the bean bag toss, decorations, playlist, and photo backdrop. Then came the Halloween Dance that took about the same amount of work. This time, I really wanted to frame this event as a “family dance party”. No activities like bean bag tosses or toddler bowling: Just a low-maintenance party store-bought backdrop, a really good dance mix I made with the generous help of the librarians of the Storytime Underground Facebook page, and lots of a drums and shakers. I don’t know if it was a coincidence or the purposeful scaling back of the event, but I saw more adult participation this time around.

Here’s me and the backdrop, which is two layers of that mylar/tinsel curtain, plus some sparkly stars. I’m wearing a tinsel crown, but it’s impossible to see in my already candy-colored hair:

ingrid1

I cut out our volunteer, Brianna, as she signed a waiver to be on our library’s Facebook page, but not on my blog. She is FABULOUS, though, and the toddlers loved having a “big kid” at the party.

Why not add some pro-library propaganda to your photobooth backdrop?

Why not add some pro-library propaganda to your photobooth backdrop?

We had a smaller-than-usual, but enthusiastic crowd.

We had a smaller-than-usual, but enthusiastic crowd.

You can see all the pictures on our library’s family page. Brooklyn kids are so cute! Give the page a like when you’re there.

Overall, I was really pleased with this party. While our other dance parties consisted of, for the most part, adults sitting along the walls instead of dancing with their kids, I saw every single adult dancing with their child.

Here is the playlist of all the action-based songs I used. Our biggest hits were Tooty Ta and the Koo Koo Kangaroo songs (it’s worth checking out the Koo Koo Kangaroo videos so you can learn the dance moves beforehand):

I interspersed action songs with family-friendly dance songs, mostly from this mix.

I ended the party with this song, which made everyone mellow out a bit. Brianna, the volunteer, and I blew bubbles with our Gymboree bubble blowers:

As always, my partner in crime for this activity was my work buddy, Emma. You can see her picture with Brianna here.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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