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:



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:


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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An Incomplete and Brief History of Protests, Riots, and Uprisings: A YA Display

The streets of NY have been full of protesters since the disappointing and disgusting decision not to indict the police officer who killed Eric Garner, an unarmed New Yorker. Protests have also sprung up all over the world around the murder of Garner, as well as those of Michael Brown, Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice, and far too many others. This is a time for many of us to feel sad, angry, heartbroken, and helpless.

I, myself, have attended a protest that started in Union Square and ended up at the Rockefeller tree lighting. I was relieved to see such a huge crowd of supporters, but utterly dismayed to see tourists and Christmas tree enthusiasts yelling at us, starting fights with us, and, even worse, being completely apathetic to our presence. I left angry and sad and scared.

I should really attend more protests. I feel so strongly about this, and yet, I’ve only been to one.

Crowds of citizens protesting the deaths of unarmed Black men and women are a reality of life in New York City and the world at large. The library would be remiss to not comment on the demonstrations or the killings. It’s just not always clear to me how to tackle the subject.

I’ve made displays about other sensitive topics: body image, racism, LGBTQ pride, and self-care, but this one seems harder to bring up. And who am I to bring up the topic anyway? What am I trying to say, exactly? Do I think the teens aren’t talking about it? Maybe they just don’t want to talk about it around me. 

My attempt may be awkward, but, here it is.

I made a display called An Incomplete and Brief History of Protests, Riots, and Uprisings. I wanted to show that protests are not a new phenomenon. They are not just an American institution. They are led by and for the interests of men and women, queer people and straight people, those who are Black or white, young and old. It’s been happening since before the dawn of this country.

I see a lot of apathy concerning protests: “Why? What is the point? What does it accomplish?” And yet: The Storming of the Bastille, though only a few prisoners were released, brought about an entire revolution. The Boston Tea Party accomplished the same. The Salt March opened up the world’s eyes to Indian, not British, interests. The Great March on Washington gave the world the “I Have a Dream” speech. The Woman’s Suffrage Parade raised $14,000 (in 1913 dollars!) and women were afforded the right to vote only seven years later. Walls were brought down. Rights were granted. The world was made to listen to voices that were being silenced. There were real, tangible results to these protests.

Now, looking at this display I’m wondering if I should have made a bigger statement, huge signs that say #BlackLivesMatter or #ICantBreathe. Certainly, in (mostly) liberal Brooklyn, they wouldn’t be out of place. I don’t know. Maybe I chickened out. I suppose I didn’t want it to look like I was telling the teens what to think. I simply wanted to provide access to this history and let them figure out what they needed to themselves.

In any case, here is the display, along with some visuals I made if you want to steal them to make something bigger and badder and better. They are yours if you want them.

This was put up in the Young Adult section. I hope it starts some dialogue, even if I’m not there to hear it.

The Woman’s Suffrage March of 1913 and the Tiananmen Square protests.

The Great March on Washington. On the top, cut out, is the Berlin Wall protests.

Stonewall Riots and the Boston Tea Party.

And now, the visuals I made (using my old friend, PicMonkey). The text is mercilessly and shamelessly cut-and-pasted and Frankensteined from all over the place. I tried to make these historical events accessible and clear to teen readers.





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An updated Staff Picks display featuring lots of cartoon cats and galaxy prints

Previously, I had made a Staff Picks display where all the Youth Wing librarians posted their favorite middle grade titlesWe had all picked several books that we put on display under little cartoon librarians I created In addition, I offered a little hand-out for the patrons which included all the staff favorites.

This time, we went a little more casual. Instead of several picks per librarian, everyone gets one spot. If you see your spot empty, give yourself a pat on the back for picking something that caught someone’s eye, and replace the title. In addition to middle grade titles, we included YA books as well.

First, I made new cartoons of all the staff (most of us new since the last time I tried this!), using Wee World and PicMonkey.

Here’s me:

Note the half-hearted smattering of pink glitter all over the floor.

This is actually pretty close to what my hair looks like now! Note the half-hearted smattering of pink glitter all over the floor. If anyone can find me mint green cowboy boots, I’d be happy forever.

And the rest of the staff (you can see that most of us are pretty into cats):


Emma says she doesn’t like cats, and yet, she asked for Hello Kitty, which is kind of a girl who thinks she’s a cat or something. It’s complicated.

tatiananame rakishaname lisaname leighname Jasonname benname

I laminated all these pieces, along with letters spelling out S-T-A-F-F P-I-C-K-S. Here’s an example of one letter I made:

Yes, apparently I'm super into putting galaxy print on everything, thus putting me at least 2 years behind the trend.

Yes, apparently I’m super into putting galaxy print on everything, thus putting me at least 2 years behind the trend.

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Upcoming Presentation on LGBTQ Lit!: Why I’ve been kinda quiet lately

I aim to post about once a week on here, but I’ve been busy with a presentation I’m pretty excited/terrified about. It’s for the Ontario Library Association, and it’s called “No Stereotypes Allowed: Building LGBTQ Collections for Kids and Teens“. Here, I’ll be sharing what I’ve learned in my years in the Rainbow List and as a Rainbow List/Stonewall Book Award enthusiast/wannabe. I hope to help you and your library build a better and more inclusive collection. Consider it a crash course in the best that LGBTQ literature has to offer.

There’s still time to register! Click here!

When it’s done, maybe I can blog more often. Maybe.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

(ETA 12/4/2014: The presentation has been moved to April 2nd, 2015. More time for me to make it extra awesome. Stay tuned!)

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Little Pink Mouse: Where is that sucker, anyway?: A Flannel Board

I used to be very resistant to using flannel boards in my programs. I was always afraid that the kids would rush to the flannel board, begging to rip off pieces and generally causing havoc. It hasn’t turned out that way, though, and I find myself having a least one new flannel board ready for each program.

I got the idea for this one from Storytime Underground, though I changed the rhyme up a tiny bit to fit the natural cadence of my voice.

The basic chant is “Little Pink Mouse, Little Pink Mouse, are you hiding in the _____ house?” I ask this question to the kids and adults, lifting the house off to reveal what’s underneath. I go through three houses, which all have something other than the mouse hiding underneath, and say, “Is that the little pink mouse?” The kids tell me that it isn’t, and then name the actual object. Finally, the last house has the mouse underneath.

All of the pictures are printed out on a color printer. I then run them through the laminator to make them nice and sturdy. Each house has a velcro piece affixed to the top and bottom of the back portion. Each object (cat, dinosaur, letter A, pink mouse), has just one velcro circle on the back. I made sure the objects were small enough to fit under each house.

It starts off like this:

IMG_20141016_114223039 (1)

Little pink mouse, little pink mouse, are you hiding in the orange house?


Little pink mouse, little pink mouse, are you hiding in the red house?

It would appear not.

Little pink mouse, little pink mouse, are you hiding in the green house?

Actually, just the letter A. Sorry ’bout it.

Soooooo, what’s behind the blue house?

Little pink mouse, little pink mouse, are you hiding in the blue house?

Yay! Finally! Good job, everyone!

I’ve used this several times in Toddler Time to great success. Toddler Time at my library is too busy to let the kids physically handle the flannel board pieces, so they just make guesses and watch me move the objects around the board. We also have a much more informal program at the library on Saturdays, called Story and Play. During the play portion, I let the kids come up to the board and move the pieces around, letting them name the different objects and colors. That has been pretty fun, too. Soon enough, I’ll swap out the cat, dinosaur, and letter A for different animals, letters, and shapes.

And hey, we’ve been identifying colors, animals, letters, and patterns, so it’s a great activity for growing toddler brains.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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We had a Halloween Toddler Dance Party and it was exhausting

Last year, my coworker Leigh and I threw a Toddler Valentine’s Day Dance party. It was a very successful program (well-attended despite the blizzard and full of happy patrons), so my new coworker/partner-in-crime Emma and I decided that a Halloween Dance Party would be a good idea.

Last time, I spent months creating decorations (some complicated tissue paper garlands that I swear nobody even noticed). This time, we went way more low-key. Emma and I offered three basic features in our party:

  1. A dance floor: The most preparation I did for the event was creating a family-friendly playlist. Think light on the Raffi and heavy on the Ray Charles. I feel like props help when you’re getting kids and adults to dance, so I had a big box of multi-colored scarves. They were a hit.
  2. A photobooth: The pumpkin backdrop was created by our coworker Leigh. It was self-run by parents and caregivers. They took pictures of their own children or asked another patron to take group photos.
  3. Toddler bowling: Emma and gussied up some individual toilet paper rolls to look like ghosts. We wrapped them in white construction paper, and then glued on black eyes and mouths. The tp rolls served as pins, and we let the toddlers try to knock them down with a ball.

Here’s Emma and me with the backdrop:

Emma always looks super cheerful in pictures.

Emma always looks super cheerful in pictures.

Those little glitter doo-dads in my hair are plastic spiders.

Those little glitter doo-dads in my hair are plastic spiders.

The toddlers dug the toddler bowling, though Emma said toddler bowling quickly turned into toddler building blocks, which is also fine. Stacking up ghost-y toilet paper rolls and knocking them down is a perfect age-appropriate activity.

I hung out on the dance floor where I pretended I could dance for a full 45 minutes. I saw a lot of nannies and parents simply fixing their cellphone cameras on their children and yelling, “DANCE!” while the child awkwardly stood there, not knowing what to do. I encouraged the grown-ups to put down their phones and lead by example. I kept saying, “Hold your child’s hand and dance with them! It doesn’t matter if you can’t dance! They don’t know that!” This was, mostly, to no avail. For the most part, the kids danced if their accompanying adult did. Otherwise, there was a lot of kids sitting next to adults on the floor. I eventually decided to let it go (I literally sang that song in my head) and figured that whoever wanted to dance would and that I should stop pestering people. I had a nice, albeit small, crew of toddler-sized dance machines. It was fun.

We had over 60 people in attendance, some in costumes, some not. A good time was had, even though my feet hurt at the end of it. Some parents signed waivers for their pictures to be posted on our library’s family page on Facebook. Click here to see some cute Brooklyn kids being cute.

Wanna steal my playlist of kid-friendly tunes that’s semi-guaranteed to get booties of all ages moving? Here it is:

FYI, the Labyrinth song has the line, “Slap that baby, make him free”. Does this matter to you? Don’t use that song, then. Labyrinth is kind of nostalgic for people my age, so I included it. It gets everyone jumping.

The most popular song was the Harry Belefonte one, though no one seemed to get the Beetlejuice association.

I also added some other songs that I didn’t put on my 8tracks playlist:

  1. We are the Dinosaurs: Obligatory and always a crowd-pleaser
  2. Shake Dem Halloween Bones: It was so-so received. Kind of a Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes situation.
  3. Monster Mash: Hello. It’s a Halloween party.
  4. Brush your teeth: Classic

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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Look! We made a Halloween/vampire display in the teen section!

OK. Emma (aka Miss Print) did. But I helped!


Does anyone get this reference? How old AM I, anyway?

                 Does anyone get this reference? How old AM I, anyway?

Click on through to see the whole to-do!

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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