50 Middle Grade Titles by January, 2019: Marley Dias Gets it Done and So Can You!

Hi! I’ve just come off a year of being on the Stonewall Book Award Committee, and boy is my brain tired. I spent two years on the Rainbow List (check out their 2018 list, by the way), but this was my first time on a book award committee, and the work load is no joke. I learned, once again, that once I’m “assigned” a book, I can sometimes drag my feet when it comes to reading and completing titles, but also that the imposed structure and pace of an awards committee makes me a more dedicated and efficient reader.

Now that my committee work is over, I’m excited at the prospect of reading whatever the hell I want to, whenever I want to, but I’m also missing the discipline I got from strict parameters and goals. That’s why I’m giving myself a mission:

By the end of the year, I want to read 50 middle grade titles. Before I started working for a school, I interacted with a larger age range of children. I did a lot of Toddler and Infant storytimes, so I was pretty knowledgable when it came to board books and early chapter books. Typically, my afternoons were spent at the Young Adult reference desk, so I became an avid reader of teen titles. This focus on the youngest and oldest kids really left a gap in my reading. I read middle grade titles fairly sometimes, but infrequently, and honestly, I didn’t really suffer for it. Now, however, many of my readers fall into the middle grade category. My students range from Pre-K to 4th grade, so my knowledge of infant and YA titles doesn’t really come into play. I’m aiming for 50 middle grade titles by 2018 in order to better serve my student population. It is my plan to mostly read titles that are #OwnVoices, as well as any titles by WOC and queer authors (though, it’s important to mention that when it comes to LGBTQ lit, middle grade is a near-ghost town). I will also probably break my own rules a lot, because, you know, why not?

Continue reading “50 Middle Grade Titles by January, 2019: Marley Dias Gets it Done and So Can You!”

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

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

Secret Agent Boy: Great Patron or Greatest Patron? You Be the Judge.

We have a class that regularly drops in to the library most mornings. I’m going to be honest with you. Regular drop-in classes? Not my favorite. They tend to wreck the library, throwing books all over the place. They also need as much help as a scheduled visit, even though the general understanding is that drop-in classes don’t get extra attention. However, one class doesn’t bug me so much, because it has one of the most fun kiddo patrons we get.

I call him Secret Agent Boy. I once caught him stealing glances of the staff and furtively scribbling on a piece of paper. When I asked him what he was up to, he took off. Pretty fast.

All of a sudden, staff members started to receive portraits that SAB had made. He’d plop them down on our desks and the run away. I was worried that he wouldn’t make one for me, but he did, finally. He always draws us in profile:

I'm serving up some White Lady Grace Jones-realness, here.
I’m serving up some White Lady Nerd Grace Jones-realness, here.

I went to thank SAB for my awesome portrait, but receiving thanks was clearly not part of his master plan. He whispered, “I know your secret identity!” and vanished into the stacks.

Well, crap. I was kind of hoping to keep my secret identity to myself.

A few days later, my coworker Rakisha found this note. Now, we’re not sure if SAB wrote it or if one of his classmates did. I blurred out SAB’s name for my protection and yours.

Is it just me, or is it kind of cryptic?
Is it just me, or is this kind of cryptic?

SAB, I salute you. I’m not sure who you are or where you came from, but I’m glad you’re here.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

Goodbye Tumblr, Greetings to Better Blogging

Oh, hai. I’m Ingrid Abrams and I’m a Children’s Librarian working in Brooklyn, NY.

Me and the Biebs

I once had an “ALL LIBRARIES, ALL THE TIME” Tumblr, but it made me insane. It crashed and whined and called me inappropriate names and hogged the sheets on the bed. It was time to call it quits. I’m starting over here, not just talking about libraries this time, but fashion, living in NYC, and anything else that catches my fancy.

Vague enough for you?

The library world is too weird to be believed and, as a self-professed weirdo, I fit right in. I enjoy overly-glittery library displays, dressing like Liza Minnelli at the reference desk (read: lots of sequins), anything Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland-related, my Toddler Time class (exhausting, but always worth it), and coming up with Arts and Crafts projects that won’t bore the kids OR me. Oh. And. I like to read. Lots. Preferably in the bathtub. Preferably comic books/graphic novels.

Dancing with the Stars Display
Diary of a Wimpy Kid Read-Alikes
Fairy Tales in YA Lit

With librarianship, and working with kids in general, sharing is caring. I love seeing what other bad-ass book jockeys are excited about because it gets me all revved up about my own work. In the age of budget woes and understaffing, it’s easy to feel down on the job. Well, buck up, little campers. My cure for the library blues is to step up my game and change up my routine. It gets my mind off the bad stuff and on to what’s important: Making the library a fun and welcoming place to be.

I also thought it was important to be yet another face of non-size 2 fashion here on the internets. My hair’s not always perfect. Sometimes my yicky double chin shows. I have a pretty apartment that you’ll see from time to time, but sometimes it’s a mess. Often the dishes aren’t done. WE HAVE COCKROACHES. But we have cats, so it all evens out.

Kissing Fake Dogs
Mistress of my Skee-Ball Domain

Please don’t keep your good ideas to yourself. I’d love for people to submit their rad craft, display, and program ideas. Have an amazing outfit that would make Liberace weep tears of joy into his piano keys? Send it my way. I’ll be posting mine for you to steal/tweak/mock/judge.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

TiLT it Already: Things I Love Thursday

It’s Things I Love Thursday, where I mess around and tell you about stuff  I am momentarily digging but will probably forget by next week. I have the memory of a goldfish! Get into it!

♥ I already mentioned that I was participating in Well and Cheaply‘s Comment Love Challenge.  It has turned me into a little old blog-reading machine. So far, I’ve really enjoyed Kitty Cat Stevens, The Militant Baker, and My Dear Watson. I haven’t gotten to them all yet, but I’m trying!

♥ Librarians and library lovers! Have you heard about EveryLibrary yet? I’m super excited to see library budget advocacy in action. Don’t you think your local public and school libraries need adequate funding? EveryLibrary is still looking for donations, so get on it.

♥ My new Facebook eye candy obsession is The Macabre and Beautifully Grotesque. I like to sit in front of these pictures at the end of the day and just stare at them, kinda slack-jawed with a little bit of drool coming out of my mouth. #iamweird

Geode: Druse Skulls 
All content copyright © Skullis
Pitcairns curse © Norrit
© Laurie Lipton
© Liran Szeiman (Liransz)
© Copyright by Charlie Immer

Continue reading “TiLT it Already: Things I Love Thursday”

I AM READING THIS SO HARD RIGHT NOW: The Less-Dead

Welcome to “I AM READING THIS SO HARD RIGHT NOW”

In this segment, I will be sharing spoiler-free notable quotables from books I am loving the hell out of. If you’ve ever read my blog before (Hi, Mom!), you know that I do not write summaries. In grad. school, that was my least favorite part of the annotated bibliography. I leave that business to jacket blurbs and publishers because I’m a big girl and I can do whatever I want within the confines of societal norms and Constitutional laws. Instead, I bring to you, my one reader, a nice little morsel of an excerpt, plucked straight from the cakey-insides of a good book.

Behold: The Less-Dead, by April Lurie. I’ve been working my way through ALA’s Rainbow Book Lists. The Less-Dead was featured on the 2011 version of this list, which “presents an annual bibliography of quality books with significant and authentic GLBTQ content, which are recommended for people from birth through eighteen years of age. [source].” The Less-Dead resonated with me for a number of reasons: 1) The protagonist is not gay. It’s told from the point of view of a straight teen who is just learning about the gay community. 2) It unabashedly discusses anti-gay religious propaganda and hate speech. 3) After the Trayvon Martin murder, this novel seems extremely topical. There are many differences between the fictional victims in The Less-Dead and Martin. Martin was African-American, the boys in this novel were not (Actually, I wasn’t entirely sure of their race). Martin has a family that loves him, the victims in this book are largely on their own. The boys in The Less-Dead are all gay and largely homeless. Due to this, their deaths mean a little less to the people in their communities. Hence, they are “Less-Dead”. Would Martin’s death be less controversial and more cut and dry if he were white? Would the boys in this novel matter more if they were straight and from middle-class or rich families?

[source]

The wind kicks up. I zipper my jacket and pull up the hood. I’m alone now, with time to kill and a lot of thinking to do. I walk along the path and read some of the nearby headstones.

Baby Girl

Nov 2, 2006

I stop, realizing that the date must be a record of her birth and death. A stillborn. The plain headstone is covered with dead leaves and grass. I wonder is anyone visits her. I move along.

Jimmy

2007

No last name. No year of his birth, only his death. Probably a homeless guy, like Doomsday. I wonder if he had a tragic story too.

Strangely, the next stone contains a long list of names but only one date.

“Hey!” I call to the gravediggers. “Can I ask you guys something?”

One of them sighs, sets down his shovel, and walks over to me.

“What does this mean?” I ask. “Why so many names, but just one date?”

He studies the headstone for a moment. “That’s what we call a mass burial…If no one claims a body, it’s cremated. The ashes get stored over there.” He points to what looks like a shed in the distance. “When there’s no room left, we bury their ashes together. It saves time and space.”

“Oh. Okay. Well, thanks.”

I stand there for a long time…Suddenly everything is quiet. The wind has died down, the gravediggers have left, and I hear footsteps behind me. I turn around and see Doomsday. “Hello, Noah. I saw you walking around. I wanted to make sure you were all right.”

“Oh, yeah. I’m okay…Doomsday, can I ask you something?”

“Yes.”

“Why are certain people buried in that barren area, up the hill? Like the two other foster boys who were murdered, and a baby with no name, and a guy who’s just called Jimmy?”

Doomsday peers into the distance. “That part of the cemetery is owned by the city. It’s for people whose bodies haven’t been claimed…Some people call it Potter’s Field.”

A cold wind blows. Sweat prickles under my arms. “Potter’s Field?”

“Yes, it’s a term from the Bible. I’m sure you know the story. After Judas betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, Judas realized the mistake he’d made, threw the coins onto the temple floor, then went out and hanged himself. Because the silver was blood money, the priests weren’t allowed to put it into the temple treasury, so they used it to buy the potter’s field. A place where they buried foreigners.”

“Also called field of blood,” I say.

“Yes, that’s right.” He shakes his head. “Like Judas, we all have blood on our hands.”

~~The Less-Dead, by April Lurie , pages 136-141

The Less-Dead tackles many serious issues while also delivery a poignant coming of age story wrapped up in a dark murder/mystery package. Offer it to the next teen looking for a mystery novel for their book report.

In the appendix, April Lurie includes a fascinating and helpful list of passages in the Bible that deal (or supposedly deal) with homosexuality. She debunks many of the references some evangelical preachers use to spread homophobic and hateful speech. I’m tempted to photocopy this section and keep it in my wallet.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

Calling All Potter-Heads/Potter to the People

Hey NYC and surrounding area Potter fanatics and library lovahs: Come to the UniRead!

Accio Budget Restoration!

Saturday, May 12, 2012, 2:00pm until 4:00pm
Join us for an incredible celebration of cultural diversity, literacy, libraries, and Harry Potter.

The UniRead will feature people reading the first chapter of the first Harry Potter book in dozens of languages simultaneously while standing around the Unisphere sculpture in Flushing Meadows/Corona Park Queens. There will be a parade prior to the reading and short speeches after.

HE'S SO EXCITED!
The mayor’s proposed budget includes over $96 million in cuts to city libraries. These cuts will directly impact collections, staff, and hours. Should the cuts go through unchanged hours will be slashed, hundreds of jobs lost, and dozens of libraries closed.
BLOOMBERG GAVE HERMIONE A SAD!

While this is an event to advocate for libraries it is also a celebration of the cultural mix that helps make New York City thrive. Queens is widely considered one of the most diverse places in the United States if not the world. Here people of many languages will be united through a shared text. It will be an incredible statement to the universality of literacy, libraries, and the start of a modern cultural epic.

 
~Love and Libraries, Ingrid