All My Valentine’s Day Posts in One Convenient Place


I’m here for your Valentine’s Day programming and display needs, whether they are of the “Love is Great” or of the “Love Sucks” variety.

♥ Remember when I put Amanda Lepore in a YA display? Here’s LGBTQ titles you’ll love.



♥ Several posts on preparing for and throwing an Anti-Valentine’s Day party. Playlist included! Click here, here, and here.


And last, ideas for throwing a toddler valentine’s dance.


~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

♥ Facebook ♥ Twitter ♥ Support ♥ Contact ♥

Booktalking George, by Alex Gino: It kind of takes a village

When I started this blog, I was a public librarian with a clear mission for what I wanted to write about here. Now that I’m a school librarian who is settling into a whole new work culture, it’s become less apparent to me what I’m supposed to talk about on this blog, except to say, “This is really different from my last job and sometimes it feels like I have no idea what I am doing.” Though I have been a school librarian for almost 6 months, it somehow only feels like a couple of days. The newness has not worn off yet. Hence, the lack of blog posts.

I thought I would talk about how George, by Alex Gino, became a project that much of our Upper School became involved in: 2 sixth grade classes, me (the librarian), several teachers, and the school psychologist. It all started when the 5th and 6th grade teachers asked me to present some booktalks to their classes. First, I asked if I could include books that acknowledged the existence of gay and trans* people. This is what I mean when I say that I’m adjusting to a new work culture. I would have never asked if this was OK at the public library. It would never even occurred to me to do so. It was never an issue there, a place where I was heavily protected by the First Amendment and an environment that supported freedom of information. Schools, especially independent schools, are trickier places to navigate, especially for us rah-rah liberal librarians, and I felt compelled to ask permission. Luckily, the teachers were open to my book selections.

I presented several titles: Fake Mustache by Tom Angleberger, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (which none of them had really read, oddly enough. I know this is an obvious choice), Better Nate than Ever by Tim FederleThe Marvels by Brian Selznick (I showed this trailer), The Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (another older title they hadn’t read), and George by Alex Gino. While we saw increased circulation on all the titles, George generated the most discussion. I couldn’t keep a copy on the shelves and students were constantly asking when they could get their hands on it.

Here’s how I booktalk George: I say that it’s funny that the book is called George, because it’s actually about a girl named Melissa. Melissa gets home from school every day and does some pretty stereotypically “girly” things: She reads magazines written for girls, puts on lip gloss, and combs her bangs down over her face. However, before her mom and brother come home, she must fix her hair, clean her face, and put the magazines back in their hiding place. You see, while Melissa has always known she is a girl, her family sees her as a boy named George.

This last line usually elicits a good deal of confusion, so I ask that if I said Melissa was trans, would they know what this means? When Melissa was born, she was assigned the male gender, but she never identified as such. The teachers and I found that while the students were certainly curious about trans* people, their only exposure to a trans person is Caitlyn Jenner. And while I’m grateful to Caitlyn for giving the students some sort of access point to discuss this topic, she’s certainly not the default experience.

When talking to the class, I referred to the author, Alex Gino, with the pronoun “they“. I explained that beyond she/her and he/him, there are a myriad of other pronouns, including they/them. I quickly realized that they had never heard of anything like this before. Caitlyn Jenner has exposed them to the idea of transitioning from one end of the gender binary to the other, but otherwise, they had no concept of people who exist in the middle (or outside the gender binary altogether).

I thought the booktalks would sort of be a one-off deal, but conversations around George kept sprouting up around the library and the classrooms. Students were asking me if I had anything else like George (I don’t, outside of a copy of Beyond Magenta in the inaccessible professional collection). I mentioned to Alex on Twitter that our students were obsessed with George and they suggested that we have a little Skype session to discuss how that was going. I appreciated this, as talking to kids about the book and trans-related issues was way harder than I had anticipated. They had questions and I had answers (or at least I thought I did), but how were we going to tackle all this in the limited time I, as the librarian, have with students?

Continue reading “Booktalking George, by Alex Gino: It kind of takes a village”

Catapults and Kids: Or how to destroy Voldemort and Justin “Beever” with popsicle sticks and rubber bands

Greetings from the 7th level of Summer Reading Hell. I’ll be your librarian until I can no longer keep the screaming, steaming, roaring semi-illegal summer camps at bay.

Now that I’m done with the kvetching that keeps me so young and vibrant, let me talk to you about my most recent program. All of the Youth Wing librarians were expected to provide a “wild card” program for school aged kiddos, and I chose the one that came with a pre-assembled kit of supplies (I lose a lot of my I HAVE TO BE THE BEST LIBRARIAN EVER-motivation during the summer. I blame the humidity and how bad it makes my hair look).

The catapult kit came with popsicle sticks, rubber bands, the sturdiest cupcake wrappers I have ever seen, teeeeeeeeny pom-poms, and instructions (mostly taken from this post by Amy of The Show Me Librarian blog).

Here's the program flier I made!
Here’s the program flier I made! No camps, please, OK?

Really, the only thing I added to this program was the targets. I mean, what good is a catapult if there’s nothing diabolical to seek out and destroy? I quickly whipped up some solid villains:

Yeah. This would be the Joker, Justin Bieber, Voldemort, and the Green Goblin.
Yeah. This would be the Joker, Justin “Beever” as the youths call him, Voldemort, and the Green Goblin.

I glued their faces to some cardstock, attached them to the popsicle sticks, and then mounted them on some playdough.

First, I helped the kids assemble the catapults. I was glad that the program size was small. They all needed lots of help with the rubber banding part. I have to admit it was tricky, even for me.

I provided a pre-made catapult. Even though I don’t usually include a model project, I think it was helpful in this case. I would take it apart and reassemble it to show the kiddos the different stages of building it:

Hey, before the program started, I glued the cupcake wrappers to the popsicle sticks. The kit provided velcro dots, but those weren't really working. I didn't want the kids to have to wait for the glue to dry.
Hey, before the program started, I glued the cupcake wrappers to the popsicle sticks so the kids wouldn’t have to wait for the glue to dry. The kit provided velcro dots, but those weren’t really sticking well enough.

While we made them, I talked about how catapults worked because of levers, which are a kind of simple machine. I said that it would be really hard to throw a heavy rock at your enemies with your bare hands, but a lever would help you do lots of the heavy-lifting.

I taped this info all over the table and the program room.
I taped this info all over the table and the program room.

I have to say, they weren’t really into the actual building of the catapult (I think wrapping the rubber bands around the sticks was a bit frustrating), but they were SUPER pumped about firing pom-poms at the villians. We quickly learned that the tiny pom-poms didn’t work that great, so we switched to some bigger ones.

We weren’t really able to knock down any of the targets, at first, but with some practice and the addition of some heavier ammunition (dice, stamps, and tiny rubber bus toys), our aim got better.

The first villain to bite it is was the Green Goblin:


We talked about how the pom-poms went further because they were lighter, but were less likely to knock over the target. The dice and stamps made more of an impact because they were heavier, but didn’t go as far.

This little girl was shy and quiet at first, but by the end, she was screaming,
This little girl was shy and quiet at first, but by the end, she was screaming, “DESTROY THEM!”

By the end of the program, all of the villains met their doom. At one point, the girl above knocked down Justin “Beever” by catapulting the Green Goblin at him, which is pretty clever, really.

I tried several times to explain to them that the name was Bieber, not Beever, but they all firmly told me that I was wrong.

Be sure to check out Amy’s post for more info, including a link to assembly directions.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

♥ Facebook ♥ Twitter ♥ Librarian Wardrobe ♥

I’m the librarian your teacher warned you about: YA Summer Reading Super-Short Booktalks

Like most of y’all public librarians, I’m doing lots of Summer Reading outreach right now. When it comes to daycares and elementary schools, I could knock out presentations for these kids in my sleep. When I meet with the teens, though, I get a little more than nervous. It’s like every single group of teens is its own separate country, complete with its own culture and laws and I’m just some literacy-crazy over-coffeed tourist. Does this make me sound old? Consider removing yourself from my lawn, OK?

Recently, my coworker and I headed over to a local high school to talk to the teens about summer reading.

In addition to the principal having no idea that we were going to show up (even though it was confirmed in a series of emails) and us having to scramble together some sort of audience for our booktalks, it also seemed like some of the teachers weren’t super-pumped to see us. Case in point, I was booktalking Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake in one of the classrooms. As I’m talking about how Anna rips her victims in half, the teacher starts making THE WORST NOISES:

Me: Are you OK?

Teacher: ::grimace::

Me: Do you…not like the book?

Teacher: I think students should be reading inspirational biographies about successful people, not this… ::grimace::

Me: Sometimes librarians and teachers aren’t on the same page when it comes to recreational reading. Those biographies might be fine for your classroom, but what they read on their own time is their own business.

No joke, the students burst out into applause at this point. I hope I accidentally sparked a crew of rebellious readers. Or maybe they just like to disagree with their teacher for sport. Hard to tell.

In any case, I thought I’d share my super-short booktalks. I’ve tested them out a bunch, and they’ve been tried-and-true crowd-pleasers. Even the surliest groups of jaded Brooklyn teens have liked these talks. I should say that I never memorize my booktalks word-for-word, even though they often come out sounding the same every time. I try to remember key points and then make my talk as conversational as possible. I like to start with questions if I can. I don’t care if the teens interrupt me. If they interrupt, at least I know they’re listening.

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake: Granted, not my favorite title. I’m going to be honest. The super-murderous ghost decides not to kill the dude and then they start making out?!? YOU CAN’T TAKE A MURDEROUS GHOST TO PROM, OK? But, it’s got a solid cover and premise, making it really good for booktalks.

I start by asking: How do you kill something that’s already dead? That’s the job of Cas Lowood, a modern day Ghostbuster (the teens got the Ghostbusters reference, so yay, olds). Cas mostly deals with super-violent ghosts that are out murdering and tormenting the living. Cas thinks he’s pretty good at his job until he faces his toughest ghost yet: Anna Dressed in Blood, who wears a dress that constantly bleeds. It’s known that Anna leaves no survivors. Though Cas thinks his chances of surviving Anna’s wrath are few, he faces her anyway. And while he doesn’t succeed in killing her, Anna spares his life. Why?

(To this, a teen said, “Is Cas ugly? Because if he’s not, maybe that’s why. Anna likes him.” Teens are smart. Don’t forget).

Everyday by David Levithan: Not my favorite by David Levithan, and it’s certainly problematic, but it does REALLY well in booktalks. It’s hard not to give A a gender, but I do my best.

The main character is called A, because A’s never had anyone to give them a name. You see, A wakes up in a different body every morning. A ages with the people they occupy: When A is three, they only wake up in the body of 3 year olds. Same for when A is 15. Other than that, A can wake up in a girl’s body or a boy’s, of any race. Anything is possible. A’s learned to live this way, how to seamlessly fit into the person’s life as to not cause problems. A can barely imagine another way of life, until one day, A falls meets a girl and falls in love. Now, A’s obsessed with getting back to her, not matter what body they’re in. How can A get find their way back to her each day? Could you fall in love with someone who looked different every day?

Sometimes the gender dynamics of this book can get the teens all hyped up (OMG A IS SOMETIMES A GIRL AND IS IN LOVE WITH A GIRL OMGGGG!!). Try and keep the discussion respectful and shut down any hateful speech. This one did really well in a recent visit, with teens snapping pics of the cover so they could remember it for later.

Continue reading “I’m the librarian your teacher warned you about: YA Summer Reading Super-Short Booktalks”

Thrive Thursday Roundup! (5/14/15)

Thrive Thursday Logo

Check out all these rad program ideas!

♥ Laura over at Library Lalaland is making us all super-hungry with this amazing cake decorating program for tweens

♥ If you have classes visiting your library for tours and storytime, Carol from Program Palooza has you covered with these great ideas

♥ I think Anne from So Tomorrow is so rad. Check out her coding class!

Ms. Kelly at the Library is an overachiever with two posts! I adore her Bubble Bash program, as well as her brilliant Marble Mania program. 

To learn more about Thrive Thursday, check out the schedulePinterest board, and Facebook Group.

Keep on Thriving, y’all!

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

♥ Facebook ♥ Twitter ♥ Librarian Wardrobe ♥

Thrive Thursday May 2015 Placeholder!

Thrive Thursday Logo

Here’s your chance to participate in this month’s school age programming blog hop! If you have an amazing program to share please post a link in the comments section below and I’ll post a compilation on May 14th.

For more information check out the schedulePinterest board, and Facebook Group.

I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Happy Thriving!

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

ETA: Check out the round-up here!

♥ Facebook ♥ Twitter ♥ Librarian Wardrobe ♥

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:

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

♥ Facebook ♥ Twitter ♥ Librarian Wardrobe ♥ Libraries Changed My Life ♥