Friday, August 24, 2018

Why? Why Not? What If? - Three Books to Satisfy Curious, Inquisitive Kids

We've all seen those precocious, inquisitive kids who are always asking questions, refusing to accept anything at face value just because a grown-up says so. It seems like everything you say is met with a "Why?", or conversely, "Why not?" With my daughter it was always, "What happens if....?" While this is often a sign of intelligence and analytical thinking, it can be a bit exhausting for their parents and teachers trying to come up with all the answers!

Thankfully, Nat Geo has three great books to help satisfy the most curious of kids. The most recent one just came out and caught my eye, and that led me to the other two. Check out this trio of elucidation:

Why? 1,111 Answers to Everything, by Crispin Boyer, 2015. National Geographic Books for Kids,192 pages, ages 8-12.

Children are always asking why, and this book has answers to, well maybe not everything, but to quite a lot! All kinds of questions kids might ask are answered, and grouped by category. Questions like: "Why do men have nipples?", "Why do penguins look like they're wearing tuxedos?", "Why is the Golden Gate Bridge orange?". (There are also How? and What? questions, too.) And as one would expect, it is filled with full-color photos and graphics to illustrate the information.

Why Not? 1,111 Answers to Everything by Crispin Boyer, Aug 21, 2018. National Geographic Books for Kids, 223 pages, ages 8-12.

While this wasn't the second book chronologically, it is clearly the obvious complement to the first book. This one has the same format and beautiful full-color photos and graphics with tons of interesting facts and explanations to answer questions such as "Why don't spiders get stuck in their own webs?", "Why can't I use my left hand as well as my right?", and "Why can't I eat cupcakes for dinner?" arranged by category: Animals, Our Planet, The Universe, History, Your Body, Technology, and Pop Culture.

What Would Happen? Serious Answers to Silly Questions by Crispin Boyer, 2017. National Geographic Books for Kids, 176 pages, ages 8-12.

These are the kinds of questions my daughter peppered me with from around ages 3-5: "What if you ate nothing but ice cream?", "What if mosquitoes went extinct?", "What if you stepped in lava?" Again, a fun book full of interesting facts and information about things you've always wondered, or never even though to ask, illustrated with lots of full-color photographs and graphics, organized by category.

Kids really seem to love these types of books full of random and interesting facts; they seem to circulate really well in my library system. I would recommend them for all curious kids aged 8-12, possibly even younger if an adult was helping to read and explain the information.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

A Bit of a Dry Spell....

For the last 3-1/2 years I have posted pretty regularly here, generally weekly, but right now I am having a bit of a dry spell. I just don't have any material right now, and I'm out of ideas.

Part of it is the job change, which has led to a long break in programming due to both a greatly reduced amount of programming in my new position, and my transfer coinciding with the end-of-summer break from regular programming. It's been SIX weeks since my last storytime, and I won't do one for another month! That has been a huge change from my previous 12-15 storytimes a week schedule! While the break has been a nice rest for my strained vocal cords, I must admit I do miss it. If I could create my ideal position, it would include one or two mornings of outreach storytimes each week.

So I've had no storytimes to write up, no STEAM programs, no new picture books have caught my eye... It's been mostly six weeks of very busy customer service, weeding, and shelving since all of our pages left at the end of the summer. Next month I will finally start doing regular programming, one family storytime and one school-age STEAM program a month, which I really need to get planning, but have had a hard time finding the time, since I'm on the desk all the time and we are short-staffed.

I've already decided to play it safe for my first STEAM program, doing my "Mirror, Mirror" program that I did many times for different outreach groups the last two summers. I decided it would be best to start with something I'm comfortable with, is cheap and requires few supplies, and I know works well with a wide variety of ages and groups since I don't really know what to expect. It's marketed for ages 5-12, but we don't know what we'll actually get or how many. But I need to get supplies together as well as decide on topics for the rest of the year.

I could do storytime in my sleep, but I have no idea what I'm going to do for my first storytime here! There's just too much pressure on the first one! For one, I'm not used to having parents in storytime, possibly judging everything I do. Then, I have to worry about a craft, which we didn't do for outreach storytimes either. I keep hoping for an epiphany, but I'm just going to have to pick something soon, as well as plan the rest of the year, since I need to request any good seasonal books I want to use NOW and hoard them before all the teachers beat me to them! (Luckily, I do own several of my favorites, just for this reason.) 

But right now, I just do not seem to have any original, new storytime ideas, and I know I've already done most of my themes at least twice and run out of new content. I'm really hoping we start getting new picture books in soon and some good ones catch my eye and inspire me! My blogging may take a hit until I get back into the swing of regular programming, so please bear with me.

Feel free to suggest any ideas for storytime, STEAM programs, or topics for blog posts below or via e-mail!

Friday, August 3, 2018

From The Other Side - On Being A Board Member

Back in May I wrote about being appointed to the Board of Trustees for my local library to finish out a year of an unexpired term, in order to feel more connected to my own community and gain some perspective from the administrative side of things. It's only been three months, but so far it has been a very surreal experience! 

Let me explain. I work in another, much larger, public library system as a part-time paraprofessional where there is a huge divide between librarian and non-librarian, and full-time versus part-time. So as a part-time non-librarian, I'm pretty near the bottom, and have always felt very anonymous and invisible. For the most part, I have no voice, nobody really cares what I think or recognizes what I do, except immediate supervisors and co-workers (which is probably why I'm drawn to blogging, to have someplace to express all my deep thoughts 😉). That's just how it is, and I imagine that's fairly typical of most larger libraries/systems. Sometimes it's frustrating, but mostly I try to accept my place in the hierarchy.

But then I go to my local library to meet with the director, and get a tour of the library and introduced to everyone as a new board member and treated like a VIP (ironically this same library did not even interview me for a clerk position I applied for 6 years ago 😆). At the board meetings, not only am I free to express my opinion, my input is sought after and valued. At the last meeting we did the director's annual performance evaluation, and later on we will be reviewing and revising library policies and setting the tax rate. I mean, this is REAL stuff, and I have a say in it!

It just feel so strange to be in a position that has some real authority to effect change, and where I have a voice. Half the time I feel like an imposter and that I don't belong there, and the thought is always in the back of my mind "why are they asking my opinion, don't they know I'm just a peon?", but I just keep reminding myself I'm there as a library user and long-time community member (who just happens to have a deeper understanding of library operations than most), and in that capacity I have every right to be there and not only the right, but the obligation, to voice opinions and ask questions. But it still feels very surreal at this point!

One side benefit, is that as a board member, I already had all the information I needed to do my community analysis paper for the Adult Services class I took this summer in the form of circ stats, patron survey results, Edge assessment, strategic plan, budget reports, etc., and using this library as my profile library for my class helped me get more familiar with all the information I need to be aware of as a trustee, so that worked out nicely! 

The time commitment is not huge; the monthly board meeting lasts about an hour and I spend about half an hour reviewing the reports before the meeting, and I try to drop by a library event each month. I am also working my way through several webinars required for trustee certification. It is a great way to give back to your community and the profession, as well as see things from a different perspective, so if anyone else is considering it, I would say go for it, especially if you have the opportunity for a short-term commitment by finishing out someone else's term like I did to see how you like it. But don't be suprised if sometimes you feel a bit like Alice!